If you’ve decided it’s time to end your marriage, you are probably facing a lot of concerns about what will happen going forward. In these uncertain economic times, many might worry about legal costs and how they will afford a divorce. You may be concerned that the divorce will drag on, causing additional expenses and stress. Parents may be concerned about the effect the divorce will have on their children.
It is important to remember that not every divorce has to be costly, stressful, and high-conflict, and that getting divorced does not need to take years or even months. If you agree with your spouse on all major issues, your divorce can proceed through the court quickly.
The quickest and easiest type of divorce is called an uncontested divorce. Pursuing an uncontested, amicable divorce offers you a relatively inexpensive, quick divorce that avoids unnecessary stress.
You can take steps to get prepared, work with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and protect his/her interest during the uncontested divorce process. And remember: if you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to call our team at Divorce Concierge for help!
Understand Your State’s Uncontested Divorce Laws
Now that you have decided you will be getting a divorce, it is time to learn more about Texas’s different types of divorces. There are two main categories of divorces — contested and uncontested divorces. In a contested divorce, the spouses disagree on one or more of the important issues related to the divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the spouse has agreed on all of the following issues:
- Child custody and visitation
- Spousal support
- Division of assets and debts
- Life and health insurance
- Division of property
Pursuing a No-Fault Divorce in Texas
Every state, including Texas, has some form of no-fault divorce. In Texas, most divorces are filed on the grounds of insupportability, commonly called “no-fault” divorce. In an uncontested divorce, spouses do not claim that they are getting divorced based on the fault of one or both spouses. Instead, they claim that the marital relationship has become insupportable because of conflict or discord of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship. When a person files for a no-fault divorce, they will not need to prove any type of fault first. The following three elements need to be met to obtain a no-fault divorce:
- The person must establish that the marriage has become insupportable because of conflict or discord
- The discord or conflict destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage, and
- There is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation
In an uncontested divorce, you will not need to provide proof that the marriage is irreconcilable. In most cases, the judge will accept your statement that the marriage is irreconcilable. When one party files for divorce, the court will usually grant the divorce without regard to whether or not there was an at-fault in the marriage as long as the marriage has become insupportable.
When pursuing a no-fault divorce, the language in your Original Petition for Divorce will state, “the marriage has become insupportable because of discord and conflict, which destroys the legitimate end of the marriage relationship, and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.”
Uncontested Divorces Take Less Time Than Contested Divorces
Uncontested divorces are the easiest and quickest divorces to obtain. They take the least time because the couple is not engaged in conflict and trying to resolve issues related to the divorce. Uncontested divorces are relatively fast because the couple has already agreed on all the major issues when they file for divorce. More and more couples are pursuing an uncontested divorce to save money, time, and stress. Pursuing a non-contested divorce could save thousands of dollars and prevent you from engaging in a long, drawn-out court battle with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
Determine if You Meet All of the Requirements for a Quick Uncontested Divorce
Suppose you and your spouse agree on all the major issues and are prepared to state that you have irreconcilable differences or are incompatible. In that case, you can pursue a no-fault, uncontested divorce. As discussed above, the term no-fault means that neither spouse will be trying to prove that a spouse’s misconduct caused the end of the marriage. The term uncontested means that both spouses agree on all the significant issues of the divorce. When you meet the requirements for a no-fault, uncontested divorce in Texas, you may never have to go to court, and your divorce can proceed as a “papers only” divorce. You will need to meet all of the following requirements to pursue this type of divorce:
- Purchase an index number
- Satisfy residency requirements
- Have a summons and complaint or petition served on your spouse
- Your spouse needs to file a timely response to your petition
- You’ll need to complete all of the necessary forms to get your case on the court’s calendar
- You will need to provide an affidavit of service for the papers that were served
- Income, spousal support, and child support worksheets
- You will need to have a parenting plan
- Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
- Judgment of Divorce
- Additional required divorce paperwork, such as statements provided by each spouse
- All other required documents
Can I Get an Uncontested Divorce if My Spouse Does Not Agree to It?
No, the only way you can get an uncontested divorce is if both spouses agree on all of the major issues in the divorce. In an uncontested divorce, either both spouses agree on all the issues or they do not. When both spouses do not agree on one of my issues, your only option is to pursue a contested divorce which can take significantly more time. To obtain an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse need to have reached an agreement on all of the following issues:
- Agreeing to be divorced
- Parental decision-making responsibility for educational decisions, medical decisions, and psychological decisions for the children
- Parental visitation
- The amount and duration of child support
- The amount and duration of any spousal support, also called alimony
- The division of property and debts
Sometimes people want to pursue an uncontested divorce, but minor issues still need to be worked out. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get a divorce when a couple agrees on 90% of the major issues in the divorce. The couple must agree on one hundred percent of the major issues to get an uncontested divorce. When still outstanding issues are contested, a court will need to get involved, and hearings will need to be held to resolve the issues. However, settling the case out of court is still possible after the proceedings have started. The negotiation process can still move forward as the case progresses through the court.
What if My Spouse Does Not Want to Get Divorced?
If your spouse has stated that they do not want to get divorced, you can still proceed with the divorce yourself. Your divorce will not be uncontested, though. It will be contested without your spouse’s consent to divorce. You can pursue a default judgment if your spouse ignores the divorce petition entirely. Unfortunately, in many cases where one spouse doesn’t want a divorce, backspace may try to draw out the process by creating conflict.
An attorney can work with you to proceed as quickly as possible by asking the court to set the hearings up, including the final trial, to push the case along. You do not have to get your spouse’s consent before you file for divorce. If your goal is to have an uncontested divorce, you will need your spouse to sign all the relevant documentation after being served with the divorce papers.
If you have a good relationship with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and you are willing to work together, it can be beneficial to negotiate the divorce before you file the petition. If you and your spouse can get on the same page before filing the petition, it will save you significant time and money. Working with a third-party, neutral mediator can help you address lingering issues to avoid a contested divorce. Depending on your unique situation, it could be worth taking time to discuss this issue with your spouse rather than moving forward as quickly as possible with a contested divorce. If there is a way you and your spouse can negotiate an uncontested divorce, it’s worth taking the time to explore that option.
Figure Out Your Priorities
If you decide that getting a divorce is the right action, it is time to consider your priorities. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will need to resolve many different issues as part of the divorce settlement. Any issues you cannot resolve together will need to be resolved by the judge overseeing your case. Now is the time to consider your priorities in the divorce. For example, is it important for you to keep your family home and continue raising your children in that home to provide them with stability? Are you a stay-at-home parent who needs to ensure that you have enough spousal support to return to school and get the education you need to have gainful employment in the future? Would you like to keep your small business in your family? It is important to consider your non-negotiables carefully.
Additionally, you should consider which issues you will compromise on during the negotiation process. Write down a list of the most important issues to you and those that are not as important. Share this list with your attorney, which will help you as you move forward with the negotiations. Sometimes couples do think they agree on all issues, but as they move through the process, conflict arises regarding one or more issues. Be prepared for this to happen, and do not get discouraged.
When both spouses want to move forward quickly and choose to remain civil and willing to work together, they can overcome conflicts that arise and pursue an uncontested divorce. For example, if a conflict arises over who can keep your family home, the solution may be to sell the home and split the profit. Talking through all of your options can help you ensure you find a solution that works best.
Consider Any Recent Income or Tax Changes
Taxes play a significant role in the divorce process. The spouse who earns more may have to pay more taxes since they may fall into a higher income bracket after getting divorced. If you may end up as the spouse to pay significantly more taxes after the divorce, consider bringing up your tax status when negotiating spousal and child support. With high-net-worth couples, it can be beneficial to work with an attorney and a financial expert who can help you understand your pre-divorce and post-divorce tax status so you can make informed decisions regarding your divorce settlement.
Are There Any Other Ways to Make My Divorce Quicker?
The answer to this question depends on the facts of your unique case. For example, you may be able to file for divorce in a state with a shorter waiting period than Texas. You may be able to pursue a divorce in another state that has a shorter timeframe for residency requirements. In every case, having a collaborative attitude with your spouse almost always helps your divorce progress more quickly. Going to a third-party mediator who can help you work on outstanding issues will also help you move forward quickly. Finally, hiring an attorney to prepare the final divorce papers for you can prevent unnecessary delays and speed up the divorce process.
Work With Your Soon-to-Be Ex-Spouse to Communicate Effectively
This tip for speeding up your divorce may seem obvious, but it is more challenging than many people realize. Communicating is easier said than done, especially when your marriage, which you worked hard to build with someone else, is coming to an end. There may be emotions that come up that make it challenging to discuss the divorce in good faith. Try as hard as you can to avoid getting bogged down in the details and rehash the events and issues that have led to the divorce.
There may be possessions to which both spouses feel entitled and other property that needs to be split fairly. Focus on the bigger picture of what you would like your life to be like after your divorce. Think about what you need to take with you to rebuild your future. Try to listen to your ex-spouse carefully when they talk about their priorities. Likewise, make sure to share your priorities clearly and amicably so you can both remain on the same page. If you have hit a rough spot in the negotiations and need help from an outside party, such as an unbiased mediator, do so.
In the modern world, we all lead busy lives. It can be challenging to prioritize meetings with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, attorney, mediator, and financial advisor. Prioritizing your meetings can help you move the divorce along as quickly as possible. When you miss a meeting, it has to be rescheduled and can drag the divorce out even longer. Rescheduling meetings can make it difficult for both spouses to focus on the divorce proceedings. The longer you postpone these meetings, the longer it will take to finalize the divorce. The longer you take to get divorced, the more money you will have to spend and the longer it will be before you can begin your new future.
Prepare in Advance
Getting a divorce, even an uncontested divorce, requires preparation. Legally ending a marriage involves significant paperwork, settling of debts, assets, and child custody issues. Even when both spouses agree on all of the major issues of the divorce, preparation can help the divorce move faster. Working with an attorney can help you prepare for a divorce because your attorney can help you understand all the paperwork you need to gather. Gathering financial information is crucial while preparing for an uncontested divorce. You will need a clear picture of where your finances stand to help you determine the distribution of marital assets and debts. You will need a clear picture of all the assets you own. Some assets, such as your home, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and vehicles, are obvious.
Other not-so-obvious assets may include inheritances, artwork, and belongings that one or both spouses brought into the marriage. You should also consider your intellectual property, such as music and film rights which may need to be noticed. Gather all documentation regarding each of your assets, including the present value of the asset, where and when you purchased the asset, and whether you purchased it with joint funds or separate funds. This information may be important as you proceed through the divorce.
Determine Your Income
When spouses agree on major issues in the divorce, the process will move along faster. However, the couple will still need a clear picture of their incomes to divide their assets properly according to their divorce settlement. When both spouses are salaried employees, determining income is easier. You will need a copy of your most recent pay stubs and income tax return. However, determining income can be more challenging if you or your spouse are self-employed.
Before you meet with your attorney, obtaining copies of your financial business and bank account statements is wise. Doing so will provide a clearer picture of your income. You can also get an idea of how much your spouse realistically makes. If you need help proving exactly how much your income is because your spouse is self-employed, gather the information you can. Your attorney can help you obtain the rest of the information you need through the discovery process.
Determine Your Debts
Similarly, you will need an accurate picture of the marital debt you and your spouse have as you move forward with your divorce. One of the easiest ways to determine the status of your marital debt is to obtain a copy of your credit report. The debt you have will be listed on your credit report. Make a list of all the existing debt and obtain statements for all open accounts showing a balance due.
Remember to keep copies of your files after you turn this information in to your attorney. Doing your homework and Gathering all your financial information, including information about your assets and debt, can help you speed the process along. When you bring proof of income and debt to your first meeting with your attorney, your attorney will be able to get a clear picture of your financial situation, and the process will move forward.
Work With an Attorney Can Help You Proceed Smoothly and Quickly
You do not need an attorney to pursue an uncontested divorce, but hiring an attorney can help you significantly. Your attorney can help you negotiate any outstanding issues that are in conflict. Your attorney can also prepare a fair marital settlement agreement for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. If you already have a separation agreement or a draft of a settlement agreement, your attorney can review it and ensure that it is fair for you and represents your interest.
Even when pursuing an uncontested divorce, you must meet all court filing requirements and deadlines. Navigating the process is challenging, especially if you do not have an in-depth understanding of the family court system. Working with an attorney can ensure that you meet your deadlines, complete all the paperwork, and that the process moves as quickly as possible.
Save Money By Pursuing an Uncontested Divorce
Filing for divorce used to mean long delays and expensive legal fees. However, your divorce does not have to be expensive, stressful, and drawn out. By pursuing a no-fault, uncontested divorce, you can get a quick divorce and start a new chapter in your life. At Divorce Concierge, we provide our clients with affordable, flat-rate options for an uncontested divorce.
You will not have to worry about expensive hourly rates or hidden fees when working with us. Instead, you will pay a flat rate amount for your divorce. We have helped many clients pursue quick divorces in Texas and are ready to help you do the same. Contact the uncontested divorce attorneys at Divorce Concierge today to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can help you.