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How to File for an Uncontested Divorce Without a Lawyer in Texas

How to File for an Uncontested Divorce Without a Lawyer in Texas

In Texas, an uncontested divorce can be filed without an Attorney. If both spouses can reach an agreement on all of the details of their divorce, and they agree to file their divorce as an uncontested divorce, the legal process for filing an uncontested no-fault divorce and for finalizing their divorce is straightforward.

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In Texas, an "Uncontested Divorce", (commonly referred to as a "Simple Agreed Divorce" or an "Amicable Divorce"), both of the spouses agree about all of the terms of their divorce. On the other hand, when the spouses do not agree on all of the terms of their divorce it is said to be a "Contested Divorce".

Filing for an uncontested divorce in Texas and obtaining a final decree of divorce is much simpler, less expensive and less stressful than filing for a contested divorce, because a contested divorce requires a trial before a judge.

A divorce is a type of judicial process that results in a court "order" signed by a judge that dissolves a marriage. In Texas the Order is called a Final Decree of Divorce. In some other states it is called a Judgment of Divorce. The Divorce Decree can also contain provisions that establish the post marital rights and obligations of the spouses regarding all issues relating to their marriage.

Some of the marital issues that are resolved in a divorce include: the division of the spouses' marital property (assets) and marital debts (liabilities); the payment (or waiver) of spousal support from one spouse to the other spouse; and the custody, visitation and child support of the unemancipated children of their marriage who are under the age of 18 years old.

In a simple divorce, the benefits of filing a do it yourself uncontested divorce in Texas without an Attorney in Texas is that it can be a quicker, cheaper and less emotionally stressful process to get divorced than litigating a contested divorce where one or more spouses have an Attorney.

Texas divorce law allows for the filing of an uncontested divorce based on the Texas "No-Fault" divorce grounds of "Insupportability". This is Texas's version of no-fault divorce where a marriage has irreparably broken down because the spouses are incompatible.
Step 1

Ensure That You Satisfy the Texas Residency Requirements to File for Divorce.
When the divorce petition is filed, either the spouse who files it (the petitioner), or the spouse whom it is served on (the respondent), must have lived in the state of Texas for at least the past six months. And, the divorce must be filed in a Texas District Court located in a county where a spouse has been a resident of the county for at least three months before the filing.
Step 2

Civil Case Information Sheet.
The Civil Case Information Sheet provides general information about the spouses in the divorce proceeding such as their contact information. The spouse who is going to file the divorce should fill out this document, sign it, and file it in court at the same time they file the Original Petition for Divorce to start the Divorce suit.
Step 3

Original Petition for Divorce.
The original petition for divorce is the document that is filed by the petitioner to commence the divorce proceeding in court, provide information about your marriage, and to request that a judge grant your divorce based on the grounds you state in the petition, and issue and Order dissolving your marriage and awarding you the relief you request in the petition. Prepare the petition, sign it, and file it in court with the civil case information sheet, and pay the court's filing fees. When the petition is filed, the court will assign a "cause number" to the case and stamp the petition to indicate that it has been filed.
Step 4

Waiver of Service and Consent.
You must provide your spouse with a copy of the petition that your filed in court. You can arrange for your spouse to be served with the petition by the county sheriffs office or by a private process server. Or, if you are sure that your spouse will sign a Waiver of Citation form in which they agree they do not have to be served the petition, and they agree with what you said in your petition, and they consent to the granting of your divorce as an uncontested divorce, you can simply deliver the petition and waiver form to them by mail or in-person. Your spouse must sign this document before a Notary who will notarize their signature. When your spouse returns you the signed and notarized Waiver bring it to court and file it with the court clerk.
Step 5

60 Day Waiting Period.
Under Texas law, a Texas judge cannot grant a divorce until at least 60 days after the original petition of divorce has been filed with the court. This is generally referred to as the "waiting period" or the "cooling-off" period. It gives the spouses time to see if they can work out their differences and decide to remain married and not get divorced. If you have not already drafted the Final Decree of Divorce, you can use this time to draft the Final Decree of Divorce.
Step 6

Agreed Final Decree of Divorce.
The Final Decree of Divorce contains all of the terms and agreements of your divorce and will be presented to a judge who will sign it if the judge grants your divorce. The Decree of Divorce is drafted by the Petitioner. The Petitioner must sign this document before a Notary who will notarize their signature. If you are filing an uncontested divorce and your spouse (the respondent) has signed a Waiver of Citation and Consent to the divorce, it is a good idea to also have your spouse (the respondent) sign the Decree of Divorce before a Notary and to have their signature notarized. In this way, you are providing another indication to the judge that both spouses want the divorce to be granted as per the terms and agreements in the Decree of Divorce. In Texas, when both spouses sign the Decree of Divorce, it is called an "Agreed Decree of Divorce."
Step 7

Schedule and Attend a "Prove-Up Hearing" to Finalize Your Divorce.
Contact the court clerk and ask them to schedule a court hearing to finalize your divorce after the 60 day waiting period has expired. Only the petitioner is required to attend and appear at this hearing, although the respondent certainly may attend the hearing if they want to. This is typically a very short hearing at which the judge will review your divorce papers that you have filed with the court. Depending on the local court's procedure, the Petitioner will either read a short script to testify to the facts of their divorce, or the judge may ask you some questions to make sure you and your spouse agree on all aspects of the divorce. At the end of the hearing, the judge will sign your Agreed Final Decree of Divorce. The divorce is final as soon as the judge pronounces it so in open court and signs the decree of divorce.
Step 8

Texas VS-165 Form.
Complete this document and bring it with you to your court hearing. After a judge grants your divorce and signs your Agreed Final Decree of Divorce, you will hand the Texas VS-165 Form to the court clerk and they will give you one or more copies of the signed and dated Agreed Final Decree of Divorce. Ask the judge's court clerk if the court will mail a copy of the Judge's order to their spouse (the respondent).
Step 9

Obtain Certified Copies of the Agreed Final Decree of Divorce.
If you want to, contact the court clerk and ask how you can obtain certified copies of the signed Agreed Final Decree of Divorce for you and your spouse. Most courts charge a small fee to provide certified copies of the Divorce Decree.
TIPS

(for more info about Divorce in Texas, click here)

If you are planning to file an uncontested divorce it is a good idea to speak with your spouse before you file the Petition for Divorce to confirm that you both agree about all of the terms of your divorce. If your spouse does not agree with you about all of the terms, you should probably seek the advice of a Matrimonial Attorney because your divorce may become contested.

If your spouse wants to resume the use of their former name before the marriage they can request it the Waiver of Citation.

Some court clerks refer to the VS-165 Form as: "The Austin" Form. And sometimes it is referred to as the form for: Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship.

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