Spouses contemplating divorce often seek to reach an amicable resolution of the various issues to be addressed, such as custody, visitation, child support and property division. If spouses can reach an agreement on all of these issues, they can proceed with an uncontested divorce. Today's blog will highlight the important aspects of an unconsted divorce in Texas.
What are the advantages of an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce costs significantly less money than a contested divorce. Attorney's fees are minimal, and there is no need to pay third parties such as an appraiser, a mediator, a court-appointed amicus attorney, a court reporter and a process server. Also, an unconsted divorce takes significantly less time - as little as 60 days. An uncontested divorce also allows the spouses to handcraft an agreement that is tailor fit to their particular circumstances rather than having a Judge "cookie-cutter" the terms of the divorce. Finally, an uncontested divorce is much less stressful and allows the parties to work together instead of against each other, leading to relationships remaining intact to the extent possible.
What is the process?
The attorney representing the Petitioner (the spouse who wishes to proceed with divorce) prepares and files with the court clerk a simple Original Petition for Divorce. The filing of the petition begins a 60 day waiting period, after which the Court has authority to grant the divorce. The other spouse, known as the Respondent, will then sign a standard Waiver of Service form. During the 60 day waiting period, the spouses discuss the matter and reach an agreement pertaining to all of the issues. These issues primarily include child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support and division of property and debts. This information is then provided to the attorney representing the Petitioner.
The attorney then prepares an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce and any related documents, such as an Income Withholding Order for child support, deed transfer documents and orders for division of retirement benefits.
Once the 60 day waiting period has passed and all of the documents have been signed by the parties, the attorney and the Petitioner arrange a convenient date to attend a short hearing. Typically, the Courts will be very flexible in when this hearing occurs, because the hearing will only take a few minutes. On the agreed date, the attorney and Petitioner appear in Court, and when the case is called, approach the Judge to finalize the case. This is known as a "prove-up hearing". The attorney will ask the Petitioner a series of questions that will establish the Court's jurisdiction, the grounds for divorce, that the provisions relating to the children are in the best interest of the children, and that the division of the community estate is fair and equitable. The Judge then approves the agreement, grants the divorce and signs the proposed Decree.
If you are considering a divorce, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to determine whether your case can proceed as an uncontested divorce. The attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have significant experience handling divorces and other family law matters, over more than 22 years. To arrange a free case evaluation, please contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio.