Fortunately, Texas has an uncontested divorce process that takes less time and money than a traditional, adversarial divorce. If you and your spouse feel that you can come to an agreement without the intervention of the court, you could choose this option. However, you still need to make sure that you protect your rights and interests.
Even though you and your spouse agree to divorce and want to settle your issues without court intervention, that doesn’t mean foregoing the advice and assistance of an attorney. Choosing to go through an uncontested divorce should not mean giving up everything to your spouse. Compromise and cooperation are vital in this process.
How does an uncontested divorce work?
In order to take advantage of an uncontested divorce, you must take the following steps:
- One of you must file for divorce.
- You must state your grounds for divorce. Texas currently allows no-fault divorce, so your grounds would consist of either irreconcilable differences or the fact that you and your spouse didn’t cohabitate for at least three years prior to filing.
- You and your spouse must resolve your issues outside of court.
When the time comes, one or both of you must make an appearance in court to finalize the divorce and obtain the court’s approval for your settlement.
What issues do we need to address?
You and your spouse need to resolve the following issues:
- You need to divide your property.
- You need to determine whether one of you will receive some sort of alimony (spousal support), along with how much and for how long.
- You need to make arrangements for custody of your children, if any.
- You need to determine an amount for child support while keeping the statutory guidelines in mind.
If you and your spouse (with the help of your respective attorneys) can come to an agreement on all of these issues, the court will more than likely grant you an uncontested divorce. However, you should keep in mind that any agreements you reach must not put one of you at a significant financial disadvantage over the other spouse.
An uncontested divorce allows you and your spouse the freedom to design a settlement that best suits your family’s needs. You can look “outside the box” for alternatives that the court’s legal restraints don’t allow. You don’t have to agree on every issue immediately or to get along the whole time. You just have to reach an agreement without court intervention. That’s why you each have an attorney to help guide you through the negotiation process. If needed, you could hire a mediator or make use of collaborative divorce.