Tell me about an "Uncontested Divorce"

What is an “Uncontested Divorce”?


An Uncontested Divorce is a divorce where the couple can agree to the major terms with little or no conflict.




Is an Uncontested Divorce right for me?


If you and your spouse can agree to all the major terms of your divorce agreement, then an Uncontested Divorce may be right for you. If, however, you or your spouse: - have a poor understanding of each other's assets and/or debts; - have difficulty agreeing upon child custody / child support arrangements; or - cannot agree on how to maintain your finances while your case is pending; then an Uncontested Divorce is possibly not right for you. If you are unsure, then please contact us and we will set up a free consultation to discuss your circumstance in more detail.




Why should I choose an Uncontested Divorce?


There are a number of potential advantages to choosing an Uncontested Divorce: Transparent Pricing: with a traditional divorce, you may have to retain two to three lawyers (one for each spouse and one for the children), pay for multiple court appearances, complete social and/or psychological studies - all of which can potentially tack on many thousands of dollars of additional expense. By contrast, in limiting our legal services to two (2) hours, we are able to offer our Uncontested Divorce service at one simple price.
In the unlikely event that you require more than two (2) hours you will be charged at the hourly rate set out in the Legal Service Agreement.

Further details of costs can be found here. Time: In Texas there is a mandatory cooling-off period of sixty (60) days, after which - in counties where the Firm offers the walk-up service and if you engage the Firm to arrange the walk-up service - the Firm will schedule a day during which we will aim to perform the final prove-up hearing.

The Firm will aim to arrange a date for the final prove-up hearing in each county (where the Firm offers the walk-up service) at least once a month, subject to the availability of the court to which the case is assigned.




Is there anything preventing me from using this service?


We have designed this service to be as widely available as possible, however, if you or your spouse meet any of the following conditions then our service is not for you: - are pregnant - have filed for bankruptcy - wish to have sole custody, supervised visitation, terminate parental rights of a child - have custody of a child of another person’s child (inc. grandchildren) - own assets greater than $1million - do not have clear understand of one another's assets or debts - own a business together or have complex financial arrangements - wish to exchange, partition or divide your retirement assets If you have any questions, please contact us to arrange a consultation.




I live in Texas and my spouse lives in a different State (or visa versa). Can we still use this service?


Yes. So long as, before filing the petition for divorce, either you or your spouse meet the following criteria you may be eligible to use our service: - currently reside in the State of Texas - have lived in the State of Texas for at least six (6) months - have lived in a single Texan county (where we operate) for at least ninety (90) days




My spouse cheated on me and I would like to divorce on grounds of adultery. Can this be done in an Uncontested Divorce?


No. We only allow for divorce on the grounds of 'insupportability' - where the marital relationship has broken down and there is no reasonable expectation that you will get back together. The traditional terminology is that “the marriage has come to an end due to irreconcilable differences that destroy the legitimate ends of the marriage.”




Either me or my spouse will be looking to change a last name - can we do this within the divorce?


Yes. Either you or your spouse are given the opportunity to change your last names to a maiden name or a previously used marital name. You will need to provide the full name, including any middle names (in full), as a certified copy of the decree may be used after the divorce if you or your spouse, (whomever changed their name) needs to apply for a new Driver's License, Passport, Social Security, Mortgage application etc.




What if I am in a same-sex marriage?


We have removed any direct reference to gender in our agreements so you are free to use our platform, no matter how you or your spouse identify.




What if we want to cancel the process?


You can cancel the divorce at any time before the final prove up hearing. The Firm will withdraw from the case immediately and refund any money that has not been earned. With your permission, we will then 'non-suit' the case so that the case is closed with the court - otherwise the case will remain open awaiting further litigation or, if nothing is done, the court may automatically dismiss the case after a period of time (typically one year). Please Note: If you close the case and later wish to re-open the case, then you may be required to pay another filing fee.




Do all counties have the same requirements?


No. Although most counties share similar requirements, each county can specify the conditions which must be satisfied in order to complete a divorce. One such condition is a parenting course which is required in some Texan counties (e.g. Hays, Comal and Guadalupe). We will inform you of any specific requirements. If you are required to produce a certificate for a parenting course, it is your responsibility to pay and complete the course within ninety (90) days of signing the Legal Services Agreement.




What if we can't agree on all the terms of our Uncontested Divorce?


We recommend that you and your spouse are able to agree on the following terms before you use our site: - Division of Assets / Debts
- Division of Child Custody / Child Support / Child Health Insurance
If you start an Uncontested Divorce but find that you can’t agree on all the terms, then your Divorce may no longer be considered Uncontested. At this point you have several options including Marriage Couselling (for dispute resolution), Mediation or ultimately Litigation. We will give you the option of a high-level summary of the terms that you and your spouse have been able to agree upon (known as the “Rule 11 Agreement”) for $250.00. Once signed by you, your spouse and a judge, A Rule 11 Agreement may be used as evidence of a contract under Texas law. A Rule 11 Agreement is a good starting point for future divorce proceedings.




How can I get divorced as quickly as possible?


In Texas you must wait at least sixty (60) days to complete the mandatory cooling-off period after the Petition for Divorce has been filed, however, to keep the process efficient you should: - Complete the agreement in full (VIN numbers, Lot and Block numbers, Credit Card balances all need to be listed accurately).
- Make sure you are forthcoming with your agreement from the beginning, as you will need to allow up to thirty (30) days of delay to the process for each set of amendments after we have completed your documents.
- Sign and return your documents as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the final day of the cooling off period. Note, some documents need to be notarized and other documents need to be signed and returned by your spouse.
- Complete the Fee and Court Cost payments promptly.




What if we need to amend the decree after the divorce has been disposed?


You have a very small window of time in which to make amendments to your decree, as the court will lose jurisdiction over the case thirty (30) days after the day on which the final decree of divorce is signed.




What scope do I have to tailor my decree?


We have gone to great lengths to give you and your spouse freedom to build a decree for your unique circumstances. However, there are some limitations to what we can offer as some changes may: - not be in your best interests, - be impractical, or even - violate the spirit or letter of Texas Law. If you are concerned about a specific requirement then please contact us to see if it can be accommodated.




Can you recommend any further reading?


We can recommend the Pro Se Divorce Handbook that has been put together by The State Bar of Texas.





Lauren Carrington Smyth

Managing Partner

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Carrington Smyth PLLC is licensed to practice law in Texas (2005), Washington, D.C. (2006) and England & Wales (2011).

 

Principal Law Office based in San Antonio, Texas

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