DIY Divorce Texas: Cost-Effective Option to Divorce
- Procedure for filing DIY divorce paper
- Required forms to serve your ex
- Hearing and final decree
- DIY divorce timeline and cost
A DIY divorce in Texas can be a cost-effective option for ending your marriage. By not retaining an attorney, you could save tens of thousands of dollars, although you should still plan to pay court filing fees.
What is a DIY divorce?
A DIY divorce is also known as a pro se divorce. Instead of retaining an attorney, you represent yourself in court. The divorce process itself remains the same, but the responsibility of properly completing and filing the necessary documents falls on you. DIY (or pro se) divorce is recommended only if the divorce is uncontested by both spouses with no sensitive or complicated issues regarding the distribution of assets or custody of children.
If you are in Texas and want to pursue a pro se divorce, you can download the divorce forms online or visit your district clerk’s office for paper copies of the forms. You could still have an attorney review the forms before you file them, but this would not count as legal representation.
To file for divorce in Texas pro se, you must know for sure that both spouses have agreed to amicably divorce. This includes the determination of who gets what once the marriage has ended, whether either person will be requesting spousal support, and who retains decision-making rights (one spouse or both) if minor children are involved.
Another point to confirm is that both you and your spouse are Texas residents. If one of you is still a resident of another state, this will complicate the proceedings and may require outside help. If you have children, they must have been born in the state of Texas or resided there for at least six months for a family court in Texas to hear your case.
What is the procedure for filing DIY divorce papers in Texas?
If all your preparations are satisfactory, you would qualify for a DIY Texas divorce. However, you would still need to apply for a divorce and learn how to navigate that process without a trained attorney to do that for you.
It starts by preparing the documentation for Texas family courts. Every case is different, and if you have children, property, or other assets, you need all the appropriate and updated paperwork to be filled out correctly.
Mistakes at any point could set you back a couple of steps ... or a court clerk could even tell you to start all over again. You might have the option of working with an online divorce provider who can do most of the legwork for you without actually representing you in family court.
Part of the proper procedure for filing for your own divorce in Texas is to make three copies of all your forms and take them to a court in your county of residence. The filing fee for doing this yourself is around $300. Once the court has been paid, a clerk will stamp the forms. If there are no issues to contest, it may be possible to finalize your divorce without a hearing.
Required forms to serve your ex
Even if you and your spouse have amicably agreed to the divorce, Texas law requires your ex to be officially served with divorce papers. Since you are not working with an attorney on this, the court clerk will give you a stamped copy of the forms you filled out. You can then have these papers served on your spouse.
Your spouse should receive the Answer and Waiver forms issued by the court.
An Answer form declares what parts of the divorce complaint they agree and disagree with. This lets the judge know which outstanding issues must be dealt with before the divorce can be finalized. You and your spouse do not need to agree on every part of the divorce in order for a court to accept their Answer form. However, if a judge feels like the Answer form reveals too much of a gulf between you and your spouse, a DIY divorce might not be the right option for you.
If you and your spouse are in complete agreement regarding the terms of the divorce, they can sign the Waiver form, which waives their right to be served the specifics of the divorce complaint.
Following the signing of the Answer or Waiver, you will both have to complete and exchange forms that detail your financial information.
Hearing and final decree
Once all divorce paperwork has been completed, contact the court clerk for a hearing date. This date must fall at least 60 days after you filed. Your spouse may not have to be present, so ask the clerk about this.
On the day of the hearing, you will have to attend. The judge might ask you a few questions about the information you and your ex disclosed in your respective documents.
Assuming everything is in order with no outstanding concerns, the judge will sign the Final Decree of Divorce, and you will have successfully ended your marriage without having to retain the services of a divorce attorney.
How long does a DIY divorce take in Texas?
A DIY divorce takes a minimum of 61 days. Generally, however, it takes longer than that to gather, complete, and submit all the necessary forms.
This timeline can be significantly extended if you fill out forms incorrectly and have to restart the process. You can expedite the process by working with an online divorce platform that can guide you through the process.
How much does a DIY divorce cost?
A DIY divorce in Texas can cost as little as about $350 in court filing fees. An average divorce in the state can cost more than $15,000. With children and marital assets to consider in the divorce, that figure can quickly balloon past $20,000.
If you don’t hire a lawyer, you would still be responsible for filing fees, but even those could be waived if you can demonstrate financial need.
What factors make you a good candidate for DIY divorce?
A pro se or DIY divorce can be quicker than working with an attorney. However, more of the burden falls on you to secure all the right documents, fill them out properly, ensure that your spouse is filling out their documents properly, and submit everything to the court in a timely and appropriate manner. If you are confident in your ability to do this, a DIY divorce will be more straightforward than going through an attorney.
A DIY divorce in Texas might be the right option for you if you and your spouse are in full agreement over the terms of ending your marriage and are ready to get the process started. If dealing with the minute details of the paperwork seems overwhelming, consider an online divorce platform like Hello Divorce to help you move through the process quickly and affordably. If you and your spouse are not in agreement, mediation might be the right step forward.
Tips for a successful DIY divorce in Texas
While a DIY divorce can save you significant time and money, it can end up being stressful and time-consuming if you make mistakes along the way.
Here are some tips for a successful DIY divorce in Texas:
- Make sure you meet the necessary residency requirements. You or your ex must have lived in the county where you file for at least 90 days and in the state for at least six months.
- Confirm you meet the requirements for an uncontested divorce. This means you and your ex are not blaming each other for your dissolution of marriage, nor are you contesting any aspect of your marital settlement agreement.
- Make sure you and your ex agree on how to separate assets, debt, and custody of any children. You’ll also need to work out any spousal support and child support payments ahead of time.
- Have a professional, like an online divorce platform, review your forms or guide you through the process. If you make a mistake on a form, you may have to restart the entire process, so it’s worth it to get assistance from a pro.
Thinking about divorce but don't know where to start?
Our free download can help.
Texas DIY divorce FAQ
Can I file for divorce myself in Texas?
Yes, you can file for divorce yourself in Texas. You simply download the forms online, complete them, and file them with the court yourself. You do not need an attorney.
Can you divorce in Texas without going to court?
Yes, it’s possible to get a divorce in Texas without going to court. This works for uncontested divorces in which you and your ex agree on the terms of your divorce.
How can I get a quick divorce in Texas?
The fastest way to get divorced in Texas is if you and your ex agree on the terms of your divorce. You still have to wait for the 60-day waiting period to pass, but you could theoretically be divorced within 61 days.
How much is a simple divorce in Texas?
A simple divorce in Texas can cost as little as about $350 to a couple thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the case. If you are filing on your own without professional assistance, you simply have to pay court filing fees.
It’s wise to have a professional review your forms, so an online divorce platform can be a good, inexpensive solution to make sure you’ve gone through the process correctly. If you and your ex disagree on some terms, you can enter mediation, and this is significantly cheaper than hiring an attorney.
ReferencesPro Se Divorce Handbook: Activating the Courage to Represent Yourself. (January 2023). TexasLawHelp.org.
Pro Se Divorce Handbook: “Representing Yourself In Family Court”. (February 2019). State Bar of Texas.
Serving Divorce Papers. (February 2023). Texas State Law Library.
Finalizing the Divorce. (February 2023). Texas State Law Library.