How to File an Uncontested Divorce in Texas
- Requirements for uncontested divorce
- Do you need a lawyer?
- Before starting the divorce process
- How does the process work?
- What to expect after completion
- How much does it cost?
In an uncontested divorce in Texas, both sides agree on how to split their assets. You work within the court system to make your agreements legally binding, but you make core decisions together instead of arguing your side in front of a judge.
Uncontested cases require planning, paperwork, and attention to detail. Your divorce could cost as little as $250, and it could be completed within about 60 days.
What are the requirements for an uncontested divorce in Texas?
You must meet a few Texas rules and regulations before obtaining an uncontested divorce in Texas.
The requirements involve the following:
- Residency: Either you or your ex must have lived in Texas for six months and in the county where you file for the last 90 days.
- Reason: You must cite grounds (or reasons) for your divorce. Grounds based on fault include cruelty, adultery, abandonment (for at least one year), and felony criminal convictions. No-fault grounds include insupportability (irreconcilable differences), living apart for at least three years, and confinement to a mental hospital. Insupportability is the easiest grounds to cite, as it doesn’t require proof.
- Agreement. You and your spouse will split your assets, sign appropriate paperwork, and otherwise be active participants in the process.
If you meet all three requirements, you can proceed with an uncontested divorce.
Do you need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce in Texas?
You do not need a lawyer to represent your interests during an uncontested divorce. Texas allows for pro se divorces, in which you represent your own interests.
As part of your divorce, you will participate in a hearing in a courtroom. (More on this later.) You do not need a lawyer's help in court. You can represent yourself.
You also don't need a lawyer to help you complete paperwork or split your assets and debts. If you can't agree with your spouse, a mediator can help you collaborate and find reasonable solutions.
What do you need before starting the divorce process?
An uncontested divorce stems from agreements. You and your ex must agree on the terms and conditions of your split.
People must agree on the following topics:
- Real estate: Who keeps the property you bought during the marriage? What does your ex get if you keep your real estate assets?
- Debts: How will you split bills from credit cards, personal loans, and other financial transactions?
- Support: Will one person pay the other spousal support (sometimes referred to as alimony)? If so, how much and for how long?
- Children: If you have children, where will they live? When will they visit the other parent? How much will a non-custodial parent pay the other on a weekly or monthly basis?
If you can’t agree, a mediator may help. A mediator is an impartial third party that can help you and your ex speak clearly and negotiate a solution.
When you agree, you and your ex can create a marital settlement agreement that details everything you’ve decided. Some mediators will make this document for you.
It’s best to work out these details before you file for an uncontested divorce. If your talks break down and you can’t agree on core parts of your split, an uncontested divorce is not the right route for you.
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How does the Texas uncontested divorce process work?
An uncontested divorce begins and ends with paperwork. These are the steps you must follow:
Step 1: Fill out a divorce petition
A divorce petition notifies the courts that you're prepared to legally end your marriage. Two different versions exist:
Find the form that applies to your marriage and fill it out. You will become a petitioner, and your ex is the respondent.
Step 2: File the divorce petition
Find your Texas county court. Visit the clerk in the courthouse, and bring two copies of your divorce petition. The clerk will stamp the forms and keep one.
Step 3: Notify the respondent
In an uncontested divorce, the respondent isn't surprised about impending paperwork. Tell your ex on the day you file your petition. One day later, the respondent can file a Waiver of Service Only form.
This document is legal proof that the respondent is aware that you want a divorce and agrees to the process.
Step 4: Fill out the final divorce decree and schedule a hearing
Texas requires people to wait 60 days between filing and finalizing a divorce. While you wait, fill out your final divorce documents. Two versions exist:
Contact the court where you filed documents and ask to schedule your uncontested divorce hearing.
Step 5: Attend a hearing
You and your ex are required to attend a prove-up hearing, in which you talk to the court about your divorce and the terms you've agreed to. This hearing takes place at least 60 days after you file for divorce.
You will need to answer simple questions during the time. Refer to these sample scripts to help you understand what to say at your hearing:
- Sample testimony for opposite-sex divorce without children
- Sample testimony for same-sex divorce without children
Your judge will sign your divorce decree and give it back to you.
Step 6: Finalize your divorce.
You must file your signed documents with the clerk after your hearing. When you've filed your documents, you've taken the last step to finalize your divorce.
What to expect after the process is complete
When you’ve filed final documents, your work is done.
While Texas has a minimum 60-day waiting period for divorces, most take much longer. A typical timeframe lasts between three and six months. Collaborating with your ex can make this process move quicker. The more you argue, the longer this takes.
How much does it cost?
Depending on the county you're in, the filing fee ranges from $250 to $320. Contact the court clerk's office where you plan to file to learn the exact fees involved in your case.
If you can't afford the court fees, you can ask for a waiver. Financial relief is typically available for people who get government benefits or don't have enough money to pay for basic needs. Fill out a fee waiver form to ask for assistance.
Have questions? Schedule a free 15-minute phone call with our team of divorce experts.
ReferencesUncontested and Contested Cases: The Difference. (October 2022). TexasLawHelp.org.
Pro Se Divorce Handbook: Representing Yourself in Family Court. (January 2019). The Texas Young Lawyers Association and the State Bar of Texas.
What to Expect in Texas Family Law Court. Texas Young Lawyers Association.
Court Fees and Fee Waivers. (January 2023). TexasLawHelp.org.