Updated Sept 23, 2021

How to File for Divorce in Texas Without a Lawyer

This step-by-step guide covers the procedure of filing for divorce in Texas without a lawyer and explains the nuances of a do-it-yourself divorce.

#Divorce without a lawyer

#Uncontested divorce

#Online divorce

Divorce without a lawyer is not a myth. With so much information and online resources available these days, people can start their uncontested divorce process in Texas without legal representation.

The following guide explains how to file for divorce in Texas without a lawyer and outlines the essential steps for spouses with amicable marriage dissolution cases.

Do You Need a Divorce Attorney in Texas?

A lot of people these days are curious about how to get divorced without an attorney. It is possible under some conditions. The spouses most likely won’t need to hire a lawyer if:

1.they agree on property division;

2.they have little assets, and no one hides anything from the other party;

3.they have no children.

The above conditions are not mandatory. Anyone can proceed without legal representation in court, even couples with minor children and substantial property. However, a simple divorce case has more chances to end amicably.

For conflicting cases, the question of how to get a divorce without a lawyer may not be relevant. Any contested divorce requires a solid understanding of Texas Family Law and is challenging to handle without a lawyer or at least without getting legal advice.

How to Do Your Own Divorce in Texas?

The cheapest way to divorce in Texas is to resolve all conflicts outside of the courtroom. If both parties agree to divorce peacefully, they don’t have to hire an expensive lawyer. What they essentially need is a packet of papers required to start their amicable divorce in Texas.
Traditionally, an attorney would prepare all the forms, which would be very costly. For those who want a cheap divorce in Texas, there are other ways.

Luckily, spouses with a simple agreed divorce can choose a few alternatives to hiring a lawyer. First of all, a Texas couple ready to conclude a settlement agreement can file for divorce online. It’s not the same as e-filing, which is the electronic submission of divorce forms to the system approved by the Supreme Court of Texas.

Online services in Texas provide their clients with completed no-fault divorce forms, which can be filed with the court in person or via the Internet (e-filing). Each of these services has requirements and guidelines on how to apply for divorce in Texas online.

The other option for couples with an uncontested divorce in Texas is a do-it-yourself divorce. It has its downsides and benefits. The main advantage is its low cost.

There are free divorce documents on the Texas government websites. However, the available forms are for general use, and each person has to determine which of them to file in their particular case. Besides, it won’t be an entirely free divorce because of the filing fees in Texas courts.

How to File for Divorce in the State of Texas?

The easiest way to file for divorce in Texas is when both spouses agree on all issues and want to separate without conflicts. They usually work on a settlement agreement together without a lawyer before filing for divorce. Next, the litigants file their case with the court.

Self-filing of divorce papers in Texas is available to all spouses who know what they are doing. Therefore, couples filing for divorce without a lawyer should get acquainted with the standard legal procedure first. The essential steps are described below.

The Divorce Process Timeline for Uncontested Cases in Texas:

1. Check compliance with the residency requirements.

Under Texas law, one of the spouses must be a domiciliary of the state. A petitioner or a respondent must have lived in the state for the six months preceding the filing. And the case should be filed in the county where one of the spouses has resided for 90 days.

If the respondent is not a Texas resident, the court will have jurisdiction over the respondent or their representative if:

Texas was the married couple’s last residence less than two years ago;

There is a basis for exercising the jurisdiction under the constitutions of Texas and the United States.

2. Prepare the original divorce petition.

The divorce petition form in Texas lays out what the filing spouse asks from the court, including property division, child custody, and support. It contains:

the information about the petitioner and the respondent (name, social security number, driver’s license, etc.);

date of marriage and separation;

grounds for divorce (spouses with a no-fault divorce do not have to prove anyone’s guilt);

the information about children (name, date of birth, age, and sex);

community property and debts (real estate, cars, money, etc.);

name change request.

3. File the papers with the court.

In addition to the petition, the court clerk will need a form called Information on Suit Affecting the Family Relationship (VS-165 Form). It contains information about the children affected by the lawsuit. The other document that a petitioner might need to file is a Civil Case Information Sheet, which identifies the type of case.

The originals and the copies of the mentioned forms should be filed with the district court. It should also occur in the county where one of the spouses lives.

4. Pay the filing fee or ask for a waiver.

The clerk will accept the papers if the petitioner pays the filing fee. However, its amount differs from county to county, so the filing spouse should inquire about it in advance.

If the petitioner cannot afford to pay the fee, they can file a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs (also called an Affidavit of Indigence). To be eligible for waiving the court fees, a filing spouse must prove that they receive public benefits or their monthly income is insufficient to pay the household expenses.

After the filing spouse files all the forms and pays the fees (or files the request for a waiver), the court clerk puts the cause number to the petition and file-stamps the copies with the date and time.

5. Notify the other party.

A spouse initiating a marriage dissolution case must inform the other party about it. The court clerk may issue a citation and give it to the petitioner who sends it to the other party. Following the rules of civil procedure, the filing spouse cannot be the one who serves the papers. They need to hire a private process server or contact the county sheriff’s office to request the legal service of the process.

The petitioner won’t need to serve the papers if the other spouse agrees to sign the Waiver of Citation form before a notary. The signed waiver of service form should also be filed with the clerk.

6. Prepare the final decree.

It is a paper that officially ends a marriage. It contains all the responsibilities and rights of the parties after their marriage is over. After a 60-day waiting period, a judge in Texas can sign a final decree of divorce, even for uncontested cases.

It is also called a “cooling-off” period because the spouses can change their minds and stay married. To do this, they need to file a document called a Notice of Nonsuit. If one of them disagrees, the case won’t be dismissed.

The final decree usually includes several parts. They differ depending on the circumstances. Below are the most typical sections:

information about spouses and children (name, date of birth, social security number, etc.);

jurisdiction (the place of residency);

child custody (the type of conservatorship, child visitation schedule, etc.);

child support (who will pay and who will receive child support payments, and how much);

division of property (what property will be divided and how);

spousal support (alimony payments cannot exceed 20% of a paying spouse’s monthly income).

7. Schedule and attend a court hearing.

To schedule a hearing, a petitioner should contact the court coordinator of the county courthouse indicated on the front page of the original petition. Uncontested cases with and without lawyers are handled differently, so a petitioner should mention it when requesting a hearing.

At the hearing, a judge will review the paperwork and hear both spouses. If everything is in order, a judge will sign the final decree.

8. File the final decree with the clerk’s office.

After a judge enters a final decree, it should be filed with the clerk. The clerk will give certified copies of the decree and other orders, such as child custody and visitation orders. There may be a fee for the documents.

9. Send copies of final orders to the other party.

If both spouses were not present at the clerk’s office to get the copies of all papers, the person who took the documents should send copies to the other party.

How Long Does It Take?

Divorce in Texas for spouses who have reached a mutual agreement won’t take long. Under Texas Law, no marriage dissolution case can be final until the 60-day waiting period is over. However, the typical time a couple with an agreed divorce in Texas needs to end their marriage is approximately 4 to 6 months. If there are contested issues, the process will take much longer.

A relatively quick divorce in Texas is possible for couples without children and if a wife is not pregnant. Otherwise, the courts will wait until the baby is born to address child-related issues in a final decree.

How We Can Help

TexasOnlineDivorce.com will help you draft your uncontested divorce documentation without spending thousands in attorney’s fees. Our entirely web-based service will select specific forms for your case based on your answers to our questionnaire and provide you with easy-to-follow filing instructions.

At TexasOnlineDivorce.com, we make sure all your paperwork complies with Texas state requirements and local court rules. You will have your divorce packet in no time by downloading it from your account or receiving it by mail delivery. Our method is easy, inexpensive, and time-saving.

#Divorce without a lawyer

#Uncontested divorce

#Online divorce