By agreeing on divorce-related issues, soon-to-be-ex spouses in Texas may consider a do-it-yourself divorce. Such a procedure is an affordable option for those wanting to save time and money on their divorce proceeding.
How To Do-It-Yourself: Uncontested Divorce
To proceed with a DIY divorce, spouses have to make sure that they can handle the whole divorce process themselves without any legal help. However, using this option is only possible for an uncontested divorce, in which the divorcing couple agrees on all divorce-related issues and signs an agreement.
An uncontested divorce in Texas is a much simpler procedure. In addition, it is relatively fast compared to a contested divorce. Since the spouses agree on marital property division, child custody, child support, debt allocation, spousal support (also known as alimony), etc., they typically come up with a Marital Settlement Agreement. This document allows skipping a lengthy trial in court.
Such a divorce allows spouses to save money on costly lawyers and proceed with a DIY divorce, which is relatively cheap and fast. However, if any issue remains unresolved, it is recommended to hire an attorney.
Filing Your DIY Divorce Forms For Free
Note: Before filing for a divorce, divorcing spouses must meet the residency requirement, which states that at least one spouse must have resided in Texas for no less than six months before filing.
Each divorce case is unique. Thus different divorce forms may be required. However, several basic forms are necessary in most cases, including:
- Civil Case Information Sheet;
- Vital Statistics Form;
- Petition for Divorce;
- Waiver of Service;
- Certificate of Last Known Address; and
- Final Decree of Divorce.
The forms may vary depending on the complexity of a case and its attendant circumstances.
When filing for a DIY divorce in Texas, couples handle their divorce paperwork themselves. The petitioner has to find the appropriate blank divorce forms on the court’s website and fill them out. However, online divorce services are a much simpler option for handling divorce paperwork.
Also, when submitting documents, spouses must pay a fee.
When filing for divorce in Texas, there is a mandatory filing fee of $250 to $300. It may vary depending on the county where the divorce documents are filed.
Spouses that can’t afford to pay can submit a fee waiver document known as an Affidavit of Inability of Pay to the court. The judge reviews it and may waive the filing fee.
Serving Divorce Papers To Your Spouse
After filing the divorce paperwork, the next step is serving copies to the other spouse. If the other spouse has voluntarily filled out and signed a Waiver of Service divorce form, they won’t need to be served. However, if the respondent did not sign this form or a Respondent Original Answer form, the service must occur.
There are several ways for serving the respondent in Texas:
- Serviсe by a constable, sheriff or private process server;
- Service via registered or certified mail;
- Service by posting (in case the respondent's location is unknown and there are no children involved in a marriage); or
- Service by publication (in case the respondent's location is unknown but there are children involved in a marriage).
The petitioner should contact the clerk's office to get the relevant information on the serving process.
As soon as the Petition for Divorce is filed, the spouses may request temporary orders regarding custody, visitation, child support, alimony, etc. The other party is obliged to comply with those orders.
One spouse may need to enforce a court order if the other spouse doesn’t comply with a material provision of the decree.
In most jurisdictions, to hold the other party responsible, a spouse must file a contempt motion. Once the motion is filed, the court clerk will schedule a hearing date.
Note: It’s important to properly serve the other party with the motion and notice regarding the date and time of the hearing.
After the hearing, the judge will issue an order, laying out the consequences to be enforced in case of the other party’s further violation of the court order.
If the spouses cannot agree on their financial assets, debts, and property division, they will have to disclose their financial assets and liabilities so that the judge can distribute them equitably. To do so, the spouses will have to complete a Financial Affidavit. Such a document includes the following information:
- Liabilities; and
The spouses will also need to provide supporting financial documents, including credit card statements, bank statements, retirement plan statements, income tax returns, real estate documents, loan documents, and debt statements.
Spouses unable to reach an agreement themselves may need mediation services. Unlike divorce lawyers negotiating on behalf of their individual clients, mediators are there to encourage open dialogue and help both parties come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
Typically mediation helps the spouses take advantage of a simplified agreed-divorce process and becomes a great alternative to costly divorce lawyers.
Online Do-It-Yourself Divorce
In a DIY divorce, it may be challenging for those without any legal training to select and fill out the correct divorce forms. Thus, the spouses can use an online divorce service, namely Texas Online Divorce which is an affordable assistant helping with legal paperwork preparation.
An online divorce service is an excellent alternative to a costly divorce lawyer. It allows couples to proceed with a DIY divorce and handle their divorce paperwork in just 2 business days from the comfort of their own home.
Texas Online Divorce helps divorcing spouses select and fill out the correct divorce forms required for their case. All they need to do is complete a simple questionnaire on their marriage and divorce and download their ready divorce papers along with a filing guide.