How to File for Divorce in Texas Without a Lawyer
When spouses come to a decision to end their marriage, it is important to choose whether to hire a lawyer or not. Some couples may not be aware of the possibility of getting a divorce in Texas without a lawyer. As a result, they postpone the process of divorce and save up for an attorney, while they could file for divorce without a lawyer and avoid unnecessary expenses.
In case of an uncontested divorce in Texas, spouses can appear pro se in court when they have reached an agreement on property division, child custody, and support. On the other hand, if there are any disagreements between the parties, one spouse blames the other for the failure of their marriage, or the couple is expecting a child, legal representation in court is required. If the wife is pregnant, the couple can file for divorce but it cannot be finalized before the child is born.
If you are eligible for an uncontested divorce and decide to represent yourself in court, there are several steps to getting a divorce without a lawyer in Texas to follow:
Step 1: Meet Texas Residency Requirements for Divorce
To apply for divorce in Texas, it is obligatory to meet Texas residency requirements. Under Texas law, at least one of the spouses must have been a permanent resident of the state for six consecutive months at the moment of filing for divorce. It is also required to file for divorce in Texas in the county where you or your spouse have domiciled for the last 90 days to compile with Texas residency law.
In cases when a petitioner or a respondent, who is a permanent Texas resident, was absent performing public or military service on behalf of the state, this time still counts as a permanent residence. If the residency requirements are met, you can file for divorce.
Step 2: File the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
To officially start the divorce case in Texas, one of the spouses must file the petition for dissolution of marriage with the court. The party filing for divorce in Texas is a petitioner while the other party is a respondent. The petition should include the following information:
- Personal information of both parties (full names, date of birth, driver’s license, and social security number)
- Reason why the petitioner is seeking a dissolution of marriage
- Date of the marriage
- Date when you and your spouse separated
- List of property and accounts that spouses own together or separately
- Information about debts that a couple might have
- Personal information of the children
- Request for the name change, if applicable
If the couple qualifies for a simple uncontested divorce without a lawyer, there are two ways to prepare all the necessary forms. On the one hand, a petitioner can do it without any help, which might be confusing as each divorce case is unique, and different packets of forms might be required depending on the circumstances.
If you want to be sure of the accuracy of the forms, you are welcome to order our services and get qualified assistance and ready-to-use forms after completing our questionnaire. It is quite straightforward and easy to navigate; still, if you need any assistance or clarifications, our support is ready to help you 24/7. With the documents necessary for your case, you will also receive the detailed instructions on how to file with the court.
When all the forms are completed, they must be signed by a petitioner and filed with the court clerk. The petitioner must pay a filing fee or ask for a waiver and file for the Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs. The process of dissolution of marriage will officially start once the petition is file-stamped and the clerk assigns a case number.
Step 3: Deliver a Petition Copy to Your Spouse
The next step after having divorce papers signed by a petitioner and filing them with the court is to deliver the petition copy to the respondent. Serving divorce papers can be done through a sheriff, constable, or process server. The petitioner will have to pay an additional fee for this service unless they qualify for a waiver due to a low income.
The alternative procedure is when the respondent agrees to sign the Waiver of Service in presence of a notary and file it with the clerk. It is common when both spouses have reached a mutual agreement on all divorce-related issues and qualify for an uncontested divorce.
Step 4: Respond to the Divorce Petition
After receiving the summons, the spouse who was served has 20 days for responding to a divorce petition. If the spouse agrees with all the conditions stated in the original petition, they may not respond and the divorce may be processed as default after a designated time frame.
However, if a respondent disagrees with the complaint, they need to file an answer, either with or without the help of a lawyer. To respond to divorce papers without an attorney, it is required to complete an Answer to the Complaint, stating what you agree and disagree with, sign it, and file it with the court. The respondent is also responsible for serving a copy of the answer to the petitioner. In case you are not sure if your interests are infringed, it is recommended to consult a lawyer.
Step 5: Finalize a Divorce Settlement Agreement
Creating a divorce settlement agreement is an optional step during the divorce process. However, it gives couples who reached an agreement more control over the divorce conditions. If both spouses can negotiate on such divorce-related issues as property division, child care, custody, etc., they can jointly file a divorce settlement agreement with the court. It will be revised by the court if necessary and incorporated into the final divorce decree. Mutual agreement divorce allows the couple to reduce the cost of the divorce procedure and fasten the process.
Step 6: Attend a Divorce Hearing
The next step is to attend the final hearing in court. The waiting time can vary depending on the complicacy of the case, but the minimum time period when you can expect an uncontested divorce hearing is after 60 days from the moment of filing the petition with the court. This time is also known as a cooling off period.
To go to court for uncontested divorce, the petitioner must schedule a hearing in the courthouse by contacting the court coordinator. If the respondent party has signed the Waiver of Service, they don’t have to attend the hearings. The petitioner must appear in court on a scheduled date with all the documents, including the final Decree of Divorce, and be ready to give testimony to the judge. If all the paperwork was completed correctly, the hearing may take just a few minutes.
Step 7: Finalize the Divorce
To finalize the divorce, the petitioner must:
- Obtain the Final Decree of Divorce Texas, signed by the judge. Both parties are obliged to follow the Final Divorce Decree conditions once divorce is finalized.
- File the Final Decree with the clerk and get a certified copy and other signed documents related to your case.
- Serve the other party with a copy of the Decree if they weren’t present at the court hearing.
- If your name was changed, make sure to update it with government and financial institutions.