An uncontested divorce starts with one spouse completing and filing a divorce petition in the Texas county district court. The uncontested divorce can be "at fault," when one spouse's actions have caused the end of the union, such as adultery, or "no fault," when the spouses can't get along and have no hope of reconciling. Spouses must have lived apart for at least three years before filing a no-fault divorce. The filing spouse -- the petitioner -- typically must serve notice of the divorce petition on the other spouse, the respondent, but in uncontested cases, the respondent signs a waiver indicating he doesn't need formal service of the petition. A parenting class is required by the court if the couple has children, even if the divorce is uncontested.
Both spouses must work together to create a plan for an uncontested divorce. The agreement details how the couple's assets, property and debts will be divided between them and spells out the child custody arrangement. All of these decisions are part of the divorce decree, the legal document that ends the marriage and makes the agreement binding on both parties. Once both spouses sign a decree, the document is submitted to the Texas county district court for the judge's approval. The divorce is official when the judge signs the decree, but this can't occur until at least 60 days after the date the petition was filed in Texas.
Uncontested divorces in Texas are less expensive than contested actions. For example, an uncontested divorce in Harris County costs approximately $300 in court fees to file at the time of publication, whereas a contested divorce can easily run over $1,000, depending on attorney fees and the complexity of the case. An uncontested divorce can be completed in a little over two months in Texas, whereas a contested action can drag on and cause emotional distress for all parties involved.
A couple who wishes to file an uncontested divorce can do so with or without legal representation in Texas, but only one attorney representing one party is used. Child support can't be waived in Texas even if both parties are in agreement, but the couple can decide who pays and how the money is transferred -- either by an informal arrangement or through the county child support enforcement agency. Health insurance coverage for the children must also be specified in the decree. If the parties start with an uncontested action but realize they can't come to a final agreement, the case is converted to a contested divorce, with some matters decided by the district court. Texas allows for discovery -- when both parties obtain information from each other -- and meditation, so the couple may still be able reach an agreement without needing the judge to make decisions.