One of the most difficult challenges that any person can experience is that of a divorce. The process is often emotionally devastating and financially draining. However, despite the hardships that must be faced during the dissolution process, the reality is that thousands of marriages will end in divorce every year in our country. The divorce rate in the United States in 2005, the last year for which reliable data is available, was 3.6 for every 1000 people. This figure marks the lowest divorce rate since 1970, but still accounts for many marriages coming to an end. In Texas, the divorce rate for the same year was slightly lower than the national average at 3.3 per 1000 people. If you are a resident of Texas and you realize that your marriage is headed for an inevitable divorce, there is an option available that will make this life transition as amicable and painless as such a difficult process can possibly be. Assuming you are willing and able to work with your estranged spouse on the divorce agreement, the approach known as an uncontested divorce certainly should be considered.
With an uncontested divorce, both parties are able to come to a mutual agreement concerning property division, sharing of child custody, and financial support issues. This type of divorce filing usually saves both parties a great deal of time and money, as well as provides the best possibility of maintaining a sense of peace for any children involved. If you believe you and your spouse may be able to work together to create an acceptable agreement to end your marriage, consider these factors and then decide if an uncontested divorce is the best approach for your situation:
1. Communication – You both have decided that you no longer wish to be married. Are you still able to speak to one another in a civil manner and with an honest interest in hearing the other’s perspective? In an uncontested divorce, the husband and wife must be able to cooperate on all of the key decisions. This does not mean that there will not be any points of contention, but that both of you are willing to work through them together.
2. Character – Are you planning to file for divorce due to your spouse’s infidelity, lying, money mismanagement, or other poor decisions? In this instance, it may be more beneficial to you to file for divorce on specific and contested grounds. If you have not been able to trust your spouse during your marriage, you hardly can expect a more amicable relationship to begin now. This is especially true if there was any abuse in the relationship.
3. Cost – An uncontested divorce certainly is the least expensive way to move through the divorce process. If you do not wish to spend thousands of dollars fighting over each item that was purchased during your marriage and negotiating the specific hour at which the children will be picked up on Friday evenings, an uncontested divorce may fit your needs. However, in some instances, it many prove impossible to reach common ground on the assets you accumulated as a couple as well as other details of the settlement. Do not accept less than what you know you deserve simply in order to save a few dollars now.
Now that you have determined that an uncontested divorce is a viable option, what needs to happen now? There are residency requirements that first must be met. In order to file for divorce in Texas, you need to have been a resident of the state for at least six months and a resident of the county in which you plan to file for at least ninety days. Since you do not plan to have major issues of contention, only one spouse needs to hire an attorney who then will prepare and file a divorce petition.
The spouse who does not hire an attorney will receive a copy of the divorce decree as well as a waiver of citation which must be signed. A waiver of citation simply acknowledges that the spouse received the divorce decree and does not need to be served officially with papers by a representative of the court. The waiver also excuses the spouse from appearing at the final divorce hearing in court.
After a sixty-day waiting period, the spouse who filed the divorce decree must appear before a judge with his or her attorney and have the settlement approved. You simply allow another thirty days for the agreement to be processed, and your divorce is considered legal and final in the state of Texas.
Divorce is never an easy process for two individuals who once shared dreams of a life together. There are feelings of guilt, sadness, disappointment, fear, and failure that must be processed. Children who are a part of the family must be secure in the fact that they are still loved by both parents and that their lives will continue with as much normalcy as possible. When both parties are able to come together across a table and discuss the details like two mature, peaceful adults, an uncontested divorce is often the best possible option. In Texas, this process is designed to be simple and sensitive to the needs of all parties involved. If you are ready to move forward with an uncontested divorce, contact a family law attorney today.
Tony R. Bertolino is the managing partner at Bertolino LLP with law offices located in Austin, Houston and San Antonio, Texas. A member of the Trial and Appellate Litigation Team, Mr. Bertolino’s practice is devoted largely to complex transactions, commercial litigation, business law, entertainment law and family law matters. You can read more about Mr. Bertolino at http://www.belolaw.com.