Sometimes a potential client has a case and there is no grand story with dramatic facts. No one has cheated and there is no abuse, there are just two people who have grown apart and do not want to be married anymore. Often they have already physically separated and divided up the property in a manner that they believe to be fair. What they are missing is the knowledge of how to complete the process legally. So, taking a step back from the unique situations family law can bring, this week we’ll look at a more common and simple occurrence and the steps taken to get it done properly.
As I have previously touched on, an uncontested, no-fault divorce means that both spouses agree to end their marriage without placing blame on one another. It’s often seen as a more amicable and straightforward way to dissolve a marriage. It is by far the easiest and least stressful way to get divorced. However, it will still require a slight bit of work from the client. The first step is one the attorney will take care of, filing the petition. The filing of the petition starts the 60 day clock, which is (generally) required before a divorce can be granted in Texas.
After the petition is filed one of two things will happened depending on whether or not the other spouse has also retained counsel. If they have, they will be served and they will file an answer to the petition. On the other hand, if the other spouse hasn’t retained counsel, the filing spouse can be provided with a waiver of service which they can signed, preventing them from having to be served and file an answer.
Next there are two documents that require the client to put in a little work, the initial disclosures and the sworn inventory. 30 days after either a waiver or answer is filed initial disclosures will be due. In this document you will list assets, evidence, and witnesses. These disclosures are automatic but can be waived just like service. The sworn inventory is not automatic but that doesn’t mean it should be waived or ignored. This is because it lists all of the separate and community property of the spouses. It is a vital document even in uncontested divorces, because it ensures that all property is rightly divided.
If there are children involved, the parents will also need to agree to a possession schedule, conservatorship, and child support. In an uncontested divorce, parents usually agree to be joint managing conservators with at minimum a standard possession order. Child support usually follows the guidelines.
Once all issues are agreed upon the last thing to do is put the agreement into a decree. After the decree is drafted it is filed with the court along with an affidavit of prove up. The Court reviews the decree and the affidavit, and if everything is in order the judge signs the decree finalizing the divorce. Once the judge’s signature is on the decree the marriage is officially dissolved.