Did you know that, according to statistics, the average cost of a divorce in the US is almost equal to the average cost of a wedding with all the bells and whistles ($20-25 000)? Sounds impressive, and not much fun, especially taking into consideration the fact that many people on the verge of divorce feel that they have already paid in full. Thus it’s no wonder that some people who don’t need their divorce to be a huge show, are looking for ways to save a little when drafting a divorce, without involving lawyers or mediators. But how to arrange such a cheap divorce? How to save money without missing any significant detail and to settle all the necessary issues in a fair and mutually beneficial way? There are several common conditions and ways of how to get a cheap divorce in Texas – let’s sort it out.
Are you a good candidate for a simplified Texas divorce?
Foremost, we should understand what factors allow to minimize a whole cost of divorce, because, anyway, the main goal is a well-organized divorce without problems and without extra expenses which may arise in future if you are not sufficiently attentive to the documents, agreement and so on. To understand what is really worth paying, and without what actions and expenses you can easily do, you need to decide on the type of divorce.
When filing for divorce, one of the provided by state law grounds for dissolution must be indicated in the petition. To make divorce easier it’s better to file under the no-fault ground (surely, if the situation is not critical). No-fault divorce in Texas implies that the spouses want to divorce as they have some conflict of interest and just can’t get along anymore. No one is obliged to prove or detail something before the court.
No-fault ground for divorce, in its turn, allows arranging an uncontested divorce, what means that the main terms of the case are decided by the spouses independently, not by the long-term court battles and the court’s decisions.
So, if you feel that you are able to negotiate with your spouse about property division, child custody, and other important issues, you should try an uncontested, or as it’s also known “agreed” divorce. It’s definitely cheaper, even both parties want to hire attorneys, and also, uncontested divorce typically takes less time.
It’s generally considered that not every couple is eligible for uncontested divorce in Texas. Actually, there are some conditions which are preferred for filing for an uncontested divorce, like:
- the spouses have no minor children together;
- the spouses don’t have a lot of property together or retirement benefits to dividing;
- neither spouse is going to seek alimony;
- the wish to get a divorce is mutual.
However, if the spouses have minor children they also have the right to file for uncontested divorce, though it might be a more time-consuming process. The point is that the parties should decide in advance all the controversial issues, make a written agreement and fill out the relevant forms for an uncontested divorce with children.
Anyway, the essence of an agreed divorce is your mutual ability and desire to settle all the differences in a most amicable way, to communicate honestly and directly, and, whenever possible, to arrange a divorce as a non-stressful and inexpensive process. If you and your ex are ready for this, let’s go further.
DIY divorce – when attention to detail is essential
To arrange a cheap divorce in Texas, you can fill out the forms yourself checking your state’s court website for divorce papers or contacting the clerk of the family court of your county. Such a procedure is known as do-it-yourself divorce. And surely, there are some features and pitfalls you should definitely know about the topic before taking this step.
First, you need to clearly know what forms are necessary for your divorce circumstances.
The Texas Judicial Branch website provides a self-help guide with a number of recommended and state-approved links which may be useful for the self-represented litigants. You can find examples of filling out forms, useful videos, etc. Get ready for the fact that having a goal to save money, you probably will not always be able to save time. Without the help of specialists, you will have to dive into the legal nuances of uncontested divorce in Texas if you are interested in the best result.
After filling out the divorce forms and filing the Petition with the District Clerk of the county court according to the instructions you should serve your spouse with the copies. Since your desire to get a cheap divorce in Texas is mutual you may save some cost of service.
There is a divorce form called the Notice of Service of Process which usually accompanies the Petition for dissolution. This form is needed to notify the other party (called the Respondent) about the case and to receive his/her answer to the Petition. Speaking of uncontested divorce, it’s assumed that both spouses know about each other intentions, and all the divorce terms outlined in the initial Petition are agreed by them in advance, meaning that they are going to cooperate working on the settlement. So, the Respondent may refuse from the service in writing, filing the special Waiver of service form (notice that even if the general title is the same there are different forms for divorce with or without children, you just need to choose the right set of forms).
After the Petition is filed and the service is waived, an uncontested divorce is officially started. However, in Texas, there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period, before the expiration of which the divorce cannot be granted by the court, even if the case is simple and uncontested. For those who decide to organize a DIY divorce, these days may be spent to work out a final agreement regarding property, alimony, custody of children and other issues that seem to be important in a particular situation. The mutual desire of the spouses to complete the divorce as soon as possible and without disputes is very important, but it still doesn’t guarantee that judicial intervention won’t be required. Anyway, the settlement agreement must be submitted to the court and the judge must confirm that it is fair – namely, that the property is divided in a just way, that the child custody and support arrangement meets the best interest of the kid(s). So, if the spouses do not have claims against each other but their agreement is considered as insufficient in the eye of the court (or it doesn’t comply with state laws) the divorce will be probably delayed. Also, the spouses may be ordered to attend divorce mediation sessions to deal with their agreement. Although mediators’ fees are still much cheaper than lawyers’ fees, yet it’s expenses. And if your case is simple enough your chance to get a really cheap divorce depends a lot on your sense of responsibility, and close attention to all the details. You shouldn’t panic or rush, just keep calm and encourage your ex to take the work on an agreement seriously as well. As for uncontested divorce, a successful marital settlement agreement defines a character of a post-divorce life a lot, especially if the couple have kids and some kind of communication between the former spouses is still implied.
Online-divorce – the helping hand
So, the cheapest way to get a divorce in Texas is a purely DIY divorce. In its best, the cost of a do-it-yourself divorce may be limited to the filing fee. Nevertheless, DIY divorce doesn’t fit every couple, and all these court sites can be pretty tricky, while nowadays we are totally “spoiled” by developers who pay much attention to the ergonomics of apps and websites, so you know, there may be some difficulties with all that online bureaucracy… Also, different forms can be required within different states as well as fees, which are in addition to fees for document preparation. So, a lot of busy people seek a kind of middle way between, they want an inexpensive divorce to be fast, and so that they could use some help but without hiring an attorney.
Basing on all these conditions, online divorce companies are becoming even more popular way for couples to terminate their marriage, speaking of uncontested divorce, of course.
Such websites prepare forms for you based on information you provide. There is no specific package of services; you can choose the most suitable option. Thus some companies are the do-it-yourself type where you fill out the forms yourself, and others prepare your documents, many of the top sites will review the forms. Usually, they have attorneys or divorce paralegals who also can explain and provide detailed information on your divorce process.
What’s really good, is that these divorce documents are customized to your county’s rules, your children, your income, assets and other factors in your case, and you don’t need to seek for all the information and nuances by yourself. You receive the prepared, ready to print and sign divorce forms after a short online interview, without long completion or delivery periods. If time is money – we should use it well.