Do-It-Yourself Texas Divorce With Children
By Maria Hahalis
You and your spouse may want a divorce, but are worried it could be expensive. You also may wonder if you are able to get a divorce on your own. Texas allows you to get a divorce without having an attorney represent you. Representing yourself in a divorce is called pro se. Understanding what the pro se requirements are to get a divorce can help you figure out what you and your spouse need to agree on for a divorce to move quickly and to make the process less difficult for everyone involved.
To begin a divorce, one of the spouses must file a petition for divorce. The filing spouse will need to serve the other spouse with divorce papers, unless the nonfiling spouse signs a waiver that he gives up his right to formal service. If you serve your spouse with papers, it may mean that you and your spouse do not agree on all the issues in your divorce, which means that the divorce is contested. Further, residency requirements exist for filing a divorce and a 60-day waiting period exists before any divorce can be finalized. If you can’t find your spouse or if your spouse refuses to cooperate, there are options for you. Be sure to review all instructions and resources available on the State Bar of Texas website.
There are required items that both parties must agree to before you can finalize your divorce. Some of these items include division of property, debts, a parenting plan and child support. Everything that you and your spouse jointly agree with will go into a document called a decree. If you and your spouse don’t agree on all these items, the court will decide on the terms of the divorce in the divorce decree.
Parenting Plan and Child Support
The State of Texas has created forms to help you with an uncontested divorce with children. All decisions need to be reasonable and in the best interests of the children, including the division of property and the parenting plan. The Texas Family Code includes standard forms that you can use in developing a parenting plan. Texas also has a standard formula for determining child support.
Certain requirements exist that you and your spouse must meet to satisfy Texas divorce laws. All children of the marriage must be accounted for, so most courts will not approve your divorce if you are pregnant. The court will also make sure that no ongoing domestic violence exists. Once the decree has all the necessary requirements, check with the court to see when you can have a hearing. You will also need to file your decree, the child support withholding order and other required forms. Both parties are not required to be present for an uncontested final hearing.
Based in Austin, Texas, Maria Hahalis is a legal writer and attorney. She received a Bachelor of Arts in history from The University of Tulsa and a JD from St. Louis University School of Law. Her legal career began at the attorney general’s Office where she handled more than 1500 files.