The process of getting divorced in Texas can be overwhelming.
This is especially the case when a divorcing spouse decides to go it alone without the assistance of an experienced Texas divorce attorney.
Texas divorce laws are complex. A pro se spouse may find that researching one legal issue only leads to more questions and confusion.
However, with the proliferation of online divorce templates and services, divorcing couples in Texas who are willing to compromise and cooperate may be able to fast-track their divorce while saving money and a lot of grief in the process.
What Does It Mean to File for Divorce Online in Texas?
An online divorce in Texas may refer to one of two different things. One, it may refer to how to file for divorce in Texas online using Texas’s e-filing system.
Most Texas counties permit divorcing parties to upload their paperwork to the clerk’s office inside their local courthouse. However, an online divorce in Texas also refers to document delivery services that provide consumers with templates for filling out divorce paperwork.
Who Should Get an Online Divorce in Texas?
Online divorces in Texas are not advisable for most couples. However, those who are seeking an uncontested divorce and have few assets to divide may be able to get by with an online divorce template.
An uncontested divorce means that the parties both agree to the divorce, the basis for divorce, and all issues related to the division of community property, spousal support, child custody, and child support.
Uncontested divorces in Texas are quicker than contested divorces.
In the event you cannot agree on all these matters, you will need to seek a contested divorce in a Texas family law court. If that is the case, then the court may need to resolve any contested issues and an online divorce template may be of little use.
Even if you do agree, it’s generally advisable to seek the advice of professional legal counsel if you have children or any significant assets. You may still be able to save money by completing the paperwork yourself with a TX online divorce, but you should at least have a lawyer review the paperwork before you sign and help you check for any errors.
Keep in mind that even if you use online divorce papers, in Texas one of the spouses must still go to court for a “prove up” hearing.
Here, the judge will review the terms of your agreement to ensure the terms are not unconscionable, that the agreement adequately provides for any minor children, and that both spouses signed the agreement voluntarily and not because of fraud or coercion. If the paperwork checks out, the judge will sign off on the agreement and incorporate it into your final divorce decree.
Is an Online Divorce in Texas Right for Me?
Whether an uncontested online divorce in Texas is appropriate for your circumstances depends on an array of factors. It’s important to remember that what you agree to in a divorce will impact the rest of your life, as well as the lives of any minor children you may have.
For this reason, it might be helpful to consult with an experienced Texas divorce attorney to ensure you dot every “I” and cross every “T”. The following considerations should help you determine whether a Texas online divorce is right for you.
Your Divorce Is Contested
A divorce is contested if:
- You and your spouse don’t agree about getting the divorce;
- You or your spouse seeks a fault-based divorce;
- You and your spouse cannot agree on whether a given asset is community or separate property;
- You and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide up community property;
- You and your spouse cannot agree on whether one or both parents should be able to make decisions impacting the child’s welfare;
- You and your spouse cannot agree on a visitation schedule;
- You or your spouse is seeking to relocate out of state, and the other spouse opposes the move;
- You and your spouse cannot agree on the appropriate amount of child support; or
- You and your spouse cannot agree on matters of spousal support.
In sum, unless the parties agree on every aspect of the divorce, the divorce is a contested divorce. This means that the parties must participate in discovery and litigate any unresolved issues before a Texas divorce court.
You Need Formal Legal Advice
Online divorce papers in Texas are not substitutes for an experienced Texas family law attorney. If you don’t understand each and every term in your divorce settlement agreement, seek the advice of an attorney. The stakes are too high to simply assume the written agreement says what you think it does. One mistake could very well jeopardize your finances, inheritance, or even your relationship with your child.
Your Spouse’s Whereabouts Are Unknown
If you can’t find your spouse, then you’re not going to have a chance to agree on anything. Moreover, you won’t even have a chance to serve them. Instead, you are going to have to seek a default divorce in court.
These kinds of divorces are rare and generally disfavored in Texas. If you are seeking divorce and your spouse is MIA, an experienced attorney can help with the default divorce process.
Neither Spouse Has Lived in Texas for at Least 6 Months
Texas has a six-month residency requirement for parties seeking a divorce in a Texas court. In addition, most Texas counties require a party to have lived there for at least 90 days before filing for any divorce.
This is the case regardless of whether it is contested or uncontested.
One Spouse Engages in Domestic Violence
Texas courts review settlement agreements to ensure the parties made the agreement willingly and without duress.
Negotiations in which one spouse is actively abusing the other will not satisfy the court. Moreover, Texas law tasks courts with protecting the best interest of all minor children of the marriage.
A parenting plan that awards custody to a violent parent is typically not in the best interest of any child.
One Spouse Is Likely to Hide Assets
Settlement agreements must include every asset owned by you and your spouse.
A settlement agreement procured by fraudulently concealing assets may be rejected outright or subsequently invalidated by a Texas court.
The Parties Cannot Cooperate
Finally, spouses cannot make an agreement if the parties refuse to work together.
Success in fashioning a Texas divorce settlement agreement requires an open mind and willingness to cooperate.
Questions About How to File for Divorce in Texas Online?
Online divorces are not for everybody. Unless you agree on every issue related to property division, alimony, and matters concerning the minor children, you will likely have to file the divorce as contested.
If you’re beginning your divorce and are curious about filing for a Texas divorce online, call (713) 221-9088 or contact the experienced divorce attorneys at The Larson Law Office today to schedule your complimentary consultation.