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How to File for Divorce in Texas With No Money

Sophia Merton
December 21, 2022

The average cost of divorce in Texas is $12,800, according to FindLaw. In some instances, dissolving your marriage can cost upwards of $20,000. Many people don’t have that type of cash lying around, which leaves them wondering how to file for divorce in Texas with no money.

If you’re low income, you might qualify to have your filing fees and other court-related fees waived. There are also some options to receive free or low-cost legal aid if you qualify for a program in your area.

Can I File For Divorce in Texas With No Money?

There is a filing fee when you file your divorce paperwork with a Texas courthouse, whether or not you’ve hired a lawyer to represent you. The cost of the filing fee varies depending on which county you are filing for divorce in, but it's typically between $250 and $350.

judge slamming gavel in court hearing about waiving court fees in texas divorce for people with no money
If you can't afford the filing fee and other court fees in order to file for divorce in Texas, you can ask the court to waive the fees.

You can learn more about the expenses associated with divorce in our post about the cost of divorce in Texas.

If you aren’t able to afford this fee, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck in your marriage. You can apply to have the filing fee waived by proving that you have a low income. The first step you’ll need to take is to fill out and file an affidavit of indigency form.

Important note: When you sign this form, you are stating that the information you included is true and correct under penalty of perjury. This means that lying on the form is a crime.

Once you file this form, a hearing date will be set by the district clerk. You can present your financial situation at the hearing to a judge. If the court is willing to waive your filing fees, you can then continue with the process of divorce without having to pay any court-related fees.

The option to have your court fees waived is usually available to people that receive government entitlements due to indigency. Examples of this type of government assistance includes:

  • Medicaid
  • Food stamps
  • Emergency assistance
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Public housing

If you are able to prove that any of the following are true, you will likely be able to have your fees waived:

  • You are being represented by a free attorney through a legal aid provider
  • You receive government benefits because you are low-income
  • You don’t have the money to pay for both the court fees and the basic needs of your household
  • You applied and were financially eligible for an attorney through a legal aid provider, but they weren’t able to take your case.

If your court fees are waived by the court, you won’t have to pay any fees that are charged by an officer of the court or the court itself. This includes things like the filing fees, fees for copies, fees charged for the preparation of the appellate record, fees for a court-appointed professional, and fees for issuance and service of process.

Of course, the court filing fees are only a small percentage of the total cost of divorce if you are hiring an attorney. There are some ways to receive free or low-cost legal help, but you typically have to meet certain qualifications. We’ll discuss these options a little later in the article.

If you are able to get divorced without hiring a lawyer, having your court filing fees waived means that you can get divorced for free. However, you’ll want to be very considerate about whether moving forward without a lawyer is a good idea in your particular case.

Should I Get Divorced Without a Lawyer to Save Money?

You have the right to represent yourself in a divorce in the state of Texas. This is known as being a Pro Se litigant. It isn’t always a good idea, though, so you’ll want to think about whether you are a good candidate for getting a DIY divorce.

person filling out form to get divorced in texas with no money
Filing for divorce on your own without hiring a lawyer can save you a lot of money, but you'll want to make sure you're a good candidate for self-representation.

If any of the following are true, a lawyer might be unnecessary in your case:

  • There aren’t any children in the marriage
  • There is very little or no property in both spouses’ names
  • The couple agrees on the terms of property division and issues related to children, such as child support and custody arrangements.
  • The spouses are filing on no-fault grounds to dissolve the marriage
  • The spouses are not dealing with extreme or overwhelming emotions that could impact the divorce process

If you and your spouse aren’t able to resolve your conflicts on your own, you might consider seeking mediation in order to come to an agreement about all of the terms of your divorce. If this route is successful, you might then consider proceeding without a lawyer. For people with complicated estates, an attorney might simply be necessary.

How to Receive Free or Low-Cost Legal Aid in a Texas Divorce

For people that need a lawyer to get divorced but can’t afford it, there are some options. There are a number of organizations that provide legal assistance for free or at a low cost for people that live in Texas who qualify. The requirements to qualify often include information about where you live, how much income you earn, and the type of court case you’re filing.

group of legal aid lawyers in law office in texas helping people file for divorce with no money
There are a number of legal aid programs in Texas where you might be able to receive free or low-cost legal help if you meet the qualifications.

Legal aid organizations frequently require that parties have a household income level below 125-200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Where you fall in relation to the poverty guidelines has to do with the pre-tax income of your household and how many people live in your house. Use this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services chart to get a sense of where your household falls.

You also typically need to be a current Texas resident to meet the residency requirements of legal aid programs. However, if you’re in the Armed Forces and you are temporarily stationed elsewhere with your home state still being in Texas, you are considered a resident of Texas and could still qualify based on the residency requirements. The same is true if your spouse is in the Armed Forces.

There can also be additional eligibility factors in order to qualify for some legal aid organizations. These programs might focus on serving specific communities, including veterans, sexual assault victims, seniors, and people with disabilities.

man shaking hands with legal aid lawyer to get divorced with no money in texas
If you're eligible for legal aid and are accepted by a program you apply to,  it can mean you don't have to pay anything in legal fees. However, there are often long waiting lists, and being eligible doesn't mean your case will be taken by a legal aid program.

To find legal aid organizations in your area of Texas, you can use this directory on Texas Law Help. It’s important to know that your case still might not be taken by an organization even if you do qualify. There are many people who want to receive free legal help when getting divorced, and this means that there are often very long lists with these programs. In some cases, waiting for legal aid help can mean that you can’t even start the process of getting divorced for several years.

If you don’t think you’ll qualify for legal aid programs in Texas, check out our post on how to get a cheap divorce in Texas. If you need the help of a lawyer but don’t want it to cost an arm and a leg, take a look at our recent article about how to find an affordable Texas divorce attorney.

Are you looking for more information about dissolving your marriage or family law issues in Texas? Check out our library of articles at TexasDivorceLaws.org.

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

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