If you’re worried about the cost of divorce and want to keep things as simple as possible, you might be interested in learning how to file for divorce online in Texas.
Getting an online divorce is a way to get an uncontested divorce without having to hire lawyers. This means that getting divorced can cost only a few hundred dollars rather than several thousand dollars. Before you get started, though, you’ll want to make sure you are a good candidate for an online divorce and that it will help you obtain an outcome you are comfortable with once your divorce is final.
There are two primary qualifications for getting an online divorce in Texas.
The first is meeting the residency requirements. The second is that only uncontested divorces can be filed and completed online.
An important note: district or county courts handle divorce cases in Texas. This means that they can have their own rules even though online divorce services generally serve the entire state.
The residency requirements for getting an online divorce in Texas are the same as those for getting a standard divorce in the state.
Here are the qualifications you must meet to get a Texas divorce:
It’s a good idea to check in with the county where you will be filing for divorce to learn about any specific rules they might have about the divorce process.
There are a few exceptions to the residency requirements. For example, divorcing couples with one spouse in the military can get divorced in Texas if one spouse is serving in the military or another applicable government position out of state, but Texas is their “home state” for the purposes of residency. This is true even if the spouse that isn’t in the military isn’t physically in the state and is instead accompanying the military spouse in another location.
Your divorce has to be uncontested in order to get divorced online in Texas. An uncontested divorce is a divorce where the couple agrees on all of the terms of the divorce, including how property will be divided and what will happen to minor children involved in the marriage.
When two parties aren’t able to agree on even one issue, the divorce is considered contested. If this is the case, you won’t be able to file for an online divorce in Texas unless the two of you can come to an agreement before you file your divorce petition.
Let’s take a look at the steps involved in an online divorce filing in the Lone Star State.
It can be tempting to get divorced online to keep things simple and keep costs down. After all, divorce in Texas is expensive, and a lot of people are motivated to reduce the financial impact of ending their marriage.
The reality is, though, that not everyone is a good candidate for an online divorce. Even if you fulfill the two requirements listed above, there are still a lot of circumstances where an online divorce might not be the best option for you.
If you and your spouse really do agree about all issues, including child support, child custody, and property division, that’s a good first step. You’ll also want to make sure you have confidence that you have complete information about all of the assets and debts involved in your marriage. If your financial situation is complex, an online divorce probably isn’t the way to go, and you will instead want to work with lawyers.
Finally, you want to triple-check that you are comfortable with the arrangement you and your spouse have come up with when it comes to child custody, support, and parenting time.
The more complicated your divorce is, the more you should think about consulting with a lawyer. Though attorney’s fees are the most expensive part of getting divorced, you might find that it’s well worth the cost in order to obtain an outcome you’re happy with post-divorce.
In order to file the divorce petition online, you’ll need to pick an online service that will help prepare your paperwork. Depending on the jurisdiction you’re in, it’s possible that you will have to file your paperwork in person.
When you are searching for an online divorce service, you’ll want to make sure that the service serves the state of Texas, as not all of them do.
When the divorce papers have been filed with the court, it’s now time to inform your spouse that you are filing for divorce.
If you’ve gotten this far in the process, you should have already confirmed that your divorce is uncontested. In most cases, this will mean that your spouse is well aware that the divorce process is beginning and is on the same page as you. That being said, you are legally required to inform your spouse that the paperwork has been filed.
You will most likely choose between the following two options:
When you’re spouse cannot be located, you might be able to publish news of your divorce in a public forum. If your spouse is refusing to be involved in the process, it doesn’t mean you can’t get divorced. It does, however, mean that you will need to ask the court for a default divorce. Though a default divorce is technically considered an uncontested divorce, you won’t be able to complete the process online.
The nonprofit organization Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) provides a guide you can use to understand what to do if you’ve been served with divorce papers in Texas.
In almost all Texas divorces, there is a required sixty-day waiting period.
The purpose of this waiting period is to ensure that all involved parties have the opportunity to really think about whether divorce is something they want to go through with. It also serves as an opportunity for divorcing couples to worth through any remaining issues that haven’t been resolved.
There are only two very specific instances when courts can allow divorcing parties to finalize a divorce before this waiting period is over. These are:
Courts are not allowed under Texas law to grant divorces before the sixtieth day after the initial filing of the divorce except in these circumstances.
If your spouse has engaged in domestic violence, a Texas court likely won’t believe that your uncontested divorce was agreed upon without duress and willingly. This means that if you qualify for one of these exceptions, you most likely can’t proceed with an online divorce.
There are a lot of reasons that getting divorced online is an appealing option– after all, they are simple, quick, and inexpensive compared to involving attorneys.
That being said, it’s important to know what the risks are before you choose to go this way.
One potential issue is that the specific necessary steps you have to take in a divorce vary from county to county, but online divorce services typically serve the state as a whole.
On top of that, getting divorced online doesn’t mean your case won’t end up in court. Unforeseeable issues can always arise even when it seems like your divorce will be amicable from the get-go.
Getting an online divorce can be a godsend when you and your spouse want to save money on lawyer's fees, have a simple estate, and legitimately agree on all of the terms of your divorce. If this isn’t your circumstance, though, beginning the online filing process might mean you end up in court anyway.
If you’re looking for more information about how to legally end your marriage in the Lone Star State, be sure to check out the rest of our Texas divorce law resource center.