Not every divorce ends in conflict. Many dissolutions of marriage in the Houston area are settled amicably by both parties. But just because you and your spouse are getting along while you're planning a divorce doesn't mean that there isn't potential for animosity or costly oversights. An experienced divorce lawyer can work with both parties in an uncontested divorce while protecting your individual interests.
An uncontested divorce is one where truly all issues are agreed upon - which means division of property and all child-related issues. Uncontested divorces can also occur where there has been a prenuptial agreement since can impact what would be subject to division. Regardless of whether contested or uncontested, the general rule still applies that no divorce will be granted until the 61st day after filing. See Texas Family Code §6.702.
In most divorces, there is at the issue of assets and debts, but divorcing parents also usually have many concerns about the custody and care of their children. You and your spouse may approach these topics with the best intentions, but as you start to go over the details, you may realize that shared parenting plans and child support arrangements aren't as cut and dried as you previously thought. You may also disagree over what's fair with regard to the division of assets and debt.
By hiring a divorce lawyer, you not only can keep your negotiations civil and uncomplicated, but you can make sure that your good nature isn't taken advantage of.
In Texas, there is no legal requirement for either party to hire a divorce attorney. In fact, there are numerous divorces that go through the Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery family courts that aren't initiated by lawyers. When you hire a divorce lawyer, they work for your best interests. Similarly, your spouse's attorney will be working for theirs. If you don't also hire a lawyer, you could be entrusting your future to someone who isn't obligated to protect you.
In the state of Texas, there are advantages to having your spouse's cooperation when filing for a divorce. Here are a few:
- If you're the petitioner, your spouse can sign a waiver before you file, which means that you don't have to take the time to serve them with paperwork.
- If you don't meet the residency requirements, but your spouse does, they can provide you with the necessary documentation to file your original petition.
- You and your spouse can avoid unnecessary delays during the answer and discovery phases of the divorce.
- If one of the parties is adamant about the divorce, contesting it can only add time and stress to the process. Conversely, their cooperation can make your waiting time much easier.
Regardless of whether a divorce is contested or uncontested, there are certain constants. For instance:
- There is a mandatory 60-day waiting period that can't be waived.
- The state and county residency requirements are applicable whether the divorce is contested or not.
- When children are involved, the parents or their attorneys will have to submit a shared parenting plan to the courts.
No matter how civil your relationship is with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, there are certain matters that will have to be resolved prior to the dissolution of your marriage:
- Division of Assets – Most married couples have communal property. You’ll need to decide which of you gets which items. In some cases, you may opt to sell something and split the proceeds or you may use the value of some items to offset others during the division.
- Division of Debt – You may be responsible for a greater or lesser portion of marital debt, depending upon how it was acquired.
- Child Custody – This is usually the greatest source of conflict between parents. Texas divorce courts generally award shared custody in the form of a Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC). It’s always preferred that the parents come up with a manageable shared-parenting plan and present it to the courts.
- Child Support – This is usually paid by the parent who has the children for the least amount of time and it’s based on income.
- Alimony – Spousal support isn’t always awarded, and the state caps it at the lesser of $5,000 per month or 20% of the payer’s gross monthly income.
A divorce lawyer who’s familiar with Texas law can assist you in determining what’s customary and can help you tailor a settlement that works well for you, your spouse, and your children.
Just because your spouse agrees to a divorce, doesn't mean that they'll agree to all of your terms. Protect your interests while avoiding unnecessary conflicts with the other party. The Law Office of Scott D. Reiner, PLLC can help you outline the details of your uncontested divorce. Contact our Houston law office today to schedule an initial consultation.