In this video, Attorney Rachel Rust talks about the ways you might get an uncontested divorce in Texas. If you’re ready to get started, please call or text 800-929-1725 for an appointment at one of our offices in Wharton County, Matagorda County, and Fort Bend County.
Summary of How Can I Get an Uncontested Divorce
Hello again, this is Rachel Rust from Wadler, Perches, Hundl & Kerlick.
If some of you watched my video on uncontested divorce, you might be ready for the next step, which is, “Okay, how do I get there? “How would I settle my case?” And there are several different ways that you may reach that result.
The Kitchen Table Approach
The first is what many lawyers refer to as a kitchen table approach. You don’t really have to sit at a kitchen table, but you do have to make a list of your assets and your debts and agree on who’s going to get what and who’s going to pay what.
Likewise for your children. You have to discuss what your work schedule is, what will happen if one spouse who hasn’t been working outside the home takes a job, and what the kids’ schedule is. Is somebody going to stay in the prior marital home, and if so, how will we organize or reorganize ourselves into two separate households?
If you and your spouse can agree on your property, then you can simply make a list and put a W and an H by each and say, “Okay, this is how we’re going to divide it.” If you have a schedule for the kids, you can indicate how you want to share time with your spouse. Perhaps you can get out a calendar and color code it. You can make little marks on it that say this is how we’re going to share our children and get them to their activities and try to cause the fewest disruptions to their lives as possible.
If you can’t talk to each other without fighting, maybe you can write notes. You can leave notes on a table or someplace else and say, “Here’s what I propose,” or, “Here’s what I think we own and we owe”. And you can pass notes back to each other. That sounds kind of silly, but some people can communicate better in writing than face-to-face.
If you can’t do that, maybe you have a family friend you trust or a family member you both trust who can help. Perhaps there is someone in your church who will help you try to come up with these essential things. Here’s what you got. Here’s what you owe. Here’s what your kids need to know about where they’re going to live and how they’re going to go back and forth.
If you can get that done, you can hire an attorney who will turn your kitchen table notes into a divorce decree. The same paperwork has to be done, but an attorney can draft that petition, a waiver, and the divorce decree.
Try to Settle with the Help of Your Attorney
If you can’t do any of that, then you can choose an attorney who you instruct to try to settle the case. Who you choose as an attorney makes a big difference in how your case will be resolved. If your attorney on their website advertises themselves as “fights” or “aggressive,” those are battle cries. Those are not settlement words. Those are words for people who are comfortable with litigating, and they want to fight it out in a courtroom. If that’s not what you want to do to settle your divorce, then you should pick somebody else.
Mediation May Help You Get an Uncontested Divorce
Mediation is another way to do this. Mediation is a process by which a neutral person tries to help the parties resolve their case. In this area of Texas, oftentimes, the mediators participate with the attorneys.
So you go to a mediator’s office with your attorney. You and your attorney are in one room, the other party and their attorney are in the other room, and the mediator will go back and forth.
Can you do it without an attorney? Maybe. It depends on the mediator. The issue for mediators is usually that they can’t give legal advice. And so, someone at the end of it has to draft something in legal terms, and they prefer that a lawyer do that, and all mediators are not necessarily lawyers.
The Collaborative Law Process Might Help
Collaborative law is another way. That is a process by which an attorney who has been specially trained is hired to settle the case. Attorneys for both parties have to be trained in collaborative law. The key component for that process is that the attorneys have to disqualify themselves if the case doesn’t settle. So other attorneys have to litigate the case if it can’t be settled collaboratively. That’s a whole different video. We’ll talk about that later.
Who Drafts the Needed Documents
All of these processes will result in a divorce decree that the court enters. The difference is who’s doing the drafting.
So back to the kitchen table approach. If you do it that way and have a simple estate, you can probably do the fill-in-the-blank form. The do-it-yourself forms are available at texaslawhelp.org.
If you have something more complicated or you’re going to need deeds to be drafted, then you may want to take your agreement to an attorney so that the attorney can transfer it into a legal document.
If you go to mediation, you’re going to end up with what people call an MSA, which stands for mediated settlement agreement. The difference in that process is that a mediated settlement agreement is binding, whereas if somebody has agreed to something on the kitchen table and then you get ready to have it entered by the judge, if they change their mind, they can withdraw their agreement. They can pull it back.
With a mediated settlement agreement, whatever you’ve agreed to you’re stuck with. And so, good or bad, that agreement will have to be translated into a decree of divorce in regular legal terms that the court understands and can enforce.
Get Started on Your Uncontested Divorce
If you have any questions, please give me a call at Wadler, Perches, Hundl & Kerlick. Call or text 800-929-1725 for an appointment. You can also make an appointment by clicking this link and sending us the form.