FAQ

  • What is an “Uncontested Divorce”?

    An Uncontested Divorce is a divorce where the couple can agree to the major terms with little or no conflict.

  • Is an Uncontested Divorce right for me?

    If you and your spouse can agree to all the major terms of your divorce, then an Uncontested Divorce may be right for you. If, however, you or your spouse:

    - have a poor understanding of each other's assets and/or debts;
    - have difficulty agreeing upon child custody / child visitation or child support arrangements; or
    - cannot agree on how to maintain your finances while your case is pending

    then an Uncontested Divorce is probably not right for you and you should contact us to discuss your options.

  • Is there anything preventing me from using this service?

    We have designed this service to be as widely available as possible, however, if you or your spouse meet any of the following conditions then you should not start the Uncontested Divorce process:

    - are pregnant or expecting a child
    - have an open bankruptcy
    - wish to have sole custody, supervised visitation, terminate parental rights of a child
    - have custody of another person’s child (inc. grandchildren)
    - have assets greater than $1 million
    - own a business together or have complex financial arrangements
    - do not have a clear understanding of one another's assets and / or debts
    - wish to exchange, partition or divide your retirement assets

    If you meet any of these conditions and want to discuss your options, then please contact us to arrange a consultation.

  • Why should I choose to do my Divorce through Uncontested.com?

    There are a number of potential advantages to choosing an Uncontested Divorce through Uncontested.com:

    A LAW FIRM

    Uncontested.com is run by Carrington Smyth PLLC (the "Firm"), a law firm dedicated to helping clients with uncontested divorce. By using uncontested.com, you can be confident that regardless of the options you choose, a lawyer will review the terms of your agreement to ensure that you are informed of your rights and protections - the ones you might be aware of and others that you might have not even considered.

    COST

    With a traditional divorce, you may have to retain two to three lawyers (one for each spouse and one for the child/ren), pay for multiple court appearances, complete social and/or psychological studies - all of which can potentially tack on many thousands of dollars of additional expense.

    By contrast, we offer our Uncontested Divorce at one fixed price - so long as you expend no more than the purchased hours of Limited Legal Services.

    TIME

    In Texas there is a mandatory cooling-off period of sixty (60) days after the petition has been filed with the court. The Firm will aim to complete your divorce documents and arrange for the final hearing shortly after the cooling-off period.

    As such, provided you and your spouse are able to sign the completed documents, it is possible to get divorced within seventy (70) days.

    CONFIDENTIALITY

    Ultimately, your divorce decree is a matter of public record, but our process seeks to limit the exposure of your valuable personal information. Furthermore, as a law firm, we are bound by a duty of confidentiality to not share your private information, so you don't need to worry that your information is being shared with or sold to third-parties.

  • How much does an Uncontested Divorce cost?

    The Firm offers three services that you can pick and choose from at your convenience:

    DOCUMENTS ONLY
    Cost: $500 for up to one (1) hour of legal services.
    For clients who just want the legal documents, we will collect all the information needed to complete your legal documents (Petition for Divorce, Waiver of Service and Divorce Decree). You will be responsible for the filing of the documents, the payment of court filing fees (if any) and arranging the final prove up hearing.

    DOCUMENTS + WALK UP
    Cost: $1000 for up to two (2) hours of legal services.
    For clients who want to file their divorce, we will prepare your legal documents (Petition, Waiver of Service and Divorce Decree) and arrange the final prove up hearing. You will be responsible for the filing of the Petition for Divorce and the Waiver of Service.

    DOCUMENTS + FILING + WALK UP
    Cost: $1000 for up to two (2) hours of legal services. Court filing fees will be charged separately.*
    For clients who want the full service, we will prepare your legal documents (Petition for Divorce, Waiver of Service and Divorce Decree), handle the filing process on your behalf and arrange the final prove up hearing.

    *Court filing fees will vary depending on the County you are filing in and whether or not there are children of the marriage. (For example: Bexar County court filing fees are approx. $320 without children / $370 with children – these fees are for the filing of the Petition for Divorce and the Waiver of Service and are inclusive of administrative costs and e-filing fees).

  • I am on Low-Income or Government Benefits, is there anything I can do to lower my costs?

    If you cannot afford the court filing fees or if you are on certain means-based government benefits, you will need to file a petition for divorce along with an affidavit of inability to afford court costs ("Affidavit") to waive the court filing fees. These forms are available, for free, at the court house.

    The Affidavit is a formal document stating your inability to afford the court filing fees – court filing fees can vary depending on the county and whether or not you have children (born or adopted of the marriage).

    It is important to know that the Judge or clerk can approve or deny your Affidavit at his or her discretion.

    - If your Affidavit is approved we will begin the Limited Legal Services once you have paid your Fee in full and provided us with your cause number.

    - If your Affidavit is denied then you will have the option to proceed as a regular client - although you will be expected to pay for your court filing fees.

  • Why do I have to pay two separate amounts?

    Our payment model has been designed to give our clients the chance to come to an agreement before making a full financial commitment.*

    If after the first payment you decide not to proceed, or if you wish to go down the more expensive path of litigation, then you can walk away from our platform without having to make any further payment.

    *clients that choose our DOCUMENTS ONLY service will only make one up-front payment.

  • What if we have already filed a petition for divorce?

    If you want the Firm to provide Limited Legal Services, we will need to know the cause number and the details of the court in which you filed in order to proceed with your Uncontested Divorce (all this information should be available on the stamped petition you received when you filed the petition with the court).

    The case must be filed in the correct court, be active and cannot have been disposed (closed) – please note: a case may be disposed at the discretion of the court if there is no action by either party after a certain amount of time - typically one (1) year.

    We do not discount our Fees if you have already filed your petition – although you will not be expected to pay further court filing fees if the case is still active with the court.

  • I live in Texas and my spouse lives in a different State (or visa versa). Can we still use this service?

    Yes. So long as, before filing the petition for divorce, either you or your spouse meet the following criteria you may be able to use our service:

    - currently reside in the State of Texas
    - have lived in the State of Texas for at least six (6) months
    - have lived in a single Texan county (where we operate) for at least ninety (90) days

    Please complete the pre-approval questionnaire to find out if you are eligible.

  • What if I don't know where my spouse lives?

    A number of clients approach us with this question - in some cases they have been separated in excess of 20 years.

    If you do not know the whereabouts of your spouse and have lost any means of communication, then you will most likely require a default divorce.

    This falls outside the scope of the website, but the law firm does offer default divorce services - the details of which can be found here.

  • What if we have children?

    **Our child section is going to be released on the website in late 2019 / early 2020 - in the meantime, if you have children then please contact us so that we can discuss your options**

    We cater for families with children, either born or adopted, of the marriage.

    If you or your spouse had a child with a third party during the marriage, then the appropriate paternity forms will need to be completed and signed before the final hearing.

    The Firm can not offer the Uncontested Divorce service if you and/or your spouse currently share custody of one or more children with a third party (including grandchildren). Please contact us to discuss your options in more detail.

  • What options do we have for visitation?

    We do allow for some flexibility beyond the Modified Standard Possession Order.

    For example, if you and your spouse will be living within 100 miles after the divorce, you will be able to choose between a one-week-on-one-week-off arrangement or a first, third and fifth (weekend) arrangement as suits.

    Please note we do not offer substitutions and there are some limitations as to what we can offer as some changes may:

    - not be in your best interests,
    - be impractical, or even
    - violate the spirit or letter of State Law.

    It is also worth noting that you and your spouse will have the ability to make alternative arrangements after the divorce has been finalized - so long as you both agree to any change in advance.

    If you are concerned about a specific requirement then please contact us to see if we can accommodate your needs.

  • What options do I have for child custody?

    We only provide for Joint Managing Conservatorship ("JMC") in our Uncontested Divorce.

    Both parents have strong rights to have a relationship with the child in the State of Texas, so JMC is the presumed standard for custody. If you are looking to terminate or restrict the rights of a conservator / parent in your decree, then please contact us so that we can discuss your options.

  • What does it mean to have "Primary" of the child?

    Primary is often misconstrued and misunderstood. In fact, it is not even a recognized term in the decree.

    To most people Primary represents the person that the child will live with the most, but it is in fact the exclusive right of one conservator (parent / guardian) to designate where the child lives and the school district of the child.

    If you agree to not have a Primary, you and your spouse will need to agree to a geographic restriction.

  • Will one of us need to pay child support?

    Your decree must show how you and your spouse intend to look after the best interests of the child after the divorce. In all likelihood, one party will be expected to pay child support in an amount equal to the Texas Guideline and/or provide health insurance for the child.

    It is possible to agree to not have child support, but you will need to meet certain conditions - conditions that may be subject to change in Texas Law. Even if you do agree to no child support in the decree, it is generally frowned upon by the courts and judges have been known to step in and amend the decree.

  • Will child support automatically be deducted from my pay check?

    Not automatically.

    If you or your spouse would like to have the child support payments automatically drafted, then you will need to set up an account with the office of the Attorney General.

    Please note: We do not represent you in any dealings with the office of the Attorney General.

  • What if we can't agree on all the terms of our Uncontested Divorce?

    You and your spouse need to be able to agree on the following terms before you use our site:

    - Division of Assets / Debts
    - Division of Child Custody / Child Support / Child Health Insurance
    - Spousal Support (Alimony), if eligible.

    If you start an Uncontested Divorce but find that you can’t agree on all the terms, then your Divorce may no longer be considered Uncontested. At this point you have several options such as – attending Mediation, seeking legal counsel from a family lawyer or even Marriage Counselling.

    You will be given the option for the Firm to provide you with a document with a high-level summary of the terms that you and your spouse have been able to agree upon (the “Rule 11 Agreement”) for an additional $250.00. Once signed by you and your spouse and signed by a judge, a Rule 11 Agreement may be used as evidence of a contract under Texas law. A Rule 11 Agreement can also be used by divorce lawyers as a good starting point of negotiation in your future contested divorce proceedings.

    Please note: if your divorce becomes contested, then the relationship with the Firm will be terminated and we will withdraw, where appropriate.

  • We bought a house during the marriage but only one of us is on the deed. Is it still Community Property?

    Yes. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a requirement that both spouses be listed on any deed for any particular property to be deemed Community Property.

    You must factor in the value of all assets bought during the marriage, including houses, land and vehicles - regardless of the name on the deed - in order to achieve a ‘fair and equitable distribution of the marital estate’.

    Failure to include an asset that was purchased during the marriage may open you to the risk of future dispute, questions of fraud or misrepresentation.

  • I received a house through gift, will or inheritance - is this my Separate Property?

    Yes. Property received through gift, will or inheritance should be listed as your Separate Property, as should any property (or debt - student loans, credit card debt etc.) that you acquired prior to the marriage.

  • My spouse has wasted our savings (e.g. 401k), can I get my money back?

    So long as you and your spouse can agree to the reimbursement, then yes, you can include a reimbursement in your Uncontested Divorce as an informal Lump Sum payment.

    However, waste and reimbursement can be a strong point of contention and if you can not come to an agreement on how to address the payment, then you should seek legal counsel and not start the Uncontested Divorce process.

  • My spouse cheated on me and I would like to divorce on grounds of adultery. Can I include this in my decree?

    No. We only allow for divorce on the grounds of 'insupportability' in the Uncontested Divorce process - where the marital relationship has broken down and there is no reasonable expectation that you will get back together.

    The traditional terminology is that “the marriage has come to an end due to irreconcilable differences that destroy the legitimate ends of the marriage.”

  • Is my spouse going to get served?

    No. Your spouse will, potentially, be waiving his or her right to be personally served.

    We will send you a document called a Waiver of Service ("Waiver") for you to forward to your spouse.

    The Waiver will need to be signed by your spouse, notarized, scanned and returned to the Firm. The Waiver needs to be filed at least ten (10) days prior to the final court hearing.

    The Waiver replaces the need to serve your spouse, which can be costly and we pass these savings onto you.

    In the event that your spouse refuses to sign the Waiver, then we will need to either arrange service (at an additional cost to you) or withdraw from the case.

  • Either me or my spouse will be looking to change our last name - can we do this within the divorce?

    Yes. Either you or your spouse are given the opportunity to change your last name to a maiden name or a previously used marital name.

    There is a specific section of the divorce decree dedicated to Name Changes. It is important that you check this section for accuracy (note, it should show your full name, including any middle names) as a certified copy of the decree may be used after the divorce as an official document if you or your spouse, (whomever changed his or her name) needs to apply for a new Driver's License, Passport, Social Security, Mortgage application etc.

    A certified copy of your decree can be purchased from the clerk in the court in which you filed at an additional cost to you.

  • What if I am in a same-sex marriage?

    We have removed any direct reference to gender in our documents so you are free to use our platform, no matter how you or your spouse identify.

  • My spouse and I would like to exchange / partition / divide our retirement assets amongst one another. Why can’t I include this in my Uncontested Divorce?

    Changing the ownership of retirement assets requires a separate hearing and additional legal documentation in the form of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). The changes also need to be processed by the Retirement Plan Administrator.

    I you need a QDRO, then please contact us to discuss your options.

  • How can I get divorced as quickly as possible?

    In Texas you must wait at least sixty (60) days to complete the mandatory cooling-off period after the Petition for Divorce has been filed, however, to keep the process efficient you should:

    - Complete the agreement in full (VIN numbers, Lot and Block numbers, Credit Card balances all need to be listed accurately).

    - Make sure you are forthcoming with your agreement from the beginning, as you will need to allow up to two (2) weeks of delay to the process for each set of amendments after we have completed your documents.

    - Sign and return your documents as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the final day of the cooling off period. Note, some documents need to be notarized and other documents need to be signed and returned by your spouse.

  • What is the final hearing?

    The final hearing is the last step in the divorce process.

    Whilst the final hearing is primarily for a judge to review and sign the decree, occasionally, you might be asked questions about certain terms in the divorce. In some rare instances the judge might propose additional changes to the decree or might not sign it at all (this is more likely if you have failed to fill in any blanks).

    We can not make any guarantees as to the outcome of the final hearing and in the event your decree is denied, we may be forced to make amendments to the decree and you may be subject to another hearing at additional cost to you.

    If the judge signs the decree then your case is disposed and you are formally divorced.

  • Will I have to appear at court for the final hearing?

    Either you or your spouse must be present for the final prove-up hearing. You are both welcome to attend, but only one person is required to be there.

  • How do I get a copy / certified copy of my divorce decree?

    Once you have signed the decree, we highly recommend that you bring two (2) photocopies of the signed decree (the full document) to the final hearing.

    On request, the copies will be stamped by the clerk with the judge’s signature at no additional cost.

    If you wish to purchase a certified copy of your decree – used to change official documents (Passport, DL, SSN etc.) – then the clerk will certify the copy for a small fee, normally payable in cash. Please check the cost with the court you are filed in, as the prices can change from time-to-time. Note, this is an additional cost to you.

    If you fail to bring spare copies of your signed decree on the day of your final hearing, you will be able to order a copy from the clerk at the court in which you filed your divorce. Note, this will also be an additional cost to you.

  • What if I miss my court date?

    In the event that you miss your arranged final prove-up hearing (“Hearing”) there will be a penalty charge of $200, unless we are given notice of your inability to attend more than twenty-four (24) hours in advance. The penalty charge is payable within thirty (30) days of the missed Hearing.

    Once we receive the penalty charge, we will book you on the next available Hearing.

    In the unlikely event that we are unable to attend the Hearing, we will reschedule your hearing at a mutually convenient time at no additional cost to you.

    Please note: Failure to pay the penalty charge will cause a termination event and we may withdraw from the case.

  • We have decided to cancel the divorce - what are my options?

    You can cancel the divorce at any time before the final prove up hearing.

    If the Firm has filed your documents with the court, we will withdraw from the case immediately. Then, with your permission, we will 'non-suit' the case so that the case is closed with the court, otherwise the case will remain open awaiting further litigation or, if nothing is done, the court may automatically dismiss the case after a period of time - typically one (1) year.

    Please Note: If you close the case and later wish to re-open the case, then you may be required to pay another filing fee.

  • Are all county requirements the same?

    No.

    Although most counties share similar requirements, each county can specify the conditions which must be satisfied in order to complete a divorce. One such condition is a parenting course which is required in some Texan counties.

    If you are required to produce a certificate for a parenting course, it is your responsibility to pay and complete the course within ninety (90) days of signing the Legal Services Agreement.

    If you fail to complete the course within ninety (90) days, we will terminate the relationship and withdraw.

    We will inform you of the requirements you need to meet in the county you decide to file in.

  • What if we need to amend the decree after the divorce has been disposed?

    You have a very small window of time in which to make amendments to your decree, as the court will lose jurisdiction over the case thirty (30) days after the day on which the final decree of divorce is signed.

  • Does the Firm provide Restraining / Protective Orders?

    Restraining Orders and Protective Orders are outside the scope of the Uncontested Divorce.

    If you require either of these services then please contact us to discuss your options.

  • What is the cool-off period in Texas after the petition for divorce has been filed?

    In the state of Texas there is a sixty (60) day cooling-off period once the petition for divorce has been filed with the court.

    This cooling-off period is designed to give couples a chance to pause and reflect before they finalize their divorce. Note, it is possible to reduce this cooling-off period in the case of a conviction or deferred adjudication for family / domestic violence.

  • Who is responsible for reviewing my divorce documents?

    Ultimately, the burden lies with you and your spouse to ensure that your documents are both accurate and complete before they are signed and filed.

    We build your documents based on the information that you give us. Consequently, it is extremely important that you are both precise and complete during the questionnaire process.

    In some cases, if we have not been given the information within a reasonable time-frame, we may provide the decree to you with a number of blanks that must be filled in with outstanding information (VIN numbers, deed numbers etc.) before the decree is signed.

    Once the decree has been signed no further amendments or additions can be made.

  • Can you recommend any further reading?

    Yes - knowledge is power and we can recommend that you read through the Pro Se Divorce Handbook that has been produced by the State Bar of Texas.

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