Uncontested Divorce / Agreed Divorce
Those couples who are able to come to agreement on the terms of their Austin divorce will find that the process of an uncontested divorce (also known as an agreed divorce) can be efficient and straightforward with the help of a skilled Austin divorce attorney.
Austin Divorce Attorney James W. Evans brings extensive experience in the family law areas of custody and divorce. Mr. Evans brings his considerable courtroom and litigation experience to assist couples who are able to come to agreement and provide supportive assistance to couples who are able to reach consensus and dissolve their divorce amicably.
With the significant amount of experience in litigation and family law, James W. Evans is able to assist clients in unique ways to see couples through the process of reaching an amicable solution that meets the needs of the entire family. For purposes of an uncontested divorce, Mr. Evans stands believes that the “legal solution” is not always what’s best for the family; that this is a question best left for the parents and the parties themselves to decide what’s best. You may need assistance with ideas on how to handle issues related to your home, how to handle debts, liabilities, perhaps special needs for your spouse or your children, or other issues related to custody and visitation.
There are times when clients need guidance on how to handle family business issues, the sale of a home, the refinancing of a business or a home, how to handle debts or liabilities of the other party, or other things that they need advice on.
While it may seem trite, Mr. Evans believes that if we can bring dignity to a couple that is in agreement to divorce that this is something want to give back to our community and our obligation for couples working through an uncontested divorce is to guide you through the process, remove as much anxiety in the process, and take the agreement you reach with your spouse and make that work for purposes of an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce which will be approved by a Judge. We will work hard to strive and help you come up with a practical solution that will work for both you and your family members.
The Process of an Uncontested Divorce
First, please understand that Mr. Evans can only represent one party in an uncontested divorce. The rules of ethics really do not allow him to advise both parties, as this is clearly a conflict of interest. However, the entire process is transparent and nothing happens without the agreement and signature of your spouse. Mr. Evans stands ready to meet with you and your spouse to thoroughly explain the entire process to both of you. Generally speaking, that first meeting is designed to remove anxiety about the process and thoroughly understand the process and what the role is of our office.
In the first consultation, Mr. Evans will thoroughly explain the process so that the unique approach that we use is understood by everyone involved. Mr. Evans strides to provide complete transparency with the process. While a spouse may retain legal representation at any time, the vast majority of the spouses of our agreed divorce clients do not retain legal counsel for representation.
In summary, here is the process:
1. Have a Free Consultation with Austin Divorce Attorney James W. Evans. A free consultation for an uncontested divorce will usually last about an hour. As stated, we are committed to ensuring that you have a very thorough and clear understanding of the agreed divorce process, the issues that are present in your case, and the right path to resolve them.
2. File Your Petition for Agreed Divorce with the Appropriate Court. Someone has to start the process and a divorce can only be started when one of the spouses files an original petition. We style ours “An Original Petition for An Agreed Divorce”. This is generally a 2 page document that, through experience, we have learned to remove any and all language that we know causes unnecessary anxiety. It is for this reason that we even style the petition as seeking an agreed divorce so that your spouse sees this and this concept is being clearly communicated to them when they receive a copy of the petition and signal to the court that you are seeking an agreed divorce.
It is important to know that in an agreed divorce process we will not serve citation, i.e. have a constable or process server deliver the divorce papers to your spouse. We firmly believe that this is unnecessary and that we take you at your word that this is an agreed divorce. Serving citation is deemed hostile and creates conflict, stress and it’s not necessary when couples are able to work transparently, collaboratively, and in good faith throughout the process. Not issuing citations will allow your spouse to not feel pressured, so that we can focus on the important thing, which is to reach an agreement with your divorce.
3. Wait 60 Days As Required by Texas Law. Unless one of the spouses has been convicted previously for a crime of family violence against the other spouse, Texas law requires that that all couples must wait a minimum of 60 days before the divorce may be finalized. In the event domestic violence has occurred, the court may waive the minimum 60 day requirement. However, if this is the case Mr. Evans will discuss thoroughly whether or not the agreed divorce process is the right choice. Otherwise, the 60 day requirement commences on the day your petition is filed with the court.
4. Working Out the Details. During the “waiting period”, you and your spouse will be working to answer a detailed questionnaire that has been personally developed by Mr. Evans. The questionnaire is designed to walk couples through many options related to custody, visitation, and the division of your assets and to give our office a sense of what the terms of your agreement are and the necessary details related to the various assets that will be divided in the Agreed Final Decree of Divorce. The questionnaire allows you and your spouse to work through the various issues related to your case and serves as a disclosure for both of you regarding your assets and liabilities. While working on the questionnaire, Mr. Evans stands by ready to answer your questions and walk you through the process. And, because you are on a flat fee, you will not have to worry about being “on the clock” and paying hourly fees. This is done by design in order to help incentivize couples to ask questions and work toward agreement.
5. Draft the Initial Agreed Divorce Decree. Once we receive the completed questionnaire, our staff may discuss the questionnaire with you to clarify certain points and ensure everything appears to be in order and understand the terms of your agreement. At this point, because we are on a flat fee, one of our legal assistants will then draft an initial decree which we ask that you as the client first review. The purpose of this is that the first draft is just that – a draft – and often there are obvious corrections to be made. This is a chance for you to communicate these to the office and these will be corrected. It is at this juncture that Mr. Evans takes over the process of the drafting and will review the draft, answer any questions, and if custom drafting is required he will personally tend to these drafting needs. At this point, we have learned is the appropriate time to share the working draft with your spouse as this is the form of the working draft that should nearly completely reflect the terms of the agreement of you and your spouse.
6. Sign Your Documents and Decree. Once the final working draft of the decree is completed, it is at this juncture that you both will sign off on the decree. Our forms requires that each spouse initial the bottom of each page to ensure that the draft of the decree which has your initials is the right version that was reviewed and agreed upon by both parties and that ultimately makes it’s way to court for approval.
There are times when collateral documents may likewise be required for signature, such special warranty deeds, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders, powers of attorney, or other depending upon the specific needs of your situation. These can all be discussed and reviewed in detail with Mr. Evans. Once all the documents are signed, they can be returned to our office in person, by fax, or through email. A courier can be used as well, if preferred.
7. Have an Optional Consultation with the Lawyer. Once all of the documents have been reviewed and are essentially ready for signature, Mr. Evans offers an options meeting with the parties to work through the documents and answer questions. During this meeting, Mr. Evans will continue to stress upon the required ethical disclaimers so that your spouse has a clear understanding of what the attorneys roles in the process. At this time, your spouse can decide whether or not they want to retain an attorney to review the decree and other documents. Otherwise, everyone can sign off on the documents and we can prepare the matter to be finalized with the Court.
8. Enter the Prove Up Phase to Finalize Your Divorce. If everything is signed and ready to go, the last step is to finalize the case. It’s an old relic in the Texas law, but even if everything is agreed upon at least one of the spouses is required to appear in court and give some basic testimony. While both parties are entitled to attend, only one of the parties is required to attend. As a result, it is at this juncture that we will ask that the spouse not represented by our firm sign a waiver of the right to be present at court. The purpose of this waiver allows our firm to present the decree with that spouses’ signature and appear in court and finalize the divorce without the non-client spouse being required to appear. However, because this is a legal document that waives various rights, our office will never ask the non-client spouse to sign that waiver until all of the documents have been reviewed, approved, and signed by everyone so that all the parties know the exact terms of the Agreed Final Decree and can feel comfortable signing the waiver.
This part of the process is known as the “prove up”. Mr. Evans will appear with you at court, rehearse all of the questions and prepare you for any questions that may be raised by the Court prior to appearing before the Judge. Generally speaking this process is very quick and you will be in line waiting to be before the judge longer that you will actually testify. However, for planning purposes, your time at court for the prove up is generally less than 1 hour. Some of the questions that you may be asked include the following:
- Whether or not one or both parties resided in Travis County for at least 90 days prior to the filing.
- Whether or not you or your spouse lived in Texas for 6 months prior to the filing.
- The grounds for the marriage no longer being supportable.
- Quick questions about your parenting plan, for those who have children.
- Brief questions about debts and the division of property.
- Questions about keeping or doing away with married names.
Once the prove up process is completed, our Austin Divorce Attorney will make sure that you obtain all the necessary copies from the courthouse of any of the paperwork that relates to your case. If child support is being set up, all of this will be taken care of at that time as well including issuing the proper notices to that spouse’s employer. If a spouse desires to change their name, this is something Mr. Evans and the office need to know in advance so that we can prepare a separate order on the name change so that it’s easier to obtain certified copies of the order changing the name. If necessary, a certified of the Agreed Final Decree of Divorce may be obtained at that time as well. If you are uncertain whether you need a certified copy, just ask Mr. Evans. The clerk’s office will charge a small fee for all certified copies, which must be paid at that time. Usually upon returning to the office, we will ensure that an electronic copy is emailed to you for your records and to forward to your spouse.
Note: All clients should be aware that many counties, (not Williamson or Travis County) requires parenting classes if children are involved, regardless of whether or not an agreement was made in your divorce case. The court will require a certificate of completion showing that you and your spouse have complied. If this requirement applies to you, then the attorney will discuss the matter at your initial consultation.
Agreed Dissolution of Marriage in 90 Days or Less
As long as both parties to the agreed divorce avoid conflict and have transparent communication throughout the process, things will run very smoothly and quickly. If documents are signed in a timely manner, then an agreed divorce can be finalized in as little as 90 days or less. There are exceptions to this timeframe, but generally things can be completed quickly as long as all parties stick with the plan.
Flat Fees for Agreed Divorces
Attorney James W. Evans does not believe that people should be hampered with excessive legal fees when they are willing to communicate and work together to come to an amicable agreement in their divorce. Our Austin Divorce Attorneys honestly make our money on cases where parties don’t get along and pay to litigate their cases. As a result, we are able to provide this service on a flat fee. The Evans Family Law Group offers payment plans to meet all types of budgets and situations. Generally, the fee for an agreed divorce is $2,500 plus any out of pocket costs, but can be as low as $1,500 depending upon the circumstances of your case. The fee of $2,500 is an average price for couples with children and assets. The out of pocket expenses are generally the filing fees with the court, fees associated with the transfer of real estate as applicable, and dividing qualified retirement plans. Our flat fee pricing strategy is designed so that clients don’t feel anxious about being on the clock when working with the divorce attorney or communicating with them to answer questions about their case. While “abuse” of this communication privilege is rare, if communications get out of control, the attorney may remind you of that this is a flat fee arrangement and the time of everyone needs to respected.
Contact Us Today For Professional Agreed Divorce Services
Our Divorce Attorneys work many agreed divorce cases in Williamson County, Travis County, Bastrop and Hays Counties as well. Our Austin Divorce Attorneys offer a free consultation and oftentimes can make arrangements to work through phone conference or electronically, such as skype, if necessary. Put the extensive experience of Austin, Texas divorce attorney James W. Evans to work for you. Call us today at (512) 628-2550 to discuss your case, or call Mr. Evans at (512) 628-2571 to reach his direct office line. He can also be reached at his cellular number (512) 689-8319, or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.