When we receive this question, one of the first things that we remind clients is that, “No, you don’t need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce, but there are some important advantages to having an attorney looking out for your interests.” Do-it-yourself divorces are possible in certain situations where the divorcing parties are satisfied and in complete agreement about the division of their property, children, and other familial and financial aspects.
However, even if you and your spouse are divorcing amicably, the divorce process in Texas requires time, temperament, and trust. As a divorce attorney for the Mansfield and Fort Worth areas, we encountered uncontested divorces that went perfectly fine without a lawyer, but we’ve also seen some cases where one party could have really used a lawyer (and avoided complications and hardship later on).
Whether you need a lawyer for an uncontested divorce depends on several factors. Below, we’ve included a little information about uncontested divorces in Texas, and whether you’ll need a lawyer.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
If you only knew divorces from watching television or movies, you might think they were comprised solely of deception, anger, and conflict. In reality, or at least in Fort Worth and Tarrant County family courts, this isn’t always the case. Many divorces proceed amicably, where both parties don’t “contest” the terms and conditions of the divorce. As a basic overview, uncontested divorces generally contain the following elements:
- You and your spouse agree on potential areas of conflict, such as division of property, custody, and support
- You and your spouse have complete information about family assets and debts
- The details of assets and debts are also fairly simple
- You and your spouse are in complete agreement regarding child custody and support
- This includes shared parenting time
Is a Lawyer Really Necessary?
If you and your spouse agree on every aspect of the divorce settlement, where the risk of conflict in the future is minimal, then an uncontested divorce without a lawyer may be a cost-effective option for you. Nonetheless, there are always horror stories of a perfect, by-the-book uncontested divorce that turned horribly wrong.
For example, there was a woman who, as part of the uncontested divorce, gave up the title to the family home. The divorce went fine, and neither party had a lawyer. Years later, when she had a new spouse and children, she was denied a home loan. Turns out, her credit was ruined because, although she gave up the title to the family home to her first husband, she was given no assurances that the home would need to be refinanced in the ex-husband’s name only. Once her ex-husband stopped paying the mortgage, her credit crashed.
In other words, an attorney can help cover all the legal bases, minimizing potential points of conflict that could occur in the future. Furthermore, negotiating a settlement and guiding clients to the final decree are often substantial parts of the attorney’s role. At the Law Office of Wendy L. Hart, we take a proactive role in our client’s uncontested divorce cases, using full knowledge of Texas family laws and experience in divorce cases to help avoid or fix problems that arose after the divorce decree.
Collaborative Divorce and Mediations
In addition to uncontested divorces without a lawyer, you also have other legal options to assist the divorce process, including collaborative divorces and mediation.
For collaborative divorces, an attorney can take an active role in dividing property and helping manage emotional stress. Mediation, on the other hand, is a bit different. In this latter case, the mediator can help you and your spouse reach an agreement at the negotiating table; often, mediation involves an ongoing process and one-time intervention.
Contact the Law Office of Wendy L. Hart
In the majority of divorce cases, including uncontested divorces, it is best for both parties to hire legal counsel to represent their respective interests. Hiring a lawyer serves as a protection to make sure that all the legal bases are covered. As a Fort Worth divorce attorney and mediator, attorney Wendy L. Hart serves as your compassionate, local expert who can help you through this process. To speak with attorney Hart, call our Mansfield-Fort Worth law office at (817) 842-2336.