When a couple decides to divorce, they may still be able to reach agreement on some issues while others make take some time and discussion to work out.
If the spouses are able to agree on the terms of an Agreed Decree of Divorce, their divorce process will become an uncontested divorce.
Gottfried Alexander Law Firm – Austin, TX offers a fixed fee Uncontested Divorce service for appropriate cases (see appropriate case qualifications below). To represent one spouse for a fixed fee (also known as a flat fee) to file for divorce in Travis County. In an uncontested divorce, we only represent one party spouse for a fixed fee and the other spouse may choose to hire a consulting lawyer for the purpose of explaining the meaning of documents and answering questions. The consulting Austin lawyer would not be required to continue to represent or appear of record for that spouse in the divorce.
Advantages of an Uncontested Divorce
- Waiver of Citation—Once a Petition for Divorce is filed, it can either be served upon the other spouse, or a Waiver of Citation can be signed and filed rather than the other spouse being surprised at home or at work by a uniformed constable or deputy.
- One attorney—Only one attorney need be hired (at a flat fee) to complete the divorce process. Your spouse has the option to hire a consulting attorney to review the documents and answer questions, however, that attorney is not required to appear in the case at court.
- A brief court hearing—You and your attorney will appear in court and stand before the judge for a few minutes of mostly yes/no questions by your lawyer. Papers are filed and signed. At the conclusion of the hearing, your marriage is dissolved and your divorce is final.
- Depending on how many agreements have been made about property, debts, or other issues, and how long it takes both parties to agree to and sign the final decree, it is possible to finalize and obtain a final decree of divorce shortly after 60 days have elapsed since the filing of the Petition for Divorce.
- If the parties can focus on making decisions and cooperating, it is generally accepted that an uncontested divorce is the most efficient and least expensive way to obtain a Final Decree of Divorce as required by law.
Cost of Uncontested Divorce
Based on the factual circumstances of each divorce case, it will be placed in one of two applicable fixed fee structures:
- Simple Divorce—Flat Legal Services Fee of $1,500 without children (does not include court filing fees of approximately $380); $2,500 with children (does not include court filing fees of approximately $380). These prices include an agreed divorce, disposition of one piece of real property, division of simple community and separate estates, allocation of debts, taxes and payment of fees, simple division of any retirement assets with each party keeping benefits in own name (no qualified domestic relations order also known as QDRO), and no closely held businesses. Divorces with children will also include a standard possession order visitation schedule, child support per Texas statutory guidelines, and health insurance provisions.
- More Complex Issues will require additional fees and may not be appropriate for Gottfried Alexander Law Firm. Examples of more complex issues include an agreed final decree of divorce with children requiring a special parenting plan, customized support and possession/visitation schedule, provisions for more complex assets, real estate instruments related to division of interests in real property, tax planning, expert opinions, division of retirement benefits, IRAs, pension plans or accounts, and temporary orders.
Is your Divorce Uncontested?
For your case to be appropriate for a fixed fee uncontested divorce at Gottfried Alexander Law Firm, the following must be true:
- YOU HAVE THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT HOW ALL YOUR MARITAL PROPERTY AND DEBTS SHOULD BE DIVIDED. You are comfortable that you know or can gather information on all of your and your spouse’s ownership interests in real or personal property, debts, income, bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, and the like that are necessary to divide all of your joint and separate property between the two of you. If you are not comfortable with this assumption, we will have to consider whether we need to do “discovery,” which are legal procedures to get information from your spouse and/or third parties. If this is necessary, additional legal fees will be charged. If the information needed through discovery is limited and the parties can agree to provide it on an expedited basis, we may be able to continue your case as an uncontested divorce. Generally, the need for use of discovery procedures will make your case inappropriate for an uncontested divorce.
- YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE HAVE WORKED OUT LIVING ARRANGEMENTS, TEMPORARY USE OF PROPERTY, POSSESSION AND ACCESS TO CHILDREN WHILE YOUR DIVORCE IS PENDING. You and your spouse agree on living arrangements, use of vehicles, possession, visitation and access to your children, payment of bills and living expenses, etc. while the divorce is pending. If you have not or cannot agree, you may need to have these details put into an enforceable Temporary Order signed by the court, which will be in force until your divorce is finalized and granted. For an additional fee, Gottfried Alexander Law Firm can prepare a Temporary Order agreeable to and signed by you and your spouse and, after your divorce is filed, it can be presented to the Court for signature and entry.
- YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY FEAR ABOUT ANYTHING YOUR SPOUSE MIGHT DO WHILE THE DIVORCE IS PENDING. Temporary Restraining Orders, Temporary Injunctions, or Protective Orders in a divorce case are court orders prohibiting or requiring certain actions between the parties or involving the children. A case in which these types of orders are necessary to protect the parties is not appropriate for an uncontested divorce.
What is Not Included in the Flat Legal Services Fee for Your Uncontested Divorce?
The matters listed below are not included in Gottfried Alexander Law Firm’s Flat Legal Services Fee for Uncontested Divorce
- Court costs, filing fees, recording fees, and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred for your case;
- Service of citation;
- Discovery (legal processes to obtain evidence, documents, or testimony from your spouse or third parties);
- Mediation (a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution that uses a trained neutral mediator to conduct a settlement negotiation between the parties and their attorneys);
- Valuations, accountings, appraisals, or audits related to anything in the marital estate;
- QDROs (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) or other kinds of orders or documents necessary to divide IRAs, retirement accounts, pension plans or pension accounts;
- Any court filings that would have the effect of vacating, altering or amending the Final Decree of Divorce after it has been signed and entered by the Court.
Frequently Asked Questions
Couples face many questions when considering divorce and deciding when and how to pursue a divorce.
As most people know, some divorces can be very contentious, take lots of time, and result in high legal fees. Other couples are able to pursue a more streamlined, agreed upon approach – which can save both parties time and money.
Gottfried Alexander Law Firm can counsel and advise you through an uncontested divorce in Austin, Texas. If you are considering an uncontested divorce, you may be able to save time and money by hiring us to help you draft the necessary paperwork and guide you through the submission process in Travis County courts. We offer consultations so our clients can learn more about what to expect before making any decisions on legal matters related to divorce.
We can help you get closure during what may be a challenging time in your life by having an experienced attorney guide you through the process.
When you and your spouse have talked through the major issues in dividing your property and debts and the possession of and access to your children, if any, and you have no major differences in how this could be accomplished, you are probably well on your way to having an uncontested divorce. The next step would be to agree that one of you would consult an attorney, file for divorce, work with your attorney to convert these understandings to legally binding documents for each of you to sign and present them to the court. The spouse who is not represented by Gottfried Alexander Law Firm is free to retain their own attorney to advise them, but it is not required.
In an uncontested divorce, the spouses take more control of the process and reduce the cost of the divorce. The interaction with the court is minimized. For example, by signing a waiver of citation, a formal service of citation by a court officer is eliminated. The spouse who files the divorce is the only party who goes to court with the lawyer. A hearing with the judge lasts a few minutes to “prove up” the terms of your divorce decree and for the judge to formally enter the decree in the court records. The greatest benefit of an uncontested divorce is often its lower cost and greater efficiency. When the parties’ main communications are passed back and forth between their lawyers, attorney’s fees increase quickly and the process often drags out. The parties may still end up settling all the issues in their case and avoiding contested court proceedings, however, it often comes at a greater cost and delay.
The fixed fee for a simple divorce starts at $1,500 for a marriage without children and $2,500 for a marriage with children. These flat fee uncontested divorces are appropriate for a simple estate, uncomplicated community and separate property, allocation of debts, taxes, and payment of fees, each party keeping retirement benefits in own name, and no closely held businesses. An uncontested divorce with children would also include a standard possession order, visitation schedule, child support per Texas statutory guidelines, and health insurance. Additional fees will be charged if you have an agreed divorce with customized child custody and access arrangements, a more complicated estate, separate and community estates, tax planning if required for an additional fee, and temporary orders, if required.
Once the sixty (60) day waiting period after filing of the divorce is satisfied, the court can grant a divorce. The parties file their petition for divorce and provide the attorney with all the information needed to complete the final decree of divorce and any additional documents needed to transfer property. The attorney then prepares the documents required for the court to grant the divorce during the waiting period. The parties can then obtain their divorce at the earliest available court date after the expiration of the 60 day waiting period.
Talk to a Divorce Attorney
At Gottfried Alexander Law Firm, We guide you through divorce proceedings in Texas. Schedule a call with one of our attorneys now to find out if an uncontested divorce with a fixed fee is the right solution for you.