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What Does ‘Default Divorce’ Mean in Texas?

When talking about divorce in Texas, there is a difference between an uncontested divorce and a default divorce, even though people who are not attorneys sometimes use the terms interchangeably.

Your divorce is a default divorce if you file a divorce petition and your spouse does not respond to the petition by filing a formal answer with the court within the time period required by Texas law (at least 21 days). If your spouse does not respond, your divorce becomes a default divorce and you can finalize your divorce process without further input from your spouse. You must still fill out additional paperwork before you can get a divorce decree, but you can do all the work without signatures or other information from your spouse.

Your divorce is uncontested if you and your spouse agree on all the issues relating to your divorce: child custody, child support, spousal support, and distribution of marital property and debts are the most important issues. If you and your spouse agree, then you decide together on the terms to put in your Decree of Divorce and both sign it, and your spouse either waives the answer requirement or files an answer saying he or she agrees.

Conditions under which you may not usually file an uncontested divorce include:

  • You are pregnant, even if your current spouse is not the child’s father
  • You or your spouse has a bankruptcy pending
  • Neither you nor your spouse has lived in Texas for at least six months

If you have received a divorce petition from your spouse and are considering “going default” by not filing an answer, it is wise to get advice first from an experienced divorce lawyer. By failing to file an answer and allowing your spouse to get the divorce by default, you risk serious financial repercussions that you may not have considered. A default divorce can also have a permanent impact on your legal relationship to any joint children.

For more information about uncontested and default divorces, check out the publication called The Uncontested Divorce Process in Texas published by the Texas Legal Services Center.

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, has provided legal counsel to men and women in divorce and other family law cases for 8 years. If you have questions about uncontested and default divorces, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation regarding default and uncontested divorces, contact our family law firm online or call our office at
(281) 420-8020.

 
Stewart Law PLLC