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Divorce Procedure 101: How to File for Divorce in Texas


One of the most frequently asked questions among those looking to file for divorce is “how do i go about starting the process?”  Each state has different requirements and laws to abide by in the process. In the Lone Star State of Texas, the procedure has a number of steps to properly complete filing for divorce. This blog will break down the steps in simple easy to understand points to assist you in the procedure.


First, the Petitioner, otherwise known as the filing spouse, files an Original Petition for Divorce with their local court. Once a petition is filed,  Texas divorce papers will be issued to the petitioner. Then the papers must be personally served to the Respondent, or the other Spouse in question. If needed, at the initial filing, either spouse may request a restraining order if the court deems it necessary.

Waiting for the Judge

Commonly, the court will also consider temporary orders, which will be in effect while the divorce is pending. Temporary orders usually involve temporary use of property and servicing of debt. It can include temporary spousal support and the payment of interim attorney’s fees as well. It is important to have all proper divorce documentation when attending the initial filing as Texas courts are legally inclined to ask for all proof of assets or debts. The process known as “Discovery” can also occur during this time. This is where both parties must exchange copies of all documents, this can be done between spouses or between legal council.

Settlement Procedures

Texas divorce courts always try to settle divorce matters with as little in court sessions as possible. Therefore, once all documents have been exchanged the spouses discuss settlement of the case, either directly or with the help of attorneys or mediators. If they can work out an agreement on everything, one of the spouses or attorneys will prepare an Agreed Decree of Divorce, which will contain all of the terms of the agreement. The spouses and their attorneys sign it, and eventually the judge does as well. however, if a mutual agreement cannot be concluded, a trial date will be set to have the matters handled in court.


Texas Law requires spouses to participate in mediation if they absolutely cannot come to an agreement and a trial is put into effect. Mediation is an informal process allowing the divorcing couple to work with a neutral third party, usually a court appointed therapist or counselor, to negotiate and settle all terms of their conflict. Then if mediation is not successful, the trial will take place. A Final Decree of Divorce is then drawn up by the courts. This contains the ruling passed down in the trial, and the rules and stipulations that both parties must adhere to.

The process can be swift and relatively easy or the exact opposite, all dependent on both parties and their willingness to cooperate with one another and the courts. There is a small amount of paperwork that must be completed in full in order to get the ball rolling on the filing. It is always important to be fully ready for the process that takes place, as divorce proceedings usually take on average, of 6 months to complete.

Disability & Divorce

The law has often been behind the times as far as rulings go on specific cases. Family Law is no exception. Many of the laws do not account for special and rare circumstances. There are many disability laws and regulations implemented in other areas of law, however, there are next to none when it comes to the matter of divorce. That is until now. The Illinois Supreme Court opened the door to divorce for people who need guardians because of mental disabilities just this month, and the realm in which Family Law now covers has broadened because of it.

For years, Illinois has been against guardians seeking a divorce on behalf of the mentally disabled people under their protection. That meant the disabled person could not get a divorce unless his or her spouse started the process. To say that this is a double standard would be an understatement. However, guardians were still looked upon as just that, and in no way were they an extension of the disabled person in question.

Before the Law was Implemented

The ban, when in place, affected people with severe brain damage, but it also covered those who could make their wishes known; for example those with Alzheimer’s, or anyone with a mental illness whose effects are not 100% permanent on a daily basis.

The court’s new ruling said an outright ban is no longer appropriate. It could leave vulnerable people “at the complete mercy” of spouses who abuse them or exploit them financially. Guardians will now be able to file for divorce and then a judge will decide if there is clear and convincing evidence that it would be in the disabled person’s best interests. In some cases, that will mean weighing the evidence without any help from the person directly affected. But in others, the people with disabilities will be able to speak for themselves. This obviously depends on the type of mental illness and the severity.

Who is Affected?
At first the restriction on divorce was meant to only affect people with severe brain damage, such as might be sustained in an accident, but ultimately the law affected people who had the ability to make their wishes known. Such individuals’ mental illness may come and go, or perhaps the person’s condition was Alzheimer’s disease. Mental disability rights advocates say that those conditions in themselves should not automatically bar people’s guardians from filing for divorce on their behalf.

Many of the advocacy groups feel that this recent ruling is a step in the right direction toward fully protecting the rights of the disabled. Under the new rules, the guardian of a disabled person will be able to file for divorce on that person’s behalf, and it will be up to a judge to determine on an individual basis what is in the best interest of the disabled partner.

Incorporating disability into laws, such as the ones under the Family Law statute, is a sign that the laws are coming into their own and becoming more adaptive to everyone. With a broader scope under the law, more and more people will have equal rights when it comes to the dissolution of marriage.

How to Save Yourself from an Expensive Divorce


When it comes to divorce, we have all heard the horror stories of how it can get messy. Everyone has a friend of a friend who went through a year-long divorce process that ended up costing him or her thousands of dollars just to get out of the marriage. In years past this all was unavoidable. Depending on your situation you would end up paying a lawyer  tons of money, even if the divorce was amicable. Those days are, thankfully, gone.

Today, it’s the couples’ with the power. Understanding the steps in the process and therefore properly evaluating your decisions can be done without the input of a lawyer. Understandably some situations dictate the necessity of a trained legal professional, but the landscape of the divorce world has clearly changed, here are some tips to work towards an inexpensive divorce.

Keep Divorce Lawyers from Fanning the Flames

File this under the easier said than done category, but the divorce process can be a much smoother process once the couple comes together to work on the particulars. Lawyers are not only expensive, they can also bog down the process, scraping for every inch they can exploit in a situation. While it is understood they are working towards what they believe is the best possible outcome for you, they can be detrimental to your progress. In these cases, unfortunately, the battle can go on and on, until the clients run out of money and limp to the settlement table.

Worse, if there are children, the fight depletes not only your pocketbook, but also your children’s sense of security. Once the legal fight is over, trying to establish a normal ongoing parenting relationship between both parents and the children can be very difficult.

Shouldering the Decision Load

Weeding through the decisions that need to be made when seeking a divorce is tedious and most likely painful. But it really is in the divorcing couple’s best interest, whenever possible, to tackle these matters together, rather that bickering and fighting over everything through the jargon and manifesto of divorce lawyers. Working together or with an agreed upon third party (such as a divorce mediator) on crucial decisions can help you and your spouse come to quick , fair decisions on the important matters. Not to mention, this saves both time and money.

If you are able to resolve the big questions surrounding children, money, and property, then you just need to ask the court, in writing, to grant a divorce. In many states, you don’t even have to appear in court. Many courts now make it relatively easy for people to handle an uncontested divorce without a lawyer.

While some situations need a divorce lawyer, in today’s society more the of responsibility has been continually placed on the couple themselves. The rise of online divorces has given many couples the freedom to control their divorce process, making decisions with their spouses and getting through the process with both their savings account and dignity intact. Don’t allow yourself to put yourself in a deep hole when you’re already trying to get out of one. Do the research on your situation and find out if online divorce is right for you.

The Three Ways to Divorce

Filing for a divorce is the beginning of a major change in one’s life. There are two components of the divorce process that are sometimes hard to keep separated. The emotional divorce, which might already have happened between the divorcing couple, and the official divorce proceedings, which is usually a ongoing. In the official divorce proceeding almost every aspect of the marriage and material goods is negotiated and divided in a way that either the couple sees fit, or the courts deem fair.

However, it is often the case that many couples, clinging to the intense emotional side of divorce, cannot come to a reasonable decision regarding spousal or child support, as well as the division of marital assets. Even with the help of mediation, the intensely personal situation can create a standoff between spouses. The standoff often then leads to the costly arbitration and litigation process. Let’s take a look at the 3 ways the standoff between divorcing spouses can be worked though.


Negotiations are the first step in the process of reaching an agreement between spouses on all the assets, custody, and potential support agreements. Think of the negotiations as taking your wish list regarding how you divide your assets and what your parenting responsibilities should be, and use that wishlist as your starting point. “It’s me and my lawyer versus you and your lawyer finding a compromise”– all with the goal of reaching an acceptable middle ground. Try to avoid the “it’s me and my lawyer versus you and your lawyer trying to get as much as possible,” because then you both will be are stuck in a stubborn, petty stalemate.

The purpose of negotiation is using it to avoid trial. When people file for divorce there’s an expectation that there will be some maneuvering and bargaining and, eventually, a settlement rather than full blown court trial. The typical pattern is to use the threat of trial to get people to bargain and stay out of court.


Arbitration is, in a way, similar to litigation, but it is outside of a courtroom. It is a private process. The divorcing spouses, together with their lawyers, pick a third party decision maker, who is usually a retired judge or senior lawyer with family law experience.

What happens in arbitration is the decision being debated between the couple is imposed by the arbitrator. Unlike mediation, no one helps the couple come to an agreement; the decision is made for them. And, usually, if you don’t like the decision it can’t be appealed, which means you can’t argue it out again for the decision maker to change his or her mind.


Litigation is usually the option of last resort. Going to court can be emotionally difficult and very expensive. The lawyers try to poke holes in your persona, showing that you are unfit. That’s why it is called the adversarial process. There is one winner, and one loser. It’s not a win – win situation. It’s a war and there are distinct sides.

Like arbitration, the decision is made by a third party. Unlike arbitration, you can’t pick your decision maker and the judge doesn’t always have family law experience. Another difference is that arbitration is private, and litigation is public. Being public means that there is a public, court record of the dispute.

Avoiding arbitration and litigation is the goal of most divorcing couples. Having to go through a long, dragged out process that ultimately may take the decision-making power out of your hands on very personal matters is simply unacceptable for most people. Today with the option of an online, do it yourself divorce, couples who make an agreement on the major issues of their dissolution can save tremendous amounts of time and money by doing it themselves. At we provide those couples who qualify for an online divorce with accurate and 100% legal divorce papers. Visit our site today and take the first step towards the next phase of your life.

The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce

Legal separation and divorce, contrary to some thinking, are considered two separate things. However, many of the stipulations in legal separations, as well as the rights that one person has when entering legal separation, are comparable and similar to that of a divorce. Legal separation allows couples who may consider their marriage to be “failing” make a temporary arrangement of separation, while it is understood they will  continue to work out their problems, as they still remain legally married. Reconciliation is the goal in legal separation and can be issued, like divorce, through a court order.


In a sense, legal separation is a form of temporary divorce. While the word divorce implies a permanent separation, legal separation is meant to be temporary and does not automatically lead to divorce. Couples can reconcile, but if they wish to move on and get a divorce, they will have to go through the divorce process dictated by where they live.

The legal separation process and relief offered, however, is very similar to divorce; in some situations in can mirror the process of divorce. For example, a court can grant legal separations due to “irreconcilable differences leading to the breakdown of the marriage.”

Legal separation also can allow both parties to set provisions and guidelines concerning the following areas:

  1. Child Support
  2. Child Custody
  3. Visitation
  4. Division of Marital Property
  5. Spousal Support
  6. The Marital Home
  7. Health Insurance Benefits
  8. Life Insurance

The Difference

The lines can often be blurred when it comes to individual differences between legal separation and divorce. As stated, it’s more of an overarching difference meant to give marriages a chance to take a break in an attempt to solve their issues and move forward, rather than just having a black and white decision of marriage or divorce.  Some of the differences specified between legal separation and divorce will vary due to the state’s laws and jurisdiction when handling these kinds of cases.

Although MyDivorceDocuments does not provide legal separation papers, those who have tried legal separation and decided to move forward with a divorce can benefit from an inexpensive online divorce. Online divorce is meant to help couples who amicably understand their marriage is over and can agree to certain grounds to pursue an uncontested, no-fault divorce. To learn more about an online divorce or to get started on the divorce forms, visit today.

V. Day D. Day

divorce on valentine's dayThe colors red and pink are smeared over every store in America right now, and the reason is Valentine’s Day. The sticky sweet quasi-holiday may be making you see red, but chances are if you’re recently divorced, February 14th will also make you blue before the clock strikes 12 p.m. It would be one thing if Valentine’s Day was a real holiday warranting paid time off, but it’s not.

Where did this rogue holiday come from and what can we do about it? We’re glad you asked.

Origins of a Quasi-Holiday

As it turns out, we know who to blame for Valentine’s Day, but we’re not sure about how the holiday came about. There are a few theories, though.

Theory #1: First is an renegade priest by the name of Valentine who lived during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II, circa 278 A.D. Claudius II made a decree prohibiting young soldiers from marrying, because it was believed unmarried soldiers were more fearless than married soldiers. However, the priest Valentine defied this decree and performed secret marriages for young soldiers. Emperor Claudius II finally caught Valentine and executed him for his defiance; Valentine died for his religious beliefs and was martyred as St. Valentine on February 14th.

Theory #2: The second version of the story piggybacks on the first version. Valentine was a priest caught helping Christians escape persecution during Claudius II’s reign. Valentine was imprisoned, where he either:

  1. fell in love with the jailor’s daughter
  2. formed a strong friendship with the jailor’s daughter
  3. cured the jailor’s daughter’s blindness, or
  4. a combination of 1, 2, and 3

Then, on the eve of Valentine’s execution, he wrote a note to the jailor’s daughter and signed it “From Your Valentine.” And thus a tradition of professing love and sending valentines was created.

The Valentine’s Day Effect

Today, Valentine’s Day has a number of celebratory traditions various people follow, including the newest Valentine’s Day tradition of divorce., a website that matches users with attorneys, reported divorce searches on their website goes up 40% around Valentine’s Day. The Valentine’s Effect is a yearly tradition observed by divorce attorneys, but this year a few lawyers have decided to celebrate in a new way.

A New Perspective on Valentine’s Day

Michigan attorney Walter Bentley III has offered a free divorce to the person/couple with the best story for Valentine’s Day. Bentley is a lawyer and an adjunct professor of law at the University of Phoenix. Bentley got the idea to offer divorce as a Valentine’s Day gift when one of his law students invited him to their divorce party. Bentley is quoted saying, “Hey, why not help someone move on to that independence on Valentine’s Day?”

And why not indeed. Bentley’s free-divorce contest concluded yesterday, and it’s reported he received about 500 applicants. If any readers are currently seeking a divorce, we’re sorry to report they missed Bentley’s free-divorce offer, but despair not. There are a variety of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a party of one. Make February 14th a celebration of you by making or ordering your favorite foods, renting your favorite movie, go to your favorite place, and indulging in all your other favorite things.

Tell us how you plan to spend this Valentine’s Day as a reclaimed independent person. If you’re a single Valentine’s Day veteran, share you best tips with others.

Divorcing an Absent Spouse

200259869-001Divorce is a difficult enough process between the court fees and dealing with your spouse. However, divorce without a spouse is just as difficult, if not more stressful. No, you didn’t read that wrong, divorce can be done without knowing where your spouse is.

While some people may be thinking “If only I didn’t know where my spouse was…” those who are in this unique situation are wishing it were otherwise. But the American judicial system is not that cruel as to deny a person a divorce just because their spouse is nowhere to be found.

Search for the Absent Spouse

It is easier to complete divorce process with an absent spouse in some states than others. Most states with the no-fault option, like California, have provisions for spouses seeking a divorce who do not know the whereabouts of their spouse.

It is recommended to make all efforts of locating your spouse, and record your efforts before filing the divorce forms. Essentially, you will have to prove to the court you have exhausted all options of finding your spouse. If you’re at a loss for where to begin, we have compiled a list of the recommended ways of attempting to locate your spouse.

  • Search the phone book

  • Contact their last known employer for information about their current whereabouts

  • Check with the post office to see if they left a forwarding address

  • Check at their last known residence

  • Contact any and all friends or relatives you can for information

  • Send emails or social media messages to their email or profile

  • Check with the DMV, voter registry, and other public records offices

  • Hire a private investigator, if absolutely necessary

File the Divorce Petition

If you have exhausted your search options and still have not found your spouse, then their is one option left: Divorce by publication. The filing process is very similar to a regular divorce proceeding, except for a few things. Included in the regular paperwork is an application for a divorce by publication. To proceed with the divorce by publication, you must provide the court with the evidence of your extensive search.

If the judge accepts the proof of your search, they will grant you a divorce by publication. Then, the court will place an ad in the local newspaper in the area where your spouse is either believed to be or in your spouse’s last known location. The ad will be of the divorce summons, and will include all information about your case, including where your spouse should respond to the divorce summons.

The ad will run in the newspaper for a certain number of weeks, depending on which state the search is taking place. In California, the divorce by publication ad will run in the newspaper once a week for 4 weeks in a row. After the running of the ad, your spouse has 30 days to respond to the court regarding the divorce.

If the spouse does not respond within the grace period, you will be granted a default divorce. However, in California, the courts will not make judgements about any joint property, assets, or child-related matters.

Can I Use an Online Divorce Forms Service?

The divorce by publication process can be completed by an online divorce forms service, like, as long as the aforementioned steps are taken. However, it is advised to research the divorce by publication process in your specific state before beginning the divorce process.

Can NC Manufacture “Healthy” Marriages

82770193There are many laws and bill in the works that would make it more difficult to get a divorce in various states. The most recent state to make motions to impose stricter divorce laws on their citizens is North Carolina. Senator Austin Allran of Hickory, North Carolina, and Senator Warren Daniel of Morganton, North Carolina are the main supporters of House Bill 518. HB 518 is also known by the monicker of The Healthy Marriage Act, which lends itself to some interesting arguments against the “Healthy” Marriage Act.

HB 518

HB 518 is some very interesting legislation that seems to be working from the wrong side of a healthy marriage. This bill proposes to make a divorcing couple observe a 2 year waiting period before any action to divorce can be taken.

The spouse instigating the divorce must file an intent to divorce with the court, and notify their not-too-soon-to-be-ex of the beginning of their 2 year waiting period. HB 518 graciously makes no demand upon the couple to live separate and apart for the 2 years; and wouldn’t you know, the provision allowing couples to have “isolated incidents of sexual intercourse” in the current divorce law would remain intact in HB 518.

However, the couple must complete a few courses during the waiting period. Firstly, the couple must complete an improving communication skills course, and a conflict-resolution course. These courses have no requirement concerning time of completion, or length of course. Additionally, the couple may complete the courses separately.

If the divorcing couple has children, then there is one more stipulation. The couple must complete a course at least 4 hours long about the impact of divorce on children.

Fostering “Healthy” Marriages?

The “Healthy” Marriage Act basically describes laughable attempts at patching up a marriage. Senators Allran and Daniel could have really benefited from the counsel of the twins from the Parent Trap. But alas, HB 518 is not some hare-brained scheme from a family frolic film; HB 518 is a real piece of legislation officials are currently considering.

I’m sure the intentions behind HB 518 are pure and from the goodness of the Senator’s hearts, but a bill that extends the waiting period so long, and allows cohabitation and even sexual relations is just too much to be believed. If the Senators wanted to make a dent in the high divorce rate and foster healthy marriages, they should put their efforts into the other end of a marriage: the beginning.

No one wants to pose restrictions on love, ideologically. But lets be adults and face the fact that marriage is regulated through bureaucracy and legislation. If we wanted to give starry-eyed lovers the best chance at marriage, we would pass laws imposing things like marriage counseling and conflict resolution courses on prospective newlyweds. | Uncontested Divorce Questions Answered

uncontested divorce questionsContrary to popular belief, not every divorce has to be a drawn-out court affair with dramatic statements and ruthless negotiations. In fact, there are many ways to go about getting a divorce nowadays, and only a few of them involve nasty courtroom brawls. One of the easiest, pain-free ways to get a divorce is by getting an uncontested divorce.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce does not involve lawyers, court battles, or rulings handed down by judges. Instead, an uncontested divorce involves the divorcing spouses sitting down and deciding for themselves how to divide their marital estate.

This is how it works: The spouses going through an uncontested divorce must either agree or be able to agree on how to resolve the issues brought up in the marital settlement agreement.

Points in the marital settlement agreement in need of resolution include:

  • division of assets (like checking and saving accounts, and profits from a shared business)

  • personal property (like home furnishings, electronics, and cars)

  • real property (like houses, condos, and apartments)

  • debts (credit card debt, mortgages, etc.)

  • whether or not to award spousal support, and how much to award

  • child issues (like child support, child custody, visitation schedules, and more)

How much does an uncontested divorce cost?

The cost of an uncontested divorce is quite minimal, since the divorcee doesn’t have to pay for a lawyer. In an uncontested divorce, you must only pay the filing fee (which varies from state to state).

However, the cost of an uncontested divorce can vary based on how you go about pursuing the divorce. These are your choices:

  • Fill out the forms yourself: The upside to filling out the divorce forms yourself is there is no additional cost. But the downside is that the slightest mistake or inconsistency in your paperwork can lead to your divorce forms being rejected, which would delay the divorce process.

  • Hire a lawyer: Some divorcees choose to hire a lawyer to fill out the divorce papers for them, which drives up the cost of an uncontested divorce quickly. True, the divorce papers will be completed correctly, but the cost is usually not worth the minimal labor.

  • Use a divorce forms service: A divorce forms service is not a legal advisory center or other type of legal aide; it is a company that specializes in completing divorce forms. These companies are usually a good option because the services do not cost as much as a lawyer, and the forms are completed by professionals.

However, be wary of false divorce forms services. Scammy divorce forms service companies usually do not have a method of contact on their website (like a phone number, address, or live customer support module). Before making payments to an online divorce forms service, make sure the website has a method of securing your payment.

Can we get an uncontested divorce if we don’t get along?

You and your spouse may not be the best of friends during your divorce, and that’s okay, even in an uncontested divorce. The divorcing couple may not stand the sight of each other, but as long as they can agree on how they want to settle the matters discussed in first section (division of assets, child issues, and more), they can get an uncontested divorce.

If during the divorce, the spouses find an area they cannot agree on, negotiate, or otherwise overcome, then they may have to seek mediation. If the divorce is at a standstill because of certain issues, then the divorce is considered contested, and the couple will have to hire a lawyer.

Is this helpful information, or is there a question about uncontested divorces we missed? Let us know in the comment box below.

Getting a Divorce in a Covenant Marriage |

covenant marriage divorce

If you’ve never heard of a covenant marriage, or if you know very little about covenant marriage, it’s probably because it is only offered in 3 states. Covenant marriages are offered in Arkansas, Arizona, and Louisiana, but the concept of the covenant marriage has been around for quite some time.

What is a Covenant Marriage?

A covenant marriage is different from a “regular” marriage because the couples in covenant marriages essentially waive their rights to a no-fault divorce. Covenant marriages are said to be more binding than regular marriages because they are based on covenants, not contracts.

A covenant is a solemn, usually religious, agreement, whereas a contract is a legal agreement. Proponents of covenant marriages believe “regular” marriages are contract-based marriages, which do not hold marriage as sacred and permanent an institution. Due to the deep religious affiliation covenant marriages have, covenant marriages have certain laws imposed upon them that make it difficult to divorce.

Guidelines of a Covenant Marriage

A covenant marriage requires couples to attend premarital counseling, and to fill out special covenant marriage paperwork. During the premarital counseling sessions, the couple is advised of the severity of committing to a lifelong marriage, the legal restrictions on divorce, and how to deal with marital issues.

The prospective spouses then must file an intent to enter into a covenant marriage. The intent (or declaration) involves a few documents that demonstrate both parties’ willingness to enter into a covenant of marriage. All this paperwork includes disclaimers about the stipulations of a covenant marriage, like the difficulties of divorcing out of a covenant marriage and more.

Divorce in Covenant Marriages

The first step in seeking a divorce in a covenant marriage is to seek marriage counseling. The covenant both parties agreed to when they wedded includes a clause about always seeking counseling should issues arise.

There are stringent divorce grounds in a covenant marriage; but since only three states offer the covenant marriage option, here are the specific grounds:

Arkansas: There are 4 grounds for divorce.

  1. Adultery

  2. Conviction of a felony or serious crime

  3. Physical or sexual abuse of one of your children

  4. Living separate and apart for at least 2 years; living separate and apart for 2 years and 6 months, if there are children; or living separate and apart for at least 1 year if there has been a form of abuse

Arizona: There are 8 grounds for divorce.

  1. Adultery

  2. Abandonment for 1 year or more

  3. Imprisonment or death sentence due to conviction of a felony

  4. Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse

  5. Living separate and apart for 2 consecutive years

  6. Being legally separated for 1 year

  7. Substance and/or alcohol abuse

  8. Both spouses agree to the divorce

Louisiana: There are 5 grounds for divorce.

  1. Adultery

  2. Imprisonment or death sentence due to conviction of a felony

  3. Abandonment for 1 year or more

  4. Physical or sexual abuse

  5. Living separate and apart for 2 years; under legal separation, living separate and apart for 1 year, or 1 year and 6 months if there are children.