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Is It Worth Contesting a Divorce in Texas?

A woman putting her wedding ring on the table.

Is it worth contesting a divorce in Texas when confronted with unresolved issues like asset division or child custody? This question necessitates careful examination of the legal stakes, and emotional toll involved. Contesting a divorce can offer an opportunity for thorough resolution and tailored outcomes, especially when it comes to intricate matters like asset division and child custody arrangements. While the process may involve challenges, the positive aspect lies in the potential for a fair and equitable settlement that aligns with your specific circumstances.

If you’re facing such decisions, Skillern Firm’s experienced legal team is here to guide you through the complexities, protect your wishes, and work towards a resolution that ensures your long-term goals. Contact us today at 713-229-8855 for dedicated assistance tailored to your unique situation and a smoother divorce journey ahead.

Understanding Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

When it comes to divorce, every situation is unique. Depending on the circumstances, you might find yourself facing a contested or uncontested divorce.

In a contested divorce, spouses are unable to reach an agreement on significant matters such as:

  • property division
  • spousal maintenance
  • child custody

This disagreement may necessitate court intervention.

On the flip side, an uncontested divorce indicates mutual agreement on all terms, thereby circumventing the need for court involvement.

One might decide to go through a contested divorce process when disputes arise over critical issues such as property division and parenting arrangements, which ensures that both spouses’ concerns are adequately addressed. Mediation and negotiation become key strategies to reduce the adversarial aspects of a contested divorce, possibly fostering a more harmonious resolution and lessening the emotional and financial burden on both parties.

Contested Divorce in Texas

A contested divorce in Texas commences with the following steps:

  1. Submit an Original Petition for Divorce in the relevant county court, providing valid reasons for the separation.
  2. Serve the other spouse formally with a copy of the Petition.
  3. Wait for a state-mandated cooling-off period of at least 60 days before finalizing any divorce.

The legal process for a contested divorce unfolds across several stages, starting with the filing of the initial petition and culminating in the final trial. In instances where spouses are unable to reach an agreement, the involvement of a divorce lawyer becomes essential for negotiating terms. Legal representation is key in guiding spouses through:

  • negotiations
  • developing testimony
  • collecting evidence
  • presenting persuasive arguments in court.

Furthermore, Texas law typically requires a fair division of assets and property in a contested divorce, which complicates the process and frequently gives rise to legal disputes.

Uncontested Divorce in Texas

In contrast, an uncontested divorce in Texas is characterized by the agreement of spouses on all terms of their divorce, resulting in a streamlined and expedited divorce process. To qualify for an uncontested divorce in Texas, couples must meet the following basic requirements:

  • At least one spouse must have been a resident of the state for a minimum of 6 months prior to filing for divorce.
  • Both parties must agree on the grounds for the divorce, whether it is insupportability (no-fault) or other grounds as outlined by Texas law.
  • The couple must have reached an agreement on all issues in their case, including but not limited to asset division, child custody, and spousal support.

If there is an abusive spouse involved, it may be necessary to consider a contested divorce to ensure the safety and well-being of the other spouse and any children involved.

Uncontested divorces are often favored in less complex divorces due to their relatively simpler and quicker resolution compared to contested divorces. But, not contesting a divorce, especially in high-stakes or complex cases, can be inherently risky. In scenarios involving significant assets, complex financial arrangements, or custody disputes, an uncontested divorce might lead to an uneven division of assets, inadequate child support arrangements, or insufficient alimony payments. Without thorough legal scrutiny and negotiation, one party may inadvertently relinquish rights or assets they are entitled to, which could have long-term financial and emotional repercussions.

Factors to Consider Before Contesting a Divorce

Before deciding to contest a divorce, it’s vital to assess the potential outcomes in light of the involved time, and emotional strain. Contesting a divorce can result in substantial financial consequences, encompassing prolonged legal processes and the unpredictability of the result. It is also essential to consider the best interests of the children, especially in cases involving intricate situations like infidelity, abuse, or a difficult spouse.

Contesting a divorce may also be necessary when one spouse is unwilling to compromise or negotiate fair terms. This situation can arise when a spouse maintains unreasonable entitlement or expectations. It becomes imperative when seeking to reach a resolution that protects one’s rights and wishes.

Financial Implications

Understanding the potential financial implications is a crucial consideration when deciding to contest a divorce. The actual fees of a divorce can fluctuate significantly based on the intricacy of the case.

Assets and liabilities in a contested divorce in Texas are divided according to community property laws. The courts consider factors such as each spouse’s earning capacity, length of marriage, and contribution to ensure a fair division. This process may involve addressing financial matters such as:

  • asset division
  • debt management
  • spousal support
  • retirement accounts

Contesting a divorce in Texas can lead to substantial financial implications, including:

  • Increased attorney fees
  • Court expenses
  • Costs for expert witnesses or appraisers
  • Potential contentious distribution of assets and liabilities that could result in a less favorable financial outcome for the parties involved.

Children’s Interests

When children are involved, their well-being becomes a focal point in divorce proceedings. Contesting a divorce may serve the children in cases involving:

  • intricate situations like infidelity, abuse, or a difficult spouse
  • safeguarding the children’s financial stability
  • ensuring their rights and necessities are appropriately addressed.

When making decisions about child custody in a contested divorce, Judges take into account a variety of factors including:

  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the children
  • The children’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being
  • Any special needs the children may have
  • Past parent-child interactions that may affect the relationship

Children may potentially suffer from depression, anxiety, and emotional trauma as a result of the prolonged conflict and tension between parents in a contested divorce.

Potential for Negotiation

Negotiation plays a crucial role in divorce proceedings. It allows the parties to reach agreements on financial issues, child custody, and spousal support, steering clear of positional bargaining and enabling a more amicable resolution. Mediation provides a structured environment facilitated by a trained, neutral professional to aid the parties in effective negotiation and communication. These methods aim to settle divorce issues without a court trial.

In Texas, spouses can engage in a Negotiated Divorce—a more informal process that might involve legal or professional support, or not.

Opting for negotiation in a divorce offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Facilitating smoother proceedings
  • Reducing litigation fees
  • Fostering amicable relations between the parties, which can be especially advantageous in cases involving children.

Reasons to Contest a Divorce in Texas

While there are many reasons to contest a divorce, three common ones include concealed assets, child custody disputes, and spousal support disagreements. If a spouse has concealed assets, the other spouse may need to contest the divorce to ensure a fair distribution of property.

Child custody disputes are a significant factor that may lead to contesting a divorce in Texas, as both parents may have concerns about their ability to maintain a substantial role in their children’s lives after the divorce.

Disagreements over spousal support often become a significant point of contention in contested divorce cases in Texas.

Concealed Assets

In a contested divorce, various discovery tools can be employed to identify hidden assets and ensure their proper disclosure to the court. Concealing assets during a divorce could result in penalties and court-imposed punishments for the offending spouse. Undisclosed assets can have a substantial impact on the court’s rulings regarding the distribution of assets, spousal support, and child custody as it hinders the Judge’s ability to make well-informed decisions based on complete financial information.

Child Custody Disputes

Disputes over child custody are a significant factor that may lead to contesting a divorce in Texas, as both parents may have concerns about their ability to maintain a substantial role in their children’s lives after the divorce. Texas law recognizes a range of custody arrangements, such as joint custody, which is known as joint managing conservatorship, sole custody, and split custody. These arrangements are determined with the child’s best interests in mind, and the goal is for both parents to share custody unless proven otherwise.

A contested divorce has the potential to complicate and escalate the cost of determining child custody arrangements. The more intricate court process involved in evaluating what is ideal for the children often results in both parents seeking maximum time with their children. At Skillern Firm, we prioritize mediation and strive for swift and amicable resolutions, but we’re also prepared to advocate for you in court when needed.

Spousal Support Disagreements

Spousal support can be a contentious issue in a divorce. The amount and duration of spousal support in Texas are determined by considering:

  • A spouse’s financial resources
  • Education and employment skills
  • Length of the marriage
  • Ability to earn income
  • Necessity to meet their minimum reasonable needs

Contesting a divorce opens up opportunities for:

  • Mediation and negotiation, which are key in settling disputes over spousal support
  • Facilitating mediation and cooperative divorce processes
  • Ensuring the fair division of assets and liabilities, particularly in cases involving spousal support disagreements

Divorce attorneys play a crucial role in divorce court processes.

How Skillern Firm Can Help You in a Contested Divorce

At Skillern Firm, we offer the following services for contested divorce cases:

  • Navigating clients through the complex process
  • Keeping clients’ interests at the forefront
  • Helping clients achieve the most favorable result in their divorce proceedings
  • Customizing the process to clients’ individual circumstances and goals

Our Board Certified experienced divorce attorney team is skilled in handling contested divorce cases and dedicated to providing high-quality legal representation.

We offer a variety of dispute resolution services, allowing clients to choose negotiation and mediation for a harmonious separation, while also being prepared to advocate for them in court if necessary. Our team of seasoned divorce lawyers manages intricate divorce cases with substantial assets, closely held businesses, and contentious child custody disputes.

Board Certified Attorneys

At Skillern Firm, we believe in providing our clients with the highest standard of legal representation. Our team of attorneys are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and are not only celebrated for their commitment to excellence but also for their specific knowledge and experience in family law. This ensures that they have met rigorous standards and can provide objectivity, and legal representation, and help alleviate the stress associated with a contested divorce.

Board certification serves to bolster an attorney’s professional credibility and assures clients, Judges, and peers that the attorney has attained stringent standards of knowledge, skill, and experience in family law. Board Certified attorneys have demonstrated significant proficiency in their areas of experience, especially in family law, which significantly bolsters their capacity to represent clients in contested divorce cases.

Negotiation, Mediation, and Litigation Services

Skillern Firm offers a range of services designed to help clients resolve their divorce cases in a civil and amicable manner. Negotiation holds significant importance in a divorce case as it facilitates the parties in reaching agreements on financial issues, child custody, and spousal support, steering clear of positional bargaining and enabling a more amicable resolution.

Mediation provides a structured environment facilitated by a trained, neutral professional to aid the parties in effective negotiation and communication. These methods aim to settle divorce issues without a court trial. Our firm supports clients with mediation services by utilizing their significant experience in negotiation and mediation. This experience empowers our clients to reach fair and amicable resolutions to their divorce disputes.

Complex Divorce Cases

Skillern Firm is well-equipped to handle challenging and intricate child custody matters, with a proven track record of achieving favorable results. We assist high-net-worth spouses in fairly dividing assets during divorce, including the valuation and division of complex asset portfolios containing businesses, foreign assets, bonds, and other intricate assets.

The steps for managing closely held businesses in a Texas divorce include:

  1. Identifying the nature of the business as community property or separate property.
  2. Determining the value of the community property interest through methods like engaging a business valuation expert or utilizing financial records and tax returns.
  3. Negotiating the division of the business assets or seeking a court determination based on the evidence presented.

Contact Us

Contesting a divorce is a significant decision, one that should not be taken lightly. Weighing the potential solutions against the cost, time, and emotional strain involved is essential. Whether you opt for a contested or uncontested divorce, understanding the differences between the two and the potential implications is crucial. The choice ultimately depends on the intricacy of the issues involved, the financial implications, the well-being of the children, and the potential for negotiation.

At Skillern Firm, we are committed to guiding you through your contested divorce, providing the experience and support you need every step of the way. With 121 years of combined experience, you can trust us to advocate for your rights and goals, ensuring you reach the best possible resolution in your divorce. Call us today at 713-229-8855 if you’re in the Houston, Katy, or Sugar Land areas to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a smoother and more favorable outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if a divorce is contested in Texas?

If a divorce is contested in Texas, both parties and their lawyers will present evidence to support their desired resolution. 

Do I need a divorce lawyer if we agree on everything in Texas?

In Texas, if you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all terms of your divorce, it may not be necessary to hire a divorce lawyer. Given that all aspects, including asset division, child custody, and support arrangements, are mutually agreed upon, you can proceed with an uncontested divorce without the need for legal representation.

What are the differences between a contested and an uncontested divorce?

In summary, a contested divorce involves disputes over various matters, while an uncontested divorce signifies mutual agreement on all terms. This difference resonates in the level of court involvement in each type of divorce.

What steps are involved in a contested divorce in Texas?

In a contested divorce in Texas, the process typically involves filing the initial petition, discovery phase, and settlement negotiations, and if an agreement isn’t reached, it progresses to trial. During the trial, both parties present evidence to support their positions, and the court makes final decisions on matters like asset division, child custody, and spousal support.

Is mediation a common approach in contested divorces in Texas?

Yes, mediation is a common approach in contested divorces in Texas. It involves a neutral third party assisting both parties in settling outside of court. While not mandatory, many courts encourage mediation as it can be a more amicable and cost-effective way to resolve disputes, providing an opportunity for compromise before heading to trial.