A Quick Guide to Contested Divorce in Texas

When spouses can’t reach a mutual agreement regarding one or more key separation elements, the court has to interfere. Residents who seek guidance on filing for a contested divorce in Texas can find additional information here. This article will explain the term itself, the separation process, property issues, and child support matters.

Marital annulment papers and two wedding rings.
Reaching a mutual agreement is vital since that way, you could reduce costs and stress and file for divorce online.

What Happens in a Contested Divorce?

The divorce process has many faces and procedures related to its circumstances. Before analyzing its types and their steps, we must be clear regarding terminology. This particular legal term indicates the necessity to resolve complicated family issues with the help of judges and an attorney’s service. In this case, former partners can’t agree on essential key points, such as child custody, child support, or spousal support. These disputes can lead the couple straight to court. Compared to its uncontested counterpart, this option is far more costly and time-consuming. Although the required fees don’t differ, the disagreement perpetuates the process’s complexity, which increases the costs. To put it simply, the judge takes charge of decision-making on behalf of the spouses.

Two pairs of hands and documentation.
This process requires the presence of an attorney.

A Step-by-Step Guide: What Can I Expect From a Contested Divorce?

The laws in the Lone Star State aren’t much different from the rest of the US. Every separation and annulment process, uncontested or not, commences the same way. The first question you must answer is - How to file for a contested divorce in Texas? When you learn about this fundamental step, gather information about the stages that await. They include:

  • Officially notifying the spouse
  • Negotiating and counting on possible temporary orders
  • Preparing for a trial

These cases often involve severe issues and misunderstandings. Nevertheless, after the procedure has been set in motion, spouses can still try to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. If this occurs, they might avoid or shorten the hearings and trials and cut down on lawyer’s services, court fees, and so on. Spouses can also obtain help for their negotiations from a lawyer, which usually takes place in the mediator’s office. Reaching an understanding with a former spouse is always a viable option.

Couple in legal counselor's office.
Take directions from knowledgeable sources and mind the guidelines provided by a lawyer.

Step One: Filing for a Contested Divorce in Texas

The dissolution starts with filing an Original Petition for Divorce in the appropriate county court. You can determine which institution falls under your jurisdiction based on the residence of at least one spouse during the past 90 days. The petition must incorporate accurate and complete information, including the reasons for the split. If a spouse demands temporary orders from the judge, they must enlist them as well.

Step Two: Notifying the Spouse

Once you file for divorce in Texas, the other party must receive a Service Of Citation. Since this case involves a more serious approach, this step needs some additional precautions. You must be entirely sure that the other spouse has been served with the petition. Citations are composed by a lawyer and form an essential part of their service.

Highlighted term in a dictionary.
The spouse who files the petition is obligated to notify the other spouse through a service of citation.

Step Three: Negotiation and Temporary Orders

Even with numerous disagreements, former marital companions can negotiate and compromise. While they’re at it, they often contact an objective legal representative. This person’s role is to mediate and ease the procedure. Nonetheless, since the answer to the question How long does a divorce take in Texas is usually at least several months, courts often issue temporary orders. These orders usually relate to things such as child custody or child support if you’re divorcing with children. Decisions like these help families overcome this tough period and mind the children and their well-being. Additionally, judges sometimes take matters into their own hands before finalizing the split to dodge financial and property wrongdoing.

Step Four: Preparing for a Trial

If one or both parties are refusing to agree on crucial matters, the case must head to court. Preparing a well-documented legal case enhances your chances of receiving a fair trial and adequate settlement. Organizing the evidence and presenting a strong case requires services from a qualified attorney. Even if you avoid the trial, it is best to plan how to protect your rights and interests.

Family law book.
Contact an expert attorney who specializes in family law.

Family Court and Finalization

If it comes to the trial, attorneys speak on both spouses’ behalf. They present and explain all the arguments, such as financial matters, property division, child custody, and child support. This is one of the 50-50 divorce states, which means that all material goods and belongings are usually split equally. Additionally, the court requires:

  • Necessary documentation
  • Testimonies from the spouses
  • Witness testimony

Later on, the judge decides on dividing the property, living arrangements, alimony, and other crucial elements.

Unfortunately, some cases end up in the courtroom where they finally get the marital dissolution.

How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Texas?

Ending a marriage under less than favorable circumstances often consumes a lot of time. The entire procedure usually takes several months and, in some scenarios, even over a year. Firstly, the state of Texas requires a minimum 60-day cooling-off period between filing and concluding a divorce. However, most couples who await separation have to wait longer than those two months to finalize this process. The precise duration mostly depends on the amount of information each party needs to gather from the other. Luckily, most cases in Texas don’t end up on trial. If they do, it takes several days or weeks for hearings, testimonials, and reaching a resolution.

Wedding rings.
The entire procedure could last even a whole year.

How Much Does a Contested Divorce Cost in Texas?

The pricing depends on the duration, the amount of information and issues, the lawyer’s involvement, and the number of required fees. Still, the expenses can range between $5,000 and $15,000 per spouse. To initiate the annulment, you’d need to pay a fee that goes between $250 and $300. Additionally, you’d need to cover other costs like service fees. And lastly, you’ll have to hire a legal representative, which also raises the question of financial compensation. Nevertheless, those cases that don’t go to court cost much less compared to those that do. That’s why mediation and negotiation are crucial.

If you manage to negotiate with your spouse successfully, you might be able to file for divorce online and save time and money.

Getting Divorced in the Lone Star State

The main question remains: Is it worth contesting a divorce? The final thoughts must suggest compromise and fairness on both ends. If possible, always go for an uncontested divorce. If that’s not an option - at least strive to dialogue and avoid trial. And, in any case, seek help and contact the most reliable legal service.