Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Texas
Why Would a Divorce Be Contested? Do Contested Divorces Take Longer?
When the bonds of marriage are irreparably broken, divorce is typically the only option. You may have conflicting concerns, however, with respect to the approach you want to take. You may consider allowing the divorce to proceed without contesting it, so that you don’t incur the expense of a protracted battle with your ex. On the other hand, you may have marital property you don’t want to lose, or you may worry that your ex won’t honor custody, visitation, or support agreements.
What Are Typical Reasons for Contesting a Divorce Complaint?
It’s important to understand that simply because a divorce is contested does not mean that the parties cannot get along. It just means that you can’t agree on all matters related to the divorce:
- You may be the noncustodial parent and want more time with your children than your ex is willing to grant.
- Your spouse may be asking for alimony or spousal support, which you believe is unwarranted.
- You may have property you brought into the marriage, which your ex is seeking to claim as theirs.
The common reasons for contesting a divorce include:
- The classification of community vs. separate property – Under Texas community property law, all property obtained during the marriage is community property to be divided equally between the parties. Any property obtained before the marriage is considered separate property and customarily given to the spouse who brought it into the marriage. Disputes can arise with respect to property (such as mortgaged real estate) that was paid for both prior to marriage and during the marriage.
- Disputes over what is “just and right” in a property settlement — Texas community property law requires community property to be allocated in a way that is “just and right.” Often, the parties to a divorce cannot agree as to what those terms mean.
- Custody and visitation with minor children – Texas family law encourages both parents to be actively involved in the lives of their minor children. Unfortunately, parents sometimes use their children as pawns or weapons to punish an ex.
- Alimony or spousal maintenance – Though spousal support is granted less often than it used to be, it can still be a source of conflict. When the parties cannot agree, the court must determine whether alimony is warranted and, if so, how much should be paid and for how long.
Do Contested Divorces Take More Time Than Uncontested Ones?
As a general rule, yes. In an uncontested divorce, where the parties agree on all essential issues, there’s no need for:
- Discovery – Discovery is the period of time established by the court to allow the parties to gather evidence, including documents and depositions of parties or witnesses.
- Hearings to resolve disputes – When the parties cannot agree, a court typically conducts a hearing to determine the outcome. Those hearings usually involve testimony from witnesses or experts.
Parties can ask the court to enter an order of divorce 60 days after the complaint is filed. The 60-day “cooling off period” applies to contested divorces as well, but discovery can take months, and it can take additional time to get on the court’s docket to resolve any disputes.
Contact the Proven Divorce and Family Law Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an aggressive and knowledgeable divorce and family lawyer, contact us by email or call our offices at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.