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From Start To Finish: Your Guide To A Contested Divorce

man going through a contested divorce

If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on one or more of the key issues related to your ending your marriage and settling your estate, you may be required to seek a contested divorce. In other words, a judge may need to step in, make decisions, and bring the case to final resolution. While getting a divorce is never easy, the contested divorce process can be especially challenging. In this article, our Houston contested divorce attorneys provide an overview of how the process works in Texas. 

Five Steps Of A Contested Divorce In Texas

  • You Must File An Original Petition For Divorce

To initiate the divorce process in Texas, you must file an Original Petition for Divorce in the proper county court. The property county is where one of the spouses has resided for the previous 90 days. Within this petition, the party who is filing for divorce must first specify their reasons for getting a divorce. 

Although you can seek a divorce on fault-based grounds, that is not required—indeed, even in contested divorce cases, you still have the right to file for divorce on the grounds of “insupportability”. Insupportability is essentially the term that Texas uses for ‘irreconcilable differences’. 

Beyond grounds for divorce, your divorce petition should also include other important details, such as the relief you are requesting from the court. If you want the judge to enter a temporary order, such as granting you primary child custody or temporary spousal support, you must include that request in your divorce petition. 

  • Your Spouse Will Receive A Service Of Citation

Once you file for divorce, you have a legal obligation to serve notice on your spouse. With an uncontested divorce, service is not usually much of an issue because the non-filing partner can simply submit a notarized waiver of their rights which you can include with the divorce petition. 

However, in a contested divorce case, you need to make sure that your spouse is being served with the petition. As a general rule, the Service of Citation should be made by a qualified law enforcement officer or a professional process server. 

  • Temporary Orders May Be Issued

A contested divorce has the potential to take a considerable amount of time. In most cases, it will be several months (or longer) before a resolution is reached. As a result, a temporary order may be issued to help the divorcing couple get through the interim period. Most often, temporary orders relate to things such as child custody or child support. Though, temporary orders can come in a wide range of different forms. As an example, a court may issue a temporary order restricting major financial decisions until the separation is finalized. Temporary orders can be used to prevent the dissipation of assets or other financial maneuvers that would be detrimental to the parties or marital estate. 

  • Settlement Is Always A Possibility

One of the most important things to know about filing for a contested divorce is that you may still be able to avoid a full trial. In fact, many of the cases that start out as contested divorces eventually end in an uncontested settlement. Typically, there will be attempts at negotiation—whether informally, through mediation, or through another type of structured process—after temporary orders are entered but before a trial begins. You and your former partner may not want a judge to get the final say on your case. It is important to consider your options for settlement at every stage of the process. 

  • Preparing For A Divorce Trial 

If no agreement can be reached, your divorce case will head to court. From the moment that you file an Original Petition for Divorce (or alternative, are served with divorce papers) you need to be preparing your case for a trial. As was mentioned, the overwhelming majority of divorce cases in Texas are resolved outside of litigation. 

That being said, your case could be one of the exceptions. Further, you will be far more likely to get a fair divorce agreement that is truly in your best interests if you have prepared a strong, well-documented legal case. Do not go it alone: an experienced Houston, TX divorce lawyer will help you organize the evidence and take action to protect your rights and interests. 

Get Help From Our Houston Contested Divorce Attorneys Today

At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, our Texas divorce lawyers have extensive experience handling contested divorce cases. We will protect your rights. For a strictly confidential consultation, please contact our legal team right away. With locations in Houston, The Woodlands, and Sugar Land, we represent clients in contested divorces throughout Southeast Texas, including in Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, and Brazoria County.