When Does An Uncontested Divorce Become Contested?
Posted by Ramos Law Group, PLLC | Divorce
Put simply, an uncontested divorce becomes a contested case whenever the parties are in dispute over any issue that is key to the divorce being finalized. As such, a truly uncontested divorce is a rarity in Texas: You and your spouse would have to compromise on every detail related to property division, alimony, and issues related to minor children. Every other case qualifies as a contested divorce. However, beyond the basic description, the distinction is an important one. All issues in dispute in a contested divorce must go to a hearing before a judge, which can raise the stakes considerably depending on your circumstances.
If your divorce case is a blend of contested and uncontested issues – which many are – it is essential that you retain an attorney for legal assistance. Even when you can agree, you need legal counsel to negotiate and protect your interests. When disputes remain, it is important to retain a Texas contested divorce lawyer to fight for your rights. Still, to better understand the proceedings, you should note some factors on when an uncontested divorce becomes contested.
Disputes Over Key Issues In A Texas Contested Divorce
Many couples will face disagreements over specific issues in a divorce case, but the disputes typically center on one or more of the following areas:
- Property Division: At the outset, disparities may arise over the classification of an asset as community versus separate property. Community property, including all items acquired during the marriage, is subject to a just and right division; separate property, gifts, and inheritances belong to the respective spouse after the divorce process concludes. Another topic of dispute in property division is what constitutes a “just and right division” according to the Texas statute. Instead of an equal 50-50 split, the focus is on divvying up community property in a just and right way. It may not be exactly even, but the assets and debts should be equally divided absent the Court finding a reason to award one party a disproportionate share.
- Spousal Support: Disagreements about post-divorce spousal support can be among the most hotly contested issues, starting with the determination of whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. If the judge finds that it is proper to award support to one spouse, further disputes erupt over the type, amount, and duration.
- Issues Related to Minor Children: Child support is determined by Texas statutory guidelines, leaving little room for disputes. However, parents will often disagree over the arrangement for custody and visitation, which encompasses various details on decision-making in important aspects of raising the child. The law requires a custody and visitation arrangement that suits the child’s best interests, but parents may differ over what the standard means.
Options For Resolving Disagreements
Even if you think your divorce has crossed the line from uncontested to contested, keep in mind that there may still be ways to resolve disagreements without going to court. Parties may be unsuccessful in reaching compromise because of the emotions involved with divorce, but their attorneys can often achieve each spouse’s objectives through negotiations that take emotions out of the equation.
In addition, mediation is an option for some parties who believe there is no hope for compromise. By sitting down with a trained mediator who guides them through productive conversation, spouses are often able to meet each other halfway on some issues. If they can agree on some matters but not others, it is still possible to create an agreement; the remaining disputes will go before the Court for a decision.
Litigating Issues In Contested Divorce
If negotiations, mediation, and other alternatives have proven unsuccessful, the judge will set a hearing date to hear all outstanding disputes. The proceeding is essentially a trial on property division, spousal support, and child custody and visitation, putting spouses on opposing sides of the issues. Through their attorneys, both parties will:
- Make opening and closing arguments regarding their positions;
- Introduce written evidence and exhibits;
- Testify and be subject to cross-examination by opposing counsel;
- Present other witnesses; and,
- Conduct other essential trial-related tasks.
At the conclusion of the trial, the judge will issue an order by applying Texas divorce laws to the facts. The end result may be one that satisfies only one party or even neither party, which is why there are advantages to working out divorce issues whenever possible.
Count On Our Texas Contested Divorce Attorney To Represent You
From the above description, you can see that it is important to know when an uncontested divorce becomes contested – and what you should do when that happens. To learn more about how our team at The Ramos Law Group, PLLC can assist with all types of divorces and divorce-related issues, please contact our office today. We can schedule a consultation with a contested divorce lawyer who can advise you on the process.