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When Does An Uncontested Divorce Become Contested?

When does an uncontested divorce become contested? This shift occurs whenever there’s a disagreement over key issues necessary for finalizing the divorce. As such, a truly uncontested divorce is a rarity in Texas: You and your spouse must 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 important. All issues in dispute in a contested divorce must be heard before a judge, which can raise the stakes considerably depending on your circumstances.

If your divorce case involves 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 classifying 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 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 just and right. 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 determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. If the judge finds it 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 often disagree over the arrangement for custody and visitation, which encompasses various details on decision-making in essential 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, remember there may still be ways to resolve disagreements without going to court. Parties may be unsuccessful in reaching a compromise because of the emotions involved with divorce. Still, 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 can often 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. 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.

After the trial, the judge will issue an order by applying Texas divorce laws to the facts. The result may satisfy only one party or 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. Please contact our office today to learn more about how our team at The Ramos Law Group, PLLC can assist with all types of divorces and divorce-related issues. We can schedule a consultation with a contested divorce lawyer who can advise you on the process.

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Mary E. Ramos

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Mary E. Ramos

Mary E. Ramos is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is recognized and respected throughout the Houston legal community for dedication in effectively representing clients’ rights and interests. Mary understands the emotional side of divorce and brings a special compassion to each and every case.

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