Divorce is a complex and emotionally challenging process, especially when both parties involved cannot reach an agreement on important issues. In the state of Texas, a contested divorce occurs when spouses cannot find common ground on matters like property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support. In such cases, the court steps in to resolve disputes and make decisions on behalf of the couple.
Defining Contested Divorce
A contested divorce is a legal proceeding where one spouse files for divorce, but the other spouse disagrees with one or more aspects of the divorce settlement. Disagreements can range from dividing assets and debts, determining child custody and visitation arrangements, to spousal support payments. Unlike an uncontested divorce where both parties agree on all issues and submit a settlement agreement to the court, a contested divorce involves disagreements that require judicial intervention.
Key Aspects of Contested Divorce
- Property Division: Texas is a community property state, which means that any property acquired during the marriage is considered community property and should be divided equally between the spouses during divorce. However, in contested cases, disputes may arise over the characterization of certain assets or their valuation.
- Child Custody and Visitation: When children are involved, one of the most emotionally charged aspects of a contested divorce is determining custody arrangements. Texas courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody decisions and may consider factors such as the child’s preferences, the parents’ abilities to provide a stable environment, and any history of abuse or neglect.
- Child Support: The court also calculates child support based on Texas guidelines, taking into account the non-custodial parent’s income, the number of children, and other relevant factors. Disagreements may arise regarding income reporting or special circumstances that could influence the support amount.
- Spousal Support: Spousal support is not guaranteed in Texas and is typically awarded on a case-by-case basis. In contested divorces, the earning capacity and financial needs of both spouses become crucial factors in determining spousal support payments.
The Contested Divorce Process
- Filing a Petition: The process begins with one spouse filing a divorce petition with the appropriate county court and serving the other spouse with the required legal documents.
- Response: The respondent has a specified period to respond to the petition. Failure to respond may result in a default judgment, meaning the court can grant the divorce and make decisions without the respondent’s input.
- Discovery: Both parties exchange information and evidence related to the contested issues, such as financial documents, child custody preferences, and potential witnesses.
- Mediation: Before going to trial, Texas courts often require mediation to encourage settlement negotiations between the spouses. A neutral mediator helps facilitate discussions to reach mutually agreeable resolutions.
- Trial: If mediation fails, the case proceeds to trial. Each side presents evidence, witnesses, and arguments to support their positions on the disputed matters.
A contested divorce in Texas is a challenging and sometimes lengthy legal process that occurs when spouses cannot agree on key issues surrounding their separation. It involves resolving disputes related to property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support through court intervention. If you find yourself facing a contested divorce, it is crucial to seek professional legal counsel to protect your rights and interests throughout the process. While the road ahead may be difficult, remember that with patience and guidance, you can navigate through this challenging time and build a better future for yourself and your family.
Contact Springer & Lyle
If you have questions regarding a divorce or family law matters, please contact experienced Springer & Lyle attorney Daniel Abasolo at 940.387.0404 to schedule a consultation. Springer & Lyle is located at 1807 Westminster, Denton, Texas 76205.