In Texas, you can file for one of two types of divorce: uncontested and contested. An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse agree to end your marriage. In addition, you agree on terms such as child support, alimony, child custody and how to divide debts and property.
A contested divorce is more complex because either you and your spouse don’t want the divorce. Another reason it’s complex is because you and your spouse may not agree on all divorce terms. For these reasons, you will need a contested divorce lawyer houston tx.
The Steps in a Contested Divorce
The first step in getting a contested divorce is filing a Petition for Divorce. You are requesting the court legally end your marriage. Within this first step, you’ll also include all temporary orders.
A temporary order is a legal document requesting the divorce judge over your case rule on certain things like child support and alimony. During a temporary order hearing, you’ll have to prove your case (if you are the one requesting the hearing). The judge will rule on the temporary orders before hearing your divorce case.
Your Spouse Receives a Copy of the Divorce Papers
The second step is called the “service.” This step is where your spouse receives the divorce papers. A process server, law enforcement officer or constable will serve your spouse at their home or location you request. This could be their job or a family member’s home.
According to Texas law, your spouse has 20 days to file an answer. This answer is called an Answer to Your Petition. In their answer, they deny your allegations. For example, if you want a divorce because your spouse cheated, they will deny they cheated in their answer. Once they answer is filed in court, the divorce becomes contested.
If your spouse alleges you committed wrongdoing in the marriage, they may file a counter-petition. You will receive a copy of the counter-petition. You will also file an answer with the court.
Negotiate with Your Spouse on Divorce Terms
In a contested divorce, you and your spouse may spend a lot of time negotiating and compromising on divorce terms. The court expects spouses to try to work on the divorce terms like alimony and child custody before the next step. Some couples try mediation to agree on specific terms.
Mediation is a meeting between you, your spouse and an independent third party. The third party, or mediator, assists both parties in settling divorce terms. If you and your spouse agree on the divorce terms with or without mediation, they your lawyer will present your divorce agreement to the court. If you can’t agree, your divorce moves to the next step.
Trial is the Last Step in a Contested Divorce
A divorce trial is divorce proceeding where your lawyer presents evidence to why you should be granted a divorce. Your spouse’s lawyer presents evidence to prove their case. The judge decides your divorce terms.