Contested Divorce in Texas

Divorce in Texas » Texas Contested Divorce

Divorce is a legal termination of a marriage that marks an end to a relationship causing emotional and financial toll on both the partners. The types and processes of ending a relationship differs in each state according to the state laws. Contested divorce in Texas is one of such types, where both the parties fail to come to a mutual agreement on all concerned issues surrounding the end of marriage like child custody and support, division of property and debts, spousal support and alimony. In such a situation, both the spouses may approach the court to reach a final decision on all issues, that they were not able to negotiate on.

Residency Requirement

To file for a contested divorce in Texas, either spouse must be a resident of the state for six months and a county resident for 90 days. In addition, there is a 60-day waiting period after filing, before the verdict is given.

Ground for Parting Ways

The grounds in a fault based divorce are 1) adultery, 2) abandonment, 3) confinement for incurable insanity for over three years, 4) conviction of a felony and imprisonment for over one year, 5) cruel and inhuman treatment, 6) living separate and apart without cohabitation for three years.

Process of Filing a Case

  • One of the spouses (the petitioner) files an 'original petition' with the district clerk of the county court.
  • Serve the petition to the respondent by either way - waiver of citation, answer, official service in person or by mail, official service by publication. The respondent has 20 days to file an answer to the petition.
  • One of the parties will request temporary court order by filing request for temporary hearing date. On this date, the judge will make temporary child custody, support and restraining orders. All of the orders will be either for the total duration of the entire process,or until the court changes them, whichever period is shorter.
  • The next step is to engage in discovery, where spouses are able to obtain detailed information from each other about marital assets, income, custody and any other issues relevant to their case. This is done through written questions, document requests and depositions. During discovery the spouses are able to request temporary orders for child support and alimony from the courts.
  • After the discovery is completed, the parties and their attorneys will discuss settlement of the case. The parties and their attorneys may attend mediation. If the case is resolved by agreement, one of the attorneys will prepare a decree of divorce
  • The decree will be signed by both the parties, followed by the judge. It includes a detailed information on the agreements settled by the the couple on issues like child custody and support, alimony and the division of the couple's property and debt.
  • If the parties do not reach a settlement agreement on all of the issues in the case, a trial will take place. Here, each party will be able to put on witnesses, cross - examine each the witnesses and make closing arguments. The judge will hear both sides of the case at trial and will then come to a decision.
  • After the trial has concluded, one of the attorneys will prepare the decree. This is the document that contains the court's orders. When the decree is signed by the judge, the case is concluded. Either side has the right to appeal for a new trial for thirty days after the judge signs the petition. During this period, one cannot remarry unless the judge had given written permission.

Cost of the Case

The cost of filing and completing the relevant paperwork for a contested case varies from one county to the next in the state of Texas. The rates charged by attorneys are usually charged on hourly or retainer basis. The total cost of divorce ranges between $30000 and $40000.

Challenges

  • False Allegations - One partner may make false allegations regarding the other with an intention of getting child custody. The person against whom these allegations have been made should contest the allegations in return.

  • Blackmail - A strong spouse may attempt to blackmail a weaker spouse and coerce an unfair divorce settlement. It is always advisable to avail legal assistance.

  • Lack of Knowledge - The parties sometimes are unaware of the state laws in a divorce. So, it may happen that a person might blindly accede to all terms or be confused how to proceed. In such a case, the weaker party should be cautious and avail legal help while contesting the case.

  • Communication - A clear and open-minded communication should prevail between both the spouses. However, there are cases when communication is almost absent and each spouse hardly meets each other to talk. In these scenarios, the other spouse has no option, but to legally fight for the case.

  • Domestic violence - Domestic violence and physical abuse are a part of few of the marriages. The accused may terminate a marriage on such ground and contest.

Dealing with a contested divorce in Texas is quite crucial. The more the number of issues that are in dispute, the case becomes more complicated and time-consuming. To complete the process without any hassles, one should always consult an experienced attorney. This will not only help to complete the process smoothly by following the legal formalities, but will also provide the best guidance in issues of child custody and support.