What Does a Contested Divorce Actually Mean?

man and woman arm wrestling

Your Contested Texas Divorce

If you and your divorcing spouse are not in complete agreement regarding the major issues, yours is a contested divorce (Learn more about contested, uncontested, and collaborative divorces). This does not, however, mean that you and your spouse are headed toward an ever-escalating battle. It is important to remember that every divorce is unique and that divorce is unpredictable. If you are facing divorce, you need an experienced Central Texas divorce lawyer, but it can help to familiarize yourself with the steps involved in the contested-divorce process.

Original Petition for Divorce

If you are instigating the divorce, you will begin the process by filing an Original Petition for Divorce, which delineates the reasons for the divorce, the relief you seek, and any Temporary Orders you are requesting of the court. There are two distinct types of orders you are most likely to request:

  • Temporary Order

A Temporary Order is a request for specific relief you will need during the divorce process. For example, such an order might address who will remain in the marital home throughout the process, request spousal support, request that monthly expenses be paid, and address issues related to child custody and child support. Temporary Orders are intended to maintain your household’s status quo, and they require a hearing that typically takes place within 14 days of filing the Petition for Divorce – if a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is in place. If there is no TRO, the hearing will be scheduled according to the urgency of the requested relief and procedural variables.

  • Temporary Restraining Order

A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) implements short-term restrictions (on the affected party) from engaging in certain activities, including (for instance) selling or destroying property, upsetting the children’s routines and schedules, and/or cancelling utilities or insurance policies. Unlike Temporary Orders, TROs do not require hearings, but they remain in effect for only 14 days.

Service of the Petition for Divorce

Once you have filed a Petition for Divorce, your spouse will be served by a process server (or another appropriate party). At this point, your spouse will have a specific amount of time to file an Answer in response. If your spouse has any claims to counter with, he or she will do so with a Counterpetition.

The Negotiation Process

Even if your divorce is highly contested, the two of you may be able to find common ground through mediation – a process in which you, your spouse, and your respective attorneys will endeavor to find compromises and conditions that you are both willing to accept. Ultimately, mediation allows you to make decisions – no matter how difficult – for yourselves instead of having a judge make them for you. While many divorces are settled through mediation, those that are not move on to trial.

If You Need a Divorce, You Also Need an Experienced Central Texas Divorce Lawyer

While divorce follows a fairly straightforward process, every divorce has its own unique trajectory. Divorce is complicated, but the dedicated legal professionals at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Central Texas have the experience, knowledge, and compassion to help guide your case toward its most positive resolution. Our committed divorce attorneys are here to help, so please contact or call us at (254) 220-4225 today.


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