Updated on August 24, 2022
If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse cannot reach an agreement on one or several issues related to the dissolution of your marriage, you most likely need to pursue a contested divorce in Texas. This means that in the absence of an out-of-court agreement, the court will need to intervene to resolve your disputes and finalize your divorce.
Finalizing a contested divorce can be a complicated process, which usually requires the parties to collect and present countless pieces of evidence. If you are seeking a contested divorce in Texas, consult with a Lampasas County divorce lawyer to find out what evidence you may need during the contested divorce process.
5 Steps of a Contested Divorce in Texas
Seeking a contested divorce is a straightforward process. However, it is still advisable to contact a knowledgeable Lampasas divorce lawyer to help you navigate the process and protect your rights.
Broadly speaking, a contested divorce can be broken down into five steps:
Filing an Original Petition for Divorce
In order to initiate a divorce process in Texas, one of the spouses must file an Original Petition for Divorce. The petition is filed in the county where at least one spouse has lived in the past 90 days prior to the filing. The petition must also specify grounds for the divorce.
Serving the Respondent
After a divorce petition is filed, the other spouse (the Respondent) is served the divorce papers. It is essential to make sure that the Respondent is properly served to move forward with the contested divorce.
If you are the Respondent in your divorce case, learn what to do after being served with divorce papers.
Requesting Temporary Orders
In many contested divorces, spouses ask the court to issue temporary orders regarding child custody, alimony, child support, and other issues. Learn more about temporary orders by reading “Enforcing Temporary Orders in a Divorce.”
Negotiating a Settlement
It is not uncommon for divorcing spouses and their attorneys to try negotiating a divorce settlement throughout the contested divorce process. The parties may eventually resolve their contested issues and obtain a divorce without having to take their case to court.
Preparing for a Trial
If the divorcing spouses failed to reach a divorce settlement agreement, their divorce case would most likely go to court. When your case is decided by a family law judge, you have little control over the outcome of your divorce.
It is in your best interests to contact a Lampasas divorce lawyer to protect your rights and collect the necessary evidence for your contested divorce in Texas.
Two Types of Evidence in a Texas Contested Divorce
Typically, contested divorces involve two types of evidence:
Written evidence, which refers to any paper documents and digital records that can be introduced during a divorce case. The parties will gather and present most of the written evidence early on in the divorce process.
Oral evidence, which is any evidence that comes in spoken form, including oral statements, spoken testimonies, and other types of verbal evidence.
Under Texas law, both written and oral evidence is admissible unless it is irrelevant to the divorce case or was obtained through illegal means. Learn what methods of gathering evidence are legal and illegal by reading “Divorce and Snooping: What Is Legal and What Isn’t?”
What Evidence Can Be Used during a Contested Divorce?
Generally, evidence that can be used during a contested divorce is broken down into three types:
1. Evidence for Property Division
One of the most contested issues in any divorce case is whether the divorcing couple’s assets are marital or separate property.
Under Texas law, any assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage are considered community property. If there is evidence to prove that assets were acquired during the marriage, those assets would be subject to division.
However, if there is evidence to prove that assets were acquired before the marriage or as gifts or inheritances during the marriage, these assets may belong to only one spouse. They will be considered separate property and will not be subject to division upon divorce.
If you are unsure of what kind of documentation you should gather as evidence for property division, contact a knowledgeable Lampasas divorce attorney.
2. Evidence for Alimony
In many contested divorces, one spouse will request alimony, which is also known as spousal support. When determining whether or not to award alimony, a judge will consider a variety of factors to determine if awarding spousal support would be appropriate. The judge will rely on the evidence presented by both parties to make a determination, including the following forms of documentation:
Evidence showing the parties’ wages and income
Documentation showing the spouses’ employment and education
Evidence related to spouses’ contributions to the marriage and household
Documentation showing the requesting party’s need for alimony and the other spouse’s ability to provide spousal support
3. Evidence for Child Support and Custody
Contested divorces involving minor children often result in disputes regarding child support and custody, which is also referred to as conservatorship in Texas. Courts consider countless factors when determining an appropriate custody order and establishing the child’s best interests. For this reason, the court will need to review all available evidence related to the following factors:
The parties’ physical and mental fitness
The child’s needs
Past abuse, violence, neglect, or abandonment
The child’s relationship with each parent
The parents’ financial situation
These are just a few of the many factors considered by Texas courts when awarding custody and ordering child support in a contested divorce.
You Need Strong Evidence for Divorce Negotiations
Just because your divorce is contested does not necessarily mean that it will go all the way up to court. Not all contested divorces are resolved through litigation. Many spouses who initially have many contested issues when seeking a divorce end up reaching an agreement before their divorce goes to court.
Strong evidence can give you the upper hand in divorce negotiations, which is why it is crucial to be represented by a knowledgeable attorney who can help you strengthen your case and present your arguments in the most convincing manner possible.
The success of your negotiations will depend on the parties’ willingness to compromise as well as the parties’ ability to present compelling evidence. You need a skilled Lampasas divorce lawyer to help you gather all the evidence you need for your contested divorce to make sure that you can obtain a favorable resolution of your divorce.
Contact Our Lampasas County Divorce Attorneys
If you are going through a contested divorce, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced Lampasas divorce attorney who can help you protect your rights and interests at every step of the process.