As you may know, uncontested divorce is a cheaper and faster way to end your marriage and obtain a divorce decree. However, not all cases qualify for an uncontested divorce because such divorces require the spouses to agree on all issues related to the dissolution of their marriage.
Even if you meet the requirements to file for an uncontested divorce, your uncontested divorce could become contested if you and your spouse start to have disagreements and disputes during the divorce proceedings.
In fact, purely uncontested divorces are rather rare in Texas. To obtain an uncontested divorce in Texas, you and your spouse would have to agree on all issues related to your divorce, including spousal support, child custody, property division, and others.
If your divorce became contested after being uncontested, it is imperative that you contact a skilled lawyer to protect your rights and determine how to best proceed in your case. A Temple divorce lawyer will help you understand your options to finalize your uncontested or contested divorce in Texas.
What Are the Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in Texas?
As mentioned earlier, not all divorces qualify for an uncontested divorce in Texas. You can seek an uncontested divorce if your case meets all of the following requirements:
You and your spouse agree to end the marriage
You and your spouse agree on the grounds for your divorce
Your divorce does not involve minor children
Neither you nor your spouse have an open bankruptcy case
You and your spouse do not own property together
Neither spouse is seeking spousal support
It is advisable to contact an experienced attorney to determine if you meet the requirements for an uncontested divorce in Texas.
What Disputes May Arise During an Uncontested Divorce Case?
Your uncontested divorce may become contested when disputes arise between you and your spouse during the divorce proceedings. Some of the most disputed in a divorce are issues related to:
The division of property. There are many potential issues that may arise during a divorce case when dividing property. One of the first disagreements may be related to the classification of separate and community property. Previously, we discussed what community and separate property are. Another point of contention between divorcing spouses may be related to the "just and right" division of property.
Spousal support. It is not uncommon for divorcing couples to fight over spousal support. Even if spouses agree that neither party will be seeking spousal support to get an uncontested divorce, their uncontested divorce may become contested if one spouse decides that they want to request spousal support during the divorce proceedings. Disagreements over alimony may be related to whether the awarded type and amount of spousal support are appropriate.
Child custody and visitation. Texas law has strict statutory guidelines to determine the appropriate child support and visitation arrangement. While state law requires child custody and visitation arrangements to be in the best interests of the child, parents may still interpret what would be in the child’s best interests differently.
How Can You Resolve Your Disputes in a Contested Divorce?
Even if your uncontested divorce became contested, it might be possible to resolve your disputes through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options instead of going to court. While you and your spouse may not be able to compromise or keep a cool head to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement, your attorney can help you navigate the process and choose the most appropriate option to reach an out-of-court agreement with your spouse.
Generally, there are two options to resolve disputes in a contested divorce without going to court:
Mediation. An ever-increasing number of couples opt for mediation to resolve their divorce-related disputes. Both spouses and their attorneys will need to sit down and compromise in order for mediation to work. Mediation works by hiring a neutral, third-party mediator who helps the parties reach a mutually beneficial agreement in a peaceful and non-adversarial manner.
Collaborative divorce. The second common option to resolve disputes out of court is collaborative divorce. The collaborative divorce process begins when both spouses sign an agreement in which they clearly state their willingness to finalize the divorce through out-of-court negotiations. It is advisable to be represented by an attorney to ensure an efficient collaborative divorce process.
Just because your uncontested divorce turned into a contested one, you may still be able to resolve the contested issues without court involvement.
You Can Go to Court to Litigate Your Contested Divorce
If alternative dispute resolution methods do not work or you know that you will not be able to resolve your disagreements through negotiations, you have the option of litigating your contested divorce.
Going to court may be an option if your uncontested divorce became contested. If you choose to litigate your contested divorce, the court will schedule a hearing date to resolve your case. You need an attorney to represent your best interests when litigating your contested divorce in Texas because your attorney will:
Make opening and closing statements in front of the judge
Present your evidence and witness statements in a convincing manner
Cross-examine the opposing party’s witnesses and evidence
Help you with other trial-related tasks
After hearing both sides, the judge will render the most appropriate decision. The judge’s decision may be an unpredictable one, which is one of the drawbacks of litigant contested divorces. When seeking a divorce through ADR methods such as mediation, the parties can control the process and outcome.
Contact a Temple Divorce Attorney Right Now
While it is possible that your uncontested divorce could become contested, you may still be able to resolve your disputes with your soon-to-be-former spouse without going to court. Alternatively, you can litigate your contested divorce. Either way, it is advisable to be represented by a skilled attorney to protect your rights during the divorce proceedings.