What’s the Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Texas?

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If your marriage is falling apart and you are considering filing for divorce, you need to understand that there are two types of divorce in Texas: contested and uncontested.

Many Texans do not understand the difference between contested and uncontested divorce. Below, we will talk about the differences between these two types of divorce and explain the steps involved in filing for a contested or uncontested divorce in Texas.

Schedule a free consultation with our Coryell County divorce attorney at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to help you choose the right type of divorce for your particular situation.

What is a Contested Divorce?

As its name implies, a contested divorce means that spouses have one or more contested issues. In many divorce cases, it is impossible to reach an agreement on all issues to file for an uncontested divorce. However, when you have a skilled attorney on your side, you are more likely to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement.

When getting a divorce, spouses may agree on the division of property, alimony, and child support but may disagree on child custody. Since there is at least one contested issue, the spouses would need to file for a contested divorce.

If you are pursuing a contested divorce, you can finalize your divorce quickly if you hire an experienced attorney who guides you through the process and represents your best interests. Your attorney may advise you to try collaborative divorce or mediation as an alternative to going to court.

Note: The more contested issues you have, the more time-consuming and costlier the divorce process will be.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

When you and your spouse agree on all divorce-related issues, you can pursue an uncontested divorce, which is usually a cheaper and faster alternative to a contested divorce.

It means that the spouses have to reach an agreement regarding alimony, child support, child custody, and the division of community property and debt. (Texas Is a Community Property State)

If you and your spouse can agree on all issues, you need a skilled attorney to help you enter into a written agreement to resolve all divorce-related issues to finalize your divorce quickly.

In other words, the main difference between these two types of divorce is that contested divorces usually involve court battles and require more time, money, and patience to be resolved compared to uncontested divorces.

How to File for a Contested or Uncontested Divorce in Texas?

Now that you understand the difference between contested and uncontested divorce in Texas, let’s discuss how you can initiate each type of divorce.

1. File an Original Petition for Divorce

The first step is to file an Original Petition for Divorce regardless of the type of divorce you pursue. The petition initiates the divorce process.

It is advisable to have an experienced attorney help you prepare the divorce petition, which must include information about the spouses and their marriage as well as identify all divorce-related issues, including:

2. Serving the Other Spouse

The spouse who filed the Original Petition for Divorce is officially known as the Petitioner, while the other spouse is called the Respondent. The second step in the divorce process is to serve the Respondent with a copy of the petition.

If spouses are seeking a contested divorce, the Respondent is usually served divorce papers through a sheriff or process server. When pursuing an uncontested divorce, the parties can sign a Waiver of Service to speed up the divorce process.

3. Waiting for a Response to the Divorce Petition

After being served divorce papers, the Respondent must file a response to the Petitioner’s divorce petition. Under Texas law, the Respondent has 20 days from the date of receiving a copy of the divorce petition to submit their answer. The Respondent must file a response in both contested and uncontested divorces unless the parties waived the process of service.

Note: If you are pursuing a contested divorce, the Respondent may also file a counterpetition in addition to their response.

4. Exchanging Documents and Information (Discovery)

Discovery is a formal pre-trial process during which each spouse obtains evidence, documents, and information from the other spouse. The spouses exchange documents and information according to the procedural rules established by Texas law.

Discovery plays a critical role in contested divorces. In uncontested divorces, on the other hand, spouses may agree to an informal process to exchange the necessary information and information with the help of an attorney to make the process less expensive and time-consuming.

5. Attending a Temporary Order Hearing

When seeking a contested divorce, spouses will usually attend a temporary order hearing to address issues on a short-term basis. During the hearing, a judge will establish the rules that both spouses must follow while the divorce case is pending. At the hearing, the judge may decide who will stay in the family home, where the children will live, and how the spouse will divide parenting time. (What is Malicious Parent Syndrome?)

Typically, temporary order hearings are not necessary in uncontested divorce cases because the spouses agree on all issues of their divorce and do not need a judge to make decisions for them.

6. Attending a Final Hearing

If you are pursuing a contested divorce, you will have to go to court to attend a final hearing in front of the judge. At the hearing, the judge will finalize your divorce by:

  • Deciding all of the contested issues; and

  • Issuing a Final Decree of Divorce.

In uncontested divorces, the parties do not need to attend a final hearing because they will agree on the terms of the divorce without a judge (though they still need approval from the judge to finalize the divorce). The spouses need a lawyer to draft a final decree of divorce for it to be approved by the judge.

Speak with a Divorce Attorney

Since contested divorces generally take longer than uncontested ones and cost much more money, you need a skilled attorney to help you and your spouse reach a mutually beneficial agreement to file for an uncontested divorce.

Contact our Coryell County divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to understand what would be your best course of action in your particular case. Call 254-501-4040 to schedule a case review.


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