You and your spouse are on the same page about divorce, and now you want to get it over with as quickly as possible. This attitude is understandable – putting something as emotionally and legally challenging as divorce behind you as effectively and efficiently as possible is naturally preferable.
If, however, you are interested in rushing your divorce through the process in the hope of reaching some artificial deadline as cheaply as possible, your approach is shortsighted.
The fact is that the terms of your divorce will directly affect your future finances and parental rights, which makes giving the process the attention it requires and deserves paramount.
Achieving an uncontested divorce is a worthy goal that is accessible to divorcing spouses who are both committed to the process. Whether you anticipate an uncontested or contested divorce, an experienced Killeen divorce attorney can help you every step of your journey.
What Does Uncontested Divorce Mean Exactly?
An uncontested divorce is one in which none of the divorce terms that apply in your case are contested, which means you and your divorcing spouse are either in agreement or ultimately reach an agreement on each. These terms include:
The division of your marital property
Your child custody arrangements, which includes legal custody or decision-making authority and parenting time
However, before you blithely sign off on any of these primary terms, it is important to carefully consider the implications for you, your children, and your future. And having the skilled legal guidance of an accomplished divorce attorney in your corner is always in your best interest.
There are only a few requirements for obtaining an uncontested divorce in Texas – or any divorce in Texas:
One of you must have been a resident of the state for at least 6 months.
One of you must have been a resident of the county in which you file for at least 90 days.
You must wait at least 60 days after filing before your divorce can be finalized.
Since Our Divorce Is Uncontested, Do I Really Need an Attorney?
When it comes to divorce, there is a lot at stake, and failing to focus adequate attention on primary matters prior to signing off on a resolution will leave you with no legal recourse. Discussing your case with a seasoned divorce attorney is the best path forward. Working closely with a dedicated attorney does not make your case contested – it helps protect your rights.
It’s also important to note that divorces that begin as uncontested can quickly head in a different direction. If you are handling things on your own, the matter can get away from you – leaving your rights hanging in the balance.
Heading in the Wrong Direction
While most Texas divorces are settled out of court, which makes them uncontested, many divorces that begin quite amicably deteriorate quickly. If you do not already have legal counsel on your side, you can lose valuable time and leverage in terms of negotiations while a new attorney gets up to speed with the ins and outs of your case.
Keeping the Focus on Your Rights
An important point to keep in mind is that the stress and upheaval of divorce can obliterate a couple’s authentic resolve to obtain a simple uncontested divorce. You may be surprised by the level your otherwise reasonable spouse will stoop to in circumstances this stressful.
Won’t an Attorney Slow down the Uncontested Divorce Process?
Far from slowing things down, your trusted divorce attorney will help ensure that your case moves smoothly and efficiently toward finalization. He or she will help you effectively untangle any snags you face along the way.
It can be difficult to predict the kind of problems that will arise in your divorce, but your attorney will be well prepared to tackle each of them – in focused pursuit of a resolution that honors your best interests.
While there is a 60-day cooling-off requirement built into the Texas divorce process, most take considerably longer, and this is true of both contested and uncontested divorces. If you and your divorcing spouse agree on the terms of your divorce, your divorce attorney will take the steps necessary to ensure that your divorce is finalized on that 61st day – or as close to it as is feasible.
If a sticking point does arise, your attorney will ensure that you understand the implications of the complication while helping you resolve it efficiently and in accordance with your rights.
Isn’t It Costly to Work with an Attorney?
While having professional legal guidance on your side does come at a price, the financial losses associated with divorce terms that fail to protect your rights can reverberate into your future in profound ways that you may not have even considered. This is not even to mention the fact that your rights as a parent could be negatively affected.
Hiring a skilled divorce attorney is a wise investment in your future that can afford you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your case is in good hands.
My Spouse Is Not Going to Bend on Any of Our Divorce Terms. Do I Have to Give In?
The fact that your spouse is digging in their heels regarding how they want your divorce terms to be resolved is all the more reason to work with a knowledgeable Killeen divorce attorney. Giving in to your spouse may lead to a speedy divorce, but it is very unlikely to do you any favors in terms of your future.
If your spouse absolutely refuses to give an inch, it is a pretty good indicator that your uncontested divorce is a contested divorce in disguise.
If negotiations are off the table, the best path forward involves going to court and allowing the judge to resolve the terms of your divorce according to state laws. You have rights, and fiercely protecting them is well worth the effort.
I Really Don’t Know What Our Finances Are. Shouldn’t I Just Trust My Spouse?
There is no better setup for being cheated out of a fair division of marital assets than when one spouse has very little knowledge about the couple’s finances while the other is in total control. Even if your spouse is on the up-and-up, it is important to thoroughly understand your marital assets before you sign off on an equitable – or fair – division of them.
The easier it is for a spouse to hide assets, the more likely they are to do so, which makes it prudent to employ due caution as you proceed. Several factors that make sleight of hand in relation to the division of property that much easier and, therefore, that much more likely, include these situations:
Ownership of multiple properties
Involvement in a family business
Lack of financial transparency overall
Property owned in joint tenancy
An extensive financial portfolio
What If I’m Afraid of My Spouse and Just Want Out?
If you are afraid of your spouse, it changes divorce considerations significantly. However, giving in to his or her demands for your divorce is unlikely to help or change anything. The risk of being seriously injured or killed increases significantly when an abuse victim leaves – even in a divorce involving the other spouse.
Helping you explore the resources available to you
Helping you explore your best options
Helping you make choices that prioritize you and your children’s safety
If you are afraid of your spouse, it is a more important concern than finalizing your divorce, which makes proceeding with utmost caution paramount.
How Would the Court Likely Rule in My Divorce?
If you are considering signing off on divorce terms, pause to think about how the judge would likely rule if you took your divorce to court. If you are ready to accept terms that are less than advantageous simply because you are afraid of how the court would rule if you proceed to trial, it is a good idea to know the factors on which Texas courts base their primary divorce decisions.
The Division of Marital Property
When determining the fair division of marital property, Texas courts take factors like the following into consideration:
Whether fault played a role in the breakup of the marriage – even in a no-fault divorce
Any wasting of assets on either side
Each spouse’s separate assets
The tax considerations related to a proposed division
Any age discrepancy between the spouses
Each spouse’s overall mental and physical health
Each spouse’s separate estate
The size of the marital estate
Child Custody Arrangements
When Texas courts are called upon to make determinations related to child custody, the children's best interests always come first. Courts consider all of the following best-interest factors in custody determinations:
The scheduling preferences of each parent
The preferences of each child who is deemed mature enough and old enough to voice a reasonable preference
Each child’s current and evolving physical and emotional needs, including any special needs
Each parent’s ability to effectively address each child’s needs
Each parent’s plans for raising the children
The stability each parent’s home offers the children
How well the children’s current living situation serves their best interests
Any parenting acts or omissions on the part of either parent that concern the court
Each parent’s commitment to supporting the ongoing relationship between each of the children and their other parent
Each parent’s commitment to effective co-parenting
Any concerns related to domestic violence, child abuse, or negligence
Any additional factors deemed applicable to the case in question by the court
When determining child support, Texas courts primarily consider the number of overnights each parent has with the children and each parent’s income. However, all of the following factors can also be taken into consideration when calculating child support:
How the parenting time schedule divides overnights between the parents
Each parent’s income, including non-cash compensation, such as compensation for a car or housing
Each child’s age and needs
The cost of travel related to parenting time
Any voluntary unemployment or underemployment that is designed to decrease a parent’s child support obligation
Alimony is only considered appropriate when divorce leaves one spouse financially disadvantaged while the other has the means to help. When alimony is ordered, factors like the following help determine its amount and duration:
Each spouse’s separate estate
Each spouse’s earnings and earning potential
The amount of time it would take the recipient to gain the training or education necessary to become more financially independent
Any contributions the recipient made to the payor’s career, including working to put them through college and staying home to care for the children and manage the home
Whether either spouse dissipated marital funds or engaged in any other form of wrongdoing in the marriage
Once you have a better feel for your legal rights and what you are entitled to, it puts you in a better position to engage in robust negotiations guided by your skilled divorce attorney.
Make the Call to an Experienced Killeen Divorce Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a knowledgeable divorce attorney who appreciates how profoundly your divorce terms are to you, your children, and your shared future. In response, Mr. Pritchard dedicates his practice to fierce advocacy for the legal rights of clients like you.