Are you looking to hire an attorney for your divorce? Working with one of our experienced divorce attorneys can help you to navigate this difficult time. Divorce cases are rarely as simple as they first seem. Schedule a consultation with our team today.
Typically, there are two kinds of divorces. The first is an “uncontested” divorce—which is where both spouses agree on all issues concerning the divorce, including but not limited to the division of marital property and debts, child custody, child support, and spousal support (“alimony”).
The second—a “contested” divorce—is where the spouses can’t agree on their divorce issues, and they end up in court, asking a judge to make these decisions for them. Whether it’s one or all issues, if you disagree on anything, the court considers your divorce “contested.”
Perhaps the most significant difference between an uncontested and a contested divorce is the legal process’s cost and time. Although it usually costs the same to file either type of divorce, spouses going through a contested divorce are more likely to spend money on attorney’s fees and expert witness fees (such as financial consultants or appraisers) than a couple that agrees on most divorce-related issues.
In many states, the law requires judges to wait a certain amount of time before finalizing a divorce. Although the waiting period is usually the same for both contested and uncontested divorces, divorcing spouses involved in a contested divorce will often see the waiting period come and go before the court decides all the divorce-related issues. As a result, an uncontested divorce is not only cheaper but will take significantly less time to finalize than a contested case.
Contested Divorce in Houston
A contested divorce is just what it sounds like: one or both spouses contest (dispute) some aspect of their divorce. Therefore, the divorce proceedings take much longer to complete and typically involve greater stress and increased legal fees.
With a contested divorce, spouses will have to go through numerous steps before the divorce is finalized, including:
- prepare, file, and serve (deliver) the divorce petition (legal paperwork asking for the divorce and stating the grounds for the breakdown of the marriage)
- respond to the petition
- interview and hire an attorney
- engage in “divorce discovery” – the information gathering process, which involves various legal procedures to get information from your spouse and third-party witnesses (e.g., written questions, subpoenas, and depositions)
- pre-trial legal motions and hearings
- settlement proposals and negotiations between attorneys
- if settlement fails, prepare for trial
- complete a court trial, and
- file an appeal, if you dispute the trial judge’s decision(s).
During the settlement phase, spouses are often unable to resolve issues. Although the divorce judge may encourage spouses to work things out, the next step is divorce court when that doesn’t happen.
During the trial, both spouses present witnesses, and their lawyers cross-examine the witnesses and present closing arguments. After the trial is over, the court will issue a final order memorializing all of the judge’s decisions and finalize the divorce.
Divorce—especially contested divorces—are complex. Therefore, spouses in a contested divorce should definitely speak with an experienced divorce lawyer who can inform them of their legal rights and ensure they are fully protected.
Renken Law Firm is here to help couples who wish to dissolve their marriage, whether that be through divorce or legal separation. We are here to help those who are ending marriages that have been contested, uncontested, or collaborative. We are fully prepared to help you navigate the specifics of your case.
Divorce Attorney in Houston, Texas
Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.