Understanding the Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce

Divorce is often portrayed in the media as a bitter fight between former spouses. (Otherwise, it wouldn’t make for good television!) While some divorces are like a personal vendetta from beginning to end, this is not the default situation. Many Texas couples choose to take a civil approach to their marriage dissolution and reach their own agreement on key issues such as conservatorship, access, child support, spousal maintenance, and property division.

Let’s take a closer look at the difference between contested (which is not always as hostile as you might think) and uncontested divorce in Texas.

Contested Divorce

A divorce becomes contested when you and your spouse fail to agree on any important terms surrounding the divorce. You might want sole conservatorship and possession of the children while your spouse insists on a joint arrangement. You may also disagree on how to divide the assets, debts, and liabilities that you accumulated as a couple.

When a mutual agreement is impossible, your divorce must be litigated. A Texas family court judge will decide on any terms of contention, from conservatorship to child or spousal support to the division of property.

While some couples deliberately choose the litigation route for no other reason than to punish one another, the truth is that you can be on good terms with your spouse and still have a contested divorce. If you disagree on even one of the key areas of divorce, it becomes a contested proceeding and will need to be resolved in court.

In Texas, couples going through a contested divorce must first try to mediate their differences. If they fail to agree after mediation, the divorce will proceed to trial.

Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested divorce usually makes for a faster and less expensive experience. To qualify, at least one of you must have lived in Texas for at least six months and in the county where you filed the divorce petition for at least three months. You must also both be in agreement on all issues in the divorce.

Also known as simplified divorces, Texas law restricts them to spouses who:

  • Have no minor children together
  • Both want to end the marriage
  • Do not own any property jointly
  • Do not have retirement benefits that require division
  • Do not have an ongoing bankruptcy case
  • Are not seeking alimony

If any of the above criteria do not apply to your marriage, you will not be able to pursue an uncontested divorce in Texas, but an experienced family law attorney can help you make the divorce process as short and cost-effective as possible.

Contact a Texas Divorce Attorney

If you are planning on filing for divorce, contact Bobby Dale Barina today. Attorney Barina is committed to helping his clients achieve their objectives and has the experience, skill, and compassion to help them navigate through the complex and emotionally difficult issues that divorce can involve. To discuss your situation, please contact him at (254) 699-3755 or via the online form.