Unless you and your spouse have resolved all issues in a divorce, your
divorce will more than likely be considered "contested". This
doesn't mean that there is going to be a full-on assault to you, your
sensibilities and your bank account, but that isn't necessarily ruled
Houston divorce attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan represent people in all sorts of
divorce cases in Texas, including contested divorces. What are the steps of a
contested divorce, and how can I prepare for them? Read on to learn more about contested
divorces in the State of Texas.
Contested Divorce Steps
Filing an Original Petition for Divorce and specifying your reasons for
asking for a divorce, the relief you're requesting from the court
and specifying any
temporary orders that you need from the court is the first step.
The court will receive the documents, submit them to the court for a judge's
signatures (if you've requested a temporary restraining order) and
prepare any additional papers to be served on your spouse. A citation
tells the receiving party the details of what's been filed and what
is expected of them in terms of filing a response.
Another document that often accompanies the Original Petition is a precept.
A precept is a type of legal notice provided by the court if a hearing
is set and a judge is ordering you to appear at a certain time and place
in order to attend.
A process server, constable or other law enforcement member can retrieve
the documents from the court in order to serve your spouse at whatever
location you request. Once your spouse has the Petition, the law in Texas
is that they have until the first Monday at 10:00 a.m. after the expiration
of twenty days in which to file an Answer to your Petition. An answer
typically includes a general denial of the allegations presented in the Petition.
If your spouse has any independent claims to assert against you they may
do so in a document called a counterpetition. A
contested divorce typically means that your spouse will also hire a
Texas Divorce attorney. This can be a good thing, in that attorneys can remove a lot of the emotional
aspects of the decision making that can be inherent in a divorce and can
help clients to make more objective decisions about their lives and that
of their children.
temporary orders hearing is typically the first major event of a contested divorce. These hearings
are thought of a mini-trials, in that evidence is presented, witnesses
are called to testify and a judge issues decisions on issues ranging from
child custody to child support.
Temporary orders are intended to help maintain the status quo for the family so that bills
continue to be paid, children are able to see and spend time with both
parents and other issues of immediate importance are dealt with by the
court. Preparation for this event is crucial. Attorneys and clients spend
time honing questions and anticipating the strengths and weaknesses of
the opposing party.
Even in a
contested divorce, there are elements of negotiation and compromise that are apparent. In
most divorces, the case will come to an end during a process called mediation.
Mediation as a concept is pretty straightforward, the two sides pick an attorney
(who is independent and has no relation to either side) who assists the
parties in settling the case on all outstanding issues.
The sides will meet at the mediator's office where they remain in separate
rooms for a pre-determined length of time (typically three to four hours)
and the mediator will walk back and forth between the sides to help facilitate
conversation and hopefully agreement. Clients can be skeptical heading
into mediation, but their typical reaction upon leaving is that they are
happy to have entered into the process.
Mediators typically will help both sides see their strengths and weaknesses
heading into a trial. The end result often is that both sides see the
benefit to not having a judge make a final say, but rather engaging with
the other side on a settlement that suits all parties better than a court
The last stage of a
contested divorce, if settlement has not occurred, is a trial. A trial is the culmination
of weeks (maybe even years) of time spent on a
Texas divorce case. Evidence is presented, arguments are made and a judgment is rendered
by the Court as to the issues that the parties were not able to settle
on. If your case makes it to this point, it is among a statistical minority
of those cases that do not settle at some earlier point.
It is this author's opinion that it is typically best to settle your
case outside of court rather than leaving it up to a judge to make a decision.
This is due to the fact that a judge will only have an opportunity to
get an idea about the case based on a relatively short trial where perhaps
not even all of the evidence can or will be presented. It is typically
tough to gauge how a judge will rule in cases where the facts don't
necessarily favor either party by a dramatic margin.
In a contested divorce, having experienced representation is crucial to
your success. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are able
to assist you with your
divorce case. Please contact our office today in order to learn more about our services
and how we stand ready to help you and your family.
If you want to know more about what you can do,
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“16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
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- 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
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- Does it Matter who Files First in a Texas Divorce?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children
and families. If you have questions regarding
divorce, it's important to speak with one of our
Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and
developing a strategy to meet those goals.
Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online
form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles
Divorce cases in Spring, Texas,
The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including
Fort Bend County and