Deciding that your marriage has reached the point where divorce is inevitable is difficult enough. The thought of going through a protracted and bitter divorce process can turn a difficult decision into an impossible one. While there is no way to ensure that your divorce will not be contentious and adversarial, Dallas contested divorce attorney Rita M. Boyd offers some suggestions that may help you prevent a contested divorce.
Understanding the Basic Divorce Process
The legal process of divorce is initiated by one spouse, referred to as the “Petitioner,” when he/she files a Petition for Divorce. The other spouse is the “Respondent.” The Petition has basic information about the marriage and the parties as well as the grounds on which the Petitioner seeks a divorce. Texas is one of many states that has a “no fault” grounds, referred to as “insupportability,” but also continues to recognize six “fault” grounds, including adultery, cruelty, and abandonment. The Petitioner is then responsible for serving the Petition and a Summons on the Respondent who then has 20 days to file an official Answer with the court.
What Makes a Divorce a Contested Divorce?
For a divorce to be considered an uncontested divorce, the parties must agree to all terms and provisions of the final decree of divorce. That means the parties must agree to the grounds for the divorce, the division of debts and assets, and all terms related to any minor children of the marriage as well as child and/or spousal support. If any of parties are not in agreement on any of those issues (or anything else included in the divorce) then the divorce is considered a contested divorce.
Ways to Prevent a Contested Divorce
A contested divorce can take months, even years, to finalize. Along with the emotional toll it typically takes on the parties and any minor children, it can also be extremely expensive. Moreover, it is very difficult to move on with your life when you have a divorce hanging over your head. If your spouse is determined to make your divorce an adversarial nightmare it may be impossible to prevent that from happening; however, in most situations there are things you can do to prevent your divorce from turning into a contested legal battle, including:
- Do not blindside your spouse. One surefire way to put your spouse on the defensive right out of the gate is to blindside him/her with divorce papers. Unless you are in an abusive situation that requires doing so, it is almost always best not to surprise your spouse with divorce news. Instead, be upfront and straightforward about your plans to end the marriage. If possible, try and discuss the terms of your divorce before initiating the divorce process.
- Consult with a divorce lawyer before initiating the process. Either by yourself or with your spouse, sit down with a divorce attorney to ensure that you understand the process and the issues that must be resolved in your divorce. Getting an experienced divorce lawyer involved early on can head off disputes and help facilitate a mutually acceptable marital settlement agreement.
- Focus on your priorities. When negotiating with your spouse, keep your priorities in mind. Be clear on what is non-negotiable to you and what issues you will compromise on if you want to avoid litigation.
- Be flexible. It is rare for a party to get everything they want in a divorce. With that in mind, prepare to be flexible. Try to keep your emotions out of the process and remember that the goal is to reach an agreement on all issues to prevent a time-consuming and costly contested divorce battle.
- Try mediation if all else fails. If you cannot avoid contested issues in your divorce, consider mediation as an option for settling those contested issues. Mediation uses a trained mediator (usually an attorney) to try and bring the parties together to resolve disputes in a divorce.
Contact a Dallas Contested Divorce Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about a Texas divorce, contact experienced Dallas contested divorce lawyer Rita M. Boyd, P.C. to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today.