A divorce can be one of the most stressful life events a person can experience. Dividing up possessions, determining who has custody over children, and many other decisions have to be either agreed upon, or litigated, before the divorce can be finalized and made legal. Our experienced divorce attorneys at Marx, Altman & Johnson understand how upsetting this process can be and are here to help you through it every step of the way. Before the divorce proceedings even begin, it’s important that we make sure you know what kind of divorce you’re seeking. Let’s talk about the difference between “contested” and “agreed” divorce.
What is an “Uncontested” Divorce?
We’re going to start with the least complicated type of divorce which is the “uncontested divorce.” This is also often referred to as an “agreed divorce.” While it may seem obvious, an uncontested divorce means that both parties are ultimately in agreement about all of the terms of the divorce. This means that the parties must eventually come to terms about the division of all of the marital property as well as the division of all of the marital debt. And, if children are involved, they must be able to ultimately agree on the custody and visitation of the children as well as the child support. This does not, however, mean that the parties have to have decided all of those issues before they even start the divorce. Usually an agreed divorce is filed when there is some expectation those issues can simply be sorted out over the next several weeks while the case is pending.
A large number of the divorce cases we file at Marx, Altman & Johnson are finalized as an agreed case due the numerous advantages of doing so. These advantages include substantially lower legal fees, lower court costs, avoiding the long waiting period to go to trial, and the fact that many people find there is much less stress involved with an agreed divorce.
Going the route of an uncontested divorce is not always an option since it also has some disadvantages. For example, if there is even a single issue regarding the children, property or the debts which is not agreed, then an uncontested divorce is not an option. This is simply because in an uncontested divorce there in no hearing in which the judge makes any decisions regarding your case. Also, if you are in need of any emergency relief from the Judge then an uncontested case is not an option. This is because in an uncontested case you are skipping your right to go to court and ask for emergency relief while the case is pending. The types of emergency temporary relief available are numerous, but some of the most common are things such as asking for temporary custody of children and child support, kicking your spouse out of the house, freezing assets to protect them, or seeking orders for protection.
If you feel the advantages of an agreed divorce outweigh the disadvantages, the attorneys at Marx, Altman & Johnson will be able to put our vast experience to work for you and complete your agreed divorce case for a surprisingly low fee in a short amount of time.
What is a Contested Divorce?
In a nutshell, if you need the Judge to make someone do something, or if you need the judge to stop someone from doing something, or if you need the judge to make a decision about your case, then this is what we consider a ‘‘contested divorce.” For example, couples who do not come to an agreement on the division of property or custody of children have a contested case since those issues will have to be decided on by the Judge. Or, if you need to have your spouse ordered to move out of your house or pay temporary child support, then you have a contested divorce since the judge will need to make someone do something.
Since these types of divorces tend to become more lengthy and more complex than an agreed divorce, it is important to have a skilled and experienced divorce lawyer on your side to help you navigate though the confusing legal minefield that is a contested divorce proceeding can become. The Contested divorce case can go through numerous different stages. The first of stage is generally filing a divorce petition with the Court and serving your spouse with a citation by a processes server. After that, some likely stages might include going to a temporary hearings at court to request any temporary relief needed, going through the discovery phase in which the parties exchange sworn information to each other to better prepare their cases, followed by the settlement negotiation phase where the parties try to resolve the case, or portions of their case, through a mediator or other means. Thereafter, any remaining issues would go the trial phase where a judge or jury decides any remaining issues. This can be a very confusing time for those unfamiliar with the process, which is why we recommend one of our experienced Dallas divorce attorneys in one our Dallas or Fort Worth locations.
Do I Need a Divorce Attorney?
Regardless of the type of divorce you are seeking, it’s always best to have legal representation. A lawyer will be able to oversee the divorce proceedings and ensure that your rights are being respected and that you’re being treated fairly. While you may think it will be simple enough to come to an agreement with your spouse about custody and division of assets, sometimes it turns into a nightmare. A divorce attorney can guide you through this and make sure you avoid the numerous pitfalls.
Let Marx, Altman & Johnson Be There for You
No matter what kind of divorce you’re seeking, our capable attorneys are able to help. We understand how divorce law in Texas works and we want to make sure you’re happy with the outcome of your case. Contact us today to learn more and receive a free consultation!