For many couples, undergoing a divorce is one of the most stressful events the couple will experience. For any spouse where there is the possibility of a contentious divorce proceeding, it is essential to hire a lawyer who has worked for many years representing divorce cases in all of north Texas.
The experienced lawyers of Marx, Altman, & Johnson offer extensive experience gained through decades of work as contested divorce attorneys. We work diligently to protect the rights of our clients, particularly during the difficult meetings and court appearances that may be required as the case progresses.
What is a Contested Divorce?
Not all divorce proceedings are the same, and some couples find that they can choose an uncontested, or “agreed,” divorce where there are not any arguments over property or the custody of children. For other couples, there are serious disagreements about the division of property and children, and these couples must file contested divorces.
What is the Process for a Contested Divorce?
All divorces are different and so must be handled differently, but the general process for a contested divorce in Texas is as follows:
- Pleadings: a petition and possibly other motions are filed with the court by a divorce attorney on behalf of their client. Once a case has begun, either party may request a Temporary Restraining Order. In fact, many counties have what are known as “Standing Orders” that go into effect as soon as the case is filed.
- Service: the party who files the petition must serve the other party with the divorce. The party that is served (the “respondent”) has a limited time to respond to the court.
- Temporary Hearing: In many divorce cases, the next step is to have a temporary hearing at which the judge will issue orders that will be in place while the divorce is pending. The temporary orders may address custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, injunctions, and temporary use of property and payment of debts.
- Discovery: this is the process that the court uses to allow each party to gather information for the case. Discovery may include: Interrogatories, Requests for Production, Requests for Disclosures, Requests for Admissions, and Inventory and Appraisements. Discovery can be an intimidating process, so it is best to have a skilled lawyer on your side to help you complete these documents properly.
- Finalization: a contested divorce in Texas can be ultimately resolved in one of several ways:
- Negotiations by attorneys: many cases are resolved when knowledgeable attorneys negotiate a plan that is acceptable to both parties. It’s essential that you don’t attempt to negotiate without a lawyer before a contested divorce, particularly if your spouse has already hired a divorce attorney.
- Mediation: if negotiations are unsuccessful, another option is mediation. In fact, many courts in Texas require parties to attend mediation if they cannot agree. Mediation is a process where a mediator who is very familiar with family law helps the two parties and their respective attorneys to discuss the case and reach an agreement. Many cases settle at mediation. Signing a Mediated Settlement is entirely voluntary.
- Arbitration: another alternative when informal negotiations fail is arbitration. Arbitration is similar to mediation in that both sides present their concerns and thoughts to the arbitrator. However, unlike reaching an agreement at mediation, which is entirely voluntary, the decision at an arbitration is made by the arbitrator and is binding on both parties.
- Final Trial: if all formal and informal negotiation processes fail, the case will be decided by the judge at a final trial. You are always entitled to your “day in court” if you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse. The divorce lawyers at Marx, Altman, & Johnson bring extensive experience and passion to their courtroom practice and are always prepared to protect the interests of their clients.
- To protect your rights during the divorce, hiring an attorney is essential, and working with an experienced attorney who has worked in the litigation of contested divorces can mean the difference between a favorable or unfavorable result for issues of custody and division of property. It is almost impossible to avoid experiencing stress during a divorce, but an experienced contested divorce lawyer can help make the process feel much less uncertain and frightening.
When is it Best to Undertake a Contested Divorce?
If you have any hesitation at all regarding an agreed divorce and the discussions you have had with your spouse, it is vital to speak with a complex divorce attorney about your circumstances. While it is important to work with an attorney, whether your divorce is contested or not, it is also essential that you do not agree to a particular type of divorce until you have spoken with a contested divorce lawyer.
It may seem that you can resolve issues of child custody and visitation without the court’s help, but those negotiations require a lawyer at your side. If you have children and your divorce is contested, there could be a difficult and lengthy battle to determine custody of the children. A lawyer who specializes in contested divorces and offers experience as a custody lawyer is an unbeatable ally in court.
The worst action you can take as a spouse who will shortly experience a divorce is assume your partner will act in your best interests. We often want to think the best of those we love – or once loved – but it is best to remain cautious in all divorce proceedings and particularly when you are experiencing a contested divorce.
Marx, Altman & Johnson: Contested Divorce Lawyers
Are you facing the prospect of a difficult legal battle and fight with your spouse over children, property, child support, or spousal support? Rely on the experience of Marx, Altman, & Johnson. We will act as your contested divorce attorneys fighting for your rights throughout the battle.
There is no need to navigate the complex waters of a divorce on your own. If you will shortly face a divorce proceeding in Dallas, Fort Worth, or surrounding areas, contact our legal team for your free consultation and allow us to help you as your contested divorce attorney for a fee you can afford.