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Is It Worth Contesting a Divorce?

is it worth contesting a divorce

Divorce is rarely an easy process, but the decision to contest it can make the journey even more complicated and stressful. Deciding whether to contest a divorce involves weighing several critical factors, from legal implications to personal considerations. This guide will help you understand when it might be worth contesting a divorce and what to expect if you choose to do so.

Define a Contested Divorce

A contested divorce occurs when one spouse disagrees with some or all terms proposed by the other spouse. These terms can include issues like asset division, child custody, spousal support, and more. When disagreements arise, the court must intervene to resolve them, often leading to a lengthier and more complex process than an uncontested divorce.

When spouses decide to divorce, most people want the quickest resolution that satisfies both parties. Some couples mutually agree on the separation of assets, debt, and child custody, while others just can’t see eye to eye.

Those couples who can’t seem to resolve their difference of opinion may find that a contested divorce is the only viable option. But is filing for a contested divorce actually worth the additional time and stress it inevitably involves? Read on to find out when it may be worth contesting a divorce.

Difference Between a Contested Divorce and an Uncontested Divorce?

A contested divorce means that one or both parties involved in the case disputes at least one of the issues that must be resolved during the divorce. An uncontested divorce, on the other hand, means that both parties involved in the case agree on all terms. But while uncontested divorces are certainly possible, most couples who choose to end their marriage have trouble seeing eye to eye on at least a few things.

Filing for a contested divorce isn’t inherently bad — many, many divorces are contested — but the case will require more time than an uncontested case. Contested divorces can also be considerably more stressful and emotionally trying than their uncontested counterparts.

However, despite the stress and time commitment involved, contesting your divorce may truly be the best option for you if your spouse was unfaithful, abusive, or otherwise highly challenging to deal with. A contested divorce can help you protect both your finances and your rights in the case.

Why Should You Contest a Divorce?

There are several reasons contesting a divorce may be in your best interest. While disputes can arise for virtually any reason during a divorce, there are certain situations in which disagreeing with your spouse may be far better than taking the faster, uncontested route. Here are some examples.

Interests of Children

If you and your spouse have children and disagree on the way co-parenting should work, you must contest the divorce to get a court ruling on child custody or visitation rights. A judge must determine what’s in the best interest of your children and will take several factors into consideration to reach a decision.

The court will consider each parent’s ability to provide for the children and any emotional or physical needs your children may have, as well as past acts or omissions by one or both parents that may signify a rocky parent-child relationship. The judge will also take your children’s wishes into account when determining a custody agreement.

Concealment of Assets

If your spouse is concealing assets from the court, the judge cannot take those assets into consideration when determining the separation of community property. Concealment of assets can also have a significant impact on the court’s determination of spousal maintenance and child support if you’re seeking those things.

If you truly believe your spouse is concealing assets, filing for a contested divorce will give you access to discovery tools to find out whether that’s indeed true. Identifying any concealed assets will help ensure that your property is fairly divided and that you get fair financial support for yourself or your children, if necessary.

Spousal Abuse During the Marriage

During divorce proceedings, physically or psychologically abusive spouses are often willing to go to great lengths to interfere with the process. Trying to navigate separation and divorce from an abusive spouse can be a very challenging and scary experience, which is why it’s in your best interest to hire an experienced Texas divorce attorney for legal help.

A knowledgeable attorney can ensure your rights are protected throughout your case and provide the counsel and support necessary to minimize spousal interference.

Spousal Maintenance

Many people require spousal support following a divorce, but because spousal maintenance requires one party to give the other party financial assistance, many spouses disagree. In a contested divorce, the judge will determine whether spousal support is indeed necessary and what that figure and timeframe should look like.

The judge can approve a spousal support request for several reasons, including:

  • One spouse suffers from a condition that prevents them from working.
  • One spouse is a caregiver for a disabled child and therefore cannot work.
  • One spouse dropped out of school to get a job and financially support the couple while the other spouse obtained a degree.

Unrealistic Expectations and Refusal to Compromise

If one party has unreasonable expectations and flat-out refuses to negotiate on those terms, a contested divorce is likely in the best interests of both parties. It’s virtually impossible to resolve property separation, child custody issues, and other divorce terms without the cooperation of both parties. A contested divorce can ensure both parties avoid an unfair settlement of their case.

What To Know in a Texas Divorce

  1. Grounds for Contesting:

    • Disputes over Asset Division: Texas is a community property state, which means that all assets acquired during the marriage are typically divided equally. However, if one party believes that the proposed division is unfair, contesting might be necessary.
    • Child Custody and Support: Texas courts prioritize the best interests of the child when determining custody and support arrangements. If there are disagreements, these can be grounds for contesting the divorce.
    • Spousal Support: Known as "maintenance" in Texas, spousal support can be a contentious issue if there are significant differences in financial circumstances between the spouses.
    • Allegations of Misconduct: Texas recognizes both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. If there are accusations of cruelty, adultery, or other misconduct, this can impact the court's decisions on various issues.
  2. Legal and Financial Implications:

    • Legal Fees: Contesting a divorce in Texas can indeed be expensive due to the need for more legal representation, extended court proceedings, and potentially hiring experts such as financial analysts or child psychologists.
    • Time: A contested divorce in Texas can take a significant amount of time, often extending over several months to a few years, depending on the complexity of the issues and the level of disagreement between the parties.
    • Emotional Stress: The adversarial nature of a contested divorce can heighten emotional stress for everyone involved, including children.
  3. Potential Outcomes:

    • Property Division: Texas courts strive for a "just and right" division of community property, which may not always mean a 50/50 split. The court considers various factors, including each spouse's earning capacity, education, and the nature of the property.
    • Child Custody: The court's primary concern is the best interest of the child, which includes considering factors such as the child's emotional and physical needs, the stability of each parent's home environment, and each parent's ability to support the child's relationship with the other parent.
  4. Steps to Contesting a Divorce:

    • Hiring an Experienced Divorce Attorney: This is crucial. An attorney familiar with Texas family law can provide invaluable guidance and representation.
    • Filing a Response: In Texas, if you are served with divorce papers and wish to contest any of the terms, you must file a written response (known as an "Answer") with the court.
    • Discovery: Discovery procedures in Texas can include requests for production, interrogatories, and depositions, aimed at gathering all relevant information.
    • Mediation: Texas courts often require mediation to attempt to resolve disputes before going to trial. Mediation can be a cost-effective and less adversarial way to reach a settlement.
    • Trial Preparation: If mediation fails, the case goes to trial, where both parties present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses. The judge will make final decisions on contested issues.

Is It Worth Contesting a Divorce?

Contesting a divorce in Texas can be a necessary step to ensure fair treatment and protect your rights, especially in complex situations involving significant assets or child custody. While the process can be demanding, the outcomes can justify the effort if it means a more equitable resolution.

Why Choose Setzer Law Firm, PLLC?

At Setzer Law Firm, PLLC, our deep understanding of Texas family law allows us to effectively navigate the complexities of contested divorces. Our dedicated team is committed to providing personalized, strategic legal support to protect your interests. If you are considering contesting a divorce, contact Setzer Law Firm, PLLC today for a consultation to discuss your options and secure the best possible outcome for your situation. Your peace of mind and future are our top priorities.

This revised version includes specific references to Texas law and provides a more comprehensive overview tailored to the legal landscape in Texas.

Schedule a Divorce Consultation With Setzer Law Firm

If you’re considering a contested divorce, our team at Setzer Law Firm in Colleyville can help you protect your assets and rights throughout your case. To schedule a consultation with a member of our team, feel free to give us a call today at 817-767-1865 or contact us online, and we’ll be in touch.

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