A contested divorce is a time when your patience and resolve will be tested, and your temper and emotions spent.
If you have any questions about contested divorce or need an attorney to guide you through the process, so please call me today at 682-234-2006 or email me to schedule your free initial consultation. I take great pride in providing strong, aggressive legal help to men and women during difficult times.
In all cases of divorce litigation, the courts must decide the following:
- Division of marital assets (community property) and debts
- Custody of minor children
- Child custody payments
When there is a substantial disagreement with any of the above issues, the divorce dispute is considered to be “contested.” A contested divorce is often the most emotionally-draining and unfortunate type of divorce and is when you most need a compassionate attorney by your side.
Everyone has their own desires and hopes for outcomes, and it is my job to support my clients’ desires in such a way that results are achieved without exacerbating an already heated situation. Tempers and passions during a contested divorce usually run hot, but in those cases where children are involved you want a dedicated attorney who will fight for the best interests of your child even when the way seems lost to you. In addition, I apply my extensive writing and editing experience to draft clear, concise, and enforceable proposals and agreements.
Settlement and Mediation
Many times I have a client who believes that there can be no out-of-court agreement because his/her spouse is “unwilling” to negotiate only to discover that I was able to reopen a dialogue so a settlement can be reached. Out-of-court settlements of this type not only save on cost and time but also enable the two parties to leave the marriage without the rancor that can sometimes come from a divorce court environment.
It is important to find an capable attorney who will navigate your contested divorce by putting your needs and desired outcomes before their desires for more billable hours. I believe that word of mouth is my best advertisement and that if I do my job correctly, ethically, aggressively, and compassionately, I will always have a steady flow of clients.
Some courts in Texas require an attempt at mediation before a trial for divorce can be set. Judges want to encourage amicable out-of-court settlements. When mediation does not provide the desired results, then the contested divorce court proceedings begin.
Divorce proceedings are like any other trial. Witnesses are called to the stand and must provide accurate and honest answers to questions put before them. Just like in a criminal court environment, the opposing party’s attorney has a right to question and cross-examine any witness brought forward. It is usually during this period that the divorce can feel a little “rough.” My job is to prepare everyone well ahead of time as best as possible for what they will go through on the stand and in the courtroom. I am skilled in witness preparation, courtroom dialog, and cross-examinations. I know how to get the best out of testimony and promote my clients’ interests.
Types of “At Fault” Divorces
Texas law allows for “no-fault” divorces. If one spouse is at fault for the breakup of the marriage, however, fault grounds may be included in the petition for divorce. The statutory grounds for a fault divorce are as follows:
- Cruel treatment (that renders further living together insupportable)
- Abandonment (for at least one year with the intent to abandon)
- Long-term incarceration (more than one year)
- Confinement to a mental hospital for at least three years
- Living apart for at least three years.
Adultery is the cause of many a marital dissolution. Many spouses seeking divorce may not ask for a “fault” divorce because they want to spare the children any knowledge of the other partner’s betrayal. Sometimes, however, the adultery is so hurtful and egregious that a petition for divorce because of adultery becomes necessary.
The innocent spouse must prove to the court that adultery was committed during the marriage. Direct proof (e.g., photos, video, or recorded conversations) and indirect proof (e.g., hotel or credit card records) must be supplied to the court.
If court accepts adultery as grounds for marital dissolution, then it can also look at the misappropriation of assets, which is when a spouse uses money to provide for individuals who are not part of his/her legal family. For example, if marital assets are used for the benefit of those outside the marriage (e.g., money for gifts, paying rent, taking lavish vacations), then the spouse is able to petition for monies in reimbursement.
Divorce due to abandonment happens all too often these days. It is always a difficult and humiliating experience for the spouse left behind, but becomes all the worse when children are involved.
If there is clear evidence of abandonment, then the benefits associated with a petition for divorce because of abandonment may make sense. Certainly, this type of “fault” divorce can speed up the divorce process and can also be beneficial to distribution of marital assets. In addition, the courts do not take kindly to the abandonment of minor children, which creates a wide berth for favorable custody and support.