Contested Divorce Attorney Texas
Divorcing your spouse is stressful even when you both agree on how to handle all the essential divorce issues. When you and your spouse cannot agree on some or all issues, your divorce can feel like an insurmountable obstacle.
Having the steady, grounded assistance of an experienced contested divorce attorney can help you walk away from your divorce with more of what you want. The Larson Law Office’s contested divorce lawyers, Erik and Diana, strive to empower our clients with the knowledge and understanding they need to fight to move forward in their lives. Schedule a free consultation today to speak with a contested divorce lawyer.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
A divorce is uncontested when you and your spouse agree on resolving the related legal issues. If you do not agree on every issue, your divorce is contested. A divorce may be contested for a single reason, like you and your spouse disagreeing about who should keep which car. Or it could be contested because your spouse does not want to divorce at all and is resisting your every effort to move on with your life.
Legal Issues in Divorce
Several legal issues are involved in the divorce process. When you divorce, you typically address:
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Property division
- Spousal maintenance or support
It is also not uncommon for one spouse to file for temporary orders during the divorce process.
Child Custody and Visitation
Determining how shared children will be cared for is often the priority for divorcing parents. This generally involves deciding how to split custody and how visitation will work.
There are two primary types of custody: legal and physical.
Legal custody involves the right to make important decisions about your child’s life, like:
- Where they go to school,
- What psychological care do they receive and
- What medical care do they receive?
When you share legal custody, you typically create a parenting plan that establishes how you will address these issues.
Physical custody involves the child living with the person, known as the custodial parent.
You may share legal and physical custody, have sole physical custody but share legal custody, or have sole physical and legal custody.
Texas law establishes who has custody of children through conservatorships. Three types of conservatorships exist:
- Joint Managing Conservatorships (JMCs),
- Sole Managing Conservatorships (SMCs), and
- Possessory Conservatorships.
JMCs are preferred by the law. A JMC typically involves shared legal custody, but one parent may be awarded primary physical custody. The non-custodial parent frequently has the children every other weekend and one night per week.
SMCs are generally only awarded when there are risks to the child’s health or safety in a parent’s care. In an SMC, one parent is typically awarded sole physical and legal custody.
If one parent has an SMC, the other may have a possessory conservatorship. A parent with a possessory conservatorship has the right to see their child at certain times, but there may be limitations on timing, location, and supervision.
Texas law provides a minimum payment that non-custodial parents must generally pay in child support each month. The amount increases with each shared child who needs support, up to 40% of your monthly income if you share six or more children.
Texas is a community property state, meaning that nearly all debts and assets acquired during marriage are shared equally. Property division can be one of the most contentious parts of getting a contested divorce in Texas.
A judge must divide your property in a way they determine is “just and right.” If you want to minimize the risk of either spouse walking away with the things most important to them, courts usually approve property division agreements the spouses jointly propose.
Spousal Maintenance or Support
Not every divorce involves an order for spousal maintenance or support, sometimes called alimony. Maintenance is usually temporary and only ordered if a spouse will be unable to provide for their “minimum reasonable needs” on their own. However, one spouse may agree to provide support payments as a part of the overall negotiation, especially during property division.
Domestic violence is, unfortunately, endemic in our society. Leaving a partner who abuses you, your child, or others might be the best but hardest thing you ever do. Divorcing an abusive partner brings additional complications, including increased potential for violence.
If your safety is at direct risk, call emergency services. You can also request a protective order to prohibit your spouse from coming close to you as you navigate your divorce.
Resolving a Contested Divorce
Not every contested divorce is destined for a drawn-out court battle. Although some individuals may give you no choice, you can usually resolve even divorces that begin as contested without resorting to asking a judge to weigh in on every big issue.
The first technique to turn a contested divorce into an uncontested divorce is simple negotiation. Sometimes, the right pressure and a well-wielded concession can take a bitter divorce contest over the finish line, saving time and money.
Divorce mediation is increasingly popular and offers many benefits for couples who choose to participate. In mediation, you sit down with your spouse, your lawyers, and a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator helps you work through issues in a non-adversarial way, often allowing spouses to find unique resolutions.
Although it can take longer and cost more, sometimes you have no choice but to ask a judge for help. Judges will usually encourage you to narrow down as many issues as possible before litigation to keep the divorce moving.
Litigating before a court can be a necessity, especially when you are dealing with an abusive or erratic spouse. If you are at risk of harm, you may be able to accelerate the divorce timeline as well to effectively separate from your spouse earlier.
Texas Contested Divorce Attorneys
The Larson Law Office is ready to speak with you if you need a contested divorce attorney in Texas. Our attorneys can offer you an honest evaluation of what you need to do and what you can expect from the divorce process. Reach out to take a step closer to your fresh start.