When you file for divorce, you'll be forced to answer one major question: Namely, whether you want to file for a contested or uncontested divorce.
Understanding the differences between contested and uncontested divorce can help you make the best decision for your situation, enabling you to save time, stress, and money on your divorce.
What's the Difference Between a Contested & Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses agree on terms for the divorce and all divorce-related processes (child support and custody, property division, alimony, etc.).
A contested divorce occurs when spouses disagree on any element of the divorce.
It is worth noting that it's not uncommon for divorces to start off contested and then transition into an uncontested divorce as the spouses have more time to discuss terms for the divorce with each other and reach a mutually beneficial compromise.
You should know that in Texas, there's also a process called an "agreed" divorce. To qualify for an uncontested divorce, you and your partner must:
- Agree on grounds for the divorce;
- Agree to end your marriage;
- Not have any minor children;
- Not own property together or have retirement benefits to divide, and;
- Not seek alimony.
Understandably, these restrictions make it impossible for many Texans to file for an uncontested divorce. However, if you agree on terms for the divorce, you can still file for an "agreed" divorce.
The process for finalizing an agreed divorce and an uncontested divorce are fairly similar, and many law firms won't even differentiate between the two.
Why Should I Get an Uncontested Divorce?
You should consider an uncontested divorce if you:
- Want to reduce the cost of your divorce. Filing for an agreed or uncontested divorce drastically reduces the court fees and general expenses associated with divorce, enabling you to spend that money on post-divorce expenses (like new housing, transportation, etc.), or save it entirely.
- You want to get the divorce over with. Filing for an agreed or uncontested divorce is faster since you don't have to battle over the terms of the divorce in court with your soon-to-be-ex.
- You want an amicable divorce. Because you won't be getting into a contentious courtroom battle with your spouse, uncontested or agreed divorce tends to be more amicable than a contested divorce. That's great if you work together, share a child (or children), or just want to remain friends post-divorce.
- You want to have more agency. In an uncontested divorce, you work with your spouse to define the terms of the divorce. That gives you a better chance of getting what you want from the divorce process than filing for a contested divorce, in which the court may decide how to handle the divorce on your behalf.
However, an uncontested or agreed divorce isn't right for everyone.
Why Would I Want to File for a Contested Divorce?
You may want to consider a contested divorce if:
- Your spouse's behavior is an issue. Having your divorce in court can help you head off any attempts by your spouse to strong-arm the divorce process.
- Domestic violence is a factor. Keeping your spouse in court helps the court ensure you receive an equitable outcome.
- You can't reach an agreement. If you can't agree with your spouse on terms for the divorce, a contested divorce is probably your best option.
At the Law Offices of Frank E. Mann, P.C., our lawyers can help you determine whether a contested or uncontested divorce is right for you.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (713) 903-8112.