Legal Separation

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Texas

Jad J. Stepp

Jad J. Stepp is the managing shareholder of Stepp & Sullivan, P.C., a Houston-based firm that focuses on probate and elder law matters, as well as estate planning, personal injury, aviation, and maritime litigation. For over 35 years he has been trying lawsuits in both federal and state court and has been the lead trial lawyer in complex litigation in many areas.
Jad J. Stepp

There are two types of divorce available to spouses who wish to end their marriage in Texas: contested and uncontested divorce. There are distinct differences between the two, and it’s helpful to have a thorough understanding should a divorce be in your future. 

An uncontested divorce indicates that you and your spouse have agreed to all terms of the divorce. A contested divorce, on the other hand, is when parting spouses can’t agree on one or more terms of the split. No matter which type of divorce you file for, either one will end with a finalized divorce. There are, however, critical differences in the details of how each type is processed.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Texas?

Uncontested divorces in Texas are much more straightforward than contested divorces. You and your spouse have considered and agreed on all terms of the divorce with an uncontested divorce. This type of divorce results in less time in court for both parties and is relatively less expensive and time-consuming than a contested divorce. However, qualifying for an uncontested divorce in Texas can be a challenge.

Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce

To qualify for an uncontested divorce in Texas, both spouses must first agree to the divorce and how the following will be handled:

  • Debt allocation
  • Property division
  • Spousal support

There are a few requirements that couples must meet to qualify for an uncontested divorce in Texas. Those requirements include:

  • You and your spouse have lived in Texas for at least six months before filing
  • You do not have any children together who are under the age of 18
  • You do not share any business or property together 
  • There are no shared retirement benefits subject to division

Most couples file an uncontested divorce on the grounds of insupportability or irreconcilable differences, meaning that both spouses cannot resolve their disagreements to save the marriage.

What is a Contested Divorce in Texas?

In Texas, when spouses can’t agree on the terms of the divorce, they must file for a contested divorce. If one spouse takes a hard line against specific terms of the divorce and is unwilling to negotiate, the process can drag out for months or longer. If you require a contested divorce in you must list the grounds for the divorce and evidence to prove that those grounds are factual. 

Grounds for a Contested Divorce

You must choose one of the following as grounds for your contested divorce in Texas:

  • Adultery
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Bigamy
  • Felony conviction
  • Impotence and sterility

Grounds of abandonment may also apply if a spouse refuses or neglects to provide for the other, despite their ability to do so. The abandonment must also have continued for at least one year. For each of these grounds for divorce, you must have proof to support your claim.

What are the Benefits of an Uncontested Divorce?

It can be difficult for separating spouses to agree on the terms of divorce, especially when emotions are running high. However, if both are able to do so, it will save you a great deal of money, time spent, and stress, rather than going back and forth on all unsettled divorce issues in a contested divorce.

An uncontested divorce is also handled privately, and spouses can set their own pace of how fast they wish to proceed. On the other hand, a contested divorce can result in a public battle that exposes private matters. In general, uncontested divorces are faster, less expensive, and less complicated than contested divorces in Texas.

Turn to Houston’s Experienced Divorce Attorneys 

Even if you’re the one who wants to file for a divorce, going through the process is never easy. Whether your divorce is uncontested or contested, the divorce attorneys at Stepp & Sullivan, PC, are here to help you navigate this significant transition in your life, clearly explaining every step, option, and legal avenue available. With this understanding, you can feel confident in your decisions and begin the next chapter of your life with peace of mind.

The team of divorce lawyers at Stepp & Sullivan, PC, has more than 70 years of combined experience helping families and individuals through this trying time. We understand that each situation is different, and we take a client-focused and results-driven approach to learn about your goals so you can confidently move forward in your life. To speak with a divorce attorney at Stepp & Sullivan, schedule a free consultation by completing an online contact form or call our office today at (713) 336-7200.

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