Let’s agree on one thing – contested divorces are never simple. When spouses cannot agree on important things, contested divorce becomes an eventuality. The process can take longer, and at the end, couples will still have to decide on things amicably, if they want the divorce to end smoothly. Here’s what you must know about the contested divorce process in Houston.
Step 1: In the first step, either of the spouses must file for “Original Petition for Divorce”, in the county where they reside. Note that there is a residency requirement. Either of the spouses must have resided in the county for at least 90 days. Also, one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least 6 months prior to filing. The Original Petition for Divorce is basically a document that talks of your intention of seeking a divorce.
Step 2: The next step is to complete the service of process, where the other spouse will be served the divorce papers. This is usually done by a constable, or ‘process server’. Once the other spouse has received the papers, the actual divorce process will start. In Texas, one of the parties can ask for ‘Temporary Restraining Order’, and this is common in contested divorces. The Temporary Restraining Order ensures that both spouses do what’s expected of them – ‘the right thing’ – as the divorce proceeds ahead.
Note: The TRO is not the same as a protective order. The latter is meant for situations involving domestic violence. Temporary restraining order doesn’t refer to domestic violence. If the spouse filing for the divorce wants a temporary order hearing, it will be done within four weeks of filing for the same. The order will basically create rules with regards to child support, property, and repayment of debts. The temporary order is not applicable for the period, until the divorce is finalized.
Step 3: Once the temporary order is in place, the spouses will try ‘discovery’, where one party will want to find information related to the other. This, however, is not mandatory in all divorces. Hiring an attorney can actually help, because one can decide on things like division of property, marital estate, child custody, and child support.
Step 4: Even in contested divorces, mediation is important. Courts usually encourage couples to go into mediation, so that matters can be resolved amicably. A mediator is assigned, who will be someone neutral but well versed in family law.
Step 5: Once the mediation is done or attempted, the case will proceed for final trial, where the judge will decide on issues related to the divorce, if the spouses cannot come to an agreement.
If you want to file for a contested divorce in Houston, meet an attorney today!