When couples get married, they aren’t thinking about divorce. The end is just not something people see when starting out at the beginning. Which is why for some, it can be quite the surprise to come to that divorce fork in the road, and realize it’s not a one stop shop to calling it quits. Far from it, actually. From contested, uncontested, mediation, and everything in between, there are actually several different ways of getting a divorce in Texas. And with over two hundred years of combined family law experience, the reputable attorneys of the Neal Ashmore family are skilled in handling each one of these complex arrangements.
One of the simplest ways for couples to end their marriage, is to engage in an uncontested divorce. In this situation, individuals decide how to split property and divide responsibilities all on their own. This arrangement can work well for couples who have not been married for very long, have no children, and can easily split whatever property they have.
The down side to an uncontested divorce, is that without legal advice, it’s extremely easy for one or both individuals to unknowingly give up money and property they actually have a claim to—errors that sometimes can’t be reversed. To avoid making any of these critical mistakes, be sure to have a family law attorney review the final contract before you sign.
An alternative—and slightly less risky—way of achieving similar results to an uncontested divorce, is to engage in divorce mediation. During this process, a neutral third-party (called a “mediator”) will help you and your partner work through the terms of your divorce outside a court setting. Mediators aren’t judges, but since they’re trained and licensed to help negotiate divorce-related issues, this can be a great way to save time and money on your divorce, while also ensuring you aren’t giving up essential claims.
Attorneys are not required at mediation, however, like eating vegetables, just because you don’t have to, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Especially since a divorce mediator’s overriding goal is to achieve a successful resolution, which can sometimes mean pressuring you into a compromise you aren’t entirely comfortable with. That won’t happen with an attorney present. Your attorney knows you don’t have to compromise if you aren’t comfortable, and with that kind of reliability, you can be sure that whatever compromises you do make will actually serve your best interest—not just the best interest of resolution.
One step up from mediation, is a collaborative divorce. In many ways, this type of out-of-court proceeding operates very much like mediation. Like mediation, it’s time and cost efficient, gives couples ultimate deciding power over the agreement, and the proceedings are confidential. Where collaboration differs from mediation, however, is in structure, skill, and resources available during negotiations.
At the onset of a collaborative divorce, couples sign a “Participation Agreement,” which essentially requires each side be represented by their own attorney, and dictates that if an agreement can’t be reached, that they’ll have to start over with new counsel before going to court—which can be a great motivator for success! Negotiations then proceed, as dictated by the individual parties and their attorneys, and often even includes outside experts. This method of divorce grants couples all the flexibility of mediation, while maintaining a structure more akin to a courtroom.
Fault and No-Fault Divorce
Sometimes, it isn’t possible for couples to work things out on their own, and despite everyone’s best efforts, agreements cannot be made outside of court. At Neal Ashmore, we know this can be a disheartening situation, but we reaffirm our commitment to helping our clients in any way we can. If necessary, this includes filing a contested divorce in court, and engaging in formal litigation.
In Texas, individuals are allowed to file for divorce on two grounds: fault, and no-fault. While all states have some kind of no-fault avenue for divorce, it’s rare for jurisdictions to offer a fault-based split. Here’s a look at both types of grounds, and why you might want to file one over the other.
Texas courts allow individuals to file a fault-based divorce in situations where one spouse is largely responsible for the dissolution of the marriage. Many times, these fault-based claims are grounded in adultery, but they can also include cruelty, a felony conviction, and abandonment. When these instances occur, judges have the options of granting a larger share of the couple’s community property to the wronged spouse.
Far more common than fault, are no-fault divorces. These dissolutions are commonly cited as “irreconcilable differences,” and do not attempt to hold any one side responsible for the split. A no-fault divorce is more streamlined than a fault divorce, requiring less evidence, time, and money to complete, which generally makes them preferable, when pursuing a contested divorce.
Despite the fact that fault-based divorces are allowed in Texas, they can be costly and difficult to prove. If you are debating between a fault and no-fault divorce, a Neal Ashmore attorney can help determine which course of action would be best for your unique circumstances.
Finally, it doesn’t happen often, but occasionally, one half of the marriage duo wants out, while the other does not. Unfortunately for the later, trying to stall out the process by refusing to engage will not work, as courts cannot force a person stay married. In these situations, respondents have twenty-one days to answer to a correctly filed petition for divorce, and if they don’t, they’re in danger of defaulting.
In a default divorce, a judge will typically proceed by simply granting whatever terms requested by the first spouse. Naturally, this is rarely in a person’s best interest, and individuals wishing to try such tactics should rethink that self-destruct button. On the other hand, if you find yourself with an uncooperative spouse, one of our attorneys can walk you through how to file for a default judgment.
Divorce Attorneys in Texas
With so many ways to end a marriage contract, it can sometimes be overwhelming to know which type of divorce will best for you. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. The Neal Ashmore team strives to give the highest quality of legal services to every case, helping to achieve favorable results for clients, even under the most contentious circumstances. If you or a loved one have more questions about the types of divorce in Texas, call us today at (972) 436-8000, or schedule a consultation online. With so many options available, we are honored by the people who choose to put their trust in us, and look forward to helping you transition to your new life with the least amount of stress possible.