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Understanding the Basics of a Contested Divorce: What You Need to Know

Understanding the Basics of a Contested Divorce: What You Need to Know A contested divorce is a situation where the parties involved are unable to reach an agreement on important matters such as child custody, asset division, child support, alimony, or other relevant issues. In such cases, one party initiates the divorce by filing a petition with the court, and the other party has a specific timeframe to respond. Following the filing of the response, the parties will proceed with the contested divorce process.

The first step in a contested divorce is to hire or consult with a divorce attorney. These attorneys will help clients navigate the legal process and aim to achieve a favorable outcome. The attorney will review the case, gather evidence and conduct interviews with witnesses, and prepare for discovery, which is a process of exchanging information between each party.

In divorce proceedings, parties may try mediation to resolve disputes or reach an agreement. If mediation fails, the case goes to trial. At trial, both parties present evidence and make arguments in front of a judge or jury. The judge or jury then makes the final decision on all contested issues.

During the contested divorce process, temporary orders may also be issued regarding child custody, child support, alimony, and property division while the case is pending. These orders will remain in effect until a final divorce decree is entered.

A contested divorce can be a long and emotionally exhausting experience, costing the parties involved significant time and money. Therefore, it is essential to understand the potential consequences of a contested divorce and work with an experienced divorce attorney to achieve the best possible outcome.

Filing and Service

Filing and service are two important steps in the process of obtaining a contested divorce in Texas. The filing refers to the act of submitting a divorce petition to the court, while service involves delivering a copy of the petition to the other party involved in the divorce case.

To start the process of filing for a contested divorce, you will need to prepare and submit a petition to the district clerk in the county where you or your spouse resides. The petition must include information such as the grounds for the divorce, information about minor children if any, and details about community and separate property. Once the petition is filed, a filing fee will need to be paid.

After filing the petition, the next step is to serve the other party with a copy of the divorce petition and a citation. The citation is a legal document that notifies the other party that they are being sued for divorce and provides them with a deadline for responding to the petition. It is important to note that service must be completed in accordance with Texas laws and court rules, and failure to do so can result in significant delays in the divorce process.

Service can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including personal delivery by a process server, delivery by a sheriff, or even via certified mail. Once service is completed, the other party will have a certain amount of time to file a response to the petition. If the other party fails to respond, the court may proceed with a default judgment.

Overall, filing and service are critical steps in the contested divorce process. It is important to work with an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that all aspects of filing and service are conducted properly, as any errors or mistakes can lead to significant delays and additional costs.

Temporary Orders

Divorce can be a long and complicated process, especially if there are disputes over important issues like child custody, visitation rights, spousal support, and property division. When couples cannot come to an agreement on these issues, a temporary order hearing may be necessary to establish some guidelines until a final judgment can be made.

A temporary order hearing is a court hearing that takes place early on in the divorce process. The purpose of this hearing is to establish temporary arrangements for key issues while the divorce is pending. These arrangements can include temporary custody schedules, visitation rights, child support payments, temporary spousal support, and orders regarding the allocation of assets and debts.

The goal of temporary orders is to ensure that the parties involved can function as normally as possible while the divorce is ongoing and that there is stability in the lives of any minor children. It's important to note that these orders are temporary and may be modified later on based on the final judgment of the divorce.

During the hearing, both parties will present their arguments and evidence in support of their position. The judge will consider the testimony of both parties, as well as any relevant documentation, before making a decision. It's crucial that both parties come prepared with any necessary documents, such as financial statements and evidence of income, to aid the judge's decision-making process.

A temporary order hearing can be a stressful and emotionally charged experience. It's important to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer who can represent your interests and guide you through the process. Your lawyer can work with you to prepare for the hearing, develop a strong case, and ensure that you are adequately represented before the judge.

In conclusion, a temporary order hearing can provide some much-needed structure and guidance during the often chaotic divorce process. If you're going through a contested divorce and are struggling with issues like child custody, support, or property division, a temporary order hearing may be necessary to establish some preliminary arrangements. An experienced divorce attorney can help you prepare for this hearing and ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.


Negotiation is a crucial skill in both personal and professional life. It's a process of communication between two or more parties with the goal of coming to a mutually beneficial agreement. Negotiation occurs in various situations, from business deals to everyday conversations.

A successful negotiation requires both parties to understand and express their needs and interests. It's important to listen actively, ask questions, and clarify information to ensure that everyone involved understands each other's perspectives. By doing so, both parties can identify common interests and work towards a solution that benefits everyone.

Compromise is often necessary during a negotiation. Both parties may have to give up something to reach a mutually satisfying agreement. It's important to consider the long-term effects of the agreement and ensure that it doesn't negatively impact either party in the future.

In a negotiation, it's essential to remain respectful and professional, even if there are differences in opinion or conflict. Being aggressive or confrontational can hinder progress and damage relationships. A constructive approach that focuses on problem-solving and finding common ground generates positive outcomes and builds stronger relationships.

Negotiation strategies can vary based on the circumstances and objectives of the parties involved. However, some general principles enhance the effectiveness of a negotiation. Preparation, clear communication, active listening, and flexibility are key elements that facilitate the success of a negotiation.

In conclusion, negotiation plays an essential role in achieving mutual agreements and resolving conflicts. It requires critical thinking, effective communication, and strong interpersonal skills. Employing these techniques can lead to productive and positive outcomes in various situations.


In a contested divorce, if the parties cannot come to a resolution through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative divorce, the case may proceed to trial. A trial is a court proceeding where a judge or a jury hears evidence presented by each side and makes a final decision on the issues in the case.

Prior to the trial, each side will have an opportunity to gather evidence and testimony from witnesses through a process called discovery. This may include documents such as financial statements, emails, and text messages, as well as testimony from experts or witnesses to support each party’s position on matters such as property division, child custody, or support payments.

At the trial, both parties will have the opportunity to present their case and cross-examine the other party’s witnesses. The judge or the jury will listen to the evidence presented and make decisions on the disputed issues. It is important to note that the outcome of a trial is not guaranteed and can be unpredictable.

If a party is unhappy with the results of the trial, they may have the option to appeal the decision to a higher court. However, it is important to note that appeals can be expensive, time-consuming, and there is no guarantee that the outcome will be favorable.

In conclusion, a trial is a court proceeding that is typically reserved for cases where parties are unable to come to an agreement through other methods such as negotiation or mediation. While a trial may be necessary to resolve issues in a contested divorce, it can be a stressful and unpredictable process. It is important to work with experienced divorce attorneys who can help guide you through the process and advocate for your best interests.

Talk to a Lawyer

An experienced divorce attorney in Harris County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Houston, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Stafford, Texas at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, can provide guidance and offer advice throughout the entire process. Contact us today at www.thorntonesquirelawgroup.com for a free consultation.

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