What Is Meant by 'Contested' and 'Uncontested' Divorce?

People often say they have an "uncontested divorce," meaning that both parties have decided they do not wish to contest the dissolution of their marriage. The problem with this is that while legally terminating the marriage relationship of the parties itself is not contested, there may still be many issues regarding the property and children of the marriage that must be resolved before the divorce can be completed, and some or all of the property and child-related issues that need to be resolved, may be contested, and in some instances these issues may be highly contested.

In this regard the following paragraphs will provide you with some understanding as to the issues that may be contested with regard to the division of property and managing the needs of the children.

When Division Of Property Is Contested

In Texas, every divorce must include a division of community property and debts. If a party owns or claims any property as his or her separate property, those claims must be addressed in the divorce proceeding, as all property owned or claimed by a spouse during the marriage is presumed to be community property; and that community property presumption can only be overcome by presenting clear and convincing evidence to the court showing the separate character of the property.

Issues concerning the character of property, the value of property, and how it will be divided between the spouses, are often highly contested. However, once these issues have been addressed, the parties are often able to reach an agreement as to the character and value of their property and how it will be divided, and the divorce proceeding will become uncontested as to all issues and the parties will be able to enter an agree judgment of divorce dissolving their marriage, dividing the community property and confirming their respective separate property, if any.

When Custody Is Contested

In Texas, if the parties have a child or children of the marriage, the divorce proceeding will automatically include what is called a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, or "SAPCR" for short. The SAPCR is the vehicle the Texas family courts use in order to address the needs of children. By way of example, this includes the following:

  • Conservatorship (custody issues)
  • Rights and duties of the parents (by whom and how decisions concerning the children will be made)
  • Possession and access to the children (standard possession order, expanded standard possession order, supervised visitation, graduated visitation schedule for children under three, and domestic and international
  • Support of the children (child support and medical support)

Any of the matters listed above can be and often are contested issues in a divorce case, and in some instances these issues or some of them may be highly contested. In most instances, the parties are able to reach an agreement resolving all of the issues concerning their children with the assistance of good family law attorneys. If the parties are able to reach an agreement with regard to their children, then that aspect of the divorce will be incorporated into an agreed judgment of divorce dissolving their marriage.

We Can Help

We are here to help you with you divorce or other family law matter and encourage you to call and schedule an appointment to discuss your specific problems and needs.