Most divorces are contested.
It is rare that a person can go through a divorce and be peaceful enough with their spouse to part ways as friends.
So, yes, it is quite possible that your divorce is contested.
Here is what you should do:
First, understand the terminology.
Much of the problem here is couples simply do not know what the difference is between a “simple divorce”, and “agreed divorce”, an “uncontested divorce” and a “contested divorce”.
The reason for that is most lawyers do not really advocate for friendly divorces, so discussions about the different types of divorces are somewhat limited even on the internet.
Friendly (AKA uncontested) divorces are not big money divorces because they are fast, and when a lawyer is paid by the hour, fast is not necessarily good for business.
But the Cook & Cook philosophy about divorce is this:
Many couples already know how they are going to divide their stuff (their cars, their furniture). Many couples already know what money is going to go to who.
They may need some legal guidance on options, but all-in-all, things are clear to them before the case has even started.
Many (not most, but many) couples don’t want to end their marriage in war, and will continue to stay in touch as friends.
And, those couples, who don’t need to fight, should have a good place to get divorced as friends. This Firm is designed from the ground up, for those couples, parting as friends (or at least as non-enemies).
What is an Uncontested Divorce? – Where Both Will Sign Papers
Okay, but first let’s discuss the terms.
Simple Divorce, and agreed divorce, at Cook & Cook are the same as uncontested divorce, and it means that both spouses will sign your papers. If your spouse is missing, read more about your options here. When I say sign the papers, what I mean is that you and your spouse can come to a full settlement agreement as to how you will divide all assets, things, debts and children (when applicable) in your divorce. Of course, you do not have to write the settlement agreement because that is our job, and it is a complex one.
But, you do need to be able to agree. That is an uncontested divorce. We send you a packet, you tell us your agreements, and we take it from there.
What if You Need Someone to Help You Agree?
A lawyer cannot represent both parties in a divorce in Texas. So, if you need substantial help coming to an agreement, we can refer you to a mediator lawyer. This lawyer will meet with you both, and listen to your story– what happened in your marriage that led to this point. This mediator will then present a settlement agreement to you both, and will educate you about the options and laws in Texas that are applicable to your case.
This mediation step by itself is going to cost a total of $600-$1200, depending on the complexity of your estate.
Once you’ve reached an agreement, then Cook & Cook will take over the case and process it through as an agreed divorce.
Why Can’t Cook & Cook Be My Mediator and My Lawyer
It is not legal for us to act in both rolls because there is a conflict of interest. So, we will send you to an outside third party lawyer that we know is outstanding, and this lawyer will be your mediator. Then, we will process the rest of the case.
What is a Contested Divorce?
Cases in which your spouse has hired a lawyer of record and served you with papers; (Note your spouse CAN have a reviewing Attorney).
Cases in which you and your spouse disagree on who should have the children and when;
Cases in which you disagree on the amount of Child Support to be paid, if any;
Cases in which you disagree on how to divide personal or real property;
Cases in which you disagree on how to divide debts, assets or children.
Cases in which your spouse does not want to be divorced.
Infidelity Or Mental Health Issues During Uncontested Divorce
Many people have the conception that if there was an affair or if they are dealing with a mentally ill spouse that the case cannot be uncontested. An affair, or any other circumstance that may have led to the dissolution of the marriage, does not necessarily mean that the case has to be a contested divorce.
If your spouse and you can come to an agreement on how to divide everything, then even despite the affair or mental health challenges, you can still have an agreed divorce.
What Happens if I Hire Cook & Cook for An Uncontested Divorce & It Turns Into a Contested Divorce?
90% of the time, clients get it right. They talk to their spouse, both people want a divorce, and both people agree on how to be divorced.
Things run smoothly for the entire case, and the people are divorced in 60 days.
But, about 5-10% of the time, it turns out that your spouse told you it would be smooth, and then goes off and hires a lawyer to try to take you for everything you have.
So here is what we say:
Before hiring us for an agreed divorce, you should really be able to talk to your spouse and make sure they are on board.
You can use this free settlement exercise on our website, to assess whether you and your spouse could agree on everything there.
Still you may have done everything you could to ensure it was an agreed case, and it still blows up into a big fight–
If My Case Becomes Contested, What Happens on That Day To My File?
We at Cook & Cook understand another point, which is this– If you have to fight in your divorce, you should fight to win. The stakes are high, children, money, feelings– everything is on the line in a heated divorce.
We have a list of lawyers, and if your case is contested, we will provide you with the list of outside Law Offices, lawyers and Firms.
If Cook & Cook has filed your case, and is notified by you or by your spouse that the case is not a friendly divorce, we will send you a list of lawyers that are familiar with the type of case that you had from Cook & Cook, and are willing to take over immediately, on their own contract and fee schedule.
We will also provide a list of mediators that can hear the matter and still try to settle your case for you out of Court.
This will minimize the disruption to your case, and help you through a smooth transition.
But, If I Hire You for An Agreed Divorce, and It Turns Contested, Where Does My Money Go?
We will not refund your money if your case becomes contested, because we will have used your funds to file, and process your divorce
But the funds paid for an agreed divorce with us are not a loss, rather an investment towards getting divorced– see below
Things that you will still have from our Law Firm, even if your case becomes contested:
- Filing Fees of $300-350 already paid (you do not have to repay them)
- Waiting period of 60 days already started;
- Information that your other lawyer needs already collected (remember you take your file with you. Contested divorces cost by the hour, so the more time you save your lawyer with work you already have from our Firm, the more you will save);
- Possibly, a proposed final decree of divorce (your lawyer can use this as a working template, and modify only the items that change in your contested divorce– all cases have decrees eventually so again you have saved money by having started this
- Moving forward Knowing that you tried to do this in a friendly way, for yourself and your spouse.