In Texas, family law means divorce, child custody, paternity, grandparent rights, and the enforcement of Decrees and orders as they relate to children and the division of property and debts.
With the new laws supporting marriage in the LBGT community, and the old concepts of common law marriage, family law now reaches across the entire spectrum of adult relationships and, in some circumstances, even those who are 16 or 17 years old. Starting with our heritage, common law marriage emerged from the desire of people wanting to marry, but unable to because of the sparse population and the occasional appearance of a magistrate across the planes to perform the ceremony. Those laws are still around. If the couple agrees to be married, hold themselves out as married, and cohabitate, Texas will consider their marriage as valid and binding as if they tied the knot in a church or in front of a judge.
No longer is alimony an automatic part of a divorce settlement. In fact, Texas law presumes that alimony, referred to as spousal maintenance in this state, should not be awarded. There are exceptions, and if you are seeking support, you must meet certain qualifications before you can even ask for support. Regardless of whether you are the fighting for support or your ex is seeking it, you should retain the counsel of an experience alimony lawyer before appearing in court.
Under Texas law, a couple may be considered common law married even if they have never taken part in a formal marriage ceremony if they can prove certain elements to a court. They will then be afforded the same benefits as those who obtained an official marriage certificate and had a marriage ceremony.
Nobody starts a marriage thinking they’re going to get a divorce, but it happens. One day you’re planning your retirement together, the next you are looking for a divorce lawyer. If you are there, I’m here to help. Divorce is not easy, and it is often one of the most emotionally and financially draining events one will endure in their lifetime. I’m not going to tell you a lie and say I can make it easy, but I can definitely help you get what you want in the divorce settlement.
At minimum, a divorce in Texas will take sixty days. That’s the statutory “cooling off period” and a Court cannot grant a divorce in less time than that. There is no set maximum time for a divorce. We have all heard the horror stories of divorces lasting for several years. That does happen sometimes, but it is very rare. Most divorces take less than a year, but it is not uncommon to see them go a year and a half, depending on the issues and the parties.
Anxiety is normal when you’re going through the divorce process. Knowing what to expect throughout the divorce process in Texas can help reduce the anxiety you’re feeling. No two divorces are ever the same, but many of them will have similar elements. Not every divorce will have all of the items explained below, but this guide was written to include an abundance of circumstances that arise frequently in Texas divorces.
Discovery is the legal term for the exchange of information between parties to a lawsuit during the course of litigation. The parties must comply with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure in what information they ask for, how they ask for it and how long the responding party is given to provide the relevant information.
If you thought your Final Order finished it once and for all, you might not be right. A divorce decree and custody agreement can may be modified. Life changes, children grow, people change jobs. Change is indeed the great constant. Once property is divided in a divorce, it does not generally get re-visited or modified. But children and alimony are another story. As circumstances change,those items may be modified. A divorce modification lawyer can help you navigate the intricacies of these modifications.
Texas family law has a strong preference for settlement over trial as a means to solve child custody, visitation, and divorce disputes whenever possible. There are several forms of alternative dispute resolution and mediation is one of them. In fact, it is one of the more often used methods of dispute resolution.
So you want a divorce and you think it will be uncontested. Great! An uncontested divorce almost always takes less time and is less expensive than one in which you’re fighting. Uncontested divorces are certainly not uncommon. Here are the things you should know before you start.
By definition, a contested divorce is one with at least one issue which the parties cannot agree to. Like all divorces in Texas, it starts by the filing of an Original Petition for Divorce. Once filed, the other party is served with process, letting them know that they have been sued for divorce. From there, your divorce may take any number of turns.
In Texas, before the final trial happens, the Court will usually hold a pre-trial conference. In some Courts, only the attorneys need to appear. In others, the parties are required to be there, too. In fact, in some Courts, if the parties don’t show up, the case can be decided against them on the spot. It’s not common, but it’s happened.
According to Texas law, both parents have an obligation to support their children even after their marriage ends. In awarding custody and child support, the court considers many factors. Custody questions are resolved in favor of what the court finds is in the best interest of the children. This generally results in the noncustodial parent paying child support to the custodial parent.
The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages. So now, Texas county clerks and divorce judges are allowed to grant same-sex marriage licenses, perform same-sex marriages, and in turn, grant same-sex divorces.
You’ve been served with a Petition for Divorce. It’s not an easy time. What makes it worse is not knowing how you can pay for an attorney to protect you. There are joint bank accounts and joint credit cards, but can you use those?
Texas is a “no fault” state, meaning that a party does not need a reason to file for divorce and the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault. “No fault” divorces provide the basis for granting the majority of divorces in Texas. However, in many divorce cases, one party is found to be at fault. And, one of the major reasons for a spouse to be at fault is adultery.
When we think about children in terms of Texas law, the three basic areas are: custody, visitation and child support. Beyond that are relocation issues, rights of grandparents and other relatives, paternity, interstate and international issues and modification. Custody involves parental rights. Visitation relates to the amount of time spent with the children. Support is usually a matter of computing a final number. Moving out of the area with the children may spark a relocation case. Grandparents and other relatives don’t automatically have rights. Paternity comes into play when the parents weren’t married. Custody cases are usually brought forth in the home state of the children. Once an order is entered, in any of the above situations, that order may be modified.
Divorce affects all children differently, and to varying degrees in both positive and negative ways. For the most part people, including children, do not like change. But even though divorce usually represents a dramatic change in children’s lives, the effects can be positive. A divorce can also affect children negatively, especially when children experience negative or resentful behavior from their parents.
Child custody is the most important issue in many divorces, and one of the main reasons for lengthy contested divorce cases. When it comes to having access to your children, there is no decision more important than choosing a custody lawyer with experience. When it comes to custody, don’t settle for anything but the best legal counsel. Jeff Anderson is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has represented clients just like you in hundreds of custody battles.
Jeff Anderson has over 20 years of experience handling family law cases like child support, child custody, alimony, and more. If you’re looking for a Dallas child support lawyer, look no further. If you’re trying to get child support reduced, increased, modified, or enforced, give us a call. We know how to fight for you and get the results you need in court.
The Texas Family Code has twenty different grounds for terminating parental rights. If one of these grounds exists, then the Court or a Jury has the ability to terminate rights. That does not mean it will happen. In family law, termination is thought of much like the death penalty in criminal cases. It’s final and there’s little to no chance of coming back from it. These grounds range from a long-standing failure to support the child to incarceration to endangering or abusing the child.
Texas is a community property state. This means that all property accumulated by a married couple, and all income they each earned during the course of their marriage, belongs equally to each one of them, thought they may each have separate property that remains their own separate property.
Every year, as April 15th approaches, I get several calls asking about some common income tax issues as they relate to divorce and children. Much of the tax information is not particularly intuitive – it’s just some law that you need to know.
When the divorce process ends and the family law judge issues a final order, one or both of the parties may be unhappy with the result and want to appeal. The Texas Family Law Code provides a process for appealing, but the appeal must be based on objections to how the judge ruled, not just that the appealing party is miffed by the court’s decision.
The divorce is finalized. The court has issued its order for division of property, child custody, visitation and support as well as for spousal maintenance. You think it is all behind you and you can go forward with your new life. Then, something happens. Your ex-spouse does not comply with a court order. What do you do next? Fortunately, Texas law provides a process for enforcing orders of family law courts.
Premarital and marital property agreements in Texas have a long, complex history steeped in the community property presumption, the state constitution, statutes, and case law. Originally, such agreements were disfavored by the Texas courts and traditionally found to be unenforceable. However, as a result of amendments to the Texas Constitution, evolving statutes, recent case law, and improved draftsmanship, the agreements are generally held to be a valid and enforceable.
In Texas, spouses can have a pre-marital agreement or post-marital agreement. A premarital or post-marital agreement can have a lasting impact on your divorce, property division, and even spousal maintenance.
You’re finally a grandparent. You may have thought about it, dreamed about it, or dreaded it for years, but it’s finally happened. You’re not just mom or dad anymore. Now you’re Gramps or Memaw, Pop or Nana, or some other distinguished name. The plan was to babysit and spoil the grandchildren and then give them back, spoiled rotten to the core. But, something went wrong along the way.
Now your grandchildren’s parent or parents aren’t what’s best for some reason. Now you need to get custody of or visitation with your grandchildren because their parents aren’t behaving with their best interests in mind. Now you need legal help. Let’s start with custody.