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Family Law FAQs

Texas Attorneys Answer Common Divorce, Support and Custody Questions

Unless you have previously gone through a divorce, you probably have no idea what to expect. Divorces are complicated legal matters that require careful consideration of complex issues, not to mention a substantial amount of paperwork. At Morales Law Office, Attorneys at Law, PLLC., our team consists of veteran lawyers with experience in handling cases involving children. We have helped hundreds of clients resolve their issues, both outside of court and at trial in contested proceedings.

How long does a divorce in Texas take?

In Texas, you must wait 60 days from the date of filing before a divorce may be granted. Even if the terms of the divorce are agreed upon and uncontested, you must still wait 60 days. In reality, divorces can take much longer, depending on the number and complexity of issues you have to resolve, such as child custody, the division of property and debts, and child support. More complicated concerns will take longer to resolve.

Are assets always split "50-50″ in a divorce?

No. While Texas is a "community property state," the judge may divide the property in a manner that he or she deems is "just and right" to the parties based on a number of factors, such as fault in the divorce, the earning power of the parties, and each spouse's projected needs following the divorce.

What are my chances of obtaining physical custody of my children?

In many cases, one parent will have primary custody (sometimes called placement or possession) and the other will have regular visitation, but there is a growing trend toward more equal parenting time. If you are fighting for primary custody, shared custody (a 50-50 or 60-40 split), or maximum visitation rights, our lawyers can help you show the court that such an arrangement is in your child's best interests.

In Texas, the term "conservatorship" refers to the rights and duties of caring for your child on a day-to-day basis and major decisions about education, health care, and upbringing. Texas does prefer that parents be named "joint managing conservators" unless there is a compelling reason to order "sole managing conservatorship." Reasons for such an order include instances of abuse, neglect, or addiction by one parent. However, conservatorship should not be confused with physical custody. Regardless of whether a judge orders joint or sole managing conservatorship, one parent will always be named the primary conservator to determine the child's primary residence ways has the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the children as the "primary conservator." That parent will have primary physical custody, and the other parent will be called "possessory conservator" and will have visitation rights. Whether a judge names you the primary conservator will depend on the facts of your case and the ability to show the judge that you were the primary caregiver for your child.

What kind of visitation is typically granted in Texas divorce cases?

Texas law provides that the parent with visitation rights may be permitted possession of the child under the Standard Possession Order if the parents cannot come to an agreement. The Standard Possession Order generally gives the possessory conservator parent two weekends per month with the child and at least one day each week, with extra time allotted during school breaks.

How much child support will a judge order?

While both parents have a duty under Texas law to support their child, the "possessory conservator" will typically be ordered to pay support to the "primary conservator." The amount of support ordered is based on the paying parent's net resources. Keep in mind that this is a simplified version of the actual tables used and does not take into consideration all factors:

  • 1 Child of the Marriage – 20% of Net Resources
  • 2 Children of the Marriage – 25% of Net Resources
  • 3 Children of the Marriage – 30% of Net Resources
  • 4 Children of the Marriage – 35% of Net Resources
  • 5 Children of the Marriage – 40% of Net Resources
  • 6 Children of the Marriage – 45% of Net Resources

How can I stop a divorce if my spouse wants it and I do not?

Texas allows for "no-fault" divorces which essentially permits a spouse to file for divorce simply because one spouse believes the parties are now incompatible. The court can grant this divorce even if you are opposed to the split. Refusing to cooperate with the process will only slow the proceedings down and increase the costs for both of you.

Will the judge order alimony in my Texas divorce?

Texas is a community property state. In other words, Texas law presumes that each spouse will walk away with 50% of the assets of a marriage, so permanent alimony is not allowed. A judge can order one spouse to pay "temporary spousal support" while the divorce is pending and for a period after the divorce is finalized. Spousal support is typically awarded to one party if extraordinary financial need can be shown, such as to allow a financially-disadvantaged spouse to continue to make utility and mortgage payments.
While the parties can agree to post-divorce alimony as part of the division of the marriage assets, the judge can order support payments for one spouse after the divorce is final only if that spouse shows a need for spousal maintenance. To qualify for spousal maintenance, the spouse will generally have to show that:

  • The marriage lasted 10 years or more.
  • The requesting spouse lacks the skills and experience for gainful employment.
  • The requesting spouse lacks the means for self-support.

Exceptions to these eligibility rules may apply for situations involving domestic abuse or a disability. Maintenance payments must generally end no later than 10 years after the divorce.

I need a divorce. How do I start?

You should always begin any legal process the same way: contact an attorney you can trust. However, with a divorce, you should hire an attorney with the knowledge and experience that these matters deserve. You should then begin documenting all the property and debts of your marriage to help your attorney determine the proper course of action to take. This documentation is essential. Once the divorce process begins, the amount of stress and emotions involved often make obtaining such information later very difficult.

My spouse and I have reached an agreement about our divorce. Can we hire one attorney to represent both of us?

No. An attorney can only ethically represent one client in a divorce. However, one spouse may hire one attorney to draft and review the documents the parties will need to sign. Nevertheless, the attorney cannot advise the other party on how to proceed in the divorce. If both spouses wish to have the benefit of legal counsel, separate lawyers will need to be retained.

What steps are involved in a contested divorce?

First, a lawyer for one spouse drafts and files a "Petition for Divorce." The petition sets out the issues that need to be resolved. Next, the other spouse must file an answer stating whether or not the spouse agrees with the petition. If he or she does not file an answer, then the court may proceed to finalize the divorce without any further notice to that party. After the answer is filed, the spouses then exchange documents and other information about issues such as property and income to permit the judge to decide how to divide up property and how to deal with child support and alimony.

Depending on the number and nature of the unresolved issues, the judge may order the parties to attempt to settle their issues through mediation. If the parties reach a settlement, the proper documents are drawn up so the agreement can be presented to the judge at a hearing. If the judge approves the agreement, the divorce decree will be signed by the judge and the divorce will be granted. If the case does not settle or if the judge does not approve the settlement, the case will proceed to trial. At trial, the attorneys will present evidence for each side, and the judge will render a decision to resolve all issues, including child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and property and debt division. Once the judge has reached his or her decision on all of the remaining issues, the judge grants the divorce.

I was never legally married to the other parent of my child. How can I exercise my parental rights?

Whether you are a parent seeking custody and child support from the other party or if you are simply a parent wanting to establish your right to visitation, you should consult an attorney immediately. Your lawyer will help you file the appropriate documents to protect your parental rights. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to establish legal paternity before you can ask for any other considerations.

Under Texas law, both legal parents have the same rights to their child. Until a court issues a ruling that says which parent is supposed to have the child on which days, the parties can begin a virtual tug-of-war which can prove to be heart-wrenching and can sometimes involve the police. That is why it is imperative to seek the advice of an attorney immediately to guide you through this process.

How much will my case cost?

Every case is unique and the overall cost of any case depends on the number of issues to be sorted out by the parties or the court. Longer, more involved cases will cost more in attorneys' fees and court costs, as well as your time. The easiest way to reduce your expenses is by amicably resolving as many of your concerns as possible with the other party.

Call Morales Law Office Today at 512-474-2222

Morales Law Office represents clients in a number of issues relating to children involved in divorce, post-divorce modification, and paternity proceedings, such as:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Visitation, possession, and access
  • Child custody modification
  • Child support modification
  • Visitation modification
  • Grandparent visitation
  • Paternity establishment
  • Stepparent adoptions
  • Third-party visitation
  • Enforcement of custody, visitation and child support

If you are in need of experienced and skilled representation in any case involving your children, contact Morales Law Office at 512-474-2222 or 432-570-1499 or fill out our intake form.

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