Protecting Your Family's Future
 

Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

If you are involved in or considering a divorce in Texas and there are minor children involved, you need to get familiar with this term—joint managing conservatorship.

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At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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The Different Types of Divorce in Texas

Different Types of Divorce in Texas

Though, as we informed you in an earlier blog, a Texas legislator has introduced a bill that would end “no-fault” divorce in Texas, there are still two approaches you can take in the Lone Star State: you can state a specific basis, or ground, for the divorce (an “at-fault” divorce); or you can simply allege that the marriage has become “insupportable” (what is known as “no-fault divorce”). There can be good reasons for identifying specific grounds for your divorce—you can benefit in a custody or support proceeding if you can show that your ex caused the split. Contact a divorce attorney to understand the different types of divorce in Texas.

Here are the grounds that are currently accepted for divorce in Texas:

  • Marital infidelity—Adultery, or cheating on your spouse, is far and away the most common ground stated for divorce in Texas. However, you have to do more than simply allege infidelity—you must convince the court that your spouse had an extramarital affair.
  • Failure to cohabitate—If you have stopped living with your spouse, even if you are in continual relationship with him or her, and the two of you have lived apart for at least three years, you can allege that as a basis for an at-fault divorce.
  • Abandonment—If you cease having any type of relationship with your spouse, and that abandonment continues for at least a year, your spouse can state that as a cause for divorce
  • Confinement in a mental institution—If, at the time the divorce complaint was filed, one of the parties was institutionalized in a mental hospital or facility, either private or state-operated, and there was no prognosis for improvement or recovery, you may be able to state that as a reason for divorce. However, a person must be institutionalized for at least three years before the other spouse can allege it as sufficient cause for divorce.
  • Incarceration for a felony—If a spouse has been convicted and incarcerated for more than one year on felony charges, the innocent spouse may use that as a basis for an at-fault divorce.
  • Cruelty—Physical or mental cruelty that makes it unbearable to live with a spouse will also be grounds for divorce.

Different Types of Divorce in Texas

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how a divorce attorney can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online . We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

The Process for Filing for Divorce in Texas

Filing for Divorce

Filing for Divorce in Texas

If you are considering filing for divorce in Texas, you may not know where to start or what steps you’ll have to take to complete the process. Here’s an overview of what you need to do.

  • Determine whether you meet the residency requirements—To obtain a divorce in Texas, at least one of the parties must have been a Texas resident for a minimum of six months immediately before filing. You must also be a resident of the county in which you file for the 90 days immediately prior to the filing.
  • Decide if you will state specific grounds—In Texas, you can allege “insupportability” as the basis for a divorce. This is essentially an assertion that neither party was at fault. Otherwise, you must allege one of the six acceptable grounds for at-fault divorce in Texas.
  • File your complaint and meet the requirements for notifying your spouse—There are specific documents you must file to initiate a divorce. It’s best to have an attorney do this for you. You’ll also need to “serve” your spouse with a copy of the divorce complaint. There are also specific rules regarding how this may and must be done.
  • Respond to the complaint—If you are the defendant in the divorce proceedings and you disagree with anything stated in the complaint, you’ll have a certain time period during which you may respond and challenge those assertions. This is known as a “contested” divorce. If you don’t respond, it’s considered an “uncontested” divorce and the court will most likely enter a default judgment.
  • Resolve issues related to custody and visitation, support and property division—If you can’t agree on any of these issues, you will need to schedule hearings with the court to obtain orders resolving any disputes.
  • Obtain a signed divorce decree—Once all issues have been resolved, the terms will be put in a written agreement and signed by the judge. The terms of the agreement are binding and can be enforced in a court of law. Once the judge signs the order, your divorce is final.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, our Baytown family law attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Tax Tips for Divorcing Couples

In the midst of a divorce, one of the last things you may think about are the potential tax ramifications of ending your marriage, but financial counselors say it’s something you need to address.

Child Support and Alimony Payments

It’s important to understand the tax consequences of both child support and alimony payments. Child support payments are taxable by the recipient. Furthermore, they cannot be claimed as a deduction by anyone paying child support.

Alimony payments are treated differently under state and federal tax laws. As a general rule, alimony is considered income and must be reported as such, provided the payments are made pursuant to a valid divorce or separation agreement, and the payments are made in cash (not in kind). Likewise, if the same conditions are met, alimony payments may be deducted by the payer.

Filing Status

If you are in the middle of a divorce at the end of the tax year, you can choose to file a joint return, or file as “married filing separately.” If your divorce becomes final before the end of the tax year, you must file as either single or as “head of household.”

To claim your children as exemptions on your return, you must be considered the custodial parent. Generally, the parent with whom the child spent the most amount of time will be considered the custodial parent for tax purposes. You can, however, claim your child if the custodial parent waives the exemption in writing.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

The Grounds for Divorce in Texas

Grounds for Divorce

Though some legislators are trying to get rid of the no-fault provisions of the Texas divorce laws, Texas remains a mixed state, where men and women can either allege fault in a divorce proceeding or pursue a no-fault termination of marriage. In a no-fault proceeding, you must show the court that the marriage can no longer continue because of irreconcilable differences or disagreements between the parties, but you don’t need to show that one of the parties was responsible for those differences. With respect to any other grounds for divorce, one party must allege that the other party committed a wrong that was the basis for the split.

Texas law identifies six specific grounds for at-fault divorce:

  • Adultery—Your spouse has engaged in an extra-marital affair with a person of either gender
  • Abandonment—Your spouse vacated the marital home with the intent of abandoning you and has been gone for at least one calendar year
  • Separation—You have not lived in the same residence as your spouse for at least three years
  • Commitment to a mental institution—Your spouse, at the time you filed for divorce, had been in a mental institution for a minimum of three years, with no prognosis that his or her condition will improve
  • A felony conviction—Your spouse, while you were married, was convicted of a felony and spent at least one year in prison. This ground is not available if you testified in the criminal prosecution of your spouse.
  • Cruelty–and spent at least one year in prison. This ground is not available if you testified in the criminal prosecution of your spouse.
  • Cruelty—Your spouse engaged in mental or physical cruelty that made it unbearable for you to cohabitate

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

The Benefits of Preparing for Divorce

Though divorce is always emotionally difficult, you can minimize some of the financial, personal and time challenges by thoroughly preparing for the process, once it’s clear that divorce is inevitable. Here are some of the things you can do.

Protect Yourself Financially

Whether you are the sole breadwinner, a stay-at-home-parent or one of two working parents, a divorce will have a significant impact. You may face the significant loss of income, be required to pay substantial amounts in child or spousal support, or wind up with a big chunk of the marital debt.  To minimize the impact, put together a file that contains all of the following:

  • Pay stubs for the last two years
  • Bank statements for the last two years
  • Current investment and retirement account statements
  • Documentation of any life insurance policies
  • Copies of tax returns for the last five years
  • A copy of your credit report

Protect Your Right to See Your Children

Custody is never an easy matter to resolve. You want what’s best for your children, but you also want to play an active role in your child’s life. All states use the standard of the “best interests of the child” when determining who will have custody. If you believe that custody may be an issue, you need to do the following:

  • Identify what you believe will be in the best interests of your children and why
  • Document anything about your ex that you believe may put your children at risk. Remember, though, that this is not about disparaging your ex—it’s about protecting your children. Don’t exaggerate isolated incidents in an attempt to gain favor with the courts. You’ll only hurt  your children in the process

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Landing On Your Feet after Divorce

When you are going through a divorce, it can be difficult to believe that life will return to normal again. It will go on, but it won’t ever be the same. There are specific steps you want to take to make certain that you are moving forward, so that the past won’t keep catching up to you.

Get a New Bank Account

This is actually a good idea as soon as you know you are going to file for or be a defendant in a divorce proceeding. You want to start putting your money into your own account, so that your ex doesn’t have unlimited access to it. You should also close any joint accounts you had with your ex.

Replace Your Credit Cards

Terminate any joint credit cards immediately. It may also be time to think about whether or not you want to open new cards. Divorce can be an emotional time—if you are prone to spending money in response to emotional trauma, you might be better served not opening a new credit card. Furthermore, because you won’t have financial stability for a little while, you may want to operate primarily on a cash basis for a while.

Change Your Beneficiaries

If your ex is named as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, IRA, retirement plan or in a will, you need to modify that. With respect to insurance, you may want to obtain a life insurance policy on your ex (owned by your ex) to cover alimony or child support in the event of his or her premature death.

Notify the Government When Necessary

The IRS and the Social Security Administration should be notified of your divorce.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Texas Divorce Basics

Texas Divorce Law—The Basics

If you are considering filing for divorce in Texas, you probably have a lot of questions—here are answers to some of the most basic questions about divorce.

Do I Have to Give a Reason for Wanting a Divorce?

No. In Texas, you can ask for a divorce with or without stating the grounds. In a no-fault divorce, you need only advise the court that you have irreconcilable differences. You can, however, state grounds, such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, felony conviction or confinement in a mental institution. If the court agrees, you may be able to get more than an equal share of marital property.

Do I Have to Be a Texas Resident? If So, For How Long?

Texas does not have jurisdiction over a divorce proceeding unless one of the parties has been a resident of the state for at least six months, and a resident of the county in which the action is filed for at least three months.

How Long Will It Take for My Divorce to Be Final?

That will vary, depending on a number of factors, including the ability of the parties to agree on custody, visitation, support and property distribution. At a minimum, however, a divorce cannot be finalized for at least 60 days after the filing of the complaint.

How Will Property Be Divided?

Property will be divided under the community property laws of Texas.

Is Alimony Available in Texas?

Texas law allows alimony in limited situations, typically where the recipient lacks the ability to be self-supporting, has a physical or mental disability, or cannot take care of himself or herself.

How Is Child Custody Determined?

Ultimately, the court must be satisfied that the custody and visitation arrangement is in the best interests of the minor children. The parties may agree to a specific arrangement, but the court may reject that agreement if it determines that it was entered into under duress or coercion, or is not in the child’s best interests.

How Does the Court Calculate Child Support?

Texas uses a formula that includes the income of both parties, the needs of the child, and any other special factors.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

What Does ‘Default Divorce’ Mean in Texas?

When talking about divorce in Texas, there is a difference between an uncontested divorce and a default divorce, even though people who are not attorneys sometimes use the terms interchangeably.

Your divorce is a default divorce if you file a divorce petition and your spouse does not respond to the petition by filing a formal answer with the court within the time period required by Texas law (at least 21 days). If your spouse does not respond, your divorce becomes a default divorce and you can finalize your divorce process without further input from your spouse. You must still fill out additional paperwork before you can get a divorce decree, but you can do all the work without signatures or other information from your spouse.

Your divorce is uncontested if you and your spouse agree on all the issues relating to your divorce: child custody, child support, spousal support, and distribution of marital property and debts are the most important issues. If you and your spouse agree, then you decide together on the terms to put in your Decree of Divorce and both sign it, and your spouse either waives the answer requirement or files an answer saying he or she agrees.

Conditions under which you may not usually file an uncontested divorce include:

  • You are pregnant, even if your current spouse is not the child’s father
  • You or your spouse has a bankruptcy pending
  • Neither you nor your spouse has lived in Texas for at least six months

If you have received a divorce petition from your spouse and are considering “going default” by not filing an answer, it is wise to get advice first from an experienced divorce lawyer. By failing to file an answer and allowing your spouse to get the divorce by default, you risk serious financial repercussions that you may not have considered. A default divorce can also have a permanent impact on your legal relationship to any joint children.

For more information about uncontested and default divorces, check out the publication called The Uncontested Divorce Process in Texas published by the Texas Legal Services Center.

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, has provided legal counsel to men and women in divorce and other family law cases for 8 years. If you have questions about uncontested and default divorces, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation regarding default and uncontested divorces, contact our family law firm online or call our office at
(281) 420-8020.

 
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