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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.

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Can I Represent Myself in a Divorce Proceeding?

Representing Yourself in a Divorce Proceeding

There’s an old adage that says that a person who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. With the extensive material available to walk you through a divorce proceeding, and with access to the Internet, is this still true?

You Can Represent Yourself

Texas law does not prohibit you from acting pro se (on behalf of yourself). Before you decide to act as your own attorney, though, it’s really important to understand the risks.

  • Will you be taken advantage of by your ex-spouse or by opposing counsel? If there is little at stake — no children, no property, no likelihood of alimony — there is likely little risk and representing yourself may pose no problems. However, if there is any complexity to your case, you will be at a distinct disadvantage if your ex-spouse has an experienced attorney. You may find yourself participating in hearings or conversations in which you have little or no understanding of what is being discussed.
  • Do you have the time to properly prepare? A divorce can be a time-consuming matter. If you work full time and have children, you may find it difficult to find time to prepare. You may need to review documents, research case law, prepare pleadings and attend hearings.
  • Do you fully understand all your options? Do you know about mediation or negotiated settlements? Are you comfortable negotiating with an experienced lawyer?

What You Will Have to Do

The divorce process is fairly complex, with a very specific timeline. First, you will need to prepare certain documents. If you are seeking the divorce, you will have to prepare and file a divorce complaint (known as a petition) with the court. If you are being sued for divorce, you have the right to file an answer to the petition. Your petition will tell the court who you are and what you want the court to do. You must also provide formal notice to your spouse that you are seeking a divorce.

Once you file the petition, the court will issue “standing orders,” essentially ground rules for while your divorce is in process. If there are contested matters, the court may designate a specific period of time for “discovery,” when the parties prepare and exchange information to help determine the outcome. Once you have come to agreement on all issues, you must put your agreements in writing and have the court issue an order documenting the terms of your divorce.

Questions About Represent yourself in a Divorce Proceeding? Custody, Divorce, and Family Law Attorney, Baytown, Texas

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, provides legal counsel to parents involved in relocation issues, child support and custody matters, divorce, and other family law cases. If you have questions about how to stop your ex from moving away with your child, or other custody, divorce, or family law matters, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

Can Child Support Cover College Education?

As the cost of a college education continues to rise, the question of who pays for college can become an issue during a divorce.

Is it possible in Texas to order child support that will cover the cost of a college education? Some states do extend obligations through the age of 22, but Texas is not one of them. Texas courts will order child support to continue only until the child in question turns 18 and graduates from high school. However, most parents want the best for their children, and that may include you and your spouse coming to an agreement relating to the payment of college tuition, room and board that is college related, and textbooks and other supplies.

You can include this type of an agreement in your divorce decree, and it can be very beneficial for your children to have such an agreement in place. If things change significantly by the time your son or daughter is college age, you can seek a modification of this part of your divorce decree.

Verbal Agreements and College Tuition

If an ex-spouse has said during the marriage that he or she will share college costs for your children, they won’t be held accountable to actually pay them after a divorce. This type of oral agreement made during a marriage is not binding, as it is based on the assumption at the time that the two parents would be living together with the children under one roof. The situation for the two parents has significantly changed, however, since they divorced.

Just writing in the divorce agreement that you and your spouse will share the cost of college isn’t enough either. The agreement needs to be spelled out as clearly as possible despite the fact that the college expenses will occur sometime in the future. Factors to consider when working through a college support agreement during a divorce include, in addition to the tuition and room and board:

  • Anticipated future costs to the extent they can be discerned
  • Names of potential colleges and college locations
  • Types of expenses that would be included, such as for extracurricular activities and travel to visit parents
  • Academic standards the child must maintain
  • Reasons for release from the contract

Questions about Child Support, College and Divorce? Family Law Attorney, Baytown, Texas

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, provides legal counsel to men and women involved in support and custody matters, divorce and other family law cases. If you have questions about developing a college support agreement, a divorce or any other family law matter, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation at a reduced fee of $50, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020.

Communicating With Your Children About Divorce

When parents get divorced, children often suffer. They are the innocents who are generally not even old enough to understand what is happening except they know everything is changing. It may seem like they are losing a parent if one parent moves out of the family home.

However, all is not lost. Children are also by nature incredibly resilient beings, and you can indeed help your child move through this time of transition in a healthy way. Here are some tips on how to communicate with your child about a divorce.

1. See if you and your spouse can agree on basic ground rules that involve being truthful, keeping explanations simple, and providing emotional stability and nurturing to your children during this time. This may mean that you need to drastically step up your own emotional support by going to counseling, seeking out friends and family who can listen to you vent and process your upset.

2. Don’t Tell Them Everything. Keep the inappropriate details to yourself and adult friends. Children don’t need to know the bad things that your spouse did or how hard this is for you. They will also hold it against you as you are sharing with them an adult problem, which can overburden them. They are not emotionally equipped to listen to you share the adult reasons why you are divorcing, no matter how much they act like they are. Help them understand that they will see both of you, and provide reassurance that you will be there for them no matter what.

3. Present a unified front about your divorce with your spouse. Obviously, this is not always possible, but when both you and your soon to be ex can establish clear and mutually agreeable boundaries about how you are going to talk to your children about the divorce, it provides a level of stability for your child. When you and your spouse are on totally different pages and the kids hear conflicting things from each parent, it is very confusing. Don’t do it.

4. Reassure the children that it’s got nothing to do with them. Often children, especially those under the age of seven, will believe that the divorce is their fault. Make sure that children know that It’s not their fault and that “we just grew apart,” or “we don’t get along as a couple,” or something along those lines that has nothing to do with blame.

5. Choose a time to tell the kids when you can emotionally support them through their reaction. Timing is important. If you are upset and tell the kids, they will be upset too. Don’t tell them when they have something important on their plate, either.

6. Get enough support so that you have room in your own self to hear their upsets and their fears. Don’t let their fears upset you. They need you to be present to them. And they may show their upset through difficult behavior. Get support so you can still be loving to them no matter what, setting limits in a loving way but letting them know you will always be there for them no matter what. Continue to convey the message that they are okay and are going to be okay and that all of you will get through this.

7. Be as consistent as possible during this time. Do as much as you can to maintain a regular schedule even if the kids are transitioning between two houses. This physical stability helps support emotional stability.

Visit the HandinHandparenting.org website, an online and on-the-ground community forum with valuable peer-to-peer guidance that is free for parents and will help you address your hurts and those of your children.

Child Custody, Divorce, and Family Law Attorney in Baytown, Texas

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, has provided legal counsel to men and women involved in custody matters, divorce, and other family law cases. If you have questions about divorce or any other family law matter, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

 
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