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Divorce in Texas—Some Basic Questions

Texas Divorce Law—The Basics

Whether you are filing or have been served with a complaint for divorce in Texas, you’ll have a lot of questions about the process. Here are some answers to basic questions.

How Long Does the Process Take?

It’s difficult to say with any certainty how long your divorce will take, as each situation is unique. If you can work amicably with your ex, you can come to agreement on issues related to custody, visitation, support and property fairly quickly. Under no circumstances, though, can a divorce be finalized during the 60 day period following the filing of a complaint.

Does Texas Recognize a Right to Alimony?

As more and more couples involve both working spouses, the need for alimony or spousal support has declined, but the concept still exists in Texas. Though the application of the principle is limited, an ex-spouse can petition the court for some level of support if he or she does not have the capacity to be self-supporting, or cannot take care of his or her own basic needs. Alimony may be:

  • Temporary—for a stated time, allowing the recipient to move toward self-sufficiency
  • Rehabilitative—paid until such time as the recipient becomes self-sufficient
  • Permanent—paid until the death or remarriage of the recipient

How Is Property Divided?

Texas is a community property state, which means that all property and debt acquired during the marriage is divided equally, with very few exceptions. Conversely, all property brought into the marriage is considered separate property and customarily goes back to the party who originally owned it.

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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Texas Divorce Law—The Basics

Texas-Divorce-Law-The-Basics

Your marriage is in trouble and you are considering filing for divorce in Texas. Here are some important things to understand.

Eligibility to File in Texas

Texas won’t have jurisdiction of your divorce complaint unless you or your ex-to-be have lived in the state for at least six months immediately prior to the filing of the divorce complaint. In addition, at least one of you must have resided in the county where you file for a minimum of 90 days.

These requirements apply to military personnel, too. Though there’s no requirement that you lived in Texas before your assignment there, you must have been on active duty at a base in the state for six months prior to your filing.

The Different Types of Filings

Like all other states, Texas offers no-fault divorce, where you simply have to indicate that you had irreconcilable differences. However, you can also allege fault, which may give you advantage in custody, support or property determinations. The factors that can be stated as cause for divorce in Texas include:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Physical or mental cruelty
  • Confinement to a mental hospital

Child Support, Child Custody and Visitation

Child support is calculated using a state-established formula, taking into account all income of all parties. The court always has the discretion to amend the order, based on the needs of the child and a parent’s ability to pay/provide. Custody and visitation are based primarily on the best interests of the child, but the Texas courts favor involvement by and regular contact with both parents.

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

Texas Divorce Laws — An Overview

Divorce in Texas—An Overview

Before you think seriously about getting a divorce in Texas, it’s a good idea to learn as much about the process as you can. Here’s an overview of divorce in Texas.

Qualifying to File in Texas

Like most states, Texas requires that you have a minimum period of residency in the state before you can file for divorce. At least one of the parties to a divorce action in Texas must have lived in the state for the six month period immediately preceding the filing. This applies to military personnel as well. As a soldier, you need not have been a resident of Texas before being stationed there, but you must have served at one of the state’s military installations for a minimum of six months before the divorce action is filed.

In addition, at least one of the parties to the divorce must have resided in the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days immediately prior to the filing of the complaint.

Grounds for Filing

Although you don’t need to state grounds for filing—Texas allows no-fault divorce—doing so can gain you some advantage in property distribution and alimony determinations. Texas allows a party to file an at-fault-based divorce complaint for the following reasons:

  • The other spouse committed adultery
  • The other spouse engaged in physical or mental cruelty
  • The other spouse was convicted of a felony, has served at least one year in the penitentiary in Texas or another state, and has not been pardoned.
  • The other spouse is confined to a mental hospital for at least three years
  • The other spouse has abandoned the marriage or the marital partner

Alimony or Spousal Support

A Texas court has the discretion to award spousal support on a limited basis. The court may grant temporary or permanent alimony, based on a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, the earning capacity of the parties, and any evidence of domestic violence or abuse.

Child Custody, Visitation and Support

In Texas, decisions that affect minor children must give priority to the best interests of the child. Child support is generally calculated using a state formula, but the court may amend the amount to be paid, based on the needs of the child and the ability of the parents to provide. Texas courts encourage agreements that allow minor children to have regular and meaningful contact with both parents. The parties may agree to the terms of custody and visitation, but the court may impose different conditions if they believe doing so is in the best interests of the child.

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 Consequences of Lying to Your Children in a Divorce

It Doesn’t Pay to Lie to Your Children

The Consequences of Lying to Your Children in a DivorceMost parents would agree with the statement that it’s not a good thing to lie to your children. Unfortunately, most research shows that children learn to lie by observing their parents. Often, the parent who doesn’t tell his or her child the truth is acting out of perceived attempts to protect the child. A parent may worry that the child lacks the resources to fully understand an issue, and may tell the child that nothing’s wrong, when it’s clear that something is. The message to the child—it’s okay to lie in certain situations. The other potential side-effect of not telling your child the truth—he or she may start to doubt his or her perceptions or may stop trusting you.

So does that mean you reveal all the gory details of everything in your life to your child. No, say experts. For example, if you are upset about something and it’s apparent to your child, you may get the question, “Are you okay?” “I’m fine” is clearly not an honest answer. But you don’t have to disclose the full nature of your unhappiness. It can be enough to say to your child, “Thanks for noticing that I am upset. I will be okay. I just need to take care of some things.”

It’s also healthy to help you children understand that sadness and disappointment are part of life. If you acknowledge to your child that something makes you sad, but you have the ability to move forward, you child will learn that the same approach is possible for them. And when you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to admit it to your child. It will encourage them to be candid with you when they’ve done something wrong.

A common misperception is that kids don’t know what’s going on unless you tell them. The reality is that kids are far more sensitive to changes in routine, tone of voice, level of confidence and happiness than they are usually given credit for. They know when mom and dad aren’t talking to each other, or even when they are being testy with each other. They know something is different if you are a parent of divorce and you have a new girlfriend or boyfriend, even if you haven’t told them.

Contact Stewart Law, PLLC

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 10 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

Ending Child Support

How Do You End Child Support Obligations?

Whether you are in the middle of a divorce proceeding or your divorce was final years ago, if there are minor children involved, one of the key questions will be how and when the obligation to pay child support ends. Most people assume that it terminates once your child reaches the age of 18, but that’s not necessarily the case. The laws vary from state to state, and the parties can have a say in when support ends. In addition, support may be terminated if your child becomes “emancipated” or may be extended if your child becomes disabled and unable to meet his or her obligations.

The Law in Texas

How Do You End Child Support Obligations?Under Texas law, you generally have to pay child support until your child’s 18th birthday or until he or he graduates from high school, whichever comes later. The obligation to pay child support does not end automatically, though. The existing child support order must be terminated by the court or must be superseded by a new support order. Accordingly, you should review your child support order and determine when it is scheduled to end. You should also notify the state’ child support enforcement agency in advance when you believe that your child support obligation is about to expire.

The Effect of Emancipation on Child Support

One of the purposes of child support is to allow the custodial parent to cover expenses related to providing a home for the child. If your child becomes self-supporting, or takes other actions that constitute emancipation, your support obligation may be terminated. Other actions that qualify as emancipation include marriage, joining the military, or permanently leaving the custodial parent’s home.

Contact Stewart Law, PLLC

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 10 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

Guidelines for Social Media Use during Divorce

Social Media and Divorce: Playing It Smart

Guidelines for Social Media Use during DivorceIf social media is a big part of your life, you have likely used it to share information about nearly every aspect of your life, and to keep friends and family up to date on how you are doing. But if you are going through a divorce, you need to be very careful about what you say and how you appear online. Here are some strategies to avoid potential problems through social media during a divorce.

  • Don’t use social media to air dirty laundry, vent against your ex or try to gain favor in your divorce proceeding. The old adage “anything you say can and will be used against you in court”—it applies to what you say on Facebook, too.
  • Create separate circles—If you have “friends” on Facebook who might share with your ex, put them in a separate circle and don’t share private information with them.
  • Consider that almost anything you do may be used against you—Need to post pictures of yourself at a concert or bar, or out shopping? Think about how it might play in court. Could your ex use it against you, perhaps to support an argument that you had substance abuse issues or that you were financially irresponsible.
  • Think about your safety—If you have been in an abusive relationship, you may want to keep a low profile. Posting pictures of yourself at a favorite hangout can tip your ex off as to where he or she can find you.

The best approach, though, is to simply be willing to close your social media accounts until your divorce is final. You may wonder how you can do it, but people have actually been able to communicate with each other for thousands of years before the advent of the Internet. It will assure that nothing you say or do on social media will come back to harm you.

Contact Stewart Law, PLLC

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 10 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

Change Your Will after a Divorce

Change Your Will after a Divorce

Change Your Will after a DivorceIn the midst of the many emotions that come with divorce, one of the last things you often think about is what will happen to your property in the event of your death. But you need to attend to it as soon as possible. If you have put a will or trust in place, naming your soon-to-be ex as the beneficiary, there’s a good chance they will inherit a part of your estate, should something happen to you. If you don’t specifically name your ex-spouse, but simply state that you leave certain property to “my spouse,” your property may ultimately go to others (since your ex is no longer your spouse), but your heirs could face a long and expensive battle to accomplish that end.

Tear Up the Existing Will or Trust

The simplest way to invalidate the terms of a will or trust is to destroy it. When you execute a will or trust, you will have only one authentic copy of the document—the one with your original signature on it. Typically, you’ll put it in a safe deposit box or leave it with your attorney for safekeeping. If you tear up the document, it should no longer be binding. However, if others don’t know of your intent to revoke the will, a copy may potentially be used to show your intent. The other potential problem with simply revoking or tearing up your existing will—if you die, your estate will pass under laws of intestacy.

Your best move, then, is to prepare and execute a new will or trust, one that specifically revokes all prior wills and trusts. You can use one of the many simple will forms found online—provided they comply with the formality requirements of your state. You are generally best-served, though, by hiring an attorney to prepare and execute a new will for you.

Contact Stewart Law, PLLC

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 10 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

Divorce, Children’s College Costs and Texas Law: What Are Your Rights as a Parent?

Divorce and the Costs of a Child’s College Education in Texas

As a noncustodial parent, you want to give your child all the opportunities that you can, and you want to do your best to ensure that their financial needs are met. The important question, though, is when your support should end. You may want your child to attend college, as you expect that it will better prepare them for success in today’s world. But should payment of college expenses be ordered by the court? Should you agree to pay child support until they complete college?

Texas Law Governing the Duration of Child Support

Under Texas statutes, a noncustodial parent must pay child support until the child becomes a legal adult at the age of 18. The court has the discretion to order that support continue until the child graduates from high school, if the child reaches the age of 18 before graduation. The court can also establish in a support order that support will terminate if the child becomes emancipated for any other reason, such as marriage, military service or moving out on his or her own.

The Texas courts, however, do not have the authority to order child support beyond age 18 or high school graduation, except in limited circumstances. For example, if a child is physically or mentally impaired and cannot function as an adult, the court may order support for an indefinite period of time.

The parties to a divorce may, of their own accord, agree to the extension of child support beyond what the law permits, or they may agree to share the costs of a college education. However, the court always has the discretion to review the proposed agreement and determine whether it was entered into willingly by both parties. If the court determines that there was undue influence or duress, such an agreement may be thrown out.

Questions About Divorce, Children’s College Costs and Texas Law: What Are Your Rights as a Parent? 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 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.

 
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