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Family Law

Family cases comprise of the following types of cases: divorce, custody, modifications of orders, such as child support, custody and visitation arrangements. In Texas, it takes a minimum of 60 days to get a divorce, however, this period can be prolonged due to other matters intertwined in the divorce process. These matters may involve custody and conservatorship, marital property, spousal support, or just bitterness preventing the parties from negotiating a compromise.

USEFUL FAMILY LAW TERMS
Alimony (Spousal Maintenance)
Although actually awarded in only a small percentage of Texas divorces, the court has the right to order one spouse to pay the other post-divorce maintenance if certain criteria are met.

Child Support
Parents in Texas must support their child until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first. The parents may stop providing support if the child gets married or dies. The Texas Family Code has child support guidelines which recommend that the non-custodial parent pay a certain percentage of his or her net resources in child support. The court calculates the appropriate amount of support from each parent by looking at statutory guidelines

Conservatorship
In Texas, the terminology for �custody� is �conservatorship.� Conservatorship can be joint or sole. The determination is based on the best interest of the child. The court will do its best to ensure that parents share in the rights and duties of raising their child together. However, if there is a history of family violence or abuse in the home, then the court may award the abusive parent visitation only if it finds that the child would not be endangered or if there are orders for the protection of the child. The parents may make an agreement for child custody outside of court, but it�s subject to the court�s approval.

Community Property
Community property is all property (including income) other than separate property which has been acquired by either spouse during the marriage.
Community or Separate
In Texas, all property owned at the time a divorce is filed is presumed to be community property. Often the parties are in dispute on whether the nature of the property is community or separate because separate property is not part of the marital estate and cannot be divided by the court.

Divorce
Texas is a no-fault divorce state which means that it is not necessary to show that either party was at fault in order to obtain a divorce. It is only necessary to show that there is marital discord and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation. However, many fault issues (adultery, cruelty, etc.) are frequently relevant factors in divorce cases because they can have an impact on how the community property is divided, or how custody is decided.

Division of Property
Texas is a community property state. This means that at the time of divorce, the judge will divide the marital property equally between the two spouses, considering the rights of the spouses and any children of the marriage. The spouses may have separate property, which is not subject to division at divorce, but remains the property of the spouse who owns it. Generally, each spouse is entitled to fifty percent of all community property upon divorce. However, courts can award a disproportionate share of property to a spouse due to the other spouses fault in the breakup of the marriage. We will help you determine if fault is a factor in your divorce.

Modification
Under Texas law, there are limited circumstances in which a parent can modify a child custody or visitation order. Such a change will be made by the court if it is in the best interests of the child, and: the circumstances of the child or parent have materially and substantially changed since the original child custody order or agreement, the child is at least 12 years old and has told the court in chambers that the child wants a change, or the custodial parent has voluntarily given the child's care and custody to another person.

Marital Estate
The Marital Estate is all property owned by the spouses including separate property and community property. Separate Property A spouse's separate property consists of property owned by that spouse prior to the marriage. It also includes gifts or inheritance acquired after the marriage, proceeds from a will and can also include awards received for person injury claims (with certain exceptions).

Standard Possession Order (Visitation Schedule)
The Standard Possession Order is a detailed statute that sets forth the visitation schedule if the parents do not otherwise agree. Most divorces involving children name one parent as the primary Joint Managing Conservator and grant the other parent (also a Joint Managing Conservator) "Standard Possession Order" visitation. The visitation schedule is detailed in Texas Family Code Section 153.312.

Temporary Orders
Temporary orders lay down the ground rules until the divorce is final. Temporary orders are issued by a court, after either a hearing or an agreement by the parties. They are also often referred to as "band aid" orders and can be very effective in testing the waters to see how well the parties cooperate. Temporary orders commonly address issues such as child support, custody and visitation of the children, exclusive use of the marital residence, exclusive use of vehicles, alimony, and interim attorney�s fees.

USEFUL FAMILY LAW LINKS
Texas Attorney General Child Support Division https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/index.shtml
Texas Family Code Chapter 153 http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/FA/htm/FA.153.htm