Family Law FAQ

The information contained on this web site is general in nature and is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal analysis or legal advice about your situation. You should not act or rely on the information contained on this site without obtaining appropriate professional advice.


What is an Uncontested Divorce?

The term "uncontested divorce" has no real legal meaning, but traditionally refers to cases where the parties have negotiated all of the issues involved in the case, including all issues about their children, property and debt division.


It may be difficult for the client to anticipate what issues must be covered and negotiated without the guidance of an attorney, but once the client understands what things must be settled and included in a Final Decree of Divorce, it is possible for parties to work through all of these concerns.


Negotiating your own divorce is not a method that is right for everyone, and should not be undertaken without the guidance and consultation of an attorney to fully understand your rights and duties as well as the traps and liabilities that will certainly be involved.


What is Joint Custody?

In Texas we do not have a legal definition of "Joint Custody" but rather refer to the legal parameters for the care and control of children as "conservatorship".


A Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC) is presumed to be in best interest of a child, but is not always decreed by the Courts. Certain circumstances, like violence or abuse, clearly do not warrant JMC status. JMC does not mean that your child will live 50% of the time with you and 50% of the time with your spouse. Rather, it is a situation where the Court sets out the relative rights, duties and responsibilities of each parent for the care and control of children. As a general rule, under a JMC situation, one party will have the exclusive right to establish the primary home for the child and the other party will see that child frequently and under a regular schedule, but both parties will have the right to be involved in the child's school activities, extracurricular activities and medical care.


What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process whereby the parties to a dispute are aided in reaching a settlement by a trained professional. Generally mediators are lawyers, but there are some mediators that are lay people trained in the issues most crucial to the parties in a family law dispute. In Harris County and the surrounding counties mediation is conducted, most frequently, after the family law suit is filed and is under way and involves the attorneys and parties in a one day session of settlement negotiation.


Parties also have the option of employing a mediator before they file suit or attending mediation without their attorneys. This method may not be recommended for all clients but can be very useful to some.


Will You Make My Spouse Pay For Your Fees?

The short answer is No, but in certain instances only one party has access to marital funds and so we may ask the Court to order the other party to distribute funds to us in order to properly represent you.


Even in that instance, the client is the person who is ultimately responsible for his or her representation.f5eacf In the end, the Court may order one party to reimburse the other party for funds expended for legal representation.


How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

That sort of question is similar to "How much does a car cost?” Well, it depends on the car and it depends on the divorce. We bill our clients on an hourly basis and so if your case requires fewer attorney and staff hours, the cost will be less than the person whose case needs greater attention and time. In some ways you may be able to control the amount of time your case requires, but there are certain tasks that may be unavoidable or simply are required for our office to properly represent you.


Can You Represent Both My Spouse And Me?

No, an attorney cannot represent more than one party to a dispute of any kind.


In certain cases, the other party may decide to not seek representation, and that is their choice. At times our clients will have done a complete job of negotiating their case with their spouse on their own, and we are happy to incorporate that agreement into an enforceable order to be presented to a Judge for approval. If the other party wishes to review and approve the agreement without counsel, that again is their choice, but our office will offer no advice or counsel to the other party.


How Long Does It Take To Finalize A Divorce?

In accordance with Texas Laws, a waiting period of 60 days is required. However, the divorce may take longer if the parties are trying to work out the terms of the divorce, such as custody of children, child support, property division, etc. If an agreement is not reached, either party may schedule a hearing at any time after the 60 day waiting period.


Who Will Get Custody Of The Children?

Both parents should agree on which party will get primary custody and which will get visitation. If both parties are unable to come to an agreement a judge will rule based on the evidence presented and the best interest of the children. Both parents have the same legal rights to the children until there is a court hearing. Until that hearing, each parent has the right to be with the children. Your divorce pleading can request a temporary restraining order to be issued by the court that will forbid the parents from changing the children residence or hiding them from the other parent. However a temporary restraining order does not award anyone custody.


What Happens To Our Property?

When it comes to divorce, Texas recognize property between a husband and wife as community property. This means that both you and your spouse have an undivided one half interest in all the property that you've acquired and the income you've earned during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the ownership papers or who earned the most money. Basically, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the property deemed as community property will be divided equally (50-50) by the court in most cases.


What Is Separate Property?

Generally, separate property is property that was either owned by the spouse before marriage, acquired by gift / inheritance, or certain kinds of recoveries for personal injuries. What is community property? All property acquired during marriage by either spouse is presumed to be community property, and a spouse who asserts that particular property is separate property must prove its sole ownership.


How Is Child Support Calculated?

Every state establishes numerical child support guidelines. Child support is based on a percentage to the non-custodial parent's income. It is from this percentage that the child support is calculated. The percent of net resources will be 20% for 1 child, 25% for 2 children, 30% for 3 children, 35% for 4 children, and 40% for 5 children. There are caps and other considerations on child support amounts that may affect some individual payors.


Are There Any Requirements To Getting A Divorce In Texas?

A suit for divorce may not be maintained in this state unless at the time the suit is filed either the petitioner or the respondent has been: a domiciliary of this state for the preceding six-month period; and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90-day period.


What Are The Grounds For A Divorce?

Texas law recognizes both "no-fault” and "fault” divorces. A no fault divorce is a divorce that is granted without the spouse who initiates the divorce having to allege and provide marital misconduct on the part of the other spouse. On the other hand, a fault based divorce is a type of divorce in which the spouse who initiates the divorce provides a very specific reason for the divorce such as cruelty, adultery, conviction of a felony, abandonment, living apart, or confinement in a mental hospital. Reasons for choosing to do a "no fault” vs. a "fault” divorce is with fault divorces, if one party is at "fault" for the breakup of the marriage, the court may take that into consideration in determining what is an "equitable" division of the property. For that reason, the other spouse may want to plead fault grounds in their petition. Otherwise, insupportability would be the grounds for divorce for those opting to do a "no-fault” divorce. Declaring insupportability renders a finding of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.


After The Divorce, What Happens To My Last Name?

You may rest your last name at the time of the divorce without additional charges. It must be stated in your divorce decree. Please note that a change of your name does not release you from liability incurred by you under a previous name or defeat a right you held under a previous name..


If My Spouse Is Pregnant Can I Still File For Divorce?

Yes, you can still file for divorce but you will not be able to finalize the process until the child is born and a determination of paternity is made. This delay allows the court to include the appropriate order for visitation and child support if applicable. If you have additional questions or require more information, please contact us.