In many ways, family law is exactly what it sounds like. We deal with issues related to the family and domestic relationships. This includes divorce and the division of property, custody of children and child support and alimony. We also help create prenuptial and postnuptial agreements that protect individual property within a marriage and represent clients in matters of child paternity, adoption, guardianship and visitation.
While the idea of saving money on legal representation is tempting, it can often end up costing you more. The law is complex, and if you don’t know the ins and outs, it can be a nightmare. Your case can be thrown off course by misfiled paperwork, incorrect forms or a lack of knowledge of your rights. And in the case of family law, where emotions run high, doing it yourself is even more difficult. When you hire a Texas attorney, you’re getting an experienced professional to advocate for you. We know the processes, the requirements and, most importantly, the law. We will fight at every turn to make sure that the best interests of you and your family are protected. In short, hiring a lawyer ensures you have knowledge on your side.
Every case comes with a unique set of circumstances, and in some instances, like the mandatory waiting period between filing for divorce and its approval, the law requires a specific span of time to pass. That said, we will always do our best to achieve your desired resolution as quickly as possible. We know that legal proceedings are stressful and getting back to life is important. So while we can’t guarantee that navigating the legal system is always speedy, we can promise, from the initial consultation, to be direct and forthcoming when discussing the timeline of your case.
As with the length of the case, cost varies depending on the complexity of your individual case. For example, an uncontested divorce, in which both parties agree on all issues, will cost less than a high-conflict divorce, in which spouses are in opposition. This difference is due to the time spent on the case, from gathering and reviewing evidence to the actual trial. We do promise to always be upfront and fair with regard to our fee structure.
Yes, you can hire a lawyer to get assistance with necessary documents and forms, prepare for an upcoming hearing or simply for legal advice.
The grounds for your divorce may be marital fault, which includes adultery, cruelty, abandonment and felony conviction. In the cases of abandonment and felony conviction, the spouse must have been absent or imprisoned for at least one year.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a method by which divorce disagreements can be resolved out of court. ADR can be faster and less expensive than standard divorce proceedings. Some common ADR formats include negotiation between spouses and their representation, the use of a skilled mediator to help spouses reach agreement and the use of a mutually agreed-upon arbiter to review and decide upon evidence.
Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is subject to very specific legal restrictions. If you’ve been married for more than 10 years, support may be sought by a spouse unable to meet minimum reasonable needs due to a disability, the need to care for a child with a disability or a lack of earning ability. There is generally a limit to the amount and duration of maintenance payments.
Texas is a community property state, which means that most property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be jointly owned (community property) and should be divided in a just and right manner during the divorce. In many cases, doubt over a property’s ownership may result in that property being classified as community property.
While Texas law usually categorizes property based on the time of acquisition (before or during marriage), separate property can be established using multiple criteria, including whether it was owned by one spouse prior to marriage, gained by one spouse during marriage under certain circumstances (such as a gift) or received for the personal injury of one spouse during marriage. The determination of community property vs. separate property can become complex, but legal representation can help decide where proper evidence exists to prove ownership.
Custody is based on what is in the best interests of the child. While mediation is the preferred method for determining custody arrangements, custody can be decided by a court if parents are unable to reach an agreement. Joint custody is usually considered best, but the court will take many factors into account. The court-ordered arrangement, including the visitation rights of a parent who does not gain custody, is legally binding and enforceable.
Child support is meant to aid a child’s caretakers in providing adequate food, clothing, shelter and education. In the state of Texas, child support is determined by a judge and there is no minimum requirement. While parents may agree upon an arrangement, that arrangement must still be approved by a judge on the basis of the child’s best interests in order to be legally binding.
If an individual repeatedly fails to make required payments for child support, the law provides a range of penalties, including the garnishment of wages, property liens, license suspension and even jail time.
A petition to stop child support payments can be filed under specific conditions. In Texas, these conditions include when your child reaches the age of 18 (unless your child has certain special needs), if your child is financially independent (emancipated), if your child passes away or if you discover the child is not biologically yours.