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Do I need a Divorce Lawyer in Texas?

When you and your spouse decide to end the marriage and initiate a divorce, there are often many matters that need to be resolved. Divorces are very rarely straightforward, and there is usually a lot of back-and-forth discussion and arguing between both parties. Things can get even more complicated when there are children involved or when one or both parties have a lot of assets.

Having strong legal representation is vital when going through a divorce in Texas. Many people are reluctant to hire lawyers as they do not want to tarnish their relationship with their spouse, however, it is important to remember that the final decree of divorce will affect you for the rest of your life.

If you make a decision regarding property division, for example, that does not accurately reflect what you are owed, you may regret this later on in life. Hiring a lawyer does not mean complicating the divorce process, it simply means protecting your best interests.

Texas Divorce Lawyers at The Farias Law Firm

The lawyers at The Farias Law Firm have the experience and skills necessary to help ensure that your rights are protected during divorce proceedings. We have a proven track record of getting our clients positive results and we have a deep understanding of how divorce in Texas works. Our significant experience with family law allows us to help clients through all stages of a divorce, including child custody battles, domestic violence issues, and more.

We understand how tough it can be to go through a divorce, and we want you to feel comfortable and supported by us as your legal representatives. We offer compassionate legal care and are willing to fight aggressively on your behalf if your case requires it. Our focus is on mediation and trying to achieve a positive outcome outside of court. However, if necessary our divorce lawyers will be ready to fight tooth and nail in Texas courts on your behalf.

Call us today at 713-364-3942 to schedule a consultation with a Texas lawyer from our firm.

How Can a Texas Divorce Attorney Help Me?

Going through a divorce can be an emotional and stressful process. Divorces involve a lot of paperwork and patience, which can be quite difficult without the backing of an experienced attorney. Attorneys that have an in-depth understanding of Texas divorce laws and the Texas Family Code can help relieve your stress and guide you through your divorce as smoothly as possible.

They can first do this by helping create a plan for your divorce. They will speak with you about what you want from the divorce, come up with strategies for how to achieve what you want, and help you determine what matters the most. Using their experience and knowledge of the law, they can offer legal advice on important issues such as child support, custody, visitation, property division, asset valuation, spousal support, and more.

Most importantly, your lawyer will be in your corner during your divorce. This means that they will sit down with you, and to try and come up with a divorce decree that works for both of you and your spouse. In these discussions, your attorney will prioritize your best interests, ensure that your legal rights are protected, and help ensure that you do not lose out on property or assets to your ex-spouse.

Reasons For Divorce

In Texas, a person can choose to file for a no-fault or a fault-based divorce. The main difference between these two types of divorce is that “fault-based” puts blame on one spouse for the end of the marriage, whereas “no-fault” implies an amicable decision to separate. If a person chooses to file for divorce based on fault, they must provide proof of the fault to the court.

“Fault” grounds for a Texas divorce can include:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Confinement in a mental hospital
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Cruel treatment
  • Living separate and apart for at least three years

In some cases, a Judge may take the “fault” ground into consideration when making decisions on important matters such as division of property and child custody. For example, if one spouse files for a fault-based divorce on the grounds of adultery, and provides evidence to show that the other spouse was not present in their children’s lives because they were preoccupied with another person, the Judge may take this into consideration in a child custody battle.

As such, if there were issues during the course of the marriage that led you to file for divorce, and you believe these issues should influence the division of property or a child custody arrangement, you may want to consider filing for a fault-based divorce.

Uncontested Divorce vs. Contested Divorce

In addition to fault and no-fault divorces, there are also two different categories of divorce in Texas; contested divorce and uncontested divorce. The primary difference between these two divorce proceedings is whether or not the couple can agree on all important matters. Although uncontested divorces are typically faster and cheaper, it can be difficult to meet all of the requirements.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree on all terms of the divorce decree, including property division, child support and custody arrangements, visitation, and spousal support. Uncontested divorces are sometimes regarded as a an “agreed divorce”. To qualify for an uncontested divorce in Texas, you must meet the following requirements:

  • At least one spouse has resided in Texas for at least 6 months and the county for a period of 90 days before filing for divorce.
  • Both spouses can come to an agreement on the terms of the final decree of divorce, including the division of their assets and debts.
  • If there are children involved, the spouses must agree on child support, visitation and possession, and conservatorship.
  • Neither party can have an open bankruptcy case.
  • Both spouses will cooperate with each other and any lawyers involved in order to get the final decree of divorce approved and submitted to the court.

Many people believe that they can get an uncontested divorce in Texas without a lawyer, and view it as a cheap divorce. However, even if you think that you and your spouse agree on all terms of the divorce, we strongly recommend getting a second opinion l from an experienced lawyer. A signed final decree of divorce can be extremely difficult to modify in the future. As such, all decisions you make in your divorce papers are final and can have negative consequences on your life and your future.

Contested Divorce

Contested divorces are divorce cases that do not satisfy all the requirements of an uncontested divorce. In most cases, the parties involved are unable to come to a mutual agreement on the final decree of divorce. The parties may not agree on the division of marital property, whether spousal maintenance should be granted, child custody arrangements, or child support payments, for example.

When a divorce is contested, it does not necessarily mean that the case needs to be dragged through a Texas courtroom to have important matters decided on by Judges. In most cases, with the help of a good lawyer, the parties are able to come to a fair agreement through effective mediation and negotiation. Typically, attorneys and their clients will sit down on multiple occasions and go through important matters that need to be resolved, until both parties are willing to sign the divorce forms.

In some cases, however, when mediation between spouses does not result in agreements or decisions, parties may decide to bring the case to court. In court, your lawyer will petition on your behalf to ensure that your legal rights are protected, that your voice is heard, and the final decree is just and right.

Issues in the Divorce Process

Divorce in Texas can be quite complex, as there are often many different issues that need to be resolved. This is particularly the case when a marriage has lasted a long time, when there are a lot of assets and property, or when there are children involved. When going through a divorce, it is important to hire an attorney that has a deep understanding of all family law matters and can help ensure that your final decree of divorce is in your best interests.

Child Custody

Divorce can be particularly tough on any children involved in the relationship. Often, there are disagreements between spouses as to what is in the best interests of the child. When couples argue over child custody, it is easy to get caught up in personal opinions and judgments and forget about what is best for their children. The job of a Judge and a good lawyer is to prioritize the best interests of the child.

This means helping you come to an arrangement that works for you and your partner and supports healthy development for the children involved. There are three main types of child custody arrangements that are granted in Texas:

Joint Managing Conservatorship

Joint managing conservatorship, or joint custody, is the default custody arrangement in Texas. Under joint custody, both parents will have a custodial role, and both parents will have periods of possession and access (visitation) with the child. In this arrangement, both parents have a say on important decisions in a child’s life, such as medical decisions and education. This arrangement is typically granted by the Judge in most cases unless there are reasons to show that this arrangement would not benefit the child.

With a joint custody arrangement, one parent usually becomes the primary conservator, taking care of the child during the week, and the other parent has visitation rights to see the child. The primary conservator typically receives child support from the other parent, which must be calculated according to Texas guidelines.

Sole Managing Conservatorship

Sole managing conservatorship, or sole custody, is when one parent has custody of the child and retains the right to make all decisions concerning the child’s life, including their education, medical care, and religion. Most Judges are reluctant to grant sole custody arrangements, and will only do so if it can be shown that a joint custody arrangement would negatively impact the child.

Some examples of where a sole custody arrangement is preferable for a child include:

  • Domestic violence
  • Substance abuse
  • Child abuse

If you believe a sole conservatorship is in the best interests of your child, you will need to submit a petition to the Judge and provide evidence proving why the other parent should not be named as a joint managing conservator of the children. We strongly recommend hiring one of our divorce attorneys if you are trying to fight for a sole custody arrangement.

Possessory Conservatorship

Possessory conservatorship gives rights to one parent to visit or access their child however does not extend to the right to make important decisions in their lives. Typically, a possessory conservatorship is awarded to the other parent in a sole custody arrangement or a grandparent under certain circumstances.

The rights of a possessory conservator include:

  • Access to information about the child including their dental, medical, and educational records.
  • Ability to learn about the child’s well-being, how their education is going, and their health status.
  • Visiting the child and attending activities they are involved in such as school activities and sports events.

Child Support

When parents come to a child custody arrangement, which is usually joint custody, one parent will have primary custody of the children. This places the obligation of paying child support on the parent that does not have primary custody. Usually, when parents live together, they share costs relating to the child, for education, clothing, food, and extracurricular activities. However, when they separate, the other parent must pay child support to provide daily support for the minor children.

Courts in Texas typically follow Child Support Guidelines when deciding on the amount of child support. These guidelines provide that the child support amount will be based on a percentage of  the “net income” of the parent that is required to pay child support. The Child Support Guidelines can be quite complex, however, and we recommend hiring a family law attorney that can help assess the amount of child support you may be owed or that you may owe.

Spousal Support

Spousal support is the payment of funds from one spouse to support the other spouse. The requirements needed to obtain spousal support in Texas are among the most strict in the country. There are very limited avenues for obtaining spousal support, and the party who is seeking support must prove the following:

  • Petitioner is the spouse of the paying party; 
  • Petitioner lacks property or the ability to earn sufficient funds to meet their minimum reasonable e needs; and meets one of the four statutory bases for spousal maintenance
    • The marriage lasted for at least 10 years, and they are unable to earn enough money to support their basic needs.
    • Petitioner has been the victim of domestic violence by their spouse
    • Petitioner is disabled
    • Petitioner has has custody of a child or children that require specialized care due to a physical or mental disability.

If you can prove the above requirements, you may be eligible to receive spousal support from your soon to be ex-spouse. However, the maximum amount of spousal support that can be awarded in Texas is the lesser of $5,000 or 20% of your spouse’s average monthly gross income. You will need to come to a spousal support arrangement with your ex-partner using the help of your lawyer.

Property Division

When it comes to property division, Texas is a ‘just and right division’, or community property state. This means that there is a distinction between property obtained during the course of the marriage (community property) and property obtained before the marriage, by gift, by devise or descent (separate property). As such, assets are generally divided equitably, rather than equally. In most cases, this does not mean an equal 50/50 division of property, and the court will look at a number of different factors to determine what a just and right division is for your case.

The factors the Judge may look at include your earning potential, the sacrifices made for the marriage and family, if you are currently in debt, and whether there was any fault for the breakup of the marriage, including if one spouse committed adultery. Although the law provides that community property shall be divided equally by default, the Judge may consider these factors when deciding how the property should be divided.

Property division is often the trickiest part of a divorce for many couples, particularly if both spouses have different ideas about who has ownership. Hiring an experienced lawyer can help ensure that you get a fair share of the property, that you do not lose out on property acquired before a marriage, and that your legal rights are protected.

High-Asset Divorce

The division of marital property and assets can get quite complicated when one or both parties have a lot of high-value assets. During the division of property, both parties will need to assess the value of the assets being divided, which could include family business, retirement benefits, real estate, stocks, and valuable collector items.

If it is community property, it is important to ensure that the evaluation is correct, as an undervaluation could result in you losing out on assets. Further, the value placed on assets could effect the amount of child support and spousal support that should be granted in your divorce case.

Domestic Violence

If you were the victim of domestic violence throughout the course of your relationship, it is vital that you can navigate through your divorce proceedings feeling safe and secure. As a victim of domestic violence, the most important thing is to ensure that you and your children are in a place of safety and are no longer at risk of being harmed by your ex-spouse.

At The Farias Law Firm, we want to help you in any way we can to rebuild your life and ensure that you are no longer in danger. Our lawyers can help you apply for a protective order to keep your spouse away, bring a criminal case against them if they have violated a protective order, and take care of all divorce matters on your behalf. If you believe that your children are also at risk of harm by your ex-spouse, we can help fight for sole custody on your behalf.

Divorce FAQs

Divorce in Texas can be quite a confusing process. Most of the clients that come into our office have a lot of questions regarding the divorce process, including what it entails and the length of time it takes. Below we have provided the answers to some frequently asked questions we receive in our law firm.

What is a No-Fault Divorce?

Previously, Texas law only allowed for divorces when one spouse could prove valid “grounds” for divorce, such as adultery or cruel treatment. Nowadays, however, the law does not require that spouses must have “grounds” for divorce, and most couples decide to have a no-fault divorce.

With a no-fault divorce, the main ground is “insupportability” which means that one or both spouses believe that the marriage is no longer supportable due to differences in personalities and beliefs. Because of these differences, there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation between the couple.

No-fault divorces are the most common type of divorce in Texas, as they do not require one spouse to prove that the other spouse was at fault for the divorce. Whether the parties divorce is a no-fault divorce or not, spouses will still need to resolve important matters such as child custody, child support payments, and division of community property.  They can resolve their disputes by reaching their own agreements or letting the court decide.

How Long Does The Divorce Process Take in Texas?

Each divorce in Texas is different, and the amount of time it takes for a divorce to finalize depends on a number of different factors. These factors can include whether it was a contested or uncontested divorce, whether there are a lot of assets involved, whether there are children involved, and the type of relationship that exists between the spouses.

Once the original petition for divorce is signed and delivered to the court clerk, there is a cooling-off period of 60 days. Once this 60-day period has finished, the final decree of divorce can be granted. However, most divorce cases go on for much longer than 60 days, particularly when there are contested issues. Hiring a good attorney can help speed up the divorce as they will be able to submit divorce paperwork on time, help you come to an agreement quicker, mediate to resolve issues on your behalf, and work to get a court hearing as quickly as possible.

What Steps Are in The Divorce Process?

Most divorces in Texas go through around six stages before the final decree is handed down. The amount of time each stage takes depends mostly on the parties involved and the particular circumstances of the case. The typical stages of a divorce include:

  1. Initiation – One or both spouses file the divorce petition with the district clerk in the District Court or County Court. They will pay the filing fee to the district clerk’s office, and if the spouse has to be served with the divorce petition, you may have to pay an issuance fee.
  2. Waiting period and petition response – The other party has until 10:00 a.m. on the Monday following 20 days to respond to the original petition for divorce. If there were allegations of fault made in the divorce petition, the other spouse will be able to dispute these allegations.
  3. Temporary orders – A court hearing is set up to discuss important matters regarding the divorce and to set up rules for the divorce duration. Things discussed during a temporary orders court hearing may include who has primary custody of the children, who gets to keep the family home, visitation rights, and who pays for shared bills.
  4. Settlement negotiations – This stage is focused on mediation and negotiation. Both parties should come together with their attorneys to try and agree on important matters relating to their divorce.
  5. Trial – In the event that both parties were unable to come to an amicable agreement on important issues during the negotiations stage, they may choose to bring the case to trial. During a trial, the Judge will decide on issues such as child support, child custody, property division, and visitation rights.  Under limited circumstances certain issues can be submitted to a jury in family law matters.
  6. The final decree of divorce – Whether achieved through mediation or a trial, the last court appearance will hand down the final decree for your divorce. Each spouse signs the final decree which should give a final decision on all matters that were contested during the divorce.

If you and your spouse have filed for an uncontested divorce, the process will involve fewer steps and will be a lot quicker. However, it is important that you consult with an experienced attorney before filing for an uncontested divorce to ensure that all agreements you made with your spouse protect your best interests.

Can I Modify a Divorce Decree?

Often, circumstances change significantly after a divorce, and one or both parties may want to modify the divorce decree. For example, one spouse may remarry and have children or another spouse could get a new job that requires them to move to another state or country. As such, you may want to try and modify a divorce decree, or elements of it, such as child support arrangements, spousal support agreements, or visitation schedules.

If you want to modify a divorce decree, you will need to file a new case in court. This means creating a new order with the preferred terms and entering this agreement into the court record. The new order you enter will replace the provisions of the original divorce decree. 

Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer in Texas?

Often, people believe that a divorce in Texas without a lawyer is the best way to save money and get it finalized as quickly as possible. However, in reality, having a lawyer often reduces the amount of money you lose through a divorce and speeds up the process significantly. Divorce lawyers have significant experience handling divorces and know how to ensure that your rights are protected and the process is as smooth as possible.

Firstly, your lawyer will ensure that any agreement you achieve with your spouse protects your best interests. Often, when emotions are high, people want to get the process over as soon as possible and do not think about the consequences of a divorce decree. However, signing off an agreement to give away property or pay 20% of your salary in spousal support will have an impact on the rest of your life. A good attorney will ensure that you do not lose out on money due to an inequitable divorce decree.

In addition, your attorney will handle all divorce forms and paperwork on your behalf. This means reading through the legal documentation, filling out divorce papers, and ensuring that they are submitted to the court on time. Often, divorce takes longer because information on divorce forms is incorrect or paperwork was not submitted to the court clerk on time. Your attorney will ensure that the process is not dragged on because of paperwork.

Contact The Farias Law Firm Today!

If you are going through a divorce in Texas, it is important that you hire an attorney that protects your legal rights and offers compassionate care. At The Farias Law Firm, we understand how difficult it is to go through a divorce, and we want to do everything that we can to help guide you smoothly through this process. Our law practice is dedicated to helping clients get the results they deserve and we pride ourselves on being problem solvers.

When it comes to your divorce, our lawyers will help you throughout all stages, including offering strong legal guidance, advising you on Texas law, coming up with a plan for your future, helping with divorce papers, mediating on your behalf, and protecting your legal rights. Our clients describe our attorneys as being patient, tenacious, hardworking, and smart, and we stand strongly by our attorney-client relationship.

If you want to discuss your case with us and figure out if we are the right attorneys for you, you can call us at 713-364-3942 and schedule an initial consultation.