What Rights do I have as an Immigrant in a Texas Divorce?

It is not uncommon for married couples to move. Sometimes the move means just changing neighborhoods in the same city, and is a short drive away. Sometimes a move is to a totally different state. That was the case for my parents on more than one occasion they started out in Texas then moved to Colorado, to North Dakota, and back to Texas.

For still others a move may be to a totally different country. Texas and Houston especially are full of married couples from all over the United States and the World. We have handles divorces in which the marriages between couples took place in many different parts of the world. In Texas in most cases it does not matter whether one or both parties have immigrated to the United States or whether one or both partners are an American citizen.

Texas Divorce Filing Requirements

The only requirements to file for divorce in Texas is that:

  1. one party be a resident of Texas for 6 months or 180 days before your eligible to file for divorce.
  2. You or your spouse must have resided in the County where you are going to be filed for at least 90 days.

Immigrants Status in a Texas Divorce?

We have observed that an immigrant often has no idea what their rights are in Texas. Sometimes when the immigrant has not followed normal legal channels to be in Texas there is a real fear of any court proceedings. One of the big questions is will they be arrested for illegal status in Family Court.

Sometimes there is an impression that things will be like the way they are in their original country. Sometimes that is the case; in other cases, though, Texas law could not be more different. It is important, especially as an immigrant, to make sure that you understand how Texas divorce laws apply to your case so that you are not tempted to settle for less than what the law allows.

Sometimes a Spouse Will Resort to Intimidation

In many of our divorce cases we have observed that an American spouse often the husband is all too willing to use his familiarity with the country and Texas to his advantage. He will tell his wife all sorts of things that are false and intimidating and, often, accepts what he says is true. if there is a language barrier, the problems are often worse. In one of our case the husband did everything he could to isolate his wife. She did not speak English, she was not allowed to go anywhere, and he told her all kinds of things that had her living in fear.

The wife felt like she had to get her information from her husband, and did not have anyone else she could turn to that spoke her native tongue. The only thing that saved her was a cousin came to visit her and found out was going on and got her into see us. We were the able to let her know what her rights were.

Her story is not unique among other immigrant spouses we have represented in divorce. For many the who idea is terrifying. For many of our client’s divorce is scary to begin with because the courts are different a world from what they are accustomed. However, when you combine this unfamiliarity with laws with new customs, and languages, it is often worse.

What we tell these clients and potential clients is that, that they do have rights. They have a claim to:

  1. Their share of the marital property
  2. A say so in how their children are raised

In Texas Family Court, it is not important what country from. In the United States, and in the great state of Texas, they have rights, and you should not let your spouse tell you otherwise.

What are my rights in Texas as an immigrant spouse?

It does not matter in Texas if you are an immigrant, you have rights.

Being and immigrant DOES NOT mean:

  1. Your spouse can just ship you off and make sure that you never see you children again.
  2. Your spouse cannot force you to take nothing from the marriage

You have rights.

1. You have a right to your share of the marital assets

Texas is a community property state this means there is a presumption that from the day you are married until the day you are divorced that everything you and your husband owns belongs to both you and your husband.

This is true no matter what the assets are such as:

  1. retirement accounts
  2. a home
  3. a car
  4. or anything else you are your husband may have purchased or acquired during the marriage

How much am I entitled to?

How much you are entitled to receive depends on whether:

  1. you are able to reach an agreement or
  2. whether the case goes to court

If the case is settled by agreement then it will depend on what has been negotiated. If the case goes to court then the judge will make a decision based on the facts of the case. A judge must make a just and right division of the property and debts.

Many people think that property is divided 50/50 in Texas. However, a just and right division is not necessarily 50/50. The court considers several factors in making its decision one what is a “just and right division” of the community assets and liabilities. These factors include: its division are:

  1. The length of the marriage;
  2. Each spouse’s level of educational;
  3. Future business opportunities and
  4. employability of each spouse,
  5. The disparity in earning capacities or income;
  6. Each spouse’s health and physical condition;

2. You have a right to your children.

Parents have rights to their children whether you are an American citizen or not. A Texas family law court is not going to take custody away from you just because you may not be a citizen.

Custody in Texas can be handled a couple of different ways including:

  1. You are entitled to have it determined in family court
  2. reach a written agreement regarding custody outside of court

Either way, though, you will have an opportunity to argue for what you think is in the best interests of your children. This is not a guarantee that you will win. In Texas, there is NOT a preference for:

  1. a mother over a father. But there’s also no preference for him
  2. an American over a non-citizen.

The Texas Family Code says a judge must make a decision based on what’s in the best interests of the child.

3. You have a right to a divorce.

Whether you or your wants a divorce, the spouse who requests a divorce will ultimately be able to get it. If a spouse opposes a divorce that can make things more difficult:

  1. Take longer
  2. Cost more

However, contesting a divorce does not stop the process it may only delay the process. A spouse cannot force you to stay in a marriage.

You do not, have a right to have an attorney appointed for you in a Texas divorce. In Texas court appointed attorneys are only available in criminal cases. A divorce is civil cause of action which means:

  1. it is not criminal and
  2. there is no legal entitlement to representation a Texas divorce lawyer.

You will have to hire a Texas divorce lawyer on your own.

For more information about divorce as an immigrant spouse, feel free to give our office a call at 281-810-9760

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  10. Does it Matter who Files First in a Texas Divorce?

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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Spring Divorce Attorney
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Houston, TX 77068
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