Q:Do I need to hire a lawyer for my divorce?
A:Short answer: no. Longer answer: no, but you probably should. The facts and circumstances of your divorce will dictate whether you “need” to hire an attorney even though the State of Texas does not require that you have one. A good rule of thumb to go by is if you have children or a significant amount of property (a house, etc.) then you are better off having an attorney guide and represent you. Childless with no property? Then you may be able to get away with not having an attorney represent you.
Q:What about spousal maintenance or contractual alimony? Do I have to pay that?
A:Texas only created statutes (laws) related to spousal maintenance about twenty-five years ago. Prior to that a judge could not order a spouse to pay their ex-spouse post-divorce maintenance. In other circumstances you would have needed to have been married to your spouse for at least ten years to pay or receive spousal maintenance. Otherwise, there must have been a conviction or deferred adjudication related to family violence within two years from the divorce being filed for spousal maintenance to be ordered by your family court judge.
Q:How much spousal maintenance could I expect to receive?
A:There are limits to what a judge can order you to receive or pay in terms of spousal maintenance. Typically, spousal maintenance cannot be ordered to last more than about seven years. However, if you or your child suffer from a disability then this duration of spousal maintenance can be extended. A typical limit on spousal maintenance is $2,500 per month or 20% of your spouse’s gross monthly income, whichever is less. Speak to an experienced family law attorney to learn how the factors relevant to your case can impact this discussion, however.
Q:Do I have to physically separate myself from my spouse prior to being able to file for divorce?
A:No. There is no requirement under the law in Texas for you to physically separate from your spouse. This means that you do not necessarily have to move out of the family home to file for divorce, though you may decide to do so. The only requirement to file for divorce is based on residency. So long as you have been domiciled in Texas for at least the past six months and been a resident of the county where you will be filing for the past ninety days then you will be eligible.
Q:What do I need to do to change my name in the divorce?
A:You can petition the court for a name change in your Original Petition for Divorce or your Counterpetition for divorce. The request will become final once the judge signs your final decree of divorce at the conclusion of your case. The judge will confirm that you are not changing your name to avoid any creditors claims or criminal consequences. Once your name is changed by the divorce court you would need to request that your name be changed on any government identification cards or other places.