In yesterday’s blog post the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC introduced the subject of military divorces by posing a number of questions that we have been asked throughout the years from servicemembers and their spouses. Since there are no people that deserve our help more than veterans and active duty servicemembers, our attorneys wanted to take this opportunity to see if we can answer these questions in order to provide as much information as possible to those who are considering filing for divorce.
If you have any questions for the attorneys with our office please do not hesitate to contact us. We work with clients from across the country and all over the world, notably in military divorce and child custody cases. It is our honor to serve you and assist your family during difficult times.
How much can you expect to pay in attorney’s fees for your divorce in Texas?
A relevant question to ask an attorney when you are interviewing him or her is how much he or she charges. Our office provides potential clients with a sample contract that goes over the financial aspects of your case including what each staff member (Attorneys included) charge per hour for working on your case. Do not leave the meeting without a firm understanding of how much upfront costs are associated with your case and how the attorney will charge you after an initial retainer is paid.
Costs in a divorce, depending on how many issues are inherent in your case, are fluid. No attorney can predict to the penny what your divorce will end up costing you in attorney’s fees. If you have children, property or other issues that you anticipate being time-consuming ones to figure out then assume that your divorce will cost a bit more than the average case.
Understand also that attorneys who tell you that they can handle your case for a flat fee are likely leading you astray. A flat fee, to me at least, tells me that the attorney will put forth so little work and time into your case as to make the fee that they are asking for justified.
On the other hand, if your case becomes more contentious than the attorney thought initially it could be that the low fee is keeping him or her from working on your case to a degree necessary to get the work done. This is a recipe for your attorney to be underpaid and for your case to be underworked. Nobody is happy in this situation.
Remember- you are interviewing attorneys in any consultation that you are able to attend. The attorney’s job in these consultations is to educate you on the process, your rights and to help you to problem solve the situation that you are in. If the attorney comes off as more of a salesman than as a teacher then you are probably speaking to the wrong attorney. Make sure you understand the issues that exist in your case and ask questions if you do not understand something that is being told to you by the attorney.
What are the issues that arise in military divorces that you need to be aware of?
Spousal maintenance is a big deal in a lot of military divorces. More commonly known as alimony in many parts of the country, spousal maintenance is court ordered financial support that is paid from one spouse to the other for a set amount of years. If you are the primary breadwinner in the family and your spouse lacks the wherewithal to provide for himself after the divorce then you may be ordered to pay spousal maintenance if it is requested. The key is that your marriage must have lasted for at least ten years for spousal maintenance to be ordered.
As we alluded to a moment ago, issues regarding property division are often huge sticking points in divorce. Texas is a community property state which means that all property that you and your spouse have come to accumulate during the course of your marriage is considered to be community property and subject to division in your divorce.
There are exceptions to this rule but the burden is on the party trying to prove that the property is part of their separate estate to provide evidence to the court to show that the property is in fact not part of the community estate.
It is likely that you and your spouse will be able to negotiate and settle any issues regarding property division in informal settlement discussions or in mediation. If you own real estate, have large amounts of cash in multiple bank accounts or any other more convoluted situation involving money and property then you may be in store for a trial on property issues. This means submitting evidence to a judge and leaving it to him or her to make a decision on the issues for you and your spouse.
How will the divorce process actually begin for you and your spouse?
Texas law requires that you be a resident of the state for the six months preceding the divorce being filed in addition to being a resident of the county in which your divorce was filed for the prior three month period. Keep in mind that as a member of the military you do not actually have to wake up every morning in Harris County in order to assert that you are domiciled in Harris County.
Your case may be complicated by the fact that while you are domiciled in Harris County, your children may be living with your spouse in another Texas county or even in another state. If this applies to you then you need to speak to an attorney about where you are best off filing your divorce. The fact of the matter is that while the court in Harris County may have jurisdiction over your and your spouse’s property issues they will not be able to render orders regarding your children if they are not Harris County residents.
Once your divorce petition is filed in the correct county, the paperwork will be processed by the court’s clerk, assigned to a judge and prepared for service. A private process server or law enforcement officer hired by your attorney will pick up the paperwork and serve it upon your spouse. Your spouse has until 10:00 a.m, on the first Monday following the expiration of twenty days from the day she is served to file an Answer to your Petition.
Your case can proceed to a trial or can settle in mediation. The vast majority of cases that our office works on end up settling in mediation but your particular circumstances may make that more or less likely.
How can you best prepare for a divorce?
You will be in a difficult position, preparation-wise, if you are living and serving our country overseas. Normally what I tell clients to do in the immediate days following their retaining an attorney is to look through paperwork- bank statements, retirement account statements, journal entries, etc. to compile and organize documents that may help your attorney.
Since you are not in the country and likely don’t have access to these hardcopy documents I would advise you to begin to take whatever steps you can to make sure your information is not accessible to your spouse.
This means changing passwords on your personal email and maybe even opening up a separate bank account for your paychecks to be deposited. Keep in mind that if you have children and your checks are the only means by which they receive the support you will want to make sure that your spouse has money to pay rent and buy groceries.
What’s more, your branch of the military may have requirements in place for you to support your family so be sure to ask your legal assistance programs for more information on this. The bottom line is that you should seek to access electronic documents and provide those to your attorney when you are able, but at the very least you should protect your income and information to the greatest extent possible.
More questions and answers will be provided in tomorrow’s blog post
The attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have more information to provide regarding military divorces and we will share that with you all tomorrow. In the meantime, if you have any questions for us please do not hesitate to contact our office. We provide free of charge consultations with our licensed family law attorneys six days a week.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Divorcing your spouse while serving in the military abroad
- The division of military benefits in a Texas Divorce
- Military Divorces: Essential knowledge for Texas residents
- The United States Supreme Court Answers a Question about Military Retirement Benefits
- Military Divorces in Texas
- Essential Information for Military Divorces in Texas
- Military Support Without a Court Order During a Divorce in Texas
- How to Divorce a Spouse in the Military
- Texas Divorce - Serving Military Personnel or their Spouse Worldwide
- Texas Statute Aids Military Personnel and Their Spouses in Filing for Divorce
- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- How Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney's Fees in a Texas Divorce?
- How am I going to Pay for My Texas Divorce?
- Should I Hide Money from my Spouse to Get Ready for my Texas Divorce?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston Texas Military Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Houston Texas military Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A military divorce lawyer in Houston TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Military Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, 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.