Answers to popular divorce questions in Texas

A divorce put is a dissolution of your marriage. This means that you and your spouse will be declared to no longer be married by court order. Your wedding will no longer exist because you, your spouse, your attorneys, and a family court judge will sign a Final Decree of Divorce.

Your divorce will cover a relatively specific set of circumstances at a minimum. Otherwise, you and your spouse can negotiate and include in your Decree a fairly wide range of orders that provide for things like the division of your community estate, child support, spousal maintenance, visitation, and possession of your child.

You and your ex-spouse can remarry within thirty days of your divorce being granted. You can request and be presented a change of your last name in conjunction with your divorce as well.

Can you get a divorce without a lawyer?

Absolutely. You can open a new tab on your internet browser and type in whatever you would like to find a do-it-yourself kit regarding divorce in Texas. I’ll wait here while you check it out.

Ok, now that you’re back, you can see that filing for divorce is not like renewing your car registration or updating your mailing address to be able to vote in your new home district. A divorce is a serious matter, even if you and your spouse don’t have any kids and don’t own a ton of property.

Every divorce has issues that make it prudent to hire an attorney to represent you and your interests in your divorce. The fact is that even if all you and your spouse are doing is agreeing to exchange property after your divorce is through, it is best to have an attorney draw up the language to be used in your Divorce Decree. You want to have an order in place that requires your spouse to do what they have promised to do. If they do not follow through, the last thing you want is an order that cannot be enforced.

Do you have to go to court in your divorce?

Not at all. Most divorces never see the inside of a courtroom. While you and your spouse may not be happy with one another right now and need to hash out some disputes and issues between each other, that does not mean that your disagreements will wind up going before a judge. Most Texas counties will require that you attend at least one mediation session before a trial. Mediation encourages both sides to settle their disputes outside of court by using a third-party mediator to facilitate agreements and resolutions on particular subjects.

What’s that? You have the most obtuse, hard to deal with, and stubborn spouse in the history of the institution of marriage? You’re telling me that there is NO way that they will possibly agree to settle your divorce? Take a step back and consider the following: many people going through a divorce have begun their cases with that attitude. Your spouse may think the same thing about you for what it’s worth. The fact is that a divorce case tends to draw out reasonable behavior from most people. That can lead to your spouse coming to the negotiation table with a better attitude regarding a settlement than they had with you at the kitchen table last week.

Furthermore- one of the great things about having attorneys and a mediator become involved with your case is that these folks can step in between you and your spouse and absorb some of the emotional abuse being tossed back and forth between the two of you. It becomes much less personal and more business-oriented when other people are involved in the negotiation. Did I mention that you and your spouse will not even be in the same room during mediation? This removes the risk of one of you giving the other an evil glance that could render the whole mediation process a failure before it even begins.

Mediation, attorneys, and the risk of uncertain results in a trial lead most Texas divorces to settle before seeing the inside of a courtroom. Your divorce may prove to be the exception that proves the rule, of course. However, I feel confident that your interactions with a judge will be limited if you file for divorce.

What is a no-fault divorce?

A no-fault divorce is one in which neither you nor your spouse contends that there was any one particular cause of your divorce. In Texas, this means that your marriage failed due to discord or conflict of your personalities where reconciliation was impossible. You and your spouse will not need to spend the divorce attempting to prove to a judge that this or that caused the divorce. It is essentially agreed that one of us is asking for a divorce not based on any reason in particular.

Many states did not allow no-fault divorces until very recently, historically speaking. The fact is that if you and your spouse are alleging fault grounds in your divorce petition, it is likely to add fuel to your hatred of one another. The primary motivation, at least that I can tell, to have fault grounds be proven for a divorce to be granted is to keep people in marriages rather than divorces. While I can understand the state’s motivation in this regard, the fact is that most people (probably you included) do not have sufficient evidence to prove abuse, adultery, abandonment, fraud, etc., as a reason why your marriage has failed. In forcing people to do so, courts were standing in the way of the free will of its citizens.

What effect can alleging fault grounds have on your divorce?

In Texas, the division of your marital estate will largely depend on whether or not the fault grounds that you or your spouse allege in your divorce petition are proven. Suppose you allege that your divorce is necessary based on adultery. In that case, you could potentially prove to a judge that your spouse spent a great deal of your community income on their paramour, thus leaving you in a worse position financially than had the affair not occurred. A judge could agree with you and determine that you are entitled to a “disproportionate” (greater than 50%) share of your community estate as a result.

Back to the “name change” issue in a divorce- what does a request to change your name after your divorce entail?

If you want your name to revert to the maiden name, you can ask for this in your petition for divorce and to have that request granted in your Final Decree of divorce. However, a judge will ensure that this is not to evade law enforcement or creditors before the appeal is granted. I have had male clients ask me if they can force their soon-to ex-wife to ask for a name change so that she would no longer share a last name with him. While a creative thought, no doubt, I answered that the person decides to request the name change. You cannot be forced to change your name.

After your name change is granted, you will need to contact the IRS, Social Security Administration, or any other government body to allow you to change your name formally. From there, you can get your employer, doctor, and other entities to have your name changed on bills and records.

A discussion on the marital property- tomorrow’s blog post topic

If you would like to learn more about the marital property (also known as community property in Texas), be sure to return to our blog post tomorrow. In the meantime, if you have questions about anything that you’ve read today, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer free of charge consultations with one of our licensed family laws.

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