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5 Things to Know About Divorce in Texas

Are you anticipating a divorce but don’t know exactly what to expect? This is not an uncommon position to be in. Many people who go through a divorce will understandably have questions about something especially if they’ve never gone through the process before. This is where the experienced attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can be of assistance and can provide a great deal of help for families like yours. Whether you are planning on filing a divorce or have been served with papers and now need to respond to a divorce petition our attorneys and staff are here to help you sort out what it all means and begin to figure out where to go from here and what to do next.

One of the best things that you can do for yourself if you are seeing a divorce on the horizon is to work with an experienced family law attorney in preparing for your case. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.

The questions that we are going to go through in today’s blog post are frequently asked questions that our attorneys have received time and time again. We hope that these questions apply to you and your family. We are confident that many of the questions we asked today are going to be ones that you have been wondering about yourself. However, when it comes to your specific situation we cannot be so confident. You may have specific questions about your situation that go unanswered after reading this blog post. If that is the case do not worry. Our attorneys here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have you covered.

If you have a question or two that are still unanswered after reading this blog post please contact our office today. We will work with you to determine what sort of help you may need and can provide you with information related to Texas family law that should get you moving on the track toward a resolution to your problems. While we cannot always perfectly estimate how long the case will be or what the results may end up for your family, you can know that with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan by your side you will be receiving professional, effective, and client-focused advice and advocacy.

Do you need a specific reason to file for divorce?

Texas is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you or your spouse can file for divorce for no reason at all. What this looks like is that your divorce can be based on reconcilable differences that have caused your marriage to no longer be sustainable. Irreconcilable differences simply mean that you and your spouse no longer get along well enough to remain married. There is no objective test in play when it comes to determining fault for the divorce. If you tell the court that you need to get divorced due to irreconcilable differences or conflict of personalities the court will grant your divorce so long as you meet all the filing requirements.

On the other hand, it is also possible to obtain a divorce for specific reasons. These are known as fault grounds for divorce. These fault grounds for divorce include things like adultery, cruel treatment, and abandonment. These grounds for divorce need to be alleged in your petition or counter-petition for the divorce period from there, you would need to be able to produce evidence to show a court that you have actual bases for alleging one of these fall grounds. It is not enough to simply tell a judge that you are getting divorced based on adultery or abandonment. Rather, you need to have sufficient evidence to substantiate this ground for divorce that you are alleging.

A question that our experienced family law attorneys receive regarding fault grounds for divorce is why you would even need a Ledger fault ground if Texas is in a fault divorce state. This is a reasonable question to ask if we presume that the results of a no-fault divorce will be the same as the results of a fault-grounds divorce. However, a divorce based on specific fault grounds can result in a disproportionate division of your community property as well as differences in how custody and conservatorship rights are shared between you and your spouse.

Texas is a community property state which means that the default setting for a judge will be to award property in such a way that is just and right. Many divorces end up with property being divided almost entirely right down the middle so that both spouses end up with similar amounts of property. However, this may not be appropriate in your specific divorce based on the fault grounds that you may be alleging in your petition or counter-petition. If you successfully allege and prove a fault ground for divorce a judge can use those circumstances to determine how community property should be divided. It may turn out that a just and right division of Community property results in you receiving a greater than 50% share of your community estate.

When it comes to issues related to your minor children, the same could be said. Slight alterations in a custody or conservatorship order can result if your spouse has shown bad judgment concerning issues regarding your family. For example, let’s say that your spouse has cheated on you over many years. You have now decided to file for divorce but have alleged in your petition that your fault ground for divorce is adultery. The way that this can impact your children is if your spouse has made the children aware of his cheating or even introduced your children to his significant other. A judge surely would not look favorably upon this and it may be possible for you two to receive more in the way of child support or increased visitation fund with the children.

Do you need an attorney to file for divorce in Texas?

The short answer to this question is no but as always you should look to the specific circumstances of your case in your life to determine whether you should look into hiring a lawyer. There is no requirement in the Texas family code for you to have a lawyer representing you in your divorce. Indeed, people get divorced every day in Texas without attorneys. However, there are many good reasons why you should consider hiring a lawyer. To begin with, you need to think through your case and decide whether you are capable of representing yourself in a divorce. This is especially true if your spouse has or plans to hire an attorney. Remember that your other responsibilities in life do not go away just because you have filed for divorce. With that in mind, the time constraints that you will be undergoing through a divorce can be significant. You should honestly assess your situation and determine whether you simply have enough time to devote to your case.

Another consideration for you to give is regarding the stakes of your case, particularly related to your property and your minor children. A good rule of thumb to consider is if you have minor children or own a significant amount of property then you seriously consider hiring a lawyer for your divorce. The reason is that you have more at stake than a person who lacks property or does not have any minor children. There is a lot to risk by not having an attorney in your divorce case. Imagine trying to pull your teeth or fix your car. If you take your car to an expert to be fixed, then it would not make sense for you to not take your case to an expert if you are going through a divorce.

It is understandable to be somewhat uneasy about the divorce process and have questions about where to go from here. This is where a free-of-charge consultation with an experienced family law attorney at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan can come in handy. We can show you a course map that can help you start to get a sense of what it takes to succeed in a divorce and whether it is a commitment that you can make as far as representing yourself is concerned.

What does it cost to get divorced?

The next logical question for us to cover in this space relates to the costs of divorce. All of us live on a budget period this is true no matter what our incomes are, where we work, or our education level. Everyone has limitations on what he or she can spend. As a result, it is important to think about your divorce as being a budget item that you will need to pay for. Whether you have the cash to pay for an attorney now or we’ll be putting your divorce on credit eventually you will have to account for the cost of your divorce and work to pay those bills.

This matters when you are selecting an attorney to represent you in your divorce. Family law attorneys bill by the hour. This means that for every 15-minute increment of your case that is being worked on by your attorney or their staff, you will be billed for that amount. Typically, a family law attorney will charge you a retainer for accepting your case which retains their services on your behalf. From there, your attorney will work with you to determine the best way to ensure payment for services rendered. This can look like you are being billed a set amount each month based upon the work that is anticipated as well as the future needs of your case.

You can and should ask your attorney when meeting with him or her for the first time how this would likely work in your situation. You can learn a great deal about how attorneys bill their clients as well as if you are comfortable paying for an attorney. You may need to get creative with how you are planning on paying for an attorney. For example, getting a second job, selling separate property of your own, taking out a loan, or working with the family to pay for a portion of your legal representation are all options for you to pursue. However, finding an attorney who can work within your budget is the key to this entire discussion.

How long will the divorce take?

This is probably the most frequently asked question that our attorneys receive. Nobody wants to go through a divorce. Even if you know that a divorce is necessary in your life it may be that you work to minimize the length of time of your case by negotiating directly with your co-parent and spouse on issues as much as possible before beginning the divorce. The short answer to this question is that the length of your divorce case depends upon several factors.

The degree to which you and your spouse have been able to work together and can be civil with one another in informal negotiations will go a long way toward determining the overall length of your case. If you and your spouse are unable to be civil with one another and you require the assistance of an attorney for even the simplest of conversations, then you can expect that your divorce will take longer than others. On the other hand, if you and your spouse are willing to work together to resolve as many problems as possible without involving your attorney you may be looking at a divorce which is relatively shorter and less expensive than others.

Another key to minimizing the length of your divorce is for you to have a good working relationship with your attorney. If you can stay on top of your attorney and make sure he or she understands exactly what your goals are and what your expectations are as far as the timeline that will allow the attorney to be able to work to move your case along at a pace that makes sense based on your goals. Failing to communicate well with your attorney means that the attorney will struggle to understand what your goals are and may provide you with advice or perspective that is not in line with your goals.

How do you get sole custody of your children?

If you ask a parent going through a divorce what their primary goals are then you are likely to hear that the parent either wants to have joint custody of their children or have sole custody. What sole custody of a child means can vary depending upon the parent you are speaking to. Different parents view sole custody differently. However, I think when most people use the term sole custody, they mean that they want to have more time with their children than their spouse. This could be for several reasons but at the end of the day, the motivation in the divorce is to have as much time with the children as possible.

You should know in advance that the default setting in a divorce is for parents to be named as joint managing conservators. This means that you and your spouse are likely to share somewhat evenly in the possession and rights related to your kids. The reason for this is that the state of Texas takes a position that both parents should have a meaningful relationship with their children. Sharing rights, duties, and time on an even basis can help with achieving this goal.

However, a judge will make decisions based on what is in the best interest of the children and not necessarily what is in the best interest of you and your spouse. So, expect that a judge will look to the totality of the circumstances in your case when determining the appropriate amount of visitation for each parent with their child as well as how some duties should be divided between parents. There are certain circumstances in which a parent like yourself can be named as a soul managing conservator, but they are few and far between. If you believe that this is appropriate in your case, however, then please reach out to the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan so that you can speak to you about your case in learn more about your goals and situation.

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