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Widely held beliefs about divorce in Texas: Which are actually true?

One of the parts that I find to be rewarding of being a family law attorney is having the opportunity to meet with people just like you in our free of charge consultations.

In one of these consultations, a potential client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can come in and discuss their problems with me in a relaxed environment. I am asked questions about all different sorts of family law situations and from that, I give information that can help that person.

As an attorney, I look at myself as a teacher as well. While the lessons that I other attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC administer aren’t in classrooms, we nonetheless provide the public with valuable information and lessons to apply to their own lives. Sometimes a potential client’s consultation with me is the first time that they have addressed their concerns in their own lives dealing with child support or divorcematters. Sometimes I may be the first lawyer that the person has ever spoken to. I take those responsibilities very seriously and always do my best to address the needs of the person and give advice that can hopefully help him or her.

A lot of consultations are spent discussing questions that the potential client has that have already been answered by friends, family or co-workers. The person probably received a number of different responses to questions about their situation and that left him or her with more questions than when they started asking around for advice. It’s tough to seek advice only to find that your sources for that advice don’t know the law well enough to give a response.

That’s where we come in. Setting the record straight is one of the biggest services that I can provide you as a potential client with. Divorce and child custody matters affect so many people in our community and are omnipresent in the media that we feel like there is a lot of information out there on these subjects. However, feeling confident in that information is an entirely different subject.

For today’s blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, I would like to examine some questions that I have been asked that may have different answers than you were led to believe. By the end, I hope that you will have a better idea of what situation you face and how you can achieve whatever goals you hold for yourself and your family.

Judges favor moms in custody/divorce cases

This is maybe the most commonly addressed concern with fathers that I deal with on a regular basis. If you are a father you probably know another dad out there who has gone through a divorce or child custody case. The odds are also good that at least one of those dads has told you how the attorneys, judges and legal system, in general, seemed to favor the mom in their case. After hearing this you rightfully had concerns over whether or not you stood any chance to build a lasting relationship with your child? What exactly is the truth in this situation?

The legal system does not favor mothers. First of all, the Texas Family Code forbids a judge from taking into account the gender of either parent when making decisions about the well being of your child and what is in his or her best interest. The facts and circumstances of your case will be relevant but your gender does not.

Many people hold the belief that the legal system favors mothers because mothers more often than not end up being named as the primary conservator of the child in a divorce or child custody case. In many households, the mother has historically been the primary caretaker for the child while the father works.

This is a “traditional” framework for a family (at least in the United States), although in recent years this framework has become less commonplace as women enter the working world in greater numbers. If you are a dad concerned about your future relationship with your child you should examine your past. If you have been an involved father who is always there for your child then you should not worry about being excluded from your child’s life. Having the right to determine your child’s primary residence is a goal that is achievable for active and involved fathers like you.

To get divorced in Texas you must have been married in Texas

If you or your spouse resided in Texas for the preceding six months prior to your divorce being filed the State of Texas has what is known as jurisdiction over your case. To file in a specific county you must have resided in that county for the preceding ninety days.

Filing a family law case means that you have to go to a hearing

While it is true that some family law cases end up in court at least once, many family law cases that are filed never see the inside of a courtroom. The fact is that hearings- temporary hearings or trials- are available to parties that are not able to settle their differences outside of court. The vast majority of family law cases are able to settle outside of court and never need to see the inside of a courthouse, however.

If you and your spouse/opposing party are able to come to an agreement on all issues of your case, temporary or final orders can be drafted and signed by all parties and their attorneys without having to go see the judge to play the tiebreaker. For temporary orders, you need only alert the judge to the signing and submittal of the order for the judge to sign.

For a final order, you and your attorney must show up to court for a short, uncontested hearing in order to allow the judge to review the order. Otherwise, you and your spouse/opposing party may never have to have a hearing at all in your case.

If you are getting a divorce proving adultery by your spouse allows you to win all the property

Adultery is a basis for a divorce in the event that you or your spouse allege that it is a ground for that divorce in the Original Petition for divorce. This means that you must allege it as a “fault grounds” for divorce. In that case, you must still present evidence to a judge that the adultery had a material (substantial) effect on the marriage and led to the divorce. What’s more- the adultery must have likely had a significant financial impact on your family for a judge to award you a disproportionate share of your community estate.

Many people come in to talk to our office about a potential divorce and state that their spouse was unfaithful. When I ask about the details it quickly becomes apparent that this was a relatively recent affair that did not involve much if any financial infidelity and things of that nature.

The odds are decent that if your spouse’s adulterous affair did not impact the finances of your family and did not impact your children then it will not impact your divorce all that much. You will need to present the adultery to the judge as well as evidence to show its extent in order to meet the burden of showing that is was a significant part of the reason your marriage failed.

We will be putting more commonly held beliefs to the test in tomorrow’s blog post

With so much information floating around regarding divorce and child custody I am glad you are taking the time to read through legally-based information. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC hope that you will return tomorrow to read more about this subject.

If you have questions for us in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact our office. We offer free of charge consultations with licensed family law attorneys six days a week. We can answer your questions and provide you with peace of mind regarding your particular circumstances.

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