Waking up one morning and filing for divorce from your spouse without first understanding the process and steps involved is probably not a great idea. This is true even if you’ve hired an attorney to represent you and your interests. Divorces in Texas can be simple and straightforward or they can be complicated and packed with twists and turns. Yours will likely have elements of both.
With that said, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would like to share with you some of the most basic, yet essential, pieces of information that we can think of when it comes to divorce in Texas. Our hope is that you can become as educated and informed as possible prior to actually moving forward with your divorce.
What grounds are you asserting in your divorce?
Why are you getting divorced? For the majority of people in Texas, the answer to that question is that for various reasons the marriage just wasn’t working. If this is true for you as well you would simply state in your Original Petition for Divorce that yours is a “no-fault” divorce in which insupportability is the actual grounds for your divorce. If your personalities are no longer able to sustain the marriage and you all cannot foresee a time where you can reconcile your differences yours will likely be a no-fault divorce.
On the other hand, there may be an actual, concrete reason why you have filed for divorce. Typical fault grounds for divorce include adultery, living apart from one another for three years or more or even cruel treatment. Other than the satisfaction of accusing your spouse of bad behavior, what advantage does stating a specific fault grounds for divorce have in your divorce?
Very simply, a court will consider fault grounds when it is dividing up the community assets and debts associated with your marriage. For instance, a judge may feel like your spouse’s having treated you poorly merits giving you more than 50% of the assets of your marriage then that kind of ruling may occur. If your spouse’s adultery led to him or her spending community income on their paramour then you may be in line to receive a disproportionate share of the community estate.
How long must we have been in Texas for divorce to be filed?
Texas, and Houston especially, seems to a hub for folks moving from place to place. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met with at our office who have only recently from to Texas from another state or country and now want to get a divorce. The question that you need to ask yourself is how long have you actually lived in Texas? Answering that question will let you know if you can actually file for divorce yet.
The rule in Texas is that either you or your spouse must have lived in Texas for at least six months, and in the county in which your divorce is being filed for at least three months before filing for divorce. The actual word used in the Texas Family Code is “domiciled” in Texas for six months- this means that your intent is to actually remain in Texas.
If you have just moved to the Lone Star State then cool your heels and let the clock run. As soon as you’ve been here for six months you are ready to file for divorce if that is your wish.
Community Property- What is it and how does it apply to your divorce?
As you may have heard, Texas is a community property state. This means that all of the property, assets, and debts associated with you and your spouse will be classified as either community or separate property. Let’s examine each type starting with separate property.
This category would include property that either you or your spouse owned prior to marriage or you acquired during marriage by either gift or inheritance. If the property came into your possession before the marriage that means it will be considered separate property- even if you were financing it during the marriage itself. For gifts, it must be clear that the gift was made to you individually with no intent that it was to benefit your spouse.
If you take a gift of cash from your Uncle Bob and use that cash to purchase a four-wheel drive vehicle to ride around your ranch with then that four wheeler is your separate property. The cash gift changed form into a vehicle but the essence of the property remains the same.
The burden of proof is on the party asserting that property is separately owned
One of the most complicated and time-consuming elements of a divorce in Texas is proving that a piece of property is owned separately by either you or your spouse. If you contend that a dresser is your separate property (or even more complicated a share of stock in Apple) then the burden of proof is on you to prove that it indeed is your dresser or stock share, independent of your spouse.
You must note in your Original Petition for Divorce that you own certain pieces of separate property and that you will prove that the property is separate. If you and your spouse disagree on the status of a particular piece of property you should be prepared to collect evidence to present to a judge if you are of the opinion that the property is your separate property.
A discussion on community property and debts to be posted tomorrow
Please come back tomorrow for a continuation of our discussion on divorce in Texas. We will go over what community property is (and is not) as well as how debts are treated in divorce.
In the meantime, if you have any questions over anything that we’ve read today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. A licensed family law attorney from our office will be available six days a week to meet with you and answer questions in a free of charge consultation.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- The Standard Possession Order and Child Support- A Texas Divorce Overview Continued
- Texas Divorce Overview: Dividing Community Property and Debts
- Child Support Overview for Texas families
- Enforcement Suits in Texas Family Law: An Overview
- What are the Steps of a Contested Texas Divorce, and How can I Prepare for Them?
- 7 Steps - When Your Spouse Wants a Divorce In Texas - But You don't!!!
- Steps To Take Before Moving Out of the Marital Residence During a Divorce in Spring, TX
- Texas Divorce and Retirement & Employment Benefits by the Numbers
- Is Social Security Considered Separate Property in a Texas Divorce?
- Will My Spouse Get Part of My Retirement in Our Texas Divorce?
- Husband Loves His Wife and Wants a Divorce in Texas “On Paper” for Strategic Financial Reasons?
- Roadmap of Basic Divorce Procedure in Texas
- 6 Mistakes that can Destroy Your Texas Divorce Case
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
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 one of our Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Houston TX are 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 Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, 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.