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Important questions regarding divorce in Texas

Can you get divorced in Texas if you were married in another state?

If you or your spouse qualify as residents in Texas and the state has jurisdiction over your case, the answer to this question. To qualify as a resident of Texas, you must have resided in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce. In addition, you must have been a resident of the county in which you are filing for at least three months before filing for divorce.

Remember that the jurisdiction issue is another one you have to answer before filing for divorce. For instance, if you live in Harris County and meet the residency requirements, you may still find that the family law courts in Harris County do not have jurisdiction over your case. The reason for that is your children may reside elsewhere outside the county. In addition, you need to consider where your property is located, if any, that is shared between you and your spouse.

Allow me to give you an example to illustrate my points in the previous paragraphs. I had a consultation with a gentleman who had been separated from his wife for over a year. His work had moved him to Houston from South Carolina, where his wife and child lived. He came in to see if he could hear his divorce case in Houston. I told him that while he did meet the residency requirement due to living there for more than a year, it is unlikely that the family law courts would have jurisdiction over his case.

For one, his child had never even been to Texas. He had seen his child over the past year, but he visited the child in South Carolina. Texas and the child had no substantial contact, and as a result, they would probably decline any jurisdiction. Likewise, this gentleman owned a home, but it was located in South Carolina. For a similar reason, I believe that the court in Texas would decline jurisdiction over the property matters as well. These spouses were not married in Texas and had no relationship with the state other than the husband having resided here for the past year. His best bet was to file for divorce in South Carolina, where his child and property are located.

To get a divorce in Texas, do you need to prove your spouse was at fault for the breakup?

In many ways, this question makes sense. Most legal cases require the filing or petitioning party to shoulder a burden of proof to obtain the relief they are demanding. This is not the case in a divorce, however. As the filing party, there is no requirement that you prove fault on behalf of your spouse.

Texas is a no-fault divorce state which means that there does not necessarily have to be any fault found on either you or your spouse for the divorce to move forward. Irreconcilable differences are the most commonly utilized reason for a divorce in Texas. While fault grounds associated with infidelity, domestic violence, abandonment, and others do occur, for the most part, spouses will settle their divorce cases and utilize irreconcilable differences as the rationale for the divorce.

Fault grounds like infidelity or domestic abuse can have an impact on your case, however. If that finding is appropriate, then a judge can utilize it to restrict the visitation rights of your spouse with your children after the divorce. Or, if it is found in a trial that your spouse spent a lot of marital assets on their paramour, you may be awarded a disproportionate (more significant than fifty percent share) of the community estate as a result. Keep this in mind and talk to your attorney about this early and often in your divorce case.

Can you be awarded alimony in a Texas divorce?

Spousal maintenance is what you can win in a divorce case instead of what is widely known as alimony. Spousal maintenance is a payment of a specific amount of money from your spouse to you (or vice versa) in a particular period. The laws on spousal maintenance are pretty restrictive, and courts do not like to pay spousal maintenance unless necessary.

You must show that you cannot meet your minimal, basic needs after the divorce due to a disability, inability to work, or need to care for a disabled child. You can also be awarded spousal maintenance if your spouse participated in domestic violence against you within the prior years before your divorce began.

Look to the Texas Family Code regarding limitations of how much spousal maintenance can be paid and how long it can be paid for. The most important restriction is that if you and your spouse were not married at least ten years before filing for divorce, you could not be awarded spousal maintenance in your divorce.

What will happen with your children in the divorce?

This is the most critical issue in your case (if you have children), so I wanted to save its discussion until the end of today’s blog post. Consider that problems related to custody, including where your child will live primarily after your divorce, will be decided in the divorce. In addition to that critical issue, you and your spouse will work on negotiating a split of the rights and duties about raising your child and making decisions in their best interests.

For example- have you given any consideration to how medical or educational decisions are to be made? There are several different ways to divide or share these responsibilities, and each family has its own unique set of circumstances to be aware of.

Keep in mind that you and your spouse will be given ample opportunity to decide these issues for yourselves before handing them over to a judge for their decision in a trial. While your opinions may be different, consider that you and your spouse will know your children much better than a judge ever could. Therefore, it may be difficult, but you should focus on working these issues out directly with your spouse. Use your attorneys and mediation to facilitate compromises.

How important is it to hire an attorney for your divorce?

You do not have to hire a lawyer for your divorce. There is no requirement on the law that you must do so. Many of the issues you will face are not overly complicated or complex. Thus, you may be able to reason through many of them.

The biggest reason many people consider going about divorce on their own (prose, in legal terms) is the cost of hiring an attorney. Why hire an attorney, some say, when your divorce will be relatively simple- especially if you and your spouse have already agreed on most of the issues of your case?

A divorce will leave a significant impact on your life in the short term and long term. We have gone through many subjects the past few days that should indicate just how important your divorce is for you and your family. For a relatively small investment in an attorney, you can ensure that someone with experience and knowledge in the process is supporting, advising, and advocating for you.

Questions about your divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, work on behalf of the people in our community- just like you. We value the opportunity to represent you in family law cases across southeast Texas. To learn more about your situation and how a legal issue may impact it, please get in touch with us today. We offer free consultations with a licensed family law attorney six days a week.

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