The decision to divorce is never an easy one. While the divorce process is almost always emotional, it should not be made more difficult by attorneys. Pflugerville divorce attorney Jason Wright believes that a lawyers’ role should include protecting his clients’ interests and making sure the process is as smooth as possible. At the Law Offices of Jason Wright, PLLC, our knowledgeable, compassionate and professional Pflugerville divorce lawyer proudly represents clients from all economic backgrounds and walks of life.
When a couple divorces, it marks the formal end of their legal relationship. While many divorced spouses continue to communicate, raise children together, or even remain friends, getting divorced severs all legal ties between former partners.
Of course, every marriage—and every divorce—is different. And so, the legal issues that a court must decide when overseeing a Pflugerville divorce case will vary based on the situation. However, generally, courts must address each of the following if they apply.
One of the primary concerns in many divorces is how the court will split up the couple’s assets at the conclusion of the divorce. Texas is a community property state. For the most part, community property consists of any property either spouse obtained during the marriage. For example, if one spouse works outside the home and the other stays at home and raises the couple’s children, all income earned by the working spouse is community property. The other side of this is that any assets obtained by a spouse before the marriage are separate property.
While most property acquired during a marriage is community property, there are a few important exceptions.
In each of these cases, although the property may have been acquired during the marriage, courts will consider the assets separate property if the spouse can show by clear and convincing evidence that the ideas fall within these categories.
Once the court identifies all of a couple’s community property, the court then must decide how to divide the assets up. The primary source of guidance courts have when dividing a couple’s assets is that they must distribute property in a manner that is “just and right.” This leaves a lot of discretion for judges. There are some specific factors that the judge may consider, including:
For couples with children, it is safe to say that child custody is probably the most important issue decided in a divorce. Parents are used to raising and living with their children, and the thought of not having physical custody of a child is a significant adjustment. Thus, even the most amicable divorces can turn adversarial when the spouses disagree about child custody.
As a starting point, Texas doesn’t use the term custody. Texas uses the term “conservatorship” to define who gets to make what decisions for the child. In most Pflugerville divorces, the court will name both parents as the joint managing conservators of any minor children. Both parents share the right to make important decisions that affect their child’s life in this arrangement.
However, if a court orders a joint managing conservatorship, it does not mean that both parents will have equal time with their children. After the court names both parents as joint managing conservators, it must then create a possession order. A possession order outlines when each parent will have physical custody of their children.
If there is a history and pattern of family violence, the court must name one parent as the sole managing conservator. The other parent is then named as a possessory conservator. In this case, the parent named as the sole managing conservator does not need to consult with the other parent before making any decisions on behalf of the couple’s children.
Child support is a monthly payment intended to cover a child’s living expenses. The parent who has possession of the child less than 50% of the time will likely be ordered to pay child support. Child support is based on the income of the parent who is paying child support, not the parent who is receiving child support.. Texas provides online child support calculators that give you an idea of what an expected child support payment to be.
In addition to cash payments, the noncustodial parent may will likely be required to pay for the child’s health insurance. However, courts are willing to shift this burden onto the custodial parent when doing so makes sense. For example, if the noncustodial parent does not have a job that provides dependent coverage, while the custodial parent does.
Texas does not have Alimony, Texas uses the term Spousal Maintenance, or spousal support. Spousal support refers to the court-ordered payment from one spouse to another during or after a divorce. Under state law, there are four instances in which a court can award spousal support.
Perhaps the most common situation in which a court can award spousal support in a Pflugerville divorce involves long-term marriages. If a couple was married for at least ten years, the court may award spousal support. However, the length of the marriage is not sufficient on its own; the requesting spouse must also demonstrate that they lack the assets or income to provide for their reasonable needs. Further, if they are also disabled, caring for a minor child with a disability, or lack the ability to earn an income a court could order spousal maintenance. If the requesting spouse meets each of these criteria, the court may award alimony as follows:
A court may award up to five years of spousal support if the party seeking support or their children were the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of the other spouse. However, to qualify for spousal support on the basis of a domestic violence conviction, the spouse seeking support must file for divorce within two years of the other spouse’s conviction or deferred adjudication.
While a court may not have the authority to award alimony in every case, spouses are free to agree to contractual alimony payments. Often, this comes up in the context of a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement; however, spouses are also free to add spousal support or contractual alimony clauses into a divorce agreement.
If you are contemplating filing for divorce or recently learned that your spouse plan on filing for divorce, it is imperative that you reach out to a dedicated Pflugerville divorce attorney as soon as possible. Even in the most amicable divorces, there is the possibility that certain issues can change the tone of the negotiation process. Unfortunately, it is often impossible to tell when this is the case until it is too late. With the assistance of a Pflugerville divorce attorney at the Law Offices of Jason Wright, PLLC, you can rest assured that your interests are protected at every step of the process. To learn more and schedule a consultation with a Pflugerville family law attorney, give us a call at 512-706-9662. You can also reach us through our online contact form.
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