Divorce is among the most difficult and stressful processes a person may face in a lifetime. Putting your emotions aside to focus on questions about the property and where your children will live may seem impossible. Yet you don’t have to do it alone.
The divorce rate in Texas has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, some Williamson County couples every year realize that a divorce is the best option in their circumstances. If you’re considering divorce or already part of the process, now is the time to talk to an experienced attorney who can help you navigate divorce.
Texas recognizes “no-fault” divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the spouses are not required to prove that one spouse caused the marriage breakdown. It is enough to simply tell the court that one or both spouses want the marriage to end.
Texas divorce law tries to balance various goals. One goal is to prevent Texas residents from being stuck in marriages they don’t want to be in. The no-fault divorce rule seeks to help residents get unstuck.
Yet Texas divorce law also seeks to prevent spouses from making a “heat of the moment” decision they may regret later. To support this goal, Texas courts require a sixty-day waiting period between the date a divorce petition is filed and the date it is finalized. The sixty-day period is called the “cooling-off” period. Its purpose is to give both parties time to determine if divorce is what they want and to try to agree on key matters, such as how to divide marital property.
The 60-day cooling-off period applies to most divorces filed in Texas. A court may recognize an exception in some cases, however. For instance, if abuse is occurring, a court may agree to finalize the divorce in less than sixty days.
Although every divorce is different, each divorce goes through similar steps:
Texas divorce law can be complicated. A mistake during the divorce process may require significant time and effort to fix in the future. Working with an experienced, caring divorce lawyer can help you avoid mistakes, protect your rights, and build a future in your best interests.
Texas law requires certain issues to be addressed in a divorce agreement. Common areas of discussion in divorce include:
Texas is a “community property” state. Under Texas’s community property rules, a family court will presume that the assets and debts a couple owns are jointly owned by both spouses. Property that is jointly owned must be divided between the spouses in a “just and right” manner.
Although the court presumes the spouses own everything in common, not all property should be considered community property. Some property is better understood as “separate property” belonging to one spouse or the other. An item is considered separate property if it falls into one of three categories:
In some divorces, property division can be complex. The spouses may vehemently disagree on how to divide the property. In a high net-worth situation, determining the value of certain assets may require the help of finance or appraisal professionals. Factors like abuse or cruelty can affect a final decision on how property is divided should the case go to trial.
Finally, Texas law does not require that all property be split 50/50 in all divorces. Instead, the law requires a “just and right” property division. To determine what is “just and right,” the court will consider not only the assets and debts to be split, the financial situation and earning capacity of each of the spouses, and other factors.
When a divorcing couple has children, their divorce agreement must deal with the children’s continued safety and well-being. The parents must find answers to questions like:
One of the most heart-wrenching decisions in many divorces is how to split parenting time and responsibilities. It may feel as if no matter what you agree to do, you lose time with your children. Your attorney can help you focus on an arrangement that meets each child’s best interests – giving your children the best possible future.
Texas does not have alimony. However, the Texas Family Code does account for Spousal maintenance or spousal support. Spousal maintenance is money paid by one spouse to the other so that the receiving spouse can meet their basic needs or get the education or training they need to support themselves. Unlike alimony, spousal maintenance has requirements as well as conditions for how it can end.
Not all divorcing couples in Texas must address issues of spousal maintenance. Maintenance awards are more common when spouses have been married for many decades, when one spouse cannot support themselves, or when one spouse sacrificed a career to keep the house, raise children, or provide support to a career-driven partner.
Your attorney can help you determine whether spousal maintenance is a consideration in your divorce. If it is, your lawyer can help you understand your rights and work toward an agreement that protects your best interests.
If you and your spouse have created such an agreement, it’s important to provide your Texas divorce lawyer with a copy as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you understand the terms of the agreement and how they may affect your divorce. If the agreement is not enforceable under Texas law, your lawyer can help you decide what steps to take next.
At each step of the divorce process, the spouses may work together to reach an agreement. A court will likely accept the spouses’ agreement as long as that agreement meets the requirements of state law.
Being able to agree with your spouse can make the divorce process smoother. Yet, in reality, many spouses disagree throughout the divorce process. If you and your spouse cannot see eye to eye, you can use other methods to help reach an agreement without going to trial.
Mediation. In mediation, you, your spouse, and your respective lawyers meet with a neutral third-party mediator. You and your spouse can choose the mediator; your lawyers may have suggestions based on your specific needs.
The mediator cannot force you or your spouse to accept any terms. Instead, the mediator focuses on helping you, and your spouse find common ground. When emotions run high, a mediator’s calm, professional presence and neutral approach can defuse tension and help everyone think more clearly.
Arbitration. Arbitration is more formal than mediation but less formal than a courtroom trial. In arbitration, you and your spouse, along with your lawyers, each present your side of a dispute to an arbitrator. Arbitrators are trained in Texas divorce law and the specific rules of arbitration. The arbitrator considers the evidence and then issues a decision.
Arbitration may be “binding” or “non-binding.” In a binding arbitration, you and your spouse agree to abide by whatever decision the arbitrator makes. Arbitration is a private process – there is not public court record. When an issue is sensitive, arbitration can help resolve it while keeping it between the spouses.
If all else fails, you and your spouse may go to trial. At trial, the judge and jury will listen to the evidence. The judge will issue a decision you and your spouse must follow. While experienced Williamson County divorce lawyers work to resolve disputes without trial, they also protect your interests and prepare so that if a trial is needed, they – and you – are ready.
An experienced Williamson County divorce lawyer can be your guide at any stage of the divorce process. If you’re wondering whether divorce is the right choice, talking to a lawyer can help you answer your questions. If you know you want to file for divorce, your lawyer can help you start the process and prepare for what’s ahead. If you’ve been served with divorce papers, your lawyer can explain what comes next and make sure you meet important court deadlines. Your attorney will keep you informed in all cases and focus on protecting your best interests.
To get in touch with us, give us a call at 512-884-1221 or submit the form below. We are committed to zealously working to find the solution that is best for you and your family.