Divorce In Texas: What you need to know.

Need a Texas divorce? Texas divorce laws can be complicated. Whether you need information about Texas child custody or Texas child support or if you are wondering if you will receive spousal support or alimony, you may need to talk to a Texas divorce lawyer. Divorce can be scary, and it may be one of the toughest decisions you ever have to make. The Texas divorce process is not easy to navigate, and unless you understand Texas divorce laws, you may need to contact a Texas divorce lawyer. If you have children or if there is property which must be distributed, let a Texas divorce lawyer do the work for you.

Hiring a Texas Divorce Lawyer

How do you know if you are making good divorce decisions for your family? Talk to a Texas divorce attorney.  Whatever your Texas divorce questions, a good Texas divorce attorney can answer your questions and help you file for divorce. Filing for divorce in Texas is never an easy decision and should only be done after you have the right divorce information.

Children and Divorce in Texas

Texas child custody decisions are probably the toughest decisions in most Texas divorce cases. Parents may be able to file their own parenting plan with the Texas court if they can agree about who will have legal custody of their child. Texas child custody laws use the term managing conservator to describe who has legal custody of the child. Parenting plans may outline a sole managing conservator or a joint managing conservator.

If the parents are unable to complete their own child custody plan, the court may determine custody for the child by deciding what plan is in the “best interest” of the child. Courts prefer to make the parents joint managing conservators, but this is only done after reviewing the following factors:

  • Are both parents able to provide the psychological, emotional and physical needs of the child?
  • Are the parents able to make the welfare of the child their first priority and make decisions which are in the best interest of the child?
  • Can each parent accept and encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent?
  • Did both parents participate in the child rearing of the child prior to the divorce?
  • What is the geographical proximity of the parent’s residences?
  • What is the child’s preference (if they are 12 years or older)?
  • Any other relevant Texas child custody factors the court determines should be considered in their child custody decision.

Texas child custody decisions can be difficult, and while most parents want what is best for their child, they may not always agree on child custody arrangements. Contact a Texas divorce lawyer for more information about Texas child custody laws. More detailed information about child custody in Texas can be found in the Texas Family Code, Section 153.004, 153.005, 153.131, and 153.154.

Texas Child Support

Texas has established child support guidelines which are calculated based on the percentage of the net income of the noncustodial parent. Texas courts assume the child support calculated amount is reasonable but might, under certain conditions, deviate from the calculated amount. The court may consider the following factors in determining Texas child support payments:

  • What is the age and needs of the child?
  • What is the ability of the parents to contribute to the support of the child?
  • What are the financial resources available to support the child?
  • How much time does each parent have with the child?
  • How much access does each parent have to the child?
  • What is the amount of the net resources of the paying parent?
  • Is the paying parent intentionally unemployed or underemployed?
  • What are the child care expenses of both parents in order to maintain gainful employment?
  • Does either parent have physical custody of another child?
  • How much alimony or spousal support is each parent receiving?
  • What are the educational expenses of the child?
  • Does either parent have certain expenses such as automobiles or housing provided by another person or their employer?
  • What are the provisions for healthcare and other uninsured medical costs?
  • Does either party have extraordinary expenses for healthcare or educational costs for the child?
  • Are their extraordinary costs to travel and take possession or to have access to the child?
  • Does either parent have negative or positive cash flow from personal property, assets, business or investments?
  • What debts are currently serviced by each parent?
  • Any other factors the court considers relevant to their child custody decision.

More information about Texas child support laws can be found in the Texas Family Code, Section 154.122, 154.123, and 154.124.

Child support payments in the state of Texas are calculated to ensure that children of divorced parents do not have to live in poverty. The hope for all Texas children is that they will be given the same financial opportunities as other children whose families did not divorce. Most parents want to provide financially for their children, but if you are the custodial parent and you are not receiving child support, there is help available.

The Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division provides Texas parents with a full range of child support services at no cost for the parents. The services are funded by the state of Texas and the federal government. The Child support division provides the following services:

1.     Establishing paternity of a child

2.     Locating absentee parents

3.     Enforcing Texas child support orders

4.     Enforcing Texas medical support orders

5.     Reviewing and modifying Texas child support payments

6.     Collecting and distributing Texas child support payments

Texas Divorce Laws

Texas couples may file for divorce on fault and no-fault grounds. The Petition for Dissolution for marriage will be granted by the Texas court if the couple files using the proper grounds and has sufficient proof to support their claim.

Texas grounds for divorce may include the following:

  • No-Fault grounds –

1.     Insupportability – this grounds for divorce states the couple’s marriage is broken and there is no chance of reconciliation. This is the most common grounds for divorce in the state of Texas.

  • Fault grounds –

1.     Cruelty – This can include mental or physical cruelty.

2.     Adultery – One spouse has had sexual relations with another person who is not their wife.

3.     Conviction of a Felony – Conviction of a felony may be used for grounds for a Texas divorce if either spouse has been convicted of a felony, has been in the federal or state jail for longer than a year and has not been pardoned.

4.     Abandonment – If a spouse has left and has been gone for at least one year without an intention of returning, this is grounds divorce.

5.     Living apart without cohabitation for more than three years.

6.     Confinement in a Mental Hospital – If a spouse has been confined to a mental hospital for more than 3 years and it is believed they will never recover from their mental illness, this is grounds for a Texas divorce.

If you have questions about filing for a Texas divorce, contact a Texas divorce lawyer. More information can also be found in the Texas Code, Family Code, Chapter: 6.001-6.007).

Texas Annulment

Texas annulments are the legal process for a Texas court to declare a marriage legally invalid. Annulments vary from a Texas divorce which simply terminates the marriage contract. Texas marriages may be annulled for the following reasons:

  • Underage – If one spouse was under the legal age to marry, the marriage may be annulled.
  • Under the influence of narcotics or alcohol – If one spouse was incapacitated by alcohol or narcotics and not able to consent to the marriage, the marriage may be annulled.
  • If one party concealed a divorce within the past 30 days, the marriage may be annulled.
  • If the Texas marriage occurred less than 72 hours after the license was issued, the marriage may be annulled.
  • Mental incapacity
  • Consanguinity – If the spouses are blood relatives, the marriage may be annulled.
  • Fraud
  • Duress or force

If you are your spouse would like to seek a Texas annulment an annulment petition must be filed with the District court. Annulments can be difficult to get, and it may be easier to file for a Texas divorce.

Texas Divorce Residency Requirements

Couples who wish to file for a Texas divorce must meet the divorce residency requirements of the state. Failure to meet Texas divorce residency requirements may allow the court to dismiss your Texas divorce case. Most couples do not have to worry about Texas divorce residency requirements unless they have recently moved or are planning to move. Texas divorce residency requirements are as follows:

  • Either spouse to the Texas marriage must have been a resident of the state of Texas for six months and a resident of the county in which the divorce petition is filed for 90 days preceding the petition filing.
  • Paperwork must be filed with the District Court of Texas in the county in which either spouse resides.

If you are not sure you meet the divorce residency requirements, you may contact a Texas Divorce attorney for more information.

Alimony in Texas

Texas alimony is called spousal support. It can provide a spouse, who lacks sufficient financial resources, the ability to pay for their reasonable financial needs. Texas spousal support is not guaranteed, and unlike child support payments, it is not calculated based on Texas guidelines.

Spousal support is most often awarded if the receiving spouse can prove they are unable to work due to a physical or mental disability. Texas spousal support may also be awarded if the requesting spouse is caring for a child and is prevented from working outside of the home. Other factors the court may consider to determine the amount and duration of support include:

  • The financial resources of the requesting spouse
  • The education and skills of the requesting spouse and the amount of time it would take for them to acquire adequate training and education to find suitable employment
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age of each spouse
  • The employment history and the earning capacity of each spouse
  • The mental and physical well-being of each spouse
  • The efforts of the requesting spouse to find suitable employment

Texas spousal support is granted for 3 years from the date of the divorce. It is presumed that this amount of time should give spouses time to find suitable employment and become self-sufficient. Spousal support may be allowed for longer if the requesting spouse is disabled. Spouses may also agree to a different time limit.

Under Texas laws the spousal maintenance may not exceed $2,500.00 per month or 20% of the ex-spouse’s average monthly gross income however, couples may agree to a larger sum.

Legal Separation in Texas

Legal separation is recognized in every state except Delaware, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Texas.  Although legal separations are not recognized in Texas, protection can be obtained if you and your spouse decide to separate and live apart by filing a separation agreement or property petition.

A separation agreement is a legal document which outlines details of the separation including spousal support, property division and child custody issues. Talk to a Texas divorce lawyer for information about formalizing the agreement, which may require filing the application in court so a Texas court judge can sign the agreement. Failing to get the settlement agreement signed may make the agreement unenforceable if your spouse does not agree to follow what has been outlined in the agreement.

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