Your Compassionate Family Lawyer Robert R. Flores
Whether you’re getting married or having a child, it’s likely that Family Law will play a role in your life at some point. This law area is an umbrella term that envelopes all legal proceedings and processes involving families, including divorce and custody disputes.
There are few things in life that will have a larger impact on you than a divorce or custody battle. In those situations, you need a lawyer you can rely on to be compassionate and empathetic. Robert R. Flores would be proud to help you navigate your divorce or custody dispute and will work tirelessly to ensure an outcome that meets you and your loved ones’ needs.
In Texas, divorce proceedings generally follow the same steps: first, one party files a Petition for Divorce with the court. That Petition includes the first spouse’s request for relief and is served to the second spouse. The second spouse can then file their own requests in a Counter-Petition. After this, both parties have 90 days to either get back together or agree to terms regarding the division of assets and debts, child custody and support, and other terms of the divorce.
Mediation in Family Law
If during the 90 days following a divorce filing the two parties are unable to come to an agreement, mediation may be required. In fact, in Texas, most judges require mediation. During the mediation process, both parties will meet with their lawyers in separate rooms, and a third-party mediator will visit both to determine their demands and come to an agreement. If an agreement can’t be reached, the mediator may declare an impasse. In that case, the judge may reschedule your divorce hearing.
Pre- and Postnuptial Agreements
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are contracts signed by a couple to declare how assets and debts will be divided in case of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement, colloquially known as a prenup, is signed before marriage while a postnuptial agreement is signed after. These agreements cannot be made under duress and require an opportunity for outside legal counsel.
In Texas, same-sex and heterosexual married coupled and single individuals may all be qualified to adopt a child. In order to determine that eligibility, a judge will review your situation through home visits and reports. Before an adoption can be completed, both spouses and adoptees over the age of 12 must consent to the process. The rights of the adoptee’s birth-parents over the child must also be terminated for adoption to be complete.
Child Support and Custody
Separation proceedings including children can be especially difficult for all parties involved. In these cases, the court will issue orders for custody and a schedule for visitation, if visitation rights are granted. These decisions are made based on what the court determines to be the “best interests of the child”. This includes financial support which is usually decided based on state-wide guidelines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Family Law can be an incredibly emotional subject for those involved. It may help relieve some of that anxiety by getting a better understanding of the process of divorce and what might happen afterward.
Do I need a family lawyer?While the courts won’t require you to get a lawyer for your divorce proceedings, you will be held to the same expectations as a lawyer if you choose to represent yourself. Every divorce requires at least one formal hearing, and you don’t have any second chances if you make a mistake. There are many ways a divorce can go wrong, and representing yourself makes those errors all the more likely simply due to a lack of experience.
Is my spouse required to pay my attorney’s fees?It’s not an automatic rule, but there are some situations in which a judge may order one spouse to pay the legal fees of the other. These situations might include a divorce involving fault or wrongdoing. The court could also order your attorney’s fees to be paid from community property.
Can I get an online divorce?If you’ve been doing any casual research into divorce online, you’ve probably come across sites offering fully online divorces. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. Most of these sites offer packets of information and forms related to divorce, but some of those documents may not even be valid in Texas.
Does my divorce have to go to court?While all divorces are officially granted by the court, Amicable or Uncontested divorces do not have to be legal battles in order to proceed. In fact, most divorces don’t require any sort of legal fight in order to be resolved. There are many ways to settle out of court.
What is a “contested” divorce?‘Contested divorce’ is often misinterpreted to mean a divorce in which one party doesn’t agree to the divorce; however, the term is actually much broader. A contested divorce is any divorce in which one or both parties disagree with the terms of said divorce. This disagreement could involve child support or custody, visitation, alimony, or the division of property.
Does it matter who files for divorce?There are virtually no legal benefits to being the first or second spouse to file divorce papers. The only real benefit to filing first is being able to choose the timing of the divorce: before a divorce occurs, one spouse files a Petition for Divorce which is then served on the second spouse. The second spouse then responds to that petition in the form of their own Counter-Petition and Response. The court doesn’t favor one or the other.
How do the courts decide who our kids live with?There are many factors at play when it comes to the court’s judgment regarding who your children will live with after your divorce, but the bottom line is considering the “best interest of the child”. While it is generally assumed that staying in contact with both parents is best for their children, there are situations in which that is untrue. In situations involving shared custody, there are several schedules commonly implemented by the court.
How much child support will the court require?In Texas, child support is usually decided based on a percentage of the paying spouse’s income. However, there are instances in which the court may deviate from these guidelines, for instance, if both parents spend equal time with the children.
Will the court order alimony or other support?There are a few different types of support that may be ordered by the court during or after your divorce proceedings. Spousal Support, also known as Spousal Maintenance, and Alimony are both types of monthly payments made from one spouse to the other. The primary difference between the two involves tax treatment. There are many reasons why a court may order your spouse to Alimony, but situations calling for Spousal Maintenance are more specific.
Will a divorce divide our property equally?Your divorce won’t necessarily result in your property being split between both spouses. Under the law, assets and debts have to be divided in a “just and right manner”. There are many factors at play in this division, but a dedicated family lawyer can work to ensure you get the most out of the agreement.
What if my spouse retaliates against me for filing for divorce?In most large Texas counties, spouses who’ve filed for divorce are automatically granted Standing Orders regarding certain behaviors both spouses are prohibited from engaging in. This includes things like hiding your children, selling assets, locking you out, damaging your property, and refusing to discuss the litigation with your children. In counties where Standing Orders aren’t automatically granted, including Hidalgo, you will need to file a request for this protection.