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Family Law - Divorce Law - Texas Divorce

Texas Divorce & Separation

Every state has its own laws and rules pertaining to separations and divorces. What are the minimum requirements for getting a divorce in Texas? Is mediation required before you can get a Texas divorce? What is a Texas annulment? Find the answers to your Texas divorce questions here.

Texas Legal Separation:

Texas law has no provision for a legal separation. If you file for a divorce, you can ask the court for orders that deal with things like use of property—e.g. who gets to live in the house—and temporary child custody and support. Texas is a community property state, and living apart does not make property you acquire separate property. For example, your salary does not become your separate property until January 1 of the year in which you file for divorce.

 Grounds for Divorce/Fault – No Fault:

Texas has both no-fault and fault divorce. Your grounds (or reasons) for wanting a divorce are set out in a document called a Petition for Divorce that you file with your District court in your county. Once the Decree of Divorce is granted (i.e. the judge approves your divorce), you will become an unmarried person again. Appropriate grounds for divorce in Texas are: 1) cruelty; 2) adultery; 3) conviction of a felony (imprisoned for at least 1 year without a pardon); 4) abandonment (for at least 1 year); 5) living apart (without cohabitation for 3 years); and/or 6) confinement in a mental hospital (for at least 3 years).

 Residency/Where to File for Divorce:

One of the parties to the marriage must have been a resident of the state for six months and a resident of the county in which the petition is filed for 90 days preceding the filing. You will file your paperwork with the District Court of Texas in the county in which you or your ex-spouse resides. The District Clerk and his or her assistants will be managing your paperwork with the court.  J.D. Garza will prepare all of the paper work for you.

Mediation is an option that many divorcing couples choose when working out the specific terms of their settlement agreement. It’s less expensive than hiring two lawyers, and perhaps more importantly for the long run, it can keep the parties from becoming adversaries. In Texas the court can refer a case to mediation and the mediation agreement may be legally binding.

Texas Annulment:

An annulment is when a court declares your marriage legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with. A marriage can be annulled if, at the time of the marriage, one party was underage, if the person asking for the annulment was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, if one party concealed a divorce (within the last 30 days), if the marriage took place less than 72 hours after the license was issued, or due to permanent impotency; fraud, duress, or force; mental incapacity, consanguinity (too closely related); or bigamy. To seek an annulment from the District Court, you will need to file a petition for annulment.

 Texas Divorce & Finances

Separating the intricacies of joint finances during a divorce can be complicated. How do you divide property? What are the tax consequences? Are there estate planning issues that need to be addressed? Will you pay spousal support, and if so how is the amount determined? Following are some laws specific to Texas Divorce and Finances.

Texas Property Division/Community Property/Debts:

Texas is a community property state. For an explanation of community property rules and the division of property in community property states. Courts can give more property to an innocent spouse in a divorce action based on fault.

Texas Spousal Support:

In Texas spousal support is called maintenance. This is a regular amount of money that a court orders a person to pay to a former spouse after a divorce. Whenever the court issues a decree for divorce, the court may also issue an order at that time that either the husband or wife pay maintenance for the other spouse.

This amount and the length of time it will be paid are determined by agreement of the parties or the decision of the court. A court’s decision will be based upon factors such as financial resources; education and employment skills; duration of the marriage; earning ability; and childcare.

A spouse is usually eligible for maintenance only if the marriage lasted 10 years or more, unless the spouse from whom the maintenance is asked has been convicted of domestic violence in the past 2 years. In either case, maintenance is not usually granted for more than 3 years.

If children are involved in your divorce, you will need to work out custody, visitation and support issues with your spouse. All courts, regardless of the state you live in, prefer parents to work out the details of raising their children together after a divorce. If a court needs to get involved, usually because the parents can’t agree, the court will always look to the best interests of the child or children in deciding issues of custody, visitation and support. Following are the Texas laws governing child custody and support.

Texas Child Custody:

Texas courts try to do everything possible to decrease the emotional impact on children whose parents are divorcing. The courts will encourage the parents to work out a plan. If the parents cannot agree on a custody plan, the court will use its own discretion to establish a custody order that will always be based on the best interest of the child or children. The court will also consider:

1) The health, welfare and safety of the child(ren);

2) Any history of neglect, sexual abuse, or sexual assault by a parent;

3) Any history of family violence.

 A child over 12 may file a document with the court asking to have custody given to a person chosen by that child.

Texas Child Support:

Texas courts use something called the Percentage of Income formula to calculate how much a parent must provide for support of the child or children. The court requires a parent to pay a certain percentage of his or her income for child support. The percentage is based on the number of children. For example, a non-custodial parent with one child might be required to pay 20% of his or her net income as child support.  If the obligor has another child not before the court, the amount of child support is reduced to 17.5%.  In some situations, both parents may be required to pay support.

The Law Offices of J.D. Garza can help you sort through your rights and responsibilities when it comes to childrearing after a divorce, and serve as your advocate and/or counsel when negotiating a parenting agreement. Contact Us today (210) 227-2401