Terry L. Hart, Attorney at Law

Houston Family Law Blog

What does the divorce process look like in Texas?

If a person thinks their marriage may be headed for divorce, they might have many questions. A divorce can feel like the end of the world and emotions are running high. It might be helpful for those contemplating a divorce to understand how the divorce process works in Texas.

A Texas divorce process begins when one spouse files a petition for divorce in their county's district court. The spouse has the paperwork delivered to the other spouse. The respondent has 21 days to file an answer. During this time, the court may also consider temporary orders, including child support and visitation and spousal support while the divorce is pending. From here, the divorce process can include mediation or a collaborative divorce, so that couples can work together to form a divorce agreement. A litigated divorce is also possible.

Should you think about the possibility of divorce?

Recently engaged Texas couples may find themselves excited about the possibility of planning a wedding, going on a honeymoon and preparing for their lives together. During this period of planning and looking ahead, it's smart not to overlook the need for a prenuptial agreement. Despite the many benefits that this type of legal protection can provide, couples often don't want one or don't think they really need one. 

Prenuptial agreements are contracts that outline how property division will work in case of a divorce, and address certain financial matters that will come up during the marriage. You may think that it seems unromantic to talk about divorce before you've even made it down the aisle, or that you could be jinxing your marriage, but that is not true. Thinking and planning ahead is smart and practical -- for both you and your soon-to-be spouse.

Child support and visitation rights

Many Houston area couples make the decision to no longer remain together. Whether they were married or not, when a couple splits after having children together, the relationship can get complicated. If a parent has been ordered to pay child support, sometimes this support doesn't come through in a timely manner. There can be many questions in these situations.

If an ex-partner has not been paying child support, many may wonder if they still have the right to see their children. Visitation orders have been established by a court to make sure the children's best interests are met. When a parent has not been receiving child support payments, they may feel angry and upset, along with wondering how they will meet the basic needs of their children.

If you leave the family home, is that considered abandonment?

When a Texas couple gets married, they believe their marriage will last forever. In many cases, this is what happens, and they stay together for decades. But, when a divorce becomes inevitable, there are many things a person needs to consider. A couple doesn't usually want to live in the same house at this point of their relationship but leaving the family home may not be a good idea.

When a couple decides that a divorce is their only option, one of the spouses will probably move out. Before a person moves out, there are a few things they should keep in mind. If the spouse intends to seek primary custody of the children, they should not move out until a temporary order has been completed. If a person moves out before the temporary order is created, then the court may not grant them primary custody. If a couple does not have children but a person wants to keep the marital home, then they should not move out until they have had an initial hearing with the court. If a person moves out of the marital home before a hearing, it could look like they have another place to reside and may not be awarded the marital home.

Are there residency requirements when divorcing in Texas?

When a Texas couple gets married, they assume their marriage will last forever. These relationships often do but, occasionally, a divorce becomes imminent. A divorce is an incredibly stressful time for a family and, in Texas, there are many complicated laws surrounding the divorce process. Some residents of the Houston area may wonder how long they need to live in Texas before they can file for divorce.

There are many laws regarding divorces in Texas. For newer residents of the state, it is important to know the residency requirements for obtaining a divorce. Texas law states that in order for a person to file for divorce they must be a domiciliary of the state for at least six months and a resident of the county for a minimum of 90 days. The residency requirement pertains to either the petitioner or the respondent and doesn't need to be both parties.

Is your separate bank account still yours during divorce?

More and more, people are building their own lives before they get married. You may be among those who finished their educations, established their careers and perhaps even purchased property before tying the knot. You certainly have your own bank accounts, and when you and your spouse married, you may have agreed to keep your own savings and checking accounts.

This is common, and many couples believe that these accounts not only help them maintain control over their financial lives but also protect them financially if they should ever divorce. Unfortunately, this is not always a foolproof way of securing your future in the event that your marriage breaks up.

Mistakes to avoid in a high net worth divorce

Unfortunately, many marriages in the Houston area do not last forever. There are many couples who decide to end their marriage for one reason or another. When a couple is facing a divorce, it can be an emotional time with many complex issues that need to be resolved. When the couple has a high net worth, the decisions that are made during this time are very important.

When a high net worth couple is going through a divorce it can be a situation that is more complex than other divorces. With a lot of assets to work through it is important for a person to understand the mistakes that they should avoid. One mistake is making decisions based on emotion instead of logic. Sometimes couples also rush through the divorce process without taking their time on important matters. This can lead to financial mistakes that can't be remedied once the divorce is finalized. It is also not uncommon for one spouse to hide assets. In addition, one spouse may not understand how many assets exist or fully understand what the assets are. There can be assets in businesses, art, retirement accounts, vacation homes, rental properties and more. When a spouse is not aware of all their marital assets, they may not receive the full amount of what they are due.

Is joint custody the right choice for your family?

Making decisions that can affect your children after divorce is not an easy task. It can be hard to make choices that will make sense for your Texas family while both protecting your parental rights and the needs of your children. This is why many parents find it beneficial to opt for a joint custody agreement.

Joint custody means that parents will share parenting time and responsibility for raising the children after divorce. This works differently for each family, and you have the right to craft a custody order that makes sense for your unique situation. This option allows the kids to have strong relationships with both parents after divorce, which is greatly beneficial for every member of the family.

Separate property in a Texas divorce

When a Houston couple gets married, they believe their life can't get any better. They have just committed themselves to a lifetime with the one they love, and life has never looked rosier. Unfortunately, not all marriages last forever, and each year thousands of Texas couples decide to make the difficult decision to divorce. Working through a divorce is a complicated and emotional matter with property division often being the most contentious issue.

There are two types of property that are analyzed during divorce proceedings. The first type of property in a marriage is communal property. This is typically the property that is obtained during the marriage. The other type of property that is considered during divorce proceedings is separate property. There are three types of separate property in Texas.

Divorcing in Texas while pregnant

As many Houston couples know, not all marriages last forever. There are many marriages that just don't work out for one reason or another. When a marriage isn't destined for eternity, many couples just want the divorce to be finalized as soon as possible. If the wife is pregnant at the time of the divorce, however, this can cause problems.

A Texas court doesn't usually grant a divorce if the wife is pregnant. They prefer to wait until after the baby is born so that they can establish paternity and work through child-related orders such as conservatorship, possession and child support. A couple also needs to keep in mind that there is a 60-day waiting period for a divorce. So, if the wife is three months pregnant, the couple would have to wait six months until the baby is born along with another 60-days for the waiting period. During these months a couple can file for divorce and work through the divorce process and through any complications to help make the divorce quicker when the waiting period is over.

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Terry L. Hart, Attorney at Law
4265 San Felipe Street
Suite 1100
Houston, TX 77027

Toll Free: 877-576-7390
Phone: 713-581-1773
Fax: 713-968-9817
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