Family Law – Divorce
Divorce is an unfortunate situation in family law that brings about emotional and financial turmoil for the parties involved. The process of divorce can be a challenging and time-consuming task that requires a lot of legal expertise and knowledge.
Dissolution of Marriage
In Texas, a divorce is referred to as a “dissolution of marriage.” The state recognizes both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. Insupportability is the most common no-fault grounds, which is usually defined as discord or conflict between the parties that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. Fault-based grounds include adultery, cruelty, conviction of a felony and abandonment, among others.
Each of the fault-based grounds have conditions that need to be met. For example, to obtain a divorce based on the conviction of a felony, the other spouse must have been convicted of a felony and be imprisoned for at least one year in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility, a federal penitentiary, or the penitentiary of another state, without having received a pardon. If you are seeking a divorce based on abandonment, the other spouse must have left with the intention of abandoning you and remained away for at least one year. In cases where the spouses have lived apart without cohabitation, a divorce may be granted after at least three years of separation. All of the conditions are listed under sections 6.002 through 6.007 of the Texas Family Code.
Community Property State
Community property refers to any property that was acquired by either spouse during the marriage. This includes income, real estate, personal property, and other assets. Community property is owned equally by both spouses, regardless of who earned the income or whose name is on the title.
Just and Right
When dividing community property, Texas courts strive to make a division that is “just and right” by taking into consideration various factors such as the spouses’ earning capacities, education, and health, the size of the marital estate, the length of the marriage, fault in the breakup of the marriage, and the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property.
Under the “just and right” concept, the court has broad discretion to divide the community property in a way that it deems fair and equitable, rather than following a strict 50/50 split. This means that the court may divide the property in a manner that may not necessarily be equal, but is still considered fair and just. The court may also consider any separate property, which is property owned by one spouse before the marriage or acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, but not community property, in making the division of the marital estate. Ultimately, the goal is to arrive at a division of property that is fair and just, taking into account the unique circumstances of each case.
In Texas, the law requires that a parent provide financial support to their minor children. The amount of child support is determined based on the non-custodial parent’s income and the number of children they have. The child support formula in Texas is based on guidelines established by the Texas Legislature and considers factors such as the combined net monthly income of both parents, the amount of child care expenses, and the cost of health insurance for the child. The court can order either parent to pay child support until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later.
When it comes to paternity, establishing the identity of the biological father is important in order to establish the father’s legal rights and obligations. Paternity can be established in Texas through voluntary acknowledgment or through court-ordered genetic testing. A father can voluntarily acknowledge paternity by signing a form in the hospital at the time of the child’s birth or by signing a later acknowledgment of paternity with the Office of the Attorney General. If there is a dispute about paternity, either parent can file a court case and ask for genetic testing to be performed.
Once paternity is established, the father has a legal obligation to provide financial support to the child and may also be entitled to seek custody or visitation rights. Establishing paternity is also important for the child because it gives them the right to access important information and benefits such as the father’s medical history, social security benefits, and inheritance rights.
The vast majority of Texas child custody cases settle rather than proceed to a trial. If the parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, Texas is the only U.S. state that allows jury trials for custody cases. You have the right to request a jury trial to decide conservatorship which parent can select the child’s main residence and what area the residence must be in.
The court may also appoint a lawyer to represent the child, known as an “attorney ad litem,” to ensure the child’s best interests are being considered.
The court’s decision is not final and can be modified if there is a significant and substantial material change in circumstances since the last order, such as if one parent moves away or if the child’s needs change.
In conclusion, child custody laws in Texas aim to determine the best interest of the child, with a rebuttable presumption of joint managing conservatorship being in the child’s best interest. If the parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the court will make a decision, which can be modified in the future if necessary.
Get Legal Advice
Child support and paternity laws can be complex and vary from state to state. If you have specific questions or concerns, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable in these areas of law. Richard J. Coribitt & Associates can help you understand your rights and obligations and ensure that your interests are protected.
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Can I get a divorce if my spouse is in jail or prison in Texas?
Yes, you can get a divorce in Texas if your spouse is in prison. The fact that your spouse is incarcerated does not prevent you from obtaining a divorce. However, the process may be more complicated as your spouse may not be able to physically attend court proceedings. Richard Corbitt & Associates can provide guidance on how to proceed with the divorce in such a situation.
Can a prenuptial agreement be enforced in Texas?
Yes, prenuptial agreements are generally enforceable in Texas. In order for a prenuptial agreement to be considered valid and enforceable in Texas, it must meet certain requirements such as being entered into voluntarily and in good faith, with full disclosure of assets and financial obligations by both parties, and without coercion or duress. It is also important that the agreement is not unconscionable, meaning that it is not overly one-sided or unfairly advantageous to one party.
It’s important to note that the enforceability of a prenuptial agreement can be challenged in court, and the agreement may be set aside if the court finds that it was not entered into voluntarily or if there was a lack of full disclosure.
If you have questions about the enforceability of a prenuptial agreement in Texas, it is recommended that you speak with us for more information and guidance.
What is the role of a mediator in a Texas divorce case?
In a Texas divorce case, a mediator is a neutral third party who facilitates communication and negotiation between the parties to help them reach a mutually acceptable settlement. The role of the mediator is to facilitate communication, encourage cooperation, and promote understanding between the parties.
If the parties are able to reach a resolution through mediation, the terms of the agreement can be incorporated into the final divorce decree. If the parties are unable to reach a resolution through mediation, the case may proceed to court for resolution.
Although mediation is not mandatory in Texas divorce cases it is often recommended and judges will require mediation sessions before a trial. If you have questions about whether mediation may be a suitable option for your case, it is recommended that you speak with a us for more information and guidance.
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