Family law is a broad area of law that deals with a wide variety of issues affecting the lives of couples and families. Cases involving family matters are quite common. And at some point, you may need expert legal assistance to deal with some of the more complex issues surrounding family law including divorce, child custody, adoptions, and so on that are statistically bound to happen.
Not only are these issues quite complex, but they also have life-changing outcomes. This is why it is crucial that you seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney in Porter to help you navigate the ins and outs of family law and also protect your rights and needs as well as those of your loved ones.
At Bolton Law, we have experience handling all types of Texas family law cases. We offer personalized service and professional representation to all our clients. We will help you understand your legal rights and help you put together the best strategy for a favorable outcome.
What Qualifies as a Family Law Case?
There are a variety of civil cases that fall under family law. These are cases that involve legal issues that arise out of family relations. These are issues concerning or between spouses, parents, and children. Family law cases are handled by family courts.
Here are some common examples of family law cases:
Contested and Uncontested Divorce
Divorce is perhaps the most common family law case in the state of Texas. There are two main types of divorce in Texas: contested and uncontested divorce.
An uncontested divorce arises when both partners have considered and mutually agreed on all the terms of the divorce. However, there are certain requirements that the couple has to meet to file for an uncontested divorce.
A contested divorce arises when the partners can’t agree on one or more terms of the divorce. These can include issues to do with child custody, property division, alimony, and so on.
Parental Rights, Child Custody, and Child Support
Child custody and child support are some of the most contentious issues that have to be resolved during a divorce. And when the parents can’t agree on these issues, the courts will have to intervene. Our attorneys will help negotiate for the best terms and offer you the best guidance during the process.
Spousal Support and Alimony Agreements
While the terms alimony and spousal support are commonly used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two.
Texas state law does not provide for alimony as a right, but it is existent. It is often included in the Final Decree of Divorce as an agreed term. This means that it is only available if both partners agree to it, and is only enforceable under contract law.
On the other hand, Texas state law provides for spousal support or spousal maintenance as a right under certain circumstances. The spouse requesting spousal support has to meet certain requirements, with the fundamental and most important one being the inability to meet their minimum needs without the other spouse.
An experienced family law attorney in Porter, Texas can help secure the best outcome for you.
Legal Name Changes in Texas
If you are looking to legally change your name or that of your minor child, you need to file a formal petition for a legal name change with a Texas family court. If successful, the court will give an order authorizing the amendments of your documents including, your birth certificate, driving license, and other identifying documents.
Our family law attorneys at Bolton Law will help make the process much easier for you.
The state of Texas provides three types of orders of protection to protect you and your family against someone who has been violent or has threatened to be violent:
- Temporary ex parte protective order – It is meant to offer you and your family immediate protection from the abuser.
- Final protective order – It is generally effective for up to two years, but may be longer under special circumstances.
- Magistrate’s order of emergency protection – Also known as an emergency protective order, it is awarded after an abuser has been arrested for committing sexual abuse, sexual assault, stalking, or trafficking.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, we are here to help you.
If you’ve been reported to the Department of Social Services and charged with child abuse or child neglect, you need to act fast and strategically. Your career, housing, relationship, and more will be compromised. An experienced family law attorney in Porter will help ensure the most favorable outcome for you.
Adoption is a beautiful thing for adoptive children and parents, but the adoption process can be stressful and complicated. Bolton Law can assist you whether you are seeking a private adoption, foster care adoption, domestic adoption, internal adoption, or stepparent adoption.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Texas?
As opposed to what Hollywood shows and celebrity news portrays, couples in Texas need sufficient ground to be granted a divorce. For a Texas court to grant you a divorce, you have to raise and prove at least one ground for divorce.
Texas family code offers the following 7 grounds for divorce:
- Living apart – To be granted a divorce under this ground, the couple must have lived apart without cohabitation for at least three years.
- Insupportability – To be eligible for divorce under this ground, it has to be proven that the marriage has become insupportable as a result of conflict and there is no reasonable expectation that the couple will get back together.
- Confinement in a mental hospital – You can also qualify for a divorce if your spouse has been confined in a private or state hospital for at least three years and the mental illness is such that an adjustment is unlikely, or if it happens a relapse is possible.
- Cruelty – If one spouse willfully causes pain and suffering to the other, and the treatment is so bad that living together is insupportable, then this can be a ground for divorce.
- Abandonment – To be granted a divorce on the ground of abandonment, it has to be proven that one spouse voluntarily left the spouse who raised the complaint and did so with the intention of abandonment; and stayed away for a minimum of one year.
- Adultery – Under Texas law, adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a spouse and someone who is not their husband or wife. For a divorce to be granted on this ground, there needs to be sufficient evidence to prove this.
- Felony criminal conviction – In the event that your spouse gets convicted of a felony crime; gets a minimum prison sentence of one year; and has not been pardoned, then you may be eligible for a divorce.
How Do You Start the Divorce Process?
The divorce process can be long and complex, which is why it is crucial to have a Porter divorce attorney on your side to help ensure the best outcome for you. There are basically 6 main steps to a Texas divorce:
Identify the Grounds for Divorce
To be granted a divorce, Texas law requires that you identify and prove at least one ground of the seven grounds for divorce provided by the Texas Family Code.
File the Petition for Divorce
After choosing the grounds to claim in your divorce papers, you need to file a petition for the dissolution of marriage. The form that you will fill out is known as the original petition for divorce.
Under Texas law, to file for divorce, you must have lived in the state of Texas for a minimum of 6 months prior to filing for divorce and you need to file in a county that you and your spouse have lived in for at least 90 days.
Provide Your Spouse With Legal Notice
There are three specific ways you can provide your spouse with legal notice. These are by:
- Hiring a Process Server
- Having your spouse sign a waiver of citation
- Through a publication
Your Spouse’s Response and Counter-Petition
After being served with a legal notice, your spouse will have twenty days to file a response to your petition. They will have the option to file a counter-petition containing their requests to the court.
The Waiting Period
Unless domestic or family violence is involved, there will be a mandatory 60-day waiting period before the court grants the original petition for divorce to leave room for negotiations.
The Divorce Decree
If you and your spouse are able to reach a settlement agreement within the 60-day waiting period the final hearing will be set in which you will just have to answer a few questions from the judge before they approve the agreement.
However, if you are unable to reach an agreement, the final hearing may consist of a bench trial or a jury trial. After the final hearing, you will receive your decree of divorce.
How Does the Division of Property Work in Texas?
The state of Texas follows the community property rule. This rule stipulates that all property and income acquired by either partner during a marriage belongs to both spouses equally. This also includes debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage. All of these will be divided equally in the event of divorce unless there are just and right reasons to do otherwise.
To protect an asset from property division in divorce, there needs to be clear and convincing evidence that the asset was acquired by a spouse before marriage and was kept separate during the marriage.
How Is Child Custody Decided?
Being one of the most contentious and critical aspects of the divorce process, the courts employ specific criteria when determining custody. But basically, all court decisions are made based on what is best for the child.
Here are some of the common factors that Texas courts consider:
- The relationship the child has with both parents
- The ability of each parent to provide a safe and stable environment for the child
- The child’s preference – if mature enough
- Any history of mental illness, domestic abuse, drug abuse, or any behavior that poses harm to the child
- The financial status of each parent
- How the decision will impact the child’s educational opportunities and social life
- Distance between each parent’s home
- The ability of each parent to provide a safe and stable environment for the child
What Is Alimony and How Is It Decided?
Texas law doesn’t provide for alimony as an entitlement in a divorce, however, it allows for the spousal support payments to be ordered in certain cases. Spousal support or maintenance is an award in a divorce that provides periodic payments to a less financially stable spouse from the future income of the other spouse to help meet their minimum reasonable needs.
The spouse requesting spousal support has to meet specific criteria to be eligible for spousal support.
The fundamental and most important requirement is that the spouse seeking support will be unable to meet their minimum reasonable needs without the other spouse.
In addition, one of the following requirements has to be met:
- The spouse from whom spousal support payments are being requested has been convicted of an act of family violence, and the act was committed during the marriage either two years before the date the divorce suit was filed or while the divorce was pending.
- The spouse seeking spousal maintenance is not able to earn sufficient income to meet their basic needs because of an incapacitating disability (physical or mental).
- The spouse has been in a marital relationship with the other spouse for at least 10 years.
- The spouse is not able to earn enough income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs as a result of being the custodian of a child of the marriage who is in need of personal supervision and substantial care.
In Texas, the maximum awardable spousal maintenance amount is 20% of the more financially capable spouse’s monthly gross income or $5,000, whichever is less. How long the payments will be made will depend on a number of factors.
An Experienced Family Law Attorney in Porter Can Help!
Matters surrounding family law including divorce, child custody, and spousal support are complex, sensitive, and life-changing. This is why it is important that you reach out to an experienced family law attorney in Porter to help guide you through the process and ensure the best outcome for you and your loved ones.
At Bolton Law, we have a team of compassionate and highly knowledgeable Texas family law attorneys who are prepared to offer you the legal assistance that you need to protect your rights and interests. Get in touch with us today at 281-351-7897 to schedule a consultation.