You may have a number of questions for a divorce lawyer, both during your initial consultation and based on things that have happened during your case. Here are some common questions that clients tend to have for their divorce lawyer:
Can I get a divorce if my spouse does not want one?
Yes. You do not have to show fault in order to obtain a divorce in Texas. One spouse has the right to unilaterally file for divorce, even if the other does not want one. If one spouse refuses to negotiate a divorce agreement, the court can decide the legal issues involved in the divorce. You would just need to argue to the court that there are irreconcilable differences between you and the other spouse. This is known as a no-fault divorce, and it is by far the most common type of divorce in Texas.
How long will it take to get a divorce in Texas?
The minimum amount of time necessary to get a divorce in Texas is 60 days from the day a divorce petition is filed with the court. However, a divorce cannot be finalized until all of the issues are resolved. It may take the spouses some time to negotiate an agreement. If they cannot resolve all of their issues, a court will need to do it for them. If a divorce has complex legal issues, it may take more time from start to finish. Some divorces may take a year or more to resolve. Of course, uncontested divorces can be resolved more quickly than contested ones.
Can I get a legal separation in Texas?
No. Some states recognize a concept of legal separation when spouses live separate lives pursuant to a court-ordered agreement. There is no such thing as a legal separation in Texas. There are some steps you may take to govern particular aspects of a separation that could be similar to a legal separation in operation, but there is no formal legal separation in Texas.
How will marital assets be treated in a divorce?
Texas uses the law of community property in dividing a marital estate. All property that is acquired during a marriage is presumed to belong to both spouses equally. Unlike other states, Texas does not usually look at equitable factors in determining the division of property. Separate property may not be a part of the community estate, but a spouse would have the burden to show that their property is truly separate.
What happens while a divorce case is ongoing?
A court is able to issue interim orders while a divorce case is pending. For example, things like child custody and child support could be the subject of these temporary orders before the court enters a final divorce order. You may either agree to an interim arrangement or file a motion for temporary orders with the court. These orders will last until the final divorce order is entered.
Will my divorce case go to a trial?
Whether or not your divorce case goes to trial depends on the circumstances of your particular situation; however, divorce trials are rare. Even if you and your spouse begin a legal process in court, most cases will settle before they reach the trial phase. An overwhelming majority of divorces are resolved through a marital settlement agreement rather than a trial. Even if you disagree over some issues, there is nothing stopping you from resolving the other issues through an agreement; however, you should not agree to a settlement that is unfair or unbalanced. If the other spouse is being unreasonable, you may need to go to trial.
How do judges decide custody matters involving children?
In Texas, as in every other state, the legal standard in every child custody matter is to determine what is in the best interests of the child or children. The standard is meant to be a flexible one that allows judges to consider one or more of many factors. A divorce case involving minor children is supposed to revolve around what is best for the children, as opposed to what is best for their parents. The legal presumption in Texas is that both parents should share in custody and decision-making, even if one parent has primary physical custody. The law wants both parents involved in their children’s lives.
Can I modify a divorce agreement once it has been entered by the court?
There are certain things that are absolutely final once a divorce agreement is entered. For example, once the marital property is divided, the allocation between the two spouses cannot change. However, there are some parts of a divorce agreement that can be modified if you can show the circumstances have significantly changed. If there is a spousal support agreement, it could be amended based on a change in the financial circumstances of either spouse. Similarly, arrangements related to the children, such as custody and child support, can also be modified if there are significant and material changes in circumstances. The burden of proof is on the person seeking the modification to show how the circumstances have changed.