Are you seeking a divorce in Pearland, Texas? While many people spend a lot of time thinking about their wedding, they do not know as much about ending their union. There are crucial facts you must consider, and our Pearland divorce lawyers can ensure you are well-informed.

The attorneys at Terry & Roberts have the necessary experience and knowledge of divorce law in Texas to help you through each step in the process. When we represent you, we are on your side, fighting to help you get your fair share of the marriage assets and ensuring the things that matter to you are handled with the utmost care. Terry & Roberts also helps clients navigate the complexities of other family law issues, such as child custody and child support.

We have represented a wide range of clients in Pearland, Texas and the surrounding areas, from doctors and other medical professionals to those with family-owned businesses. No matter how complex your case, the right legal representation can help the proceedings move along smoothly and efficiently.

Understanding the Divorce Process in Texas

Every state has its own laws governing the details of breaking a marriage contract. In order to pursue a divorce in Texas, one or both spouses must have resided in the state for at least six months and in the county where you are filing for at least 90 days prior. The process for obtaining a final decree of divorce has six steps:

Establishing the Grounds for Divorce

In legal matters, a ground is the justification you give for your action. For marriage dissolution, you will need to decide which of the allowable grounds will be the basis of your divorce petition. This provides the reason why you are dissolving your marriage.

You must provide evidence to prove your justification to begin the divorce process. Texas recognizes seven grounds for divorce:

  • Insupportability: When a married couple simply cannot reconcile their differences and no longer wishes to be married. This is also known as divorce by agreement.
  • Cruelty: When one spouse treats the other with cruelty in any way, including verbal, physical, or emotional abuse.
  • Living apart: When the two spouses have lived apart for at least three years.
  • Abandonment: When one spouse has left the other and stayed away for at least a year.
  • Adultery: When it can be proven that one spouse has been sexually involved with someone outside of the marriage.
  • Felony conviction: When one spouse has been convicted of a felony.
  • Confinement to a mental hospital: When one spouse has been confined to a mental hospital for at least three years and “the mental disorder is of such a degree and nature that adjustment is unlikely or that, if adjustment occurs, relapse is probable.”

Understanding the nuances of each of these grounds and collecting the relevant evidence to prove them to the court can be confusing. When you work with skilled divorce lawyers in Pearland, TX, they can evaluate your situation and give you the guidance you need.

Filing the Petition for Divorce

After determining the grounds for divorce, your attorney will help you complete the paperwork. The first form is a petition for the dissolution of the marriage, also known as the original divorce petition. The person to file for divorce is the petitioner, and the other spouse is referred to as the respondent.

You must have lived in Texas for at least six months prior to filing, and you must file in the county where either you or your spouse has lived for at least 90 days. Your divorce lawyer will help you file in the appropriate location, which is typically the district clerk’s office. You can mail the forms, along with the filing fee, or take them in person to the court.

Providing Legal Notice to Your Spouse

Once the petition is filed in court, you are required to serve your spouse with a legal notice of the petition. You cannot simply call or text them. You must notify them in one of three ways:

  • You hire a process server to locate and present them with the papers.
  • You convince your spouse to sign a waiver of citation.
  • You use either posting or publication to notify the spouse if they have abandoned you.

Posting notice means that you will have the petition posted at the courthouse for a specified period of time. This can only be used when there are no children involved in the divorce, and you cannot find your spouse. Publication is used when there are children and your spouse cannot be found. You must make every effort to track them down.

No matter what method you use, there are legal complexities that could cause problems for you later on if you make a mistake. Working with our seasoned divorce attorneys can give you the best chance of making your divorce proceedings go as smoothly as possible.

Your Spouse Answers with a Counter-Petition

When your spouse has been served or notified of the divorce petition, they are responsible for responding with an answer and / or counter-petition. They have 20 days from their receipt of the petition to file an answer with the court. They are then entitled to attend all court hearings regarding the marital dissolution.

Whether they hire an attorney is up to them. If you are the respondent, it is highly advisable to engage professional legal representation, even if the grounds are insupportability and you want to end the union. Any divorce attorney will tell you that even the friendliest of divorces can turn hurtful and challenging with little warning.

In the answer / counter-petition, the respondent will state their grounds for divorce and their requests from the court. If your reasons and your spouse’s reasons do not match, your respective lawyers will be responsible for negotiating the details after the counter-petition is filed.

You Undergo the 60-Day Waiting Period

Some states have short waiting periods that allow for “quickie” divorces. Texas requires that no final decree for divorce be issued until 60 days after the original petition is filed. This is a “cooling off” period in case either spouse wishes to change their mind. When there is evidence of domestic violence, however, the court may allow an exception for a faster result.

If you and your spouse can come to an agreement on child support, visitation, custody, and alimony, then you can pursue an uncontested divorce. This allows you to decide between yourselves how you want to parent after the final decree. Most judges will accept these agreements and grant the divorce, keeping your private life out of a public trial.

However, choosing to pursue a contested divorce can have some benefits. When you and your spouse cannot agree on how to separate property or establish custody, going to court can be useful. You are able to conduct discovery, which lets you review their financial position and determine if they are withholding any vital information.

Your Final Divorce Decree Is Granted

If you can reach a settlement before the 60-day waiting period is over, your agreement will be filed with the court, and the judge will issue a final decree after the 60 days. If it takes longer, you can still take advantage of an uncontested divorce. Your final hearing will be set at any time after the spouses reach an agreement.

If you are in a contested divorce, you will face a trial before a decision can be issued. This can take as long as 6-12 months or longer, depending on how the negotiations proceed. However you choose to handle the divorce, the judge will examine your requests for child support, custody, alimony, property division, debt division, and any other details. They may choose to amend or adjust some elements for a fairer result.

Once the decree is signed by the judge, you can file it at the county clerk’s office, and your divorce is complete.

Property Division in a Texas Divorce

Property division is one of the most hotly contested issues in a divorce, just after child custody and support payments. Texas is a community property state, which means that all property you and your spouse own will be divided “just and right,” or equitably, in the divorce. This does not equal a 50/50 split.

Homes, land, vehicles, checking and saving accounts, retirement funds, businesses, furniture, and artwork can all be considered community property. Regardless of which spouse paid for the asset or whose name is on the title, it is eligible for division during a divorce. The same is true for debt in the marriage. Even after a final decree, if one spouse fails to pay their debt, the creditor can pursue the other person for payment.

Separate property can also exist and is usually awarded to the spouse who owned it. It includes:

  • Any property owned or claimed by one spouse before they were married
  • Any assets one spouse received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage
  • All funds received by one spouse from a personal injury case that occurred during the marriage (except lost income and medical expenses)
  • All stock dividends and capital gains one spouse earns on their separate property investments

Your divorce lawyer will need to provide clear evidence that you own an asset as separate property if your spouse disagrees. Debt can also be separate, and if your spouse tries to claim their separate debt as community debt to push their financial burden onto you, you have the right to present evidence against their claim. The family court judge overseeing your divorce case will review the materials and issue a confirmation or denial of an asset’s status as community or separate.

Contact the Pearland Divorce Lawyers at Terry & Roberts

Facing divorce is never easy, even in the best of circumstances. You can suffer less stress and worry when you rely on a skilled divorce attorney from the law firm of Terry & Roberts. We are ready to assist you in Pearland, TX and throughout the greater Houston area.

Our legal team will stand by your side in negotiations and before the judge in family court, ensuring your rights are protected. We will diligently pursue the best interests of you and your children. Contact us through our online form to schedule a consultation today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce Law in Pearland, TX

Do I need a lawyer to get a divorce?

Not necessarily. You can get a divorce without hiring a lawyer, but there are many reasons why it is in your best interest to have a lawyer on your side. Divorce law is complex and difficult to navigate by someone without a law degree. Also, it is likely that your spouse will hire a lawyer, which would give them an unfair advantage over you if you didn’t have one. You may not get your fair share of the marriage assets, spousal support, child custody, or child support.

How long before my divorce is final?

The length of time it takes for divorce proceedings to be resolved varies. In Texas, there is a minimum of 60 days from the time a divorce is filed for it to be finalized. The amount of time a case lasts beyond that depends on the complexity of the marital estate, whether or not children are involved, and how long it takes to reach an agreement.

How can I protect my assets?

If you own substantial assets, such as a business like a medical practice, or you have a high net worth, you may be concerned about losing those assets to your spouse in a divorce. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you protect your most lucrative assets from being unfairly divided or awarded to your spouse.

Why should you hire Terry & Roberts for your divorce?

You need a divorce lawyer in Pearland, Texas who will work hard to help you hold on to the things you hold most dear as you and your spouse part ways. The lawyers of Terry & Roberts fight for our clients’ rights and their most valuable assets. We can help negotiate peacefully with your spouse and their attorney when possible, but we are also prepared to go toe to toe with the opposition if necessary.

Why should I choose a Pearland attorney who focuses exclusively on family law?

Many legal professionals hold themselves out as experienced divorce attorneys when they only practice family law on a part-time basis. These firms also spend time devoted to other disciplines, such as criminal law, estate planning, or personal injury law. When you work with a Terry & Roberts attorney, you have the peace of mind of knowing that your lawyer is focused exclusively on family law matters. Our attorneys spend all their time protecting the interests of clients like you who are facing divorce and other family law issues.

What are the residency requirements to obtain a Texas divorce?

To file for divorce in Texas, one spouse must have been a resident of the state for a continuous six-month period prior to filing. Further, one spouse must have resided in the county of filing for at least 90 days.

Is there a waiting period for a Texas divorce?

While there are exceptions when family violence is an issue, as a general rule, a Texas court cannot grant a divorce until at least 60 days after the filing of the divorce petition.

Can I get alimony in my Texas divorce?

While either spouse in a Texas divorce can ask the court to award spousal maintenance, in order to be successful, Texas law requires you to demonstrate that you meet any of the following legal criteria for spousal support:

  • Showing that your spouse was convicted of family violence against you and / or your children within two years of the divorce filing or while the divorce is pending.
  • Demonstrating that you are unable to earn enough income to be self-supporting because of a physical or mental disability.
  • You and your spouse have been married for ten or more years, and you lack the ability to earn enough money to meet your basic needs.
  • You are the custodial parent of a child who requires a level of care or personal supervision that prevents you from working.

An experienced Pearland divorce lawyer will be able to evaluate whether or not you meet the legal criteria for receiving alimony. If appropriate, they will advocate for spousal support on your behalf in family court.

What if I need temporary support while the divorce is pending?

The court can issue temporary spousal support if you can show a need. Generally speaking, temporary support will only be ordered if you are unemployed or you earn significantly less than your spouse. Whether to award temporary support and how much will be awarded is left to the discretion of the judge.

How much child support can I expect to receive?

In Texas, noncustodial parents are required to pay a percentage of their income in child support pursuant to state guidelines. The guidelines take into account the noncustodial parent’s net income and whether they are also supporting other children.

In some instances, you may be able to receive more financial support if you can support a claim for “above guideline support.” Your divorce lawyer will be able to advise you on whether your circumstances warrant this extra child support and how much you can reasonably expect the court to award.

Are you ready to file for divorce? Contact Terry & Roberts today to schedule a consultation.

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