How is it determined how much child support a parent will be ordered to pay?

In Texas, we have child support guidelines. Child support guidelines provide that if a parent is paying support for one child, they should pay 20% of their net monthly income. For two children, the percentage is 25% and for three children it is 30% of the obligor's net monthly income. If a parent who is paying support has children from a previous relationship that they are paying support for, child support will be ordered to be paid according to the multiple family guidelines. For example, if Spouse A has a child from his first marriage that he is paying child support on and he is divorcing Wife #2 and they have one child, pursuant to the multiple family guidelines, the guideline amount for the child of Wife #2 and Spouse A would be 17.50% of his net monthly income.

If my spouse and I are divorcing and we reach an agreement on how to divide our assets and debts, is it ok to sign an agreement?

No. You should never sign an agreement with your spouse without having your attorney look at it first. If you sign an agreement, if the agreement meets the criteria to be enforceable, you might regret it.

Should a person have a premarital agreement if they plan on getting married?

Premarital agreements have become very popular. Maybe that is because so many people marry more than once. It is a good idea for a person to have a premarital agreement if they own substantial assets. A premarital agreement should be prepared by a competent attorney that has experience in their preparation. If you have a premarital agreement and get divorced, the agreement is presumed to be valid. Therefore, the party claiming it is not valid has the burden or proof to show that the agreement was not entered into voluntarily or that the agreement was unconscionable when it was signed. If you have children from a prior relationship or a prior marriage and you intend to marry again, it is very important to have a premarital agreement if you have substantial assets.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process where a trained mediator who is usually an attorney will meet with both parties and their attorneys. At mediation, usually the mediator will explain the process to each side and then one party will make an offer of settlement. That offer will be explained to the opposing side and then they usually make a counter-offer. The parties make offers back and forth and if the mediation is successful, the mediator will prepare a mediated settlement agreement and the attorneys and the parties will be required to sign the agreement. Once a mediated settlement agreement is signed, it is difficult for anyone to have buyer's remorse so it is very important that you understand what you are agreeing to when you attend mediation. Mediation is usually mandatory by most judges. The odds of your case settling in mediation are usually high.

Does Texas have alimony?

Yes. Texas was the last state in the United States to pass an alimony statute. In Texas, alimony is called maintenance. You must meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for maintenance. If you are eligible, the court is limited in the amount that can be awarded. You can be awarded up to the lessor of 20% of your spouse's gross monthly income or $5,000.00. The length of your marriage determines the period of time that the court can award maintenance. The longer that you have been married, the longer the judge can order your spouse to pay.

If you want to avoid the anger and bitterness that going to court often produces, is there an alternative?

Most divorces are settled out of court by mediation or simply attorney-to-attorney settlement. The newest method of settlement, that completely avoids the courthouse, is collaborative law. Both attorneys and the divorcing parties vow beforehand to do everything possible to reach a settlement. Sessions are private and the process is meant to eliminate the rancor often associated with divorce.

If your case is scheduled to go to court on a certain date, are you guaranteed that it will happen?

No, because multiple cases may be set on the judge’s docket the same day as your case. Another case may be heard before you and your case may be reset for another day.

How often is alimony awarded in Texas?

Although the Texas Legislature passed an alimony statute in 1995, not many people qualify. Unless you have no significant assets or means of support or you and your spouse agree to it, there will be no significant long-term alimony once the divorce is final.+

What’s the first thing I need to do to build a winning divorce case?

Besides hiring an accomplished matrimonial law attorney, the most important thing you can do at first is to secure three to five years of financial records and anything else that might become evidence in your case.

Why would I ever need a team of attorneys instead of just one divorce lawyer working alone?

If you have a family business, a child custody problem and an aggressive lawyer on the other side, you may benefit from the knowledge base of a large number of attorneys.You hire one attorney who is your main contact throughout the process. But among our family law attorneys we have one who is a certified public accountant as well as others with experience in asset tracing and child custody litigation. We can use all their talents to benefit your case.

What is the first step in the divorce process?

Once you’ve decided that you would like to move forward with a divorce, your attorney will file the divorce petition. This contains certain factual information about the parties, as well as grounds for the divorce.

Can a prenuptial agreement avoid messiness at the end of a marriage?

“Pre-nups” have become a very popular way to avoid the struggle over assets when a marriage ends. These agreements have historically been used to deal with assets that are not divisible, such as an interest in a family owned business or a large tract of real estate. Now people with relatively modest holdings use prenuptial agreements to make a split less messy.

If my spouse wants a divorce and I don’t, how can I stop it?

Once a divorce is filed in Texas and one party wants to go through with it, you can’t stop it from happening in the court system. Your only hope is to convince your spouse to consider reconciliation.

Will I have to pay child support?

The spouse who does not have primary custody of the children will, in most cases, pay child support to the primary custodial parent after a divorce based on guidelines in the Texas Family Code, according to income.

Does joint custody mean each parent having equal time with the children?

Not always. Joint custody means the sharing of parental rights and duties and not necessarily equal time.

What are my chances of gaining custody of my children?

That depends on the facts of your case. Joint custody is preferred in this state. If both parents were involved with the children during the marriage, joint parenting will be the presumption going into the case. There are many misconceptions about joint custody and it is important to understand them before making a decision.

What are the advantages of hiring a board certified family lawyer to handle your divorce?

The Texas Board of Legal Specialization was established by the state to recognize attorneys who do most of their work in one area of the law and meet annual requirements including a certain level of continuing legal education. Attorneys who are not Board Certified in family law can handle divorce-related matters. But most cases that involve complex property arrangements or difficult child custody situations have a Board Certified Family Lawyer on one or both sides.

Are divorce actions matters for a judge, or can you have a jury hear the case?

Either party in a Texas divorce can ask for and receive a jury trial, a unique feature of Texas law. But as a practical matter, judges hear most divorce-related matters and jury decisions that are binding on the court are limited.

Since Texas is a community property state, does that mean that each party is awarded 50% of the assets?

Not necessarily. The Texas Family Code says that property shall be divided in a just and right manner. It does not say 50/50 as most people believe. Judges can consider many factors when making a just and right division which include fault such as adultery, each parties' earning capacity, wasting of assets, the health of the spouses, the age of the spouses, etc...

Is there a waiting period between when a divorce is filed and when it is final?

Most jurisdictions have a waiting period. In Texas, you must wait 60 days from the time you file until your divorce is final, even if the divorce is uncontested.

Why would I ever need a team of attorneys instead of just one divorce lawyer?

Some cases are just too complex for one attorney, no matter how gifted, to handle flawlessly.

Is mediation required in most Texas divorces?

Yes, in most cases. Texas has the most progressive and intensive use of mediation in the country. In 1987, four of the seven family district court judges in Dallas County began to order mandatory mediation all cases. Since then, most Texas courts have begun to require mediation before a family law case can be scheduled for trial.

Can one attorney represent both parties in a divorce?

No. An attorney can prepare the documents in a divorce for both parties to sign, but the attorney cannot legally advise more than one party because it would be a conflict of interest and against our ethics which we must abide.

If my “ex” will not allow me visitation can I stop paying child support?

No. Child support payments and visitation are two separate issues.