Best Divorce Lawyers San Antonio, TX Of 2024 – Forbes

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If you are getting a divorce in Texas, it is important to understand Texas divorce law. Knowing the Texas-specific requirements and regulations is essential to protecting your rights and ensuring a smooth legal process. Here are some of the most important Texas divorce laws.

Texas Divorce Requirements

According to Texas family law, you or your spouse must have been a Texas resident for six months before the divorce and a resident for at least 90 days in the county where you’re filing for divorce. In addition to residency requirements, Texas imposes a 60-day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized. The waiting period begins when you or your spouse files divorce papers.

Unlike some states, Texas doesn’t have a separation requirement, meaning you can file for divorce without having to have lived separately from your spouse. To begin the divorce process, one of you (the petitioner) completes the initial documents, called the petition for divorce. The document is then filed at court and served on the other spouse (the respondent).

Types of Divorce and Separation in Texas

If you are looking to end a marital relationship in Texas, you may have various options, including:

  • No-Fault Divorce. Texas allows for no-fault divorces, meaning you can dissolve your marriage without proving fault or wrongdoing. You simply state that the marriage has become insupportable due to conflict or discord.
  • Fault-Based Divorce. With a fault-based divorce in Texas, the spouse seeking divorce must prove that the other is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, for example, due to cruelty, adultery, abandonment, living apart, confinement in a mental hospital or a felony conviction.
  • Annulment. Unlike a divorce that ends a marriage, an annulment legally erases the marriage by declaring that it was never valid. Grounds for annulment can include underage marriage, bigamy, fraud, impotence, lack of mental capacity, marrying while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and the marriage being solemnized within 72 hours of obtaining the marriage license.
  • Separation. Couples who are not ready to officially end their marriage can opt for a temporary separation period instead of divorce. However, it is worth noting that Texas doesn’t formally recognize “limited divorce” or legal separation, unlike some other states.

Consulting with a divorce attorney can help you understand the law when facing a marriage breakdown and assist with navigating the various options for ending the relationship.

Child Custody, Support and Visitation in Texas

As a parent, nothing is more important than the well-being of your children, especially during a divorce. In Texas, child custody, support and visitation laws are designed to ensure children’s best interests.

  • Child Custody. In Texas, child custody is called “conservatorship,” and the person with custody is called the “conservator.” Under Texas law, a joint managing conservatorship, including both parents, is preferred. However, a court may decide that sole managing conservatorship is in the child’s best interests, for example, if there is violence or substance abuse by one parent.
  • Child Support. Generally, the non-custodial parent must pay child support to the spouse with whom the child resides. Child support in Texas is calculated based on income and must generally be paid until the children are either 18 years old or finish high school (whichever occurs later).
  • Visitation Rights. In Texas, the standard possession order determines that the non-custodial parent has visitation on the first, third and fifth weekends of the month, Thursday evenings, alternating holidays, and an extended period over the summer vacation. However, this schedule can be customized to fit your situation and your child’s best interests.

Property Division in Texas

Texas uses a community property model, meaning marital property acquired during the marriage is equally owned by both spouses. Therefore, whatever was your property before you got married remains yours after the divorce. However, in practice, the division of marital property can be complex, especially if there are multiple assets or debts.

Spousal Support

The Lone Star state has two types of alimony: spousal support and spousal maintenance. Spousal support is also known as “contractual alimony” and is based on an agreement between the divorcees. Spousal maintenance, on the other hand, is court-ordered. Receiving court-ordered maintenance can be challenging. The spouse seeking maintenance must prove that they cannot meet their needs even after the division of property.

There are also limits on court-ordered spousal maintenance. The paying spouse is not obliged to pay more than 20% of their gross monthly income, or $5,000 per month, whichever is the lesser.

Filing and Serving Your Divorce Papers

In Texas, you typically begin your divorce proceedings by gathering the relevant forms from your local court clerk’s office or online and filing a petition. The forms required depend on your situation:

  • Set A Divorce Forms: Divorce without children (opposite sex)
  • Set B Divorce Forms: Divorce with children
  • Set C Divorce Forms: Divorce with children and final court order
  • Set D Divorce Forms: Same sex divorce without children

The petition outlines your grounds for divorce as well as the desired property division and child custody arrangements, if any. Once the petitioning spouse completes the paperwork, the documents must be properly served to the respondent spouse. Methods for serving the petition for divorce can include in-person delivery, certified mail or a process server.

Finalizing Your Divorce

Once you file your petition with the court, you must wait a minimum of 60 days before your divorce can be finalized. The waiting period is intended to allow you and your spouse to reconsider your decision and ensure that you truly want to get divorced. However, in divorces involving domestic violence, the court may waive the waiting period to protect the victim.

After the 60 days, you must attend a final hearing before a judge. During this hearing, the court reviews the divorce agreement. Once the judge is satisfied with the terms and conditions, they issue a final decree of divorce, which officially terminates your marriage.

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