How long must I live in Texas before I can file for divorce here?
At the time the suit is filed, either you or your spouse needs to have lived in Texas for preceding six months or longer and have been a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for at least 90 days.
What is an agreed or uncontested divorce?
An agreed or uncontested divorce means that the parties agree to the main issues, specifically, property, funds, child custody and support.
The attorney files the petition, waiver, drafts the final decree, and appears in court to have the Judge approve the decree.
These cases typically involve marriages where there are no children or property.
If we agree on everything, do we still need to go to court?
Yes, but the process is much less involved. The judge needs to approve your agreed order or decree and grant the divorce.
Usually the divorce decree is signed and only one party will need to go before the judge for a signature to finalize the divorce.
Your attorney will go through the important points of the divorce by asking you to answer yes or no to certain questions before the judge, then the judge grant the divorce.
Do I have to wait until the divorce is final before I can get child support?
No, temporary orders can be obtained from the court while the divorce is pending. The Court will determine where the children will live temporarily and the appropriate amount of child support that will be paid while the suit is pending.
What is "Community Property" and how will that effect my divorce?
Generally, community property is a legal concept that all property, income, and essentially everything other than seperate property, belong to the marital community.
Based on this legal concept, a 50/50 split will be the initial presumption for any cash, real property, retirement funds or other property.
Seperate property, such as assets owned before marriage, proceeds from a personal injury suit, gifts or inheritances, will need to be legally accounted for to not be considered a part of the community.
If you feel that a 50/50 division would not be fair for you, it's especially important to consult an attorney so that your case can be properly presented to the court.
I heard there is no "alimony" in Texas, is that true?
This is true to a degree. In Texas we have what is called spousal support and you must qualify to receive it.
Generally, if it is awarded, it is only for a limited time.
It is designed to allow one spouse to "get back on their feet" after the divorce and be able to support themselves again.
In deciding aspousal support, a judge will consider numerous factors including, but not limited to, the length of the marriage, whether there was any domestic violence, and the income of each spouse.
What's sole managing and joint managing conservatorship?
What is commonly referred to as custody is known as conservatorship in Texas.
Sole managing conservatorship means only one parent has custody and decision making rights for the child while Joint managing conservatorship means both have certain rights.
One parent may have more time and/or rights than the other. In Texas, the Court generally orders both parents as joint managing conservators.
Doesn't the mother always get custody of the child?
In Texas the Court must always consider what is the best interest of the child while determining custody or conservatorship.
Generally, courts do not consider the gender of the parent and/or the child when determining the child's best interest.
Usually, courts in Texas are most likely to grant joint managing conservatorship of the child to both parents.
Can the child decide which parent he/she wants to live with?
If the child is 12 years or older, the Court may interview the child to better understand the child's wishes.
Also, if the child is older than 12, he/she may inform the court in writing.
In either instance, the Court will follow the "best interest of the child" standard when making its determination, and not necessarily the wishes of the child.
How do I determine my child support obligation in Texas?
Child support in Texas is determined by a formula established by the state legislature.
The formula is based upon the percentage of the Obligorís net income.
For example, an Obligor with one child should pay 20%, if 2 children, he or she should pay 25% of his or her net income.
The more children there are, the greater the percentage, within limitations.
Further, if the Obligor has another child with another parent, then the child support obligation is reduced by a small percentage.
What happens if my ex isn't paying the court ordered child support?
If you have a court order to receive child support, you may bring an enforcement action in court if it is not being paid.
In an enforcement action, along with some other remedies, you may ask the Court to order your ex to go to jail for failing to pay child support.
You may hire an attorney or call the Office of the Attorney General to enforce your case. Each option has its advantages and drawbacks.
The advantage of hiring an attorney is the speed and certainty that your case will get to court.
My ex won't let me see my child. Can I stop my child support payments?
No. Child Support is not tied to visitation, which means the opposite scenerio would also be true.
If your ex is not making child support payments, you cannot withhold the child.
Doing either of these things would be in violation of Court order and will only get you in trouble with the court.
Instead, you should pursue enforcement of the visitation or child support order by filing a motion for enforcement and/or contempt.
I was just arrested for DWI, how quickly should I hire an attorney?
Immediately! You have only 15 days from your arrest to request a hearing on your driver's license.
You need an attorney skilled in representing persons charged with DWI and who actually try motion hearings, litigate jury trials, and ALR proceedings.
This is important because a DWI can adversely affect your life and your future.
If I am stopped for suspicion of DWI, can I refuse the breath test?
Yes, you have the right to refuse the test. Be aware that the fact that you refused the Breath test may be used against you in your DWI trial and may result in a more severe lisence suspension.
But, unless you are 100% certain that you will pass, you probably should not take the Breath test.
I think I failed the breath test, is the case over for me?
No, by no means. There are numerous things the officer administering the test must do while giving you a Breath test.
More importantly, juries can still return a "not guilty" verdict even with a Breath test.
The officer said he had me on video tape. Will that hurt my case?
Not necessarily. In fact, the video tape can often aid in your defense. You may look better than you thought, and the officer may have not done what he is trained to do.
Typically the officer administers the standardized field sobriety tests, which means they must be demonstrated, instructed, and performed the same way every time.
An experienced DWI attorney can usually make the tape work for you.
I refused to take the breath test, but I was still arrested. Why?
In Texas, intoxication can be proven one of three ways: (1) 0.08 or more, (2) not having your normal mental faculties, OR (3) not having your normal physical faculties.
Typically, when you are requested to take a Breath or Blood test, you were already under arrest.
At this point, the Breath test is merely a formality.
I have to drive to get to work. How do I get there if my license is suspended?
First off, if the Administrative License Review hearing is requested within the first 15 days, your driving privileges are restored until the ALR judge makes a determination to suspend your driver's license.
At that point should the judge suspend your driver's license, you may be eligible for an occupational driver's license which will enable you to travel to and from work.
I got a ticket and I know I'm guilty. Should I just pay the fine?
No. Simply paying the ticket results in a conviction on your driving record.
Too many moving violations and your car insurance will go through the roof.
Furthermore, Texas uses a point system and if you receive too many points, DPS will suspend your driver's license and/or you may also have to pay surcharges to keep your driving privileges.
Call us, we can help.
There is a warrant for my arrest. Can you help me?
Absolutely. In fact, in some cases, we can write bonds to have your warrants lifed. We also will remind you of upcoming court dates to reduce the risk of getting a warrant for your arrest again.
What should I do if I'm arrested?
If you are arrested, it is your decision to answer the police questions or remain silent.
Remember, you have the right to remain silent since anything you say will probably be used against you in trial.
More importantly, you have the right to consult an attorney before you sign any documents.
If you do not have an attorney at the time of your arrest, ask to be given one immediately.
What rights do I have if I am questioned by the police?
You have several rights, known as Miranda Rights, and the officer present must inform you of your rights when they arrest you.
These rights include, the right to remain silent. This means if you choose to speak, anything you say can, and probably will be used against you in court.
Should you decide to answer questions, you may stop at any time and all questioning will cease.
You also have a right to consult with your attorney before answering any questions or to have your attorney present if you decide to answer any questions.
Of course if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you before any further questions may be asked.
Can the police legally search my house without a warrant?
Yes, to a degree. There are a few exceptions that will allow them to search without a warrant.
First, the owner of the property may consent to a search of the home without a warrant.
Secondly, if the police are lawfully present at your home for another reason and see evidence of another crime in plain view, they are able to seize the visible evidence.
Also, if you are arrested inside of your home, the police have the right to search you and the nearby vicinity for any weapons or evidence of your crime.
And finailly, if the police believe that your actions are endangering the public or could lead to the immediate distruction of evidence, they are allowed to search your home.
What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
A felony charge is a far more serious charge than a misdemeanor charge.
A misdemeanor charge is punishable by jail up to one year and severe fines.
Misdemeanors, although less serious than felony charges, will still be placed on your criminal record.
A felony charge usually results in a jail term for more than one year and has much higher fines than that of a misdemeanor.
My child is out of control and in trouble with the law. Can you help us?
Probably, yes. When there is little or no doubt that your child what he is accused of, it can be a positive thing that your child was caught use it as an opportunity for us, the atorney, impress upon your child that certain behavior is destructive.
We are sensitive to these unpleasant situations. Let us help you guide your child to a safer and more responsible future.