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Top 100 FAQs about Texas Divorce

Last Updated on September 7, 2022 by Turner Thornton

If you are considering divorce, or have already started the process, you probably have a ton of questions. How long will the process take? How is child custody determined? How will our property be divided? In this blog post, we answer the most common questions about Texas divorce and family law matters. We hope this comprehensive guide – Top 100 FAQs about Texas Divorce – will provide clarity during what is probably a confusing and emotional time.

1. How do I file for divorce in Texas?

file for divorce

The first step is to file a petition for divorce with the district clerk in the county where you or your spouse have lived for more than 90 days. Once the petition is filed, your spouse will be served with divorce papers and will have 20 days to respond. A family law attorney can file the petition and start the process on your behalf.

2. What is a divorce petition?

divorce petition

A divorce petition is the document that gets the divorce process rolling. The original petition for divorce contains basic information, such as the names and addresses of the parties, the date of marriage, and the grounds for divorce. Once it is filed with the court, it will be served on the other spouse. When people say they have “filed for divorce,” they are referring to the divorce petition.

3. Who is the petitioner and who is the respondent?

petitioner vs respondent

In Texas divorce cases, one spouse is the petitioner and the other is the respondent. The petitioner is the spouse who initiates the divorce by filing a petition for divorce. The respondent is the spouse who receives divorce papers from the petitioner and must then file an answer. The benefit to being the petitioner is that you get to go first in family court, which could set the tone for the case.

4. What is a “no-fault divorce”?

no-fault divorce

Texas is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you do not need to prove that your spouse did anything wrong in order to get a divorce. You can simply state that the marriage has become “insupportable” due to discord or conflict.

Insupportability is a divorce ground that simply means the marriage is no longer working and there is no hope for reconciliation. Again, it does not mean that one spouse is at fault, or that either spouse did anything wrong.

5. What are the “grounds” for divorce in Texas?

Although Texas is a “no-fault divorce” state, it still recognizes numerous grounds for divorce. Grounds for divorce are reasons why the court may grant a divorce and make certain decisions in favor of one spouse over another, including child custody, child support, and property division. The grounds for divorce in Texas are:
> insupportability
> cruelty
> adultery
> felony conviction
> abandonment
> living apart
> confinement to a mental hospital

6. What is the divorce process in Texas?

texas divorce

Divorce can be a very complicated process, especially if there are minor children involved or if the parties cannot agree on major issues like child custody, support, and property division. In Texas, divorce proceedings begin with the filing of a divorce petition by one spouse and end with a final divorce decree. In contested cases, there are many other steps in between. Below is an overview of the Texas divorce process in contested cases:
* Filing the Divorce Petition
* Providing Your Spouse with Notice
* Respondent’s Answer and Counter-petition
* Temporary Orders
* Discovery
* Negotiations/Mediation
* Trial
* Divorce Decree

7. What should I do if my spouse served me with divorce papers?

served divorce papers

If you have been served with divorce papers, you should seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible. Once you have been served, you only have 20 days to respond. Filing an answer or counter-petition for divorce ensures you will have a voice in the matter. If you do not respond within that time frame, your spouse can proceed with the divorce without your input and you will likely end up with a divorce decree that is not in your best interests.

8. Is there a waiting period for divorce in Texas – and why?

waiting period for divorce

Yes, there is a 60-day waiting period in Texas before a divorce can be finalized. This waiting period begins on the date the divorce petition is filed. The reason for the waiting period is to give couples time to think things through and possibly reconcile.

9. How quickly can you get divorced in Texas?

quick divorce

Because there is a waiting period, it takes at least 61 days to get divorced in Texas. This is the minimum amount of time that must pass from the date your divorce petition is filed until the date your divorce decree is signed by a judge. However, most divorces take much longer than this, sometimes several months or even a year or more.

10. What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce in Texas?

An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties have no disagreements about the logistics of their divorce, including child custody, child support, property division, and so on. In these cases, the divorce process is amicable, quicker and less expensive.

A contested divorce is one in which the parties cannot agree on one or more aspects of their divorce, such as child custody, child support, property division, etc. These cases can be much more complicated and often require the help of a mediator and may even need to go to trial. Contested cases are usually much more expensive and time-consuming.

11. What are the divorce laws in Texas?

Texas divorce laws

The divorce laws in Texas are governed by the Texas Family Code. The code is a set of statutes that governs all aspects of family law, including divorce, child custody, support, and property division.

12. Can I get a divorce while my spouse is in jail?

divorce from jail

Yes, you can get a divorce while your spouse is in jail and, in fact, a felony conviction is a ground for divorce. Divorcing someone in jail isn’t much different than divorce proceedings when both parties are free. The biggest obstacle you might face is serving your spouse with divorce papers while he or she is in a correctional facility. An experienced family attorney can help you through this process.

If the divorce is contested, inmates can request to attend hearings, which would most likely be held virtually. If the divorce is uncontested and both parties agree to the divorce, the proceedings can be completed by mail.

13. Can I get a divorce if I’m pregnant?

divorce while pregnant

Texas allows you or your spouse to file a divorce if the wife is pregnant. However, the divorce will not be completed until the baby is born. This is because the court will not have jurisdiction over a child until it is born and cannot make final decisions on issues such as child support, custody or paternity.

14. Can I refuse to get a divorce in Texas?

divorce refusal

No, you cannot refuse to get a divorce in Texas. If your spouse files for divorce, he or she can proceed with the divorce even if you do not want one. In other words, a divorce can and will be granted even if you don’t agree to it.

15. Will my spouse’s adultery factor into our divorce?

adultery affects divorce

Possibly. If you can convince a judge that adultery is the ground, or reason, for your divorce, you could be awarded a greater share of the marital property. For example, if your spouse cheated during the message, the judge could divide 60/40 or 55/45 in favor of you.

16. How can family violence affect a divorce?

family violence and divorce

Family violence is a grounds for divorce in Texas and will likely play a significant role in every other aspect of the case, including child custody, child support, visitation, and property division. For starters, the court can waive the 60-day divorce waiting period in cases of family violence and speed up the divorce process. The court may also issue a protective order prohibiting the abusive spouse from contacting his or her ex or children. Victimized spouses may also end up with full custody of the children and be awarded a greater portion of the couple’s property and assets. To be sure, family violence is taken very seriously in divorce proceedings and can have a significant impact on the outcome.

17. Can I record conversations with my ex without their knowledge?

Can I record my ex without them knowing?

It’s not illegal to record conversations in Texas as long as you are a party to the conversation. This means that you can record conversations with your spouse or ex-spouse without their consent in Texas. However, this is not true in all states, so you shouldn’t assume that it is legal to do so in another state without checking the law first.

18. Are Texas’ divorces public record?

public divorce record

Yes, Texas divorces are public records. You can access the documents through the district clerk’s office in the county where the divorce was finalized. You may also be able to access them online if the district clerk’s office has a public online portal or you may be able to get them through other Texas public record websites or from third-party, for-profit websites. It’s important to note that, since they are a public record, any interested party will also be able to access them.

19. Can I change my mind after filing for divorce?

changing your mind after filing for divorce

Absolutely, as long as both spouses agree and the divorce hasn’t been finalized, you can dismiss a divorce case in Texas. If you filed for divorce and your spouse hasn’t filed a response, you alone can dismiss the suit.

20. Do I need a divorce if I am common law married in Texas?

common law marriage divorce

Yes, you must get a legal divorce if you want to end a common-law marriage in Texas when property, children and assets are involved. A family court must divide marital property and decide child custody, visitation and support, as well as other divorce-related issues. In some cases, the parties in a common-law marriage simply go their separate ways without any involvement from the court. They just proceed as if the common law marriage never existed. This is fine as a practical matter, but problems often arise down the road.

21. Can I get a legal separation in Texas?

legal separation

No, there is no such thing as a legal separation in Texas. You are either married or you are divorced. However, you may be able to agree on temporary orders with your spouse which will govern things like child custody, support, and the use of joint property during the divorce process. These orders will become null and void once the divorce is finalized.

22. Can I get a divorce in Texas if I was married in another state?

divorce when married in another state

Yes, you can get a divorce in Texas if you were married in another state. You will need to meet the residency requirements for divorce in Texas, which require that either you or your spouse have lived in Texas for the past six months and be a resident of the county where you are filing for divorce for the past 90 days.

23. Can I get a divorce if I’m not a U.S. Citizen?

divorce not a U.S. citizen

Yes, you can get a divorce in Texas even if you are not a U.S. citizen. You just have to meet the same requirements as anyone else getting a divorce in Texas:
* At least one party to the divorce must be a Texas resident for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition for divorce,
* At least one party to the divorce must have lived in the county where the divorce was filed for at least 90 days prior to the filing the petition for divorce.

24. How can I keep my spouse from spending money or hiding assets during the divorce process?

hiding and spending assets in divorce

If you are worried that your spouse may try to hide assets or spend money during the divorce process, you can ask the court to enter temporary orders, such as a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO.) A TRO can freeze assets during a divorce and prevent either spouse from dissipating marital funds by selling, transferring or borrowing against the marital property. However, each spouse is allowed to spend money for basic living and business expenses.

25. What are temporary orders?

temporary orders

Temporary orders are made by a judge to prohibit or enforce certain actions until a divorce is finalized. It is a way to maintain the status quo and protect both parties during the divorce process. Simply put, it lays out the rules to live by which to live while the divorce process is pending. For example, a judge may issue temporary orders regarding child custody, visitation, support, or the use of joint property. These orders are typically made at the beginning of the divorce process and remain in effect until the divorce is finalized.

26. What is discovery in a family law case?

discovery in family law

Discovery is the process involving the exchange of information or documentation between the parties in a divorce, child custody or other family law case. The purpose of discovery is to allow each party to obtain information from the other party that could be relevant to the case. Discovery can include financial records, property documents, insurance information, etc. In Texas, both spouses must provide discovery within 30 days of entering into divorce proceedings.

27. Can I date during my divorce?

dating during divorce

There is no rule against dating during a divorce. However, it could complicate things if you are still living in the same house as your spouse or if there are children involved. Not to mention, you are still technically married during the divorce process, so dating could be considered adultery. Adultery may affect the way that your case is decided. The judge could also look upon it unfavorably when deciding spousal support, property division and child custody.

28. What is community property in Texas?

community property

In Texas, all property acquired during the marriage is considered to be community property, regardless of which spouse actually purchased the property or whose name is on the title. This can include houses, home furnishings, cash, stocks, bonds, etc. Community property is to be divided fairly and equitably between the spouses in a divorce. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, including gifts and inherited property. Gifts and inheritance would be considered separate property and would not be subject to division in a divorce.

29. How does the judge decide how to divide up our community property?

dividing up community property

Community property in Texas is subject to a “just and right” division between spouses. That doesn’t mean that everything is an equal 50/50 split. Judges consider several factors when deciding how to divide community property and assets including:
* Financial conditions of both spouses
* Employment status
* Income
* Health and age
* Business opportunities
* Alleged faults
The judge will also consider any prenuptial agreements that may be in place.

30. What is considered separate property in a divorce?

separate property

In Texas, any property that was owned by one spouse prior to the marriage or that was inherited or gifted to one spouse during the marriage is considered separate property. This can include jewelry, vehicles, clothing, houses, etc. Separate property is not subject to division in a divorce and will remain with the owner.

31. Who gets the pet in a divorce?

pets in divorce

In Texas, pets are considered property and would be subject to the same rules as community and separate property. If the pet was acquired before the marriage or received as a gift, it is considered separate property and will remain with the original owner. If the pet was acquired during the marriage, it would be considered community property and subject to a “just and right” division. This means the judge will decide with whom the pet lives – unless both parties can come to a mutual agreement.

32. How do courts divide debts in divorce?

dividing debts in divorce

In Texas, debts are usually divided between the spouses in a divorce in the same way that community property is divided – fairly and equitably. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if one spouse incurred a debt without the knowledge or consent of the other spouse, that debt may be awarded to the spouse who incurred it.

33. Can divorce affect my credit score?

divorce affects credit score

It possible that divorce could affect your credit score. For example, if you and your spouse had joint accounts for the mortgage, cars or credit card bills, and one of you fails to make a payment, it will reflect negatively on both of your credit scores. That’s why it’s important to update creditors about who is obligated on a debt.

34. What happens to a family business in divorce?

family business in divorce

A family business would likely be considered community property and, therefore, divided fairly and equitably between the spouses in a divorce. One spouse could continue to own the business after buying out the other spouse or the judge could order them to sell the business and split the profits.

However, there could be some exceptions to the community property rule depending on the specific circumstances of the case. For example, if one spouse owned the business prior to the marriage or inherited it during the marriage, it would likely be considered separate property. In that case, the business would not be subject to division in a divorce.

When it comes to businesses and divorce, it can get complicated quickly. That’s why it’s important to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.

35. Can a retirement account be divided in divorce?

retirement account and divorce

Yes, retirement accounts can be divided in divorce if it is considered to be community property. This is usually the case if the account was opened or contributions were made during the marriage. The retirement account would then be subject to a “just and right” division between the spouses.

However, dividing retirement or 401K accounts can get complicated if money was invested prior to the marriage. Money invested before the marriage is not considered community property and, therefore, not divided. A court will have to determine how much of the money was earned during the marriage and how much was earned separately.

36. What is a QRDO?

QDRO

A QRDO s a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This is a court order that tells a retirement plan administrator how to distribute retirement accounts to each spouse. A QRDO can be used to divide 401Ks, pensions, profit-sharing plans, annuities and other types of retirement accounts. Simply put, a QRDO is a divorce court’s way of telling a retirement plan administrator how to divide the retirement account in a divorce.

37. Do I have to go back to my maiden name after divorce?

maiden name after divorce

No, you don’t have to return to your maiden name after getting divorced in Texas. You can keep your married name or go back to your maiden name.

38. What is the difference between a divorce and an annulment in Texas?

divorce vs annulment

A divorce ends a valid marriage, while an annulment declares that the marriage was never valid to begin with. An annulment can only be granted under certain circumstances, such as if you were underage at the time of marriage, both parties were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or the other party was forced into the marriage, among other reasons.

39. Will my divorce go to trial?

divorce go to trial

Your divorce will not go to trial if it is uncontested. In other words, if you and your spouse can reach a mutual agreement about property division, child custody, and other divorce-related issues, then you will not have to go to trial. However, if you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, then your divorce will go to trial and a judge will make the decisions for you. Trials can be costly and time-consuming, so many people try and reach an agreement, often with the help of mediation.

40. What is mediation?

mediation

Not all divorces and family disputes go through contested litigation in a courtroom. It is often easier for both parties to go through something called “mediation” to avoid the emotional and financial stress of going to trial.

During mediation, both parties meet with a neutral third party – a family law mediator – who helps facilitate communication between the two sides. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties; rather, he or she helps them come to a mutual agreement.

The spouses meet in separate rooms with the mediator and try to settle their differences around issues like property division and child custody. After both parties agree, the parties sign a “Mediated Settlement Agreement” that resolves all issues between the parties.
In Texas, some judges order couples to see a mediator before going to trial in court.

41. Who gets the house in a Texas divorce?

Who gets the house in divorce?

Who gets the house depends on whether the house is community or separate property. If the house was acquired during the marriage and used by both spouses it is community property and will be subject to division in a divorce. Since tangible property cannot be divided, there are a number of possible scenarios:

* The house can be sold and the proceeds divided between spouses;
* One spouse may remain in the house and buy out the other;
* One spouse may remain in the house and give the other spouse assets that offset the home’s value so the property division is equal

If the house was acquired by one of the parties before the marriage or after the divorce petition was filed, it is considered separate property and will not be divided in a divorce. That house will likely be awarded back to the original owner.

42. What is a divorce decree?

divorce decree

A divorce decree is a court order that legally ends a marriage. The divorce decree will include all the terms and conditions of the divorce, such as child custody, property division, spousal support, and more.

43. When is a divorce final in Texas?

divorce final, finalized divorce

A divorce is final in Texas when the divorce decree is signed by a judge and filed with the county clerk’s office. Once the divorce decree is final, it is considered a public record.

44. How long after I divorce can I remarry in Texas?

remarry after divorce

You have to wait at least 30 days after a divorce is finalized to marry again. This is because the other party has 30 days to file an appeal after the divorce is finalized to challenge the terms of the divorce agreement.

45. How much does divorce cost in Texas?

cost of divorce

The total cost of a divorce in Texas is influenced by many factors, such as whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the number of issues to be resolved, and the number of lawyers involved. For example, a lengthy custody battle will be much more expensive than an uncontested divorce with no children. Varghese Summersett Family Law Group can give you an estimate based on your particular situation.

46. Will I have to pay for my spouse’s legal fees?

spouse's legal fees

It’s possible that the family law judge could order you to pay part or all of your spouse’s attorney and legal fees. In many cases, each party pays their own legal fees. In other cases, one spouse will be ordered to pay part of all of the other parties’ legal fees, especially if he or she is intentionally drawing out the process to make it more costly. It’s ultimately up to the judge, but it’s not uncommon in divorce cases for both spouses to ask the judge to order the other party to pay their legal fees.

47. How can I keep legal costs down?

costs low, legal cost

The best way to keep legal costs down is to avoid a trial, which can be lengthy and costly. You can try to reach an agreement with your spouse through mediation or negotiation. You can also represent yourself in court, although it is not recommended as divorce and family law can be complex.

48. Can my attorney represent me and my spouse in our divorce?

attorney represent both parties

No, your attorney can only represent you. Each spouse must have their own attorney to protect their interests. Representing both would be a conflict of interest. Not to mention, you and your attorney are bound by confidentiality, so your attorney would not be able to discuss what you tell him or her with your spouse.

49. What is attorney-client privilege?

attorney client privilege

Attorney-client privilege is a legal principle that protects communications between an attorney and client from being used against the client. This means that what you tell your lawyer is privileged communication and completely confidential. For example, if you tell your lawyer that you are seeking a divorce because you are in love with another person, your lawyer can’t reveal that information to anyone, including your spouse or your spouse’s attorney.

50. Can I get a divorce without an attorney?

divorce without an attorney

Yes, you can get a divorce without an attorney in Texas, but it is not recommended. The divorce process can be complicated, and it is important to have an experienced divorce attorney to help guide you through the process and protect your rights and interests.

51. Do I have to go to court for my divorce in Texas?

go to court for divorce, Texas

In Texas, it’s possible to get a divorce without going to court – or just going one time for the final hearing. If you and your spouse agree on all terms of the divorce, such as property division and child custody, then you can proceed with an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is usually faster and cheaper than a contested divorce and can keep you out of court.

52. What is a prove-up hearing?

prove-up hearing

A prove-up hearing occurs in front of a judge at an uncontested divorce proceeding. Both parties, through their attorneys, simply confirm – or prove – to the judge that the divorce is uncontested and both parties agree to the terms. The hearing usually takes less than 10 minutes and the divorce is usually granted without testimony or argument.

53. What should I wear to family court?

What to wear to court

When appearing in court, wear clothing that would be appropriate for a job interview. You want to look professional, respectful, and serious. This is not the time to wear your ripped jeans or old t-shirt.

Men should wear a suit or dress pants with a collared shirt. Women should wear a dress, suit, or a skirt with a blouse or sweater. Nothing should be too loose, too tight, or revealing. Avoid shorts, jeans, hats, sunglasses, and flip-flops. It’s possible to be turned away if you are dressed too casually.

If you have any visible piercings or tattoos, it is best to cover them up. You want the judge to focus on your argument, not your appearance. While in the courtroom, make sure your cellphone is turned off or in silent mode.

54. Can I bring my children to court?

children in court, bringing children to court

You should not bring your children to court unless the judge specifically requests it. Even then, a judge typically speaks with a child in chambers, not during a public court hearing.

The divorce process can be confusing and emotional for children, so it is generally best to keep away from the courthouse unless absolutely necessary. If your children must be in court, make sure to explain the process to them ahead of time so they know what to expect.

55. What happens if my court case stalls?

court case stalls

If your divorce case drags on with no movement, the court could dismiss it for “want of prosecution.” Before that happens, however, the court will send your lawyer a dismissal docket notice telling him or her to appear before the court to give a status update. During this hearing, the attorneys from both sides will have an opportunity to give the judge an indication of how the case is going and how they are working to resolve the issues and move forward.

56. How will divorce affect my healthcare benefits?

health care benefits

If you’re covered by your spouse’s health insurance, you will likely lose your coverage once the divorce is finalized. Sometimes, as part of the divorce settlement, a spouse will be required to maintain health insurance for the other spouse for a period of time. You can also sign up for a COBRA plan, which will allow you to keep your health insurance for a limited time after divorce, but it is typically very expensive.

You may also be eligible for Medicaid if you meet certain income requirements. Medicaid is a government-funded health insurance program that provides coverage for low-income individuals and families.

57. What is alimony in Texas?

alimony

Texas doesn’t have so-called “alimony.” In the Lone Star State, it is called “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance” and refers to money that one spouse pays to the other during or after divorce proceedings. Spousal support can be awarded to either spouse, and it is typically paid on a monthly basis. The purpose of alimony is to help the receiving spouse maintain his or her reasonable minimum needs after divorce.

Spousal support may be awarded if:
* The couple has been married for over 10 years and the requesting spouse does not earn enough income or have enough property to provide for basic needs.
* The requesting spouse has a serious physical or mental disability that stops them from earning income to support themselves.
* The requesting spouse is unable to work because he or she is the custodial parent of their child who needs substantive physical or mental support.
* The requesting spouse suffered some sort of family violence at the hands of the supporting spouse within two years of the divorce filing or while the divorce was being processed

58. How much is spousal support in Texas?

how much is spousal support

How much someone pays in spousal support is decided by the family court judge on a case-by-basis. However, Texas caps it at 20 percent of the supporting spouse’s monthly income or $5,000, whichever is less.

59. How long is spousal support paid in Texas?

how long is spousal support paid

Spousal support is usually for a limited amount of time. The court will determine the shortest amount of time necessary for the requesting spouse to get back on his or her feet. Texas sets the maximum period for support as:
* 5 years if there was a conviction or deferred adjudication for family violence
* 5 years if the parties were married at least 10 years
* 7 years if the parties were married between at least 20 years
* 10 years if the parties were married at least 30 years
* Indefinitely if the spouse is severely disabled or caring for a disabled child

60. Do I stop getting spousal support if I get remarried?

remarried, spousal support stops

Yes. Marrying again is one of the conditions that can terminate an award of spousal support in Texas. If you remarry, you will no longer be eligible to receive spousal support from your ex-spouse. Likewise, if you enter into a romantic relationship and live with that person, spousal support may also be terminated by the state of Texas.

61. Can I change the terms of my divorce agreement after it is finalized?

post-divorce modification

After a divorce is finalized, you may need to modify the terms of your agreement, especially if children are involved. Texas allows post-divorce modifications when there are material and substantial changes in the circumstances to one party, both parties, or any minor children. This can include:

* Child support modifications
* Child custody modifications
* Changes in visitation
* Changes in spousal support

Post-divorce modifications are often the result of a change in the other party’s financial situation, health, marital status, or ability to care for the child. You can move to modify your divorce decree as soon as one year after it has been signed by the judge.

62. How do you modify a divorce decree?

modify divorce decree

There are basically two ways to modify or amend a divorce decree in Texas:
* If you and your ex amicably agree on new terms, your attorney can file a petition with the court where the divorce was finalized to change the terms and conditions. The court will then review your proposed agreement and, if it finds that the changes are in everyone’s best interests, will approve the new terms.

* If you and your ex cannot agree on new terms, your attorney can file a motion with the court asking a judge to modify the divorce decree. The court will then hold a hearing where both sides can present evidence and argue their case. The court will then make a decision. Modifying divorce decrees can be complicated so it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side.

63. What is a SAPCR?

SAPCR

SAPCR stands for Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship. Generally, a parent files a SAPCR when they want to court to order child custody, visitation or support. It is essentially a legal request and often accompanies divorce proceedings. Although it is most often filed by a parent, a SAPRC can also be filed by a legal guardian, a man claiming to be the child’s father, a person with visitation rights, foster parents or even Child Protective Services.

64. How do courts determine child custody in Texas?

child custody

The court decides which parent and living situation is in the “best interest of the child.” The court will look at numerous factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child, such as:
* home stability
* financial stability
* parental schedules
* parental backgrounds and habits
* which parent has been the primary caretaker and provider
* the child’s age, health and needs

65. What is a child custody evaluation?

child custody evaluation

A child custody evaluation is an intensive investigation that is ordered in cases with several or complex issues. The evaluation includes interviews of all parties, including parents, children and any person living in the home; a comprehensive criminal, medical, and psychological review of all parties; and home visits, among other things. After the investigation is concluded, the evaluator will submit a written report to the judge making a recommendation to the court about which parent should have custody and what type of visitation schedule is in the best interest of the child.

66. Can a child choose whom to live with?

child chooses who to live with

Under Texas law, a child 12 or older can meet with the judge in chambers to express his or her preference. The judge doesn’t have to adopt the child’s wishes but can take it into consideration. During this meeting, the judge can ask questions to determine the child’s intelligence and maturity level and to ensure that the child is not simply repeating coached or memorized answers.

67. What is conservatorship in Texas?

conservatorship in texas

In Texas, “conservatorship” is the legal term for child custody. The court will appoint one or both parents as the child’s conservator, which gives that parent the right to make decisions about the child’s welfare, including education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. There are several types of conservatorship in Texas, including joint managing conservator, sole managing conservator, and possessory conservator.

68. What is joint managing conservatorship?

joint custody, divorce

Joint managing conservatorship is often referred to as “joint custody.” It gives both parents legal rights to raise a child. Both parents share in decision-making regarding the child’s education, medical, spiritual, and other daily and long-term matters.

In most cases, the court appoints one parent as the primary joint managing conservator, which is also referred to as the custodial parent. This parent usually decides where the child lives and the geographical location of the child’s school. The non-custodial parent gets to make other decisions equally with the custodial parent.

A joint managing conservatorship, also called a JMC, is the default custody arrangement in Texas. In other words, this is the most prevalent custody arrangement.

69. What is sole managing conservator in child custody cases?

sole custody

A parent who is the sole managing conservator is often referred to as the parent with “sole custody” or “full custody.” This parent has the exclusive right to make all or most decisions about the child’s welfare, including education, healthcare, home life and religious upbringing. A sole managing conservator is not required to consult with the other parent about decisions concerning the child. The other parent will be named the possessory conservator and will usually get visitation with the child.

70. What is the possessory conservator?

possessory conservator

This is the parent who does not live with the child, but has visitation rights. The possessory conservator is usually responsible for paying child support and health insurance for the child. The possessory conservator can be listed as an emergency contact and attend school activities and doctors’ appointments and has the right to be informed about major decisions.

71. Can a non-parent ask for conservatorship?

non-parent custody suit

Yes, a non-parent can ask for conservatorship in a Texas family court. A grandparent, foster parent, or even a family friend can ask for a conservatorship order from a court. The court must find that it is in the best interest of the child, and that both parents are unfit or unable to care for the child before awarding conservatorship to a non-parent.

72. Will I have to attend parenting classes as part of my divorce?

parenting class for divorce

Many counties in Texas require divorcing parents to attend parenting classes to learn how divorce can impact children and how to focus on the best interests of the children. Your lawyer will notify you if the judge requires you to take a parenting class. You won’t have to attend the class with your ex-spouse and no information you disclose during the class can be used in court. It may be possible to take the class online. Once you have completed the class, a certificate of completion will be submitted to the court.

73. What is the standard possession order?

standard possession calendar, SPC

A Standard Possession Order (SPO) is a visitation schedule developed by the Texas legislature. It contains a standard schedule for when a non-custodial parent can have possession of a child. The SPO is the default visitation schedule in Texas, but it can be modified by agreement of the parents or by court order.

The Standard Possession Order generally gives the non-custodial parent possession of the child every first, third, and fifth Friday weekend of the month. The non-custodial parent can ask for an extended version where visitation lasts from the time school dismisses on Friday to Monday morning.

The non-custodial parent also has access to the child every Thursday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. It can be extended from when school dismisses on Thursday to Friday morning.

During the holidays, each parent alternates yearly between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. In summer, the child spends 30 days or 42 days with the possessory parent. If the possessory parent lives more than a hundred miles away, they spend the entire spring break every year with the child.

74. What is a modified possession order?

modified possession order

A modified possession order is a visitation arrangement that is different than the Standard Possession Order. A modified order can be created by agreement of the parents or ordered by the court. There are many different types of modified visitation schedules, but some common examples include:

– one parent has weekends with the child while the other has weekday visits;
– possession is split equally between both parents;
– the non-custodial parent has longer visits during the summer or holidays

A modified possession order is generally based on the best interest of the child and what will work best for the family’s schedule.

75. What is a modified possession order for children under age three?

modified possession order

This order limits visitation while children are under the age of three. Since a child at this young age needs constant care and attention, the court may decide to limit the visitation of the possessory parent, or non-custodial parent, until he or she reaches a certain age. For example, the order may specify that the child spend Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the visitation parent, rather than overnight stays.

76. Can parents verbally agree to a different possession schedule than what is in the court order?

verbal agreement, parents talking

If co-parenting is going well and everyone is on the same page, it’s okay to agree to a different possession schedule or pickup times than what is in the court order. It’s best to get it in writing, however.

77. What is parental alienation?

parental alienation, abuse

Parental alienation occurs when a parent intentionally pits the child against the other parent in an attempt to cause resentment and distance in their relationship. The parent does this through manipulation, isolation, or false accusations in an attempt to turn the child against the other parent. Parental alienation in Texas often stems from a contentious divorce or child custody dispute and is motivated by anger, betrayal or rejection.

78. What is interference with child custody?

interference with child custody

In contentious child custody cases, it’s not uncommon for a parent to withhold a child from the other parent – maybe because he or she is behind on child support or showed up late to get the child. However, it’s a felony to take or keep your child against visitation or custody orders. It’s called interference with child custody and it’s punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine.

79. How is child support calculated in Texas?

how is child support calculated

Child support in Texas is calculated as 20 percent of the non-custodial parent’s net monthly income for the first child. For each additional child, the number increases by 5 percent. Here’s the breakdown:

* 1 child: 20 percent of non-custodial parent’s net income
* 2 children: 25 percent of net income
* 3 children: 30 percent of net income
* 4 children: 35 percent of net income
* 5+ children: 40 percent of net income.

Texas family courts don’t often usually require a parent to pay more than 50 percent of their net income on child support.

80. Does my ex-spouse’s income affect how much I have to pay in child support?

does spousal income affect how much I pay in child support

In Texas, your ex’s income will likely have no bearing on how much you are ordered to pay in child support. The court will stay within the guidelines of what is mandated by the Texas Family Code, which is 20 percent of the non-custodial parent’s net income for one child.

81. Will child support be garnished from my paycheck?

child support payments

Most court orders for child support now include an automatic withholding order, which means the money will be taken directly out of your paycheck. If you are self-employed, you may have to send in child support payments yourself.

82. What is medical support for a child?

medical support for a child

In Texas, medical support is health insurance for a child. The non-custodial parent is usually responsible for providing medical support. If the non-custodial parent does not have health insurance available through their job, they may be required to purchase a separate policy for the child. If the non-custodial parent is unemployed or cannot afford a health insurance policy, the custodial parent may be responsible for providing medical support.

83. Can I go to jail for failing to pay child support?

jail for failing to pay child support

Yes, you can go to jail if you fail to pay child support. If the judge finds that you purposely failed to pay child support in violation of a court order, you could be found in contempt of court and sentenced to up to six months in jail.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office also has a unit dedicated to finding and prosecuting parents who don’t pay child support. You can be arrested for failing to pay child support and charged with “criminal nonsupport.” If convicted, you would face six months to two years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine.

84. Will I lose my license if I don’t pay child support?

lose license, not paying child support

It’s certainly possible. If you fail to pay child support, your driver’s license can be suspended – and any other license you hold in Texas, including a hunting or fishing license.

85. Do I have to pay child support if I lose my job?

job loss and child support

Yes, you are required to pay child support, even if you lost your job. However, you may be able to request a modification of your child support order if you are unemployed. The court will consider the following factors when making a decision:

– the noncustodial parent’s current employment status;
– whether the noncustodial parent is actively looking for work;
– the amount of time that the noncustodial parent has been unemployed;
– the noncustodial parent’s financial resources and ability to pay child support.

If you are unemployed, you should still pay child support to the best of your ability. The court may order you to pay a portion of your unemployment benefits as child support. If you have any questions about your child support payments, you should contact an experienced family law attorney.

86. Do I have to pay child support if I have 50/50 custody?

joint custody child support

If you share 50/50 custody with your ex, it’s possible you may not have to pay child support. It depends on your court order and whether both sides agreed that no child support should be paid. However, if one parent has a higher income than the other, the court may order the higher wage earner to pay some support to the lower wage earner.

87. Can my spouse and I agree that neither party will pay child support?

no child support agreement

The parties can agree that neither party will have to pay child support. However, the court must go along with it. If the judge doesn’t believe that agreement is in the best interest of the child, child support could still be ordered.

88. Can my ex keep my child from me if I owe child support?

ex keeping child away

No, your ex cannot keep your child from you if you owe child support. However, if you are behind on your payments, the other parent may take you to court to enforce the order. If you are found to be in contempt of court, the judge could order a number of different penalties, including jail time.

89. When can I stop paying child support in Texas?

stopping child support

In Texas, you can stop paying child support when the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever comes later. Child support obligations also terminate if the child is emancipated or passes away. On the other hand, if the child has a disability, you may be required to pay child support indefinitely.

90. What is an attorney ad litem?

attorney ad litem

An attorney ad litem is a lawyer appointed by the court to represent your child. The attorney’s job is to advocate for the child and express the child’s wishes to the court.

In a divorce or other family law proceeding, an attorney ad litem may be appointed if there are issues of child custody and visitation at stake. The attorney will interview the child, review any relevant documents, and speak with the child’s parents, teachers, and any other important adults in the child’s life. The attorney will represent the child in court or in legal proceedings, express his or her wishes and advise the child on possible outcomes.

91. What is an amicus attorney?

amicus attorney

An amicus attorney is a lawyer appointed by the court to provide information to the court that may be helpful in making a decision, usually in child custody or visitation matters. An amicus attorney does not represent any of the parties or the child. The attorney is purely an arm of the court who advocates for the best interests of the child.

An amicus attorney is appointed by the judge, who will issue an order outlining their duties in the case. This could include interviewing the child and parents, conducting home visits, and requesting and reviewing documents. The purpose is to get an intimate view of the parenting styles and living conditions of both parents.

The judge determines which parent pays the amicus attorney’s fees or if both parties do.

92. What is supervised visitation?

supervised visitation

Supervised visitation is when a child visits with a parent or other family member under the supervision of another adult. The supervisor can be someone agreed upon by both parents, such as a grandparent, or someone appointed by the court, such as a professional supervisor.

Supervised visitation is often ordered when there are concerns about the safety of the child or if the parent has a physical or mental illness.

93. Will I have to take a drug test in a child custody or visitation case?

drug testing in a child custody case

If you are involved in a contentious child custody or visitation case, you could be ordered to take a drug test. It is most likely to come up in cases where one of the parents has a history of drug abuse or there is a concern about the child’s safety. A parent could also file a motion requesting the other parent be drug tested.

94. What is a child social study?

child social study

A child social study is ordered by a judge to help the court make a decision about conservatorship, possession, or support in a divorce or SAPCR case. The study is conducted by an investigator who interviews the family, looks at the home environment, and speaks to people who know the family. The investigator then writes a report for the judge with his or her findings and recommendations. The court then makes decisions based on a clear picture of what is best for the child.

95. What happens if a court terminates a parent’s rights?

terminating a parents rights

If a court terminates a parent’s rights, that parent no longer has any legal rights or responsibilities to the child. The parent will not be able to see the child or make any decisions about the child’s life, including medical and educational decisions. He or she also will have no child support obligations.

A parent can give up their parental rights voluntarily or lose them involuntarily after a court hearing. To lose parental rights involuntarily, the court must find that the parent abandoned, endanger, abused, or neglected the child, kept them out of school or away from home, or has been convicted of a felony involving sex or violence against a child. the decision.

96. What are the two steps in a stepparent adoption in Texas?

step parent adoption

The two steps in a stepparent adoption in Texas are:
* Termination of parental rights and,
* The court approves an adoption.

A child can only be adopted in Texas if at least one of the biological parents gives up their parental rights – either by voluntary consent or by a court order.

By consent, the parent signs a Relinquishment of Rights affidavit giving up their rights. The second parent (if available) signs another affidavit agreeing to that.
If a parent cannot be located, is not participating in a child’s life, or is not willing to, a judge may decide that it is in the best interests of the child that the parent no longer has any legal rights over them. Once the birth parents lose their rights, the adoptive parent can proceed with the adoption process.

97. Can an adoption order be challenged?

challenging an adoption order

An adoption order can only be challenged within six months after it has been filed. Once all parties have signed the final agreements, and six months is passed, the order is final.

An adoption order can only be successfully challenged if it can be shown that, at the time of adoption, the right conditions were not met. For instance, if a biological parent did not give consent or if the adoptive parent did not meet the required conditions, the adoption process may in jeopardy. Otherwise, the adoption order is final.

98. Can social media impact a divorce or family law case?

impact of social media on divorce cases

Yes, social media posts may be admitted into evidence, which can impact divorce, child custody or any type of family law case. For instance, if one parent makes negative comments about the other parent on social media, this could be used against them in court. If a parent posts photos of themselves partying or engaging in illegal activity, this could also be used against them in court.

It is important to be aware of what you post on social media, as well as what your friends and family members post about you. Anything that could be construed as negative could be used against you in a divorce or family law case

99. How do you find the best divorce lawyer?

finding the best divorce lawyer

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best divorce lawyer for you will depend on your individual circumstances. However, there are some general tips that may be helpful in finding the right divorce lawyer for you:

– Get recommendations from friends or family members who have been through a divorce.
– Do your own research online and read reviews of divorce lawyers.
– Schedule a consultation with a few different divorce lawyers to get a feel for who would be the best fit for you and your case.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to find a divorce lawyer who you feel comfortable with and who you think will be able to best represent your interests.

100. What can I expect during a consultation with a family law attorney?

what to expect during a family law consultation

At Varghese Summersett Family Law Group, you can expect to meet with an attorney and his or her paralegal at our law office in downtown Fort Worth. During the consultation, they start by going over your “intake sheet,” which you filled out prior to the meeting. It’s basically a questionnaire about you and the issue for which you are seeking legal help.

The attorney will then go over the facts of your case and walk you through process, as well as potential strategies and outcomes. He or she will also answer any questions about Texas divorce or any family law matter that you have.

At the end of the consultation, you will have a better understanding of your legal rights and options, as well as what to expect moving forward. You will also know whether or not you want to retain the attorney’s services.

More Questions about Texas Divorce? Contact Us.

We hope you got your questions about Texas divorce or other family law matters answered in this comprehensive blog. If not, please drop your question in the comment section below, and we’ll answer it as soon as possible.

If you need legal assistance with divorce or another family law issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us. The experienced lawyers at Varghese Summersett Family Law Group are here to help you through every step of the process. Call 817-900-3220 to schedule a consultation today.


Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton
Turner Thornton is a well-known family law attorney in Fort Worth who leads the Varghese Summersett Family Law Group. Turner has successfully guided hundreds of individuals and families through the most trying period of their lives as a skilled negotiator and savvy litigator. Turner Thornton concentrates his practice on family law, including divorce, child custody, contempt, and modification cases. He is experienced in handling estates with significant and unique assets that can be difficult to value. He finds amicable resolutions where possible to conserve his client's resources, but knows how to take the gloves off if the situation calls for it. He has had remarkable results in and outside of the courtroom based largely on his ability and desire to understand his clients' needs and guide them on the pathway to what success looks like for them.

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