The prospect of family law can be a very emotional and sometimes confusing thing. We’ve gathered some questions we hear a lot to provide some short answers that hopefully clear up some things you may not be sure of. Now with that being said, every situation is different. While there is a precedent for these types of cases, these are not blanket statements intended to cover all possibilities. Unique situations arise and have to be handled individually as they come.
-Do I need to consult a lawyer for a divorce?
It is recommended to consult an attorney when dealing with a life change as big as a divorce. They can ensure your rights are protected, along with those of your children. Having someone well versed in the specific and up-to-date laws of Texas regarding marriage, divorce, and child custody at your side will only help your situation. They’re qualified to provide advice on your situation as well as direct you on your best course of action.
-What are the legal grounds for divorce?
In Texas, the grounds for divorce fall under two categories, uncontested and contested. An uncontested divorce is a divorce where not only do the parties agree to divorce, but they also agree on the division of property and all the child-related issues (custody, visitation, and support). If any of those issues are not agreed upon, it is a contested divorce. An uncontested divorce, where all issues are agreed upon, is always the least expensive and least time-consuming option. A contested divorce often lasts much longer, costs more, and is very emotionally draining to all parties involved.
-How are assets divided in a divorce?
Many spouses divide their assets up on their own using what is called a ‘marital settlement agreement,’ a contract between the spouses which divides property and debts and resolves any other issues as needed. Because that isn’t always a possibility due to high tensions, the court and judge will often need to step in and determine the division of property. As Texas is a community property state, all income earned and property acquired by either spouse during the marriage belongs to both spouses equally, and therefore, must be split equally in the case of a divorce. This does not include what is referred to as ‘separate property,’ which is anything that belonged to one spouse prior to marriage and was kept separate throughout the marriage.
-How are custody rights determined?
In a case where custody could not be agreed upon between the spouses, the court will act based on the ‘best interests of the child.’ Many factors determine a child’s best interest, all of which are taken under heavy consideration prior to a decision being made. Sole custody is not always the best option as, it is usually better for a child to have both parents in the picture, so joint custody is far more common to see. Joint legal custody is when each parent shares the major decisions regarding a child’s life, including schooling, healthcare and treatment, disciplinary tactics, extracurricular activities, summer camp, and religious study. Joint physical custody is in reference to the amount of time spent with each parent and is usually something determined between the parents depending on their schedules and proximity.
-What determines child support in a divorce or child support case?
An in-depth breakdown of child support guidelines in Texas can be found here.
-What are the visitation rights of grandparents?
Starting in 1965, legislation was enacted allowing grandparents the ability to petition for visitation rights with grandchildren. In most situations, this is not an issue when neither parent has disapproved of the visitation. However, this legislation does grant the grandparents the right to petition for visitation, though it is by no means an automatic process.
We hope this has been a helpful resource regarding some of the common questions that arise in family law. But if there’s anything not covered here, or if you’d like a more in-depth analysis catered to your particular situation, give us a call today! We, here at the Law Office of Tobie Kuykendall, will go to bat for you and help you through this very tough time.