San Antonio Family Law Lawyer Helping Clients Navigate Divorce and Family Disputes in Texas
Family-related legal conflicts can be especially stressful because they are inevitably emotionally charged, which makes it hard for the parties involved to make sensible decisions. Amidst a conflict of this nature, a family law attorney can be a valuable ally not just in carrying out legal tasks but in providing sound advice to help you make the right decisions and reach a positive outcome for your case. Learn what types of cases a family law lawyer can assist you with and why you may want to consider choosing the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy for your family law matters in Texas.
What Kind of Cases Does a Family Law Attorney Handle?
The first thing that most people think about when considering the types of cases a family law attorney handles is divorce and child custody matters. While these can comprise a significant share of the cases a family law lawyer takes care of, other case types such as adoption, grandparent rights, and domestic violence restraining orders are also handled by a family law lawyer.
Attorneys focusing on family law can also be instrumental in helping draft documents such as pre-nuptial agreements, which can help avoid future conflicts by determining how property will be divided in case a couple decides to end their marriage. In addition, when a family decides to pursue the path of adopting a child, seeking the help of a family law attorney can help make the entire process less complicated.
What Are the Different Types of Divorce Available in Texas?
In Texas, there are a few different types of divorce available, depending on whether the two parties are capable of reaching an amicable agreement over all their issues, such as child custody and support and property division. If that is the case, a couple may choose to either pursue an uncontested divorce. While this type of divorce can be quicker and less costly, it is important to work with an attorney to ensure you are not giving up important rights you may not even be aware of.
Alternatively, a couple can choose a mediated divorce. If the couple cannot reach an agreement on their own, they may recruit the help of a neutral attorney who can guide them both through the steps to negotiate an amicable agreement. This is often a required step for couples considering litigation, as it is another chance for them to reach a resolution before their final hearing. Another possibility is to pursue a collaborative divorce. This type of divorce is also based on negotiation with the goal of reaching a mutual agreement but often involves an attorney for each party as well as other independent, neutral experts. If the collaborative divorce process results in an agreement, that agreement is usually considered legally valid by Texas law.
Finally, if all other options have failed, a couple may pursue a litigated or contested divorce if they have been unable to reach an agreement outside of the courtroom. This type of divorce involves hearings, submitting evidence and paperwork, and retaining attorneys to represent each party during a trial. Litigated divorces can take considerably more time to reach a resolution, depending on the degree of conflicts and disagreements between the two parties, and thus can prove to be more costly. That is why it may be best to consider it only after other options have been attempted, but always consult a family law attorney to discuss the type of divorce that may be more suitable for your case.
What Are the Steps to Getting a Divorce in Texas?
Steps to a Texas divorce may vary slightly depending on the type of divorce the couple wishes to pursue. Generally speaking, a contested or litigated divorce in Texas begins when the petitioner (one of the spouses) files a petition for divorce with the help of an attorney. This document details the issues that the couple needs to resolve and sets a deadline for the other party to respond, stating whether they agree with the petition or not.
Then, each party may be required to provide documents and information related to property, income, and other relevant items to provide the judge with enough information to make decisions concerning property division as well as child support and custody. The couple may be asked to undergo mediation before proceeding to a final hearing. If the parties cannot agree, the case goes to trial, and each side will have an opportunity to present evidence to support their arguments. The judge will then grant the divorce after making decisions on all issues of the divorce, such as asset division, debt division, and child custody.
The length of a divorce in Texas may vary from a few months to even years, depending on whether the couple can reach an agreement in a friendly manner or not. The complexity of the marital property, the existence of children, and the amount of discord between the parties are just some of the factors that may impact the duration of the divorce process. In general, amicable divorces tend to be shorter and less costly than highly contested and litigated divorces, and the courts prefer to give the parties a chance to settle everything amicably before fighting it out in the courtroom.
How Are Assets Divided in a Texas Divorce?
If you are concerned about who will get what when it comes to asset division in a divorce, you are not alone. Many clients get concerned about how their property will be split up, and they fear losing everything they have worked for during their marriage. Marital property is considered anything acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage and thus considered to be owned equally by both parties.
Texas can be considered a community property state, which means marital property is split in a fair and equitable manner between spouses. That does not always mean you will end up with a 50-50 division. The court will take into consideration many factors, such as whether there was fault in the divorce, the income and earning power of each party, and the projected financial needs of each spouse after the divorce. Then, the court will determine what constitutes separate property and how marital assets and debts will be distributed.
How Does a Divorce Work for a Couple With Kids in Texas?
Much like in other states, Texas courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody, visitation, and support decisions following a divorce. Child custody is referred to as conservatorship in Texas. A parent may obtain a sole managing conservatorship, which would correspond to sole custody of the child in other states.
Parents may also obtain a joint managing conservatorship, which works similarly to joint custody. This means the child would live with a custodial parent and have a visitation schedule with the non-custodial parent. Conservatorships are either determined by the court or put in place through mutual agreement between each party, keeping in mind the best interests of the child rather than what the parents want or believe is most convenient to them. While the divorce process is ongoing, the judge may issue temporary conservatorship orders to either parent, then revisit those decisions and issue permanent orders once the divorce process is concluded.
Will My Spouse Be Granted Alimony After the Divorce?
Some clients worry about having to pay spousal support or alimony during or after the divorce. When a spousal support request is made, Texas laws require the requesting spouse to show enough evidence to support their request, as state laws tend to automatically assume that spousal support is not necessary unless there is enough proof that the spouse in need of support has made good faith efforts to gain the skills and education needed to support themselves, and still is unable to earn enough income on their own.
In Texas, there are set limits for the maximum amount a spouse may receive as alimony. In addition, with a few exceptions, there are also limits on how long a spouse can continue receiving alimony after the divorce. Texas laws do not allow the monthly spousal support amount to exceed 20% of the spouse’s average monthly gross income, or $5000 (whichever is less). Likewise, the length of the marriage determines how long spousal support payments may last – and judges may order spousal support for the shortest duration applicable, giving the requesting spouse enough time to become self-sufficient.
Can I Get a Legal Separation in Texas if I Am Not Ready for a Divorce?
Several states recognize legal separations, a process chosen by many couples who do not wish to get a divorce or believe there may be a chance for reconciliation after living apart. Courts may issue child support and visitation orders in a similar fashion as in a divorce, but the couple is still legally married even though they may not live in the same household. In many instances, a separation can be reversed, and the marriage may continue if the spouses wish to do so or can be finalized by divorce. The parties may not remarry until their divorce process is completed.
However, Texas is one of six states where legal separation is not an option. The state does not recognize any type of legal separation, and a couple wishing to end their marriage can only choose between an annulment and a divorce. If you believe your marriage has reached a point of no return but do not feel ready to get a divorce, it may be best to consult a Texas family law attorney to discuss your situation and learn your options. You may be able to move out of your marital residence and request the court to issue temporary agreements while your divorce is pending, addressing issues such as property division and spousal support.
When Should I See a Family Law Attorney?
It goes without saying that an attorney can help guide clients through a difficult divorce, helping them make sensible decisions amidst an emotionally-charged battle and protecting their rights, ensuring their client is not being taken advantage of by their ex-spouse. Likewise, a family law attorney can assist clients dealing with child custody and support issues.
It is important to mention that a family law attorney is an important ally during times of conflict but can also play a key role when you are planning for an exciting life event such as marriage or adoption. Many couples choose to reduce the chances of getting into a heated conflict over property division or child custody by entering into a prenuptial agreement. An attorney can assist with the process of drafting and signing a prenuptial to protect both spouses in the event their relationship does not work out, making sure the agreement is drafted in a fair manner to both parties and is legally valid.
Other times, a family may decide to adopt a child. This can be a long and complicated process, with many legal steps and paperwork necessary. A family law attorney can help clients navigate the child adoption process and provide the right advice to help the family increase their chances of being successful and bringing in a new member into their household.
At the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy, you can get the knowledgeable legal advice you need to navigate a wide variety of family law issues. Attorney S. Dylan Pearcy has been providing legal services to San Antonio area clients and their families for many years and is no stranger to the process of representing clients facing family law disputes and helping them achieve a favorable outcome. From drafting legal documents for a pre-nuptial to protecting the rights of clients in a trial, Attorney S. Dylan Pearcy and his team have the skills needed to help you with your case, regardless of how simple or complex it may be. If you are looking for skilled legal advice, need to discuss a potential divorce, or take the appropriate legal steps for an important life event, the Law Offices of S. Dylan Pearcy should be your first stop. There is no need to try and navigate it all on your own – contact our legal team by calling (210) 953-7486 and requesting an initial consultation to discuss your case and get the help you need. Our legal team is standing by and ready to assist you with all your Texas family law questions and issues.