Family Law FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Family Law

What is a no-fault divorce?

Texas is a no-fault divorce state. In a no-fault divorce, neither party is blamed for the breakdown of a marriage. A divorce may be granted solely on one party or the couple stating that no reasonable expectation of reconciliation exists. The marriage can be dissolved even if one party objects. Also, either party may file for no-fault divorce if the couple has lived apart for at least 3 years.

What is a fault-based divorce?

In a fault-based divorce, one party blames the other for the failure of the marriage on grounds specified by Texas law and provides testimony to prove the grounds cited on the divorce petition. Grounds for a fault-based divorce in Texas include:

  • Adultery
  • Physical or mental cruelty
  • Abandonment for at least one year
  • Insanity and confinement in a state mental hospital
  • Felony conviction or long term imprisonment (more than one year)

My spouse and I were married outside of Texas. Can I get a divorce here?

No matter where the marriage ceremony took place, you can file for a divorce in Texas as long as you have been a resident of this state for at least six months and of the county of filing for a continuous 90-day period prior to the filing of your divorce petition.

How long does it take to finalize a divorce in Texas?

In Texas, there is a 60-day waiting period, from the date the petition for divorce is filed with the court before the divorce may be finalized. If you and your spouse are able to settle on all issues during the 60-day waiting period, you may draft a settlement agreement and submit it to the court on the 61st day. A judge will declare the divorce final and sign the decree in open court. A contested divorce, however, may take 6 months to a year or more to finalize, depending on the complexity of the issues to be resolved.

What is a marriage of long duration?

Texas law considers a marriage that has lasted 10 years or longer, one of long duration. The court gives extra consideration to marriages of long duration, when determining issues such as property division and spousal maintenance.

What if I move out of our residence? Will I lose my rights to the property?

No. Even if you move out, you retain your interest in the property. If you continue to contribute toward the mortgage and maintenance of the property after you have moved out, you may be entitled to credits and reimbursements.

Child Custody (Conservatorship)

If my spouse and I can't reach an agreement on custody, how will the court decide with whom our children will live?

When parents cannot arrive at a mutually agreeable parenting plan, most courts will base their decision on an arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. Courts favor joint managing conservatorship in which both parents remain actively involved in child rearing. Determination of “best interests” is reached by considering the wishes of each parent, the parents’ mental and physical health, any history of domestic violence, abuse, the child's age and attachment to the parent who has been the primary caretaker, and the child's wishes.

If my spouse will not allow visitation, may I stop making child support payments?

No. Paying child support is not a condition for visitation privileges. To protect your rights and enforce a visitation court order, you should contact your attorney.

My ex isn’t paying child support as ordered, may I deny visitation?

No. Payment of child support is not tied to visitation. Your attorney can assist you in enforcing a child support payment court order.

Child Support

How is child support determined?

Texas sets child support guidelines that are used as the foundation for determining the amount of child support. The courts setting child support orders typically follow the amount suggested by the guidelines unless there is a valid reason not to do so. Most guidelines consider the needs of the child, the relative abilities of the parents to pay support, and the standard of living the child would have had but for the divorce.

Can I get child support if I never married my child's other parent?

Yes. Both of a child's biological parents owe the child a duty of financial support. You can work with a family law attorney and your state's child support enforcement office to obtain a support order. If you are a mother and your child's paternity has never been established, you may need to initiate a paternity proceeding and establish paternity before a support order can be entered.

Alimony (Spousal Support)

Will I be able to get temporary spousal support?

The court may award temporary spousal support, if you earn substantially less than your spouse or if you are unemployed. Your attorney can arrange a hearing for temporary support. At the hearing, you would have to convince the court that you need support and that your spouse has the ability to pay while the divorce is pending.

Am I entitled to receive alimony?

To be awarded alimony (spousal maintenance), you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Establish that within 2 years of the date of petition for divorce the other (paying) spouse was convicted of domestic violence.
  • Married for 10 or more years, and inadequate award of property through divorce settlement to provide for minimal needs due to lack of earning ability in the labor market to cover minimal needs.

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