Family Law FAQ
HOW LONG DOES A DIVORCE TAKE?
The minimum length of time for a divorce suit is 60 days from the date of the filing of the original petition for divorce. This is commonly referred to as the “cooling off period” and was established by our Texas legislature in order to prevent spouses from acting too hastily. If the suit is uncontested and all issues are agreed to by both spouses, then a suit for divorce can in fact end at the 60 day mark. However, the reality of it is that the length of a divorce suit will depend on the complexity of each individual case. The factors which commonly affect the length of a suit for divorce will include whether or not child custody is in dispute and the complexity of the financial situation of the parties.
DOES A COURT HAVE TO FIND FAULT IN ORDER TO GRANT A DIVORCE?
Texas is a no fault divorce state. Therefore, regardless of the reason the marriage has failed, if either spouse wants a divorce the court will grant it. However, the court could also grant a divorce on the grounds of fault if one spouse is in fact at fault for the breakup of the marriage.
WHAT DOES COMMUNITY PROPERTY INCLUDE?
Texas is a community property state. This means that all income generated by either party during the marriage belongs to the community estate of parties. This is true regardless of where the money kept and regardless of which spouse has control of the money or asset. There are exceptions to this rule, including assets or money you owned prior to marriage, assets of money which is inherited by a spouse, and assets of money which was gifted to a spouse by anyone.
WHICH COURT HAS JURISDICTION OVER MY CASE?
One spouse must have lived in the State of Texas for at least 6 months and in the county where the suit is being filed for at least 90 days.
DOES IT MATTER WHO FILES FOR DIVORCE FIRST?
The person who files for divorce first is called the Petitioner and the other spouse is called the Respondent. There are no major advantages to filing for divorce before your spouse does. In fact, the Respondent may file a counter-petition for divorce seeking the same or similar relief as what the Petitioner is seeking in their original petition for divorce.
HOW IS AN ANNULMENT DIFFERENT FROM A DIVORCE?
An annulment is a suit to declare a marriage void entirely. It would be as if the marriage never in fact happened. Most suits for annulment require that the party seeking the annulment stop living with the other spouse once the grounds for annulment are discovered by them. The specific grounds for an annulment include:
- underage marriage.
- under influence of drugs of alcohol at time of marriage.
- mentally incompetent at the time of marriage.
- fraud or duress cause one party to enter into the marriage.
HOW IS THE AMOUNT OF CHILD SUPPORT DETERMINED?
Our Texas Family Code sets forth specific guidelines by which most child support is determined. The guidelines set forth specific percentages of your net monthly resources (i.e. 20% for 1 child, 25% for 2 children, etc). Net monthly resources means income from all of your sources including salary, rents, royalties, dividends, interest, or any other source of income, minus the estimated amount of income taxes and a few other items.
WHEN SHOULD I SEEK AN INCREASE OR DECREASE IN CHILD SUPPORT?
The law allows either party to seek a modification of child support when there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances of the child or either party since the original order was signed. This would include significant changes in income (increases or decreases) and changes in the needs of the child.