ASK A DALLAS FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: TOP 10 DIVORCE/FAMILY LAW QUESTIONS
- How is a divorce started?- A Dallas divorce is started with the initial filing of an Original Petition for Divorce, according to family law. This document is really nothing more than a lawsuit, but instead of asking for damages because someone either breached a contract or was involved in a car accident, the Original Petition for Divorce asks the court to dissolve the marriage, divide property and debt, enter and make orders appropriate for children (if any), and enter judgment. There is a sixty day waiting period that begins on the day the divorce petition is filed. A divorce in Texas can not be granted before the expiration of sixty days from the day the divorce petition is filed.
- I am afraid what my spouse will do if I file for divorce, what do I do? - Speak to your family law attorney about this. There are many options available if you fear for your physical safety, the safety of your children and/or you are concerned about the property in your marital estate. If you are ever threatened or physically abused by your spouse call 911 immediately and explain in detail to the responding officer exactly what happened. Consult with your attorney as to what to do next. There are many protections that Texas law affords to the victims of domestic violence. The protection also extends to the children.
- Conservatorship, what is that?- Texas doesn't use the term "custody." Instead we use the term "conservatorship." Conservatorship can be best described as what duties and rights each parent will have, or not have regarding children. When speaking about children it's important to speak in terms of conservatorship, not custody. Conservatorship is broader than custody. The rights designated by conservatorship are considerably more than those given by custody. There are two types of conservatorship in Texas; Joint Managing Conservatorship and Sole Managing Conservatorship. In Texas, there is a presumption that it is in the child's best interests that the parties be named Joint Managing Conservators. This presumption can be over come if one parent can not act in the best interest of the child. Conservatorship designates who will have the final say regarding the four bigger decisions regarding children: where the children will reside, where they will go to school, major medical decisions regarding the children, and the moral and religious upbringing for the children. Usually, one party will be designated as the parent who has the exclusive right to establish the primary residence of the child. The court can (and frequently does) restrict the party who establishes the residence of the child to a certain geographical area, usually the county in which the divorce takes place.
- Residency restriction, what's that?- Currently this is a hot issue in Texas. Most courts take the position that to allow the parent who establishes the primary residence of the child to live wherever that parent wants to live without some geographical restriction would effectively prevent the non-custodial parent from having frequent and continuing contact with the child and thus would make any kind of meaningful relationship between the child and non-custodial parent virtually impossible. Most child psychologists have determined that a child's best interests are met when BOTH parents have continued and frequent contact with the child and BOTH parents actively participate in the child's life. There is also evidence that younger children who have frequent contact with the non-custodial parent tend to have a stronger and more meaningful relationship with the non-custodial parent as opposed to children who did not have frequent contact with the non-custodial parent. Statistically the parent-child relationship (sometimes referred to as "the tie that binds") tends to be much stronger. Therefore, Courts tend to order possession schedules that further this aim.
- I was never married to the other parent of my child, how do I get child support? - There is no requirement that the parties be married in order for the custodial parent to receive child support.
- How much child support will I get? - Child support is generally set at 20% of the net income for the first child, 25% for the next child, 30% for the next child, and so on. These percentages apply to the first $7,500.00 of the non-custodial parent’s monthly net income. Child support above the non-custodial parent’s net income of $7,500.00 is based on the children's proven needs. Texas courts have not specifically defined what the “proven needs” of the children are but give guidance. Texas law decides what the net income is regarding net and gross income. Generally, the person paying child support is responsible for maintaining or reimbursing the other party for health insurance for the children. Generally both parties split uninsured medical expenses equally.
- I can't find a lawyer, what do I do? Call family law attorney Mike Granata (214) 977-9050.
- How long will my divorce take to finish? Texas has a mandatory 60 day waiting period from the day your divorce petition is filed. In my experience, most divorces take between 2-8 months to finish. Of course, this is the general rule; your case may be the exception.
- I have an order establishing child support, but I am not getting it, what do I do? - Contact the Texas Attorney General, oag.state.tx.us/index.shtml
- I do not know where my spouse is, can I still get a divorce? - Yes.