Helping Families Through Divorce And Other Family Law Matters
A generation or two ago, divorce and other family law issues were quietly swept under the rug and there were few, if any, legal tools available to assist those dealing with issues like custody and support disagreements. Today, these problems are out in the open and, for the most part, Texas courts are ready to help resolve a number of different family law dilemmas. When these matters go to court, it is very important to have an attorney who will stand up for your legal and financial rights.
At The Bettersworth Law Firm, our aggressive legal team is ready to speak up for you, in both the courtroom and negotiating room. But our assertiveness is always grounded with compassion. This balance is especially important when the dispute involves minor children, because while it is important not to back down in key areas, it is also essential to work towards compromise, to show the judge or jury that you would be a good co-parent. Not many legal professionals can walk this tightrope, but we do it every day.
Representing Families In New Braunfels, Seguin, Boerne, And South Central Texas
Just like the sleekest and fastest airplane is useless without a trained pilot, family courts mean little without an experienced attorney. At The Bettersworth Law Firm, we routinely handle a diverse array of cases, including:
- Uncontested divorce: A spouse may request a no-fault divorce if the person has lived in the state for at least six months and in the county for at least 90 days. There is a minimum 60-day waiting period after the filing; if the respondent does not answer the petition, these divorces are usually concluded rather quickly.
- Contested divorce: Most all divorces are contested, at least to some extent. Although the respondent typically does not oppose the divorce, there may be major disagreement as to property division, spousal support, and other issues.
- Contested divorce with children: The Family Code sets out standard provisions for child visitation and child support. Nevertheless, both these issues, in addition to child custody, are often intensely disputed.
- Modification: Divorce and family law orders can be legally updated once a year, or even sooner if there is an emergency. Typical reasons for modification include a change in income or a change in residence.
- Custody disputes: All good parents agree that the best interests of the children are paramount, but they often disagree as to how this vision is best carried out.
- Enforcement: If a caregiver refuses to obey court orders regarding visitation, support, or any other matter, there are a number of legal tools, including contempt, to deal with the situation.
- Domestic violence: The law provides broad protection for alleged victims and stiff penalties for alleged violators.
- Paternity: In most cases, only a legal father has a duty to support children or the right to demand visitation and custody.
Uncontested Vs. Contested Divorce
An uncontested divorce involves couples choosing to separate who can reach mutual agreement regarding the terms of the divorce. These matters require legal representation to avoid unforeseen liabilities, make you aware of all options, and transition cases efficiently through court. Petitioners must live in Texas for six months, serve 60-day waiting periods, and female spouses must not be pregnant. The grounds for such are usually “insupportability,” with no at-fault party, citing unresolvable discord or personality conflicts.
Grounds for contested divorce include cruelty, adultery, abandonment, imprisonment, mental illness, or having lived separately for a three-year period. During this process, a party may request a motion for a temporary injunction requiring all property to be preserved during the pendency of the case. Courts may order couples to attend counseling with a designated party to determine if reconciliation is feasible. If both parties consent, or upon court request, mediation is an option. Mediators are independent third parties who encourage open communication on the issues of contention. Mediators do not impose settlement arrangements, but rather facilitate the discussion of constructive solutions.
All marital assets and debts, known as community property are subject to division. The law allows courts to exercise discretion to divide in a “just and right” manner, considering the best interests of any minor children involved. Separate property is excluded from division and includes property owned before marriage, gifts acquired, or from a descendant or injury settlement. Courts considerations include:
- Their relative age, education, and health
- Assignments of marital faults
- Noneconomic homemaker contributions
- Minor child custody
- Length of marriage
Maintenance awards require a spouse to make financial support payments to another. Courts determine payment amount and duration while considering:
- Their incomes and earning potential based on education or training
- Length of marriage
- Their age and health
- Any activity in concealing or failing to preserve community property
- Their separate property
- Homemaker contributions
- Acts of marital misconduct
Child Custody And Child Support
Courts approach child-related concerns on what they deem is in the child’s best interest, often seeking third-party opinions. Child custody, or conservatorship, may be sole or joint. Sole custody assigns one parent the responsibility for providing the child’s home and key medical and educational decisions. Joint conservatorships assign dual responsibility for key decisions. Children may reside primarily with one parent, while the other receives visitation schedules for parenting time or variations upon court discretion.
Unwed parents may formally establish the father’s paternity in order to assist with child support. Shortly after birth, fathers may sign an acknowledgment of paternity voluntarily, or courts may order submission to a paternity test to verify. Both parents are responsible for supporting children, and if living separately, regular child support payments are implemented and enforced. Payments are typically calculated as a percentage of the parent’s income.
Contact A New Braunfels Family Law Attorney
We also provide assistance in other areas, like a name change, adoption, grandparent access, termination of parental rights, and annulment. To take full advantage of the legal resources available to you and your family, contact The Bettersworth Law Firm today at 830-606-0404.