Divorce is a major transition. Texas law encourages couples to really consider whether they should divorce and not rush through the process. To this end, Texas law mandates a 60-day waiting period between the filing of the divorce petition and the finalization of the divorce. The Texas Family Code does not require a person seeking a divorce to allege fault grounds. Fault grounds can be asserted and if proven, the fault may be considered in the awarding of child custody and in the division of marital property.

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Divorces may either be contested or uncontested (also called agreed). If the terms of the divorce are agreed upon by each party, the judge may enter a decree conforming to the agreement without a trial. If a divorce is contested, there will ultimately be a trial to determine property division, child custody, and child support obligations.

Depending on how long you were married, whether you have children, how amicable the separation has been, and whether you and your former partner can agree on property and debt division, the divorce process can be very difficult or it can be relatively smooth. It helps to have an experienced, compassionate divorce lawyer to advise you on the primary issues that arise in a divorce, namely: (1) property division; (2) child custody and visitation; and (3) child support.

Property Division

Many people have heard that Texas is a community property state. This is true, but that does not mean that property division in a divorce is always 50/50. Many factors influence the division of property, but the basic rule is that the property division must be “just and right.” (An important caveat here is that a prenuptial agreement will dictate property division if there is one.)It is important to understand the essential difference between separate and community property. Any property owned by a spouse before the marriage is that spouse’s separate property. Furthermore, any property that a spouse is given or inherits during the marriage is also that spouse’s separate property. Separate property cannot be awarded to the other spouse in the divorce decree.

All other property is presumed by the court to be community property. Community property is subject to division by the court. The court can take into account whether one spouse has a higher earning capacity or has a large amount of separate property compared to the other spouse.

Property settlements pursuant to a divorce are not only concerned with assets. The debts incurred by the spouses during the marriage must also be divided up and assigned to one spouse or the other. Click here to contact your Dallas divorce attorneys.