Law Offices of
Donald L. Williams
Attorney/Mediator and Counselor at Law
|3301 Rain Dance Dr. || ||2829 Montana, Ste. 204|
|El Paso, Texas 79936 || ||El Paso, Texas 79903|
|(915) 598-6009 Office || ||(915) 564-5559 Office|
|(915) 590-8365 Facsimile || ||(915) 562-1224 Facsimile|
TEXAS DIVORCE INFORMATION
Anatomy of a Standard Divorce with Children and/or Property
Texas is one of the many states that has enacted "NO FAULT" divorce. Texas recognizes insupportability of a
marriage as a reason for divorce. This means that if one of the spouses desires to obtain a divorce, the
divorce may be granted even though the other party does not want it. Fault grounds still may be alleged
under certain circumstances.
HOW LONG MUST I LIVE IN TEXAS BEFORE I CAN FILE FOR DIVORCE?
There is a two-fold residency requirement in Texas.
(1) You must be a legal resident or have lived continually in Texas for six (6) months prior to filing for divorce.
(2) You must have lived within the county where you file for divorce for three (3) months before you are eligible to
file in that county.
This also applies to military personnel who are only in Texas for the purpose of military duties.
HOW LONG AFTER I FILE FOR DIVORCE UNTIL THE DIVORCE IS FINAL?
There is a mandatory sixty (60) day "cooling off" or “waiting” period between the date of filing
and the date when the divorce can become final. A decree of divorce does not automatically result
from filing a petition and then waiting for sixty (60) days. The person asking for the divorce must
appear in court with an attorney, if one has been retained, to secure a final decree of divorce.
There is a thirty (30) day waiting period after the divorce before either party may remarry in the
State of Texas, unless they remarry each other.
WHAT IF MY SPOUSE IS NOT IN TEXAS, CAN I STILL GET A DIVORCE?
Generally speaking, yes. Problems arise when the spouse is in the military service and
is not stationed in Texas. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act provides protection
to military spouses who are unable to appear and defend court actions because they are
stationed distant from the court which will decide the case. This protection is particularly
effective if the spouse is overseas; however, you should remember that this protection is not
automatic or permanent and many times will provide no barrier to the obtaining of a divorce.
Texas may not have jurisdiction over parties and property not in the state.
HOW ABOUT ALIMONY AND CHILD SUPPORT
As of September 1, 1995, Texas Courts may grant alimony after the divorce.
While we have always had temporary spousal maintenance, Texas Courts can now grant alimony
under the following conditions:
(1)The spouse from whom maintenance is sought was convicted of, or received
deferred adjudication or, a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of
family violence under Title 4 and the offense occurred:
(a) within two years before the date on which a suit for dissolution of the marriage was filed; or
(b) during the pendency of the suit; or
(2)The duration of the marriage was 10 years or longer, the spouse seeking maintenance
lacks sufficient property, including property distributed to the spouse under this code,
to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 3.9605, and
the spouse seeking maintenance.
(a) is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment because of and
incapacitating physical or mental disability;
(b) is the custodian of a child who requires substantial care and personal supervision because
a physical disability makes it necessary, taking into consideration the needs of the child,
that the spouse not be employed outside the home; or
(c) clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide support for the spouse's
minimum reasonable needs, as limited by Section 8.005.
(d) A court may enforce an order for spousal maintenance under this section by
ordering garnishment of the wages of the person ordered to pay maintenance or by any
other means available under Section 8.009.
Child support is paid pursuant to an order of the court. The amount of child support ordered by
a judge will depend upon, among other things, the ability of the parties to pay. The primary
factor considered is the need of the child. Once set, the amount of child support cannot be
changed by a joint agreement among the parents alone; only a court order can change it. The
support continues until each child is emancipated, reaches eighteen (18) years of age or
graduates from high school, whichever occurs last. There are special provisions for adult or
handicapped children and children over eighteen still pursuing a high school diploma.
Child support can be agreed upon between husband and wife if the court approves the agreement.
Military children remain dependents after the divorce. The service member parent generally can
continue to draw an allowance for BAH; however, this is governed by military regulations and is
subject to change.
CUSTODY OF CHILDREN, MOTHER OR FATHER?
The court has the authority to determine who gets custody of minor children based on which
parent is better able to care for the child. Many factors such as income, ability to provide
housing and love/affection will be considered. This means that a father has a reasonable chance
of getting custody if it is shown that he is better able to care for the child. "Unfitness"
is not the standard, what is in the child's best interest is.
HELPING CHILDREN COPE WITH DIVORCE:
A SEMINAR FOR DIVORCING PARENTS AS REQUIRED BY
THE DISTRICT AND COUNTY COURTS OF EL PASO COUNTY
This four-hour educational program is designed to help parents focus on the needs of their
children during this difficult and painful time. These court ordered seminars are conducted
by qualified professionals affiliated with YWCA El Paso Del Norte Region.
The divorce process
How children react
What children need to do to adjust
What parents can do to help
How to deal with new family structures
When children are at risk
How to get help
Each participant will be charged a fee of $35.00 for this seminar. If you are filing with the
El Paso Legal Assistance Society and the El Paso Bar Association Pro Bono Project the fee is
Children are not permitted in the class.
Child Care is not available on site.
A parent is not required to attend the seminar with his or her spouse or former spouse.
The requirement to attend extends to all cases involving children NOT just divorce.
For more information call the HELPING CHILDREN COPE Coordinator at 533-2311, Ext. 247.
Make checks or money orders payable to Children Cope with Divorce, and mail to the
YWCA, 1918 Texas Ave., El Paso, Texas 79901.
NO CLASSES ARE HELD AT 1918 TEXAS AVE.
THIS ADDRESS IS FOR PRE-REGISTRATION AND PAYMENT PURPOSES ONLY.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY PROPERTY?
Texas judges have the authority to divide all the community property, including retirement
benefits owned by the spouses as is just and right under the circumstances.
This division may result in one party receiving substantially more than one-half of the property.
The judge will further determine which spouse will be responsible for the payment of the
existing debts. It is possible that one spouse will be required to pay debts relating to
property awarded to the other spouse; however, this is rare. Generally, El Paso judges will
approve a property division agreed upon by both spouses UNLESS the agreement is clearly
oppressive to one of the parties involved.
AM I ENTITLED TO MILITARY RETIREMENT?
If you were married to a servicemember during any part of his active service, you may be entitled
to a portion of the military retirement. It is NOT true that you have to be married for a period
of 10 years to be eligible. The Texas courts apply a formula to determine your entitlement under
Texas law. That formula is as follows:
THE NUMBER OF MONTHS MARRIED WHILE ON ACTIVE DUTY
DIVIDED BY X ˝ = EA. SPOUSES ENTITLEMENT
THE NUMBER OF MONTHS CREDITED TOWARD RETIREMENT
The key to this formula is how much time during the marriage overlaps with the spouse’s military
service. Thus, the time in the marriage that occurs before or after the military service is not
counted towards eligibility for retirement pay.
HOW CAN I PAY THE ATTORNEY?
No two divorce cases are ever alike; therefore, the attorney will not quote a fee until a
thorough interview has been conducted. Clients with children and property need more rights
and privileges protected than clients without. This office will require a "Retainer" or a
"Stated Minimum Fee" on every divorce case. Monthly payments can be arranged should the
costs exceed the "retainer" or "stated minimum fee". Flat fees are never quoted.
A Collaborative law divorce is an alternative dispute resolution method or procedure in which the
parties and their counsel agree in writing to use their best efforts and make a good faith attempt
to resolve the suit affecting the parent-child relationship on an agreed basis without resorting to
judicial intervention except to have the court approve the settlement agreement, make the legal
pronouncements, and sign the orders required by law to effectuate the agreement of the parties as
the court determines appropriate. The parties’ counsel may not serve as litigation counsel except
to ask the court to approve the settlement agreement.
BUT DO I REALLY NEED AN ATTORNEY FOR DIVORCE?
There are books and "divorce packets" available in many states that purport to enable an
individual to secure a divorce without employing an attorney, this office DOES NOT
recommend use of such materials. A divorce will determine matters that will affect you for
the rest of your life. For this reason the advice of an attorney is thought to be essential.
This office will not advice individuals to secure a divorce without an attorney and will render
no advice as to how to properly complete petitions, orders, and decrees obtained from divorce
Now that you have read the information, a trained legal assistant or an attorney will now
interview you. You may ask any questions concerning your situation up to one half hour for
a nominal consultation fee. This fee will be credited to you if the attorney is retained.
You will talk directly to the attorney sometime during your visit to make all the arrangements
necessary to retain his services.
If you are unable to retain the services of a private attorney, you can contact the
El Paso County Legal Assistance Society at (915) 544-3022.
This information sheet is provided as a courtesy by:
The Law Offices of Donald L. Williams
NOTICE TO CLIENT
The State Bar of Texas investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct committed by Texas attorneys.
Although not every complaint against or dispute with a lawyer involves professional misconduct, the State
Bar Office of General Counsel will provide you with information about how to file a complaint. For more
information please call 1-800-932-1900. This is a toll free phone call.
You hereby understand that, if you should at any time become displeased or dissatisfied with any aspect
whatsoever of attorney’s representation, or if you should at any time have any serious question concerning
that representation, you will immediately notify attorney of that fact in writing by certified mail,
return receipt requested.
Anatomy of a Standard Divorce With Property, Without Children
DFAS Retirement Information
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