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10 Things You Didn't Know About Texas Divorces

Most people's experience with divorce is limited to that which the media feeds them or from family and friends who may describe their case with biases. The reality is that divorce can be a very complex issue. While laws regarding divorce are the same across much of the United States, there are variations to divorce that apply specifically to Texas divorce cases. Here are 10 that you may not know about.

  • Alimony is not a sure thing

    • Your spouse committed and was convicted of a crime of family violence within the two years leading up to your filing for divorce or during your divorce.
    • You marriage lasted 10 or more years and you don't have the resources to meet your minimum living requirements.
    • You are unable to support yourself due to a physical or mental disability.
    • You are parent to a child or children who have physical or mental disabilities.
    • You lack the ability to hold a job and earn a living to support your minimum needs.
    • Whether the physical, psychological, or emotional needs and development of the child will benefit from the appointment of joint managing conservators (two people, usually the parents, who are a child's legal decision makers).
    • The ability of the parents to give top priority to the welfare of the child and reach shared decisions in the child's best interests.
    • Whether each parent can encourage and accept a positive relationship between the child and the other parent.
    • Whether both parents participated in child rearing before the filing of the suit. The geographical proximity of the parents' residences.
    • If the child is 12 years of age or older, the child can choose which adult has the exclusive right to designate their primary residence.
    • Whether a parent is a flight risk. A parent that lacks financial reason to stay in the US and has strong familial, emotional, or cultural ties to another country, or if a the parent lacks strong US ties , regardless of having citizenship or permanent residency status in the US, may be denied custody.
    • Cruelty
    • Adultery
    • Conviction of a felony
    • Abandonment
    • Living apart for at least three years
    • Confinement in a mental hospital

If you were counting on getting alimony in your divorce, you should look again at the requirements. You will only be in consideration for alimony if either of the following situations is relevant to your divorce:

  • Joint custody does not necessarily mean equal time with both parents.

Unless a court decides a parent is fully or partially restricted from seeing their child, many child custody cases today result in joint custody. Joint physical custody is shared according to a court ordered schedule.

In most states, joint physical custody creates an obligation to provide each of the parents with "significant periods" of physical custody so as to assure the child of "frequent and continuing contact" with both parents.

In Texas, joint custody orders do not always have to result in substantially equal parenting time. Courts have not clearly defined what "significant periods" and "frequent and continuous contact" mean, which requires that parents talk to their divorce attorneys and potentially litigate to find out.

  • Your child has a choice.

Any children who are at least 12 years of age may file with the court the name of the person who is to have the exclusive right to decide the primary residence of the child. However, their choice is still subject to the approval of the court and must be done in writing.

  • There is no legal separation in Texas.

Texas does not have specific provisions for a legal separation, but allows for temporary orders to be filed at the time the divorce is filed. In cases where the parties have filed for a divorce or annulment, they may also enter into a written agreement dividing joint property, dealing with the liabilities of each spouse, and awarding of spousal maintenance (alimony). This agreement may be revised or rejected before rendition of the divorce or annulment unless the agreement is found to be binding under another rule of law.

  • You won't get custody if you can't be nice... Among other factors.

The court will use the following guidelines when deciding how to award child custody:

  • Don't worry; you're not to blame... Oh, and neither is your spouse.

Texas is a "no-fault" divorce state, which means you will be granted a divorce, without having to lay blame on your spouse. Your divorce can be based simply on the grounds that the marriage has become insupportable because of irreparable conflict or disparity between your personalities that prevents reconciliation.

However if you wish to, your lawyer can prepare a fault-based divorce case for you. Filing for divorce on the grounds of fault can be beneficial to your case and will be considered grounds for divorce if any of the following occurred in your marriage:

  • There is a simple calculation to work out your child support payments.

The guidelines for the support of a child after divorce in the Texas legal code are specifically designed to apply to situations in which the obligor (the person who is obligated to pay) has monthly net resources of $7,500 or less. In these cases, the following schedule applies in rendering the child support order:

# of childrenPercentage of obligor's net resources
120%
225%
330%
435%
540%
6+Not less than the amount for 5 children

If the obligor's net resources exceed $7,500 per month, the court shall presumptively apply the percentage guidelines to the first $7,500 of the obligor's net resources. The court may order additional support in addition, depending on the child's needs.

  • You need to live here to divorce here.

In order to file for divorce in Texas, either the petitioner or respondent must live in the state of Texas for at least six months, and reside in the county where the divorce is being filed for at least 90 days before filing the divorce petition. Members of the military who are Texas residents but have spent time outside Texas while serving have more relaxed residency requirements.

  • Being intoxicated at the wedding may grant you an annulment.

Courts in Texas may grant an annulment of a marriage if at the time of the marriage the petitioner (spouse applying for the annulment) was under the influence of alcoholic beverages or narcotics and as a result did not have the capacity to consent to the marriage; and the petitioner has not voluntarily cohabited with the other party since the effects of the alcoholic beverages or narcotics ended.

  • You can't immediately take the plunge again.

Except as otherwise provided for in the Texas family law code, (see your divorce lawyer for these exceptions), neither party to a divorce may marry a third party before the 31st day after the date the divorce is decreed. However, the former spouses involved in the current divorce may marry each other at any time.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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