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TX divorce lawyerIn Texas, spousal support is an option in relatively few divorces. State law puts substantial limits on the types of circumstances in which maintenance is warranted, and when the court does include maintenance in a divorce order, it is usually only for a limited time. Both paying and receiving spouses can better prepare for the divorce and its aftermath by understanding when spousal support payments may terminate.

Texas Spousal Maintenance Order Durations

Texas courts will determine the specific duration of maintenance according to the facts of each individual case, but there are maximum cut-offs in place based on the length of the marriage and the reason why spousal support was ordered. For example:

  • There is a maximum five-year duration when the marriage lasted between 10 and 20 years. If the receiving spouse is a victim of spousal abuse, they can receive maintenance for up to five years even if the marriage lasted less than 10 years.
  • There is a maximum seven-year duration when the marriage lasted between 20 and 30 years.
  • There is a maximum 10-year duration when the marriage lasted 30 years or more.

However, these limits do not apply when maintenance is ordered because the receiving spouse has a disability or is caring for a child with a disability. In these cases, maintenance may continue indefinitely, or until the receiving spouse no longer needs it to provide for their needs.

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TX divorce lawyerLife can be full of challenges for military families, including frequent relocations and extended absences for spouses and parents. When a military marriage fails, the family can also face unique challenges throughout the divorce process. Whether you are a service member yourself or you are married to one, you should be prepared for the possible effects on asset division, child custody, and other divorce-related issues.

Effects on Divorce Proceedings

Most couples who want to file for divorce in Texas must first meet a residency requirement, with at least one spouse having been a Texas resident for at least the last six months. However, military couples can instead qualify based on a spouse’s temporary stationing for military service in Texas. An attorney can help you determine whether you are eligible to file, and in what county you should do so.

The divorce process can also be impacted if a service member is currently stationed away from Texas while their spouse continues to live there. Though you can file for divorce at any time after meeting the residency requirement, a spouse who is absent due to service obligations can delay the proceedings until they are able to appear in person, according to the terms of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

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TX family lawyerIn Texas, child custody cases run the gamut from hotly contested legal disputes to amicable, mutual agreements, and everything in between. As a parent, you should know that any child custody matter comes with its own set of challenges. While a joint custody agreement may not be as emotionally draining and stressful as a contested custody trial, you can still benefit from the representation of an experienced family law attorney who can help you protect your children’s interests.

Establishing a Joint Managing Conservatorship

Under Texas law, there are several possible custody arrangements between parents who are unmarried or getting divorced. In some cases, one parent may be granted sole custody and visitation rights. In others, one parent may have primary decision-making authority regarding the child, while the other parent has scheduled visitation. However, the most cooperative custody arrangement is known as a joint managing conservatorship.

In a joint managing conservatorship, both parents have certain rights and responsibilities with respect to their children. These include the right to contribute to important decisions regarding the children’s education, health, well-being, and assets, as well as the right to access information related to these matters. Parents in a joint managing conservatorship also have the responsibility to keep each other reasonably informed of important information regarding the children, and to provide for the children’s care needs while the children are in their possession.

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TX divorce lawyerWhen a couple’s assets are divided in a Texas divorce, there is an important distinction between community property and separate property. Community property refers to most assets acquired by one or both spouses during their marriage, and both spouses have a claim to it in the divorce. Separate property refers to assets that belong to just one spouse, usually those that were acquired before the marriage.

Though your spouse does not have a claim to a portion of your separate property during the divorce process, this property can still impact the terms of your divorce resolution in other ways. For example, you may need to prepare for your spouse to claim reimbursement for any contributions they made.

When Can a Spouse Claim Reimbursement?

According to Texas law, there are several situations in which a spouse may have a claim for reimbursement for contributions made to the other spouse’s separate property. Some of the most common include:

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TX divorce lawyerTexas law treats most assets acquired during a marriage as community property, meaning that both spouses have an ownership interest. If you are getting divorced, you may be concerned that this means that you will have to divide all of your assets in half, possibly even requiring you to sell some of your property to make this possible. You should know that although there are times when selling your property is necessary or desirable, there are often alternatives that may better suit your needs.

How Is Property Divided in a Texas Divorce?

Understanding Texas laws regarding the division of marital assets can help you determine whether you may need to sell some of your property. Texas courts operate under a general rule requiring the “just and right” division of community property. If the decision is left up to the court in a contested divorce, you may be ordered to sell property to achieve a just distribution. However, you can also negotiate a fair agreement with your spouse that minimizes the amount of property that must be sold.

Selling Your Home

The decision of whether or not to sell your home largely depends on whether you or your spouse wants to continue living there, as well as whether either of you can afford it on your own. Selling may be necessary if you are unable to work out an agreement with your spouse, if the mortgage and upkeep would be too much of a burden, or simply if neither of you has a compelling reason to stay in the house. If you do need to sell, your divorce resolution can establish the terms for dividing the proceeds after any remaining mortgage balance has been paid.

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TX family lawyerIn Texas, victims of domestic violence, as well as those who are at risk of domestic violence, can apply for help in the form of a protective order against the person who may cause them harm. A protective order granted by the court can impose many restrictions on a person’s behavior, including barring them from committing future acts of violence, communicating with or going near the person under protection, or even staying in their residence. In most cases, the court will hold a hearing with both parties to determine the appropriate restrictions. However, the court can sometimes issue a protective order ex parte, meaning without a hearing.

When Will a Texas Court Grant a Protective Order Without a Hearing?

If you are at risk of imminent violence, it may be unsafe and unrealistic for you to wait for a hearing before a protective order goes into effect. Providing notice to the other party of your petition for protection could even put you at greater risk. If you find yourself in such a situation, you can petition for a temporary ex parte protective order. You will still need to make your case to the court, either in writing or in person, that the order should be granted, and you will need to show that you are in “clear and present danger” of suffering harm. If your petition is successful, the order will take effect immediately upon the court’s approval.

Keep in mind, however, that a temporary ex parte order is more limited than a typical protective order. First of all, if you and the other party share a residence, it can be more difficult for you to secure exclusive possession of the residence through an ex parte order. Secondly, a temporary ex parte protective order only lasts for up to 20 days at a time, so if you want to protect yourself in the long term, you will need to prepare for a hearing to demonstrate your ongoing need for protection.

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TX family lawyerMany grandparents care deeply for their grandchildren, and it can be difficult for them to see their grandchildren being raised in an environment that they feel is not in the children’s best interests. Even harder is a situation in which the child’s parents prevent a grandparent from spending any time with their grandchild. It is not uncommon for grandparents in these cases to consider pursuing custody of their grandchildren. However, under Texas law, the circumstances under which a grandparent can file a custody suit are actually quite limited. If you find yourself in a dispute of this nature, whether you are the grandparent or the parent, an attorney can help you understand your rights.

Does a Grandparent Have Standing to File a Texas Custody Suit?

The Texas Family Code lists all of the parties that have standing to file a “suit affecting the parent-child relationship,” which includes custody suits. Some of the parties mentioned include the child’s parent, legal guardian, alleged father, or a governmental entity like the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Grandparents, as well as certain other relatives like siblings, aunts, and uncles, can typically file a custody suit only if the child’s parents are both deceased.

However, there are a few other situations in which a grandparent may be able to file a suit even if one or both of the child’s parents are still living. One example is when the grandparent can provide evidence that the child’s current custody and living arrangements are detrimental to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or development. Another example is when any surviving parents have agreed to allow the grandparent to file suit.

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TX high net worth divorce attorneyFor parents, the end of a marriage usually means a child custody order is necessary to outline each parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding the children. However, in most divorce cases, the family’s living arrangements change well before the divorce is completed. As such, it is often important to make child custody decisions before the final resolution is approved. If you and your spouse are living apart while your divorce case is pending, petitioning for a temporary child custody order can help you resolve issues related to your children’s immediate living arrangements.

What Can a Temporary Custody Order Include?

Perhaps the most pressing issue in a pending divorce when the spouses are living separately is how much time the children will spend living with each parent. A temporary custody order can include a visitation schedule, as well as provisions for transportation and exchanges between parents. It can also address other important custody issues, such as how you and your spouse will share responsibilities for making important decisions about your children’s health and education during the divorce process.

Along with addressing custody and visitation, it is often important to address child support through a temporary order. Temporary child support decisions are usually handled similarly to more permanent child support orders, with the non-custodial parent making periodic payments to the custodial parent. This ensures that both parents are contributing financially to their children despite not living in the same household.

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