Frequently Asked Questions

 

How much child support has to be paid?

Texas law provides that child support shall be paid solely as a percentage of the net income of the paying party. Texas is unique in that the income of the receiving party is not considered in establishing the guideline support amount. Net resources are defined by the Texas Family Code 154.062 and only allow very limited deductions from gross pay. The percentage is determined based on the number of children and is 20% for one child, 25% for two children, and 30% for three children, if other children are not entitled to support. While the guidelines can be set aside they are presumed to be in the best interest of the children under the laws of Texas. In order to have the guidelines set aside, your circumstances will need to be unique.

 

Is it true that there is no alimony in Texas?

“Alimony” under the common understanding is prohibited in Texas. However, under certain situations, “spousal maintenance” may be ordered paid by one spouse to the other. “Contractual alimony” is sometimes agreed to by parties, but cannot be ordered by a judge.

 

Is there such a thing as “legal separation”?

There is no such thing as “legal separation” in Texas. A person is either married or divorced. However, after a divorce case is filed an order can be issued by a court while the divorce case is pending. Until that time, marital property and debts continue to accrue even if the parties are separated. Further, until a case is filed and often until a court order is issued, nothing prevents a spouse from cashing out or disposing of property, running up further debts, or even absconding with children. If you are concerned about any of these things occurring protect yourself immediately and contact us today.

 

How Much Will My Case Cost?

This all depends on you, the opposing party, and your case. We have handled cases for as little as $500 and others that cost over $20,000. We pride ourselves on keeping costs low given the type of case you have. We strive to be extremely transparent and candid with our billing and will timely answer any billing questions you have. Although expensive cases are often unavoidable, we try to keep costs as low as possible without sacrificing quality of services. Call and ask for a quote on your case over the phone today. We also offer “al la carte” or “task based” billing to help you budget your case, as opposed to traditional hourly billing. If you are interested, call us and we will be more than happy to explain how this system will help avoid surprises in your attorney fees with your case.


I have heard that I can just use the Attorney General, why should I hire an attorney?

Most cases enforcing or increasing child support can utilize the Attorney General’s Office.  The Attorney General cannot represent you in your divorce and will only minimally involve themselves in visitation and custody issues.

The Attorney General often has a long wait for services, if you need an increase, decrease or enforcement of your child support and cannot wait 6-9 months for your case to begin, call us today, often we can obtain results within weeks.

 

I have heard that Texas splits property 50/50 so how can there be a dispute about it?

While it is true that most divorces result in a division of property that rarely falls outside of a 60/40 split, many spouses cannot agree as to the value of the property or what property is included in the community estate.  Further, parties can dispute which portions of the estate that will be awarded.  Nobody wants to spend more on their attorney than their claim on the estate is worth.  At the same time, no one wants to lose property that is rightfully theirs.

 

What do “joint custody” and “sole custody” really mean?

The terms “joint custody” and “sole custody” cannot be found in the Texas Family Code.  These are terms that are commonly used by clients, but terms that are rarely used by attorneys, and never used by judges.

Often, people refer to “joint custody” when referring to a 50/50 split in the time with the children.  Other times people use the term to refer to “joint managing conservatorship” (see below).  As for “sole custody” or “full custody” this is a term that has no basis in the law, but may be mistakenly used to refer to “sole managing conservatorship” (see below).

 

Is it better to file first or for the other party to file first?

This is all depends on your case.  If you file first you will need to pay a filing fee which usually falls between $200 and $500 for a divorce or initial custody determination, and under $50 for a modification or enforcement action.

However, filing first allows your attorney to present evidence first in the case, which may be beneficial to you depending on the issues in your case.

Many clients are concerned that filing first will mean that they wanted the divorce or were the cause of the divorce.  This is usually not so as Texas is a “no fault” divorce state.  Rather than risk losing rights or control of your situation call our office to determine the best cause of action for your situation.

 

What is “Joint Managing Conservatorship”?

See our link to the Texas Family Code Chapter 153.  Many people become very confused about what Joint Managing Conservatorship means.  Whether you and the other parent are joint managing conservators or sole managing conservator and possessory conservator has nothing to do with how much time you each spend with your children.  Instead, it has to do with certain decision making for a limited number of legal, medical, and educational rights for your kids.  The law presumes that parents will be joint managing conservators.   Only in unique situations is the custodial parent applied as a sole managing conservator.

If you have further questions about this issue, give us a call and we can explain further.

 

I heard that if I don’t have custody I’ll only see my kids 2 weekends a month, is that true?

This is not true.  Texas presumes that the Standard Possessive Order is in the best interest of your children if your child is over three years of age.  Certain situations exist when the Standard Possession Order is unavailable, and certainly parties agree to any number of compromised possession schedules, but most non-custodial parents in Texas follow the Standard Possession Order.

The Standard Possession Order if much more generous than just every other weekend.  Refer to our link Texas Family Code Chapter 153.  Essentially, for parents within 100 miles, the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends, every Thursday in the school year, split or alternate holidays and 30 days in the summer

Depending how you calculate time spent with the children by each parent the result is between 40-45% of the time received for non-custodial.

 

The mortgage is in both of our names; can I force my spouse to refinance if my spouse keeps the home?

If this issue is handled incorrectly, it can lead to many difficulties in the future for the spouse no longer in the home. 

A court can order a home awarded to an individual, can order that a lien applies to property awarded, or even order the property sold.  While a judge can theoretically order someone to refinance a mortgage, if the individual does not qualify for a refinance, little may be left for the judge to do.  These issues can be difficult, but in almost all cases an arrangement can be made that benefits both parties.

 

Are there geographical restrictions?

The laws of Texas provide that is the public policy of courts to assume children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child.  Courts of Texas have interpreted this policy to encourage domicile restrictions on custodial parents.  If you have further questions about this issue, contact our office.