Are you considering divorce in Texas? Be aware of these 5 points:
- Are you eligible to file in Texas? Where should you file?
- Texas is a Community Property state.
- Do you have children? What about Child Support?
- Do you share debts with your spouse?
- Watch the social media activity.
1. Are you eligible to file in Texas? Where should you file?
At the time a divorce petition is filed, one of the spouses must have been a resident (domiciled) in Texas for a least the prior six months, and must be a resident (for the prior 90 days) of the county in which the suit will be filed. This means that if you are a person who lives outside Texas and your spouse meets the above two criteria, you may file in Texas in the county in which your spouse resides.
2. Texas and Community Property
Texas is a Community Property state. At a basic level this means: property acquired during the marriage will be divided equally (in 50-50 shares) by the court unless the parties can agree otherwise. The court will consider the rights of both parties and the rights of children (if any), as well as:
- Property owned by each individual prior to marriage:
- Property purchased by each individual during the marriage:
- Property purchased by the couple together:
A divorce attorney can advise you on the specific application of Texas law in your case, including property purchased outside of Texas, income and earnings from property, salary, and investments.
3. Divorce When You Have Children
Divorce requires work and focus – especially if you have children. Where a divorcing couple has minor children, if the couple cannot agree on custody arrangements, the court will devise a custody order. The court will seek to achieve a) the most amicable outcome possible, and b) an outcome that is in the best interest of the child(ren). If the divorcing parties provide their version of an agreement, the court will review that filing and accept or request the parties make revisions in an effort to satisfy the goals of best interest of the child(ren).
A family law attorney experienced in divorce arrangements, custody agreements, mediation, and trial is best-suited to advise on the range of considerations you may face such as sole or joint custody, child support payment requirements, a visitation plan, what to expect when Child Protective Services (CPS) is involved, and what filings you must make with the court on your behalf and on behalf of the child(ren).
Texas has set guidelines to determine the amount of monetary support owed by a non-custodial parent. The Texas Attorney General’s Office has a web page where you can estimate support using the Monthly Child Support Calculator. The formula is based on a percentage of the parent’s income and on the number of children to receive support. In situations where the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has been named as a temporary managing conservator of the children, a court may order one or both parents to pay child support.
Starting in late 2016, Texas began enforcing a new statute that ties Texas motor vehicle registration renewals to child support payments. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (Texas DMV) can deny registration renewals of a parent who has failed to pay child support for at least six months (https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/noncustodial-parents-and-tax-assessors).
When a divorce begins, the parties initially consider the property they possess, whether that is a physical item like a home or a vehicle, or assets such as retirement benefits. It is important to also consider the flip-side of assets: the debts of each spouse and the debts shared by the couple.
Similar to how Texas views Community Property, debts incurred during marriage are considered Community Debt – unless specifically designated as the responsibility of only one spouse under the agreement with the creditor(s). A divorce attorney can help you review debt obligations and may suggest what will be required for evidence to support your claims regarding your responsibilities.
5. Curtail the Social Sharing
Listen to your attorney’s advice regarding your social media and other online activities. A general rule of thumb: curtail your online communications immediately once you serve or receive a petition for divorce.
The rise of social media in recent years has eaten away at our sense of privacy, not to mention the tendency for many people to post and tweet comments and photos they later come to regret. Our digital accounts are also resources for commiserating with friends when we or they face life’s difficulties. When divorce occurs, there may be a strong urge to use a social or digital outlet to express concern or even anger. However – sometimes those posts can come back to haunt you during divorce.
Blocking your spouse from a particular social media account may not sufficiently prevent them from eventually viewing or obtaining your posts, thus what you share during the divorce process may wind up as part of the other party’s case. The best idea would be to avoid posting during the term of your divorce.
Divorce is never easy – even if you were the one who initiated the process. Sometimes, the first impulse when facing divorce is to hide. However, your best avenue through a divorce is to seek sound advice from someone with experience, who will care for your best interests.
Contact us today to arrange a consultation.