If a court has determined that you have met the burden of proof for needing spousal maintenance, the next step is determining for what period of time you may be eligible to receive spousal maintenance. The Texas Family Code previously stated that a party could only receive spousal maintenance for a maximum of three years. The Code was recently amended and now states that a person is eligible to receive spousal maintenance for the maximum of:

  1. Five years if the parties were married less than ten years and the maintenance is awarded due to family violence;
  2. Five years if the parties were married more than ten years but less than twenty years;
  3. Seven years if the parties were married more than twenty years, but less than thirty years;
  4. Ten years if the parties were married for more than thirty years

The judge will take your specific circumstances into account when deciding whether to award spousal maintenance and how long to award spousal maintenance. The underlying idea of spousal maintenance is to help a divorced party get back on their feet in the wake of a divorce, not to permanently provide a source of income for a party.

If you believe you are eligible for spousal maintenance, please call to schedule a consultation with an experienced Houston Divorce Lawyer at (713) 225-6200 or visit us on the web at RamosFamilyLaw.com.

1. Don’t involve the kids

Just don’t. Divorce is hard enough on children without added pressure or emotional blackmail coming from the parents. Don’t use your kids as pawns, don’t disparage your ex and don’t involve them in any pending litigation. It reflects poorly on you, your judge won’t appreciate it and it will have harmful effects on your children.

2. Don’t make unreasonable demands

You’re probably hurt and upset with your soon-to-be ex right now, but be reasonable in your expectations. Don’t insist on being name sole custodial parent when there is no evidence to show your ex is a bad parent. Don’t insist on being awarded a disproportionate share of the community estate or spousal maintenance just to “get back” at your ex. Unrealistic expectations make the process more litigious, increase legal fees and usually leave unhappy parties.

3. Don’t be adversarial

Divorce is emotional enough without being litigious and cutthroat. The majority of divorces are settled through informal settlement agreements or mediation. While sometimes extensive court battles are the only way to settle a divorce, more often than not it’s through agreement and you need to be open to that process. It’s not about winning in court; it’s about looking at the bigger picture and focusing on closing one chapter of your life as painlessly as possible.

4. Don’t refuse to communicate

This is especially important if you have kids or shared finances that require some level of communication while your divorce is pending. Don’t insist on going through your attorneys to schedule exchanging the kids or making sure your mortgage is timely paid. This only serves to increase legal fees and annoy the other party. If you absolutely cannot speak with your spouse then your attorney can facilitate communications, but try to be open to communicating with your spouse.

5. Don’t spend a lot of money or incur a lot of debts

A divorce forces couples to go from being supported by two incomes to just one income. It can be a very difficult time financially for some couples, don’t increase your burden by incurring additional credit card debt or make big purchases. This is also an issue for community property states where any assets or debts accrued, even while a divorce is pending, are considered part of the community estate and your spouse is entitled to their community share. Make smart financial decisions during the pendency of your divorce.

If you need to schedule a consultation with an experienced Houston Divorce Attorney, please give us a call at (713) 225-6200 or visit us on the web at RamosFamilyLaw.com.

Now that you have been served with an Original Petition for Divorce, you are the “Respondent” in your divorce case. As the Respondent, it is crucial that you act as soon as possible to protect yourself and avoid having a default judgment taken against you.
Once you have been served you have roughly 20 days to file an answer and make an appearance in your divorce suit. If you fail to make an appearance within the allowed time period, your spouse can go forward with a Default hearing, where often they are granted everything they request in divorce court. This means they can be awarded property and rights related to your children that you are entitled to (Child Custody).

It is important that you get an answer on file with the Court as soon as possible. You may also take the opportunity to file a counterclaim, which is the legal document where you get to request your own relief from the Divorce Court. You may also request a temporary orders hearing if your spouse failed to do so in their original pleadings.
You may not want to divorce your spouse or you may think that your refusal to comply with the legal process will prevent them from getting a divorce. A refusal to appear in court or to sign any documents will not prevent a divorce from occurring; it will just prevent you from having your rights adequately represented. Don’t be mistaken by thinking you can prevent your spouse from getting a divorce, be proactive and protect your rights.

Don’t sign anything without first consulting with a competent Houston divorce attorney. Your spouse may ask you to sign a “Waiver of Service,” which may include language that allows a case to be considered by the Court without any further notice to you. This can also result in a default judgment being taken against you. It’s important to know what you’re signing and protect your rights, consult with a family law attorney who can advise you on how to proceed in your divorce.

For the reasons stated above it is imperative you meet with a competent Houston divorce attorney to go over your rights and options as soon as you have been served. Being served with divorce papers can be an upsetting experience and many people don’t know what step to take next. How you respond to being served will guide the rest of your divorce proceedings so it’s important you start off on the right foot.

Your first action item is to contact a highly qualified Houston Divorce Attorney Mary E. Ramos. She can help you take the correct first step after being served and protect you and your assets during the divorce process.

Disclaimer: The material obtained from this site is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your own legal situation.
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