Frequently asked questions
Mary E. Ramos // Attorney At Law //
Divorce and Family Law:
Who is eligiable to adopt?
In Texas, anyone who passes a background check and has the finanical ability to support the child. Keep in mind, that a detailed pre-adoptive homestudy will be conducted which includes the following areas:
- Interview of adoptive parents
- Verification of legal documents
- Letters of reference from friends and family
- Confirmation of finanical status
- Criminal history check
- Child abuse check
Can I adopt more than one child?
Yes. In the majority of the cases it pertains to siblings. It is preferable that children of the same family remain together. Therefore the court gives special attention to those type of adoptions.
What is an open adoption?
It is an adoption where both the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parents are made known to each other and have some type of contact throughout the process. In open adoptions, the birth and adoptive parents determine the level of contact. In some cases only names are exchanged.
Can I provide finanical assistance to the birth mother?
The state of Texas, limits the expenses an adoptive parent can pay for on behave of the biological parents to medical and legal expenses relating to the adoption.
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Divorce and Family Law
How long does it take to finalize a divorce?
In accordance with Texas Laws, a waiting period of 60 days is required. However, the divorce may take longer if the parties are trying to work out the terms of the divorce, such as custody of children, child support, property division, etc. If an agreement is not reached, either party may schedule a hearing at any time after the 60 day waiting period.
Who will get custody of the children?
Both parents should agree on which party will get primary custody and which will get visitation. If both parties are unable to come to an agreement a judge will rule based on the evidence presented and the best interest of the children.
Both parents have the same legal rights to the children until there is a court hearing. Until that hearing, each parent has the right to be with the children. A temporary restraining order is usually issued automatically by the court when a divorce petition is filed that will forbid the parents from changing the kids’ residence or hiding them from the other parent. A temporary restraining order, however, does not award anyone custody.
What happens to our property?
When it comes to divorce, some states recognize property between a husband and wife as community property. Only certain states permit this type of joint ownership, and Texas is one of those states. This means that both you and your spouse have an undivided one half interest in all the property that you've acquired and the income you've earned during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the ownership papers or who earned the most money. Basically, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the property deemed as community property wll be divided equally (50-50) by the court in most cases.
What is separate property?
Generally, separate property is property that was either owned by the spouse before marriage, acquired by gift / inheritance, or
certain kinds of recoveries for personal injuries.
What is community property?
All property acquired during marriage by either spouse is presumed to be community property, and a spouse who asserts that particular property is separate property must prove its sole ownership.
How is child support calculated?
Every state establishes numerical child support guidelines. Child support is based on a percentage to the non-custodial parent's income. It is from this percentage that the child support is calculated. The percent of net resources will be 20% for 1 child, 25% for 2 children, 30% for 3 children, 35% for 4 children, and 40% for 5 children. There are caps and other considerations on child support amounts that may affect some individual payors.
What are the child support guideline percentages?
The following percentages are presumed to be appropriate under the Texas Family Code:
Child Support Guideline Percentages
|Number of Children
||20% of the obligor’s net resources
||25% of the obligor’s net resource
||30% of the obligor’s net resources
||35% of the obligor’s net resources
||40% of the obligor’s net resources
|6 or more
||Not less than 40% of the obligor’s net resources
Are there any requirements to getting a divorce in Texas?
A suit for divorce may not be maintained in this state unless at the time the suit is filed either the petitioner or the respondent has been: (1) a domiciliary of this state for the preceding
six-month period; and (2) a resident of the county in which the suit is filed
for the preceding 90-day period.
What this means is that in order to obtain a divorce, for example, in Houston, Texas, there are certain residency requirements that must be met. Using the above scenario, in order to get a divorce in Houston, Texas you must show that not only are you living in Texas and have lived in Texas for at least six months prior to the filing of the divorce, but that you have also lived in the county with which you have filed for divorce (and since you’ve filed for the divorce in Houston, that means you have to have lived, at the very least, in Harris County for the last three months).
What are the grounds for a divorce?
Texas law recognizes both "no-fault" and “fault” divorces. A no fault divorce is a divorce that is granted without the spouse who initiates the divorce having to allege and provide marital misconduct on the part of the other spouse. On the other hand, a fault based divorce is a type of divorce in which the spouse who initiates the divorce provides a very specific reason for the divorce such as cruelty, adultery, conviction of a felony, abandonment, living apart, or confinement in a mental hospital.
Reasons for choosing to do a “no fault” vs. a “fault” divorce is with fault divorces, if one party is at "fault" for the breakup of the marriage, the court may take that into consideration in determining what is an "equitable" division of the property. For that reason, the other spouse may want to plead fault grounds in their petition. Otherwise, insupportability would be the grounds for divorce for those opting to do a “no-fault” divorce. Declaring insupportability renders a finding of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
My spouse just asked me for a divorce and I am unemployed.
While the divorce case is pending, temporary spousal support is certainly one option. Temporary spousal support may be awarded at a temporary orders hearing. While there are no guidelines with regards to setting temporary spousal support, the party seeking support should be prepared to show what his/her needs are and what resources are available to the other spouse to meet those needs
After the divorce, what happens to my last name?
If restoring your last name to what it was prior to your marriage is what you want, you may request to do so in the divorce decree. It is important to know that a change of one’s name does not release that person from liability incurred by the person under a previous name or defeat a right the person held under a previous name.
What is the difference in divorce and annulment?
Essentially, in a divorce the marrige is valid contract while in an annulment the marriage becomes an invalid contract.
What are the issues that are involved with a divorce?
There are a wide range of issues involved in a divorce including child custody, child support, visitation rights, and property division to name a few. The key to a successful divorce is to remove emotions and considering the divorce process as a buisness transaction.
If my spouse is pregnant can I still file for divorce?
Yes, you can still file for divorce but you will not be able to finalize the process until the child is born and a determination of paternity is made. This delay allows the court to include the appropriate order for visitation and child support if applicable.
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What is mediation?
Mediation is a formal settlement session in which a neutral person trained in dispute resolution meets with the parties and gets them to talk about the case and their differences. Mediation is preferable to litigation in many circumstances for a number of reasons. Mediation is seen as much less aggressive, saves considerable amounts of money and time for most individuals who choose it over litigation.
What is the role of the mediator?
A mediator is there to clarify the issues that you and your spouse need to resolve; establish the ground rules for your mediation; set an agenda for your discussions, and most importantly, keep the discussions moving forward. Again the mediator won’t take sides with you or your spouse, or provide opinions; rather the mediator is to act as a consensus builder, facilitator, and even at times a referee.
What happens after mediation?
If mediation is successful, then the mediator prepares a written document that details everything the parties agreed upon including applicable signatures of the parties and their attorneys. Afterwards, copies of the agreement are then given to each attorney to be added to the final divorce decree and filed with the court. After the decree becomes approved by the court, each party becomes legally bound to comply with all the terms agreed to during mediation.
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