Unfortunately there is no cut and dry answer to this question. It depends on three main factors:
- What is your attorney’s hourly rate? – An attorney with an hourly rate of $175 per hour will clearly result with lower attorney’s fees than an attorney who charges $475 per hour. Keep in mind that an attorney’s hourly rate is often reflective of their experience and skill level so it may be in your best interest to choose an experienced attorney at the cost of having higher attorney’s fees.
- How litigious is your case? – if your divorce requires multiple hearings, mediation, depositions, discovery and final trial you are looking at a divorce costing thousands of dollars. The more time an attorney spends in court the more your end bill will be.
- Contested or uncontested? If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement on all issues, including children and property, you may be able to have an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce requires minimal litigation, very low cost due to the lack of discovery process and a quicker turnaround time, all of which result in lower fees.
Other factors include the use of expert witnesses, how much you communicate with your attorney and other expenses such as ordering copies transcripts of hearings or service fees. It is truly impossible to tell a client upfront how much a divorce will cost so it’s important to find an attorney who is willing to keep you apprised of your current invoice as well as be willing to assist in cost-cutting measures, such as agreeing to go to mediation in lieu of a full trial.
The state of Texas has a mandatory thirty day waiting period after a divorce is granted before the parties may marry a new person. The reason for the mandatory waiting period is that the judge and court that issued your final decree of divorce retains plenary power for thirty days after the divorce is final. This is in case a party files an appeal or a motion for a new trial, which they have thirty days to do after a divorce is finalized. Once the thirty days has expired and the divorce has not been contested, then it is safe for the parties involved to remarry. An exception to this rule is if you desire to remarry the person you just divorced, you are not required to wait thirty days.
If you desire to marry a person who is not your previous spouse before the thirty day waiting period expires, you must make a special request that the court waive the waiting period. In an original petition for divorce, a party may request that the 30 day prohibition against marriage after a divorce is finalized be waived. This is stated in the Texas Family Code, section 6.802, as follows:
“WAIVER OF PROHIBITION AGAINST REMARRIAGE. For good cause shown the court may waive the prohibition against remarriage provided by this subchapter as to either or both spouses if a record of the proceedings is made and preserved or if findings of fact and conclusions of law are filed by the court.”
If granted for good cause, you will receive a waiver from the court allowing you to remarry prior to the expiration of thirty days. What constitutes good cause depends on your specific facts and circumstances. A common example of good cause is that your new betrothed is active military and is set to be deployed prior to the expiration of the waiting period.
If you are contemplating a divorce and would like to request that the court waive the mandatory waiting period, please contact the Ramos Law Firm for a consultation with an attorney where you can discuss your case.
If you and your ex are working under what is known as a Standard Possession Order, the the non-possessory parent is entitled to a block of visitation time during the summer. How many days the non-possessory parent gets with the children and when that visitation occurs during the summer depends on the geographic distance between the two parents.
If you and your ex reside within 100 miles of one another, the non-custodial parent can possess the children for a period of thirty days during the summer. The default dates for this period of possession are July 1 – July 31 but if the parent desires a different schedule, they must give the other parent written notice by April 1 prior to summer how and when they desire to schedule their allotted thirty days.
If you and your ex reside more than 100 miles away from each other, the non-custodial parent may have visitation with the children for a period of forty-two days during the summer. The default dates for this period of possession are June 15 – July 27, but just like as stated above, a parent may give written notice by April 1 to elect a different schedule.
The non-custodial parent may elect to visit with the children for their allotted period of time during the default dates or may elect to break the visitation up into two blocks of time, for example fifteen days in June and fifteen days in July. Written notice must be served on the other parent by April 1 to express their planned visitation schedule.
Just because the other parent is granted a large period of time does not mean the primary parent has to go 30 or 42 days without seeing their children. The custodial parent may elect a weekend, via written notice to the other parent by April 15, to exercise a weekend visitation with the children during the block of time with the other parent. This weekend must be designated by the parent and cannot interfere with Father’s Day Weekend.
As with all other visitation under your child custody order, if you and your ex can come to an agreement on visitation schedules that is preferable and in the best interest of the parent and successful co-parenting. The Standard Possession Order and summer visitation language are there to dictate visitation only when the parents can’t agree.
If you have concerns about your current custody arrangement or would like to find out more information, please contact the Ramos Law Firm.
When a couple divorces, one of the assets often divided and awarded by the court is a portion of the parties’ retirement plans. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, commonly called a QDRO, is an order signed by the court that deals with pension funds. The QDRO establishes your soon to be ex’s legal entitlement to receive a designated amount of a qualified plan account or benefits.
The party who is awarded a portion of retirement benefits will subsequently be responsible for paying related income taxes and fees associated with withdrawing the benefits.
A QDRO allows your ex-spouse to withdraw their share of the money or roll it over into another IRA as outlined by the terms in the QDRO. Rolling over the funds into an IRA allows your ex to postpone the payment of taxes on the money until it is actually withdrawn from the IRA. This aspect is important because it makes the party awarded the funds responsible for the taxes rather than the beneficiary of the retirement plan.
As QDROS can be very intricately drafted and have important tax repercussions, it is very important to have a family law attorney who understands the complexities of QDROs and does not just rely on an employer’s sample plans.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract made between two parties who intend to be wed. This agreement outlines many provisions, usually related to finances and property, which the parties want to agree to prior to being married. Such agreements may include:
- The rights to property owned prior to being married;
- The right to spousal maintenance or the elimination of spousal maintenance should the marriage end;
- The characterization of property acquired during the marriage.
Prenuptial agreements can be useful for parties with significant assets. A prenuptial agreement must be signed by both parties as well as notarized by a notary prior to being filed in the couple’s county of residence. A prenuptial agreement may be amended or terminated by the parties after the marriage.
A prenuptial agreement may be invalidated for one of the following reasons:
- The agreement was not signed voluntarily;
- The agreement was unconscionable when signed;
- Prior to signing the agreement the party was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party; did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party; and did not have or could not have had adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
The parties may also agree to revoke the premarital agreement. This must be done by drafting a formal written revocation signed by both parties.
Premarital agreements can be difficult to draft and the intricacy of the drafting makes it very important that you retain a competent family law attorney that can assist you in drafting an enforceable premarital agreement.
Temporary mutual injunctions are a tool used in the divorce process that prevent either party from conducting themselves in a manner that would harass the other party, destroy or tamper with marital assets or disrupt the lives of the children. Mutual injunctions apply to conduct, property, assets and children.
The parties and their attorneys may agree to mutual injunctions at the onset of a divorce or the judge may order them at a temporary orders hearing. Once the judge has signed temporary mutual injunctions it is very important that the parties comply.
Temporary mutual injunctions are different from a temporary restraining order mostly in length. A temporary restraining order is submitted to the court and signed by a judge and usually includes the same provisions that temporary injunctions include. A temporary restraining order, however, only lasts for fourteen days from the date of signature by the judge. Temporary mutual injunctions can be in place for the entire pendency of a divorce proceeding.
If a party violates a temporary mutual injunction, for example selling off community assets or removing a party from an insurance policy, the court can take that behavior and actions into account when dividing the community estate or awarding custody of children.
There is no clear cut answer to this question. A judge must look at the best interests of a child when making a child custody determination. The existence of adultery may affect a judge’s decision regarding child custody but absent a strong case the adultery has had a negative impact on the child, it will likely have little impact. It is up to the individual judge to examine the facts and circumstances of an alleged affair to decide if it will have any impact on child custody.
Judges are more willing to consider the existence of adultery when one of the parents has engaged in the affair in front of the children. A divorce can be a difficult and confusing time for children. A parent who blatantly conducts an affair in the presence of the child is showing very poor judgment, which the judge could take into consideration when awarding custody.
A related issue to adultery is introducing your child to new romantic partners during the pendency of your divorce. While you may have begun divorce proceedings and are separated from your spouse, it can be very confusing for a child, no matter their age, to be introduced to a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
Having a new romantic partner living with the child is frowned upon by almost all family law judges. Some judges are so very much against the idea of prematurely introducing new romantic partners to children that if such an event occurs during the pendency of your divorce they may make a custody determination based on the fact you were so apathetic in considering the best interest of your children.
Judges can circumvent new romantic partners being around the children by including morals clauses in temporary orders. Such a clause states that no unrelated members of the opposite sex may be in the home with the children during specific hours of the night.
If going through a divorce, it’s best to wait until the custody arrangement has been determined and the divorced finalized before introducing a new romantic partner into the children’s life; both for the good of your children and your pending divorce suit.
The recent adult adoption of a Florida businessman’s girlfriend in an attempt to protect assets from civil litigation has put the spotlight on the legal act of adopting an adult. The Texas Family Code, Section 162.501 specifically allows for the legal adoption of an adult by another adult.
Adult adoption differs little from the adoption from a minor, with the exception that an adult must consent to the adoption. The biological parents of the adoptee do not need to be notified of the adoption and are not entitled to notice of any adoption proceedings. An original petition for adoption must be filed with the court and a hearing will be held.
One of the most common reasons for a formal adult adoption is when a step-parent was unable to formally adopt a step-child while the child was underage due to a biological parent’s refusal to allow for the adoption to go forward.
The adoption of an adult creates a parent-child relationship in the eyes of the law. One of the legal ramifications of adult adoption is that the adopted adult may no longer inherit from their biological parents, but may only inherit from their adoptive parents, per Texas Family Code §162.507.
An adult adoption will not be granted by the court if it appears that the adoption is being sought to defraud creditors or avoid other legal obligations. It will also not be granted if the judge believes a party is being taken advantage of, such as if a party is disabled, elderly or under duress. Adult adoption can also not be used to receive benefits under U.S. immigration law.
If you are considering adopting an adult of if you are an adult who is considering consenting to being adopted, please contact the Ramos Law Firm so that you may discuss the legalities and adoption process.
To obtain a divorce in the state of Texas, at least one of the spouses must have been domiciled in the state of Texas for the six months preceding the filing of the divorce suit as well as a resident of the county in which the suit will be filed for at least the preceding 90 days. If neither spouse has been a Texas resident for at least six months prior to filing the suit, you have not established jurisdiction and will need to wait until six months have passed until you may file for divorce in Texas. This is a jurisdictional issue, meaning that the Court has no power to grant a divorce until at least one spouse has met the residency requirements.
To file a suit affecting a parent-child relationship or modification suit, the state of Texas must acquire jurisdiction over the child or children subject to the suit. The child or children must reside in Texas for at least six months for the state to assume jurisdiction. If there is a previous order relating to the children issued by another state, a party must request the registration of a foreign judgment in Texas before an original petition to modify an existing order may be filed. This request is in addition to the requirement that the child have resided in Texas for at least six months.
Texas is a community property state, which means that there is a presumption that assets are community property, not separate property of a spouse. To overcome this presumption, one must be able to definitively show to a court that an asset was acquired before the marriage and has maintained its characterization as separate property. The key to maintaining the character of your property as separate is to avoid commingling the property with community property.
If you sell or liquidate a separate property asset and purchase another asset, that subsequent asset remains separate property. Commingling proceeds from a separate property asset with a community asset can be problematic when attempting to divide assets in a divorce. The best method to maintaining an asset’s characterization as separate property is to keep the asset apart from any community accounts or assets.
It’s important to remember that while an asset may be without a doubt your separate property, any interests, dividends or capital gains resulting from that asset is considered community property. So while an investment account may initially be separate property, it may be accumulating community interest during the marriage. This is where tracing and forensic accounting becomes important.
Tracing is a tool used to prove with clear and convincing evidence that an asset is separate property. The burden is on you to “trace” where money or an asset came from and when it was acquired to overcome the presumption that it is community property. Tracing can be accomplished through financial records.
If you are contemplating a divorce and would like to discuss your concerns about separate and community property, please contact the Ramos Law Firm so that we can answer any questions or concerns.