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Filing for divorce in Texas can be a complicated process in most cases requires the assistance of a divorce lawyer in Texas to avoid common missteps and to assure that all issues are appropriately addressed in the final contract also known as the final divorce decree. That said, filing an agreed divorce with minimal assets and no children isn’t very complicated but can have some pitfalls if you don’t know the law. In this article, we while touch at a high level how to file a divorce in Texas but by no means should you use this guide as a full reference as all cases are different and not all details are included.

1 – Determine if you have jurisdiction to file in your local county

The general rule of thumb to determine if there is jurisdiction to file in Texas and the county in question is at least one spouse must have been a domiciliary of Texas for the preceding six month period and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90 day period.

2 – Draft the original petition for divorce

While there are many samples online make sure you choose one that is accepted by the family court in your county. When preparing the petition for divorce which will include the grounds for divorce which by default should be “no fault” to avoid further complicating the case. The original petition is a document that asks the court to grant the divorce, identifies assets, children and all parties. To file the original petition, you must pay the corresponding fee, which is set by the county that has jurisdiction over your case. Every court and county is different, but in most cases, you can mail the petition along with the required fee or file the paperwork in person.

3 – Serve the other party with the filed petition or have them sign a waiver of service.

In Texas, you must provide the court proof of notifying the other party via a 3rd party process server or by asking your spouse to sign a waiver of service. In an agreed case, the best way to go is the waiver of service route as it not only saves on the cost of the process server but also speeds up the process.

4 – Agree on all aspects of the divorce

Achieving an agreement in a divorce case can be one of the most challenging parts of the entire process. You must decide on how to divide all of the assets including the house, retirement accounts, and items other items as small as the lawnmower. Additionally, child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance are some of the sticky points of finalizing an agreement. If all goes well, you can conclude your divorce as early as the 61st day from the day of filing the original petition for divorce.

5 – Drafting the final paperwork

To finalize any agreement achieved in step 4, you must document all the previously discussed areas in the proper format within the final divorce decree and provide it to the other side for review.

Remember, there are many online samples, but courts may not accept it if the drafted document was produced by an unlicensed individual as it may be considered the unauthorized practice of law.

6. Prove up the final order

To make the divorce official both parties must sign the final divorce decree, you must prove up the decree in front of the judge, and finally, the judge must grant the divorce and sign the final order. To prove up the final order, you must schedule a prove up date with the family court, in which your case was placed in or know the court’s procedure and be prepared to state on the record who you are and that you are in agreement with all the terms within the final divorce decree.

Learning how to file a divorce in Texas is not rocket science, but if you screw one thing up, it can take months to correct and finalize the process. Keep in mind that the courts nor the staff will help you with your paperwork.

Houston, TX, August 6, 2018 –Ramos Law Group, PLLC (RLG) is Jessica Mikellpleased to announce the addition of a new rock star attorney as part of a significant undertaking to rebuild the RLG team with the most qualified and experienced team members.  The new attorney, Jessica Mikell, will be based out of the Houston office but will travel to The Woodlands or Sugar Land offices as demand requires.  She joins the principal attorney, Mary E. Ramos, who is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and Lindsey Lewis who has been with the firm serving as an associate attorney for three years.

Rounding out the 2018 push to rebuild the team is Christina Garza, Board Certified Paralegal in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization who joins from the Kutty Law Firm and Megan Davis who returns from the Law Office of Joel Nass.  Jessica, Christina, and Megan were all previous Ramos Law Group employees and are all happy to be back home.

Jessica Mikell joins the Ramos Law Group from Cordell & Cordell known throughout the nation as the divorce lawyer for men firm.  Starting her career at RLG many years back, she has gone on to represent hundreds of clients from single dads to executives for fortune 500 companies.   Mrs. Mikell is well-known throughout the family law community as a no-nonsense and highly prepared divorce lawyer for men.  She has handled cases with highly contested child custody, property, and parental alienation issues.    “When clients feel like their world is falling apart, it is essential for them to have a strong advocate familiar with the journey to remind them that our job is to help them navigate the temporary muddy waters to achieve the results that will help them move on to the next chapter in their lives,” she said.

At Ramos Law Group, we offer a ‘Raving Fan Guarantee.’ If our customer is not happy with the service they receive, we offer them up to a $1,000 refund.Alfredo Ramos, Business Futurist

Mrs. Mikell will focus her efforts on the divorce lawyer for men niche clientele and help dads maintain their parental rights throughout Houston and surrounding areas.

Ramos Law Group, PLLC  was started in 2004 by Mary E. Ramos who through her efforts and those of her team has grown the organization from a single attorney firm to one with over ten employees and three attorneys.  We are committed to the practice of divorce and family law in Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, Montgomery and Brazoria Counties. We have effectively negotiated positive outcomes in high net-worth divorce, child custody, and property division cases while keeping attorney fees under control.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Christina Garza at (713) 225-6200 or email at info@ramosfamilylaw.com.

Ramos Law Group

The Ramos Law Group, PLLC  is thrilled to announce the return of Christina Garza as our new Office Manager and Senior Paralegal.   She is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and rejoins the team after a short sabbatical.  She brings with her over 18 years of family law experience beginning her career as a clerk with the 246th Family Law District Court then to formally working for the Ramos Law Group for over 12 years.  While away, she assisted the Kutty Law Firm with her family law expertise and the Ramos Law Group work ethic to help the Kutty Law Firm prosper.  She decided to return to the Ramos Law Group that she loves and considers home.

“I’ve been involved in family law for over 18 years, and I am continually impressed by what we accomplish as a team at the Ramos Law Group.   The results and level of client care we achieve on behalf of our clients are unmatched by any family law firm in Houston, ” Christina Garza said after reflecting on her time away.

Laser focused on client satisfaction; the Ramos Law Group has been working tirelessly to continue to build a team who loves and cares for each client, while passionately advocating on their behalf.  To this end, the management team will be announcing the return of a previous associate attorney on August 6th.  To learn more about the associate visit  www.ramosfamilylaw.com now and return on August 6th when the name of the new Family Law Rock Star is announced.

“At the Ramos Law Group, we offer a ‘Raving Fan Guarantee.’ If our customer is not happy with the service they receive, we offer them up to a $1,000 refund.” -Alfredo Ramos, Business Futurist at Ramos Law Group

The Ramos Family Law, PLLC  was started in 2004 by Mary E. Ramos who through her efforts and those of her team has grown the organization from a single attorney firm to one with over ten employees and three attorneys.  We are committed to the practice of divorce and family law in Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, Montgomery and Brazoria Counties. We have effectively negotiated positive outcomes in high net-worth divorce, child custody, and property division cases while keeping attorney fees under control.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Christina Garza at (713) 225-6200 or email at info@ramosfamilylaw.com.

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Everyone knows that marriage can be expensive. In 2017, Market Watch reported the average cost of a wedding exceeded $30,000. The expenses continue to pile up well after the vows are exchanged and the cake is cut.

However, many couples overlook another cost that almost half of them will also have to consider down the line: the cost of divorce. When facing the end of a marriage, you will want to know how much a Texas divorce will cost. Precise numbers can be difficult to find because not all attorneys maintain transparency in billing practices as the Ramos Law Group does.

The Financial Cost of Divorce in Texas

While the price of dissolving a marriage varies widely, the average Texas divorce costs hover around the $20,000 mark. In the most basic and amicable dissolutions where no children or property are involved, divorce cost in Texas could be as low as a few hundred dollars. While typically not advised, divorcing couples are technically able to prepare their own divorce petitions or file boilerplate forms to curtail the majority of attorney fees. Even so, the easiest separations still require filing fees and court costs, so it’s nearly impossible to leave a marriage completely free of any financial toll.

In the more common scenario, where parties hire family law attorneys to provide guidance and expertise to help navigate the process, the average range of divorce cost in Texas is between approximately $15,000 to $25,000 dollars. For childless couples or those without children under the age of 18, divorce costs tend to be toward the lower end of that
spectrum, while divorces involving children are often on the higher side.

Cost-Affecting Circumstances

Texas divorce costs deviate greatly, even from the average, depending on the circumstances. A relatively simple, attorney-assisted divorce might be resolved for $3500, while it is not unusual to see divorce costs reach the six-figure mark when matters are hotly contested, or the divorcing individuals have a high net worth.

It is common for divorcing spouses to underestimate the amount of time and work involved in unwinding the many ways their lives are intricately intertwined. In addition to attorneys being needed to manage the legalities of the process, accountants, and other financial experts are often called upon to assist in equitably dividing assets, including retirement accounts, real estate and other marital property. When children are involved, there may be a need to hire co-parenting counselors or child therapists. There are many ways to incur Texas divorce costs beyond the expected legal and court fees.

The Lesser-Considered Costs of Divorce

sad child portrait

When examining divorce cost in Texas, many people naturally tend to tally up the variety of financial charges associated with the separation. The costs of divorce beyond the direct expenses are often overlooked. So, what is the cost of divorce in Texas, really?

Divorce is usually a monumental and life-altering event for those involved -and that includes not just the divorcing spouses, but also their children, extended family, and friends. Divorce brings emotional and social costs that can be far-reaching, and it can take a toll on the mental and physical health of those affected.

The Effects of Divorce on Family Members

When spouses decide to go their separate ways, there are no family members who are unaffected. Children living in their parents’ home are faced with considerable stress during a parental breakup. This often involves being displaced from the family home they have known or adjusting to a new life without both parents within the home. Other challenging divorce costs sometimes include adjusting to economic hardships, balancing relationships between separated parents, and potential bouts of sadness and depression.

Similarly, in-laws and other extended family members may find coping with your divorce to be a struggle of their own. Grandparents may fear losing opportunities to bond with their grandchildren following the end of their child’s marriage – particularly those on the side of the noncustodial parent, or if the divorce results in the estrangement of one parent.

Other family members may also feel hesitant or disloyal when trying to maintain a healthy relationship with former in-laws. Friends of the divorcees also often find themselves caught in the fray of choosing sides and balancing allegiances following the end of a marriage. The cost of divorce frequently extends beyond one’s bank account. Divorce cost in Texas includes a surcharge on the well-being of every party affected.

Invest in the Best Possible Outcome

Few spouses enter into a marriage with plans for their union to fail. Unfortunately, there are times when divorce cannot be avoided. In those instances, it is always helpful to have a dedicated and experienced attorney available to help guide you through the arduous process and to ensure that your welfare and interests are protected. Texas divorce costs can be high -with so much at risk, one cannot afford to be lax about legal representation.

Ramos Law Group has spent years helping families overcome divorce. Our team can assist you with managing divorce cost in Texas and making sure that the transition from your marriage is as smooth as possible. Reach out to us for professional insight on how to not just cope with divorce, but how to successfully see yourself to the other side. Contact Ramos Law Group today to schedule your consultation.

Online Divorce Services Are Gaining Popularity

Have you been thinking about getting a divorce? If so, with minimal research, you’ve probably encountered numerous advertisements and articles about online divorce in Texas. This is not by chance. “Online divorce Texas” and “online divorce in Texas for free” are popular search terms because spouses considering divorce are often looking for a simple, inexpensive, or low-stress option to help deal with this high-stress situation. While the prospect of an inexpensive marriage dissolution might seem like a ray of sunshine in the midst of a storm, cutting corners on legal representation with a do-it-yourself divorce can actually cost you significantly more than hiring solid legal counsel in the first place.

Not the Time for DIY

Divorce is a process that manages to affect almost everyone you love and everything you have worked hard to obtain: your children, finances, home, and more. All of your family and possessions must go through the divorce process with you. As such, you will want to make sure that an online divorce in Texas or any approach to divorce you take is the best decisions for yourself, your family and your future. In most cases, that means hiring an experienced divorce attorney who you can trust to help protect your interests and well-being through this difficult time.

While the popularity of do-it-yourself projects has been on the rise in recent years, such undertakings are best suited for remodeling a room or building a piece of furniture. Attempting to go through a divorce, one of life’s most consequential and taxing events, as an online divorce in Texas is likely to result in confusion, frustration, and dissatisfaction – and that is if you are lucky. In less fortunate scenarios, you could end up dealing with errant court orders that do not address financial support, property division, child custody, and other major issues as intended.

Once court orders have been entered, making changes to them can be difficult. Modifications to orders typically require the filing of a new suit, which can carry a monetary cost equal to that of a divorce, if not more. And the additional time and effort required to litigate a new matter guarantee the cost will be more than financial, which is why it is so important to ensure quality legal representation during initial divorce proceedings.

Can Vs. Should

Although Texas spouses have the ability to file their own divorce paperwork and represent themselves in family court, doing so is often ill-advised. As the saying goes: Just because something can be done does not mean that it should. It’s unlikely that any path to an online divorce in Texas for free will yield the best results for you and your family.

If you are looking for true peace of mind and the best possible result to your divorce, consider hiring a reputable family attorney who can guide you through the divorce process, answer your questions and concerns, and get things done correctly the first time. The experienced team at Ramos Law would be happy to help you navigate the divorce process. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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Original Author: Nick Youngson – http://www.nyphotographic.com/

           Once a court order is in place concerning possession and access, parties and their children tend to acclimate to the new schedule without too many problems.  However, if the possessory parent (the parent who does not have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the children) has an obstacle when regularly exercising possession, problems can arise. 

            First, it is important to understand that the possessory parent is not required to exercise each and every period of possession awarded to them in the order.  In fact, every order will contain a provision that orders the parties to notify the other parent when they are unable to exercise a period of possession.  

            Second, just because one parent notifies the other parent that they cannot exercise a period of possession, the other parent is not obligated to arrange their schedule to accommodate whatever portion of the period of possession can be exercised. 

            Most of the time, an inability to exercise possession and access is not going to be a problem as parents tend to fall into one of two categories: 1) a parent who exercises nearly every period of possession barring some medical emergency or natural disaster or 2) a parent who never exercises at all.  In these cases, there is a level of predictability for the parents and the children. 

            However, in the rare cases where a parent’s exercise of periods of possession is not as predictable, such as their work schedule is exceedingly difficult to predict, or subject to change, lack of predictability can become a problem for both parents. 

            Enforcement is likely to be a concern for both parents. 

Parents do not want to just sit at home and wait for a parent that may or may not show up.  However, not being at home for the designated periods of possession may make them vulnerable to an enforcement action, which can include fines, attorney’s fees, and even jail.

            Possessory parents who have an everchanging schedule cannot enforce their periods of possession unless they can guarantee that they are where they are supposed to be at when they are supposed to be under the order.  If they have a consistent issue with not being able to be there at the ordered time and place, there only solution may be to file a modification of the underlying order.

            Having open communication with the other parent can help alleviate these problems.  Establishing a consistent method of communication can be helpful.  Our clients have had used a variety of co-parenting apps, such as ourfamilywizard.com, to have a designated method of communication between them and the other parent.   Let the other parent know as soon as an issue arises and what your suggestion would be.  Be considerate of the other parent’s plans when asking for a change in schedule.  Figuring out a method that works for both parents can avoid future litigation.

          Before you even speak to an attorney, it may be helpful to know what court has jurisdiction over your divorce.  Knowing how the Judge in your case is likely to rule and what their pet peeves are can be incredibly beneficial to the presentation of your case so it is important to speak to an attorney who practices often in the jurisdiction in which you will ultimately file your case.  Read this article before you start reaching out to attorneys to make sure you are scheduling a consultation with an attorney who is going to be knowledgeable in your jurisdiction.

                                                              

           The general rule for jurisdiction in a Texas divorce is that at least one spouse must have been a domiciliary of Texas for the preceding 6 month period and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90 day period.  This means that if the filing spouse is not a resident of Texas, a suit for divorce can still be maintained in Texas if he other spouse has been a domiciliary of Texas for the preceding 6 month period.  Generally, a person has been domiciled in Texas if they have resided in the state with the intent to make Texas his or her “fixed abode”.   The court will consider many factors in determining a person’s “fixed abode” including where a person spends most of their time, where they receive mail, what address is used to file a tax return, where does a person register their vehicle, whether they have a Texas drivers license, and where a person is registered to vote.  A number of factors are considered in determining whether one intends to make a residence a fixed abode so if you are not sure if you or your spouse has been domiciled in Texas for the requisite period of time, it is best to talk to an attorney. 

 

           There are several exceptions to the general rule outlined in the paragraph above for members of the armed forces.  First, time that a spouse spends in the armed forced outside of Texas is still considered residence in the State of Texas and in the county in which they lived.  If you are not sure whether your spouse was previously domiciled in Texas, look at his or her Military Paystub (LES) and see what it lists as their home state.  This will be a strong indicator that they are a domiciliary of Texas.  Second, a spouse is stationed in Texas can meet the jurisdictional requirements despite the fact that they may not intend to make Texas their permanent residence as long as they have been stationed in Texas for the preceding 6 month period and in the filing county for the preceding 90 day period.  These exceptions provide some jurisdictional flexibility for members of the armed forces and their spouses.

Every order that requires one party (Obligor) to pay child support to another party (Obligee) will outline how the Oblligor is to make payments.  It will say the following:

Payment – IT IS ORDERED that all payments shall be made through the state disbursement unit at Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit, P.O. Box 659791, San Antonio, Texas 78265-9791, and thereafter promptly remitted to OBLIGEE for the support of the child.

As parties go through the process of a divorce, parentage action, or modification, they often soon learn, that it can take some time for the wage withholding orders to take effect.  As such a transition period often stretches the financial situation of both parties, the delay in receipt of child support can be a concern. Sometimes OBLIGORs take it upon themselves, to pay or give the child support directly to the OBLIGEE in an effort to make things smoother, to not be counted late, or to make sure that the parent with primary custody has the funds necessary to provide for the children. However, every order that obligates one party to pay child support will include the following provision:

No Credit for Informal Payments-IT IS ORDERED that the child support as prescribed in this decree shall be exclusively discharged in the manner ordered and that any direct payments made by OBLIGOR  to OBLIGEE or any expenditures incurred by OBLIGOR during OBLIGOR’s periods of possession of or access to the child, as prescribed in this decree, for food, clothing, gifts, travel, shelter, or entertainment are deemed in addition to and not in lieu of the support ordered in this decree.

So, by doing what the OBLIGOR thinks is the “right” thing- i.e. paying the OBLIGEE directly, the OBLIGOR has put him or herself in danger of not receiving credit for the child support paid directly to the OBLIGEE.  By the time money starts coming out of their checks, the State Disbursement Unit will have the OBLIGOR already in arrears in their records. In order to get proper credit for the payments that were made directly, the OBLIGOR now has to rely on the OBLIGEE to execute an affidavit acknowledging that he or she has received the child support that was not paid through the Disbursement Unit and to send it with the proper information to the proper location.  Additionally, the OBLIGOR then has to rely on the Office of the Attorney General to properly credit the account in a timely manner. While all of this is happening, the Office of the Attorney General has the ability to take a number of actions to collect what in the eyes of the State is unpaid child support, including, but not limited to, the garnishing of your tax refund or placing a lien on property you may own.

There are steps that you and your attorney can take to protect or assist you during the transition phase and the time between the reaching of an agreement and the effect of a wage-withholding order.  However, unless you have previously discussed these options with your attorney and are satisfied that adequate protections are in place, send your payment directly to the state disbursement unit at Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit, P.O. Box 659791, San Antonio, Texas 78265-9791.

For more information, or to discuss what possible options would apply in your specific case, please consult an attorney to discuss the issue.  Also, the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas has a very informative site that can be helpful and which also contains the forms mentioned in this blog. (https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/welcome-to-the-child-support-division) (https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/parents-and-guardians)>

The truth is that there are various ways that an order can be crafted to protect the children and still allow them to have an ongoing relationship with their parent that is struggling with alcohol issues, depending on the severity of the issues.  The solution is normally a combination of protections during periods of possession, testing and/or treatment requirements, and injunctions that depend upon the specific facts of the case. 

The court can require or the parties can agree that the struggling parent submit to an alcohol assessment.  Other possible requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. rehabilitation, inpatient and/or outpatient;
  2. breathalyzer testing, before, during, and/or after periods of possession;
  3. ignition interlock and breathalyzer devices; and/or
  4. attending AA meetings

It is important to remember, however, that the options available will depend on the facts of each case, as the court will not require breathalyzer devices unless there is a proven concern. 

As far as periods of possession go, the highest level of protection would be supervised possession and access.  Period of possession can be supervised by whatever party the parents can agree to and/or a court-approved visitation program.  It is important to remember that the parties would have to agree to the supervision or the party requesting that the periods of possession be supervised would have to have enough evidence to convince the court that the safety and well-being of the child require that periods of possession be supervised.  If the problem is not so severe to require all possession and access be supervised, periods of possession could also be limited in time or frequency until the parent completes treatment.  Typically, such a possession order will step up to less restrictive periods or possession in phases and into a standard possession either over time or upon completion of different portions of treatment (Ex: Step One- Supervised possession for a few hours every other weekend, Step Two- Unsupervised possession for a few hours every other weekend, Step Three- one overnight every other weekend, Step Four – standard possession order).

Injunctions are additional protections that could be added to the order that require the struggling parent to abstain from alcohol during possession and for a certain period before and after periods of possession.  Additionally, if appropriate, the court could prohibit the struggling parent from transporting the child in a car. 

Finally, a provision can be included that in the event of a relapse by the struggling parent, that parent begins again at Step One of the possession schedule to avoid the necessity of having to return to court every time there is a relapse in the future.

For more information, or to discuss what possible options would apply in your specific case, please consult an attorney to discuss the issue.

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Very few people seeking a divorce want to see the process drag out longer than necessary. Divorces can be difficult and expensive. If you’re seeking a divorce, you likely don’t want to spend a lot of time and money in the process either. But the answer to how long a divorce takes in Texas will depend on a number of factors. An experienced divorce attorney can typically help you estimate the timeframe during your initial consultation.

What to Expect

Truth be told, there is no such thing as a quick divorce in Texas. Texas requires a minimum 60-day waiting period between filing for divorce and issuing the final divorce decree. The court cannot have a hearing until 60 days after the complaint is filed. This is considered a “cool off” period, and it gives the spouses time to think and decide if they really want a divorce. In cases where domestic violence is involved, the court may waive the 60-day waiting period.

Once the two parties are ready to move forward, the court will be able to schedule a hearing to take place sometime in the future, and how long the divorce takes in a Texas court depends upon the numerous and varied legal complexities involved in the case. Most couples find it takes longer than two months to officially dissolve the marriage.

Uncontested Divorces

The 60-day period begins to run from the time the Original Petition for Divorce is actually filed with the court. If the divorce is “uncontested”, meaning the parties agree to all divorce terms, then the divorce may be finalized any time after the 60-day waiting period. Usually, these divorces are much more efficient. Sometimes, the divorcing couple decides upon the terms of their divorce before filing, while other couples reach their agreement soon after. In these situations, the divorce may be finalized almost immediately following the 60-day waiting period.

Contested Divorces

A contested divorce will usually take much longer to resolve and require more legal fees. How long an uncontested divorce in Texas takes often depends upon how much information each party needs to gather from the other. Each side will have time to conduct discovery, which is a time when your attorney may demand that your spouse produce certain financial evidence like bank statements or credit card bills. Your attorney should do all they can to determine what you’re entitled to in the divorce agreement, and they should negotiate with your spouse or their attorney to get you a good settlement before facing trial. However, if you cannot reach an agreement the case may go to trial.

Many divorce cases do not end up in a trial, but if they do, they can take several days or even weeks to resolve. At trial, a judge will hear testimony and review evidence about the divorce. At the end of the trial, the judge will issue an order with the terms by which the divorcing couple must comply.

If you have questions about how long your divorce in a Texas court will take, contact Ramos Law Group today for a consultation.

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