The answer to this question is plain and simple – when you believe that the safety and welfare of your children will be jeopardized if you choose to compromise. Let’s be honest, when it comes to divorce emotions run high and all too often parties get hung up on titles or on “besting” the other parent to the detriment of their children. A zero-sum game framework is not conducive to a healthy co-parenting relationship.

The number one issue that parties get hung up on is who gets to designate the primary residence of the children. The parent with this right is generally referred to as the primary conservator. This parent gets to designate the primary residence of the children and generally is also the parent who will receive child support. This is certainly an important right, but in practical application it may mean much less than you think. This is because conservatorship in Texas consists of two parts, the rights and duties and possession and access. Just because a party has the right to designate the primary residence of the children does not mean that they have the exclusive right to make all other decisions for your children. All of the other rights listed below can be designated either exclusively to one parent, joint (decision must be made together), or independent (each parent can make the decisions on their own), so just because you are not the primary conservator does not mean that you do not get to have a say in important parenting decisions.

  • the right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures;
  • the right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment of the children;
  • the right to receive and give receipt for periodic payments for the support of the children and to hold or disburse these funds for the benefit of the children;
  • the right to represent the children in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the children;
  • the right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States;
  • the right to make decisions concerning the children’s education;
  • except as provided by section 264.0111 of the Texas Family Code, the right to the services and earnings of the children;
  • except when a guardian of the children’s estates or a guardian or attorney ad litem has been appointed for the children, the right to act as an agent of the children in relation to the children’s estates if the children’s action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government; and
  • the duty to manage the estates of the children to the extent the estates have been created by community property or the joint property of the parent.

Further, if you ask for an expanded standard possession schedule the time each parent gets to spend with the children is nearly even. With an expanded standard possession schedule, possession and access begins and ends at the time the children start and are dismissed from school. So, instead of picking up the children at 6:00 PM on Friday and dropping them off on Sunday at 6:00 PM, you will pick them up at school on Friday afternoon and return them to school on Monday morning. This gives you one extra overnight period of possession. Additionally, instead of having the children for Thursday dinners during the school year from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM that same evening, you get the children from the time they are released from school on Thursday until they return to school on Friday morning every week during the regular school year.

With all of the above in mind, at the end of the day if you believe that the safety and welfare of your children will be endangered if you compromise on a specific issue, then compromise may not be in your children’s best interest. Attorney’s fees can get expensive, but it is better to address certain issues during a divorce rather than trying to modify an order later. On modification, you have the burden to show that there has been a material change in circumstances since the underlying order. So you cannot introduce evidence of things that took place prior to the divorce, except in very limited circumstances. Therefore, if you do not bring up an issue during the divorce, you may not have the opportunity to later. Further, if it wasn’t important enough for you to bring up in the initial proceedings, it isn’t likely the Court is going to ask why it is important enough to modify an order after the fact.

In sum, there may be times that you need to dig in your heels because it will benefit your children in the long run, but it is important to always weigh the costs and benefits of a certain course of action before pursing the same. At the end of the day, if both parties are excellent parents and have the ability to care for their children, fighting for the sake of besting the other parent will only negatively impact your children.

Contemplating filing for divorce or learning that your spouse filed a petition for divorce can be overwhelming.  Aside from the emotional component, a divorce will touch every aspect of a party’s life, from where they will live to how to divide up family pictures.  It is common for people to reach out to both the internet and their family and friends to begin to figure out what their rights are under Texas Law.  However, it is important to remember that every case is different, and laws change.  So where should one look and how helpful can these sources be?

Internet Sources

There are a couple of great sites on the internet which may be useful with respect to your divorce.  If you have children, the Attorney General of Texas’s Child Support Division website is a wealth of information for parents who are getting divorced and need to figure out child support and the issues that go along with it.  Other sites can also provide information on conservatorship, rights and duties, and possession and access.  Specifically, there is a lot of information online about a standard possession order which is presumed to be in a child’s best interest.  With respect to property, there are plenty of sources of basic concepts of Texas law, such as community property principles.

These sources can be a great resource to begin to think about what issues one may need to explore in a consultation with an attorney or in discussion with your spouse.  However, for both property and child related issues, it is extremely important to remember that each case is fact-driven and that there are reasons that standards may not apply to your case, for property, possession, access and even child support.  Additionally, some of these sources may be out-of-date.

Family and Friends

Oftentimes, people will reach out to families and friends who have gone through a divorce for advice and comfort.  While family and friends can provide a lot of information, it is imperative that you remember that each case may be different and that their situation is likely different from yours.  It is not always easy for either the party going through the divorce or the person sharing their experience to be completely forthcoming about the bad facts that may have impacted their case.  No one is perfect, and everyone has bad facts, but discussing them with your family and friends may not be advisable, especially if the divorce will be very contentious and they may be called as witnesses later.

Familiarizing yourself with basic concepts and common issues in cases like yours can make the process seem less overwhelming and make consultation with an attorney more productive and focused.  Just remember that these sources of information should be used as a resource only and that they should not be the source of your legal advice.

For more information, please consult an attorney to discuss the issue.

Below are a list of resources that can help you begin searching your topic and find answers to the many questions you have about your family law case.

Tyla.com

TYLA stands for Texas Young Lawyers’ Association. This is a great resource for the general public as well as a resource for “young lawyers,” those with 5 or less years as an attorney.  The resources section of tyla.com has pamphlets, videos, and other materials where one can research a certain topic for a better understanding of the subject matter, as well as the procedure of that area in the Texas Court system.  Each article is dated so you can rest assured the information is current.

Texaslawhelp.com

This website offers Harris County specific instructions for family law topics and also how to navigate the Harris County Family law court system.  The handbook, although from September 2016, is a useful resource with a question and answer format and separated subjects within family law so one can find the most frequent questions and answers regarding their certain issue within family law and specifically within Harris County.  Sub-topics are listed at the top of the home page, including Court How-To’s with an interactive tool kit with step by step instructions.

Texascourthelp.org

This is a website geared to help you navigate the Texas Court system.  When utilizing the resources tab, there is a list of helpful websites and resources, including texasbar.com to help you find a lawyer, texasforms.com to help you draft simple legal forms and links to the Texas Law Library as well as links for alternative dispute resolution and mediation.

Houston Law School Legal Clinics

Texas has the second most law schools in one state, just behind California, and Houston has three of them.  All three law schools have some form of a legal clinic, where law students can perform simple cases under the supervision of an experienced attorney and professor.  If you qualify, utilize the legal clinics at one of your local law schools.  You are able to receive legal aid at no cost to you and you also are helping the next generation of lawyers.

It is February and that means love is in the air. Valentine’s Day means candy and flowers for adults, but you don’t want to forget the kids! For children going through and caught in the middle of their parents’ divorce, it is an extra important to remind them they are loved and cherished. Try sending a sweet note in their lunch box, use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut their sandwich, make a special dinner for you and the kids, or stay in and have a carpet picnic or movie night. You can even take them out on a one-on-one date. It doesn’t have to be a five-star restaurant; just being together will make it more special. You could potentially help them create cards for their siblings. Think about being crafty with their valentine cards, decorative cute little card boxes and fun treats for school!

Valentine’s Day is filled with so much excitement and celebration for the kids at school. It is excitement for them and perhaps a little pressure for the parent to try to come up with cute ideas. Be creative! If you search the internet, you can find printable valentines and tons more. If you want to go the extra mile, spend time with your child creating homemade treats for their classmates. This bonding can be fun, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or even intimidating. Kids still get excited at elementary school parties dumping out their Valentine’s Day box to see their cards and enjoying all the treats. It is certainly an excuse to let you kids eat as much candy and junk food as they want – just make sure they brush their teeth extra well that night! Below are some great ideas to make with your children. You not only get to spend quality time by creating something together, you also get to help ensure their class party is a little extra special this year. The only thing that truly matters is that they know they are loved this Valentine’s Day and every day.

  1. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Hearts

http://onelittleproject.com/chocolate-covered-strawberry-hearts/

  1. Valentine’s Marshmallow Pops

http://www.glorioustreats.com/2011/02/valentines-marshmallow-pops.html

  1. Strawberry Roses

https://www.spendwithpennies.com/how-to-make-strawberry-roses/

  1. Apple Sandwich hearts

http://www.happytogetherbyjess.com/hearts-in-apple-sandwich/

  1. Heart rice krispie pops

https://www.skiptomylou.org/heart-rice-krispie-pops/

  1. Fruit kabobs

https://shmallergy.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/cupids-arrows-valentines-day-fruit-kabobs/

  1. Red velvet sandwich cookies

http://www.bakerella.com/easy-and-easier-valentine-treats/

  1. Chocolate sticks

http://www.superziper.com/2011/01/palitinhos-de-chocolate.html

  1. Valentine’s bark

https://lilluna.com/valentines-bark/

  1. Dipped and decorated pretzels

http://www.5minutesformom.com/49632/kid-friendly-dipped-and-decorated-pretzels-for-valentines-day/

  1. Pink Fuzzy Monster Cupcakes

http://thecakeblog.com/2014/01/diy-love-bug-cupcakes.html

  1. Chocolate Sprinkle Donuts

https://www.lovefromtheoven.com/valentines-day-donuts/

  1. Valentine’s Brownies

https://www.itsalwaysautumn.com/shot-house-valentines-brownies.html

  1. Home made Pop Tarts

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/213567/home-made-top-tarts/?internalSource=streams&referringId=1417&referringContentType=recipe%20hub&clickId=st_trending_b

  1. Chocolate Chip Cookie Heats

https://princesspinkygirl.com/chocolate-chip-cookie-hearts/

  1. Marbled Valentine Sugar Cookies

https://www.bakedbyrachel.com/marbled-valentine-sugar-cookies/

  1. Valentine’s Day Ladybug Oreo Treats

http://formodernkids.com/valentines-day-ladybug-oreo-treats/

  1. Valentine’s Day Chocolate Teddy Bear Bites

https://productivepete.com/2018/01/17/make-chocolate-teddy-bear-bites/

  1. Valentine’s Candy Dog

http://kidfriendlythingstodo.com/2018/01/valentines-candy-dog-fun-kids-craft-treat/

  1. Valentine’s Day Popcorn

http://www.twosisterscrafting.com/valentines-day-popcorn/

These are not only adorable but also look delicious and something your kids class with certainly love to eat on to help celebrate the day! I can promise you that they will certainly remember the time spent together to make their Valentine’s Day all the more special for a while to come.

Sex Change Impact On Divorce

“My spouse has transitioned from one gender to another during our marriage, how does that impact our divorce?” For purposes of this question, I am assuming that the spouses were of opposite gender on the date of marriage, as the issue of same-sex marriage in Texas is best left for another entry and could confuse the issues here.

The truth is, that such a question depends on a very fact specific analysis of the history of your relationship, as is the case with almost every issue that can arise in a divorce.

If there are no children, then the answer is, there is not an impact based solely on the fact that your spouse transitioned.  You and your spouse would be divorced, just as any other couple married in Texas.  In regards to the division of property, transitioning alone is not a statutory basis for which a party could request the court to award a disproportionate share of the division of assets.

If there are children, then the answer is, there could be an impact.  Just like any issue in a marriage with children, the court could take into consideration how the parties addressed such a transition with their children and/or the impact on the children.  Although we have no caselaw in Texas regarding a custody dispute involving a transgender parent, it is important to note that the best interest of the child standard includes an examination of the following factors:

  1. Which party can best provide for the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development;
  2. The cooperation between the parents; and
  3. The child’s preferences.

These are just a few items that the court may consider, but should demonstrate why this is a case and fact specific analysis.

For more information, please consult an attorney to discuss the issue.

Divorce with a Disabled Child

When contemplating the need to file for divorce, it can seem like a daunting task.  Just finding the right attorney for your case can be intimidating in and of itself.  So, when adding additional stresses, such as a child with disabilities, a divorce can not only be overwhelming, but seemingly impossible.

At Ramos Law Group, PLLC, we are here to help, with a list of the top five mistakes you can make during a divorce when you have a disabled child.

1)   Not making a finding of disability in the Final Decree of Divorce

It is so important to have the child’s treating physician or a medical professional make a determination of disability that can then be included in the Final Decree of Divorce.  For example, say you have a child with Asperger’s and when the child turns 18, you want to continue child support based off his disability and continued medical care, but your ex-spouse states that your child is just anti-social and that there is really nothing wrong with him.  What happens?  You’re back in Court fighting for child support and having to prove your, now 18 year old, child is disabled and entitled to indefinite child support.

If the Court made a finding of your child’s disability when the Final Decree of Divorce was drafted, it may have prevented the need for future litigation.

2)  Not considering indefinite child support

With the previous example in mind, let’s consider indefinite child support.  The Texas Family Code allows for indefinite child support to be paid for an adult child over the age of eighteen that: 1) Requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a mental or physical disability and will not be capable of self-support, 2) The disability exists, or the cause of the disability is known to exist, on or before the eighteenth birthday of the child.

Unfortunately, disability usually equals money. Whether it be in doctor’s bills, medication, or therapy, the costs of caring for a disabled child can far exceed your monthly child support payment, and those costs do not go away just because your child has reached the age of 18 when the general rule is that a parent stops receiving child support.

So, always consider indefinite child support.  Even if the child progresses over time, it prevents future litigation down the road having the Court making a finding of your child’s disability and that you are entitled to indefinite child support for your child’s continued care.

3)  Not limiting or eliminating income received by the child pursuant to the divorce

Another mistake many attorneys make is not considering income of a child pursuant to a divorce.  Many disabled children qualify for supports and services through social security, Medicaid, etc.  If qualified, the child cannot make an income and they can only have a very limited amount of funds available to them, or they lose their supports and services.

When dividing an estate pursuant to a divorce, let’s say mom is to pay dad 50% of her total 401K, but instead the parties agree to put the money into a bank account or savings account for the benefit of their child.  Guess what?  That qualifies as income, and the child may lose his or her benefits and Medicaid can request reimbursement for everything they paid on behalf of the child!  Again, it is extremely important to make sure your attorney is knowledgeable and aware of this specific area of the law.

4)  Not making decisions regarding Guardianship

In the Final Decree of Divorce, make sure there are provisions stating who will be the Guardian of the child when the child turns 18, who will pay for the Guardianship, and if agreed, who cannot be the Guardian of the child.

When your child turns 18, you may consider becoming their legal Guardian.  There are many considerations, such as being able to speak to medical professionals on your child’s behalf, but that is for another blog and another day.

However, you don’t want to end up in wasteful litigation over the ability to become your child’s legal Guardian, in the event it is necessary.  I’ve seen many parents waste thousands of dollars fighting their ex-spouse over whether Guardianship was really needed for their child.  You can prevent this by making provisions as to guardianship for your child in the Final Decree of Divorce.

5)  Not using an attorney who has knowledge and understanding of these special provisions

I think this last topic speaks for itself.  Although many disabilities such as ADHD, Asperger’s and Autism are on the rise, there are still a lot of attorneys who are not aware of the special provisions that can be included in a Final Decree of Divorce when divorcing parents with a disabled child.

Ask your attorney if they have divorced parents with disabled children before; ask if they know anything about Social Security or Medicaid and how the divorce will impact your child if he or she is receiving those services.   Most importantly, do your research, and find someone knowledgeable because handling these issues in your Final Decree of Divorce could save you big time down the road.

Holiday Activities For Kids in TexasAs the song says ” It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. Lights are glistening all over the city and you can feel the excitement in the air. There is so much to do with the kids. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, it can be something as simple as taking in the lights of the city while enjoying some hot chocolate. I encourage you to take advantage of the many activities throughout the city. You will be making memories for your children that will last a lifetime. Below are just a few of the opportunities going on throughout the city:

1. Zoo Lights

Zoo Lights is held beginning mid November continues on through the month of December. During Zoo lights, the Houston Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland for all ages.

2. Santa’s Wonderland

Santa’s Wonderland, just an hour north of Houston in College Station, is a great time for the whole family. You can buy various tickets for to either drive through the Wonderland, walk or ride on a horse and carriage. After you are through with the lights, you can head in over to the village where you can eat, visit with Santa and warm up with some hot coco.

3. Festival of Lights

Festive of Lights is Galveston’s very own kickoff for the holidays with its annual full of fun, festival. The Festive of Lights is held at Moody Gardens in Galveston. Kids can take pictures with Santa, see the class holiday movies you grew up on a take a walk under the Christmas light displays. The Festival of Lights is held all the way until the New Year and January 7th.

4. Magical Winter Lights

The Magical Winter Lights is happening until January 2nd at Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque where they light up various themed light displays. There is also a kid’s area, arts and crafts, holiday market and more.

5. Lights in the Heights

Lights in the Heights is held in the Heights neighborhood where the whole neighborhood gets in the spirit of the holidays and the event. During the event, people are able to walk throughout the neighborhood while enjoying the live music, food, hot chocolate and lights. Lights in the Heights is held the second Saturday in December (December 9th), however they are often left up throughout the whole season for people to enjoy.

6. Ice Skating at Discovery Green

Especially if the weather has not gotten into winter temperatures, Ice-skating at Discovery Green is the perfect way to cool down, while also getting in the spirit. Additionally, living in Houston, we do not get to experience real ice-skating on frozen ponds in the winter so this is certainly the next best thing. Discovery Green sets up their outdoor rink no matter the temperatures. There is not cost to get into the park but ice-skating will cost you rentals for the skates and entrance to the ice rink itself.

7. Breakfast with Santa

I certainly remember attending this event as a kid and would highly recommend it to anyone with little kids. The Downtown Aquarium restaurant will host its traditional Breakfast with Santa event. Santa may even make an appearance in the 500,000 gallon fish tank!

Agreed DivorceAfter working in family law for the past 14 years from an intern in a local family law court to running my own practice, I have decided to expand our Agreed reduced retainer Family law Services. The services we include:

  • Agreed Divorce
  • Agreed Motion to Modify
  • Agreed Child Name Change
  • Agreed Suit Affecting P/C Relationship (SAPCR)
  • Adult Name Change

New coverage areas for our uncontested reduced retainer services include the following cities:

  • Austin
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • San Antonio

At this point, we will only service counties offering electronic filing as it assures that we can finalize the case quickly without the additional cost of hand delivery or the filing pleadings via USPS.  Additionally, we are ONLY offering our services for agreed family law services including uncontested divorces, name changes, adoptions and agreed modifications.   We take pride in a high level of service to both local and remotely located clients.   If you are looking for a law firm that can get the job done at reduced retainers give us call or send us an email.

For more information please visit our uncontested divorce page.

Divorce For Dads™ - Activities for KidsDivorce for dads™ can be a scary situation given the potential unknown and inexperience with the care of children. Life will change for the parents, as well as for the children. Some divorced fathers are overwhelmed just trying to schedule activities and keeping the kids entertained. Divorce for dads™ can create a tight budget as they have to manage with less income due to the additional expense of spousal maintenance and child support.

If the budget is tight, then the mere idea can be an extra stressor for divorcing or divorced dads. Have no fear, single fathers; you are in luck because Houston has a plethora of activities and things to do with the kids for free or a low cost. Below are just a few examples of things to do with the kids that they will enjoy and you will too, without breaking the bank. Remember, it is not about the amount of money you spend on your children to show them love, but rather the quality time you spend with them.

    1. One of the many bike trails and various activities offered around Houston’s bayous, waterways, and parks (a few listed below)
      • Buffalo Bayou
      • Herman Park
      • Discovery Green
      • Memorial Park, Houston
      • Eleanor Tensely park
      • Market Square
    2. Museums
      • Free admission to the following museums on certain days
        • Buffalo Soldiers National Museum – Thursday 1 pm – 5 pm
        • Houston Museum of Natural Science – Thursday 2 pm – 5 pm
        • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — Thursday 10 am – 9 pm — (Kids 12 & under free every day)
        • Children’s Museum of Houston — Thursday 5 pm – 8 pm; Power Hour: Get $2.00 off on admission every day after 5 p.m. (except on Thursdays)
        • The Health Museum — Thursday 2 pm – 7 pm
        • Holocaust Museum Houston – Thursday 2 pm – 5 pm
        • Houston Museum of African-American Culture — Thursday 6 pm – 8 pm
        • Czech Center Museum Houston – Last Monday each month, noon -4 pm
    3. The YMCA
      • One adult membership (with kids) is $72.00 per month
      • If you are interested in participating in the programs or activities but do not need the full use of the facility, program memberships are available where there is a Join Fee and discounted fee per month (Fees may vary on locations around Houston)
      • Membership for All available if you meet the financial requirements
      • https://search.ymcahouston.org/search/programs/
    4. Movies
    5. Libraries
      • Many of the city libraries offer free summer reading programs
      • This is a great way to keep up their reading skills over the summer months
    6. Water Activities
    7. For little builders
    8. Baseball
      • Sugar Land Skeeters Tickets
      • Discounted Field Box seats at select Skeeters’ games – $8.50 per ticket
      • Value ticket nights include $1 hot dog Wednesdays, family night and Friday night fireworks at the ballpark
      • Houston Astros tickets – http://m.mlb.com/astros/tickets/fan-value/
    9. Houston Zoo
    10. For the Animal Lover
      • Spotting Dolphins from the Galveston Island Ferry
      • It may be a little ways from the city but what a great opportunity to venture out of the City of Houston for the day to watch Dolphins while taking a ride on the Galveston Island Ferry on its way to Port Bolivar Peninsula
      • http://www.galveston.com/galvestonferry/

There will without a doubt that divorce for dads™ will require an adjustment period as you transition to the life of a single parent, however, that does not mean you need to miss out on spending quality time with your children. With these activities and the many other options in and around the City of Houston, a fun time will be had by all!

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The difference between a divorce and an annulment in Texas family law lies in the validity of the marriage. A divorce, puts a legal end to a valid marriage. An annulment, legally invalidates a marriage. It treats the marriage as if it never existed, but the petitioner (the person bringing the suit), must be able to prove the facts surrounding the marriage meet very specific statutory grounds.

Herein lies another difference between an annulment vs. a divorce in Texas family law; in a divorce, the parties may plead “no fault” and therefore do not have to prove the grounds of their divorce. This just means if you want an annulment, be prepared to go in front of the Judge with facts demonstrating you meet the statutory requirements.

How Will I Know If I Qualify for an Annulment?

In Texas, an annulment can only be granted if the following statutory grounds are met:

  • Underage
    If the marriage of a person 16 years or older but under 18 occurred without parental consent or court order, the court may grant an annulment. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.102. Unless a court order has been obtained, any marriage to a person under 16 will be declared void by the courts. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.205.
  • Intoxication
    If the petitioner was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and therefore did not have the capacity to consent to marriage, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the parties did not voluntarily cohabitate (live together) after sobering up. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.105. If you moved in together, and tried to make it work, you DO NOT meet the statutory grounds required to grant an annulment.
  • Impotency
    If at the time of the marriage, either party was permanently impotent, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the petitioner did not know of the impotency at the time of the marriage AND did not voluntarily cohabitate since learning of the impotency. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.106.
  • Fraud, Duress, or Force
    If fraud, duress, or force was used to induce the petitioner into marriage, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the petitioner did not voluntarily cohabitate with the other party since learning of the fraud or since being released from the duress or force. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.107.
  • Mental Incapacity
    The requirements for an annulment granted on the basis of mental incapacity depend on who is bringing the suit. If the petitioner is the person with the incapacity (or their representative), then the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF at the time of the marriage they did not have had the mental capacity to consent to the marriage or to understand the nature of the ceremony because of mental disease or defect AND they did not voluntarily cohabitate with the other party during a period when they possessed the capacity to recognize the marriage relationship.
    If the petitioner is the party without the mental incapacity, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the petitioner did not know of the mental disease or defect at the time of the marriage AND has not voluntarily cohabitated with the other party since the date they discovered (or reasonably should have discovered) the mental disease or defect. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.108.
  • Concealed Divorce
    If at the time of the marriage, the petitioner did not know that the other party was divorced from a third party within the 30 days prior to the ceremony, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the petitioner did not voluntarily cohabitate with the other party since learning of the fact of divorce. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.109.
  • Marriage Less Than 72 Hours After Issuance of License
    If the marriage ceremony took place within the 72 hours following issuance of the marriage license, the court may grant an annulment ONLY IF the annulment is sought within the 30 days following the ceremony. This is an important distinction between an annulment vs. a divorce in Texas. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.110.
  • Consanguinity
    If the parties are related too closely by blood, as close as or closer than cousins, the marriage will be declared void by the court. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.201.
  • Preexisting Marriage
    If either party is married at the time of the marriage ceremony, the later marriage will be declared void by the courts. However, if after the earlier marriage is dissolved, the parties continue to live together AND represent to others that they are married, the marriage can become valid. See Tex. Fam. Code §6.202.

These are the general grounds that will support an annulment in Texas. Anyone seeking more information about an annulment vs. a divorce in Texas should consider seeking the advice of an experienced family law attorney to see whether their individual circumstances meet the criteria, and what the benefits of seeking such an option might be.

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Divorce can be a challenging and painful process, even more so if someone in the relationship has been imprisoned. If you need to know how to divorce someone in prison, read on for more information. To schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys who can help guide you through the process of divorcing someone in prison, please contact us today.

There are two manners in which one can obtain a divorce from an imprisoned individual:

1. Obtain a divorce from an incarcerated individual through an uncontested divorce.

To obtain an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse would have to be in agreement with respect to getting divorced and to all related terms. If you and your spouse only have property and/or debt, you will have to be in agreement as to how those items get divided in the divorce. If you and your spouse have children, you will have to be in agreement as to conservatorship, possession and access, child support, and medical support. If you and your spouse have reached an agreement as to all of the above that apply to your situation, then you can proceed with an uncontested divorce.

In the process of an uncontested divorce, our office would be retained by you and would only represent you during the process and your spouse would have to be agreeable to not hiring his or her own attorney. He or she may still obtain legal advice by taking a copy of the decree drafted by our office to another attorney for review before signing.

Once retained by you, our office would file a petition for divorce on your behalf. After the petition was filed by our office, we would draft a document entitled “Waiver of Service” to be sent to your incarcerated spouse along with a copy of the filed petition for divorce. The Waiver of Service is a document that is signed by your spouse that indicates the he or she has received the petition and does not want to be served with formal notice of the divorce, among other things. The Waiver of Notice and the Petition can be mailed to your incarcerated spouse. Normally, a Waiver of Notice must be signed by the individual and notarized. However, effective September 1, 2015, the requirement that the waiver must be signed before a notary public does not apply if the party executing the waiver is incarcerated.

Once your incarcerated spouse has signed and returned the waiver, our office will prepare an Agreed Divorce Decree based on the agreement you have reached with your spouse. After you have approved the decree, you can forward the decree to your spouse for signature.

After you and your spouse have signed on the final decree, we will file it with the appropriate court along with all necessary supporting documents and coordinate your court appearance for a date more than sixty days after your original petition was filed. The Court appearance will be first thing in the morning in front of the Judge and will entail you answering questions under oath about your marriage, your residency, and your agreement with your spouse. At that hearing, the Court will grant your divorce.

2. Obtain a divorce from your incarcerated spouse through a contested divorce.

How can you divorce someone in prison if you cannot come to an agreement? If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse, you may still file for divorce. As with the uncontested process, we would draft and file a petition for divorce on your behalf.

After the petition is filed, he or she would have to be personally served with the citation. If you are unable to have him or her personally served at the place where he is incarcerated, you will have to file a motion for alternative service to have the court allow you to serve your spouse by substituted or alternative service. If the Court grants substituted or alternative service, then you can proceed with service as ordered by the court.

Once your spouse has been served with the petition, he or she has until the Monday after the expiration of twenty days to file an answer with the court. If your spouse files an answer, our office can begin the contested process by either sending a proposal or attempting to coordinate mediation. If your spouse does not answer, even after the sixty-day waiting period has expired, you can appear before the Court and obtain a default divorce by having a hearing.

Schedule a Consultation Today

We understand that divorcing someone in prison is difficult situation, and the process itself can be frustrating and confusing. If you are interesting in learning more about how to divorce someone in prison, consider scheduling a consultation with one of our experienced Texas family law attorneys today. You can contact us online, or call our offices at [insert phone number].

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