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?
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 Additionally, some of these sources may be out-of-date.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 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.
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.
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.