If a court has determined that you have met the burden of proof for needing spousal maintenance, the next step is determining for what period of time you may be eligible to receive spousal maintenance. The Texas Family Code previously stated that a party could only receive spousal maintenance for a maximum of three years. The Code was recently amended and now states that a person is eligible to receive spousal maintenance for the maximum of:

  1. Five years if the parties were married less than ten years and the maintenance is awarded due to family violence;
  2. Five years if the parties were married more than ten years but less than twenty years;
  3. Seven years if the parties were married more than twenty years, but less than thirty years;
  4. Ten years if the parties were married for more than thirty years

The judge will take your specific circumstances into account when deciding whether to award spousal maintenance and how long to award spousal maintenance. The underlying idea of spousal maintenance is to help a divorced party get back on their feet in the wake of a divorce, not to permanently provide a source of income for a party.

If you believe you are eligible for spousal maintenance, please call to schedule a consultation with an experienced Houston Divorce Lawyer at (713) 225-6200 or visit us on the web at RamosFamilyLaw.com.

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Under Texas Paternity Laws of the Texas Family Code, a child born during a marriage is presumed to be the child of the husband and wife. This means that the husband of the marriage is presumed to legally be the father, not the biological father. So if a woman gives birth to a child whose father is not her husband, her husband is still presumed to be the father unless additional steps are taken to adjudicate the paternity of the biological father. These steps include:

  1. Denial of Paternity – The husband must sign a denial of paternity form which states that he knows that he is not the biological father of a child.
  2. Acknowledgement of Paternity – AOP – Form 1608– The biological father of the child can sign an acknowledgment of paternity, which is filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. This form is where a biological father states that he knows himself to be the father of a child, binding to Texas paternity laws.
  3. Paternity Test – A voluntary or court-ordered paternity test of the child and biological child may be necessary to prove the actual paternity if an acknowledgment of paternity is not signed or is invalid.
  4. Petition to Adjudicate Parentage – Next you will need to file an original suit alleging that your husband is not the presumed father and request that the Court adjudicate the biological father as the legal father. This is where you will use the above documents to help establish paternity with Texas paternity laws.
  5. Divorce – If the paternity of a child is an issue during a divorce, the paternity can be adjudicated within the final decree of divorce using the above steps.

The resulting Order Adjudicating Parentage or Final Decree of Divorce, along with establishing paternity, will include provisions regarding conservatorship, access and visitation, and child support. Once a man has been adjudicated as the father of a child he is that child’s father for all legal purposes and now has a legal obligation to that child.

The Presumed Father in Texas Paternity Law

As a husband is the presumed father until he is determined to not be the father of a child of the marriage, he will be legally responsible for child support, medical support and taking care of a child that is not biologically his until the above legal steps are taken. As such, it is very important that a father protect his rights to either claim his biological child or prevent being responsible for a child that does not belong to him.

Connect with an Attorney

If you are currently married and want to establish paternity of a child that is not your husband’s, are subject to a court-ordered paternity test, or if you are the husband and you do not believe a child is yours, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC. We can help to navigate Texas paternity law and begin the steps to properly adjudicate the paternity of the child. You can also visit us on the web.

Disclaimer: The material obtained from this site is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your own legal situation.

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Social networking is a popular past time in today’s society. Facebook currently has more than 901 million active users and Twitter currently has 500 million active users.  There are countless other sites such as YouTube, LinkedIn or MySpace that serve as outlets for people to share their lives.

The chances are good that you or your spouse have a social networking account, so it is very important realize that what you post on your social networking site can have consequences on your divorce. According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in the past five years 81 percent of its members had used or faced evidence collected from social media websites during divorce proceedings. Below are some tips to help you keep your social networking from having a negative impact on your divorce.

  1. “De-activate” your profile. DO NOT DELETE. Deleting your profile once a divorce suit has begun has been viewed by some courts as removing potential evidence (spoliation of evidence). Deactivation temporarily takes your profile offline and will keep other persons from posting or tagging you in incriminating photos or posts.
  2. If you absolutely cannot live without social networking, please keep the following tips in mind:
    1. Change your password: Your soon to be ex-spouse may know your password and log into your social networking site in an attempt to get damaging information on you. Change it! This will keep your private messages and post safe from prying eyes.
    2. Privacy Settings: Use the most restrictive privacy settings as possible to make sure that only your friends and people your trust are able to view your posts. Limit your profile so that you must approve posts and tagged pictures or check-ins before it is published on your wall for all to see.  But remember that privacy settings aren’t foolproof and social networking sites change their policies frequently; post as if that the last person you would want to be viewing your information is still able to do so.
    3. Beware of your “friends”: Your friends may unwittingly share a photo or post that could be damaging toward you and your pending divorce. Or a friend who is still close with your spouse may forward incriminating screenshots or photos gleaned from your page. Keep that in mind while posting on any social networking site.
    4. Think before you post: Once something has been posted on the Internet it cannot be recovered. Just because you deleted a post doesn’t mean it hasn’t already been saved as a screenshot or that it can’t be recovered through the discovery process. Don’t post angry rants about your spouse or photos of you with a beer in your hand while posing with your new significant other. Anything you post can be used against you, so think before you post!

Information from your social networking sites is discoverable under Texas law. Facebook has made it easier than ever for users to download a PDF copy of their entire profile and more divorce attorneys than ever are requesting that information during divorce proceedings. Realize that what you post on the internet could have very real consequences on the outcome of your divorce.

The Houston Divorce Attorneys at the Ramos Law Group, PLLC are knowledgeable about the impact social networking sites can have on your divorce. Please contact them with any concerns or questions you might have.

Disclaimer: The material obtained from this site is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your own legal situation.

Now that you have been served with an Original Petition for Divorce, you are the “Respondent” in your divorce case. As the Respondent, it is crucial that you act as soon as possible to protect yourself and avoid having a default judgment taken against you.
Once you have been served you have roughly 20 days to file an answer and make an appearance in your divorce suit. If you fail to make an appearance within the allowed time period, your spouse can go forward with a Default hearing, where often they are granted everything they request in divorce court. This means they can be awarded property and rights related to your children that you are entitled to (Child Custody).

It is important that you get an answer on file with the Court as soon as possible. You may also take the opportunity to file a counterclaim, which is the legal document where you get to request your own relief from the Divorce Court. You may also request a temporary orders hearing if your spouse failed to do so in their original pleadings.
You may not want to divorce your spouse or you may think that your refusal to comply with the legal process will prevent them from getting a divorce. A refusal to appear in court or to sign any documents will not prevent a divorce from occurring; it will just prevent you from having your rights adequately represented. Don’t be mistaken by thinking you can prevent your spouse from getting a divorce, be proactive and protect your rights.

Don’t sign anything without first consulting with a competent Houston divorce attorney. Your spouse may ask you to sign a “Waiver of Service,” which may include language that allows a case to be considered by the Court without any further notice to you. This can also result in a default judgment being taken against you. It’s important to know what you’re signing and protect your rights, consult with a family law attorney who can advise you on how to proceed in your divorce.

For the reasons stated above it is imperative you meet with a competent Houston divorce attorney to go over your rights and options as soon as you have been served. Being served with divorce papers can be an upsetting experience and many people don’t know what step to take next. How you respond to being served will guide the rest of your divorce proceedings so it’s important you start off on the right foot.

Your first action item is to contact a highly qualified Houston Divorce Attorney Mary E. Ramos. She can help you take the correct first step after being served and protect you and your assets during the divorce process.

Disclaimer: The material obtained from this site is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your own legal situation.

How do I know if I am common law married?

In order to obtain a divorce in Texas, a Court must determine that there is in fact the existence of a marriage. If the parties were not married the “traditional” way and granted a marriage license, then the only way to get a divorce is to prove to the Court that you are common law married.

Texas recognizes informal marriages and the Texas Family Code has a provision which governs the existence of such marriages. There are two ways to prove the existence of a common law marriage, by formal documentation or by evidence presented to a court.

First, the parties may sign a Declaration of Informal Marriage and file it with the County Clerk. Parties must list the date of when they considered themselves married, so a couple may be married for quite some time before they actually file this declaration. If this has been done, an informal marriage has been formed and the parties may get a divorce as if they were married in a formal ceremony and granted a marriage license without having to prove the existence of a common law marriage.

Second, a common law marriage may be proven by the following three factors: the man and woman agreed to be married, lived together in Texas as husband and wife after such an agreement was made and represented to others that they were married. These factors can be proven in a number of ways. The first factor of agreement to be married can be proven through circumstantial evidence or witness testimony. It really is looked at by the courts on a case by case basis. The second factor, living together as husband and wife, is relatively easy to prove. The final factor, holding out to others that you were married, can also be proven by a variety of evidence, including filing taxes as married, listing a party as a spouse on an emergency contact form, or covering a party as a spouse through medical insurance.

If you meet all three of the above factors, you can prove that you are common law married and are able to be granted a divorce.

A caveat to common law marriage – if you believe you are a common law married but have not commenced a divorce action before the second anniversary of the date you separated from your alleged spouse, then Texas courts reputably presume that no marriage was ever entered into. What this means is the burden is on you, the party asking for a divorce, to prove to the courts a marriage exists. You may still be able to get a divorce, but first you must prove to the court that you meet the above factors and are in fact married.

Disclaimer: The material obtained from this site is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your own legal situation.

In Texas, when you file for divorce, you have to ensure that you meet the residency requirements. There are two requirements for filing a divorce in Texas. Prior to filing for divorce in Texas, one party must have lived in Texas for at least six months and 90 days in the county in question.

NOTE: Just because Harris or Fort Bend county accepts jurisdiction for the divorce, it doesn’t mean that it has jurisdiction over a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) and in some cases it may not have the power to divide marital property.

Disclaimer: The material obtained from this site is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your own legal situation.

06/26/2015 – Same-sex marriage “Divorce” is now legal across the nation. – Alfredo

In a word, no. Marriage laws are governed by the individual states. Some states have recently recognized the validity of the marriage between a same-sex couple. The State of Texas, however, only acknowledges the existence of marriage between a man and a woman. As such, Texas does not recognize the validity of a same-sex marriage granted in another state. Because a same-sex marriage does not technically exist in the eyes of the Texas law, the state may not grant a divorce.

Justice Kerry P. Fitzgerald wrote in an August 2010 5th Court of Appeals decision, “Texas law, as embodied in our constitution and statutes, requires that a valid marriage must be a union of one man and one woman, and only when a union comprises one man and one woman can there be a divorce under Texas law.” Because of the ongoing legislation regarding this matter, legislation could change in the future. But for now, no same-sex couple may receive a divorce in Texas, even if their marriage was legally obtained in another state.

Disclaimer: The material obtained from this site is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your own legal situation.
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