Your Houston Divorce Law Experts
Getting a divorce is likely one of the most stressful events you will experience in your lifetime. Individuals often experience a wide range of intense emotions including anger, fear, sadness, and resentment and these feelings may cloud their better judgment. In addition to being an extremely emotional process, divorce often involves the biggest financial decision of your life, so it is critical to have a divorce lawyer who can protect your best interests during this difficult period.
At the Ramos Law Group, we believe it is important to educate our clients about their rights in a divorce and to find the right divorce lawyer to guide them through the process from start to finish. We will ensure that you have the ability to make the best possible decisions for your family and your future. Call or email us today to schedule your initial consultation and to learn more about the divorce process.
While considering whether divorce is best for you and your family, it may be helpful to understand how divorce works. Below please find a general overview of divorce in Houston.
The Ramos Law Group represents many individuals in uncontested divorces, and all of our divorce attorneys do so for a reduced retainer. In this type of divorce, both parties must be able to remove the emotional side of divorce and treat the process as a business transaction without the need for extensive litigation.
In an uncontested divorce both spouses agree to be divorced on the grounds of in-supportability, sometimes referred to as a no-fault divorce. Both spouses also agree on all other issues related to the divorce, including:
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- The division of property accumulated during the marriage
This is generally the quickest and least expensive method of divorce, however, both spouses must agree on all issues for this process to work. An uncontested divorce can be finalized on the 61st day after filing the original petition for divorce, which includes the required 60-day cooling-off period required by the state of Texas.
A contested divorce occurs when divorcing spouses cannot agree on all issues. In most cases, the uncontested divorce process is completed at a fraction of the cost of a contested case.
Just because a divorce is contested does not mean that it cannot be resolved amicably. Our team of Houston divorce lawyers is well versed in handling contested divorces and always aims to ensure the most efficient and painless process possible. In fact, the majority of contested divorces are resolved by the agreement of the parties, often following mediation.
An experienced attorney, like the attorneys at the Ramos Law Group, is often able to effectively negotiate a favorable agreement by removing emotion from the discussion and focusing on the legal rights of each party.
High Net Worth Divorce
High net worth divorces are divorces in which the parties have accumulated substantial assets during the course of the marriage. Since these proceedings differ from the standard divorce process, the guidance of an experienced professional, like the divorce lawyer you’ll connect with at Ramos Law Group, is the key to navigating the best course of action.
Often multiple properties need to be divided. Some of those include:
- Retirement accounts,
- Stocks, and
- Closely-held businesses.
Complex financial documents need to be analyzed in order for a fair and equitable division of property to occur.
Modification or Divorce Decrees
The agreements or court-ordered provisions for visitation and support of your children contained in your divorce decree may no longer be in the best interest of your family. If the material and substantial change have occurred since your original divorce decree was filed, you may want to contact your divorce lawyers in Houston to modify the decrees.
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.
Hiring a Divorce Lawyer
The most important criteria when hiring a Houston divorce lawyer is to hire an attorney that only practices in the area of family law. Keep in mind, you wouldn’t hire a general family doctor to do brain surgery so why hire a general practitioner to assist with your family law matter. The practice of family law and divorce can be a fairly complicated and challenging process.
The attorney must not only know the law but must also have a strong understanding of the family court system in the counties in which they practice. Each county has its own set of rules and within those counties, each court has its own subset of varying rules and processes.
A family law attorney must be able to determine if it’s in their client’s best interest to settle out of court or take the issue to the judge or jury based on their experience with the court’s previous rulings. Keep in mind, some courts have a track record for ruling in a certain direction based on specific issues. For this reason, it is very beneficial to hire a family law attorney with intimate knowledge and experience with the county in question.
Will My Spouse Be Ordered To Pay Attorney’s Fees?
In most divorce proceedings, each spouse is responsible for his or her own attorney’s fees and litigation costs. The court does, however, have the power to require one party to cover all or a portion of the opposing party’s reasonable attorney’s fees.
This will depend on the financial resources of both parties and the facts of the case. Either party may request for the other to pay attorney’s fees. It is at the judge’s discretion as to whether that is ordered or not.
Should the court render judgment for attorney’s fees, the party will be ordered to pay directly to the attorney. A judgment for attorney’s fees may be enforced in the attorney’s own name by any means available for the enforcement of a judgment for debt.
What To Do After Divorce Papers Are Served
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. Your refusal to comply with the legal process will prevent them from getting a divorce.
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).
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
- Request a temporary order hearing if your spouse failed to do so in their original pleadings
Social Media During Divorce
Social networking is a popular pastime in today’s society. The chances are good that you or your spouse have a social networking account, so it is very important to 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% of its members had used or faced evidence collected from social media websites during divorce proceedings.
Information from your social networking sites is discoverable under Texas law. Some tips to help you keep your social networking from having a negative impact on your divorce include:
- “De-activate” your profile. Do not delete your social media; 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.
- 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.
- Privacy Settings: Use the most restrictive privacy settings 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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 that governs the existence of such marriages. There are two ways to prove the existence of a common-law marriage, by formal documentation or by the evidence presented to a court.
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 are married.
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Getting a divorce can be challenging but with the help of the Houston divorce lawyers at Ramos Law Group, the entire process can run smoothly and be completed in a timely manner. Call or email us today!
Divorce – Think of the children
Work on being flexible with the other parent.
The importance of gathering information.
Tip – Filing your original petition
There are several things to gather and consider.
The Process Of Divorce
After hiring a divorce attorney in a contested divorce, an Original Petition for Divorce is filed on your behalf. Your case is then assigned to a district court in the county in which you live. The Ramos Law Group handles contested divorces in Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, and Harris County. After the Petition is filed, a copy of the Petition is served on your spouse by a process server. If your spouse files the Original Petition, you must file an Answer, as well as a Counter-Petition. It is usually of little legal consequence which party files first.
Temporary Restraining Orders
Our divorce attorneys will also advise to serve a Temporary Restraining Order on your spouse at this time. This is a common practice. A Temporary Restraining Order, or TRO, should not be confused with a criminal protective order, and does not imply any misbehavior by you or your spouse. A TRO is a series of injunctions that require both parties to maintain the status quo.
Both parties are enjoined from making any large or unusual purchases, selling any major assets, destroying any documents that may be relevant in the divorce, and changing the children’s school or daycare among other restrictions. The purpose of the TRO is to prevent one spouse from making any large changes without the consent of the other spouse. Your divorce lawyer at Ramos Law Group will always try to keep the process as simple as possible. Filing a TRO helps to achieve this goal.
Temporary Orders Hearing
If there are any issues that need to be addressed early in the case, for example, if the parties can’t agree who should live in the house, where the children should live, who should pay the bills, a Temporary Orders Hearing may be necessary. At a Temporary Orders Hearing, a judge will hear from the parties and any other witnesses in the case, and make a temporary ruling on issues like use of property, custody, and child and spousal support.
Our Houston divorce lawyers also advise this method to keep emotions at bay and focus on what is legally best for both parties. This ruling is not final, but will only remain in place until the divorce is finalized. Many people are able to come to a temporary agreement without attending court, and several courts require that the parties attempt to mediate before a Temporary Orders Hearing.
For many individuals, especially those who have a high net worth estate, discovery is a critical portion of the contested divorce process. During the discovery process both sides are allowed to ask questions and request documents from the other party. Your divorce lawyer will work with you to prepare your documents, as well as review and explain the documents provided by your spouse. This allows a fair division of property as it forces parties to disclose all assets and liabilities.
Many courts require mediation as part of the legal process of divorce. During mediation, a neutral third party mediator will help the parties reach an agreement. Your attorney will be present during mediation to protect your interests and help you negotiate effectively. Agreements reached during the mediation process are binding and enforceable.
Once a mediated settlement agreement is signed, neither party can change his/her mind. Thus, the divorce lawyers at Ramos Law Group in Houston take their time to make certain you are fully aware of the permanency of the agreement and approve of all the elements.
In the event the parties cannot reach an agreement, a final trial on the merits will be held. At the final trial all of the issues and evidence will be presented to a judge or a jury for a decision. The attorneys at the Ramos Law Group are experienced trial lawyers who can help you effectively present your side of the story.
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Division of Property
- Division of Debt
- Spousal Support
When parents cannot agree as to what living situation is in the best interest of the children and this cannot be settled in mediation with Houston divorce lawyers, child custody becomes an issue in a divorce. Courts make custody determinations by making findings regarding the best interests of the children. Factors such as which parent acted as the primary caregiver during the marriage, the respective work and living situations of the parents and the parenting abilities of each parent are often used in making this determination.
An experienced divorce attorney will help explain the strengths and weaknesses of your child custody case so that you can determine the best steps going forward. In some cases, parents are able to reach an agreement regarding creative custody arrangements that give both parents equal access to the child. The divorce attorneys at Ramos Law Group are familiar with various arrangements and will explore which is best suited for your case.
Most courts require one parent to pay child support regardless of the custody arrangement. Guideline child support is based on Houston law and is calculated using a percentage of your net monthly income. In some cases, parents agree to non-guideline support in creative custody arrangements. Non-guideline support must be agreed to, as the courts generally apply the guidelines.
Division of Property
All property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property, regardless of who purchased the property or whose name is on the property. Your Ramos divorce lawyer will know the ins and outs of the requirement that all community property must be split fairly and equitably between the parties in a divorce.
A fair and equitable division is often a 50/50 split; however, there are several factors that can cause one party to be awarded more than half of the community estate. Additionally, some types of property are not part of the community estate, but instead the separate property of one party. The party claiming separate property has the responsibility of proving that the property is separate.
Division of Debt
Most debt accumulated during the marriage is community debt and must be dealt with during the divorce in consultation with your divorce attorney. It is important to remember that even if the debt is awarded to your spouse in the divorce if your name remains on the debt, it will affect your credit if your spouse later refuses to pay. It is best to close all joint accounts rather than having one spouse make payments toward community debts.
Spousal support refers to payments made by one spouse to the other on a monthly basis. Spousal support is often referred to as alimony. There are two types of spousal support in Houston, Chapter 8 spousal support, which is subject to statutory requirements and enforceable like child support, and contractual spousal support which is a contractual agreement between the parties.
One type of spousal support may be better than the other depending on your situation, so your divorce lawyer at Ramos Law Group will speak with you in detail about your situation to settle on the most appropriate choice.
Many courts place a geographic restriction on the primary residence of the children. For example, Harris County Courts often restrict the primary residence of the children to Harris and contiguous counties for so long as both parents live in Harris and contiguous counties.
If one parent moves away, then the parent with the children is also free to move. A geographic restriction may also be lifted by the agreement of the parties or for good cause.
Our Client Testimonials
The decision to end my 25-year marriage was not an easy one, but hiring the Ramos Law Group was. From the initial consultation to the execution of the Divorce Decree everyone at the firm displayed the utmost professionalism and I was treated as if I was their only client. My attorney Lindsey, always provided precise legal guidance, was usually one step ahead of the opposing counsel, and had a superb understanding of how things would play out in the court room. Additionally, whenever my case needed a little extra horsepower, Mary provided that "surge" to keep things on track.
"Ms. Ramos and her entire staff worked with professionalism and compassion to guide me through the most difficult time of my life and to an outcome that was best for my family and myself. Ramos Law is incredible and I highly, highly recommend their services."
"I was recommended to see Mary Ramos for my on coming custody case,it was the best thing I could've done honestly.The Ramos law group was quick with emailed responses and telephone calls,informative with ANY questions I had and they also took action with what they thought would work,which it did,I had money troubles and they were still willing to help they sent me with a younger lawyer Lindsey Lewis to help save some money and she was the best!She knew what she was doing and Mary was still on my case to make sure things went smoothly and to catch any details Lindsey and I might have missed.All in all I am a very satisfied client and if I ever needed a family lawyer again I would come back.My case was won as I received primary for my daughter which is exactly what I asked for.If you're willing to listen to what they have to say and follow their guidance they're definitely worth hiring.I thought I wanted sole custody for my daughter and they explained that wasn't in the best interest for her and honestly they were right,they speak to you on a professional level and also a real level of how things are actually going to work and what could happen if you take a certain action.They definitely care about their clients and make their own bond with you,you're not just money in their pockets you turn into family. "
"I received excellent advice and representation from Ms. Lindsey Lewis. She kept me updated at every step of the process, and I never felt as if my case was set aside. I would hire The Ramos Law Group in the future. "
"I started my divorce with a lawyer who was not very responsive. My divorce case was complicated and needed more laborious scrutiny. Since the case was not moving forward I had to switch lawyers. Made the switch to Ramos Law group. Since the very first day Mary and her team have been very efficient and meticulous. Since the case was complicated the team had to go through myriads of pages in discovery. I was pleased with the legal team that helped us handle the paperwork in a very timely manner. All my questions were answered very promptly. The relay of information was easy with their software system. We finally had a law firm that we could trust. My divorce was finalized and I only have Mary and her team to thank for going through a difficult divorce. I would highly recommend the Ramos law group for their help and support for getting my life back on track. "