File for Divorce in Texas
At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, our attorneys are experienced, reliable advocates for our clients seeking a divorce. With a focus on family law and a commitment to helping people find the right solutions for their specific circumstances, our legal team will go above and beyond to protect your rights and interests. If you have any specific questions about your divorce case, we are here to help. Call us today at 713-225-6200 to arrange your fully confidential initial appointment.
Divorce is Common—But That Does Not Make it Easy
By some measures, half of all U.S. marriages eventually end in a divorce. If you are preparing for a split with your spouse, you are certainly not alone. Of course, that does not make the divorce process any easier for the person who is actually going through it. Divorce can be a difficult, confusing, stressful, and emotionally draining process. Regardless of how common it may be, ending a marriage is never easy. The right professional guidance and support can make the difference. Our divorce specialists are here to help you navigate challenging times, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you come out of the process with the best outcome for your future.
An Overview of the Divorce Laws in Texas
Are you getting divorced in Houston, Harris County, or elsewhere in the region? It is crucial that you understand how divorce works under state law. For the most part, divorces are handled at the state-level. While there are some similarities in the laws across the states, there are also some very important differences. Here are key things to know about the divorce laws in Texas:
- A Divorce May Be Contested or Uncontested: Divorce in Texas can be either contested or uncontested. A contested divorce means that the parties are unable to reach an agreement on key issues such as property division, spousal support, or child custody. An uncontested divorce is when the parties have reached an agreement on all relevant issues. Our Texas divorce lawyers handle both contested and uncontested cases. Notably, a contested divorce could actually become uncontested divorce if a settlement can be achieved.
- At Least One Spouse Must Meet the Residency Requirement: To be eligible to file for a divorce in Texas, you must meet the state residency rules. One spouse must have been a resident of Texas for at least six months (180 days) prior to filing for divorce. Beyond that, one spouse must have lived in the county where the divorce is being filed for at least 90 days prior to filing. If you live in Houston and are filing in Harris County, one spouse must have a minimum of 90 days of residency within the county limits.
Texas Allows for Fault-Based Divorce—But Most are No-Fault: In Texas, a divorce may be granted on the grounds of either fault or no-fault. Fault-based grounds include adultery, cruelty, and abandonment. However, the majority of divorces in Texas are granted on a no-fault basis of insupportability (Texas FAM § 6.001).
Texas is a Community Property State: Texas is a community property state, which means that all property acquired during the marriage is considered community property and is subject to division in a divorce. To be clear, community property includes assets, debts, and mostly any increase in value of separate property during the marriage. It is crucial to understand the implications that the community property standard has on asset division.
Best Interests of the Child (Custody & Visitation): Texas uses the term “conservatorship” instead of custody. Though, the concept is similar. In a divorce, the court must determine what is in the best interests of any children of the marriage when making decisions regarding child custody and visitation (Texas FAM § 153.002). The court considers several factors, including the child’s relationship with each parent, each parent’s ability to provide for the child, and, if old enough, the child’s own preferences.
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We Provide Comprehensive Family Law Representation in Southeast Texas
As a law firm devoted to handling family law matters, we provide comprehensive representation in divorce cases in Houston and throughout Southeast Texas. Along with other types of family law issues, our lawyers have experience with:
Division of Property: Our family law team has extensive experience handling all types of property division matters in Houston. We can help you navigate the complexities of the Texas community property standard.
Division of Debt: For many divorcing couples, division of debt is a key issue. As marital property is community property in Texas, ‘marital’ debt is generally community debt. Our attorneys will protect your financial interests.
Spousal Support: Texas has unique (strict) alimony laws. While spousal support may be required in your case, it is more limited in Texas than in most other jurisdictions. Our divorce lawyers in Texas have deep experience with spousal support cases.
Child Custody: If you are a parent of a young child or a teenager, divorce can be especially stressful. With comprehensive knowledge of the Texas best interests of the child system, we will protect your custody and visitation rights.
Child Support: It is more likely that the parent who does not have primary physical possession of the child may be required to pay ongoing child support. It is determined on a case-by-case basis in Texas. We handle all types of child support cases.
Our Trial-Tested Attorneys Place an Emphasis on Amicable, Cost Effective Solutions
Our attorneys have a strong reputation for providing amicable and cost-effective solutions for clients. With years of experience handling complex divorce cases, our lawyers have a deep understanding of the legal system and know how to navigate it effectively. We believe in finding mutually-beneficial solutions that minimize the emotional and financial toll of divorce whenever possible. At the same time, our attorneys are trial-tested. Not every divorce case can be settled and we are always ready to fight aggressively to protect your rights.
We Handle Complex Divorce Cases in Houston
Ramos Law Group has a proven record of success across a wide range of divorce cases, including some of the most complex divorce cases. We strive to protect the best interests of our clients and help them find the right solution. Complex divorce cases we have experience with include:
High-Conflict Contested Divorces: A high-conflict contested divorce is a complex and emotionally charged case where the parties are unable to reach an agreement on key issues.
High Net Worth Divorce: In Texas, high net worth divorce involves dividing a large estate, potentially including businesses, investments, and real estate, among the parties.
Business Owners Divorce: Business owner divorces are complicated. They require a deep understanding of the value and operations of the company to ensure a smooth transition.
What to Know About the Divorce Process in Texas
Formally speaking, the divorce process starts with an initial filing. Our legal team is prepared to file an Original Petition for Divorce on your behalf. In a contested divorce, you can file a petition on your own. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse may want to work together on the filing. When a petition is filed, Texas law mandates that a copy must be served on the counterparty (other spouse). If you are in a situation where your spouse filed first, you should file a legal document called an “Answer” that responds to the petition.
Temporary Restraining Orders
A temporary restraining order (TRO) is a common practice in a divorce case in Texas, particularly so in high-conflict and/or high-net-worth divorces. A key thing to know about a TRO is that it will prevent both parties from making any major purchases or other significant financial or family decisions, such as moving a child to a new school. It is meant to “freeze” things in place while the divorce is pending.
Temporary Orders Hearing
A temporary orders hearing may or may not be required in your case. Generally speaking, this type of family law hearing is necessary if there is an issue that needs to be addressed by the court while the divorce case is still pending. For example, if divorcing parents cannot decide where a child should live during the divorce process, the court may address the issue during a temporary hearing.
Discovery in a divorce in Texas refers to the process by which each party to the divorce can gather information and evidence relevant to their case. This can include financial records, written communication, testimony, and other relevant documents. The purpose of discovery is to ensure that both parties have access to all the information they need to negotiate a fair settlement or present their case in court.
Divorce mediation in Texas is an alternative dispute resolution process where a neutral third-party mediator helps the separating spouses reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce. Mediation is a non-adversarial process that encourages communication and cooperation between the parties. It can be faster, less expensive, and less emotionally taxing than a traditional divorce trial. Our divorce mediation lawyers are here to protect your rights and help you find a solution.
A contested divorce that cannot be resolved can go to trial. Although only a relatively small percentage of divorces actually end up in litigation in Texas, it is a possibility that you need to be prepared for. Should there be a trial, all of the issues and evidence will be presented to a judge or a jury for a decision. Our legal professionals are trial-tested, results-driven advocates for clients going through contested divorce cases.
Divorce in Houston, TX: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I Post About My Divorce on Social Media?
It is best to avoid posting on social media while your divorce is still pending. When going through a divorce, you should be very mindful of your social media presence. The general guidance is to deactivate your profile(s) instead of deleting them, change your password for protection, use the most comprehensive privacy settings, and be aware of your “friends” who might share damaging information. Remember, anything you post on the Internet can potentially be used against you in court, so think before you post. It is best to keep things about your divorce, your family, and your finances off of social media until the matter is finalized.
How Does Divorce Work for a Common Law Marriage in Texas?
In Texas, common law marriage is recognized as valid. However, when it comes to divorce, the process is similar to traditional marriage, but there can be some additional complexities. It is imperative that you act quickly when separating to use the formal process. If a couple in a common law marriage separates on their own (moves to different residences) and two years pass before anyone files for divorce, a Texas court may likely rule that they were never married at all.
Will My Spouse Be Required to Pay Attorneys’ Fees?
It depends. As a general rule, the answer is “no.” In Texas, each party to a divorce is responsible for their own attorneys’ fees. However, there are exceptions. the court has the power to require one party to pay all or a portion of the other party’s reasonable attorney’s fees based on the specific circumstances of the case. For example, if one spouse is financially well-off and the other is financially vulnerable, the court may require that first spouse to cover all of the attorneys’ fees.
Why Trust the Ramos Law Group for Divorce Representation in Southeast Texas
Ending a marriage is difficult. You and your spouse may agree that it is the right decision, but there are still many legal, financial, logistical, and emotional things that will need to be addressed and resolved before you can finalize your divorce. At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, we are proactive and committed to personalized representation. Founding attorney Mary E. Ramos is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. When you contact us at our Houston law office, you will have the opportunity to consult with a Texas divorce attorney who can:
- Hear your story and answer any questions you have about divorce in Texas;
- Investigate your divorce, preparing all the documents/records needed to make your case;
- Ensure that all family law issues are addressed—from property division to child custody;
- Handle all of the divorce and family law legal paperwork;
- Represent you in any settlement negotiations with your spouse, including mediation; and
- Develop a comprehensive, personalized strategy to help you get the best results.
Contact Our Divorce Specialists in Texas Today
At the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, our Texas divorce team is committed to protecting the things that matter most. If you are preparing to end your marriage, we are here as a legal resource. Call us at 713-225-6200 or connect with us online to schedule a fully private, no-commitment initial consultation. From our law office in Houston, we provide family and divorce representation in Harris County and throughout all of Southeast Texas.
Getting a divorce can be challenging but with the help of the team 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, 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 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 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 one of our lawyers 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. "