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At Jessica McDonald and Associates, our divorce lawyer in Greenville, TX and Bonham, TX helps clients understand what's at stake. Some of the most common questions asked are answered here for you. We know that informed clients make better decisions for themselves and their families.

If you want specific answers that relate to your unique situation, contact us online or at (903) 458-9108 to schedule a consultation.

Do I need a divorce lawyer?

There are a lot of questions to ask yourself if you are debating whether you need a divorce attorney.

  • If you have kids and can't agree on a custody schedule
  • If you have substantial assets such as real estate, retirement accounts, or a business
  • If you can't agree on property division
  • If you think your spouse will not be cooperative or fair

Attorneys are skilled negotiators who can produce the correct paperwork and know the process of filing along with deadlines. If you have children, you will need a specific plan for childcare, and custody agreements. If the paperwork is incorrect or incomplete, it will take more time. A divorce case that is mishandled could adversely affect your life and the lives of your children. Even if the divorce is amicable, it is best to hire an attorney. 

Jessica McDonald and her associate attorneys know the law in Texas. They know the judges in the courthouse and the process of divorce. They will draft the correct documents and make sure the bases are covered.  Divorces produce a lot of emotions and can be scary to you. Having someone who is experienced with high emotions and stressful situations to fight for you is integral in divorce.

Will my divorce go to trial?

Not all divorces go to trial, but all divorces go to court. There are two types of divorce. 

  • Contested: when the parties do not have an agreement on child custody, visitation, or division of assets. 
  • Uncontested: most divorces are considered uncontested. Both parties agree to the division of assets, child support, and child custody.

 After the entire process, they can bring the agreement before a judge for finalization.  The agreement still must be drafted and presented before a judge, so it is usually helpful to have the assistance of an experienced attorney to ensure the final decree is drafted correctly and the agreement is presented properly before the judge.

What are the different conservatorships in a child custody case?

Considering being separated from your children is the scariest part for many people when they consider divorce.  Before you start fighting for custody of your child, you must know what types of conservatorships the court can order. In most cases, the court orders what is called joint managing conservatorship.

  • Joint managing conservatorship is ordered when the court decides that both parents need to be involved in the child's life. A joint parenting plan is created in which each parent spends time with the child. Those plans can differ depending on the age of the child, the geographic distance between residences of the parents, and other factors. The court makes the final determination.
  • Sole managing conservatorship and Possessory Conservatorship is when the court determines joint managing conservatorship is not in the child's best interest. The sole managing conservator will have the child while possessory conservatorship will have visits with the child. 

Is Texas a Community Property State?

Texas is a community property state.  The court will start with the presumption that all property belongs to both spouses jointly unless the spouses can prove that certain property is their separate property.  Texas divorce law requires an equitable division of property. So, if one of the spouses gets the house, the other will receive other property or cash, in an equitable amount for half of what the house is worth.

Will I need to receive or pay spousal maintenance?

Texas law does allow either spouse to get alimony (spousal maintenance), however, it is certainly not awarded in every case.  To qualify for alimony, one spouse must prove that they have been negatively affected financially by the divorce.  Some examples of cases where alimony has been awarded include spouses who have a disability that prevents them from working to support themselves, spouses who are caring for disabled children, or spouses who have taken time off work to care for a child. 

Should I Get a Divorce?

There are probably a lot of thoughts spinning through your head if you're considering filing for divorce. Your spirit and ego have probably taken a beating, and if there is infidelity or abuse/neglect involved, it can make it worse. We suggest a few exercises to help you come to a better understanding of where you stand and what you should do. Ask yourself some questions and give yourself permission to be completely honest with yourself, nobody has to read your answers. This is for you to better understand your thoughts.

1. Have you attempted communication and counseling?

Sometimes having an honest conversation can save your spouse, you, and your children a lot of emotional turmoil. Seek counseling or a neutral party to sit in during this conversation and attend counseling as many times that you can afford to. Help eachother identify underlying issues and resentments, and learn to become better communicators. This isn't an attempt to reduce or minimize your experience, rather, you will feel better knowing you have exhausted all your options before moving forward. 

2. What are your reasons for divorce?

Putting our thoughts on paper gives us an objective perspective and can minimize our anxiety and racing thoughts. It can also help you brainstorm some solutions to issues that concern you. Write it all down, don't worry about spelling, grammar, or what people will think if they read it. It's not for them, this is an honest inventory of your thoughts, fears, and what you want to do about it. 

3. Consult a divorce lawyer.

Schedule an appointment with an experienced divorce attorney that can help you with their experience, give you resources, and tell you your options. Your attorney can help you develop a strategy to approach the divorce process.

How much will my divorce cost?

The cost of your divorce will depend on multiple factors, but mainly it depends on whether the divorce is contested or not. Quite naturally, an uncontested divorce will not cost as much simply because the process is much more straightforward. In an uncontested divorce, you may not even see a day inside the courtroom. But in contested divorces, the costs depend on factors like:

  • The extent of the disputes or disagreements between the spouses
  • The potential for custody battles
  • The number of assets, including the allegations of hidden assets
  • The attorney you hire––and that does not only mean the attorney fees but the lawyer's legal competency and negotiating skills

Giving a precise prediction of how much your divorce will cost is impossible because of the various factors that go into it. The starting point in terms of costs is the filing fee associated with the divorce complaint, and then from there, it depends on the circumstances.

How do I file for divorce?

There are two ways to file for divorce. You can hire an attorney, or file the paperwork yourself, also known as "pro se" which means you're representing yourself. It is highly recommended to hire an attorney because you don't know what you don't know, and it could cost you and your children in the future. 

1. Hire an attorney

Schedule a consultation and if you're unsure of what to look for when deciding which attorney to hire, ask people you know who they recommend.When you all us to schedule a consultation we will ask you some basic information to help us better prepare for your consultation. Because of this information exchange, we can't consult with you and your spouse. Go to the court house and witness the attorneys interact with the local judges. It's beneficial to hire an attorney that is familiar with the legal proceedings in your county and who has rapport with the court staff, fellow attorneys, and district judges.  

2. File an original petition 

The initial pleading or original petition is a legal motion filed on your behalf that explains who you are, that you have filed with the correct jurisdicition, and that you wish to dissolve the marriage. If you file first, you are called the Petitioner for the remainder of the divorce proceeding. After the original petition is filed, "temporary orders" or sometimes called "standing orders" will be set in place to establish some ground rules regarding child custody and access to property.  

3. Temporary Orders or Standing Orders

After the original petition is filed, "temporary orders" or  "standing orders" may be set in place to establish some ground rules regarding child custody and access to property. If the divorce is highly contested, a temporary order can be filed which limits access between spouses, property, and sometimes limits access with a parent and child. Some things that could be included in temporary orders are: 

  • Consevatorship (custody) will be established temporarily, establishing where the children will live.
  • Possession (visitation) will arrange a schedule for the parent not living with the children will visit.
  • Child support could be ordered temporarily
  • Who will provide and pay for health insurance
  • Exchanging financial information to determine payment of child support
  • Use of property
  • Temporary payment of debts
  • Spousal Support
  • Exchanging information to continue paying for debts
  • Attorney's fees 

What if my spouse does not want a divorce?

You can still file for divorce even if your spouse does not want the divorce. Some states require a period of separation, and that could be metaphorically or physically, and other states do not require it. Texas does not require a period of separation to file for divorce. Regardless of any separation requirement, all states allow no-fault divorces. No fault simply means the marriage has irretrievably broken down or the spouses have irreconcilable differences, and you don't have to present "grounds" for divorce. Once you have filed for divorce the state requires a 60-day waiting period to grant the divorce.

Can I sue for divorce in Texas on the grounds of adultery?

Now that all states allow no-fault divorces, you do not have to have a ground for divorce except in rare cases. For example, if you entered a covenant marriage, then you may be required to provide a ground for divorce, like adultery. Further, you may want to file a fault-based divorce if your spouse cheated on you and during the affair, they wasted marital property (e.g., cash) on it. In this situation, a judge would make up for the waste via asset distribution to the spouse who did not cheat.

How is Texas child custody or support determined?

Child custody, visitation, and child support are determined case-by-case with each state having their specific, respective guidelines. These matters, however, are always determined by considering the "best interests of the child" standard. In general, though, courts want both parents to build strong relationships with their children. Courts also recognize that both parents are financially responsible for the child. Child custody, visitation, and child support will reflect those beliefs as the basis of the determination.

Click here for a  Child Support Calculator.

How is Texas alimony determined?

Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance, is determined on a case-by-case basis with each state having its specific, respective guidelines. Most states consider the present earning ability and future earning opportunities of the spouses. If one spouse was dependent on the other spouse through the marriage, that factor will weigh heavily on any court's decision on alimony.

How are assets and debt divided in Texas?

Assets and debt are divided according to your state's approach to the division of property. There are two approaches: community property and equitable distribution. In the first approach, property and debts are divided equally. In the second approach, a 50/50 isn't necessarily the result––what matters is what's fair. According to Texas Law Help In Texas, the law says "community property and debt should be divided just and right. There are exceptions to these general rules." Contact us today to schedule a consultation at (903) 458-9108. 

My spouse is abusive. How do I protect myself during the divorce?

Spouses who have abusive spouses are in the most danger when they seek divorce. You should protect yourself by getting as much help and support as you can. You can file a restraining order, the process of which varies from state to state. You should also consider state and local programs aimed at helping survivors of domestic abuse. You also want to build a network of support using friends and family as well as a supportive family law attorney. 

 Visit this website for more resources on how to file a restraining order in Texas. 

We also suggest reading the book "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft. The book gives valuable insight on abusive partners, same-sex abusive partners, common justifications used for abusive behavior, and how to safely exit the situation. 

How do I start my divorce in Texas?

To start a divorce in Texas, you have to file a petition to dissolve the marriage with the court clerk. The Texas Family Code says "A suit for divorce may not be maintained in this state unless at the time the suit is filed either the petitioner or respondent has been living in the state for preceding 6 months and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90 days". Once the petition is filed, the other spouse has a certain number of days to answer the petition unless the divorce is a mutual one, making an answer unnecessary. The most efficient way to start a divorce is to contact a divorce attorney to handle it for you. This way the petition is properly filed and/or timely answered.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer in Texas Today

If you are thinking of a divorce or have been served divorce papers, contact Jessica McDonald and Associates either by using the online contact form or by calling us at (903) 458-9108. We will schedule a consultation so that you can get your most immediate questions answered more specifically.