A divorce is one of the most stressful life events, especially when a couple has minor children. Allocating joint assets and debts, determining who will stay in the family home, and making appropriate child custody and child support arrangements is a difficult and painful process for most people.
The Evans Law Firm understands the sensitive nature of divorce and the strain it puts on families. We work efficiently to resolve any disputes that arise during the divorce process, ensuring that any outcome is beneficial for our clients and their children. If you need help with your divorce, call one of our experienced divorce attorneys at 1-855-414-1012.
Grounds for Divorce
There are seven grounds for divorce in Texas, six of which can be granted in favor of one spouse, and one of which is considered “no-fault”:
- Insupportability – This is the one no-fault ground for divorce, meaning that no specific behavior or action is alleged as a basis for divorce, but rather that a couple has conflicts or discord that makes reconciliation impossible. Any party can seek, and ultimately be granted a divorce on this ground.
- Conviction of a felony – If a spouse has been convicted of a felony and has been imprisoned for at least one year in a penitentiary, the other spouse may petition for divorce on this fault ground.
- Abandonment – A spouse may be granted a divorce if the other spouse left the marital home, with the intention of abandonment, and has been gone for at least one year.
- Living apart – A spouse may file for divorce when the couple has lived apart, without cohabitation, for at least three years.
- Confinement in a mental hospital – One spouse may file for divorce if the other spouse has been confined in a state mental hospital (in Texas or another state) for at least three years and is unlikely to improve.
The other two grounds for divorce are cruelty and adultery, the first being fact specific, and the second being largely self-explanatory.
Division of Assets
When a couple cannot agree on how to divide their marital property and assets, the court will make that decision on their behalf. Judges don’t have to divide property equally – rather, their goal is to ensure that the couple’s property, assets, and debts are distributed fairly and that the distribution accounts for factors such as the earnings and economic status of each partner. So, if one spouse earns significantly less income than the other, that person may have a claim to receive a greater share of the marital property in a divorce.
A judge will also decide how to divide shared debts, unless the spouses have already reached an agreement on that matter. When couples own a home and have a mortgage, the court may award the home and the mortgage to one spouse, and order that the other spouse be awarded a money judgment for his or her portion of the equity in the house, or the court may divide the spouses’ other assets and debts in such a way as to equalize the overall property division. In other cases, the marital home may need to be sold and the proceeds distributed between the parties.
Determining Custody in a Divorce
Divorces are typically much more complicated when there are children involved. While both spouses might come to an agreement over the terms of custody (conservatorship) of the children, it is not uncommon for custody to be a major item in dispute in a divorce case. Generally speaking, the clearer the terms and the greater the consensus regarding the specific terms of custody in the divorce proceedings, such as the allocation of rights and duties between the parents and the visitation and possession schedules, the easier it will be for all family members going forward.
The court’s primary objective in determining custody arrangements is making sure that the outcome is what is best for the children. A true joint custody arrangement can sometimes be difficult for children, so courts often award primary custody to one parent, with the other parent having visitation rights. What those visitation rights and schedules look like can vary, depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. If children are old enough to have an informed opinion, the court may, in certain limited situations, ask them with whom they prefer to primarily live. Otherwise, the court often tries, when possible, to keep children in their current school and current home, to minimize disruption to their lives.
The end result of the divorce case is the divorce decree. A divorce decree is a binding legal document that orders and defines the division of property and debts, as well as obligations regarding child custody, child support, and spousal support when applicable. Once the court issues the divorce decree, the division of property cannot be modified. So even when a divorce is amicable, each party should have their own lawyer, to ensure that any agreements they enter into are fair and that their interests are adequately protected,
Looking Out for You
If you are anticipating divorce, don’t agree to anything in writing with your spouse until you’ve talked to a divorce lawyer. At The Evans Law Firm, we’ve helped our clients negotiate with their spouses and their spouses’ attorneys to achieve the best possible outcome in their divorce. If you need someone to represent your interests in a divorce, contact us online or by phone at 1-855-414-1012, to request a consultation.