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The issues that will need to be decided by the parties or the court before a divorce can be granted are (1) the division of marital property, (2) division of marital liabilities, (3) child issues such as possession, access and support, (4) income taxes, (5) spousal support, (6) attorney fees, (7) name change.

Marital Assets - If the parties to not have substantial assets, it may be fairly easy to agree upon a division of the assets or for the court to divide them.  If the parties have been married several years and/or have substantial assets, the division of that property can be more complex.  There may be a mix of personal and real property, children, business assets, large or hidden debts, trust funds, property in other states or countries, joint and separate accounts, investments, insurance, pensions, retirement, inheritances, and other assets.  Often experts are required to help value such property.  If the parties cannot agree, the court may have to decide how the property will be divided.

Marital Liabilities - All of the liabilities of the parties must be divided also.  As with the assets, it may be fairly simple or it can be complex where the parties have a lot of debt, family businesses, or other liabilities.  In addition to regular debts, the parties' obligation to the IRS will have to be determined.  Usually spouses are jointly and individually liable for all taxes in years where they filed a joint return.  What that means to you is that the IRS can pursue either one of you or both of you to collect any taxes owed.  The terms of the decree will spell out who is to pay the tax liabilities, but be aware that the divorce decree is not binding on the IRS and they can still pursue you even if it is your spouse who is to pay the tax debt.  Also, the IRS is not limited by state laws regarding exempt property and can force the sale of your homestead to pay a tax debt.

Children - The parties can agree to custody and visitation arrangements as well as support.  Generally one parent will be the custodial parent with the right to determine the domicile of the children and the other parent will have visitation rights.  It is common for the parties to be appointed joint managing conservators with equal rights and duties except the right to determine domicile and to receive support.  Generally the non-custodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent.  The amount of child support is based upon the paying party's net available resources and support is a percentage determined by the number of children before the court and number of other children for whom a spouse may be paying support.  The guidelines are set out in the Texas Family Code and absent special circumstances, courts will usually require a spouse to pay "guideline support".

Attorneys Fees - Each party is responsible for his or her own attorneys fees and expenses of litigation.  Attorneys fees can be treated like other marital debt and divided upon divorce either by agreement or order of the court.  The court has the option to order one party to pay part or all of the other party's attorneys fees.

Spousal Support - Texas Courts have limited authority to order spousal support after a divorce is granted.  To receive post-divorce spousal maintenance, generally you must have been married for at least 10 years, and in certain situations must prove need.  You may be able to obtain up to $5,000 per month for a maximum of 10 years.

Name Change - If you want your name changed when the divorce is over you must ask for it in the petition and make sure it is included in the final decree.  Usually this is done when a woman wants to restore her maiden name or name from a previous marriage to match that of her children.  The court will generally grant a name change.  If you wait until after the divorce and do it in a separate suit, the requirements are much stricter.  You cannot beforced to change your name even if your soon to be ex-spouse wants you to.

Client Area

When you come to my office for our first meeting, if we agree that I will take your case, I will ask you to fill out a client information sheet, custody worksheet, if there are children, and a financial information sheet.

FAQ

This information is designed to assist you in answering some basic questions regarding family law issues.

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