We are happy to partner with fellow attorney, Kelly Fitzgerald, who is a seasoned Family Law Attorney, for this month’s Dickerson Law Report. Reach our office to further chat with Kelly about her 7 things to consider when pulling the divorce trigger and other Family Law topics of discussion:
No one ever goes into a marriage wanting to eventually get divorced, but many times, that is what ends up happening. Here are a few things you should know if you have been asking yourself whether a divorce would be a good idea or not.
1. Unless you have been married for an incredibly short period of time and are without children or property, you should hire an attorney to represent you. There are many pitfalls in a divorce case that are easily avoided if an attorney is handling your case for you. Websites that promise to get you divorced for less than what an attorney would charge cannot give you any legal advice, nor can they tell you how to fill out the fill-in-the-blank forms they offer. You can wind up giving away many of your legal rights or causing a problem so difficult, you wind up having to hire an attorney to fix it for you. THAT will cost you more than simply hiring an attorney from the start.
2. In order to file for a divorce in Texas, you need to have been a resident of Texas for at least six months, and a resident of the county that you file in for the previous 90 days. However, if there are children involved, you will need to file for divorce in the county where the children have been for the six months prior to filing. Texas does not require you to separate from your spouse before filing for a divorce, but usually one spouse moves out of the marital home first.
3. Texas is a “no fault” state, meaning you can get a divorce simply because you want one. You do not need to “prove up” any grounds for your divorce, such as adultery or cruelty, but merely need to inform the Judge that you and your spouse have “irreconcilable differences.” There is no need for your spouse to “agree” to the divorce at all. All it takes is for you to say that you do not wish to reconcile with your spouse, & the judge will grant your divorce.
4. Once your divorce is filed, the other spouse will need to be properly served before anything further can take place. If you and your spouse are both in agreement to the divorce, the other spouse can sign a waiver of notice once your divorce petition has been filed. This will save you the costs of hiring a process server to personally hand-deliver the divorce petition to your spouse. Your spouse can still contest issues in the divorce and still appear in court, so they aren’t giving up any of their rights by signing a waiver.
5. If at all possible, discuss with your spouse what you would be willing to agree to regarding the children and your property. Be aware, however, that sometimes what you and your spouse agree to is not enforceable in Texas or requires one of you to give up valuable rights to child support, visitation, or property. In these situations, you will be told that what you want is not possible & you & your spouse will have to come up with a new arrangement. Do not be upset if this happens because your attorney is looking out for your best interests so that you can get everything you are entitled to. If you still wish to give up certain things you are entitled to after being fully advised, the judge may go ahead and grant your divorce based on your agreement, unless it involves child support and health insurance for the children.
6. You may have heard that Texas is a “community property” state. All property that is earned or purchased during the marriage belongs to both spouses. “Community Property” also includes any debts, such as credit cards, mortgages, and car loans. This means the income from your job, retirement accounts & Social Security, any investments made during your marriage, and any property (usually your home & your cars) that you purchased. There are many exceptions, however, and an attorney will be able to advise you on what property needs to be divided & what property should be declared “separate.”
7. Be aware that disagreements will arise when you least expect it & over the most ridiculous things. Getting a divorce, even if it’s something you both want, is a very stressful, emotional time and people do lash out at the other spouse from time to time. Do your best to stay calm because it will be over at some point, and if you have children together, you will be in each other’s lives at least until the children become adults. Arguing over every little thing only increases the amount of time it will take for your divorce to be finalized & the amount of money you will have to pay your attorney. You may never be friends with your spouse in the future (& no one is asking you to), but your divorce will not be a nightmare either. It is never wrong to be cordial even if it’s the last thing you want to do.
For more information, or to contact Kelly Fitzgerald for your Family Law matters, call our office at (956)791-5422 or email Kelly directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.