Is there alimony in Texas?

There is no alimony in Texas. We have what is called spousal maintenance, and presumption against awarding spousal maintenance exists. The statute was designed to provide for the minimal, reasonable needs of an ex-spouse that was incapable of caring for such needs due to a disability, care of a disabled child, or that would not have sufficient assets upon dissolution of marriage to support such minimal needs. Absent a conviction or deferred adjudication for an act constituting family violence, a spouse can only be eligible for spousal maintenance if the marriage has lasted 10 years or longer.

Since Texas is a community property state, will all assets be divided 50/50?

Not necessarily. Texas courts divide the community estate in a just and right manner. A spouse can request a disproportionate division (more than 50%) of the community estate based on a variety of factors, including relative earning capabilities and fault in the marriage (i.e. adultery). Just and right does not always mean fair - which is the forbidden “F-word” in Texas Family Law.

If I leave the marital residence, will the Court consider that abandonment and refuse to award the house to me?

No. If you need to leave the marital residence due to domestic violence or simply to deescalate an emotionally-charged situation, the same is not considered abandonment. Like any other asset, the court will consider the net value of the home in determining how to divide the estate.

Do I need a lawyer to get divorced in Texas?

No, but you should. Having an experienced family law attorney with comprehensive knowledge of the law and the ability to effectively advocate for you can help you successfully navigate emotionally and financially complex issues for you and your family.

How long will my family law case last?

It depends. As a matter of public policy, Texas family law cases are supposed to be concluded within 6 months of filing. However, that is not a hard and fast rule. Many cases last well over a year. The duration of the case depends heavily on the actions taken by and the willingness of each litigant to resolve matters amicably.

How much will my family law case cost?

As with the duration, the cost of a family law case must be assessed on an individual basis. Each case is different, and each family has its own set of unique issues.

Is it true that courts tend to award custody of the kids to the mom?

The only reason that is true is because a high percentage of spouses getting divorced have traditional familial roles, with mom working in the home and taking care of the children. Unless the status quo has become unworkable, courts tend to be reluctant to change the roles that have been established within the family prior to litigation.

However, with the rapid increase in dual-working parents, the “mom-default” is changing. The attorneys at Toombs Imel & Associates continue to be successful in achieving primary custody for both fathers and mothers.

Will the divorce clause in my partnership agreement be binding on my spouse?

It depends. It is rare to encounter a divorce clause in such agreements that has been drafted correctly to bind the non-owner spouse to the agreement. Most fail to define when the divorce provisions are actually triggered (i.e. upon the filing of a divorce). Many include inappropriate standards of value that are either outdated or are designed to deprive the non-owner spouse of a fair value. Others tend to only include provisions that govern situations in which the non-owner spouse is awarded an interest in the company and have zero effect on the value of the actual business interest. Still fewer are signed by the non-owner spouse or fail to include an executed consent and joinder by the non-owner spouse.

If you are starting a new business, taking on new partners, or contemplating divorce, contact Toombs Imel & Associates. Our attorneys are adept at crafting asset-protecting language and handling valuations of business interests and will help ensure that you, your family and your business are protected from the instability that can occur both during and after a divorce.

Is it true that a child 12 years of age or older can decide with which parent the child wants to live?

No. The court can and, if requested by a party, must interview in chamber a child who is 12 years of age or older to determine if that child has a preference as to with which parent that child will primarily reside. The court can also interview children younger than 12 years of age.

In no event, however, is the child’s preference binding on the court. It is only one factor that the court may consider.

Can I record my spouse without telling my spouse he or she is being recorded?

Yes, as long as you are a party to the conversation and you are both in Texas. Each state has different laws regarding recording of other persons. Whichever state is most restrictive, that law would control.

Once I file for divorce, am I legally separated?

No. We do not have legal separation in Texas. You are considered married until you are divorced. Your community estate also continues until you are divorced.

I am getting remarried. Can my new spouse’s income be considered in recalculating my child support obligation?

No. Only your net monthly resources are considered. The court is not limited to simply considering your wages. This is particularly true for self-employed individuals. The court can consider your access to income-producing assets and other net resources.

If I have lived with another person for years, are we considered common-law married in Texas?

No. In Texas, we have what is termed “informal marriage”. There is no required duration for establishing an informal marriage. To do so, you must show that you agreed to be married, resided together in Texas after agreeing to be married, and held yourselves out as husband and wife to others.