Families are a source of strong support and happiness in life. However, people’s minds and circumstances change, and these situations cannot be easily reconciled or mended.  Taylor & Lassen hopes this never happens to anyone, but when it does, it’s best to be represented by a divorce lawyer who definitively knows Texas Family Law, the San Antonio court system, and can be an effective and protective guide through the legal process.

With a wide-range of experience spanning over 20 years in Family Law, and a thorough knowledge of how it can affect you and your future, Taylor & Lassen efforts are geared towards making and maintaining favorable outcomes in a constantly evolving family law environment to vigorously defend client’s rights and interests.

San Antonio Divorce Process

While every divorce has its own set of circumstances and challenges, the majority of divorce cases goes through several stages that consist of legal requirements to complete the divorce process. However, prior to filing for divorce, you must meet certain residency requirements. To file for divorce in the state of Texas, you must have been a resident of the state for a continuous 6-month period. In addition, you must have been a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days. After meeting these requirements, you can begin the divorce process. In very general terms, it is as follows:

Original Petition for Divorce: The petition should give an overview of the situation that identifies divorcing parties, if there are children involved, and the reason for getting a divorce.

Keep in mind, the court cannot finalize the divorce until 60 days after the initial court filing.

Temporary Restraining Order: At the time of filing, the Petitioner can request that the court issue a standard Temporary Restraining Order. Depending on the circumstances, it can

  • Establish temporary possession of the residence, cars or other assets
  • Require that assets do not disappear before they can be divided by the court
  • Establish access to children and their care
  • Establish temporary child support
  • Establish the payment of bills and attorney’s fees
  • Establish temporary financial support of spouse
  • Require the spouses act civilly and not threaten or harass each other

The purpose of Temporary Orders are to protect the parties until a final decree of divorce is issued.

Discovery: Each party exchanges information to determine each party’s positions and any information necessary to resolve issues to complete the divorce process. Spouses can agree to exchange information. However, if not satisfied with the information received, they can use formal discovery procedures to attain the information. Many, but not all, common items in Discovery are:

  • Information regarding children in regard to custody, possession, access, child support and medical support
  • The value of the marital estate – property, assets, debts, etc.
  • Current and future financial standing
  • Determine what assets are considered community property and which are considered separate property
  • Disclosure of infidelity
  • Disclosure of bank accounts and other financially related accounts
  • Uncovering pertinent facts and documents related to the divorce
  • Depositions and witness statements

Taylor & Lassen have dealt with many different divorce scenarios and you should rely heavily on the advice of a divorce lawyer before proceeding with ANY exchange of information as it will be used to reach an agreement and/or prepare for divorce litigation.

Divorce Mediation: After discovery, spouses can negotiate all the divorce matters found in discovery in order to come to an agreement. This can be done directly between the spouses or with the help of their attorneys and/or a divorce mediator.

If an agreement can be reached, an Agreed Decree of Divorce will be prepared containing all the terms of the agreement. This will be eventually presented to a judge in family court for approval.

Divorce Litigation: If matters cannot be agreed upon in the Divorce Mediation stage, the matter will then be resolved in court and date for trial set. The decision of your marital settlement will be determined by a judge or jury. This is probably the most financially and emotionally costly portion of a divorce. This is why Taylor & Lassen, along with many other divorce lawyers, highly recommend civility between spouses and divorce mediation. The toll and outcome of a heavily litigated divorce can severely upend your life. Even long after the divorce process is finalized. No to mention the damaging and lasting effects it can have on children. Taylor & Lassen will aggressively defend you in any divorce litigation matters, but only after all other avenues have been exhausted.

Final Decree of Divorce: Once the agreement or decision through trial is reached, the agreement or decision is converted into the Final Decree of Divorce. Following this, there will be a few more legal documents created by your divorce lawyer to enforce the provisions of the Final Decree of Divorce such as property or vehicle transfers, updating financial accounts in accordance with divorce decree outcome, and so on.

Taylor & Lassen understand the divorce process is a difficult and taxing time in your life. Couples can become more contentious as the divorce moves forward whereas others become exhausted and wish to conclude the process without any delays. It is a very precarious and difficult period that requires competent legal counsel during an extremely emotional period. Taylor & Lassen would be honored to look out for your best interests in any facet of your divorce. Please contact us at (210) 625-6540 for an appointment to discuss your needs.

Grounds for Divorce in Texas

The state of Texas allows divorce based on either fault or no-fault grounds. The grounds for no-fault divorce are living apart without cohabitation for at least 3 years or insupportability (also known as irreconcilable differences) and the court will not assign blame to either spouse for the divorce. The grounds for filing divorce based upon fault would include cruelty, adultery, felony conviction, abandonment, and confinement in a mental hospital.

Uncontested Divorce in San Antonio

Sometimes, divorce makes sense to both spouses. Marriages end and it can be best to move on to the next phase of life. An uncontested divorce, also known as an “agreed” or “mutual” divorce, is when spouses come to agreement on most issues and allows a couple to end their legal relationship with the least number of obstacles and possibly keeping the proceedings on a more private level. A divorce lawyer can support your wishes to ensure all your requirements are completed according to Texas State Law and the separation is fair and equal.

  • For most divorces, the common issues that must be agreed upon revolve around:
  • Division of the marital property
  • Division of debt accrued during the marriage
  • Custody of your children
  • Child support
  • Visitation rights for the non-custodial parent

For the issues that cannot be agreed upon, a divorce lawyer can provide divorce mediation services to create a fair solution for everyone involved while providing a suitable, private, timely, and cost efficient method where both parties can retain control of the outcome.

Contested Divorce in San Antonio

If spouses fail to agree on the terms of divorce, couples will then undergo a contested divorce. This means divorce litigation where your divorce records can become very public. While Taylor & Lassen prefers agreed upon fair and equitable settlements between parties to reduce client financial outlays and distress, we will advocate zealously on your behalf to protect them against false claims, unfavorable legal positioning, and unfair requests.

As with an uncontested divorce, there are many issues that must be resolved or agreed upon. Contested divorces can become highly litigated depending on how far apart or embattled the spouses are on the required agreements. Therefore, they can also become very costly.

Regardless of your requirements and through all the steps of the divorce process, Taylor & Lassen will be on your side, every step of the way, protecting your rights, interests, and well-being. Having an extensive list of satisfied clients and a considerable experience in contested and uncontested divorce cases, we can help you reach a positive resolution to your divorce process.

Alimony in Texas

Alimony is a periodic payment, generally monthly, to support an ex-spouse. You may hear different terms throughout your divorce process and here are their definitions:

  • Spousal support are payments to a spouse ordered by the court while your divorce is pending
  • Spousal maintenance are court-ordered payments as part of the Final Decree of Divorce
  • Contractual alimony are payments agreed upon as part of a divorce settlement

Spousal support is the most litigious and demanding aspects of a divorce. A major portion of this contention is not knowing how alimony is determined or what is considered fair. Couples who opt for uncontested divorces or divorce mediation reduce this stress by examining and amicably deciding on what is fair.

In a contested divorce, the decision of fairness is left up to a divorce court which refers to Texas Family Law to make a determination.

First, Eligibility – to be eligible to receive spousal maintenance, a spouse must prove they

  1. were married to the paying ex-spouse as unmarried people living together are not eligible,
  2. lack “sufficient property” to provide for his or her “minimum reasonable needs,” and
  3. fall within one of the four following categories of persons eligible to receive spousal maintenance under the Texas Family Code.
    1. The spouses have been married for at least 10 years and the requesting spouse seeking alimony lacks the ability to earn “sufficient income” to cover his or her “reasonable minimum needs.”
    2. The other spouse was convicted of family violence within the two years prior to a suit being filed.
    3. The spouse is unable to provide for themselves due to an incapacitating mental or physical disability.
    4. The spouse is unable to provide for themselves because they are providing care for a disabled child of the marriage.

Second, Spousal Maintenance Determination: if a spouse is eligible for spousal maintenance or court-ordered alimony, the divorce court will then consider the amount and duration of maintenance payments based upon all relevant factors, including the following 11 statutory factors of Texas Law:

Sec. 8.052.  FACTORS IN DETERMINING MAINTENANCE.  A court that determines that a spouse is eligible to receive maintenance under this chapter shall determine the nature, amount, duration, and manner of periodic payments by considering all relevant factors, including:

(1)  each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs independently, considering that spouse’s financial resources on dissolution of the marriage;

(2)  the education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training;

(3)  the duration of the marriage;

(4)  the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;

(5)  the effect on each spouse’s ability to provide for that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs while providing periodic child support payments or maintenance, if applicable;

(6)  acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common;

(7)   the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;

(8)  the property brought to the marriage by either spouse;

(9)  the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;

(10)  marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment, by either spouse during the marriage; and

(11)  any history or pattern of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004.

Third, Amount of Spousal Maintenance: Divorce courts will refer Texas Family Law Sec. 8.055.  AMOUNT OF MAINTENANCE for spousal maintenance shown below.

A court may not order maintenance that requires an obligor to pay monthly more than the lesser of:

(1)  $5,000; or

(2)  20 percent of the spouse’s average monthly gross income.

(a-1)  For purposes of this chapter, gross income:

(1)  includes:

(A)  100 percent of all wage and salary income and other compensation for personal services (including commissions, overtime pay, tips, and bonuses);

(B)  interest, dividends, and royalty income;

(C)  self-employment income;

(D)  net rental income (defined as rent after deducting operating expenses and mortgage payments, but not including noncash items such as depreciation); and

(E)  all other income actually being received, including severance pay, retirement benefits, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, unemployment benefits, interest income from notes regardless of the source, gifts and prizes, maintenance, and alimony; and

(2)  does not include:

(A)  return of principal or capital;

(B)  accounts receivable;

(C)  benefits paid in accordance with federal public assistance programs;

(D)  benefits paid in accordance with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program;

(E)  payments for foster care of a child;

(F)  Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected disability compensation;

(G)  supplemental security income (SSI), social security benefits, and disability benefits; or

(H)  workers’ compensation benefits.

And Fourth, Duration of Spousal Maintenance: the duration of the alimony payments is generally determined by the length of the marriage and is limited to the shortest reasonable amount of time that allows the spouse requesting payments to earn sufficient income to provide for their “minimum reasonable needs.”

  • If married 10 to 20 years, alimony payments for no more than 5 years.
  • If married 20 to 30 years, alimony payments for no more than 7 years.
  • If married 30 years or more, alimony payments for no more than 10 years.

However, duration of alimony payments do not necessarily have to ‘capped’ in that manner if spousal maintenance is based on the disability of the spouse or of the child,  their duties as the custodian of a child of the marriage, or another compelling impediment to earning sufficient income to provide for his or her “minimum reasonable needs.” The payment of extended spousal maintenance is discretionary with the court even when the ex-spouse is permanently disabled.

Keep in mind that each of these specifics are presented to the court by each party’s divorce lawyer. Ensuring that all the facts are presented to the divorce court will help to create a full and fair picture for the spousal maintenance amount.

If you are, or will be, paying or receiving spousal maintenance, it would greatly improve your circumstances to have Taylor & Lassen to review the specifics of your case in order to best create a fair and honest proposal to offer the divorce court. Not knowing what is feasible or allowable under Texas Family Law can make a huge difference in the next phase of your life. Regardless of whether you will be paying or be the recipient of alimony, we can create a strategy that best suits your legal requirements and protects your future financial status.

Modification | Enforcement in San Antonio Marital Settlements

As with most things in life, many things change. To better accommodate divorced couples, modifications of your final divorce decree can be made for a variety of reasons.

  • Retirement
  • Financial Status
  • Job Loss
  • Remarriage
  • Disability
  • Moving out of state
  • Failure to adhere to Marriage Settlement Agreement
  • Unfair orders as divorce was completed without the help of a divorce lawyer

Modifications to Child Custody, Child Support, Child Visitation, and Spousal Maintenance can be accomplished through the courts if there have been significant changes in your life. San Antonio divorce courts realize that a person’s life changes at times and tries to reasonably accommodate everyone.

Temporary Orders

Temporary Orders are created in a divorce case at the Temporary Orders Hearing. Typically, this occurs within 2 weeks after a spouse has filed for divorce in Texas. The purpose of Temporary Orders is to set ground rules for the duration of the divorce process and protect both parties during this emotionally stressful time by prohibiting damaging or destructive actions like:

  • Who will remain in the residence
  • Who will have custody of children during the divorce process
  • If Child Support is necessary and how much
  • If Spousal Support is necessary and how much
  • Who is responsible for each bill payment
  • Cancelling utilities
  • Selling or destroying property
  • Prohibiting spouses to show up at the others work, etc.

Since Temporary Orders Hearings occur within a 2-week period, it serves you well to contact an experienced divorce lawyer as soon as you can so that they may better prepare to secure you greater standing for the duration of the divorce process.

San Antonio Property Division

Regardless of the size of your estate, it’s important to protect your rights and future financial well-being when distributing property and debt during the divorce process. Taylor & Lassen as your divorce lawyer will aggressively defend your rights and ensure you receive a fair entitlement to your property and future finances.

Texas is one of only nine states that utilizes a community property system to divide marital property. Texas defines community property as any property that’s obtained during the marriage except separate property. Also, all property is considered community property unless proven otherwise.

Property that’s “owned or claimed before marriage, and [property] acquired afterward by gift, devise, or descent” is considered separate property. Typical examples of separate property include birthday gifts, inheritances, or family heirlooms.

Keep in mind, even though property division grants equal ownership to property, it doesn’t mean that everything will be divided in half. Call Taylor & Lassen today to find out how we can protect and improve your financial well-being as your divorce lawyer.

As you can see, it is a highly involved process to complete the divorce process and having an experienced divorce lawyer by your side can make the process much easier and less stressful. There are many variables at play that can make profound differences in the next stage of your life. During this extremely stressful and highly emotional time, many people feel they don’t deserve much or, conversely, feel they deserve everything. The state of Texas and the San Antonio divorce courts have a system in place to determine this for you. To feel confident you’re being treated fairly and are protected, please contact Taylor & Lassen so we can listen to your concerns and get you through the divorce process to a secure, brighter and happier future.