If you find yourself going through the Big D – and I don’t mean Dallas – here is a little information to help you navigate the way. Many divorces can be handled amicably and are uncontested. In the world of divorce, these cases are short and sweet. The couples typically agree on how to split the property, visitation of the children, and they go their separate ways. In many other cases, the divorce process can get pretty nasty. The proceedings can last for months and, sometimes years, depending on the circumstances.
Contested divorces are emotionally and financially overwhelming on both parties. And if children are involved, the process can be even harder on them. It is common for parents to lose focus on the best interest of the children when they are too caught up with winning and losing. Let’s talk about expectations. A “typical” divorce and I use that term loosely, will usually involve filing the petition, an answer and or counter petition, attending or agreeing to temporary orders, then might include some discovery, mediation, and a final decree of divorce.
You may be the petitioner, the one that files the divorce, or the respondent, the one who is served with the divorce. A respondent can sign a waiver of citation, which is waiving the right to be hand delivered a copy of the petition by a process server or constable. You are NOT waiving any rights to your children or property, or the right to attend a hearing. This is not the same as a default. Texas is a community property state which means there is a legal presumption that all property acquired during the marriage belongs to both spouses as well as debts.
Separate property consists of:
1) property owned before the marriage
2) property acquired by inheritance
3) property acquired by gift
4) certain recoveries related to personal injury claims.
All other items are classified as community property. In order to prove property is separate property, it is necessary to be able to trace the origin of the funds. The rules on community and separate property are important. A family court can only divide or partition community property. The judge in a divorce case must consider all the facts to devise a “just and right” division of the assets and debts. Needless to say, what a party views as a “fair” may not correspond with the judge’s perspective or that of the other party. If the parties can agree to a property division, the Judge normally approves it. Other issues often addressed in a divorce proceeding is child custody and visitation, child support, and medical and dental support. If you are considering a divorce or you have been served divorce papers and need help, please visit us online at www.rondahayneslaw.com or contact our office to schedule an appointment at (817) 752-2177.
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