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FAQ

Navigating the Legal System

Clients often have questions about family law and divorce and how they will affect their lives. This is just a sampling of the many questions that clients ask us. If you have other questions, we are happen to answer them and to provide sound legal guidance.

  • Divorce

    • After divorce is final, can you modify a divorce agreement?
      When circumstances change, it may be necessary to modify a divorce decree. An example would be if a spouse remarried, this change could affect a spousal maintenance order.  If parties agree, their attorneys can have them sign an agreement and submit it to the court. However, if they cannot reach an agreement, new hearings and possibly a trial may be necessary to resolve a disputed issue.
    • Is there a way to obtain financial support during a divorce?
      Texas courts allow a temporary spousal support order during divorce proceedings based on certain situations. An example is when one spouse does not make as much money as the other spouse. The advantage of a temporary order is that it can protect assets from creditors while a divorce is pending. This might apply when the party living in the family home cannot afford the mortgage payments.
    • Will my divorce be part of public record in Texas?
      Texas divorce records are part of public records. This means that other people can request copies of the divorce filing and other records. In addition, records are available online.
    • Does Texas have separation requirements for divorce?
      In Texas, separation means living separately and apart in different residences. There is no separation requirement in Texas. Although, a separation period of three years is one of the grounds for a Texas divorce.
    • How do courts address debts during divorce?
      Courts characterize debts similar to how they characterize assets. They decide whether the spouses are jointly liable, or separately liable. For example, car loans, credit card debt and a house mortgage are typically joint debts. The couple incurred them together during the marriage and have made payments from joint accounts. A debt incurred prior to marriage is generally a separate debt.
    • How long does spousal maintenance last?

      The duration of the marriage is a primary factor for how spousal maintenance can last. Typically the rules are as follows for the duration of spousal support:

      • 10 years if the marriage lasted for 30 years
      • 7 years if the marriage lasted between 20 and 30 years
      • 5 years if the marriage lasted between 10 and 20 years
      • No longer than 5 years if the marriage lasted less than 10 years and the spousal maintenance order was based on the paying party committing an act of family violence

      Courts tend to favor short periods of spousal maintenance. The exceptions are when the spouse has a disability or is caring for a child of the marriage. Also, spousal maintenance may end if the spouse receiving maintenance remarries, or lives with a romantic partner or one of the spouses dies.

    • Under what circumstances do courts award spousal maintenance?
      Your settlement negotiations would have to take into account stock options and retirement assets that you and your spouse accumulated during the marriage. Valuation of these assets can be challenging, and they have the potential of being high-dollar benefits. Other high value assets could include privately and publicly held companies, severance packages, annuities, life insurance policies, real estate, offshore accounts and profit-sharing plans, to name a few.
    • Can you protect your business from a divorce?
      A prenuptial agreement can outline the division of assets in the event of divorce. A post nuptial agreement can do this also. In both types of agreements, a spouse can sign a document stating they have no interest in the business, should divorce occur. They might also include a clause that other shareholders or partners can purchase a divorcing shareholder or partner’s business interest.
    • How can divorce affect your ownership of a business?

      Although Texas is a community property state, which means dividing marital assets, it does not have to result in selling your business and dividing the proceeds. However, this might be one option. Solutions may vary depending on your situation, and other options may include:

      • Structuring a settlement to pay half the other spouse the current value of the business over time
      • If spouses are co-owners of the business, creating a post-martial agreement that outlines how to divide business assets if one of the owners decides to leave
      • Revising corporate by-laws to reflect the change in marital status

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