What you need to know about divorce in Dallas

What you need to know about divorce in Dallas

If you are considering filing for a Dallas divorce it is important to talk to a Dallas divorce lawyer. Divorce lawyers in Dallas help hundreds of clients each year with their most important divorce issues including child custody, property distribution, child support and spousal support (alimony) payments.

Whether it is a simple uncontested divorce or a contentious legal battle that draws out for months and must be settled in a Dallas courtroom, talk to a Dallas divorce attorney to make sure you are making sound financial decisions for your family.

Children and Divorce in Dallas

Resolving child custody issues in a Dallas divorce does not have to be a tough legal battle, but unfortunately, with the emotions running high it often can be. Spouses may be able to work together to develop their own child custody plan in a Dallas divorce and this is generally preferable, but if they are unable, Dallas courts will intervene and help the couple establish a parenting plan.

The state of Texas uses the term “managing conservator” to identify the legal custody arrangement established for the child. Under this plan parents can be joint managing conservators or one parent may be assigned as sole managing conservator.

Regardless of the arrangement of the child custody plan, the Dallas courts will attempt to create a custody plan which they believe to be in the best interest of the courts. Joint managing conservatorships are the most popular types of custody plans but are not allowed if the courts determine one parent is not suited for this role.

Prior to making agreeing on any type of child custody arrangement in a Dallas divorce, the Dallas court will review a variety of child support factors including:

  • What are the emotional, physical and psychological needs of the child?
  • Is each parent able to appropriately prioritize the needs of their child and make decisions which are considered in the child’s best interest?
  • Are both parents able to support the other parent by allowing an ongoing and continuous, positive relationship with the child?
  • How involved was each parent in rearing the child prior to the Dallas divorce?
  • How close does each parent live to the other parent and what type of custody arrangement is best for the child given the distance?
  • How old is the child and are they old enough to articulate a child custody preference?
  • Any other child custody factors which should be considered in the Dallas divorce

If you and your spouse are fighting over the best child custody arrangement for you child, there is help. Contact a Dallas divorce lawyer for child custody help. You may not always agree with your spouse, but most likely you and your spouse love your child and want what is best for them. If you have additional questions about Dallas child custody issues or need more information about Texas child custody laws, you can also review the state statutes on child custody in the Texas Family Code, Section 153.004, 153.005, 153.131, and 153.154.

Dallas Child Support

Child support laws are developed at the state level to protect children of divorced parents. Child support laws ensure that all children are protected in a Dallas divorce and force divorcing parents to provide financial support for their children until they reach adulthood.

The state of Texas uses a formula based on the net income of the noncustodial parent to calculate Dallas child support payments. The calculated amount is considered fair unless the court reviews certain child support factors and determines it is unjust or unfair. Factors which must be considered in a Dallas divorce can include:

  • How much time does each parent spend with their child?
  • How old is each child?
  • What are the financial needs of the child?
  • How much money does each parent spend for child care to maintain employment?
  • Which parent has physical custody of the child?
  • How much does it cost to educate the child?
  • Is either parent receiving spousal support or alimony payments?
  • Does either parent have additional financial resources to support the child?
  • Can the paying parent afford to make the necessary child support payments?
  • Is the custodial parent allowing the non-custodial parent access to the child?
  • Is the paying parent intentionally unemployed or under employed?
  • Does either parent have a large amount of debt they are paying?
  • What are the net resources of the paying parent?
  • What is the cost of education and healthcare for the child?
  • What are the travel costs for the noncustodial parent to see the child?
  • Do the parents have a positive or negative cash flow from other assets, investments, their business or their personal property?
  • Any other child custody factors the court deems relevant to their decision

Child support questions in a Dallas divorce can be answered by a Dallas divorce lawyer. Additional child support information can also be found in the Texas Family Code, Section 154.122, 154.123, and 154.124.

Enforcing Dallas Child Support

Parents, who are not receiving their child support payments in Dallas, can contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division. This division helps Dallas families and families throughout the state of Texas with a variety of child support services. These child support services are paid for through state and federal taxes, and there is no immediate cost to the families applying for help. Help for Dallas child support services provided through the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division can include the following:

1.     Establishing paternity of a child

2.     Locating absentee parents

3.     Enforcing Dallas child support orders

4.     Enforcing Dallas medical support orders

5.     Reviewing and modifying Dallas child support payments

6.     Collecting and distributing Dallas child support payments

If you need child support help, contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division. Do not suffer in silence or let your children suffer; get help today.

Dallas Divorce Laws

Like other states, Texas has very specific requirements which must be met prior to filing for a Dallas Divorce. In the state of Texas, couples may file for divorce under fault and no-fault grounds. Dallas divorces will be granted by a Dallas court if the couple files their Petition for Dissolution of Marriage under the appropriate grounds and with evidence to substantiate their claim.

Dallas couples may file for a Dallas divorce if they can prove any of the following:

Fault grounds

1.     Cruelty – Either spouse has been the victim of mental or physical cruelty.

2.     Adultery – Either spouse has had sexual relations with another person other than their spouse.

3.     Conviction of a Felony – Either spouse has been convicted of a felony and is sentenced to either a federal or state prison without a pardon for their crime.

4.     Abandonment – One spouse has abandoned the other spouse for at least one year and has no intention of returning.

5.     The couple has been living apart without cohabitation for more than three years.

6.     Confinement in a Mental Hospital – Either spouse has a mental health condition and has been confined or living in a mental hospital for more than 3 years.

No-Fault grounds

Dallas Couples may file for divorce in Dallas if they can prove “insupportability”. Under this condition for divorce the couple agrees that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”, and there is no chance that the marriage will be repaired. No-fault divorces have become the most common grounds for divorce in the state of Texas.

Dallas divorce lawyers can review your Dallas divorce case and make sure you have grounds to divorce. Additional information can also be found in Texas Code, Family Code, Chapter: 6.001-6.007).

Dallas Annulment

Couples may choose to annul their marriage for a variety of reasons, but filing for an annulment in Dallas has become increasingly rare. A Dallas divorce lawyer should be consulted if you desire an annulment in Dallas.

Annulments differ from divorces. They do not terminate a marriage contract, but rather, are the legal process for declaring your marriage invalid. Annulment law is outlined at the state level and is generally allowed in the state of Texas for the following reasons:

  • Underage Marriage – If either spouse was too young according to state law to consent to the marriage, it may be annulled.
  • Under the influence of narcotics or alcohol – If either spouse was incapacitated by alcohol or narcotics and was not able to consent to the marriage, the marriage may be annulled.
  • Concealing a divorce – If either spouse concealed a divorce which occurred within the past 30 days, the marriage may be annulled.
  • If the Texas marriage occurred less than 72 hours after the marriage license was issued, the marriage may be annulled.
  • Mental incapacity – If either spouse is found to be mentally incompetent to such an extent that they could not consent to the marriage contract, the marriage may be annulled.
  • Consanguinity – If the spouses are too closely related by blood to be allowed to marry, the marriage may be annulled.
  • Fraud
  • Duress or force – If either spouse entered into the marital contract under threat of force or duress, the marriage may be annulled.

Annulments in Dallas may be more difficult to get than a legal divorce. Talk to a divorce lawyer about filing the appropriate annulment paperwork in the right Dallas court.

Dallas Divorce Residency Requirements

Dallas couples considering divorce must meet certain Texas divorce residency requirements. Failing to meet these requirements will allow a Dallas court to dismiss your Dallas divorce petition. Fortunately, divorce residency requirements will only be difficult to meet if you have recently moved or are planning to move in the near future. Dallas divorce lawyers can explain the details of Texas divorce residency requirements, but in general, couples who live in Texas may file for divorce if:

  • Either spouse in the marriage has been a resident of the state of Texas for 6 months and a resident of the county in which the divorce petition is filed for 90 days preceding the petition filing.

All divorce paperwork must be filed with the District Court of Texas in the county in which either spouse resides.

Alimony in Dallas

If you are seeking a Dallas divorce and you are caring for children or have spent years out of the workforce you may have questions about Texas alimony (spousal support).

Spousal support may be awarded in a Dallas divorce and can be paid to either you or your spouse. It is not automatically awarded; Dallas courts can allocate spousal payments at their own discretion.

Spousal support in a Dallas divorce is most often awarded if one spouse is caring for a small child or they have a physical or mental disability which makes it impossible for them to maintain employment. Dallas courts will review a variety of spousal support factors prior to determining the duration or the amount of spousal support awarded in a Dallas divorce including:

  • The financial resources of the requesting spouse
  • The education, training and job skills of the requesting spouse
  • The amount of time it will take the requesting spouse to obtain adequate education and training to find employment
  • The employment history of the spouse and whether they sacrificed their own employment opportunities to contribute to the caring of the household
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age of each spouse
  • The earning capacities of each spouse
  • The physical and mental health of each spouse
  • The efforts made by the requesting spouse to find employment

Under most conditions spousal support in Dallas will be granted for up to 3 years after the Dallas divorce. Courts generally assume most spouses can find suitable employment in this time period and become self-sufficient. Disabled spouses may be eligible for spousal support for an indefinite time period.

Spousal maintenance generally may not exceed $2,500.00 per month or 20% of the ex-spouse’s average monthly gross income unless the couple agrees to a larger spousal support sum.

Legal Separation in Dallas

Legal separations are not recognized in several states including: Texas, Delaware, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania.  But the state of Texas does allow couples to separate, live apart and legally protect themselves by completing and having a judge sign a separation agreement.

Dallas separation agreements can protect you and your spouse by determining how certain issues will be handled during the separation including spousal support payments, child support payments, child custody arrangements and property distribution. Separation agreements should be signed by a judge to ensure they are enforceable.  A separation agreement is a legal document; it is important to have a Dallas divorce lawyer review it prior to finalizing it.

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