What kinds of cases are handled by Family Law Attorneys?

Family Law is comprised of many different areas of practice. At Apple & Fink, LLP, the Family Law attorneys offer services in the following matters: Divorce; Child custody, support and visitation; Mediation; Adoption; Modifications; Enforcement of orders,Pre-marital agreements, Collaborative Law Dispute Resolution.
Is there "Legal Separation" in Texas?
Texas does not recognize a "legal separation" status.

What is Collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law is an interest-based "team approach" to handling disputes, typically in the family law arena. The parties and their attorneys enter into a written agreement at the onset of the legal process whereby they contractually agree not to go to Court, but rather, work through joint sessions to develop goals and options in order to achieve interest-based results vs. position-based results.

Texas was the first state in the United States to draft and approve statutes for Collaborative Law. Attorneys should be trained in the Collaborative Law process. The Collaborative Law process is becoming a preferred method of settlement due to the efficient approach. The process involves the parties and their respective attorneys, along with mental health and financial professionals. The use of additional allied professionals facilitates agreements between the parties focuses on the parties' interests and goals, presenting different options that results in a "win-win" outcome for all involved.

How much will it cost me to get a divorce?

Because every case is different, so are the fees. The cost of the divorce procedure will depend on the complexity of the case and the willingness of the parties to cooperate or negotiate a settlement agreement. In our offices, the family law attorneys charge by the amount of time spent on a case as well as fees for document preparation, filing, service fees, and other costs associated with your case.

How long does it for a divorce to be final in Texas?

In Texas, there is a minimum waiting period of 60 days from the day the Original Petition for Divorce is filed, until a final divorce may be granted. Time beyond those 60 days depends on the parties. The more you and your spouse agree on terms of the divorce, the sooner your divorce may be finalized.

What if one person does not want a divorce?

Because Texas is recognized as a No-Fault divorce state, if one spouse wants a divorce, the Court will grant it.

How long do I have to live in Texas to file for a divorce in Texas?

In Texas, either you or your spouse must reside in Texas for a minimum of six months (6) and have resided in the county you file in for at least ninety (90) days prior to filing for your divorce.

What does Child Custody mean?

Custody in general, refers to conservatorship, possession and access to a child. In Texas, there is a presumption of Joint Managing Conservatorship to be shared between the parents. The primary custodial parent is the parent with the exclusive right to establish the primary residence of the child. The issues of access and possession are each separate matters.

What is spousal maintenance (commonly referred to as "alimony")?

In Texas, "spousal maintenance" is an award of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse to another for their support. The Court will consider several factors in their determination as to whether a spouse is eligible to receive spousal maintenance. Temporary spousal support is generally awarded in Temporary Orders that may be granted by the Court during the pending divorce proceedings; post-divorce maintenance is fairly rare.

What is the difference between separate and community property?

Texas is a community property state. Community property includes all property acquired during the marriage, except that property acquired by gift or inheritance. Separate property includes property owned by a person prior to marriage, proceeds from personal injury lawsuits, property inherited prior to or during the marriage, and property received during the marriage as a gift. Texas Courts will presume that property owned at the time of the divorce proceedings is community property. A person who claims that property is separate has the burden of proof in rebutting the presumption of community property.

What is a "Standing Order?"

Many of the Courts, including Dallas, Collin and Denton Counties, have implemented a standing order that is applicable in ALL divorce and family law cases at the time of filing. The Standing Order grants uniformly much of the relief previously available with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). The Standing Order grants relief intended to preserve the financial and property status quo and also protect the children. You must check with your attorney to see what you may be prohibited from doing as soon as your divorce or family matter has been filed.

What are Temporary Orders?

Temporary Orders are orders that are effective while your divorce is proceeding. A Temporary Orders hearing can be held within weeks of the Original Petition for Divorce being filed. During the hearing, testimony will be given by each of the parties as to issues of child support, access, possession and visitation of children and use of the marital residence and other property. If no Temporary Orders hearing is held, these issues will be court-ordered at the final hearing of the case.

Once you file for a divorce, what should you expect?

In Texas, the divorce process begins with the filing of a document called an Original Petition for Divorce. The Petition is filed with the District Clerk and your case will be assigned a Court. In smaller counties, a County Court at Law may also handle divorce cases.

After the petition is processed at Court, the Petition must be delivered to your spouse. There are several options, depending on the circumstances of your case. Typically, the most formal means of delivery of the document is by having a constable, sheriff or private process server hand your spouse the petition and a citation. This is referred to as "service." The citation is basically a coversheet that tells your spouse a lawsuit has been filed and they have a limited number of days in which they must respond.

If circumstances of your divorce are amicable, you may personally deliver or have your attorney mail the papers to your spouse along with a Waiver of Service. The waiver may be signed and notarized by your spouse in lieu of being served by formal process. Your spouse must either waive service or file an answer prior to the case proceeding to a final hearing.

If there is an agreement between the parties, the agreement may be contained in a proposed Agreed Final Decree of Divorce. Once all parties sign the agreement and at least 60 days have passed since the filing of your petition, at least one of the parties must appear before the Judge and give sworn testimony as to the agreement. This is commonly referred to as a "prove-up."

If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, they may elect to take their case to a Mediator for the issues that are contested. As a last resort, if it is impossible to come to an agreement as to all issues, a trial date will be set in the Court of filing and will then be heard by a Judge or in some cases, a jury.

90% of all cases settle out of court without the need for a trial!

The content of this information has been written and gathered for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be and is not considered to be legal advice. No communication between you and Apple & Fink, LLP, should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship.