How do I obtain a legal separation in Texas?

In Texas, you are either married or divorce; there is no legal separation in Texas.  Instead of a separation, Texas law provides a minimum 60-day waiting period between the date the divorce petition is filed and the final divorce decree.  During this 60-day waiting period, the spouses generally live apart and temporary orders are issued that set the ground rules during the waiting period, such as which spouse remains in the family home, who has temporary custody of any children, visitation for the non-custodial parent, amount of temporary child support, etc.  If the spouses cannot mutually agree to the temporary orders, then the Judge will decide the terms.

How long will it take to get a divorce in Texas?

The minimum amount of time it takes to obtain a divorce in Texas is 60 days from the date the original petition for divorce is filed.

Who will pay the bills while a divorce is pending?

The spouses can reach an agreement regarding payment of the household bills while their divorce is pending.  If the spouses cannot reach such an agreement, then a hearing will be held and the judge will decide who pays the household bills.  Usually, the spouse who moves out of the family house during a divorce will still have to pay at least some of the household bills if there are minor children living in the house.  If one spouse brings in all the income while the other spouse stayed at home to raise their children, then a judge may order the income-producing spouse to pay all the household bills while the divorce is pending.  However, this applies only to the time period when the divorce is still pending.

What is the difference between inherit and devise?

Inheritance or devise are important terms when determining whether property or an asset is community property or separate property.  The terms are often used interchangeably, but they do have distinct meanings.  A person inherits property or assets when someone dies without a valid will and the property passes to the person under intestate succession.  That is, the person's heir receives the property.  If an unmarried mother dies without a will, her children would likely be her heirs and they would inherit her property.  When a person dies WITH a valid will, the property or assets are devised to whoever is named in the will.  Thus, a person who receives property because he/she is named in a will receives the property by devise.  But, for division of property and community/separate property issues, it's just important to remember is that if property or an asset passes to you because someone dies, whether it passes to you as a legal heir or under a will, the property is your separate property and it cannot be divided between you and your spouse by the court in a divorce

Can I change custody, visitation and/or support terms that are in my divorce decree later down the road?

Yes, terms relating to your children may be modified after your divorce decree is finalized.  When and how it can be changed depends on various factors.  However, if it has been at least one year since the last court order or decree was signed, you may file a modification seeking to change the terms relating to the parent child relationship any time that there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of either parent or the child.  For instance, the "material and substantial change in circumstances" may be that the child is older now and needs the structure and discipline that the father is able to provide better than the mother.  Another example would be if the mother is refusing to co-parent with the father to the extent that the current court order has become unworkable, then a modification seeking a change in custody or additional time with the father may be the best course of action.  These are all issues that you can discuss with a family law attorney at Waco Family Law.  After discussing your situation, we can explain your options and discuss with you whether you have a strong case that would likely support a successful modification action or if another course of action would be more beneficial. 

I am a non-custodial parent and I have tried to co-parent with my ex, but all she does is ignore my requests and acts hostile towards me every time we talk.  Is there anything I can do through the legal system to help fix this?

It depends on what you are trying to do and what requests you are making that your ex is ignoring.  If a non-custodial parent is simply trying to get information about the child's activities, school, or well-being and the custodial parent is ignoring such requests for information, then we may be able to fix this problem through some strategic legal correspondence with the custodial parent or we may need to file an enforcement action to enforce the terms of the Court's Order if you are entitled to such information from the custodial parent.  Another solution may be to seek a modification of the current order and ask that additional or modified terms be included in a new court order that would give you what you have been trying to get from the custodial parent, such as changing a pick up time or location that would better accommodate your child's new school or activity schedule or seeking reasonable electronic communication between you and your child.  

Unfortunately, the reality is that the legal system cannot effectively control one parent's attitude or demeanor towards the other parent.  Thus, the court cannot and will not order one parent to be civil to the other, but there are other options that may help the situation, such as modifying the pick up and return schedule so that the parents virtually never have to come in contact with each other.  This can be done by having mom pick up the child from school on Friday for her possession period and returning the child to school on Monday morning at the end of her possession period.  Dad then would pick up the child from school (or after school care) on Monday to begin his possession period, thereby, avoiding any interaction with the other parent. 

The court WILL order that neither parent can make disparaging remarks about the other parent around the children.  Although the court will and often does include this provision in the court's order, enforcing this provision is very difficult for a variety of reasons.  First, proving in court that parent A made disparaging remarks about parent B around the children is challenging due to certain rules of evidence that prohibit hearsay testimony.  Second, even if there is admissible evidence proving parent A violated the court's order by saying negative things about the other parent in the presence of the children, there is not a legal remedy the court can impose that would prevent this from happening again.  The threat of monetary sanctions and possibly losing visitation or imposing supervised visitation with the children is often enough to prevent this from happening over and over again.  If you would like more information regarding your options in a similar situation, please contact us today so our family law attorney can discuss possible remedies and plan a strategy to help improve your situation.

Can I obtain a court order that will force the other parent to allow phone calls and/or email communication between me and my child when my child is not with me during the week?

Absolutely!  With cell phones and today's technology, courts are very inclined to order specific periods of electronic communication between the non-custodial parent and the children, such as designated times for phone calls, Skype, FaceTime, and/or email communication.  With an order that provides specific terms for electronic communication, the custodial parent will be ordered by the court to make your child available to receive your call or other electronic communication at a specified time and day each week or even a couple days each week.  We often hear from non-custodial parents that he/she tries to call his/her child during the week to find out how school is going to how a big test went only to have the parent's call ignored by the custodial parent.  An order for electronic communication helps to alleviate this problem.  Contact a family law attorney at Waco Family Law today and we can get this process started quickly.

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Do you have questions to ask a divorce attorney or family law attorney? If yes, contact our family law attorney today at 254-218-5900.  We can help!