Texas Divorce Due to Family Violence

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Ending a marriage can be difficult enough in itself. But if you are seeking a Texas divorce due to family violence the stakes can be considerably higher. In these situations, you are concerned about more than just getting a fair divorce; you also are concerned about your physical safety. The good news is that the law is on your side, and you do have options. So here are some key things to know about a Texas divorce due to family violence. 

What is Family Violence?

Parents never fight alone; children see what is happening.

In a marriage involving family violence, it is not unusual for the abusive spouse to maintain that you are not being abused. The person may insist that you are exaggerating, or that the abuse is a normal part of a marriage.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is an excellent resource for information on abusive relationships. They define domestic violence as “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” Here are just a few examples of domestic abuse:

  • Hitting you, grabbing you, or destroying your belongings 
  • Making threats, including by phone, email, or other means
  • Intimidating you with weapons
  • Pressuring you to do sexual acts you do not want to do
  • Trying to isolate you from other people
  • Threatening to hurt or take away the children or your pets

The key thing to remember is that no one deserves to be treated this way. Family violence is always wrong, period. 

What to Do Before You File for a Texas Divorce Due to Family Violence

The first step must be to stop abuse in whatever form that may take.

In a “typical” divorce, you tell your spouse you want a divorce. Then you hire a family law attorney and file a petition for divorce. The legal process begins, and eventually, you get divorced. 

In a divorce involving domestic violence, everything changes. Experts will tell you: The most dangerous time in an abusive marriage is when you are leaving it. Therefore, your first step must be to make a plan to leave the marriage safely. This includes not only you but your children, your pets—anyone who you think may be put in danger by your decision. 

If you do talk with a divorce lawyer, be sure to tell that person right away that you are in a marriage involving family violence. The attorney can advise you on steps you can immediately to minimize the risk to you and your family. After all, you cannot discount the possibility that your spouse knows you are at the lawyer’s office. 

Filing for a Texas Divorce Due to Family Violence

In Texas, you don’t need a “good reason” to get divorced. You can simply maintain that the marriage is no longer supportable, and the court will usually grant your request. This is why Texas is a “no-fault” divorce state. 

However, if you are divorcing your spouse due to domestic abuse, it is not a no-fault divorce. You will need to provide evidence of the violence. This can include police reports, medical records, or photographs. If other people observed the abuse, they may be able to serve as witnesses. A trusted attorney can help you in identifying and gathering this information. 

TIP: If you are considering getting a Texas divorce due to family violence, try to keep a log documenting the abuse. This will help your case in court. However, be sure to keep the log secret from your spouse

Your Spouse Will Be Notified that You Are Filing for Divorce

A Texas divorce begins with filing a divorce petition. Once your attorney has filed the petition, your spouse will be “served papers.” This means your spouse will receive a copy of the divorce petition, along with any other documents you have filed. 

If you are requesting divorce due to family violence, the documents will state this. This is another reason why you want to be in a safe place before you file for divorce. As we have said, leaving an abuser can be very dangerous. Do not underestimate how your spouse may react to news of the divorce. 

In a Divorce Involving Family Violence, You Can Get a Temporary Restraining Order or Protective Order

Divorce for domestic violence

If you have reason to be concerned for your safety, you can request a Protective Order or Temporary Restraining Order. A protective order states that your spouse stops abusive behavior. This can include harassment, stalking, and making threats. The order also can protect your family members or others living in your household. 

A restraining order states that one individual cannot make contact with another, and may include specific actions that are prohibited. A temporary restraining order lasts for 14 days or until your temporary orders hearing, whichever comes first.

One big difference is that police do not have the authority to enforce a restraining order. However, they can enforce a protective order. If your spouse has been arrested for domestic violence, you may be able to request an Emergency Protective Order, which goes into effect immediately. 

How Long Does it Take to Get a Texas Divorce Due to Family Violence?

Texas law requires that couples wait 60 days before the divorce is finalized. This is considered a “cooling off” period, so that the spouses can make sure they want to go through with ending the marriage. 

However, the law provides an exception for a divorce involving domestic abuse. Your attorney can file a motion asking the judge to waive this 60-day waiting period due to family violence. This option has restrictions. In order to be eligible for an expedited (quick) divorce, your spouse must have been convicted of a charge due to family violence. 

How Does a Texas Divorce Due to Family Violence Affect Child Custody?

Child visitation and custody will always be impacted if domestic violence has been proven in court.

A divorce due to domestic abuse can have a big impact on the court’s rulings on child custody. This is another reason why you want to be sure to share this information with your divorce lawyer. 

In Texas, judges make custody decisions based on what they think is in the best interests of the children. In a case involving domestic violence, the judge is likely to allow your spouse to have only supervised visits with the kids

However, if the violence has recently occurred, your spouse may not even be allowed this opportunity. He or she may have to wait an extended time before being allowed to see the children. 

If You are Divorcing Someone Who Has Been Abusive, We Strongly Encourage You to Hire an Attorney

Sean Lynch + Associates are ready to believe you and will fight to protect your family for a brighter tomorrow.

You probably already knew that you do not have to hire an attorney to get a divorce. In some situations, you can save some money but after seeing the problems that don’t get resolved in DIY divorces we cannot recommend that path.

In a case involving family violence, DIY is not a good choice. For one, as we have seen, these cases can be complicated and drag out longer than necessary. It can be very helpful to have an experienced family law attorney on your side—especially if you think you may need an immediate protective order.

Another benefit is that there is strength in numbers. If you are leaving someone who has been abusive, you want as many people on your side as possible. This can include your family, your friends, law enforcement, and a skilled attorney. 

But perhaps the biggest benefit of hiring a family law attorney is that he or she can act as a buffer. Your lawyer will be the one communicating with your spouse about the divorce. If he or she hires a lawyer as well, then the two of them will work together directly on your case. And it’s possible that you will never have to speak or interact with your abusive spouse throughout the process. It is very hard to put a value on having this peace of mind.  

In a Divorce Due to Family Violence, Hire an Experienced Fort Worth Law Firm

If you are divorcing someone who has been abusive, you already have a lot on your mind. Let the award-winning Fort Worth family law attorneys at Sean Lynch + Associates law firm help you prepare your case. We have years of legal experience in Texas family law, serving clients throughout the Fort Worth area and dealing with cases involving domestic violence. For a no-cost, 30-minute case consultation, contact us today or call 817-668-5879. 

RESOURCES 

Tarrant County Domestic Violence Hotline: 877-701-7233 (SAFE)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
Overview of domestic violence and abuse
Link to Tarrant County information on Protective Orders (tarrantcounty.com), 817-884-1623
SafeHaven website: SafeHaventc.org.

Remember: When you are getting a divorce due to family violence, never underestimate what your spouse may do. 

Is It Better to Sell Your House Before or After a Divorce?

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Ending a marriage changes many things in your life. And one of the things that can change is your residence. It’s not unusual for couples who are divorcing to decide to sell their current home. But once they’ve made this decision, there’s a second one to consider: When to sell? There is no simple, one-size-fits-all answer. Even so, there are some general guidelines that apply for most situations. So here are some tips to help you decide whether it is better to sell your house before or after a divorce. 

If You Try To Sell Your House Before a Divorce, You Are More Vulnerable to the Market 

As you probably know, the housing market in the DFW area these days is pretty hot; some would say the local housing market is red-hot. So generally speaking, it’s a good time to sell. 

But that might not always be the case. What’s more, if you know anything about real estate, you know that location, location, location, is important, important, important. 

So it’s possible that your home may not enjoy the benefits of our hot housing market. You may not get the price you were hoping for. Or you may not get any quality offers, and be stuck with your house for months. And if your settlement calls for the home sale to close before the divorce is finalized, you could be stuck with your spouse as well. 

If You Try To Sell Your House Before a Divorce, It Could Slow Down the Divorce

Selling your home before or after a divorce has significant tax implications and can impact the time your final divorce decree is finished.
Divorce impacts every aspect of your life but dragging it out over a home sale might be one issue you wish to avoid.

If you have ever sold a house before, you know there are a LOT of decisions to be made. But if you and your spouse have not been getting along very well right now, you might find it very difficult to work to make decisions together; you may even find it impossible. 

For example, the two of you will need to agree which things will stay with the house and which ones will go. You’ll also need to agree on (and agree to pay for) repairs and improvements. And you’ll need to agree on how much to list the house for. 

And if you can get past all that, you’ll need to agree on one of the biggest decisions of all: Whether to accept an offer. 

Even for happily married couples, these can be difficult decisions. Now add in the hurt and anger that many people feel during a divorce, and it’s easy to see how messy things can get. Every decision, no matter how small, can become a battle. 

So if you decide to sell your house before a divorce, be aware that any tension between you and your spouse could slow down the sale. And that, in turn, can slow down your divorce. 

A Realtor Can Be Very Helpful 

The right realtor can help you avoid the added stress of having to find a new home during a divorce.

One way to avoid this problem is by hiring a Realtor. This person can advise the two of you on many of these issues, including the listing price, repairs, etc. But there are two potential pitfalls to this plan. For one, the two of you have to agree on a Realtor. After that, the two of you have to be careful not to put the Realtor in the middle of your marital conflict. 

You should keep in mind three other things when deciding whether to sell your house before or after a divorce. 

First, if you sell the home, the two of you will need to agree in advance on how you will divide your property and possessions. This includes, of course, the profits from the sale. 

Second, if the sale proceeds are part of the divorce settlement, you may have to wait until the sale is finalized and the funds have been properly disbursed before you can finalize the divorce. 

The third potential problem: It’s possible your spouse won’t want to sell at all. For each of these situations, you will need more than a Realtor to help you resolve the conflict. We suggest you hire an attorney.

You May Be Able to Sell Your House After the Divorce and Avoid Some of the Capital Gains Tax

If you are worried that selling your house will delay your divorce, there is an alternative option. Your divorce attorney can propose selling the house in the future. In addition to avoiding some of the immediate conflict, this approach also might allow you to protect the capital gains tax exclusion that married couples enjoy. We recommend you speak with an accountant about this. 

If You Sell Before the Divorce, You May be Able to Avoid the Capital Gains Tax

As the IRS knows, being married has many benefits. One of the biggest advantages for married couples is the capital gains tax exemption. If you sell your house while you are still married, the two of you can usually exclude up to $500,000 of the home equity from capital gains. 

Obviously, this is a pretty significant factor. However, it’s a good idea to speak with an accountant or financial advisor about your options. 

If You Sell Your House After the Divorce, It May Be Less Stressful, and More Profitable

Divorce can be exhausting. You may be feeling a range of emotions, including anger, bitterness, and fear. 

But as they say, time heals all wounds—or at least, many of them. If you wait to sell your house until after the divorce is finalized, you and your ex may be on better terms. Your thinking may not be as clouded by emotions. And the two of you may be able to discuss things calmly and work together on the sale of the home. 

In addition, if you wait to sell the house, it is likely to appreciate in value. You’ll be able to pay down the mortgage even further, creating the opportunity for additional profit when you do sell. 

You Could Take a Significant Tax Hit If You Sell Your House After a Divorce

If a house has been your primary residence for at least two years, you can usually exclude your home equity income from the capital gains tax. However, if you wait several years to sell the house, you will probably have to pay capital gains. 

It’s also not uncommon for one person to get sole ownership of the home in a a divorce. But if you sell the home after you’re single, you’re only able to exclude up to $250,000 from the capital gains tax—not the $500,000 amount married couples enjoy. 

As previously noted, you may be able to avoid this tax hit by including provisions for the sale of the house after the divorce is finalized. 

If You Sell Your House Before the Divorce, It Can Be Easier to Prepare for the Future

Although divorce marks the end of your marriage, it’s also the beginning of a new life. By selling your house before a divorce, you will (probably) be entitled to a significant amount of cash. 

You may really appreciate having those funds available. For example, you could use the money to pay for a rental place. Or you may be able to make a down payment on a new home. Regardless of your plan, it can be comforting knowing that you are starting your new life with a decent amount of reserves. 

It Also Can Be Easier to Move On From the Past

Most people have at least some emotional connection to their home. It may be the first house the two of you bought together, or the house where you raised your children. That house may hold a lot of memories—and after the divorce, those memories may be painful. 

Of course, if you have children, the decision can be more complicated. The divorce will cause enough upheaval on its own. Won’t moving to a new house make things even worse? It’s a fair question. 

Every situation is different, but there’s good reason to believe that selling your house before a divorce can cut a big connection to your past. Moving to a new place can be emotionally beneficial for everyone—you, your ex, and for your children. 

The Longer You Wait to Sell Your House, the Longer You Will be Tied to Your Ex

After a divorce, most people want to move on. But if you wait to sell your house, the two of you will remain co-owners of the house, and you’ll have to work together on the logistics of maintaining the home. 

This includes decisions on paying the mortgage and utilities, maintaining the home, and making repairs. This arrangement also can impact your taxes, as you will need to make decisions on how to handle property taxes and mortgage interest tax credits.

In addition, co-owning a home may make it harder for you to buy a new house. The shared mortgage impacts your debt-to-income ratio, an important factor when you apply for a home loan.

So Is It Better to Sell Your House Before or After a Divorce?

When you’re going through a divorce, you’re already dealing with a stack of life-altering decisions. Trying to sell your house before a divorce adds another very big factor to the equation. At the same time, we can clearly see many potential benefits to selling the house while you are still married. 

Ultimately, you and your spouse have to weigh the pros and cons of each option. And hopefully, you can reach a decision you both agree on. 

Our Fort Worth Law Firm is Ready to Provide Expert Assistance with Your Divorce

Even in the best of circumstances, it can be difficult to sell your house. So if you are going through a divorce as well, we encourage you to seek expert advice. A Realtor can help you make decisions about the value of the property, while an accountant can advise you on the potential tax implications. 

And for compassionate, experienced legal representation, contact Sean Lynch + Associates, PLLC. We have a reputation as being two of the best divorce attorneys in Fort Worth and Arlington. We are experts in divorce cases, including division of assets and custody decisions. Just as important, we are upfront about our pricing, so you know in advance what you’ll pay. To schedule a no-cost, 30-minute case consultation, contact our family law practice today, 817-668-5879.

Divorce petition form

How the Texas Divorce Process Works

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Time needed: 90 days.

Are you wondering how the Texas divorce process works? If you are going through a divorce or about to go through one, it’s normal to be a little anxious. Part of this stress is that you may not be sure what to expect. While each divorce can be slightly different, here’s a broad overview of how the process typically works.

Texas Divorce Steps

  1. File a Divorce Petition

    The Texas divorce process begins with the filing of a document called the Original Petition for Divorce. The Petition is a legal notice of the intent to end the marriage. The courts who files the petition as “the Petitioner.”

    The Petition usually provides several important pieces of information, including:
    1. The names and addresses of all spouses and children.
    2. The legal reason for the divorce.
    3. Issues for the court to rule on, such as child support, visitation arrangements, use of property, and division of assets.

    Filing for divorce in Texas usually costs $300. If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask a judge to waive it. If you make this request, the judge will expect you to provide some evidence to support your claim.

    It’s very important to make sure your Petition includes all of the things you are requesting from the divorce. If you forget to mention something, you may not be able to request it from the court later on. 

    The Petition Must be Filed in the Correct Jurisdiction
    Before you can file for divorce in Texas, you have to make sure you are in the correct venue or legal court. In Texas, one of the two spouses must have been a resident of the state where the divorce is filed for at least six months. In addition, one of the two spouses must have been a resident of the county for at least 90 days.Dictionary definition of divorce with an engagement ring

  2. The Spouse Must Be Notified of the Divorce Petition

    Once the petition is filed, the other spouse (“the Respondent”) is given a legal document formally notifying him or her that the Texas divorce process has begun. This is called “being served.”

    Note that in Texas, you cannot deliver these papers yourself. The papers must be served by a third party. Most petitioners hire a constable, court clerk, or professional process server to perform this task. If there are no complications, the fee is usually $75 to $150.

    Serving your spouse may be done in one visit, or it may take weeks to accomplish. Either way, it is essential that your spouse is properly served. If he or she can honestly claim to be unaware of your intentions, the court probably will not allow the Texas divorce process to move forward.

  3. Legal Notice to Your Spouse is Obtained

    Once your spouse has received legal notice, the process server will give you an affidavit. This document provides proof that your spouse has been served.  

    Waiver of Service for Uncontested Divorce
    There is an exception to this part of the Texas divorce process. If the divorce is uncontested, it means the Respondent does not disagree with any of the terms presented in the original petition for divorce. 

    In this case, the spouse can sign a Waiver of Service in front of a notary. This document lets the court know the Respondent has been informed of the divorce, has received a copy of the petition and is waiving (surrendering) his or her right to being personally served. Therefore, your spouse has agreed to waive being personally served by a process server and does not have to be served.  

    You Can Get a Texas Divorce Without the Cooperation of Your Spouse
    Occasionally, the other spouse cannot be located. In these situations, the court may authorize the divorce. However, be aware that the court will require you to demonstrate that you have made a sincere effort to find your spouse. You also may have to appoint a neutral third party to attempt to locate the missing spouse, which is an additional fee.

    In some divorce cases, the spouse may receive the Petition but choose to ignore it. Note that even if your spouse does not cooperate, the Texas divorce process can continue. In these cases, you may want to consult with an attorney. 

    Note that a judge cannot grant a divorce for at least 60 days after the Petition has been filed. This waiting period can help the spouses “cool off,” so they can make sure they want to go through with the divorce. One exception: In cases of domestic violence, the court may allow an expedited divorce.Worried man reviews divorce decree

  4. The Spouse Responds to the Petition

    If the spouse is going to contest the divorce, he or she can file an Answer, which is a formal, written response to the Petition. The Respondent may disagree with the proposed child support payments, the allocation of assets, or other issues. The spouse must file this document within twenty days plus the next following Monday.

    Note that if you are considering signing a Waiver, it’s important to proceed cautiously. Unless you fully understand what the Petition is saying, you may unintentionally sign away some of your rights to your children, assets, or property.

  5. The Judge Issues Temporary Orders

    After the Petition has been filed, the Texas Family Law court will usually issue Temporary Orders. These orders restrict any negative actions either spouse may take while awaiting the trial. For example, the spouses may be prohibited from selling any community property or hiding the children. The court also may order them to treat each other with respect.

    The document establishes temporary arrangements for important issues, including
    1. Who will pay which bills
    2. Alimony (known in Texas as “spousal maintenance”)
    3. Child support payments
    4. Child custody (known as “conservatorship”)
    5. Temporary visitation rights

    The orders usually expire at the time of the trial. However, some of the arrangements may be included in the final settlement.

  6. The Spouses Try to Reach an Agreement

    In the next stage of the Texas divorce process, the spouses try to reach an agreement. They may do this on their own, or they may hire an attorney or mediator.

    If they are successful, one of the spouses or attorneys will prepare an Agreed Decree of Divorce. The judge eventually will sign this document, finalizing the divorce process.two adults arguing in a mediation session

  7. The Couple May Be Required to Try Mediation

    If the spouses are not able to reach an agreement, the court will set a trial date. Both parties typically use this time for discovery, the process of exchanging information and documents.

    Before the trial, spouses are required to attempt mediation. In mediation, couples work with a mediator, or facilitator, in an effort to resolve their disagreements about the divorce terms. Mediation can shorten the Texas divorce process and reduce your legal fees.

    Divorce in Texas is a No-Fault State
    If mediation fails, the case goes to trial. Be aware that Texas is a “No-Fault Divorce” state. This means the Petitioner does not have to provide a specific, legal reason for wanting the divorce. 

    However, if you believe your spouse is significantly more at fault for the failure of the marriage, you should consider sharing this information in your Petition. That’s because the court may take this into consideration in determining how to divide your assets. 

    Grounds for finding fault include adultery, cruelty, and abandonment. An experienced Texas divorce attorney can help you. 

  8. The Divorce Trial

    At the trial, both sides present their evidence to the judge. He or she will also probably ask questions. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge will issue rulings on the various issues. This includes conservatorship, child support, spousal maintenance, and division of property and debt. 

    In usual times, couples typically would have to wait 90-120 days to get their day in court. However, many courts are backed up due to the pandemic, and the current wait time is about 6 months or more.

  9. The Decree is Prepared

    After the trial, one of the attorneys will prepare a Final Decree of Divorce to present to the judge. This document will contain all of the court’s rulings and the agreements between the two parties.

    As you might guess, the more issues the couple is fighting over, the longer it can take to complete the final decree. It is not unusual for the process to take several months.

  10. The Final Decree is Signed

    Once the decree is finalized, both spouses will sign it. The document is then presented to the judge at a “prove-up” hearing. This meeting is held to formally request approval for the terms of the decree. Once the judge has determined that the decree is legitimately acceptable to both parties, he or she will sign the document and make the divorce official. 

    Does the Texas divorce process allow for a jury trial? Yes. However, if you choose to have a jury trial, be aware that this, too, can slow down your divorce and add to your costs.

Spouses Have the Right to Appeal the Ruling
Once the judge has signed the decree, the Texas divorce process is complete—usually. However, either spouse can file an appeal. This document asks the court to reconsider some of the judge’s rulings. 
The parties have 30 days to file an appeal. The law does not allow either ex-spouse to get married during this time.

You Don’t Have to Go Through It Alone

Divorces can get complicated and emotional, especially if there are children or significant assets involved. If you need an attorney to help you with the Texas divorce process, Sean Lynch + Associates is here to help. We are experienced divorce lawyers who can serve you efficiently and compassionately. Contact us today to schedule a no-cost 30-minute case consultation, 817-668-5879.

Texas Divorce Changes During the Pandemic

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Everyone has adapted to pandemic social distancing requirements, including Texas Family Courts.

The pandemic has put a strain on everything — including many marriages. If you are wanting to get a divorce soon, you may be wondering about the status of the courts. The good news is, the courts are open and handling family law cases. However, it is not business as usual. So here are some key things to know about changes to Texas divorces during the pandemic.

Divorce Cases are Taking Longer

The first thing to know is that the pandemic has created a backlog in the courts. This means it could take longer before you can get a hearing before the court. The courts are trying to catch up, but criminal cases are getting first priority.

How much longer will it take? It’s hard to say. Your divorce lawyer can advise you on the approximate timeline for your case.

Your Divorce Hearing Probably Will Not Be Held In-person During the Pandemic

The pandemic has changed the way we do business. Everyone has implemented many new safety procedures, including retailers, schools, and restaurants.

The courts are no exception. The Texas Supreme Court has issued several administrative orders regarding COVID-19 safety precautions. Most non-essential court cases are not being held in-person.

This means your divorce case probably will be held online, using Zoom or another video service. Remote hearings can speed up the divorce process in Texas. Many couples find this approach more comfortable. It also may reduce your legal fees. This approach is safer for everyone involved.

In-person Divorce Cases are Requiring Safety Precautions

Can you still have your divorce case heard in-person during the pandemic? Yes. But be aware that if you insist on meeting in court, you probably will have to wait even longer to get a hearing.

In addition, the Texas Supreme Court’s emergency orders include guidance on in-person hearings. Masks and social distancing probably will be required.

You May Be Able to Speed Up the Divorce Process During the Pandemic

You may be wanting an “uncontested” divorce. This means both sides agree on the details of ending the marriage. In these cases, some Texas courts are not requiring hearings at all. The spouses will submit their documents for the court to review. Your divorce attorney can tell you if this is an option, or you can contact your county.  

One more tip: If your separation is fairly amicable, you may be able to go through divorce mediation. This could speed up the process and perhaps save you some money. Your divorce lawyer can help you decide if this is a good option for you.

Existing Texas Divorce Court Orders are Still in Effect During the Pandemic

Even with the pandemic, existing court orders are still in effect. If you ignore rulings about child custody, alimony, and child support, you could be held liable.

A woman and a child wearing masks.
Consult your attorney before you make any changes to your custody arrangement.

For example, sometimes, an ex may refuse to make child support payments. The court can rule the ex is in contempt of the law. He or she could even face jail time.

At the same time, be aware that the pandemic has created a backlog in the criminal courts, too. Also, because jails are having a very difficult time coping with COVID-19, a judge may be reluctant to order jail time.

You Can Get a Texas Divorce Court Order Modified During the Pandemic

Of course, the courts recognize that the pandemic has impacted people greatly on a personal level. Many people are facing very real financial and personal hardship. People who are struggling financially due to the pandemic or for other reasons should know it is still possible to get a Texas divorce court order modified.

Court orders can still be modified for other reasons, too. For example, you may want to have more visitation rights. People who wish to modify a court order regarding custody, payments, or other issues, will need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

New Texas Law Requires Proof of Divorce Claims to be Provided Quickly

One big way divorce in Texas has changed has nothing to do with the pandemic. When couples divorce, they must make “claims” as to why they want to end the marriage. They also must provide evidence to support the claim. Evidence includes tax returns, pay stubs, text messages, and emails.

Previously, divorce lawyers had a lot of time to secure this evidence. But a new law went into effect on January 1, 2021. The new law requires people to provide evidence for each of their claims very quickly after the divorce filing.

So if you are certain you want to get a divorce in Texas, it’s a good idea to start getting organized now. Gather up bank account statements and other important documents. If you plan to make a claim your spouse has committed adultery, try to gather evidence for that as well.

Of course, you probably have questions about what is considered acceptable “proof.” A skilled divorce lawyer can explain this to you and answer any other questions about this new law.

Questions About Getting a Texas Divorce During the Pandemic?

If you’re thinking about ending your marriage in 2021, we are here to help. Sean Lynch + Associates is an award-winning family law firm with years of experience practicing family law. Sean Lynch + Associates can offer you a no-cost, 20-minute initial consultation. They can explain more about how the pandemic has changed the Texas divorce process and help you understand your options. Call us today at 817-668-5879.

New Year’s Resolutions for the Recently Divorced or Separated

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How do you move on after a marriage ends? Here are ten practical tips.
Hand turns a dice and changes the expression “new year” to “new start”.

For many of us, 2020 was not the best year. If you went through a divorce or separation last year, it probably was even worse. Now it’s 2021, and a great time to make a fresh start. So here are 10 resolutions for people who are recently divorced or separated. And if you are someone who is considering divorce, we have a tip for you as well.

  1. Don’t Be Bitter or Resentful About the Divorce
    Easier said than done, right? But you know it’s true: Bitterness is an unproductive feeling that can even be harmful to your health while having no impact on the other person. As painful as your separation might have been, resolve to put your resentment behind you and move forward.
  2. Get Your Finances in Order for the New Year
    Start by making sure you have separated your banking and credit card accounts. But don’t stop there: You may also need to update your will, insurance policies, and any trusts or estates. If you have a financial planner, it’s a good idea for the two of you to talk.
  3. Commit to Being Healthier In the New Year
    We all know that regular, moderate exercise is good for the body. But researchers have confirmed that exercise also is good for our mental health. So if your routine has fallen off, resolve to do better in the new year. If you have kids, learn how parents can find time to exercise. The first step is to include them. For example, you might play Four Square, do yoga, ride bikes, or just go for a family walk. Remember, if it doesn’t “feel” like exercise, you’re a lot more likely to stick with it.
  4. Set a (Reasonable) Goal for The New Year
    Speaking of getting healthier, you can make it a formal, reasonable goal. Specifically, it might not be reasonable to say, “I will lose 20 pounds this year.” But you could commit to going for a 20-minute walk three times a week, or try (slowly) running a 5k. You also could make it a goal to learn a new hobby or read more. And here’s a goal you’ll be happy to work on: Resolve to spend more quality time with your friends in 2021.
  5. Remember to Relax A Little in the New Year
    At the other extreme, some divorced parents find it very hard to slow down. But you can’t do it all, and you can’t keep going non-stop. Learn about the importance of allowing yourself to relax—and then commit to doing it every now and then.
  6. Don’t Use the Kids as a Way to Punish Your Ex After the Divorce
    You’ve heard the stories: Divorced parents refusing to make child support payments, preventing a visitation, or lying to the kids. Remember that while it is tempting to “punish” your ex, ultimately, it is the kids who really are being hurt. Also, when they are older and realize what you did, the one who really ends up hurt maybe you.
  7. Commit to Cooperating with Your Ex as Much as Possible After the Divorce
    For example, don’t drag your feet on returning the kids after a visitation, conceal a visit to the ER, or try to undermine his/her new relationship. And let your ex come to the kids’ birthday parties and other major events. In fact, make sure he or she knows about the event.
  8. Commit to Forgiving Your Ex After the Divorce
    We’ve already said that feeling bitter is not productive. But there’s more: After a divorce, you also have to embrace the value and benefits of forgiveness. The day you can honestly say, ”I have forgiven my ex for ending the marriage,” will be a very good one. Similarly, don’t forget that you also may need to be committed to forgiving yourself.
  9. If You Need to Get Help After the Divorce, Be Willing to Admit It
    It’s easy to offer advice, but acting on it is another matter. So be honest with yourself: Are you struggling to move on? Could you benefit from seeing a therapist? If you’re not sure, perhaps you can ask some trusted friends for their honest opinion. However, you’ll have to be ready for their honest answers.
  10. Resolve to Get Closure On Your Divorce or Separation
    Perhaps you have been putting off finalizing the divorce, or your spouse is not cooperating. If so, resolve to work through the issues in the new year. You can start by setting a deadline. Or perhaps the two of you have been separated for months. Again, we suggest you set a deadline for when you will either get back together or end it. Divorce is not fun, but it probably is better than spending the new year in marital limbo.

If You Are Considering Divorce in the New Year

If you’re thinking about ending your marriage in 2021, resolve to do more than just brood about it. Start educating yourself. Sean Lynch + Associates is an award-winning family law firm with years of experience practicing family law. Sean Lynch + Associates can offer you a no-cost, 20-minute initial consultation. They can explain some of the process and help you determine what you want to do in the new year.

For better or worse, 2020 is officially in the books. Now it’s time to get moving on making 2021 a better year for YOU. Call us today at 817-668-5879.

Don’t File A Texas Divorce Without An Attorney

Reading Time: 8 minutes
A man reading a law book about divorce.
Filing for a Texas divorce is not something you should attempt on your own. Photo by JW. Smithy.

Today, thanks to the internet, we have access to an incredible amount of information. With just a few taps on a keyboard, you can learn how to do anything. But ask yourself this: Would reading a few articles and watching a video about divorce without an attorney make you an expert?

In Texas, the divorce process is complicated. There are many different things to consider. Attorneys spend years in school studying cases to gain the knowledge necessary to provide quality legal advice. They have thousands of hours of practice before they represent clients.  

Texas Divorce lawyers can offer you their guidance and shepherd you through your divorce. They can also see issues that may not occur to a novice when you file for divorce in Texas. Even if it is an uncontested divorce, it is in your best interest to seek out an experienced lawyer to handle the pitfalls of divorce, such as complicated financial issues and child custody. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t file for divorce without an attorney.

Your Spouse Is Hiding Assets

In a typical marriage, spouses share their property. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for divorcing people in Texas to hide assets. Concealing cash, jewelry, and other valuables can add up to tremendous missed opportunities if you don’t know where to look.

The courts know this is a problem. Therefore, during a Texas divorce, both spouses are required to complete financial affidavits. This is a disclosure of all of their income and assets. However, each person should look over all the documentation to confirm the information is accurate. Here are some of the best things to do:

  1. Conduct public records search to determine whether your spouse owns any undisclosed real estate.
  1. If you have been filing taxes separately, review your partner’s previous tax returns and 1099 forms. This can uncover any unreported income or accounts.
  1. Look for suspicious purchases or transfers made from any shared bank or brokerage accounts.
  1. Confirm that only the accounts you know about pay household bills.
  1. Compare monthly expenses to reported income. Ensure these numbers add up.

The discovery process is where divorce without a lawyer could be costly. Family law offices will have detailed knowledge of this process. They should also have connections to experts such as forensic accountants who can help uncover wrongdoing. Trying to accomplish these tasks on your own could result in missed opportunities that may cost you money, even if it is an uncontested divorce. 

Get the Child Support Your Baby Deserves

If you have children through your marriage, your divorce will be that much more complicated. There are several issues to address when kids are in the picture.

  1. Determine who will get custody of the children. 
  1. Establish a visitation schedule that works for both parents. 
  1. Decide the amount and frequency of child support payments, including medical and dental reimbursements.

If you and your soon-to-be-ex can work all this out, that’s great. In reality, having a lawyer by your side through the process will help tremendously. There may be essential items that you overlook. An attorney will also have a better idea of what the court will consider to be a fair parenting plan.

Many of the issues in a custody hearing require detailed documentation. Additionally, if you are unsure of your rights in these matters, you should involve a lawyer as soon as possible.

Consider Long Term Planning

An attorney often has the experience to be aware of longer-term concerns that you may want to consider when you are getting a divorce. For example, an attorney can advise you on how future income can be estimated for a spouse who is deemed to have a bright financial future and how spousal support or child support could be modified in the future if there is a significant change in circumstances.

Contested Divorce

In a contested divorce, it may be a good idea to hire an attorney and get legal advice. Your attorney will be more effective in helping you to fight your case and defend your rights than if you went it alone in a pro se divorce. In the event that things get ugly with your spouse, you may be able to use your attorney as a shield to help you go through the divorce proceedings and defend your rights.

If there is domestic violence in your marriage, it is highly recommended you engage a lawyer to defend your rights.

Divorce In A Same-Sex Marriage

If you are in a same-sex marriage and you want to file for divorce in Texas, you often may want to get the advice of an attorney given that different states interpret laws differently and court judgments are also evolving.

For example, if either wife in a same-sex marriage had a child during the marriage or is pregnant, you may need to consult a family law attorney specializing in LGBT issues given that the law is still unclear in this area.

Should I Sign Papers In A Divorce Without An Attorney?

Speaking of detailed documentation, at the conclusion of your divorce mediation or trial, one of the attorneys will prepare a Final Decree of Divorce. This is the ultimate binding document of your divorce.

The Final Decree will contain all of the items you’ve agreed upon or all of the court’s rulings and will resolve the divorce once and for all. Before signing this paper, it would be prudent to have counsel review that all of the language proposed is in order. If instead, you choose to divorce without a lawyer, there is a chance that you could miss important omissions in the text in your Final Decree.

Understanding The Divorce Process Without An Attorney

It’s important to understand the process when you get divorced from your spouse pro se without lawyer representation in court.

Meeting Texas Residency Requirements

It doesn’t matter if you have a contested or uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse have not continuously resided in the state for at least six months, filing for divorce in Texas is not possible.

Filing A Divorce Petition

Filing a divorce petition will formally begin the divorce proceedings. You can get the petition from the county clerk’s office. In this petition, you must state the contact details of you and your spouse, financial information, property, debts, proposed settlement arrangement, and the reasons why you want to get divorced.

Once you have completed the petition, you will need to file it with the clerk’s office and pay the filing fees. The court will assign a “cause number” and stamp the petition to confirm that it has been filed.

The state of Texas allows you to file an uncontested divorce as a no-fault divorce. You can get a divorce as long as one spouse believes that the relationship cannot be saved even with additional time and support.

Serve Divorce Papers To Your Spouse

You can either deliver the papers to your spouse personally, ask the sheriff’s office to deliver them or have a third party deliver them. You must obtain proof that you have served the papers to inform them of the divorce filing.

Alternatively, your spouse can sign a Waiver of Citation form that indicates that their agreement that they do not have to be served the petition and that they agree with the details you filed in your petition. It also indicates their agreement that it is an uncontested divorce.

If your spouse is the one who filed for the divorce, you will receive the divorce papers containing information they filed about the divorce as legal notice.

File Temporary Orders

You may need to file temporary orders while waiting for the court hearing, especially if you are dealing with an abusive spouse and need to protect your children. If you can provide information that proves the need, a judge can order a temporary restraining order or alimony from one spouse to another.

Finalize Divorce Agreement

The clerk’s office will set a date and time for your court hearing. Under Texas law, this will be at least 60 days after the divorce petition is filed so that spouses have time to try and work out their differences.

Before the hearing, you and your spouse can take the time to discuss the terms of the divorce decree. If you and your spouse agree on all the terms of the divorce decree in an uncontested divorce, this is a fairly straightforward process and you simply have to bring the divorce decree to the judge to review during your court hearing. If both of you do not agree, the court hearing will become even more important.

The divorce decree should contain all the terms that establish the rights and obligations of each spouse after marriage. It often also contains custody and visitation terms for the children.

Attend Court Hearing

The judge may ask questions to make sure you and your spouse both agree on the terms. During the court hearing, your divorce petition and proposed divorce agreement would be reviewed. The judge will sign off on the divorce decree and agreement before formalizing it in a court order.

However, if you and your spouse both disagree, this is where things can get more challenging. A trial before a judge would be required. Both of you will need to make your arguments in court about why your proposed arrangement is the best option. This is when you may want to engage the expertise of a law firm to present a compelling case and present evidence to the court. Bring all the information you have gathered while preparing for your case.

The outcome of the court hearing will have serious implications on your life after marriage. Often, the terms of the divorce decree will resolve the division of the marital property between spouses, alimony, child support, and the custody and visitation of the children. Marital property can include land, houses, retirement accounts, and vehicles that were acquired during the marriage. In some cases, marital property can also include the growth of a family business that took place during the marriage.

It can also mean getting physical custody of your children instead of only getting to see them during the court-mandated visitation schedule. In a time like this, it may not be worth it to try and save on legal fees. Hire an attorney to help you.

Your Spouse Can Change Their Mind In An Uncontested Divorce

Even if you and your spouse originally agreed on all the important terms such as child custody, alimony, and property division, there is a chance your spouse can change their mind during the process. If they lawyer up, you will most likely have to lawyer up as well to defend your rights.

File Divorce Decree With Clerk’s Office

The final step you must do is to file the divorce decree the judge has signed with the clerk’s office. You and your spouse will each receive one copy of the final divorce decree.

Appealing An Divorce Decree

If you want to appeal against certain terms in the divorce decree, you will need to attend another court hearing. An appeal gives another court the opportunity to look at the trial court’s decision to assess if there was any legal error that could change the final divorce decree.

An appeal case can often involve complex legal standards and arguments and isn’t as simple as asking the judge to reconsider the case. The appeal court will not reconsider factual determinations. You must engage a lawyer if you are appealing a divorce decree due to the complexity involved.

Modifying Divorce Decrees

If you need to make changes to your divorce decree, you can file a modification case. As with a typical divorce case, if your former spouse agrees with you, the case will be fairly straightforward although you need to show evidence of a significant change in circumstances that warrants a modification.

Lawyer-Up in a Texas Divorce

In Texas, a lawyer is not legally required during a divorce. But, if your spouse hires one to help him/her, you should strongly consider doing the same. Think about what is at stake during the process. It is best to be on a level playing field. There are many issues and legal matters you must address. The outcome can significantly impact your future and you don’t want to regret not having an expert on your case. It is extremely difficult to significantly modify a divorce decree once the judge has signed off. 

Don’t take on such a complicated matter alone. Experienced attorneys like those at Sean Lynch + Associates can help you navigate your divorce step by step. They can provide the support and representation you need to resolve the unique issues in your case. We have decades of experience in Texas state family law and can provide legal advice. Contact us today for a no-cost case consultation.

Divorce After An Affair: I Cheated And It Cost Me

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Divorce after an affair can be especially challenging to your case
Infidelity may result in higher spousal maintenance and child support payments in a divorce. Photo by RDR Kiker.

I was caught cheating on my wife. One thing quickly became clear: we could not stay together any longer and we made the decision to separate. I wondered how this decision would affect my divorce after an affair, so, I did some research. Apparently, the couple’s reason behind a couple’s divorce in Texas can impact the outcome of the proceedings. This is especially true if the main reason for the separation is adultery or infidelity. c

It’s still considered adultery if it happened when the both of you were already living apart. Since Texas does not recognize legal separation, you will be considered married. The Texas Family Code defines adultery as when a married person voluntarily has sexual intercourse with someone who is not his or her spouse. This means the exchange of explicit photos or messages does not constitute adultery.

Texas recognizes no-fault divorces so you don’t have to prove your partner’s wrongdoing to get a divorce after an affair. However, infidelity may impact how the court views the offending spouse and how much he or she will have to give up in the separation. This can impact the areas of:

  1. Property division
  2. Child custody
  3. Spousal maintenance

After I found this out, I contacted a lawyer. I wanted to know more about these three specific important areas.

How Cheating Impacts Property Division

When my wife filed for the divorce, I wondered who would get our assets in a divorce due to infidelity. I owned a couple of houses and cars, so I asked my attorney for some clarification. He told me that when it comes to property division if you have committed adultery, it can be very costly. As a community property state, Texas looks at properties in two categories: separate and community. Separate property is the stuff that each person owned before the marriage. Community property is assets and liabilities that the couple accumulated while together in marriage.

In a Texas divorce, the court will divide community property according to what the judge thinks is fair or what he or she considers is just under the circumstances. Judges look at various factors if they intend to award a disproportionate share of the estate to one spouse versus the other. Frequent considerations include:

  1. The needs of the spouses. 
  2. The children’s best interest.
  3. The size of the estate.
  4. Whether or not physical or emotional abuse or adultery caused the split.

Therefore, if your wife or partner can prove that your infidelity is the cause of your contested divorce you may receive a smaller portion of the community property. This can mean all the assets you’ve worked hard for during the marriage could be quickly taken away from you. The court would give these assets to your ex-partner. This is to compensate them for the benefits they would have received if the marriage continued.

Furthermore, if you used marital assets to support your extra-marital relationships, you may have to pay back these funds or receive a smaller share of the property. This includes spending on gifts, vacations, food, and transportation for the other person.

Contested Divorce and Child Custody

I love my kids with all my heart. So I was nervous when I heard that in a contested divorce with an unfaithful spouse, custody can be complicated. 

Typically, courts will not consider adultery when determining child custody and visitation. I learned that when it comes to possession orders, the court will always rule based on what is in the best interest of the child.

So, if your spouse is trying to use adultery as a reason to get custody in divorce after an affair, she will need to demonstrate how this helps the kids. 

For example, she could show that you have a habit of regularly introducing new partners into your children’s lives. Many Texas judges believe that this behavior has a detrimental effect on a baby’s emotional growth and development. Judges will focus on your parenting abilities when making a decision. Another way your spouse can portray your adultery negatively is to show that you prioritized a new relationship over spending time with your child. She can also show that you committed infidelity in front of the children which caused them pain, embarrassment, or discomfort. You may also have introduced new partners to them which put them at risk.

I was worried that the relationship with my kids would be affected. I would have less time with them and could not live with them anymore.

Another fear I had was about what my ex-spouse would tell the children about the affair and the reason our marriage ended. That could affect the development and well-being of the children as well as their relationship with me.

Infidelity Could Result In Spousal Maintenance

My attorney also told me about a risk I didn’t even know existed in Texas: spousal maintenance.  

Although Texas family law doesn’t consider fault when making a decision on spousal support payments, a court will consider alimony based on domestic violence. So, if you are physically or emotionally abusing your wife and messing around on her, you’re likely going to pay more.

You might also be denied spousal maintenance if you were found to have committed adultery during the marriage.

After a partner has been found cheating, the first step for both people is to make a decision about whether they should stay together and work on the relationship and marriage. They also have to consider the impact a divorce may have on their finances, children, and housing. 

The impact of a divorce and an unfaithful spouse can be especially difficult for children. Children may experience pain and disappointment. They might often believe they are a part of the problem. This can affect the family they build after getting married in the future. You may need to help them work through the emotions they are going through as much as possible in the months and years after the divorce. This is in addition to getting help for your own emotions around the affair.

Signs That Infidelity Will Lead To Divorce

Infidelity is one of the most common reasons why married couples get a divorce. However, it does not always mean the end of a marriage. While you could opt to stay together with your spouse after an affair, there are signs that indicate that a marriage is headed for a divorce after you have discovered their cheating.

Partner Shows No Signs Of Remorse

Your partner may not show any signs of remorse for infidelity. They may start blaming you for the affair. Your spouse may also find a way to make you feel guilty for not meeting their needs. Other times, they may portray themselves as the victim in the marriage and refuse to take responsibility. In either situation, your spouse may refuse to communicate with you to improve the relationship. They may not want to recognize their part in the infidelity.

Even if your spouse doesn’t think that cheating is a big issue, they should still care enough about your feelings of being betrayed to make an apology if they love you. Not making an apology can indicate they do not care about your feelings.

One thing that both situations indicate that your spouse is not willing to make the effort to work on the relationship. This can be an important sign that the marriage is over. You may decide that it’s better to get a divorce after an affair.

Partner Is Still In Touch With Other People

Your partner may still be in contact with the people they had an affair with. This can happen even after they have insisted that they have broken things off. Even if they may not be seeing these people anymore, maintaining a relationship can mean that infidelity is inevitable in the future.

In any case, this behavior from your spouse can indicate that they do not respect your feelings. This can lead to a divorce. It might be time to move on and free yourself of people who do not respect what you feel.

Partner Does Not Want To Go For Counseling

Marriage counseling is often one of the options that people go for together. This often enables them to work through their feelings and save their marriage. They may recommit to their relationship for the sake of their children. It will take time but many couples often make the effort and time to work on repairing the marriage and fixing the situation. These couples may often emerge stronger and better later on with a good relationship. Unfortunately, if your partner refuses to try counseling to make things better, it will be a lot harder to work on your marriage. There may not be much hope for continuing your life together with your cheating spouse.

For some couples, infidelity may uncover issues that both people never tried to resolve and simply swept under the rug. This is why many couples will need to try their best to go for counseling and take steps to resolve these issues.

At this point, you might decide that you want to focus on healing yourself after your trust has been betrayed. If you have decided that there’s no point trying to fix the situation, walk away and move on with your life without your husband or wife.

Your Partner Continues To Lie

Infidelity can erode trust between people in a marriage. If one person always lies and keeps secrets even after his or her affair has been exposed, you’ll never be able to trust the other person again.

Even a small lie that is not related to infidelity can erode your trust. Instead of holding on to the hope that things may change, you might want to file a divorce and decide to end the marriage as the best option.

Deciding On Divorce After An Affair

Finding out the news about infidelity in the marriage can make it a confusing time for anyone. You may need to take some time to think about how you feel about the affair and what you want to do next. You might even feel your relationship with your spouse has worsened to the point where you start to think about your life without them. Being betrayed can make you feel like you’re not good enough. It’s important to manage these emotions with a professional or you may harbor them for years.

In some cases, you might find you can’t bring yourself to trust or love your husband or wife anymore after they have had an affair. You may overreact to things that your partner does if it triggers a memory of them being unfaithful that causes you pain. In other cases you might not see your partner as a good example for your children. It’s important for couples to have a frank discussion on the issues in their marriage. They need to decide whether they should stay together before they come to the decision to get a divorce after an affair and move on. The law is not the way to express the feelings you may experience after you find out about an affair.

If you make the decision to file for divorce and you need help defending yourself in a contested divorce after an affair, let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch + Associates help you prepare your case. We have decades of experience in family law and can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation for your situation.

Divorce For Domestic Violence

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Divorce for domestic violence involves complicated police and legal issues. Man clenching his fist over a woman sitting at a table.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, the law and Texas courts can protect you in a divorce.

Every year, more than 80,000 Texans are victims of domestic violence and this includes both men and women. If your abuser is your spouse, you should strongly consider divorce for domestic violence and leave your abuser. 

Divorcing an abusive partner can be a stressful process, but the law is on your side. In these cases, Texas courts protect you. Remember, Texas is a no-fault state, so one party can file for a split without having to give a specific reason for doing so. However, if you or your children have been hurt, you will have extra leverage in the case. Oftentimes, judges favor victims when ruling on settlements and child custody. First, you’ll need to prove that you were a victim of abuse. 

Evidence that proves domestic violence can include medical records, police reports, and text message information. A lawyer who specializes in Texas divorce issues can help to gather this information and strengthen your legal case. You can file a domestic violence case after a divorce.

Physical harm is not the only form of domestic violence. It can also involve sexual, financial, emotional, verbal, or psychological abuse.

Here are some of the important considerations when you divorce for domestic violence in Texas. Domestic violence can affect your divorce case.

Telling Your Abusive Spouse that You Want a Divorce

Breaking the news to your spouse that you want a divorce for domestic violence can be scary and sometimes even life-threatening. The most dangerous time for a victim of abuse is when they try to leave. The abuser usually attempts to retain power and control and often takes extreme measures. 

During this exit time, the risk is high, as violence tends to escalate quickly. Fear of repercussions often stops people from leaving their partner. This keeps them trapped in the marriage and wondering if they should stay or leave. Many people also lack an understanding of the legal recourse they can get.

Texas lawyers understand the fear involved in divorce for victims of domestic violence cases. To make things easier and safer, your attorney can notify your abusive spouse for you when you want to end the marriage. That way, you can be in a safe place. This is often the first step to take in protecting yourself. If you need to file a police report with law enforcement officers, an attorney can help with these issues. 

Additionally, victims of domestic violence can benefit from expedited court proceedings. Typically, after a petition for divorce has been filed, there is a waiting period of 60 days. However, if it is a case of divorce for domestic violence, a judge can waive this waiting period. Your attorney will advise you on how to apply for this benefit.

Protective Orders

Victims of abuse can also request a temporary restraining order or protective order in the time before the court hearing takes place. This will make sure that your spouse cannot come near you and threaten physical harm to your safety.

The protective order is one option that can make your spouse stay away from you, your family, your workplace, your home, and your children’s school or daycare. In some cases the order may also ask your spouse to move out of the home or order them not to carry a gun even if they have a license. It can also order your spouse to pay for medical support and child support while setting conditions for visitation with the children.

The court may grant your request if you can provide evidence of family violence that is putting you in danger and is not in the best interests of your child. You can request a protective order if there is a clear risk of family violence where your spouse has tried to harm you or made you afraid that serious physical harm is going to happen to you.

Child Custody Proceeding and Domestic Violence

Another major consideration in divorce for domestic violence are the kids. Abuse against a spouse or another family member will impact the outcome of rulings for child custody and visitation. 

If there is credible evidence that there has been physical violence or sexual abuse or neglect by a parent, that person will not be awarded custody. This will ensure the safety of the child. The abusive parent may also be liable for child support. While Texas family law does not preclude the abusive parent from getting joint custody of the children, it will be difficult for the parent to prove they can provide a safe environment for the children. You will most likely gain sole physical and legal custody of your children. In some cases the judge may even remove the other parent’s right to the child.

That being said, if the abuse took place more than two years before filing the Texas divorce, access to a child may be granted even if the court does not grant custody to your ex-spouse. However, this is usually only in cases when it is in the child’s best interest. The judge may determine that visitation by the other parent is critical for the well-being of the child and require supervised visitations.

Property Division and Domestic Violence

Texas is one of the 9 states that follow community property principles. In many cases of property division, the court will start from the presumption that assets will be split evenly (50/50) unless there are reasons for a more uneven split depending on what is “just and right”. Marital assets like bank accounts, retirements, and real estate will be divided between spouses after the end of a marriage. The court will also split debts like mortgage loans or car loans between a couple in many cases.

If you have been denied the opportunity to work or gain an education because of family violence and oppression from your ex-spouse, the state judge may order that you get more assets or increased support from your ex-spouse to make up for these lost opportunities.

A judge may order that you get spousal maintenance if you will not have enough property and money to meet your reasonable needs. Your spouse must also be convicted of or have received deferred adjudication of a family violence criminal offense within two years before the suit.

Keep Your Family Safe After Divorce for Domestic Abuse Violence

After the divorce from an abusive partner is final, the battle against domestic abuse could still continue. Therefore, most attorneys recommend that you file a restraining order. This is a protective measure to ensure your safety from violence and the wellbeing of your family members. It is within your right to get out of a dangerous situation.

Restraining court orders can prevent abusers from contacting you or your children and they must comply or face penalties. They also provide limitations on how close your ex is allowed to get to you. If the abuser violates these regulations it is considered a criminal offense. 

Don’t face your abuser alone. Let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch + Associates law firm help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law and are experienced in domestic violence issues. We offer a no-cost 30-minute case review. Share this information if you know someone who could use our legal help. Contact us today.

Pandemic Change for Texas Divorce

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Image of judge using the gavel while wearing surgical gloves to protect himself from the new coronavirus.
The pandemic has changed the Texas divorce rates and processes, and could impact your marriage, too.

COVID-19 has impacted almost every aspect of our lives, including divorce. Here are a few things to know about the pandemic has changed divorce proceedings and court orders in Texas—and about how the pandemic may be affecting your marriage.

The Supreme Court of Texas has ruled that courts should not hold nonessential proceedings in-person. This means your hearing will probably be held online.

You should also know that the pandemic has caused a backup in the court system. This means it may take longer to get a hearing date. And if you insist on having an in-person hearing, you may have to wait even longer.

One option is to consider mediation. A mediator works with many couples to establish terms they both can agree on. A mediated settlement can speed up your divorce and perhaps reduce your costs. You also may be able to hold the mediation online.

Divorce Court Orders Still Apply During the Pandemic

While court proceedings have changed, court orders have not. For example, the established period of possession still stands. Also, a stay-at-home order does not override any custody exchanges.

If both partners agree to it, you may be able to hold child visitations online and you need to cooperate with your ex. However, we suggest you consult with your attorney first.

To repeat: Unless a court order has been legally amended, you must still comply with it during the pandemic.

The Pandemic Can Lead to Parenting Conflicts After the Divorce

Speaking of children, one potential issue during the COVID-19 era is parent disagreements. For example, one parent may be comfortable having the kids do in-person school, while the other is not. Or one parent may be opposed to letting the child attend a friend’s birthday party.

We encourage parents to try to work together as much as possible. You may need to apply for a modification to custody orders to protect your child during this time. However, if the two of you are not able to find a mutually satisfactory solution, you should consult with a family law attorney.

Is the Covid-19 Pandemic Affecting Divorce Rates?

In addition to being a public health crisis, the pandemic has created an emotional health crisis for many couples. Husbands and wives are struggling to cope with many challenges and are dealing with change. This includes unemployment or reduced income, school closures, backlogged health care providers, homelessness, changing relationships, and even getting a divorce during pandemics.

Making matters worse, COVID-19 has made it harder for people to socialize. So they are spending less time with the friends and family who would otherwise provide them with support.

Simply put, the pandemic has taken a toll on people, and it can take a toll on marriages, too.

For example, if one partner is suffering from anxiety, depression, or unemployment, it puts an added burden on the other partner. This can result in a previously healthy marriage suffering. On the other extreme, if one of the two partners was already considering divorce, the additional time spent together may have reinforced their desire to end the marriage.

There is conflicting data on whether the pandemic has caused the divorce rate to drop or increase. Regardless, we want you to be sensitive to any impact COVID-19 may be having on your marriage. If you are concerned, we encourage you to consider meeting with a qualified therapist. Marriage is not always easy, and in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be even more difficult.

Here are some other reasons why many couples are getting a divorce during the pandemic.

Unmet Expectations

Some parents might have realized their spouse isn’t as caring and nurturing to the kids as they expected. Other parents might have expected the working spouse to spend more time with the children and help out around the house while working from home, but it didn’t happen.

Even a couple without kids might have found they don’t enjoy spending as much time together as thought. Families can struggle with unmet expectations relating to spending more time with each other. At the same time, couples could delay their divorce if they think it will be difficult to be alone during a lockdown or social distancing measures.

Unmet expectations can cause a strain in family relationships. This can lead a couple to make the decision to divorce during a pandemic.

Communication Issues

The lack of communication between couples can become a more serious problem during a pandemic. One spouse may not know how to ask for help when they need it.

This problem arises especially when one partner has an increase in their domestic workload compared to the other partner. Working mothers sometimes now have to shoulder more parenting duties with online schooling, on top of their work. If they do not communicate their needs to their husband, they can grow resentful. This gets worse when they see their husband relaxing around the house and not offering any help, while they struggle to balance the needs of the kids and work. The other spouse might also find that their spouse is not giving them any attention, which can strain the relationship.

In a healthy relationship, a married couple would communicate effectively and avoid withdrawing from discussions about things that bother them. They can resolve conflict in a healthy matter. They do their best to agree on what each person needs to do to hold the family together during a difficult time.

Families that are unable to communicate during these difficult times can opt to get divorced instead.

Finances

Finances are a huge source of stress for many people who are finding themselves having to take pay cuts or losing jobs. One spouse could be demoralized if they’ve prided themselves on earning money for their family, while the other spouse can be stressed out about managing a tighter family budget. Couples can fight over how to spend the money they have and clash over financial priorities.

The new challenges of finding ways to make ends meet can also put a strain on many family relationships and cause marital problems.

Acting On Something They Already Intended To Do

Couples may already have intended to get a divorce or separation but never got the push to take action or had the time to seriously think about going through with it. Living at home together during quarantine may have confirmed to people that they do not want to stay in the marriage. The thought of continuing to live together for possibly a year or more with restrictions may have pushed people to get divorced and end the marriage.

Different Life Goals

The proximity of living together during the lockdown period can lead people to reconsider their life with their partner. A nagging feeling about how the both of you have grown into different people and want different things in life can trigger you to think about divorce and take action, especially in a time when many people realize their lives can be disrupted at any time.

Daily interaction between couples can also cause them to get on each other’s nerves or become disillusioned with each other as they realize they cannot live with the behaviors and beliefs of their partner every day. Some may think they would not have gotten married to the same person if they could choose again. Couples may consider divorce as a form of escape from their partners to build a new life for themselves.

Inability To Access Support Systems

Many people may have used to go out or spend time with friends as a way to cope with stress in the relationship or deal with marital problems. However, social distancing guidelines and lockdowns during the pandemic may have forced married couples to confront their differences without social support. If couples are unable to resolve their issues, they are likely to opt to get divorced instead.

Mental Health Issues

When one partner suffers from poor mental health as a result of the pandemic, it can put a lot of strain on the other partner if he or she does not have enough support. For example, one partner might have developed an anxiety disorder and the other person has to handle everything as well as cope with the situation alone during the quarantine. People who have to run the household, take care of other family members, and handle the kids can be exhausted. They are likely to ask for a divorce or separation as a result if they just have had enough.

The divorce process can be very long and difficult. You will need to work with your spouse to agree on child custody arrangements and property division. If you and your spouse don’t agree, then the process can drag out over a longer time with the judge deciding property division and child custody arrangements according to Texas law.

If you’re already thinking about divorce, start preparing your finances and reaching out to a lawyer for advice about the best arrangement for your children. You need a qualified attorney who is experienced in the process and who can fight for your rights.

Here to Help When You Need Us

At Sean Lynch + Associates, we have more than 10 years’ experience in family law. We are experts in divorce, child custody arrangements, and amending court orders. We provide honest and affordable legal representation while striving to make the process as smooth as possible. If you have questions or concerns, we offer a no-cost 30-minute consultation. Give us a call today at 817-688-5879.

Signs Your Marriage Is In Trouble

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Upset man and woman sitting on opposite sides of a wall.
Watch out for signs that your significant other is drifting away from your relationship.

No one wants to admit that they’re ready to break their marriage vows. Though unhappy couples don’t make the decision to end their relationships lightly, the decision to split can sometimes be the right one. There’s no point trudging through life in a miserable, dysfunctional relationship. Living angry and sad all of the time certainly isn’t doing your children any favors. How do you know when it’s time to pull the plug and reclaim your happiness? There are a few signals you will want to look at closely that your marriage is in trouble. That can help you decide to make the jump.

Your children should not be a reason to stay together. Often, unhappy couples behave in a way that’s damaging their children’s long-term mental health. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, divorce can often be in the best interest of your kids.

Warning Signs Of A Marriage In Trouble

Here are some red flags to look out for that can indicate your marriage is in trouble.

Constantly Criticizing One Another

If you’re always criticizing your spouse or vice versa, that can be a sign of trouble. Your spouse could also be constantly teasing you and making jokes that seem like veiled criticism. This is especially if the jokes are always about your character and not your actions.

If either of you feels like the other spouse is laughing at you at your expense, that can indicate that they are losing respect for you. This in turn can lead to resentment in the relationship.

Inability To Have An Uncomfortable Conversation

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your spouse about difficult topics such as money, children, sex, or future plans, that may signal a breakdown in communication. Every attempt at an uncomfortable conversation may also feel like nagging where one of you shuts down.

No Disagreements

Every marriage has disagreements. If both of you never disagree with one another, it can be a bad sign. It can be because one of you is indifferent, both of you avoid the problem because either of you won’t like what you’re going to hear, or you are afraid of how the conversation will end.

Not having disagreements can mean that problems can fester and explode into a massive argument that can spark a divorce. It can often be a sign that the couple has given up on each other and the relationship.

Having The Same Argument Repeatedly

Healthy couples may argue. However, if a couple is having the same argument over and over again without being able to resolve it, it can be a red flag. It can indicate that there is a significant breakdown in communication if both of you can’t resolve problems together. A sign of the lack of communication is also if couples constantly fight over small matters.

One partner might also always go on the defensive and refuse to acknowledge that they had a part to play in the problem. They can come up with excuses all the time. This makes it difficult to find a solution and move forward.

Another sign of a problem is if the argument goes nowhere because one of you starts insulting the other person’s character. One reason to think twice about whether you’re in a healthy relationship is if you find yourself saying something you wish you could take back every time you argue. You might need to turn to a family therapist for help to change the way both of you resolve conflict and save a marriage in trouble.

Not Spending Time Together

It’s normal for couples to spend some time apart even if they love each other very much. One major red flag that indicates a couple could be headed for divorce is that they live completely separate lives. If you feel as though you and your spouse as just ships passing in the night, and you’re not considering the other’s feelings when making major decisions, your marriage is already in choppy waters.

If you find yourself wishing you could spend time with anyone else other than your partner, your marriage may be in trouble. You could also immediately go towards a private spot when you get home or focus on other things before acknowledging your partner.

If you don’t enjoy spending time together, that may mean the relationship is starting to be a burden to the couple. Another sign of not spending time can also be not having sex for a long time.

Keeping Secrets

You might start keeping secrets from your spouse. These could be about buying something you told your spouse you wouldn’t buy. You could be having a meal with an attractive co-worker or ex that you know your partner would be angry about. A loss of trust can be a sign that your relationship is in trouble.

If partners engage in actions or make decisions that they know will hurt the other person, this indicates serious trouble in the marriage. Perhaps they make life-altering decisions without consulting each other and the partner feels like they don’t have a say. Some spouses may even do things that their partner specifically asked them not to do.

Having An Affair

It’s normal to find someone else attractive. However, fantasizing about having an affair or actually cheating on your partner can show that you are not getting what you need from your current relationship or that you have given up.

Emotional cheating can also be considered infidelity, even if you don’t actually have sex with someone.

You Or Your Spouse Bring Up Grudges From The Past

If your spouse brings up something they were upset about 5 years ago during an argument, it can show that they have been holding grudges and allowing them to fester. It gets worse if you’ve forgotten what the grudge was about and have no way of defending yourself.

Not Respecting Each Other’s Privacy

Your spouse might be checking all your social media activity or reading your bank statements for your personal account. They may check messages on your phone by insisting you allow them access. Other times they could secretly check your phone when you’re not looking.

The lack of trust can indicate trouble in the marriage.

Your Partner Is Not The First Person You Turn To

When you are in a healthy marriage, you see your partner as the first person you typically turn to for help in bad times or to celebrate in good times.

If your partner isn’t one of the first people to know what’s going on with you, that can be a bad sign. You need to feel like you can rely on your partner for help.

Other times, it can be inappropriate to share information with other people before sharing it with your spouse. Making decisions by yourself without them can also sometimes not be respectful to them.

You Or Your Partner Forget Special Days

You or your partner might not be making the effort to remember special days such as birthdays or anniversaries. That might show that either of you is not putting effort into the relationship. Even if someone remembers the occasion, they may not put effort into celebrating it. The opposite of love is indifference, and your partner can be indifferent to things that are important to you.

Hiding Financial Issues

Financial issues are one of the most common marital problems. One partner might be hiding their lavish spending or gambling addiction from the other spouse.

It can be a source of betrayal, anger, and loss of trust in a marriage.

You Don’t Want To Go Home

Some spouses just do not want to go home. Perhaps they will stay late at work or sleep over at a friend’s house to avoid their partner. In these cases, the spouse may wish to discuss the matter of divorce with a family law attorney. The lawyer may be able to provide legal advice regarding property division, child custody, and other matters that relate to the divorce process.

If you consistently don’t want to go home even when you’re not in an argument, you might be consciously avoiding your home because of your partner.

Your Partner Consistently Threatens Divorce

Your partner might threaten a divorce each time both of you get into an argument. It’s certainly a sign your partner has been considering it. Perhaps they do not think the relationship will last, especially if they have been unhappy.

Disagreements About Parenting Issues

It’s normal for couples to have different parenting styles. However, if both of you cannot agree on consistent ways of enforcing discipline or making decisions for your children, it can be very difficult to hold your family together. You can easily get into conflict with your partner.

Disagreements About Friends

Your partner might not like some of your good friends and vice versa. You may be loyal to your friends. Nevertheless, hanging out with them without telling your partner when you know your partner would be unhappy can be a problem.

Feeling Lonely In A Marriage

If you feel lonely in a marriage, that is an issue. It means your partner is not fulfilling your need for companionship. Your partner may also not be willing to participate in things you enjoy doing. This means you can’t spend time together doing the things you like.

Happily married couples usually try to look past their different interests so that they can spend more time together. One partner may decide to try out an activity the other person really likes even if they don’t enjoy it much, and vice versa. Both people have to put in the effort to spend time together.

It’s also an issue if you’re not spending time talking to your partner as much as you used to for emotional support. Both of you may be spending more time on your phones as a way to avoid each other because you feel like you’re out of things to say to each other.

Stressing About Your Marriage

If you always feel stressed about your marriage and feel like you have to be on guard when you are around your partner, that is not an indication of a healthy marriage.

You might also find yourself dreading your spouse coming home from work which is not a good sign.

You Feel Controlled By Your Spouse

If your spouse consistently dismisses your opinions and thoughts, resentment might grow in your relationship with them which can lead to problems. It can seem like your spouse controls you and you cannot get what you need, or that they are trying to change the way you do things.

Finances are one of the ways spouses try to take control. They may not allow you to have your own bank account or credit card. You may also have no say in the house or car both of you purchase together.

Hesitation To Take Big Steps

You might find yourself hesitating to make big decisions to move to another state, change jobs, or buy a home with your spouse. If it happens consistently, it can be an indication that you’re holding yourself back from investing more into the relationship because your marriage is in trouble.

You could also not be able to see yourself with your spouse for the next 5 or 10 years in the future. Your spouse might be holding you back from your own life goals. You could start to dream of embarking on a new journey without them. Sometimes you’ll start fantasizing about how you would spend your free time, how you would take care of your child or where you would travel to while alone.

A couple can also count down the days to milestones such as financial independence or kids leaving the house to be free of their marriage.

Your Spouse Publicly Embarrasses You

If your spouse embarrasses you even though you’re in front of your family, friends, or co-workers, that can indicate that you’re in a toxic relationship. Light teasing in front of other people is fine. Even so, when it escalates to public humiliation, you might want to reconsider whether you will allow yourself to be treated that way and if you should be a couple.

There are ways to save your marriage and rediscover the love between a married couple. However, sometimes you might think that it’s not worth the effort to change things. You may not see a future with your partner. Deciding to end a marriage is a big decision.

Divorce can be a challenging legal process that takes a heavy emotional toll on your family. You will need to adjust to new changes in your lifestyle and financial situation. Let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch + Associates help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law to help you make the process as painless as we can.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.