Online divorce in Houston, TX Divorce Attorney

Online Divorce in Texas: Don’t Do It

Online Divorce: Probably Not the Bargain You Think It Is

When you make the decision to end your marriage, it’s only natural to want to pursue the easiest path forward. While online divorces are on the rise and you may be tempted by their seeming expedience and low cost, proceed with extreme caution. A uncontested divorce that begins with both parties in complete agreement on every conceivable point can end up being a contested divorce, and an online divorce has very few mechanisms to protect your best interests. If you are facing a divorce in Texas, consult with an experienced Houston divorce attorney.

Divorce and Your Financial Future

The dissolution of a marriage is exceedingly stressful and fraught with emotion. Further, the outcome will likely significantly affect your finances far into the future. You don’t want to leave your financial future to chance, and even seemingly minor missteps in an online divorce can leave you less financially secure. When you’re going through a divorce, you’re going through a lot, and this isn’t the best circumstance for tackling Texas State law on your own.

Texas Divorce Online

While forging ahead with an online divorce may appeal to your desire to expedite the process, keep expenses to a minimum, and move forward with dispatch, it’s important to give the matter some serious thought. Even a relatively straightforward divorce that doesn’t involve children can quickly become complicated. The stress and emotions brought on by divorce can push otherwise reasonable people into extremely unreasonable actions. What begins as an amicable divorce can quickly morph into something far more complicated. Further, if you’ve begun on the path toward an online divorce and end up needing to hire a lawyer in the end – which isn’t uncommon – it could easily cost you more and take longer than it would have if you’d hired an attorney in the first place.

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Common DIY Mistakes

Divorce is complicated, and the law is complicated, and as such, going it alone is rarely a good idea. There are several common mistakes that couples make when pursuing an online divorce:

  • Child Custody Arrangements

Many couples going through what they believe to be amicable divorces assume that they’ll continue to agree about child custody arrangements into the future and that they’ll deal with changes as they evolve. Child custody arrangements, however, are naturally one of the most critical issues for parents facing divorce. After divorce, your lives will change, and it’s very difficult to predict if you will continue to see eye-to-eye regarding these arrangements. You want what’s best for your children; protect yourself by working with an experienced custody attorney from the outset.

  • Division of Marital Property

Many people assume that their marital property will be split evenly down the middle in a divorce. As discussed in our family law blog article, “Property and Debt Division in Texas-What you Should Know” the State of Texas, however, has considerable discretion in the division of community property and takes many variables into consideration in determining a “just and right” division of that property. Things can become more complicated still when it comes to determining precisely what is marital property and what is individual property. The division of your marital assets involves many important details – including tax implications – that can have financial repercussions far into your future; don’t leave it to chance.

  • Tax Implications

After your divorce, the custodial parent of your children – the parent with whom they primarily live – is generally entitled to all the tax benefits that come from claiming your children as deductions. Divorce is complicated, and taxes are complicated – and you may not even want to think about the two in conjunction with one another. The tax implications of your divorce are likely to be significant, and letting the chips fall where they may is not a good idea. An attorney will help you better understand the tax implications of your divorce and what you can do to protect you and your children’s financial futures.

  • Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance – or what you may think of as alimony – is not the norm in a Texas divorce, but there are circumstances in which it plays a role. Spousal maintenance in Texas refers to the money that a higher-earning spouse pays a lower-earning spouse – but only when certain requirements are met. These requirements focus on the number of years you were married, your separate earning potentials, and other factors that contribute to your individual capacities to support yourselves. While it’s far from a given, if you are entitled to spousal support, you don’t want to forego this income. Read our article, “Texas Divorce and Spousal Maintenance” for more information.

  • Consideration of Your Future

The fact is that your life is going to change in fairly dramatic ways after your divorce. You and your ex will be maintaining separate households, and your children will likely be dividing their time between both of them. This is not only more expensive but also more time consuming than the life you share under one roof. It is difficult to comprehend all the changes you are about to experience, and as such, it’s difficult to plan for them. A dedicated Houston family law attorney has the experience and knowledge to help you carefully consider the details of your divorce and to ensure that you pursue a divorce decree that protects your rights and allows you to move forward with confidence into your future.

Every divorce is unique to its own set of circumstances. The outcome of your divorce, however, will significantly affect your future, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’re doing everything within your power – under the guidance of an experienced family law attorney – to ensure that you protect your rights can be invaluable.

Before Considering an Online Divorce, Consult with an Experienced Houston Divorce Lawyer

An online Texas divorce is very unlikely to be in your best interests – there’s just too much at stake not to seek experienced legal counsel. The dedicated lawyers at the Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston, have the experience, commitment, and skill to help you pinpoint your priorities and to aggressively advocate on your behalf. We’re here to help, so please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

abandonment texas divorce

At Fault Divorce in Texas: Abandonment

Fault in a Texas Divorce: Abandonment

Texas is what’s known as a “no-fault divorce state,” which means that couples get end their marriages without proving that one spouse was at fault for the breakdown of the relationship. Instead, most divorces in Texas are based on the marriage having become insupportable – the two spouses can find no common ground on which to reconcile their difference. Not every Texas divorce, however, follows this path, and sometimes fault – in the form of abandonment – plays a part. If you and your children have been abandoned by your spouse, seek experienced legal counsel; your financial future could depend upon it.

People also read: Does Adultery Play a Role in a Texas Divorce

The Legal Definition of Abandonment

You know how difficult it is to cope with your spouse’s abandonment. It’s important to understand, however, that there is a legal definition of abandonment, the elements of which must be met before you can seek a Texas divorce that’s predicated on abandonment. Specifically, there are two necessary elements:

  1. Your spouse left you (and your children if you have them), and his or her intent was to abandon you.
  2. Your spouse has been gone for at least a year.

If these two elements aren’t both applicable to your situation, it doesn’t rise to the level of abandonment. Further, the burden is on you to show that your spouse actually intended to abandon you.

Community Property

Because Texas is a community property state, everything that you and your spouse accrue during the course of your marriage is owned equally by both of you. You shouldn’t take this to mean that your marital property will be split evenly down the middle at the time of a divorce, however. The State of Texas, instead, seeks a “just and right” division of marital property, which allows the court considerable discretion when it comes to dividing your property in a Texas divorce.

Abandonment and the Division of Marital Property

While most divorces in Texas aren’t fault-based, that doesn’t mean that a divorce based on abandonment will proceed exactly like a no-fault divorce. In fact, the issue of abandonment is likely to play a significant role in how the court determines a division of property that is just and right given the circumstances. If you and your children have been abandoned, you have no doubt suffered financial and emotional hardships that were borne of that abandonment. One obvious financial burden is the fact that while your partner was AWOL, your household had to keep going without his or her income. The judge presiding over your divorce will likely give this fact serious consideration in determining a just and right division of your marital property.

Abandonment and Your Children

During divorce, child custody arrangements are of universal primary concern – they typically take precedence over even the division of marital property. If your spouse has abandoned you and your children, you’ve been through an exceedingly difficult time that likely includes extreme financial and emotional setbacks. Caring for your family without the support of your spouse is obviously an overwhelming hardship, and the court isn’t likely to lose sight of this fact.

When it comes to issues related to child custody, Texas courts typically proceed with the presumption that keeping a healthy and ongoing relationship with both parents after a divorce is in the best interests of the children. If one parent has abandoned the family for a year or more, however, it may well mitigate this presumption. In matters of child custody – as in the division of marital property – the judge wields a considerable amount of discretion, and he or she can use this discretion to significantly limit the amount of access your soon-to-be ex will have with your shared children.

Abandonment and Its Effects on a Texas Divorce

When it comes to abandonment, the negative effects are difficult to overstate. Once it’s established that your spouse’s abandonment directly contributed to the dissolution of your marriage and deprived you and your children of the expected continued benefits of that marriage, it will likely guide the court toward a decision that grants you a greater share of the marital property. Further, it will likely color the court’s view of what’s in the children’s best interests. The court considers several factors in evaluating the legally mandated best interests of the children:

  • The stability of your home
  • Which one of you acted as the children’s primary caregiver during the marriage
  • The physical and emotional needs of the children

If a parent abandons the home for an entire year, it represents a strong indication that said parent isn’t likely to shine in any of these categories.

Spousal Maintenance

What other states often call alimony, the State of Texas generally refers to as spousal maintenance. Texas courts don’t often grant spousal maintenance. To begin, you must be able to demonstrate that you don’t have enough property and/or income to provide for your basic needs. One of several additional strict parameters, however, must also apply:

  • You were married for at least ten years, and you are the lower earner – who cannot provide for your own basic needs.
  • You are the lower earner, and you cannot provide for yourself because of a physical or mental disability.
  • You are the lower earner, and you have custody of a child you share – a child who has a mental or physical disability that precludes you from working toward your own financial independence.
  • Your spouse is the higher earner, and he or she has been convicted of committing family violence against you or your children in the two years prior to the divorce filing.

If you do qualify for spousal maintenance, the court can take your spouse’s abandonment into consideration in awarding that maintenance.  See our family law blog article Texas Divorce and Spousal Maintenance for more information.

If Your Spouse Abandoned You, Consult with an Experienced Houston Family Law Attorney Today

Divorce is always difficult, but abandonment can make it that much more overwhelming. The dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston is here to help. Our compassionate divorce attorneys have the experience, knowledge, and determination to advocate aggressively in defense of your best interests throughout the divorce process. For more information, please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

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divorce decree modifcation in Texas

Modifying Divorce Decrees in Texas

Modifying Your Texas Divorce Decree

If you’ve been through a divorce in Texas, you know precisely how emotionally exhausting that is, and once you’ve made it to the other side, the last thing you want to think about is going back in and making changes – even if they’re in your best interest. It’s perfectly understandable that you don’t want to rock that boat. Sometimes, however, circumstances change to such a degree that the divorce decree no longer adequately addresses the issues, and a modification is the best mechanism for correcting this discrepancy. If you have questions about potential modifications to your divorce decree, consult with an experienced Houston family law attorney today.

Your Divorce Decree

Every Texas divorce process begins with the filing of an Original Petition for Divorce and ends when the judge signs the final Divorce Decree. The process is stressful, and there are no guarantees about the outcome. Most divorces are concluded via mediation rather than in front of a judge. Mediation involves you and your divorcing spouse, your respective attorneys, and a neutral third party all striving to negotiate compromises on the issues involved in your case. When mediation is successful, it ends with a Mediated Settlement Agreement. If you’re unable to come to a resolution through mediation, your case will go before the judge. No matter how your divorce is resolved, you’ll end up with a Final Decree of Divorce that outlines every order determined (no matter how the determination was accomplished). This decree is highly specific, and it dictates how you and your ex will proceed with regard to child custody arrangements, finances, and the division of assets and debts.

Circumstances Evolve

As your children get older and you and your ex-spouse’s careers and lives evolve, your divorce decree may or may not keep up with your lives. If you find that your situation has changed enough to warrant modification, there is a legal mechanism for pursuing such a change. Except in situations in which either you, your ex, or your children have experienced a substantial change in circumstances (that occurred after the divorce was signed), the law doesn’t favor such modifications. If you believe your situation warrants modification, speak with a knowledgeable Houston divorce lawyer today.

Petition to Modify a Divorce Decree

Generally, you can file a petition to modify a divorce decree after at least one year has passed since your original decree was executed. The types of modifications that are most common involve spousal support, child support, and child custody orders. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Child Support Modification

If you or your children’s circumstances have undergone a material and substantial change since your divorce order was signed, your child support orders may be modifiable. Further, if it’s been three years since your child support orders were signed or were previously modified and the monthly amount of your child support differs from the current Texas child support guidelines contained in the Texas Family Code by 20 percent (or by at least $100), your child support orders may be modifiable. Additionally, changes such as a spouse’s increased salary, a change in your children’s needs, or a change in with whom your children are primarily living, could warrant a child-support modification request.

  • Child Custody Modification

What you probably think of as child custody is referenced by the State of Texas as “possession” or “access.” The parent who is the managing conservator determines the children’s primary residence and is entitled to child support (if it is part of the decree) while the possessory conservator is generally granted a visitation schedule with the children and is obligated to pay child support (if it is part of the decree). If the managing conservator voluntarily relinquishes the role as primary caregiver for at least six months, the parent who takes on the role can file for a modification that names himself or herself as the primary caregiver. Further, once a child reaches the age of 12, a motion can be filed that allows the child to discuss his or her opinions related to primary residency with the presiding judge in the judge’s chambers. Issues related to your children’s custody arrangements are obviously your top priority, and if you have concerns, consult with an experienced Houston family law attorney today.

  • Spousal Support Modification

What many other states call alimony, Texas identifies as spousal maintenance. There is a presumption against awarding maintenance unless the marriage at issue lasted over ten years or there are other specific circumstances present. A significant change in circumstances could warrant a modification to the amount or duration of spousal support or could eliminate the support altogether. Spousal support is based on highly specific circumstances, so if you think your spousal support order warrants modification, you need experienced legal counsel.

Making Modifications

Sometimes an ex-spouse simply doesn’t adhere to the arrangements outlined in the divorce decree, and that’s unfortunate, but it does not mean that you can make modifications on your own to attempt to remedy the situation. For example, if your ex isn’t paying you the child support you’re owed, you cannot alter his or her visitation schedule in retaliation. This is a matter for the court, and you must go through the proper channels to have the situation rectified. If you, your ex, and/or your children have experienced a significant change in circumstances since your divorce decree was signed, you may be eligible to have that decree modified; an experienced Houston divorce lawyer will explore your best options with you.

If You Have Questions about Modifying Your Divorce Decree, an Experienced Houston Family Law Attorney Can Help

You’ve already been through your divorce, and you probably don’t want to revisit those difficult times. However, if you, your ex, and/or your children have experienced dramatic changes in circumstances, you may be eligible to modify your divorce decree to better accommodate the circumstances in which you find yourself living. While such modifications are often complicated, the dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston has the experience and commitment to aggressively advocate for the modifications to which you are entitled. We’re here to help, so please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

Child Custody and Home State issue Texas Divorce

Child Custody and Leaving the State before a Divorce

Divorce and Moving the Kids out of State

If your spouse moves your children out of state before either of you has filed for a Texas divorce, it can be to your detriment when it comes to the determination of child custody. If you haven’t begun the divorce process, there may be very little that you can do about the move, but it’s also true that the court may interpret your spouse’s action as wrongful conduct – and this can affect how it ultimately determines custody. If you have questions about how a move out of state with your children – either your own move or your spouse’s – could affect custody, you need an experienced Texas family law attorney.

When the Move Takes Place

Before the court issues a custody order regarding your children, you both share equal rights to possession and access of your children. This means that you can both make important decisions related to your children – including what state they’ll live in – independently of each other. This does not, however, mean that it’s a good idea to move out of state with your children before filing for divorce – such a move can backfire on your custody plans. Experienced legal counsel will guide you through the process of obtaining a court order that identifies each of your parental rights and responsibilities as you navigate the divorce proceedings.

Can I Ensure that My Children Remain in State when They’re with Their Other Parent?

Once there is an order in place regarding time with your children, it typically means that when they are with you, it is your time with them and you can take them where you’d like within that time frame – and the same is true for their other parent. If one of you wants to take your kids out of state, you are free to do so as long as you do so within your designated time. The court may, however, take extenuating circumstances into consideration on a case-by-case basis in determining if additional travel restrictions are warranted.

Which State Determines Orders for the Children

If your spouse has moved out of state with your children and they have lived together there for the six months prior to filing for divorce, Texas probably doesn’t have jurisdiction regarding opening a custody case for your children. Under the Texas Family Code, a new case can only be established if two elements are met:

  1. Texas is the child’s “Home State.”
  2. No other state has jurisdiction (or the other state has declined jurisdiction).

Texas identifies a Home State as being the state in which the children lived with a parent (or with someone acting as a parent) for at least the six consecutive months that precede the commencement of a child custody proceeding. In other words, only the state in which the child lived for the last six months has jurisdiction over the child’s custody. If a child is younger than six months old, this restriction refers to the state the child has lived in since birth.

Child Support

If your children have lived outside of Texas for six months prior to you filing for divorce, Texas will no longer have jurisdiction over custody of your children. As such, Texas can’t issue visitation orders, can’t grant you decision-making rights, and can’t force your divorcing spouse to return to the state with your children. What Texas can do, however, is compel you to pay child support.  Texas Family Code allows that a parent living with his or her children outside of Texas can ask for the establishment of Texas child support from the other parent (who does live in Texas).

For more information on support read our family law article, “Houston Child Support Lawyer: Child Support in Texas“.

What if Texas Is My Children’s Home State?

If Texas is your children’s Home State, and your divorcing spouse has moved them out of state, you have options, but it is important to act quickly. If you seek legal relief, you must file for divorce before your kids have been living out of state for six months in order to retain Texas jurisdiction. In such an instance, the court can take action and may instruct your soon-to-be to either return with the children to live in Texas or to return the children to live with you in Texas.

What if My Children Have Been Living out of State for More than Six Months?

If your children have been living out of state with their other parent for more than six months, it means that Texas is no longer your children’s Home State, and in most situations, Texas will have no jurisdiction other than ordering you to pay child support. While you can still obtain a Texas divorce, you won’t be able to address child custody within that divorce.

Addressing Your Concerns

If you are facing a Texas divorce and a move out of state is part of that process, consult with an experienced Houston family law attorney before you take the plunge and move your children out of state – the court could consider your move wrongful conduct, and it could adversely affect the custody of your children. Conversely, if your spouse has moved your kids out of state – or you’re concerned that he or she might do so – time is of the essence. Once you’ve filed for divorce in Texas, the court can issue a custody order that precludes your spouse from moving your kids out of state during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. Whatever your unique situation, you need skilled legal guidance.

If You Have Child Custody Concerns, Contact an Experienced Houston Family Law Attorney Today

Issues related to child custody are often hotly contested during divorce. If you have concerns about moving your children out of state – or about your spouse moving them out of state – during the divorce process, the dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., has the experience and knowledge to advocate you and your children’s best interests. We’re here to help, so please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

Dividing a Business in Texas Divorce

Divorce and Property Division in Texas: What Happens to the Family Business?

This blog posts discusses divorce and property division where a business is involved in a Texas Divorce. Divorce can be complicated. After the issue of child custody arrangements, the division of marital property usually tops the list of complications. A family business can make an already complicated process that much more difficult. A family business is often a symbol of all the hard work and commitment you have put into both your family and your career, and walking away can be especially painful. If you are facing a divorce and you own a family business, you need an experienced Houston divorce attorney.

What is Martial Property in Texas?

In Texas, the property you acquire during your marriage is generally considered marital property. Marital property is divided between you and your divorcing spouse in a way that the court deems “just and right.” (See Texas Family Code 7.001). Suffice to say, however, that the court’s determination of what is just and right may be odds with your ideas of how to divide your property. Coming to terms with the outcome can be especially difficult. Unless you and your spouse are able to hammer out an agreement related to your business, the court will make the determination for you.

Read this blog post to learn more about “Property and Debt Division in Texas: What you should Know.

How Do I Value the Family Business in a Texas Divorce?

It is difficult to come to an equitable division of a family business in a divorce if you do not have an accurate valuation of that business. The thing about business valuations, however, is that they can vary widely. While reputable business valuators should ultimately come to similar values, there is plenty of room for your spouse to bolster the business’s value or to minimize the business’s value – depending upon his or her motivations. In other words, obtaining one business valuation that accurately reflects your business’s value and that both of you can agree upon can be a challenge. If you own a business chances are you have substantial assets.  For a more detailed discussion, check out our article “High Asset Divorce in Texas, What you Need to Know“.

Businesses are Sometimes More than Monetary Value

When your divorce involves a business, it is essential to recognize that the business likely has more than just monetary value. If you are involved in running the business, it is probably a labor of love that can be difficult to monetize. Further, the business provides you with a career and a means of supporting your family. This is something that a check written for an amount that equals roughly half the business’s value simply cannot do. If you are facing a divorce that involves a family business, there is a lot to consider.

Options for Dividing a Family Business in a Texas Divorce

If your business is a going concern that provides for your family, you have options when it comes to your divorce:

• You can continue running the business as business partners who are not married. If you ran the business together as a married couple, you still have the requisite experience, skill, and commitment to doing so that you had before you were divorced. However, if your divorce is plagued by acrimony – which nearly any divorce can devolve into – this path forward is unlikely to be successful.

• You can sell the business and split the proceeds. While this is often the cleanest approach, it has its own inherent difficulties. The proceeds from such a sale can vary widely due to a fluctuating market and to your ability to find the right buyer at the right time. Ultimately, selling for the sole purpose of divorce can be a financial setback.

• One of you can buy the other’s interest in the business. This option makes a lot of sense because it provides the business with continuity of ownership, it guarantees that the business will continue to be competently managed, and it bypasses the need to worry about the market and to find the right buyer right now.

The difficulty with this option is that it can be very hard to walk away from a business that you have worked so hard to manage and grow. Additionally, if your business continues on the successful path that you have helped set it on, your ex-spouse is likely to reap greater rewards (than you may have been compensated for) by selling in a strong market to the right buyer, which could take years but could also happen soon after the divorce.

When it comes to divorce and your family business, there are so many angles to consider that it is nearly impossible to formulate a “right” answer. Instead, a dedicated divorce attorney will help you see the big picture, will help you determine what options are likely to work best for you and your children, and will help you move forward with purpose – knowing that you have made informed decisions in your pursuit of life after divorce.

The Family Business and Mediation

If your divorce does proceed to court, the judge will determine how the division of your family business will be handled, and this is generally not in your best interests. If you and your divorcing spouse – with the guidance of your respective attorneys – cannot come to an agreement that is somewhat mutually satisfactory, formal mediation can help. The neutral mediator in the process will help both of you better understand exactly what your options are and what will likely happen if you take the matter to court. Hammering out a decision together that helps preserve the integrity of the business you built together can be an important step forward in the divorce process in Texas.

Divorce being what it is, however, mediation does not always accomplish its intended results. Your experienced Houston divorce attorney will work closely with you throughout the process and will help you keep your eyes trained for what is best for you and your children – whether that means continuing with the mediation process or proceeding to court.

Read this blog post for more information on mediation: “Houston Divorce Mediation and why it is better than Trial

If You Are Facing a Divorce that Involves a Family Business, You Need an Experienced Houston Divorce Attorney

Few things complicate a divorce more than a family business, but experienced legal counsel will help you find a solution that works for you. The dedicated legal professionals at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., have the experience and fortitude to fight for your case’s best possible resolution. We care about your case, and we are here to help, so please fill out an online evaluation using the “Contact Us” link in the menu or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

Please read the articles below for more valuable information on the process of divorce in Texas.

Connect with me on Google+ at +Shawn Rudisel

Adultery in Texas Divorce

Does Adultery Play a Role in a Texas Divorce?

Texas Divorce and Adultery

Most Texas divorces are difficult, and every divorce is unique to its own set of circumstances. If your spouse engaged in an affair during your marriage – or during the divorce process itself – it can make an already challenging experience that much more painful. If you are considering a divorce and wondering if your spouse’s unfaithfulness will play a role in its outcome, you need to speak with an experienced Houston divorce attorney. As discussed in our article, “Meeting Your Divorce Lawyer for the First Time: What you need to Know” it is imperative that you disclose this type of information. In the end, your spouse’s infidelity can affect the outcome of your divorce, but the effects likely will not be as straightforward as you might imagine.

Texas: A No-Fault Divorce State

Texas is a no-fault divorce state in the sense that you do not need to cite fault to obtain a divorce. In a no-fault divorce, insupportability (often referred to as irreconcilable differences) typically stands in as the reason behind the divorce. It is important to recognize, however, that in Texas – unlike in many other states – you have the option of filing a divorce based on fault, including adultery. While most Texas divorces are no-fault divorces and the path toward such a divorce is far more straightforward, there are instances when pursuing a divorce based on fault is the appropriate approach. A dedicated Houston divorce attorney will help you determine your best options as you go through the divorce process.

The Legal Definition of Adultery

For your spouse’s infidelity to reach the level necessary to file for a divorce based on fault, his or her actions must correspond with Texas’s legal definition of adultery. In the Texas Family Code, adultery is defined very specifically:

• A married person who voluntarily has sexual intercourse with someone who is not his or her spouse commits adultery.
• A married person who engages in sexual acts (that are not intercourse) with someone who is not his or her spouse has not committed adultery.

This distinction can be a difficult concept with which to come to terms. For example, even if you discover that your spouse is having a heated relationship, including explicit photographs, on his or her phone or computer, this relationship does not equate with the legal definition of adultery. In other words, even though your spouse is engaging in behavior that you – and most other people – consider a betrayal, it is not adultery in Texas unless it meets Texas’s legal definition of adultery.

People also read: At Fault Divorce in Texas: Abandonment

We Were Separated at the Time

Even if you and your spouse were living separately at the time that the adultery occurred, it has no bearing on the legal claim of adultery. In Texas, married couples remain married until they are divorced. Texas does not recognize legal separations, so if your spouse begins a new sexual relationship before you are divorced, he or she is committing adultery. This is true even if you are separated and going through the divorce process.

Proving Your Spouse’s Adultery

To bring a divorce that is based on your spouse’s adultery, you must be able to provide proof of that adultery with evidence that is “clear and convincing.” This is a higher standard of proof than the “preponderance of the truth” that typically applies in civil cases. The necessary proof can be as simple as your spouse admitting to the relationship, but it can also necessitate the compilation of evidence that supports your claim. This means that your divorce is going to be decidedly more complicated and more labor intensive than a no-fault divorce would likely be. Your trusted attorney will help you determine if the additional outlay of work is worth the likely outcome.

Adultery and Your Divorce

In Texas, your marital property is not necessarily divided equally in a divorce but instead is divided in a manner that the court deems “just and right.” This means that the judge who hears your case has considerable latitude when it comes to the division of your marital property, which – other than child custody arrangements – is the primary focus of most divorces. As such, the judge who hears your case can take your spouse’s adulterous behavior into consideration when determining how your marital property should be divided between the two of you. If your spouse committed adultery, you can request that you be awarded a disproportionate percentage. Again, this outcome remains at the judge’s discretion when deciding property division in a Texas divorce.

It is also worth noting that pursuing a divorce based on adultery can have a motivating effect on some spouses. If your spouse is very concerned with his or her reputation, he or she may be inclined to agree to more generous settlement terms with you outside of court. Generally, avoiding court – where the judge will determine your financial future – is better for everyone. For a more in depth discussion of property division during a Texas divorce, read  our article entitled, “Property and Debt Division in Texas: What you should Know.

Some Components of Divorce Are Not Affected by Adultery

While your spouse’s adultery may play a role in how the court divides marital property between the two of you, there are certain aspects of your divorce that it will not affect:

• Eligibility for spousal maintenance or alimony is not affected by adultery. If you are eligible for spousal support, however, the amount and duration may be affected.
• Adultery probably will not play a role in the child custody arrangements that come out of your divorce. This is an illustration of the theory that being a faithless spouse does not necessarily make someone a bad parent. Our article entitled “Texas Divorce and Spousal Maintenance” gives an in-depth overview of spousal maintenance.

Moving Forward with a Fault-Based Divorce

There are situations in which moving forward with a divorce based on adultery is meaningful and situations where it is not. A divorce that is based on fault is typically a more complicated and expensive endeavor, so unless your marital property is fairly extensive, you may be better off going with a no-fault divorce. Again, however, every divorce is as unique as the two divorcing individuals, and a dedicated divorce attorney will help you see the big picture and identify the option that works best for you.

If You Are Facing a Divorce that Involves Adultery, Consult with an Experienced Houston Divorce Attorney Today

Divorce is always difficult, but infidelity often makes it that much more painful. If adultery plays a role in your divorce, the dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C.,can help you navigate your best path forward. Our experienced divorce attorneys are here to help, so please fill out an online evaluation using the “Contact Us” link in the menu or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

Please read the following articles for a more involved discussion of Divorce in Texas:

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Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce in Texas

If you’re going through a divorce in Texas, you have questions. Here are some answers to questions we often hear from clients when they first come to see us. For more information, call us today to speak with a Texas divorce attorney.  Texas Family Law is what we do.

How do I begin the divorce process in Texas?

The best way to begin the divorce process is by consulting with an experienced Houston divorce attorney, who will file an Original Petition for Divorce on your behalf.  You will be named as the petitioner (the spouse who begins the case by filing the Original Petition for Divorce), and your spouse will be named as the respondent (the spouse who is positioned to respond to the Original Petition for Divorce).

The following articles explain meeting with your attorney in more detail:

Can I obtain a legal separation in Texas?

In the State of Texas, unlike in many other states, there is no legal separation; you remain married until you are legally divorced. If you need to protect your interests related to your property and/or your children during the divorce process, you’ll need to obtain temporary orders.

Does Texas recognize common law marriage?

Yes, Texas recognizes common law marriages when three separate elements are all met:

1. A man and woman agree that they are in a common law marriage.
2. The couple lives together as husband and wife in Texas.
3. The two present themselves to the public as a married couple.

When all three elements are met, and it is determined that you are in a common law marriage, then (in order to dissolve that common law marriage) you must go through the divorce process just like any other married couple.

Where do I file for divorce?

You can file either in the Texas county that you live in as a married couple (if you live together) or in the Texas county where either one of you lives (if you are no longer living together). It’s important to note, however, that the spouse who lives in the county where the divorce is being filed must meet residency requirements, including that he or she has lived in the county for at least 90 days (immediately prior to filing) and has lived in Texas for at least six months (immediately prior to filing).

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What is a Waiver of Service?

Under the Texas Family Code, when one spouse opens a divorce case, the respondent must be notified – usually by a process server. If the respondent is willing to sign a Waiver of Service, he or she waives the need to be served formally.  This is one difference between contested divorces and uncontested divorce.

No Fault Divorce State

No, Texas is what is known as a no-fault state, which means either one of you can file for a divorce based on the fact that your marriage is insupportable. Basically, this means that it’s only necessary for one (or both) of you to want a divorce – whatever the reason is.  As discussed in “Does Adultery Play a Role in a Texas Divorce?” a finding of fault in a Texas divorce can affect property division.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce in Texas is one in which both you and your spouse come to an agreement on the major issues:

• On pursuing a divorce
• On child custody arrangements, including parental decision-making responsibilities, primary custody, visitation schedules, and child support
• On the division of marital property and debts
• On spousal support

If you and your divorcing spouse are able to come to an agreement on these major hurdles, you are well on your way to hammering out an uncontested divorce that will likely save you time, money, and heartache in the long run. This does not, however, mean that you should settle for less than you are entitled to expedite the process. A knowledgeable Houston divorce lawyer will help you find your best path forward.

Please read the following articles on uncontested divorces in Texas for more in-depth discussions:

How is property divided in a Texas divorce?

While you may believe that divorce means that you’ll split everything down the middle, it doesn’t work quite that way in Texas. Instead, the court will determine a division of your community property that is “just and right.” In other words, the court has a good deal of discretion in the matter and can take a variety of issues into consideration:

• Who is at fault in the divorce (even though Texas is a no-fault divorce state, fault can play a role)
• If there is disparity in earning potential
• If there is disparity in separate property
• Each spouse’s physical health and condition
• Either spouse’s unusual spending

The fact is that the court’s determination of what is “just and right” could vary considerably from your own. Besides issues related to child custody concerns, however, the division of property is typically the most hotly contested component of any divorce. Work closely with your Houston divorce lawyer to help ensure that your rights are well protected regarding property division.

How is community property determined in Texas?

Texas, being a community property state, generally considers anything you acquire as a married couple – no matter whose name is on it – to be community property. Property that either of you obtained prior to your marriage (or that you received via gift or inheritance during your marriage) is generally considered separate property that won’t be factored into the division of community property in your divorce.

How long does it take to obtain a Texas divorce?

It’s impossible to know at the outset exactly how long it will take to obtain your Texas divorce, but you must wait a mandatory minimum of 60 days after filing before you are eligible to appear before the court and finalize your divorce. This time frame, however, can be deceptive – unless you and your divorcing spouse are in agreement on all of the major divorce issues, which is often easier said than done.

If You Have Questions about Divorce in Texas, Look No Further than an Experienced Houston Divorce Attorney

If you are facing a Texas divorce, you are bound to have questions, but the dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., is here to help. Our experienced divorce attorneys have the skill, knowledge, and compassion to help ensure that your best interests are protected throughout the divorce process. For more information, please fill out an online evaluation using the “Contact Us” link in the menu or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

Spousal Maintenance and Alimony Texas Divorce

Texas Divorce and Spousal Maintenance

If you are considering – or are facing – a divorce in Texas, you no doubt have many concerns. Divorce is often overwhelming, and finding the best path forward can be exceedingly difficult. Typically, child custody and financial concerns represent a divorcing couples’ primary sticking points, and these financial concerns often include the prospect of spousal maintenance. Many people have misconceptions when it comes to spousal maintenance, so it helps to understand the basics.

For an overview of the divorce process, please read:

Texas Divorce: The Basics

Spousal Maintenance

In the State of Texas, what other states refer to as alimony or spousal support is known as spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance represents money that the higher earner in the couple pays the lower earner as a means of financial support. Spousal maintenance, however, is not a given in a Texas divorce. Instead, Texas has statutory requirements that must be met before spousal maintenance applies. In other words, spousal maintenance in Texas is probably less common than you think.

The Court’s Consideration

When it comes to determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate in a specific divorce, the court takes a variety of factors into consideration:

• You and your spouse’s assets and incomes
• You and your spouse’s employment histories and earning capacities
• How long you and your spouse were married
• You and your spouse’s ages and general physical and mental health
• You and your spouse’s separate abilities to provide for your own basic needs
• Whether you or your spouse committed adultery during your marriage
• Whether you or your spouse has a history of spousal or child abuse
• Whether you or your spouse contributed to the other’s education or the other’s increased earning potential
• Whether you or your spouse will be required to pay child support and if that payment will affect the payor’s ability to afford his or her own basic needs

There’s a lot to consider, and the court has considerable discretion when it comes to the determination of spousal support. An experienced Houston family law attorney will help you better understand what is most likely to happen within your unique divorce circumstances. The outcome of your divorce is likely to affect your finances well into the future, and your rights are far too important to leave to chance; consult with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer today.

Factors Closely Associated with Spousal Maintenance

To qualify for spousal maintenance, you (or your spouse) must be able to show that you have insufficient income and/or property to provide for your basic needs. There are additional factors, however, that – in tandem with this inability – are likely to require spousal maintenance:

• If your marriage lasted ten years or longer and if you, as the lower earner, cannot provide for your own basic needs
• If you are the lower earner and you are unable to provide for yourself because of a physical or mental disability
• If you are the lower earner and you have custody of your shared child who has a physical or mental disability which precludes you from forging financial independence
• If your spouse is the higher earner and he or she was convicted of committing family violence against either you or your children in the two years prior to filing for divorce

Even if spousal maintenance is ordered by the court, it is typically set for a specific amount of time that usually spans no more than 5 to 10 years, which is calculated in relation to the length of the marriage and other pertinent facts. The exception to this rule is when the lower earner has a physical or mental disability that keeps him or her back or when the lower earner has custody of the couple’s disabled child. Generally, the court is motivated to order spousal maintenance for the shortest amount of time that is reasonable.

Your Basic Needs Assessed

When the court looks at your (or your divorcing spouse’s) ability to cover your own basic needs, it looks at what kind of financial assistance you will need in the future to live on your own and to cover your basic needs. This determination will focus on several basic standards:

• Your food, clothing, and shelter needs
• The aptitude and ability you have to earn income
• Your monthly expenditures

Every divorce, like every marriage, is unique to its own specific circumstances, and the court will carefully consider the details attendant to yours in determining whether spousal maintenance is appropriate.

The Duration of Spousal Maintenance in Texas

When the court orders spousal maintenance, it employs specific parameters that limit the maximum amount and duration. Again, spousal maintenance is awarded for an unlimited period only in very specific circumstances. There are prescribed limitations based on how long your marriage lasted:

• If you were married for at least ten years but no more than 20 years, the maximum period of spousal maintenance is five years.
• If you were married for 20 to 30 years, the maximum period of spousal maintenance is seven years.
• If you were married for 30 or more years, the maximum period of spousal maintenance is ten years.

Again, these are the maximum time periods allowable by law (outside of the exceptions identified above). The court need not, however, award maintenance for the maximum time period allowable. Again, the court is generally motivated to award the shortest reasonable period of spousal maintenance.

The Amount of Spousal Support in Texas

The court is also bound by specific parameters regarding the maximum amount of spousal maintenance to be awarded. Spousal maintenance cannot exceed 20 percent of the payor’s average gross monthly income, and it must be capped at $5,000 per month.

If You Have Questions about Spousal Maintenance, Consult with an Experienced Houston Family Law Attorney Today

If you are facing the Texas divorce process, you very likely have plenty of concerns related to your post-divorce financial future. There are a lot of misconceptions about spousal maintenance out there, but the dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston will help you better understand the likelihood that spousal maintenance will play a role in your divorce. Our experienced divorce attorneys have the skill, knowledge, and compassion to advocate for your best interests throughout the divorce process. We’re here to help, so please fill out an online evaluation using the “Contact Us” link in the menu or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

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Divorce Attorney Houston Texas

Divorce In Houston Texas: An Overview

Important Factors to Consider in a Texas Divorce

Every divorce proceeds along its own unique path. Some divorcing couples are able to keep things relatively calm and to follow the path they initially set out upon, while others find that their divorce proceedings become very complicated very quickly. Suffice to say, however, that no divorce is easy. Not only is every Texas divorce unique, but each state has its own set of unique divorce laws – and Texas is no exception. It can help to familiarize yourself with the Texas divorce basics. Keep in mind, however, that divorce is usually complicated and can affect nearly every aspect of your life for years to come. For this reason, it’s essential to retain a Houston divorce lawyer to represent your rights.

Please view the following article for useful information on your initial meeting with a Houston divorce lawyer:

In Texas, There Is No Legal Separation

When couples drift apart, they sometimes think that they can live separately and that sooner or later their new lifestyle will amount to a legal separation. In the State of Texas, however, there is no legal separation – no matter how long you live on your own. Failing to understand this fact can have serious consequences for your financial future.

Let’s consider an example: If you and your spouse live separately for many years, and your spouse lives the high life while you pinch your pennies, you remain tethered to that spouse’s financial situation. No matter how frugal and careful you may be, your spouse’s financial recklessness might as well be your own. To make things more complicated, your careful financial planning will benefit your spouse and help offset his or her own financial carelessness.

Naturally, there are further complications to consider:

• If your spouse purchases a home, you are a co-owner by default – and vice versa. This can obviously have significant tax implications.
• If your spouse starts a business, you are again a co-owner by default (and vice versa). Running a business can be a lucrative proposition, but it can also be a financial burden that racks up debt. The tax implications for a business are notoriously complicated.

All told, living separately from your spouse can leave you with more problems than benefits. Consult with an experienced Houston divorce attorney before you make important decisions that could negatively affect your financial future.

There Are No Quickie Texas Divorces

Divorce is always a momentous decision, and the State of Texas doesn’t take it lightly. As such, there are no expedited divorce options in Texas. As you approach the divorce process, it’s important to recognize that it’s going to take some time. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. If you’re divorcing, you naturally want to put the entire messy ordeal behind you as quickly as possible, but it’s important to proceed with caution and to make sure you’re making the best decisions for you throughout. Rushing through a divorce, while it may feel like a relief in the moment, is never a good idea. There are a lot of details to consider, and the fact that Texas doesn’t allow you to expedite a contested divorce allows you the time to carefully consider all of your options with the assistance of an experienced Houston divorce lawyer.

While the timeline for every divorce is different, there are several important factors to keep in mind:

• At least 60 days must elapse from the time you file the Petition for Divorce until your divorce is finalized. In other words, even if you and your divorcing spouse have all the details tied up with a bow when you file your Petition for Divorce, you must still wait the full 60 days before your divorce can be finalized.

• In reality, very few divorcing couples are in total agreement on every issue – especially when it comes to child custody and the division of assets – so hammering out a settlement is likely to take some time. You can expect the process to take about six months to a year.

• If your divorce does become more and more complicated or contentious as it proceeds, the process can extend much longer than a year.

When you’re heading into a divorce, it’s important to be realistic about the time frame that you are probably looking at, and a divorce lawyer will be able to give a good idea as to how long your divorce will take.

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Your Texas Divorce Is No Time to Fly Solo

It’s clear that divorce is complicated, that emotions run high throughout the process, and that the financial and emotional consequences of your divorce are likely to reverberate far into your future. Given this complex arrangement, it is almost never a good idea to tackle a divorce on your own. In fact, there are several excellent reasons not to:

• When you are going through a divorce, your emotions are almost certain to be running on overdrive, and that can color your decision-making process. It’s challenging to separate your initial emotional reaction to an issue from a response that will serve you best in the long run. Your experienced divorce attorney will help you distinguish between the two.
• The details in a Texas divorce matter – including child custody issues, child support, the division of your assets, and tax repercussions – and chances are that you have neither the experience nor the expertise to adequately attend to these issues that will almost certainly affect the financial future of both you and your children. A dedicated Houston divorce lawyer has the experience, knowledge, and skill to help.

Please review the following articles for an in-depth look into property division in Texas:

Texas Divorce Law Is Complicated – Consult with an Experienced Houston Divorce Attorney Today

At the Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., our dedicated attorneys focus exclusively on divorce and family law, which allows us to offer you the experienced guidance you need to help navigate the always-complicated path toward divorce. Your future is far too important to leave to chance. Going through a divorce is difficult, but we care about you and your claim, and we’re here to help. For a free initial consultation, please fill out an online evaluation using the “Contact Us” link in the menu or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

High Asset Divorce in Texas

High Asset Divorce: What You Need to Know

High-Asset Divorce in Texas: Unique Complications

While most Texas divorces are complicated and questions related to finances top tend to top the list of complications, divorces that involve significant assets take things to the next level. Other than issues related to child custody, finances are the single most emotionally fraught – and often contentious – component of any divorce. When you get into the territory of high assets, finances naturally become more complicated. The world of high finance often involves businesses and multiple real estate holdings, which are typically far less transparent when it comes to assigning value for the dissolution of a marriage. If you are facing a high-asset divorce, you need a skilled divorce attorney with experience handling these complex cases.

The Complications that Come with High Finances

As marital estates become larger, they also naturally tend to become more opaque and more difficult to track. The intricacies of business structures and taxation dictate that the more wealth you amass, the more complicated your finances become. This makes obtaining an accurate reading on your marital assets that much more laborious. If you and your divorcing spouse have considerable assets, it is very likely that you will need the highly specialized services of forensic accounting to calculate a reliably accurate valuation for your holdings.

The Division of Property in a Texas Divorce

Texas is a community property state, which generally means that the judge will assess the circumstances of your divorce and will divide your property – both assets and debts – in a way that he or she deems “just and right.” Just and right can obviously mean very different things to different people, and you and your soon-to-be-ex are very unlikely to see eye-to-eye on this matter. There are two factors that often play a determinative role in situations in which assets are divided lopsidedly:

• The spouse with the most responsibility for raising the children may be awarded a larger percentage of the marital property.
• A spouse with significantly less earning potential may be compensated with a larger percentage of the marital assets.

The fact that the State of Texas is not looking to divide your marital wealth evenly down the middle makes it that much more important to enlist a knowledgeable Houston divorce lawyer to protect your finances throughout the divorce process.

Your Finances

In marriages with high assets, as with many marriages, it is not uncommon for one spouse to play a far more integral role in the family’s finances. This can make determining the value of your estate even more nuanced. If you are not the party with a more active role in your family’s finances, it can put you at a disadvantage, and for this very reason, it is important to bring in an experienced divorce lawyer as quickly as possible.

The fact is that the person who is more intimately involved in your marital finances has some decided advantages when it comes to presenting your assets in a particular light. In other words, he or she likely has the insight and finesse to paint a less-than-accurate financial picture. Your financial future very likely depends upon your divorce settlement, and it is far too important not to protect your rights and to aggressively advocate for the financial settlement to which you are entitled.

Underhanded Tactics

The stress and anxiety associated with divorce are difficult to overstate, and divorcing spouses are often not at their very best when under this kind of pressure. In fact, some divorcing spouses are not above hiding assets, devaluing assets, quietly moving or selling assets – and worse – in an attempt to skew the finances in their own favor in the divorce. If your spouse is more closely involved in your family’s finances than you are, he or she is more likely to have the financial upper-hand, and it is critical that you bring in a dedicated divorce lawyer to not only help determine what your marital assets are but also to help protect your “just and right” share of those assets throughout the divorce process.

If you have reason to believe or suspect that your spouse is engaging in underhanded financial tactics, do not hesitate to share this information with your attorney. The sooner your dedicated legal advisor engages the specialized services of an investigative forensic accountant, the more secure your finances will be.

Matters of Privacy

If you are going through a high-asset divorce, the dissolution of your marriage may be the subject of a good deal of attention. After all, the world of high finance is interesting exactly because the reverberations often affect far more people than just the divorcing couple. In other words, high-asset divorces are often high-profile divorces. As such, your divorce and your financials may well be subject to more public scrutiny than you would like. A dedicated Houston divorce lawyer will endeavor to protect your privacy and to help ensure that your private financial records remain sealed and private.

Your High-Asset Divorce

Every divorce is difficult, fraught with emotion, and utterly unique. When a divorce involves the division of a sizable estate, it makes the entire process that much more delicate. Whether you are simply considering divorce or your divorce is an inevitability, it is never too soon to begin gathering your financial information and documents in the creation of as thorough a financial snapshot as possible. Synthesize the financial information that you have access to and carefully examine it with your legal counsel. A high-asset divorce has an additional layer of complexity that necessitates exacting scrutiny.

If Your Divorce Involves High Assets; Consult with a Dedicated Houston Divorce Attorney Today

The fact is that divorce is hard, and a high-asset divorce is that much harder. If you’re facing a high-asset divorce, it is critical that you obtain an experienced divorce lawyer with whom you feel comfortable working. At the Rudisel Law Firm, P.C. our experienced legal team understands the intricacies of high finance, and we’re dedicated to fighting for your financial rights. We’re here to help, so please fill out an online evaluation using the “Contact Us” link in the menu or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

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