Divorce Lawyer in Harris County, TX
Going through a divorce is an emotionally difficult process that leaves those involved uncertain about what’s to come and how to move forward. Couples in Texas can choose to file for a no-fault divorce, so some try to go through the process without an attorney. Even when you part on semi-friendly terms, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced divorce attorney. Getting a divorce in Harris County, Texas, could involve the division of significant and complicated marital assets, and/or children, complicating the most amicable divorces.
Whether you filed for divorce or your spouse filed, Texas law entitles you to a portion of assets. Without guidance through the divorce process, you risk NOT getting what you deserve when you split. Divorce lawyers have deep knowledge of the law and know how to apply it to your divorce to protect your interests as you go through the settlement process. The experienced divorce attorneys at Skillern Firm have extensive experience representing clients going through a divorce in Harris County, Texas. We also know how to handle complex cases involving high-value assets, retirement accounts, spousal maintenance, and child conservatorship.
If you wish to file for a divorce in Harris County, Texas, or your spouse has filed for divorce, you need to consult with a skilled divorce lawyer as soon as possible. You do not have to go through the divorce process by yourself; we are here to help. Contact Skillern Firm today online or at 281-990-4655 to schedule an initial consultation, so we can learn about your circumstances and protect your interests as you go through the divorce process.
Types of Divorces in Harris County, TX
If you or your spouse files for divorce in Harris County, you can choose whether to file a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce. No-fault divorces are often simple and lead to an equal division of assets. Fault divorces require the person who files for a dissolution of marriage to prove their spouse did something wrong to cause their marriage to fail, which sometimes impacts how the court divides assets and makes decisions about child conservatorship. Fault divorces typically require the expertise of an attorney who can help build a case against the other spouse to show the court why it should grant the divorce on fault-based grounds. In either case, the court needs to know why they should dissolve your marriage. Below are the most common grounds for divorce for fault and no-fault divorces.
Grounds for a Fault Divorce in Harris County
Filing for divorce requires that whoever filed provides evidence to justify their reason for divorce. Many situations serve to justify the dissolution of a marriage, and those who file can rely on a wide range of evidence to support their claim. Examples include testimony from witnesses, documents, bank records, receipts, photos, videos, and more. Fault divorces are less common than simpler no-fault divorces, but couples seeking a divorce in Harris County have the option.
Texas law explicitly outlines the grounds for a fault divorce. They include:
Under Texas law, a court may grant a divorce on the grounds of cruelty when the treatment towards one spouse is of a nature that makes living together insupportable. Each person has their own definition of what constitutes cruel behavior, so courts evaluate cruel treatment on a case-by-case basis.
Cheating on one’s spouse can be emotional or physical and does not always include intercourse for many people. Yet, the concept of adultery has a specific legal definition. If you have solid proof that your spouse has been having an affair, you have legal grounds for a fault divorce. Similarly, if your spouse has proof that you have created, he or she has grounds to dissolve your marriage.
Contrary to what you’ve seen in movies and television, proof of adultery is not always and does not always need to be photos or videos. Examples of other evidence that spouses use to prove adultery include bank statements or receipts to prove the purchase of jewelry, travel, and other gifts and missing money given to another. If your spouse is supporting someone else’s lifestyle, lease agreements, mortgages, and loans for vehicles also help support the case for adultery. Keep in mind that a judge can grant a divorce on the grounds of adultery for a relationship that occurs after filing for divorce, even if you and your spouse no longer share the same home. It’s best to avoid any romantic relationship until your divorce is finalized.
Conviction of a Felony
If your spouse commits a crime and gets convicted of a felony, you could have grounds to dissolve your marriage. He or she must be convicted of a felony, spend at least one year in prison, and not be pardoned. Your spouse can serve time in a federal or state prison; both levels of felony conviction serve as grounds for divorce unless you testified against your spouse. If spousal testimony leads to a felony conviction, it does not provide grounds for divorce under Texas law.
If you leave your spouse for at least one year, or they leave you, a Harris County court can dissolve your marriage on the grounds of abandonment. The person who abandoned their spouse must have intentionally left without plans to return or reconcile. A spouse whose partner serves in the armed forces and leaves home for an assignment does not have grounds for a divorce based on abandonment.
Grounds for a No-fault Divorce in Harris County
Many Harris County couples opt for a no-fault divorce instead of a fault divorce because they are typically quicker and less expensive. Also, spouses do not need to prove the other did something wrong to damage their marriage. This can eliminate some emotionally charged behavior that often accompanies divorce, things that both parties typically like to keep out of the public record. Although you do not need to provide a specific reason for a no-fault Harris County divorce, the court still needs information to decide whether to dissolve your marriage.
The basis for a Harris County no-fault divorce is described as:
Other states refer to insupportability as irreconcilable differences. Under Texas law, a marriage becomes insupportable because spouses have a conflict that destroys their marriage and prevents any chance for them to reconcile. Insupportability is the most common reason spouses cite for a no-fault divorce when they still live together.
In some divorce cases, one or both spouses have moved out and live separately. Once a married couple has lived apart for at least three years, either party can file for a no-fault divorce in Harris County. If information comes to light that shows the couple lived together at any time during the three years, a judge might not grant a divorce based on the grounds they were living separately.
Confinement to a Mental Hospital
If your spouse suffers from mental health issues that land them in a psychiatric facility, you have grounds for a no-fault divorce. Your spouse must spend at least three years confined in a mental hospital with a permanent condition. If your spouse gets better but is likely to relapse, you also have grounds for divorce once they have spent three years in a mental health facility.
Residency Requirements for Divorces in Harris County
When you want to file for divorce in Harris County, you need to be a resident. Texas law requires that a party has been a Texas resident for at least six months and Harris County resident for at least 90 days before they file divorce papers. A couple of exceptions exists:
- If you and/or your spouse had to leave Harris County for public service, most often military deployment, your Harris County home can be your permanent residence for the purpose of divorce. This also applies to spouses who accompany their partner for a specific mission related to the military or some other public service.
- Both of you do not need to live in Harris County to file for a divorce. If you and your spouse have already separated and one of you lives out of state, you can file for a Harris County divorce as long as one of you is still a Harris County resident.
Dividing Assets During a Harris County Divorce
The biggest issue in most divorces that occur in Harris County, is often the division of marital assets. Texas is a community property state that splits assets and debt equitably among spouses. Texas courts have the discretion to adjust the proportions in special circumstances. This is especially common in fault divorces when domestic abuse or other cruel behavior is involved.
The Presumption of Community Property in Harris County Divorces
Texas divorce courts operate on the presumption that all your marital assets are community property. If you or your soon-to-be-ex wants to claim a specific asset, you need to provide the court with proof that the asset should be considered separate property. Typically, separate property refers to anything you or your partner acquired before you were married, received as a gift before/during marriage, or received through inheritance before/during marriage. You must be able to identify the asset and prove how you came to own it. Common items that people claim as separate property include:
- Real estate that one of you received from a friend or family member while you were married
- Compensation from a personal injury lawsuit, expect compensation for lost earning capacity
It’s best to come to an agreement about the division of your assets without going to court, but if you cannot, the court will typically divide the following community property assets equitably.
Spousal Maintenance in Harris County Divorces
If you file for divorce in Harris County, it’s not automatic that you will have to pay or receive alimony or spousal support, or spousal maintenance. If you are requesting maintenance or your spouse wants you to pay alimony, the court needs the following evidence before they will determine an amount:
- The receiving spouse cannot support themselves because they are disabled.
- The receiving spouse cannot work because they have custody of a disabled child.
- You were married for at least 10 years, and the receiving spouse does not have the skills to earn a livable wage.
If one of these scenarios applies to your situation, the person requesting alimony must make an effort to support themselves, or the court will not award maintenance. After the person requesting alimony proves they are attempting to support themselves, the court will evaluate the following to award maintenance:
- Whether the spouse can afford to pay support
- The education and skills of each person
- Whether one partner helped pay for the other’s education
- Whether one partner contributed property or domestic help to the marriage
- How long the couple was married
- The age and ability of the receiving spouse to work
- The health of the receiving spouse
- Whether either party committed bad acts against their spouse
An experienced Harris County divorce attorney from the Skillern Firm can review the facts of your divorce and advise you on what type of situation you face in terms of spousal maintenance.
Child Conservatorship in Harris County Divorce Cases
Child custody is typically a big part of a divorce for those with children. Texas always prioritizes the best interests of children, which generally includes having both parents in a child’s life. Joint custody, technically called joint managing conservatorship in Texas, is the default for divorces.
If you cannot reach a custody agreement with your spouse and you need to fight for your rights to see your children or protect them from an abusive or unfit parent, our team can help you. When Harris County courts consider child custody, they evaluate the following factors for each parent:
- Home environment
- Ability to care for child/children
- Ability to co-parent with your ex
- Financial situation
- Employment situation, especially work hours and work-related travel
Courts will consider a child’s preference after they reach age 12 very heavily along with best interest arguments. Joint managing conservatorship means you and your spouse make decisions concerning your child’s well-being together. Unfortunately, joint custody is not always an option, especially when one parent has abused or neglected a child.
Joint custody may or may not include child support, depending on the financial situation of each parent. Like other states, Texas courts rely on formulas to assign a percentage of support based on income. Whether you are fighting for custody, visitation, or feel your child support agreement is unfair, the divorce attorneys at Skillern Firm can help you fight to get the best outcome possible for your circumstances.
Child support is a separate issue from custody. Texas law has minimum and maximum amounts based on income. Sometimes these amounts leave one parent without the funds necessary to provide for their children or put an unreasonable burden on the person paying the support. Whether you are fighting for custody during your divorce or dealing with child support issues, the divorce lawyers at Skillern Firm have the knowledge and experience to help you fight for the best outcome for your case.
An Experienced Harris County, Texas Divorce Attorney Can Help
Going through a divorce is a trying and emotionally charged time for all involved. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of the process and ensure the court treats you fairly. In addition to taking care of the paperwork and details of your case, your divorce lawyer can help you avoid making emotionally charged decisions that you might regret in the future. Contact Skillern Firm today online or at 281-990-4655 to discuss the details of your divorce and learn how we can help you move on with your life during this difficult time.