SCOTT M. BROUSSARD

108 MAIN STREET
RICHMOND, TEXAS 77469
Phone 281-762-1639

Fort Bend Divorce Lawyer, Scott Broussard

FAQ's - divorce / family frequently asked questions

I am considering filing for divorce.  Can you explain the process?

  • Divorce proceedings are initiated with the filing of a divorce petition.  Because a divorce proceeding is a lawsuit, it is necessary to give the non-filing spouse notice of the filing.  A constable or other person authorized by the court may personally serve a copy of the petition on the non-filing spouse.  The non-filing spouse is then required to file a written answer with the court within a specified time. 

          Uncontested Cases

  • In those instances where the spouses continue to communicate amicably it may be preferable to informally present the non-filing spouse with a waiver of citation.   If the non-filing spouse agrees to sign the waiver, there is no need for service by a constable.  The waiver, when filed with the court, constitutes the non-filing spouses appearance in the proceedings.  If the parties are able to reach an agreement concerning all aspects of the divorce (custody, child support, visitation, property division, debt allocation, etc.) the filing spouse’s attorney will prepare the Final Decree of Divorce and other documents as necessary.  The documents are then forwarded to the non-filing spouse for review and comment.  The non-filing spouse may choose to have an attorney review the paperwork.  Once the spouses are satisfied that the documentation accurately reflects their agreement, each signs.  The filing spouse and his/her attorney then make a brief appearance in court to present the signed documents to the judge for signature.  The attorney asks the spouse a few simple questions to satisfy the judge that the divorce should be granted.  Total time in front of the court is usually less than five minutes.

          Contested Cases

  • If the party served fails to file a written answer within the specified time, the filing spouse may obtain a divorce by default.  If the spouse files an answer, the litigation process begins and the parties are give the opportunity to participate in discovery.  This is the pre-trial phase of the litigation in which the parties may request information from each other regarding finances, parenting abilities and other matters relating to their marriage.  This information may be requested in writing or through the use of oral depositions.  Third parties such as employers, financial institutions, and persons with relevant knowledge can also be compelled to provide information in discovery.  If a dispute over custody of children is involved the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interest of the children.  During the pre-trial phase, the parties and their attorney’s may exchange settlement proposals. The court will typically order the parties to attend mediation before submitting the case for trial.  If the parties are unable to reach an agreement the case will be resolved at trial.

 


Where do I file for divorce?

  • A suit for dissolution of marriage may be filed in Texas so long as either spouse has been a domiciliary of the state for at least six months prior to the filing.  Suit may be filed in the county is which either spouse has been a resident for the preceding 90 day period.  

 


What issues will be addressed in my divorce case?

  • If the parties are parents of a child, as defined by Family Code section 101.003, the suit for dissolution of marriage must include a suit affecting the parent-child relationship.  The lawsuit must address conservatorship (custody and visitation), child support and health insurance.   In addition, issues such as asset division, debt allocation, alimony, injunctions, and orders for protection may be addressed.

 


I have agreed to let my spouse have primary custody of our children.  What type of visitation rights can I expect to receive?

  • The State and the courts presume that the "standard possession order" (set forth at Family Code sections 153.311-153.317) provides reasonable minimum possession of a child for a parent entitled to visitation.  Essentially, the non-custodial parent is entitled to possession from Friday evening to the following Sunday evening on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Friday of each month.  The parties alternate holidays.  If the parties live within 100 miles of each other the non-custodial parent is entitled to 30 days during the summer.  If the parties reside more than 100 mile apart the non-custodial parent gets 42 days.  Additionally, the party not otherwise entitled to possession on the child's birthday is awarded a few hours on that date.  Mother's Day weekend and Father's Day weekend are awarded to the appropriate parent.  The standard possession order does not apply to children less than three years of age.  Moreover, the court may deviate from the standard possession order if doing so is in the best interest of the child.

 


How much child support will I have to pay?

  • The Legislature has established guidelines to be applied in establishing the amount of child support.  The guidelines are designed to apply to situations in which the obligor's monthly net resources are $6,000 or less.  "Net resources" bear some relation to net income.  The following schedule is to be applied in rendering the child support order:

                1 child       -   20% of Obligor's Net Resources

                2 children  -  25% of Obligor's Net Resources

                3 children  -  30% of Obligor's Net Resources

                4 children  -  35% of Obligor's Net Resources

                5 children  -  40% of Obligor's Net Resource

                6 children  - Not less than the amount for 5 children

  • If the obligor has children in more than one household, the court may apply the percentages found in the table at Family Code  §154.129

 

  • A child support order established pursuant to the child support guidelines is presumed to be reasonable and in the best interest of the child.
 

What is community property?

  • Community property consist of the property acquired by either spouse during the marriage with the exception of the following which are separate property:

            a)    property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage;

            b)    property acquired by a spouse during the marriage by gift, devise

                   (gift under  a will) or descent (inheritance under rules of in testate

                   succession);

 

            c)    recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during the marriage,

                    except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.

 

How long does it take to get a divorce?

  • It depends.  An uncontested divorce may be finalized no earlier than 60 days after the divorce petition is filed.   The time necessary to finalize a contested divorce varies with the facts of each case and can take anywhere from 6 months to several years.  
 

I was never married to the mother of my child.  Our relationship recently ended and she has refused to allow me to see my child.  Do I have any rights?

  • Yes.  You have the right to file a lawsuit seeking to establish the parent-child relationship between you and the child.  You will not be recognized as the child's legal father until you are adjudicated as such by a court of competent jurisdiction.   You are also entitled to register with the registry of paternity in the bureau of vital statistics.  You may register either before the birth of the child or not later than 31 days after birth.  If you fail to register you may not be notified of a proceeding for the adoption of or the termination of parental rights regarding a child that you may have fathered.  
 

The father of my child refuses to pay child support.    Can I refuse to let him see our child until he catches up on his payments?

  • No.  If the father of your child has been awarded periods of visitation with the child pursuant to court order, you have no right to deny court ordered visitation.  In fact, if you do so, you may be in contempt of court.  Penalties for contempt include fine, incarceration and payment of adversary's attorney's fees.  Moreover, you will cast yourself in a bad light with the court.  The proper recourse is to file a motion for enforcement (contempt) against the child's father.
 

Is Alimony Available in Texas?

  • Spousal maintenance is available under the following circumstances:

               1)    the spouse from whom maintenance is sought was convicted or received deferred adjudication

                      for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence and the offense occurred within

                      two years before the date on which suit for divorce is filed or while the suit is pending; or

 

               2)    the duration of the marriage was 10 years or longer, the spouse seeking maintenance lack sufficient

                      property to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs and;

 

                      a)    is unable to support himself/herself through appropriate employment because of an incapacitating

                             physical or mental disability;

 

                      b)    is the custodian of a child who requires substantial care and supervision because a physical or

                             mental disability makes it necessary that the spouse not be employed outside the home; or

 

                      c)   clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide support for the spouse's

                            minimum reasonable need.

 

 

 

FORT BEND DIVORCE ATTORNEY        |        SCOTT M. BROUSSARD       |         SUGAR LAND FAMILY LAWYER