Family Law in Texas: 10 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Family law disputes are among the most challenging legal cases. These complex, emotionally fraught matters should always be handled with the highest level of care and sensitivity. At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, we provide compassionate, solutions-oriented legal representation across the range of family law cases. While our legal team understands the value of amicable, long-conflict resolutions in family law cases, we are always ready to fight to protect the rights and interests of our clients. Here, our Houston family law attorney answers 10 of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about family law in Texas.
Family law is a specialist practice area of a law that is focused on issues related to marriage, parenting, and family. Some notable examples of family law cases include divorce, child custody, child support, and adoption. For obvious reasons, family law disputes can be especially emotional. It is crucial that parties work with an attorney who understands the law in Texas and who knows how to help clients find solutions that work.
It might. Many family law cases are well-suited for mediation. Broadly speaking, mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that puts a priority on collaborative problem-solving. Mediation is voluntary, flexible, and non-binding. A family mediation may be a good option for your case if you and your counterpart—usually a spouse or co-parent—are willing to try to work together to find a solution.
Divorce happens. Statistics show that nearly half of all American marriages end in divorce. Under Texas law (Texas Family Code § 6.001), married couples have the right to get a no-fault divorce. Indeed, most divorces in Texas are no-fault divorce. Neither spouse has to prove that the other did anything wrong. Instead, the legal process will focus on other issues, such as property division. While less common, there are also still fault-based grounds for divorce in Texas, including:
- Felony criminal conviction;
- Abandonment; and
- Confinement to a mental institution.
An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties are able to settle key family law matters—property division, debt division, child custody, etc—on their own. The court essentially “signs off” on the divorce. To get an uncontested divorce, you and your partner need to negotiate a settlement. An experienced Houston family law can help.
Texas is a community property jurisdiction. It is one of just nine U.S. states that operates under the community property standard. Community property means that all of a spouse’s marital property is considered to be a joint asset that is 50/50 owned by each spouse. Within this context, parties need to work towards a property division arrangement that meets their needs. Our Houston family law has deep experience with property division cases.
Texas actually no longer uses the term ‘child custody.’ The concept still exists, but it is referred to as a conservatorship. For divorcing and separating parents, they can essentially think of a conservatorship as custody. There are two main forms of conservatorships in Texas. A joint managing conservatorship (favored by courts) is a form of shared legal custody by the parents. A sole managing conservatorship (will be granted when best for the child) is sole legal custody.
Texas uses the best interests of the child standard (Tex. Fam. Code § 153.002). If a custody dispute arises, a Texas state court is empowered to review a wide array of different factors to determine what type of custody arrangement is best for the child’s health and well-being. Relevant factors in applying the best interests standards include everything from each parent’s current relationship with the child to any prior history of abuse or misconduct.
The parent who does not have primary physical possession of the child (possessory conservatorship) will likely be required to pay child support. In Texas, there are guidelines for calculating support. The two main factors are the number of children being supported and the income of the parent who is paying support. However, Texas law does allow for a deviation from the child support guidelines if good cause can be shown.
With family law cases, it is generally best to be proactive. The sooner you consult with an experienced Houston family lawyer, the better position you will be in to know your rights, evaluate your options, and find a solution that actually works. During a confidential initial family law consultation, our attorney can review your case, answer legal and procedural questions, and help you devise an effective strategy.
The right family law will have several different traits. To start, you need an attorney who has true experience handling your case. For example, if you are going through a stressful divorce, you will want a Houston divorce attorney who has been through the process before. You will also want to find a legal professional who you are comfortable working closely with. Family law cases matter. Personalized guidance and support is a must. Our founder and principal Rahlita D. Thornton is a highly experienced family law advocate. Attorney Thornton has experience in family mediation, family law negotiations, and litigation.
At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, our Houston family attorney is an experienced, reliable advocate for clients. If you are locked in a family law case, we are here to help you find the right solution. Get in touch with us by phone at (713) 401-3998 or connect with us online for a completely confidential review of your case. With a conveniently located law office in Houston, we provide family law representation throughout all of Southeast Texas.