Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a waiting period between when a divorce is filed and when it is final?

A Texas court may not grant a divorce before the 60th day after the date the suit for divorce was filed. The 60-day period is sometimes called a “cooling off” period and the purpose is to allow either or both parties time to change their minds. In other words, if both parties want the divorce and agree to everything relating to children and property division, they can get the divorce granted on the 61st day following the day the petition for divorce was filed. If during that 60 days the party who filed for divorce changes his or her mind, the suit can be dismissed with no consequences so long as the other spouse has not counter-sued for divorce. If that has happened, both parties would have to dismiss their respective suits if they decide not to get divorced.

Back to top

Am I entitled to 50% of all the assets?

Maybe–maybe not. In divorce, a judge can divide the community estate, which consists of both the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage, with some exceptions, in any manner deemed “just and right.” In deciding what is “just and right” in a particular case, the judge can look at numerous factors, such as the difference in earning capacity, fault in the break-up of the marriage, and who will have primary custody of the children, among other things.

Back to top

Does joint custody mean each parent will have equal time with the children?

Not necessarily. Many factors are considered by judges when deciding how the time with the children will be divided between the parents. Joint custody (we call it joint conservatorship in Texas) really refers to the rights of the parents. When they have joint custody, they usually have equal rights with regard to the children, not necessarily equal time.

Back to top

Who has to pay child support? How much?

Usually, the parent with whom the children DO NOT live primarily pays child support to the other parent. Texas has very specific guidelines for setting the amount of child support and judges are required to follow those guidelines in most cases.

Back to top

What happens if one of the spouses doesn’t want the divorce?

If one spouse is determined to get divorced, the other spouse cannot stop it from happening. The best opportunity to stop a divorce from happening is before it is filed and is more likely not to happen if the couple participates in some kind of counseling.

Back to top

How long does a couple have to live together before they are considered common-law married?

How long a couple has lived together is not the determining factor of common-law marriage. Other factors must also be present, such as an agreement to be married. Do not assume that you are comm-law married without first consulting with an attorney. Additionally, do not assume that you are not common-law married without doing the same thing.

Back to top

If we agree on everything, can we just use the same lawyer?

No. Many couples hope to avoid the cost of two lawyers by using the same one. In Texas, however, a lawyer can only represent one party to the divorce. The lawyer can draft the documents for both to sign, but can only advise one party. The other party can choose not to be represented or can, and often should, take the documents to another lawyer who has been hired to advise only that party.

Back to top

How can I keep the divorce from getting nasty?

Most divorce cases are settled “out of court.” That does not necessarily mean that the divorce has not been “nasty,” however. A new method of settlement has been developed over the last several years. It is called “collaborative divorce” and has become a very popular means of divorcing in Texas. Collaborative divorce allows for a very private process that is not subject to the same time requirements of a traditional divorce and allows the parties a great deal of flexibility in how they settle their case as compared to a case that goes to trial with a judge.

Back to top

Why would I need a team of lawyers rather than just one lawyer?

Some cases can be very complex, either with regard to the property issues or the child custody issues or both. In such cases, particularly when the opposing party has hired a particularly aggressive attorney or law firm, having a team of lawyers to respond quickly and efficiently to motions and other emergency matters can be a great advantage to the client. Additionally, some cases are sufficiently complex that the use of accountants and mental health consultants can increase the potential for a positive outcome for the client. At Easley & Marquis, we focus on the specific needs of the client when deciding which attorneys and outside professionals should make up the team that will handle that client’s case. Our attorneys have a large base of knowledge from which to draw and, when a client hires an Easley & Marquis attorney, he or she hires all of the attorneys to the extent a particular attorney has special knowledge that would benefit that client.

Back to top

What do I need to do before I tell my spouse I want a divorce?

One of the most helpful things a client can do to assist his or her attorney in building a “winning” case is to gather financial records for a period of approximately 4 to 5 years. In this new age of technology, and depending on the issues, emails and recorded conversations can also be useful evidence. You should consult with your attorney first, however, before obtaining any electronic evidence, such as emails and recordings, because the law has very strict limitations on when such items can be obtained legally. Providing your attorney with any other “evidence” you may have about particular issues will also give him or her an “edge” in developing the strategy for your case.

Back to top

Is alimony awarded in Texas?

Qualifying for alimony in Texas is very difficult. Alimony has been allowed in Texas only since 1995 and judges are only just now becoming more accustomed to awarding alimony. Typically, alimony will not be awarded if the spouse who requesting the alimony can provide for his or her basic needs. Parties are not precluded from agreeing to alimony payments, though, and frequently the parties agree to alimony payments for a variety of reasons.

Back to top

Will the judge make my spouse pay the attorneys fees?

Rarely will a court award attorneys fees to one party or the other in a divorce action. Even when that happens, the client will have been required to pay his or her attorney in advance and any attorneys fees that are awarded will be turned over to the client at the time of payment.

Back to top

Can I change the locks on the doors?

Judges frown upon a spouse locking the other spouse out of his or her home and they usually order that the locks NOT be changed for a period of time. Rare circumstances will cause the judge to order that one of the parties move out right away, but typically both parties are allowed to remain in the home until a hearing can be held, at which time the judge will decide who remains in the house, who will have temporary “custody” of the children and how the bills will be paid. Whether your case qualifies for a “kick out” order is something you can discuss with your attorney.

Back to top

I’ve been told I should hire a board certified attorney. Is that true?

Board certified attorneys have passed a special exam that entitles them to represent that they have special knowledge of family law. While board certification was once difficult to obtain, more recently it has become much easier and being board certified does not necessarily mean that the attorney is more knowledgeable than a non-board certified attorney. The important factor for you to consider in deciding who to hire is the actual experience of the lawyer. In family law matters, the experience of the attorney is one of the most important factors for a client to consider when deciding which lawyer to hire.

Back to top