Our law firm assists clients with divorce, adoptions, child custody, child support, family law, paternity, bankruptcy, asset division, post-divorce modifications, estate planning, wills, trusts, immigration and more.
Mr. Jackson was selected for inclusion in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016 – 2018 as a “Rising Star” by Superlawyers, a Thomson Reuters service. Thoughtful and creative, he is willing to push the envelope in pursuit of his clients’ goals.
Arrange an initial consultation with us by calling our offices at (512) 528-1900, or send us an email. We respond to all messages promptly. Credit cards are accepted, and after-hours appointments are available by request.
At the Jackson Law Firm, you will find attorneys who will work hard to gain your trust and confidence by candidly assessing the pros and cons of your case and are committed to understanding your needs and to keeping you informed during each step of the process.
No. Texas law does not provide for alimony in cases of divorce. Instead, it is termed “spousal maintenance,” and consists of court-awarded periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse after the divorce. Spousal maintenance is not awarded very often and relies on a list of factors. The Texas Family Code places a cap on spousal maintenance at the lesser of either 20% of the paying spouse’s gross monthly income or $5,000.00. The Texas Family Code also limits the duration of spousal maintenance to: 1. 5 years for marriages lasting between 10 and 20 years, 2. 7 years for marriages lasting between 20 and 30 years, and 3. 10 years for marriages lasting more than 30 years.
In Texas, “custody” is not a term which appears in the Family Code- at least in the way people typically mean when they discuss “custody.” From our experience, clients initially assume that custody consists of the terms of visitation regarding a child. However, in Texas, the concept of custody is better analyzed as two distinct components: 1. conservatorship and 2. possession and access. As for conservatorship, the Texas Family Code identifies two schemes of conservatorship- Joint Managing Conservatorship and Sole Managing Conservatorship. Conservatorship deals with how major and day-to-day decisions are made concerning the child. In a Joint Managing Conservatorship, all major decisions are made jointly. In a Sole Managing Conservatorship, one parent has the exclusive right to make such major decisions. Most often, spouses agree to be designated Joint Managing Conservators because it shares many of the most important rights and responsibilities. The Texas Family Code provides that Joint Managing Conservatorship is presumed to be in the best interests of the children.
As for possession and access- that is the phrase which describes visitation. What is termed a “Standard Possession Order” is also presumed to be in the best interests of children. It outlines the days, weekends, and holidays each spouse is permitted to possess the children and splits time roughly in a 60/40 manner. However, the Standard Possession Order is not a firm rule and the spouses and their attorneys are free to arrive at a custom solution. Our lawyers are experienced in negotiating creative solutions to conservatorship and possession and access to suit your unique situation.
No. Child support will not automatically increase or decrease; it only changes when a court modifies the order. This is accomplished by filing a motion to modify with the court. The modification will be granted only under two scenarios: 1. if the new income amount is proven, the increased income would result in an increase in child support by at least $100 or 20% over the prior child support amount, and 3. it has been at least 3 years from the date of the prior child support order, OR 2. there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the date of the prior order.
The court is always guided by what is in the “best interests of the child.” To that end, the court is guided by a formula in the Texas Family Code which considers the monthly gross income of the person paying child support; deducts for federal income tax, social security, and health insurance for the child; and multiplies the result (“net resources”) by a percentage dictated by the number of children born in the marriage. For example, “net resources” are multiplied by 20% for one child, 25% for two children, 30% for three children, and 35% for four children. This calculation ultimately generates the child support payment. The formula applies to the first $7,500.00 in “net resources;” thereafter, the court may order additional amounts depending on the parties and the proven needs of the child. Courts also take into account whether the child is disabled or has special needs. As an additional factor, if the paying parent has a duty to support other children (from another relationship, for example), the percentages noted above are slightly reduced, depending on the number of other children.
It is our experience that sometimes, the parent paying child support may resist making such payments (to the extent such is even possible) due to the fact that they lack assurance as to how such payments are utilized. Nonetheless, child support may be used for any purpose and there is no requirement that the recipient provide any accounting as to how it is spent.
This question requires a lengthy response. In short, the court is required to make a “just and right” division of the “community property.” Emphasis should be placed on community property. As any property outside of this classification is not subject to division whatsoever. “Community property” is all property possessed by the spouses and accumulated during the marriage, except what is “separate property”-that which was obtained by one of the spouses through gift, inheritance, or prior to the marriage. All property possessed by the spouses is presumed to be community property unless a spouse proves by clear and convincing evidence that the property is actually separate property. It is possible to meet this burden of proof, but it requires substantial documentation and evidence. The court is also guided by other factors in determining the “just and right” division, including but not limited to whether there was fault in the breakup of the marriage, the relative earning capacities of the spouses, and the needs of the children.
Yes. There is no marriage requirement to obtain child support. A case where one parent seeks child support from the other parent is termed a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship and/or a Suit to Adjudicate Parentage.
Texas is a “no fault” state, which means that a person seeking a divorce is not required to prove that his or her spouse is at fault in the marriage. A “no fault” divorce is the most common variety of divorce, stating that “the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities between you that has destroyed the legitimate ends of the marriage.” The Texas Family Code does, however, provide several “fault” divorce grounds, including adultery, cruelty, conviction of a felony, abandonment, living apart, and confinement in a mental hospital. There are also possibilities to void the marriage in extremely unique circumstances. At least 80% of our cases are pursued on no-fault grounds as it tends to reduced hostilities between the parties.
This is not an uncommon question from new clients. In an effort to save money, expedite the process, and maintain transparency, spouses may attempt to hire one attorney to initiate and finalize their divorce. According to the ethical rules governing lawyers, this is not permissible. A lawyers cannot give legal advice to both sides. In these situations, we recommend that one spouse hires a lawyer to prepare all of the divorce paperwork, from the petition for divorce to the final decree of divorce, with the input of the other spouse. Then, prior to signing the final decree of divorce, the other spouse may hire an attorney to review that documentation to ensure that it complies with their agreement. This is usually done at a significantly reduced fee since most of the work has already been done. Or, should that not be necessary, the other spouse may choose not to hire an attorney and instead, may feel that he/she sufficiently understands the wording in the documentation and forego additional legal fees altogether.
No. Until you and your spouse are formally divorced, you are still considered married. There is no “legal separation” in Texas. Dating tends to complicate the divorce by angering the other spouse and adding unnecessary resistance to potential agreements. Furthermore, it is very confusing for the children for you to start dating shortly after separating.
At minimum, there is a statutory sixty-day waiting period from the date the suit for divorce is filed until a court will grant the divorce. Typically, it takes longer to obtain a divorce, especially when the parties are not in agreement on all issues. In these instances, the attorneys for both spouses will often conduct “discovery,” an ordered process where the spouses are required to answer questions and produce documents at the request of the other attorney. Discovery is designed to provide a degree of disclosure to the other side and additional peace of mind in negotiating and finalizing a divorce settlement.
We believe the primary concern of our clients is the outcome. Therefore, our efforts are always results-driven.
We will attempt to obtain your desired outcome while maintaining your dignity throughout the process.
We will not make false promises or provide you with unrealistic expectations.
Many thanks to Cara Surell for her expertise and professionalism in handling my immigration case. She did a great job. The case has been resolved in my favor. I am absolutely pleased with the outcome.
Having recently moved to the North Austin/Cedar Park area, I more or less rolled the dice on selecting a law firm to do some estate trust work for me. I couldn’t have chosen better! The Jackson Law Firm and lawyer Cara Surell handled my needs quickly and professionally. I truly felt that there was a genuine interest in my situation and a sincere desire to accomplish what I wanted and needed done.
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