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Divorce is a life-changing decision that often impacts more people than simply the two divorcing spouses. Especially when children are involved, the outcome of divorce seems to carry even more weight. When considering the divorce process, some of the most common concerns that many people will face include division of property, child custody, spousal support, and child support. Finding an attorney who has both experience and compassion when handling these sensitive issues can make all of the difference for those who are dealing with the stress around the divorce process.
At the Jackson Law Firm, our Cedar Park divorce attorneys have helped many people navigate the legal process of ending their marriages. This process can be stressful, and it is natural to be unsure of your legal rights under Texas divorce laws. However, with the help of our trusted legal team, you can emerge from your divorce in the best possible position. Contact our law office directly for a consultation today.
Facing everything that is unknown can be one of the most daunting aspects of a divorce, and understanding the support that your attorney can provide during this time can help alleviate this stress. At Jackson Law Firm, we offer a wide variety of services for our clients who are facing a divorce. These services include:
Working with an experienced attorney can help you feel confident and informed as you face the divorce process. When you work with the Jackson Law Firm, we will put together a plan to address the following issues as they apply to your case.
When children are involved, the situation becomes even more sensitive and delicate. Custody cases are often emotional, and it can be challenging to find a resolution that works for all parties involved while keeping the children’s best interests in mind. While many cases involve joint custody agreements, the judge is required to make decisions based on what they deem to be in the best interest of the child. In some cases, this might result in sole custody of one parent, or primary custody with visitation rights for the other parent. In Texas, custody and visitation are referred to as possession and access.
There will also be the important issue of supporting the child. In many cases, one parent will be ordered to pay child support to the other parent to contribute to the financial needs of the child. Child support is calculated based on a set formula, and exceptions to the formula are reserved for special situations. However, you want an attorney reviewing your child support orders to ensure the amount is fair given your income and other circumstances.
Texas is a “community property” state, meaning that when it comes to dividing property in a divorce, the courts will look to see what property was accumulated before and after the marriage in determining the division. In the state of Texas, “community” property is considered property that you and your spouse accumulated after you were married. All of the property that you acquired after your marriage, even if this property was assumed to be yours, is typically considered community property when the courts start to look at dividing assets. Separate property, which refers to property that you or your spouse had acquired before you were legally married, is usually not considered in the community division of property. Understanding what property each spouse came into the marriage with will help to establish community property versus separate property with the goal of an equitable split.
In Texas, dividing community property means that a judge is legally required to divide property in a way that is “just and right.” This might sound vague, but it is meant to indicate that the division of property takes each spouses’ individual circumstance into consideration when determining a fair division of property.
Spouses in Texas will share the household responsibility in different ways. In some situations, both spouses work full-time and contribute relatively evenly to the financial needs of the house. In other marriages, one spouse might be the primary earner, while the other works part-time, volunteers, or stays home to care for children and the household.
If one spouse has the ability to properly support themselves and the other does not, it might be appropriate for the court to issue a spousal maintenance order, also called alimony or spousal support. This support is intended to allow the non-earning spouse to gain the education, training, or skill needed to obtain gainful employment. Spousal support orders are based on one spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay, and this is often a hotly contested matter in a divorce case.
The right divorce lawyer can help you resolve the above issues and finalize your divorce in an efficient manner, while still ensuring that your rights and interests are fully protected.
Going through a divorce can be challenging and confusing for those who are unfamiliar with the legal process. For this reason, if you are thinking about a divorce or have decided this is the right choice for you and your spouse, it is advisable to speak with a Cedar Park divorce lawyer as soon as possible.
At the Jackson Law Firm, we have the experience needed to guide you through the divorce process in Cedar Park, Texas. We understand the challenges that accompany a divorce and are dedicated to helping our clients through this difficult time. Call us today at 281-475-4145 or contact us online to learn more about our services and to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your specific situation and the best next steps.
Mr. Jackson was selected for inclusion in the 2012, 2014 and 2015 “Rising Star” by Superlawyers, a Thomson Reuters service.
Justin M. Jackson is a native Texan, spending his early childhood in Edinburg, Texas and later graduating from Round Rock High School. Mr. Jackson received his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University and obtained his law degree from St. Mary’s Law School, graduating magna cum laude (top 3% of his class).
While in law school, Mr. Jackson interned for Judge Emilio M. Garza with the Federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and participated on the St. Mary’s Law Journal as a Staff Writer. Following graduation, Mr. Jackson worked for a respected law firm in San Antonio. In 2008, he opened the Jackson Law Firm.
Mr. Jackson was selected for inclusion in the 2012, 2014 and 2015 “Rising Star” by Superlawyers, a Thomson Reuters service. Their selection process is outlined here. No more than 2.5% of the total lawyers in Texas are listed as “Rising Stars.
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.
Thank you to Cara and Lisa for making our Estate Planning process run as smoothly as possible. I’ll be recommending your firm to friends and family!
I had a family trust put together by Cara Surell, one of the Lawyers in the Jackson Law Firm. I must say, I was very impressed and satisfied with the knowledge, speed and professionalism exhibited during this process. I am very satisfied with the results and would highly recommend this law group.
The Jackson Law firm was very supportive in my time in need in my initial divorce. He turned the tables around on the opposing council. I was denied my visitation but the Jackson Law Firm helped me get my visitation. Justin Jackson was very informative in the rules of family law and in the end he helped me get my rights to my kids. Thank you Jackson Law Firm in every thing you did for me it was much appreciated.
Justin, I want to thank you for believing in me. On the very first day you made it clear that “truth will triumph in the end” – I had serious misgivings about it since I felt those ideologies only exist in an Utopian world. During the entire process the opposing counsel tried so hard to wear us down, spewed venomous invective but you never pandered to them. You always chose the righteous path – that made me angry at times to question our stand. TRUTH TRIUMPHED!!! We won! YOU ARE A GREAT CHESS PLAYER MY FRIEND – You had them completely fooled with your boyish charm, fledged approach…underneath that camouflage there is a highly astute & insightful mind – they failed to see it. You are a good man with strong character & ethics. I salute you!
Consult our attorneys for custody disputes and more. Arrange an initial consultation with our divorce and estate planning lawyers 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.view all questions
Spousal maintenance, often called “alimony,” is not always ordered in Texas divorce cases and will only be ordered if certain criteria are shown. In general, according to the Texas Family Code, available here, spousal maintenance may be ordered if the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property to meet their reasonable minimum needs following the divorce.
In addition, the following other criteria must also be shown:
1.- The paying spouse was convicted of a criminal offense of family violence during the marriage within two years of the divorce filing; or 2.- The spouse seeking maintenance either
a) cannot earn sufficient income to provide for their reasonable needs due to a physical or mental disability;
b) was married to the spouse for at least 10 years and lacks sufficient income; or
c) has custody of a child born during the marriage who requires substantial care and supervision due to a disability.
According to Section 8.052 of the Family Code, there are a variety of factors that a court may consider in determining whether spousal support should be ordered. These includes:
1.- The duration of the marriage
2.- Financial resources available to the spouse
4.- Physical and mental health
5.- Work history and earning capacity
6.- Contributions made to the marriage
7.- Fault of the party (e.g., adultery, abuse, etc)
While this is the law in Texas, other states have different requirements. If you have questions about spousal support in another state, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney in that state.
If you have questions about spousal support and live near Cedar Park, Texas, contact a Cedar Park spousal support attorney for legal advice. Call to schedule an appointment with an experienced Cedar Park spousal support attorney from the Jackson law firm.
Divorce is a difficult time in anyone’s life. It is never an easy decision to end a marriage because it impacts the entire family. However, there are ways to make the entire process easier for everyone. Below are the steps you need to take to obtain a divorce in Austin, Texas.
Texas law requires people wanting a divorce to file a lawsuit in the county in which they reside. In order to file for a divorce in Austin, you must have lived in Texas for 6 months prior to filing. When you file the petition for divorce, you must pay the appropriate fee. The total cost of filing depends on a variety of factors such as whether you have real estate to divide or children together. While you can file a petition for divorce on your own, it can be a difficult process. An experienced Austin divorce attorney can assist you in this matter if necessary.
Once the petition for divorce is filed with the court, you must wait for 60 days before a divorce will be finalized. This is a mandatory waiting period for everyone and is often used to settle disputes over possessions and custody of children. Once the 60 day period has passed, you can proceed with finalizing the divorce. Once the documents are approved and signed by the court, you must wait 30 days before it becomes final. During this time, you cannot remarry unless you obtain permission from the court.
While divorce is never easy, it can be made easier with proper representation. If you need help filing your petition for divorce, contact an Austin divorce attorney for help. An experienced divorce attorney can make the entire process as smooth as possible for you and your family.
One of the most important documents you can have drafted is a living will. This is something completely different than a traditional will that simply leaves property to certain people after your death. It is a document that allows you to dictate your wishes for end of life medical care in the event that you are ever unable to communicate your decisions after a life changing event such as an illness or accident.
If you need a living will created, even if you are not dealing with a serious medical issue at the moment, a Round Rock wills and trusts attorney can assist you within the Austin, TX area and surrounding regions.
In many cases, you may want to have assistance in creating a living will in addition to estate planning. It allows your family members and medical professionals to know exactly what your wishes are in regard to your medical care. For instance, you can have a clause about DNR, or do not resuscitate, added into your living will in the event that you would otherwise be left in a vegetative state or if you are so ill that there is no hope for recovery.
Many states have forms that allow you to state your wishes in as much or as little detail as you want. For a living will to be considered valid, it must meet the requirements of notarization or witnesses within your state. You are also free to revoke a living will any time you like. It can take effect upon the moment of signing a living will or once the individual is no longer able to communicate their wishes for treatment.
Typically, when you have a living will, you deem someone close to you as power of attorney regarding your health care. That person is usually a close family member, such as a child or spouse, and they have the ability to oversee that your health care wishes are overseen and will make decisions for you regarding your care.
If you are interested in having a living will drafted and reside in the Austin, TX area, you need the assistance of a skilled Round Rock wills and trusts attorney at your disposal. Be sure to contact the Jackson Law Firm if you are within the Austin area.
Those who have or are undergoing a divorce in the State of Texas may be faced with concerns as to how to manage custodial arrangements and decisions for their child’s upcoming life post-divorce. A child custody attorney can help to navigate some of the challenging aspects that arise in such a scenario. Generally speaking, child custody is defined as the parent or parents who are the legal guardians responsible for that child’s daily activities, life and welfare, and that parent or parents are also responsible for determining where the child shall reside. Within the state of Texas, custody is usually presented by way of joint custody. However, joint custody may be overturned if a case can be presented showing evidence of scenarios such as domestic violence within the home, or if a parent has shown conduct which potentially can endanger a child. In those instances, the state or a judge may rule for sole conservatorship or custody of the child by one parent only.
An additional difficulty may arise if parents are sharing joint custody of a child and one of the parents has decided to relocate and move from the area. Since a custodial parent is also in charge of determining where a child will reside, in cases of joint custody the parents would need to agree on a child’s area of residency so that it would be convenient for parents to see the child on a consistent basis. However, if a parent is leaving the area, this situation can pose further challenges since it would revise or completely oppose a set visiting schedule. Hence, a parent who is seeking to relocate with a child after a divorce would need to petition to the judge and the court for permission to do so to remain in compliance with the terms of the divorce and custody agreements. At the court hearing for this proposal, the relocating parent would need to provide information to the judge to demonstrate why such a move is necessary (perhaps due to employment reasons, for example) and show that the move is not simply to “get back” at the other parent for the divorce. Again, a child custody attorney can assist in navigating the complex legal landscape and nuances of these situations and is instrumental for a successful outcome. Jackson Law Firm is a strong and effective group that stands ready to assist in this cases, and with a proven track record of success in custody mediation, let Jackson Law Firm help today in your divorce and relocation case!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes. There are two possibilities for spouses desiring to avoid making any appearance in court. First, the Texas Family Code provides divorcing spouses the option of utilizing collaborative law, where both parties and their attorneys agree in writing that they will use their “best efforts” and make a “good faith” attempt to resolve the divorce on an agreed basis. The parties and attorneys are given an incentive to reach settlement because in the event settlement is not reached, the attorneys must withdraw and new counsel must be obtained. Collaborative law is not advisable when there is significant distrust and/or animosity amongst the spouses. Our firm does not recommend collaborative law due to the strict collaborative law rule which requires withdraw of the attorney if settlement is not reached. If our firm were to withdraw, it would cost you significant additional expense to bring on a new attorney. More importantly, it is always and invariably our strategy to pursue settlement if it is beneficial to you. We do not need additional incentive to do what you hired us to do in the first place which is to work out an acceptable and positive result.
Second, if collaborative law is not the chosen course, divorcing spouses and their lawyers may reach agreement on all issues, including custody, child support, and the division of property through mediation or informal settlement processes. If agreement is reached, one of the spouses and their attorney will appear at the courthouse to “prove up” the divorce, a brief questioning of that spouse by his or her attorney to enter the divorce before the judge. This second route is our preferred route and we are proud that more than 75% of our cases are settled outside of court.
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.
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.