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.
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.
One of the benefits of Chapter 7 is that you can eliminate your debt. People qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually when it’s impossible for them to repay their debts based on their incomes. If you qualify for Chapter 7 protection, you can bankrupt all your outstanding debts and get a fresh start.
Although bankruptcy gives you a fresh financial start, there are times when alternatives to bankruptcy might be a better choice. If you want to keep your home or business, it might be more beneficial to work with your debtors, take out a consolidation loan or second mortgage, sell your business’s accounts receivable invoices or get a loan by using other forms of collateral. Regardless of your strategy, it’s always best to contact a bankruptcy lawyer in Williamson County to understand all the risks and alternatives to bankruptcy.
In certain cases, you can bankrupt U.S. federal taxes. Most people think that taxes can’t be eliminated by filing for bankruptcy, but that’s not always true. Many taxes can be discharged, but the rules are complex and depend on your financial situation and whether you filed your taxes on time or within four years of declaring bankruptcy. 
The Jackson Law Firm can help you determine whether any back taxes you owe are dischargeable through bankruptcy protection. Making sense of business and personal bankruptcy, back taxes and dischargeable and non-dischargeable debts is complex, but our team of Williamson County bankruptcy lawyers can simplify filing for bankruptcy and help you choose the right kind of bankruptcy protection.
 Irs.gov: Declaring Bankruptcy | Internal Revenue Service
In Texas–and other states–the state government sets limits on what your creditors can take. This is done by setting exemptions for certain kinds of property that creditors aren’t allowed to attach. In Texas, a creditor cannot garnish your current wages for a consumer debt except for court-ordered child and spousal support and back support payments. Other property that your creditors can’t take includes:
Contact us today at (512) 643-6763 if you have any questions about exemptions. If you really want to protect property that’s valued over the limit, choose Chapter 13. However, some people keep their personal belongings by doing nothing. Your creditors might obtain judgments if you do nothing, but many creditors concentrate solely on attaching cash from employment, your bank accounts and highly valued property like boats. Most creditors don’t want to bother with hunting down your belongings and estimating the value of personal property. It’s risky, but you might be allowed to keep your precious mementos–and even valuable personal property–by doing nothing. If your creditors do go after your personal property, you can stop them at that time by declaring bankruptcy.
There is a “means” test that compares your income with your debts and living expenses to determine if you can pay part of your debts. If you can’t afford to cover living expenses and pay your debts, you qualify for Chapter 7 protection. Chapter 7 bankruptcies enjoy the following financial benefits:
Contact us today online or by calling (512) 643-6763 to see if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which eliminates almost all of your existing debts. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in Round Rock who serves the city and surrounding areas in Williamson County can help you get the fastest possible bankruptcy protection and stop annoying collection efforts.
If the “means” test determines that you make enough to pay off part of your debts, you’ll have to file Chapter 13. Your debtors will study your finances and propose a three-to-five year repayment plan, apportioning certain percentages to each debtor. If you stick to this repayment plan, all your remaining debts will be canceled. You can also choose to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7 if you want to prevent foreclosure and keep your home and family cars or keep other property or treasured family mementos that exceed the value of the Texas homestead exemption limit. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can make up missed mortgage payments and reinstate the original terms of the mortgage.  If you want to keep certain types of property, contact us online today, or call us at (512) 643-6763. We’ll see what can be done to safeguard your livelihood and lifestyle. Chapter 13 bankruptcies can provide the following benefits:
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer in Cedar Park or Round Rock who serves the city and surrounding areas can help you make sense of the bankruptcy laws and get the best deal possible based on your income, debts and other factors.
 Texasbankruptcylaw.com: Texas Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Information
If you own a small business, a bankruptcy can become more complicated. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy works just like personal filing–an Automatic Stay allows your business to dissolve without facing the collection efforts of those that you owe money or services. However, it’s possible to keep your business and still receive bankruptcy protection. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is designed for businesses that want to continue repaying their debts with reduced payments. Your business could qualify for up to six years to repay existing debts. The process is complex, and your debts must be under $2 million dollars to qualify.  There are many other details such as making a list of your top 20 creditors, meeting with debtors, scheduling a conference with them, appointing a trustee and making all business records available for financial examination.
You can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you are the sole proprietor of your business. You’ll have to file this type of business bankruptcy as if you were just filing a personal bankruptcy. All other Chapter 13 regulations apply. Contact us online today, or call us at (512) 643-6763 for a business bankruptcy evaluation.
 Justice.gov: OPERATING GUIDELINES AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS FOR DEBTORS IN POSSESSION AND CHAPTER 11 TRUSTEES
There are several different options for declaring bankruptcy depending on whether you own a business, whether your debts are secured or unsecured, whether child support and alimony are involved and other factors. That’s why it’s so important to contact an attorney first to see what choices you have. Each case is different based on your own circumstances, but the general rules of bankruptcy include the following points:
Secured and Unsecured Debt
Dealing with Other Issues
Mandatory Credit Counseling
As you can see from the above list, there are many complex issues to consider when you file for bankruptcy. That’s why it’s so important that you contact our office today or call us at (512) 643-6763. The Jackson Law Firm of Williamson County, Texas, and surrounding areas including Cedar Park and Round Rock offers guidance, support and expert knowledge of bankruptcy and family law.
One of the first things our lawyers do when you contact our firm is determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which can eliminate all your debt. When it’s impossible to pay your bills–you’ve lost your job, your business has failed, you’ve been sued or have a mountain of debt–you could qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
When the police accuse people of violating the law, the defendants sometimes think that they will need to prove their innocence, which is untrue. The Founding Fathers crafted our legal system to reduce the chance of an innocent person getting convicted of a crime, so the burden of proof is in the prosecutor’s hands.
The prosecutor must prove to a jury that you have committed the crime with which the state has charged you, and your defense won’t need to prove anything. If the jury has any doubt that you have committed the crime in question, they have a duty to find you not guilty. The prosecutor will use witnesses, video footage and anything else that he can locate to build a case against you.
To prevent the abuse of power, the Founding Fathers have separated the arrest and prosecution process. When the police arrest you, they will have to pass your case to the prosecutor, and she will decide whether or not to move forward. Since prosecutors are elected, most of them want to paint themselves in a positive light, which means earning as many convictions as possible. When prosecutors believe that they have a strong case, they are unlikely to drop the charges against you. The prosecutor is likely to drop or reduce charges when the case is weak.
Rather than going to trial, most criminal cases in the United States end in plea bargaining. If every case went to trial, it would be impossible for the justice system to operate effectively, and the clogged courts would force people to wait years or more for their day in court. When the court has a lot of cases to handle, judges will encourage prosecutors to push people through the system as quickly as they can, and that is where plea bargaining comes into play.
Depending on the details of your case, the prosecutor will probably offer to reduce your charges or to lower your sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. Prosecutors who have weak evidence will offer better deals than the ones who don’t, and a Cedar Park criminal defense lawyer will consider the strength of your case and tell you what path you should take. Although we will give you advice, the choice that you make will always be in your hands. If you are not happy with the agreement, we will zealously defend you in court.
The law places many restrictions on how the police can collect and present evidence about a criminal case. While blatant lying is rare, police officers will sometimes twist small details to tip the odds in their favor. For example, they might stretch the truth to obtain enough probable cause to search your property for signs of criminal activity. In other cases, they might try to trick you into giving up your legal rights, but we won’t allow that to happen when you enlist our support.
We will review the details of your arrest and ensure that the police did not cross the line. If they have violated your rights, we will fight to have the wrongly obtained evidence removed from court to improve your odds of reaching a fair outcome. When you have questions about your rights or think that the police are overstepping their bounds, get in touch with us as soon as you can. When you speak with us about your case, we will tell you what to do and how to respond, preventing you from making dangerous mistakes.
When you hire us, we will start the defense process immediately. After we have reviewed the evidence against you, we will search for holes that can destroy the prosecutor’s case before it goes to trial. If we can’t get your case dismissed, we will go to court and continue to protect you and your future. We will find ways to give the jury enough doubt to return a not guilty verdict.
We will look for and point out inconsistencies in police and witness statements to discredit their testimony, and doing so can make a difference in the outcome of your case.
The moment you enlist our services, we will look at your situation so that we can help you form a viable defense strategy. We will start by speaking with you and learning as much as we can about your case. The next step involves requesting a copy of the prosecutor’s evidence by using the process of discovery, but we will also take a look at the bill of particulars.
Once we have taken all of the facts into consideration, we will speak with you about the possible defenses we can use to protect your freedom and reputation. Our training and experience will allow us to look for weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case that will reduce their odds of taking you to trial. Since we care about each person we serve, we will do everything that we can to give you confidence and peace of mind as you move forward. No matter your situation, we will provide you with the best possible defense and do everything in our power to help you win. You will know that you have made the right call when you have The Jackson Law Firm by your side.
When you think of a criminal conviction, you probably picture spending time behind bars or paying a fine, and you are not alone. While most people look at the short-term problems, a conviction could create long-term consequences from which escape will be next to impossible. Everything starts when the police arrest and put you through the booking process. Your mugshot and the details of your case will appear online and in the local newspaper, but that is only the start. The time that you spend behind bars can cause you to lose your job and damage your social life.
Once you have served your time and the justice system releases you, finding a new job and forming social or romantic relationships will be difficult. Most companies run background checks on potential employees, and having criminal convictions on your record will harm your progress. Even if the police drop the charges or a jury finds you not guilty, getting the arrest removed from your file will take a lot of time and effort, but the legal professionals at The Jackson Firm can give you a hand.