If you are looking for an attorney with years of experience in divorce and family law in Fort Worth, TX, our law firm is here to assist you through such challenging times.
The Basics of Divorce in Fort Worth, TX
Divorce rates have hovered near the 50 percent mark for many years. With so many societal influences, not to mention the financial dynamics, it can be challenging for any couple to hold together a healthy marriage, much less one that’s become unhealthy.
When there are children involved, separation must be approached in such a way as to protect them instead of putting them in the line of fire. That’s a challenge in many Texas divorce cases. No longer is it two spouses who are parting ways, but rather, it becomes two parents who want to end the marriage but want to do so in the least traumatizing way for the little ones.
Deciding to end your marriage is an important decision and requires you to inform yourself as much as possible about the whole process. First, you will need to locate your Texas marriage certificate and find a good divorce lawyer.
Before filing for divorce in Fort Worth, TX, you need to consult with an experienced attorney who will help you going through the difficult divorce process. Our civil law firm is well-known for its dedicated and excellent client service. Feel free to read more about our firm and get to know why many people choose us as their legal advisors when filing for a divorce in Fort Worth.
Divorce in Tarrant County
To be able to file for divorce in Tarrant County, you must have lived in Texas for at least six months and 90 days in Tarrant County before filing for divorce at the District Court.
All divorces in Tarrant County must be filed at the Tarrant County Family Law Court in Fort Worth. You will need to complete an Original Petition of Divorce. However, no standing orders are required in Tarrant County.
Also, there is a 60-days cooling period before a divorce is final in Tarrant County. Some of the Tarrant County contested divorces might take anywhere from 61 days until two years before a final decree of divorce is obtained.
How to File for Divorce in Fort Worth, Texas
Although many people who go through a challenging experience like a divorce choose to be represented by a lawyer, others decide to file for divorce independently.
The Texas Office of Court Administration advises everyone going through a divorce should consult with a family law attorney. It is essential to make sure that your rights and future are secured. Working with an experienced lawyer is very important, especially in some cases:
- You and your spouse disagree on child custody, division of community property, or alimony.
- Your case involves domestic violence.
- An attorney represents your spouse.
- You or your spouse has a debt.
- You or your spouse may file for bankruptcy, or you have already done it.
- Your child has special needs.
- You have a child from this marriage, but you are not legally recognized as a parent – a perfect example would be same-sex marriage.
You do not need to be represented by a family law attorney for filing for divorce in Texas. Numerous simple, uncontested divorce cases decide to file for divorce on their own.
Grounds for Divorce
Texas has seven grounds for divorce. Most divorces happen because of “insupportability,” which simply means the marriage can no longer function in any healthy or meaningful way. There may be problems that cannot be overcome or disagreements that snowballed into real damage to the marriage. These are the only grounds for divorce that don’t require blame.
The remaining six grounds for divorce in Texas:
- Felony conviction
- Physical distance (if the spouses have lived apart for a considerable amount of time)
- Admission into a mental facility (requires one party to have been confined for at least 3 years)
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce means that parties agree on every term, from the parenting plan to the community property division. In an uncontested divorce in Fort Worth, Texas, only one party may have an attorney. This route is the easiest to end your marriage, and the cost is significantly lower.
On the other hand, a contested divorce means that spouses did not agree on some divorce issues. Usually, a contested divorce involves more stress that can be alleviated with a lawyer’s help.
If your divorce is uncontested, you will work with your spouse to complete the necessary paperwork (known as divorce forms) and submit them to the District Clerk’s Office at your county court.
Texas is a “Community Property” state. This means that all property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property, meaning it is subject to division by the Court.
The division of community property is presumed to be equal. However, a judge has the discretion to divide the community estate unequally for certain equitable reasons such as fault in the breakup in the marriage, disparity of earning capacity of the parties, and numerous other factors defined by case law, not the Family Code. Fighting for a disproportionate division can be a significant issue in a divorce.
“Separate Property” is generally defined as property owned by a party before marriage or acquired during marriage by gift or inheritance. There are other kinds of separate property as well. This is important because the Judge can NOT take away a party’s separate property. Proving separate property is the burden of the party wanting it characterized as such and requires a more robust level of persuasion than is generally the case. Very important to have an experienced attorney on this issue.
The unpaid debt will also be divided based on a couple’s unique circumstances and how the debts are characterized.
Suppose there is a child of the marriage. In that case, the divorce also includes a “Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship”, meaning the Judge must make orders for the custody, visitation (in Texas, called “conservatorship”), and support of the child. There is more information on this elsewhere on this site. Needless to say, SAPCR issues are significant as the outcome can have a major impact on how your child is raised and supported and on the parties as well. It is essential to consult a qualified attorney before making any decisions on SAPCR issues.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
In 1995, Texas, for the first time in its history, enacted a limited “alimony” statute. Originally it was designed to apply only in lengthy marriages where one spouse had been out of the workforce for a long time or suffering from a disability. Not surprisingly, since then, the law has grown in scope. Today, maintenance could very well be an issue in a divorce.
Filing for Divorce in Fort Worth, Texas
Filing for an uncontested divorce in Forth Worth, Texas, requires you to draft an Original Petition of Divorce. This petition needs to be filed at the Tarrant County Court, and this is the moment when formally starts the divorce process.
Your petition is stamped and assigned a cause number by a clerk, and then two copies are being returned to you. One of these copies must be served to your spouse.
In an uncontested divorce case, the served spouse must sign a waiver of service to acknowledge they have been served with the petition and agree with the divorce proceedings. This waiver is typically signed in front of a notary and filed with the Court.
For contested divorce cases, you must wait for your spouse’s answer. The following steps of the divorce process involve mediation, settlement negotiations, discovery, trial preparations, trial, and final order.
To qualify for an uncontested divorce in Fort Worth, Texas, both spouses must meet a series of criteria:
- Agreement to be divorced;
- Agreement on all divorce issues (child custody, child support, property division, finances);
- Agree that an attorney will represent only one party;
- Un-coerced signatures on all legal documents;
- The shared assets value is less than $750,000.
Since the divorce process is long and complicated, it is wise to consider a family law attorney representation. If you decide to leave your case to a lawyer with years of experience dealing with different divorce cases, please contact us for legal advice regarding the Fort Worth, Texas divorce procedure.
Divorce Court Fort Worth TX
After deciding to end your marriage, the next step is to look up information regarding the divorce court in Tarrant County. Your attorneys can give you more details regarding the judges who will be involved in your case.
The Tarrant County Law Courts are located in the Tarrant County Family Law Center, at 200 E. Weatherford Street in downtown Fort Worth, Texas.
On the first floor of the Tarrant County family Law Center, you will find four D courts dedicated to collecting child support and for paternity cases. The next floor hosts the Domestic Relations Office and Family Court Service. They perform social studies in custody cases and handle Access Facilitation matters.
On the third floor, you will find the District Clerk’s file desk, where you can file your divorce petition, and also, you can obtain copies of court documents.
The last two floors host the District Courts, where District Court judges hear final trials or appeals from the Associate Courts.
People who have cases in the divorce courts should always consult with their attorneys before going to the Tarrant County divorce court. The attorneys can quickly tell their clients what to expect, plus they know the 14 judges’ personalities and their unique perspectives on divorce cases.
For more details regarding the Tarrant County Divorce Court, please consult our page.
Divorce Records in Fort Worth, Texas
Divorce records are official documents that include certificates, decrees, and comprehensive records. Although these documents are related to a hard decision filled with negative feelings, since government bodies create them, they are considered public records and are open to the general public.
Nevertheless, these divorce records include sensitive information such as finances, personal property, minors’ status, or criminal information (domestic abuse). Due to this fact, divorce records are significantly harder to obtain.
How Do I Look up Divorce Records in Texas?
To obtain a divorce record in Texas, you must go through the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. The department will offer a list of county clerks, registrars, and local record counterparties through their records website.
You can find divorce records in person, via email, or online. When requesting these documents, all requestors are asked to complete application forms that include a valid photo ID issued by a government body. The associated fees range between $20 and $22,95.
Do You Need a Divorce Lawyer?
While divorce is never easy, those couples that are able to see past the pain are the ones who have a much easier time during the divorce process. When there are children involved, it becomes that much more important. As parents, we are responsible for deflecting as much of the trauma as possible to protect them. Child custody issues are always a top priority in a divorce.
Having an experienced attorney is critical in a divorce- it is very hard to be objective about your own case, so you need the unbiased, objective advice of someone to guide you in making these life-changing decisions. Also, even if you are able somehow to be objective, do you know the law?
Many people think they do because the Internet makes resources available online. Still, many key parts of Family Law are determined by appellate court rulings, not just the statutes of the Texas Family Code.
Finally, once you decide what you want and why you need a seasoned divorce lawyer to review the wording (what lawyers call “the form”) of your agreement, make sure you do not lose what you bargained for. So yes, even if you have reached or want to reach an agreement, you need a divorce attorney. And you can imagine how much more so you need a good lawyer if you cannot agree and have to go to trial.
More fathers are seeking – and the courts are granting – full custody of their children. We specialize in representing fathers in those cases and visitation, support, property, and maintenance issues. Traditionally, mothers received physical custody in a divorce with children; our modern society no longer makes that assumption. Texas law states that child custody is to be decided regardless of gender.
To learn more about filing for divorce in Texas, or if you wish to modify a divorce and custody agreement already in place, please contact our office today. We stand ready to provide legal guidance so that you can pick up the pieces and move forward.