FAQ

Divorce and the many financial and emotional issues surrounding it can be confusing. To clear up some of this confusion, Mr. Eastland has assembled basic answers to the questions he is often asked.

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

Most jurisdictions have a waiting period. This serves either as a cooling off period or as a time to adjust your affairs to single life. In Texas, you must wait 60 days from the time you file until your divorce is final, even if the divorce is uncontested.

As Texas is a community property state, can you expect an even split of assets in a divorce?

Not necessarily. Property in a divorce is divided in a manner that the judge deems "just and right" and he or she may look at projected future earnings of the parties, who's at fault for the divorce and other criteria in making a disproportionate division.

Are divorce actions matters for a judge, or can you have a jury hear the case?

Either in a Texas divorce has a right to have a jury hear their divorce, a unique feature of Texas law. However, judges hear most divorce-related matters and jury decisions that are binding on the court are limited. Juries are most common in child custody disputes.

What are my chances of gaining custody of my children?

That depends on the facts of your case. Joint custody is preferred in this state. If both parents were involved with the children during the marriage, joint parenting will be the presumption going into the case. However, this presumption may be overcome.

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

Not always. Joint custody means the sharing of parental rights and duties and not necessarily equal time.

Will I have to pay child support?

The spouse who does not have primary custody of the children will, in most cases, pay child support to the primary custodial parent after a divorce based on guidelines in the Texas Family Code, according to income.

If my spouse wants a divorce and I don't, how can I stop it?

Once a divorce is filed in Texas and one party wants to go through with it, you can't stop it from happening. Your only hope is to convince your spouse to consider reconciliation.

What about Pre-nups?

"Pre-nups" have become a very popular way to avoid the struggle over assets when a marriage ends. These agreements have historically been used to deal with assets that are not divisible, such as an interest in a family owned business or a large tract of real estate. Now people with relatively modest holdings use prenuptial agreements to make a split easier on them.

What is the first step in the divorce process?

Once you've decided to proceed with a divorce, your attorney will file the divorce petition. This contains certain factual information about the parties, as well as grounds for the divorce. Because Texas is a no-fault state, the reason for the divorce usually is insupportability. This means the parties have different interests and have grown apart and this condition is irreconcilable.

Is mediation required in most Texas divorces?

Yes, in most cases. Texas has the most progressive and intensive use of mediation in the country. Most Texas courts have begun to require mediation before a family law case can be scheduled for trial.

What's the first thing I need to do to build a winning divorce case?

Beside hiring an accomplished matrimonial law attorney, the most important thing you can do at first is to secure three to five years of financial records and anything else that might become evidence in your case.

How often is alimony awarded in Texas?

Although the Texas Legislature passed an alimony statute in 1995, not many people qualify. Unless you have no significant assets or means of support or you and your spouse agree to it, there will be no significant long-term alimony once the divorce is final.

Can one attorney represent both parties in a divorce?

No. An attorney can draft the documents in a divorce for both parties to sign, but he or she can't legally advise more than one of the parties how to proceed in the divorce.

If your case is scheduled to go to court on a certain date, are you guaranteed that it will happen?

No, because 10 to 15 cases may be set on the judge's docket the same day as your case. Another case may be heard before you and your case may be reset for another day.

If you want to avoid the fighting and emotions that going to court often produces, is there an alternative?

Most divorce cases and family law cases are settled out of court by mediation or simply attorney-to-attorney settlement. The newest method of settlement, that completely avoids the courthouse, is collaborative law. Both attorneys and the divorcing parties vow beforehand to do everything possible to reach a settlement. Sessions are private and the process is meant to eliminate the rancor often associated with divorce.