Q. How long does it take to finalize a divorce in Texas?
A. The Petition for Divorce, which is the first pleading filed in a divorce action, must be on file with the court for a minimum of 60 days before the divorce can be finalized. If the divorce is an agreed divorce, meaning that the parties agree to all terms of the divorce and sign the final decree or a waiver, it can be finalized as soon as the sixty-day waiting period expires. If there is a dispute involving the conservatorship of the children or the division of the martial estate, the divorce proceeding could take much longer.
Q. How much will my divorce cost?
A. The cost of a divorce depends upon many factors, including court costs or expert fees, in addition to your legal fees. Legal fees will vary depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the property issues, whether children are involved, and whether or not the parties agree on custody and division of property.
Other costs - Some people decide to do their own divorce, sometimes with costly results:
1. Not really divorced - Sometimes, people who have done their own divorce, but not really understood it have not finished all the paperwork. Consequently, years later, they find out that they were never really divorced. Sometimes, a person receives paperwork from a spouse and thinks they are divorced, but the divorce was never really finalized.
2. Improperly transferred assets - A woman who originally owned a house and solely on the mortgage, transferred the house to her spouse in their do-it-yourself divorce. She then spent much more that the divorce would have originally cost to get the mortgage out of her name. In addition, she suffered high interest rates on her next home purchase because of the effect on her credit when the ex only paid the mortgage payments once every three months.
3. Parental rights - Parents are sometimes shortchanged on their parental rights when they don't understand what rights they are entitled to receive in a divorce or paternity action.
Q. How much child support can I expect?
A. Generally the party who designates the primary residence of the children can expect to receive child support equal to 20% of the other parent's net income for one child, 25% for two children, 30% for three children and 35% for four children and so on. (This amount is adjusted if the parent who pays has other children under age 18 to support.) Other factors that the court may consider is whether the other parent is intentionally unemployed or under employed.
As additional child support the other parent may be required to either provide health insurance for the children or reimburse you for the cost of health insurance.
Q. If the parent ordered to pay child support has failed to pay courted ordered child support, what can I do?
A. You may be entitled to file a Motion for Enforcement of Child Support Order. If the court finds that they have failed to pay child support under an enforceable order and he/she has the ability to pay, the court can hold them in contempt of court, commit him/her to jail for a period of time and order him/her to pay your attorney fees and court costs.
Q. Can the amount of child support be changed?
A. Yes, if the circumstances of the child or a party have materially and substantially changed since the date of the prior order, or the date of the mediated settlement agreement on which the order is based, or it has been 3 years since the date of the last order and the monthly amount of guideline child support differs by 20 percent or $100.00.
Q. I've moved to Texas from another state, where I had a simple will drawn. Do I need to get a new will made in Texas?
A. In many instances, you should prepare a new Texas will. However, this is not necessary in all cases. A Texas attorney can review your current will to determine whether or not a new will should be made in Texas.
Q. Where is the best place to keep my signed will or other original estate planning documents?
A. The best place is probably in a safe deposit box because it will protect the documents from theft, fire, accidental loss, and most other types of damage or harm. A potential problem, though, is getting it opened after your death. If you decide to keep your estate planning documents in a safe deposit box, consider naming a family member or your trustee as a joint holder on the box. In addition you may keep the documents at your attorney's office or your home in a safe place. However, they may not be protected against damage or harm.
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