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FAQs About Divorce in Texas. Part Three

This article is the third in a series of FAQS about divorce in Texas. Please call Lyttle Law Firm PLLC to discuss your divorce case with a skilled caring family lawyer. We’re happy to answer all your questions.

When am I Officially Divorced?

In Texas, you’re divorced when the judge signs the divorce order. The divorce order usually is based on an agreement between the spouses or the judge’s rulings following a trial.

Is My Divorce Record Public?

Yes. Anyone can go to the county courthouse and ask the clerk to examine your divorce documents. These days, many divorce records can be viewed online.

How Does a Divorce Differ From a Separation in Texas?

There is no formal legal separation in Texas. Spouses can live apart but the spouses have no right to spousal support or to seek a division of the marital property – until they file for divorce. Separation is a grounds for divorce provided the spouses live apart for three years.

If you separate but don’t file for divorce, any property you or your spouse acquires is considered marital property. Likewise, any debts either spouse acquires are marital debt. Marital property and marital debt are equitably divided as part of the divorce.

After your divorce, you’re free to live anywhere you choose – though you will need to comply with any agreements you made as part of the divorce or any judicial orders.

How Does a Divorce Differ From an Annulment?

An annulment essentially says that you and your spouse were never married. A divorce ends your marriage. There are different grounds for annulment and divorce.

A marriage can be annulled in Texas:

  • If the marriage involved someone who was 16 or 17 and married without parental consent.
  • At the time the marriage took place, the petitioner didn’t have the capacity to consent to the marriage because they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • If either party was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage provided no cohabitation occurs after the other party learns of the impotency
  • The marriage occurred through the use of fraud, duress, or force by the other party
  • If one of the spouses did not have the mental incapacity to give consent
  • The other party was divorced within 30 days of the marriage from another spouse
  • The marriage occurred less than 72 hours after the issuance of the marriage license
  • The parties are related

Each of these types of annulments has special conditions your Texas family lawyer can explain.

Whether a marriage is annulled or terminated; If there are children, a family judge can order child custody and child support.

Is It Possible to Modify a Divorce Agreement?

The answer is – it depends. Generally, you can’t modify a property settlement agreement or order unless the agreement/order was based on fraud – such as failure to disclose known assets However, you and your spouse can agree on your own to change the property division – if, for example, you both agree it would be best to sell some assets instead of keeping them.

In cases of child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance; the agreements can be modified by agreement. They usually can also be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances. Examples of changes include a change in income status, the desire of one of the spouses to move, remarriage, and other factors.

Courts will consider major changes but don’t want you to run into court for minor disagreements.

Can You Change Your Name Before the Divorce Becomes Final?

You can request a name change prior to the issuance of the divorce decree – but you won’t be allowed to use your maiden name until the divorce decree is final. Generally, the request is made in the initial divorce pleading but you can make the request during the divorce proceedings. There may be some time limits.

Once you have the divorce decree with your maiden name, you’ll need to notify the appropriate entities such as Social Security, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and your bank.

With your lawyer’s help, you should also be able to change the names on any real estate deeds so they’re just in your maiden name – if the agreement/order provides that your spouse’s name should be removed from the deed.

Do You Need an Attorney to Divorce?

Yes and no. You are allowed to represent yourself. However, it’s almost always advisable to hire an experienced Texas family lawyer. An attorney will help ensure you understand and assert all your rights. Skilled lawyers also explain many options that help balance your financial and emotional needs while reducing the tensions of a divorce– such as using mediation and collaboration to resolve your divorce issues.

Many times, family law contests are much more than just each side arguing about who gets want. Skilled lawyers are often able to provide many practical suggestions that help benefit everyone involved.

Generally, the benefits of hiring a lawyer strongly outweigh the cost of hiring the attorney

How Much Will My Divorce Cost?

The answer depends on a few factors. These factors include whether:

  • A settlement can be reached or you have to have a judge hear your case
  • You have children
  • There is a claim for spousal maintenance
  • There are retirement benefits
  • Many other factors

Attorneys usually have an hourly rate. Your lawyer should have a written document which sets forth the hourly rate. You should ask your lawyer how many hours she thinks the divorce process will take. You have the right to receive regular bills for the lawyer’s services.

Speak With a Respected Texas Family Lawyer now.

We understand how confusing the divorce process can be – especially when you’re worried about your financial security and your children. At Lyttle Law Firm, we encourage our clients to ask us questions. We’ll guide you calmly and strongly through each phase of your divorce case. Our Austin and San Marcos family lawyers counsel clients who live in Travis, Hays, Comal, Williamson, Bell, Caldwell, Burnett, Llano, and Guadalupe Counties. Call us at 512.215.5225 or use our online form to schedule an appointment.

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"Daniella, you helped me during the darkest and most difficult time in my life. You were always honest, gave me realistic expectations, and you were prepared for anything in the Courtroom and out of the Courtroom. I will be forever grateful for what you did for me and my children. Because of you, I feel that I got a settlement that will put me on the right path for this next chapter of my life as a divorced parent. Thank you and your wonderful team! you all are great!" A.R.
"Ms. Lyttle's name was given to me by a mutual friend who described Ms. Lyttle as an intelligent lawyer with an athlete's competitive spirit. Ms. Lyttle was a wonderful representative of calm preparedness during what became a lengthy and tenacious divorce litigation. I appreciated her knowledge, her calmness despite the fact that I was very anxuous, and her polite and respectful attitude in the courtroom, and outside of it. Ms. Lyttle helped me to stay focused on the larger picture, and her experience and advice came to me at a time when I was desperate and depended on her. I am glad to report I placed my trust in someone who actually delivered." R.E.
"I have known Ms. Lyttle for more than two years. She has represented me in my divorce and then in my modification/enforcement case in the most proffessional manner. Ms. Lyttle's ethics are of the highest standards. Her friendship , courtesy ,knowledge and honesty have become very important to me during the last two years as she represented me in my family law case. I have recommended Ms. Lyttle to a many friends facing family law matters and I know I can count on Ms. Lyttle should I need her again in the future." A.W.