The divorce lawyers of Scroggins Law Group provide the advocacy you need during a marital dissolution. Whether contested or uncontested, divorce is often a stressful and emotionally-charged time. Family law matters can quickly become complicated without an experienced attorney who can ensure that your best interests – and those of your children – are represented.
If you have made the painful decision to divorce your spouse, you need a resourceful, responsive legal representative in your corner that removes your misgivings and guides you to a brighter future. Make informed decisions and avoid common pitfalls in this difficult process by retaining a skilled divorce lawyer right from the start.
Leveraging more than 100 years of combined legal expertise in divorce and family law matters, our dedicated professionals can help you make decisions confidently and start the next chapter of your life with a feeling of empowerment.
The Process of Filing for Divorce in Texas
Getting a divorce can be an arduous and confusing process, underscoring the need for sound legal guidance. Spouses must resolve financial and child custody matters that will have long-term consequences for the entire family.
Our veteran lawyers help clients through every step of the divorce process from filing or responding to the petition until the divorce decree is granted. The following is a brief overview of the process as it makes its way through the legal system:
- Petition for divorce is filed
- Legal Notice /Waiver of Service
- Respondent files an answer and often a counterpetition
- Initial disclosures are due 30 days after the answer is filed unless abated or waived by the parties
- Parties may or may not have a hearing for
- After the preliminary matters are settled, parties will move into the Discovery phase.
During this step of the process, parties are entitled to ask for information related to the case in the form of:
- Temporary conservatorship
- Temporary possession and access of the children
- Who will remain in the marital home during the pendency of the divorce?
- Who will pay the household bills?
- Will interim attorney fees be ordered?
- Will a Child Custody Evaluation be ordered?
- Will an amicus attorney be appointed?
- Will psychological evaluations of parties or children be ordered?
- Will a business valuation be performed?
- Exchange of Sworn Inventory and Appraisements
Temporary Orders based on their ability to agree on certain issues such as:
- Interrogatories – written questions
- Requests for Production of Documents
- Request for Admissions
- Subpoenas sent to third parties
Once all information is exchanged, parties have options for settling their affairs and finalizing the Decree of Divorce. Options include:
- An attempt at negotiation of division of debts and assets, child custody and spousal maintenance, if applicable.
- If informal negotiations fail, Mediation offers another chance to settle the matter with the assistance of an impartial mediator. Most often, an attorney who is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization of a former family court judge.
- If an agreement is reached and a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) is signed, parties will prepare an Agreed Decree of Divorce, attendant closing documents, such as Qualified Domestic Relations Order, and subsequently appear in Court to “prove up” the divorce.
If the matter is not settled at or subsequent to mediation, the case will move to trial where upon conclusion, the Court or jury will render its decision. The judge also has the authority to take the matter under advisement and rule at a later date.
- A Divorce Decree will be drafted in accordance with the Court’s ruling or the jury’s decision.
Residency Requirements and Grounds for Divorce in TX
According to Tex. Fam. Code § 6.301, either spouse must have been a resident of the state for six month prior to filing the suit for divorce. In addition, one spouse must have resided in the county where the petition is filed for the preceding 90 days. If one spouse has lived in Texas for the past six months and the other spouse resides in a different state or country, the spouse residing outside of Texas can file for divorce in the county in which the Texas spouse lives.
No fault divorces are permitted in Texas. In most cases, the petitioning spouse cites “insupportability” and a non-resolvable conflict of personalities that ends the marriage.
Aside from no-fault divorce, there are seven statutory grounds for divorce in Texas which require a finding of fault on the part of one of the spouses:
- Abandonment for one year or longer
- Domestic violence
- Physical/ mental abuse or other cruel treatment
- Mental incapacitation for at least three years
- Conviction of a felony
- Imprisonment for at least one year
Proving fault in a divorce often impacts the court’s final decision regarding division of community property.
Texas is a community property state, meaning that courts presume that all property attained or earned by either party during the marriage is held equally by both spouses. Statute allows the court to divide marital property in a manner that the court deems just, having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage. Therefore, community property is not always divided 50/50. There is often a disparate division of the marital estate based on fault, bad facts, or a disparity of earning capacity.
Separate property cannot be divided by the court. To overcome the community property presumption, parties must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the property is characterized as separate. Separate property is anything that you owned prior to marriage, received by gift, inheritance, or devise. A personal injury settlement related to pain and suffering is also separate property.. Your divorce lawyer can help you gather evidence that demonstrates the separate nature of your property. Frequently, this is done through the hiring of a tracing expert who can trace the origin of the asset through the inception of title rule.
High-Net Worth Divorce Issues
Scroggins Law Group has extensive experience in all disputes surrounding high-net worth divorces in Texas. We work diligently to ensure all marital assets – from automobiles, stocks and art collections to oil & gas limited partnerships, retirement assets, and vacation properties are properly valued and assessed. Keeping your privacy in mind, our attorneys strive to obtain the best possible resolution, whether through mediation or trial.
Our lawyers routinely work with tax experts, appraisers, business valuators and accountants to advance your interests, preserve your wealth and achieve your financial goals to the extent possible when dividing marital assets.
In Texas, child custody has two parts: conservatorship, and possession and access. It is presumed in Texas that the parents should be named Joint Managing Conservators of the children. That means both parents share in the major decision-making rights, privileges, duties, and powers although not necessarily equally. Possession and access is exactly what is sounds like; the amount of time you and the other parent have with the children.
The “best interest of the child” is the primary consideration in determining child custody. It is Texas’ public policy for children to have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in their best interests, and can provide them with safe, stable, and nonviolent environments. Texas parents are encouraged to share in the rights and duties of raising their children even after they have separated or divorced.
A Texas child custody agreement is called a Parenting Plan, which encompasses the following issues:
• The child’s primary residence
• Rights and expected duties of each parent
• Designated periods or days when each parent will have access to the child
• Decisions on all health care services for the child
• Expenses for the child’s extracurricular activities
• How relevant issues regarding the child’s future well-being will be decided
• Payments of child support
1 child = 20% of the Obligor’s net income/resources
2 children = 25% of the Obligor’s net income/resources
3 children = 30% of the Obligor’s net income/resources
4 children = 35% of the Obligor’s net income/resources
5 children = 40% of the Obligor’s net income/resources
6 or more children = Not less than the amount for 5 children
A parent will on most occasions, be ordered to make the child support payment through the Child Support Disbursement Unit. Informal payments made in other fashions can be disregarded by the Court in a future hearing.
In Texas, maintenance refers to an award of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse in a suit for Dissolution of Marriage. The obligee is the person entitled to receive spousal maintenance, and the obligor is the person required to make the payments.
Eligibility to receive post-divorce financial support is determined by the following factors:
- The parties were married at least 10 years
The spouse seeking maintenance does not have “sufficient property,” including their separate property, to provide for their minimum needs
- The spouse seeking maintenance cannot earn adequate income to support themselves due to a mental or physical disability, or because of custodial responsibilities to an offspring of the marriage who requires specialized care due to physical or mental impairments.
- The court may also award maintenance if a spouse was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that constitutes an act of family violence within 2 years of the date of filing of the petition.
Once eligibility for maintenance is demonstrated, the court will look at the duration of the marriage, the education and employment skills of the spouses, history of marital misconduct, and contributions to the family as a homemaker and earning power of the other spouse when establishing the amount and duration of the award. Every divorce is unique and has multiple issues that need to be resolved. Attorney Mark L. Scroggins and the legal team at Scroggins Law Group can help you deftly navigate the process.
Enforcement of Orders
After a divorce decree is finalized, both parties are expected to abide by the orders regarding child custody, visitation rights, spousal maintenance, and child support. Unfortunately, ex-spouses may choose to ignore their Texas court-ordered obligations. At Scroggins Law Group, we have helped countless individuals take legal action for failing to comply with divorce judgements. Our legal team can help you seek enforcement of the decree if an ex-spouse violates visitation rights; skips out on child support payments, moves to another state without permission, or stops paying spousal maintenance.
Work with a Board-Certified, Texas Family Law Specialist
The decision to end a marriage is rarely an easy one. Our divorce attorneys know this — and do everything they can to help you smoothly navigate this often tiresome and frustrating legal process. If you are filing for divorce, or have been filed against, we supply the guidance and support needed to safeguard your interests — and your financial and emotional investments in your marriage.
Mark L. Scroggins is board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Over the past two and half decades, Scroggins has handled hundreds of divorce cases with aggression, compassion, and attention to detail. His extensive courtroom experience, legal savvy, and genuine care help clients emerge from the breakdown of a marriage as intact as possible.
No matter the circumstances of your particular divorce, a Texas family law specialist can make a challenging process more bearable by addressing your concerns with compassion and respect. You can count on Mark L. Scroggins and the team at Scroggins Law Group for high-caliber representation in all matters including divorce modification, appeals, mediation, trial, and enforcement of orders.
Divorce Attorneys Trusted by Texas Residents
Do you have questions about divorce law in Texas? Our knowledgeable lawyers have candid, thorough answers that clarify complex legalities. Whether you are dealing with a heavily litigated high-net worth divorce or an emotional child custody battle, we invite you to discuss your options with Scroggins Law Group.
Reach out to arrange an initial consultation with divorce lawyers with a proven track record helping clients throughout the communities of Dallas, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Plano, Lewisville, and Highland Village.