Family Law Frequently Asked Questions:

How long will my divorce take?
In Texas there is a minimum 60 day waiting period after the filing of a
petition for divorce before the divorce can be finalized.  If the parties have
reached an
agreement, it is possible that the divorce can be completed
as early as the 61st day after the divorce petition is filed.  However, if an
agreement cannot be reached, a trial may be necessary which can
substantially increase the amount of time necessary to complete the

If my ex-spouse is not abiding by the divorce decree, what can I do?
This is one of our most frequent questions.  Divorced couples may
encounter difficulties with either their visitation arrangements, child
support, or other issues.  If your ex-spouse is not complying with the
terms of the divorce decree, you may ask the court for redress.  Some
terms of the divorce decree are enforceable by contempt, while other
terms may be enforced through a judgment.

Can a court order my (ex-)spouse to pay my attorney's fees?
Depending on the circumstances, sometimes.  

How are custody and visitation decided?
Children have two parents, and no matter what you think about the other
parent, most children do better if they have healthy relationships with
both parents.  Custody is often the most stressful, contentious issue in
any divorce.  As a general rule, it is in the best interests of the child(ren)
if the parents can reach an agreement for custody.  If the parents cannot
agree on custody and visitation, the court has to make the decision. The
judge’s overriding consideration is the child’s best interest.  In Texas, a
party may also request that a jury decide certain issues related to

How is child support decided?
While the amount of child support may result in a great deal of hostility
between the parents, the determination of child support is often much
more formulaic and predictable once custody has been decided.  The
Texas Family Code provides guidelines to determine the amount of
child support to award.  Child support in Texas is based on the formula
provided by the Texas Family Code.  Generally, the person paying child
support usually pays 20% of their "net resources" for one child. This
percentage increases with each additional child:  25% for two children,
30% for three, etc.  However, other figures are sometimes  used.  For
instance, If the person paying child support is already paying child
support for other children, the percentage of their income that they will
have to pay for the new child support for the additional children may be

Can child support or visitation/custody be changed?
Yes.  Texas law allows parents to request to court to change both child
support orders and custody orders, provided that certain criteria are met.

While a divorce is pending, can a court decide who is responsible for
the bills?
Yes.  A court can order which spouse is responsible for the bills and
expenses if a request for a temporary hearing is made.  This request is
usually made at the time when the divorce is filed.  Otherwise, bills will
be paid only by agreement of the parties while the case is pending.  A
court may enforce the temporary orders if one of the spouses does not

How do I get "alimony"?
Texas does not allow "alimony" as most people understand it from
television.  The Texas Family Code does provide for  spousal
"maintenance" in certain circumstances which depend on certain factors
being satisfied.  However, because Texas is a "community property"
state, under Texas law spousal maintenance is presumed unwarranted
unless a judge finds that certain criteria are met.

What is common law marriage?
"Common law" marriages and are called "informal marriages" by the
Texas Family Code.  There are two ways to prove that you were
"common law" married.  The first is that you and your spouse filed a
declaration of informal marriage with your local county clerk.  If that has
not been filed, then it must be proved that the parties agreed to be
married, the parties lived together as husband and wife, and the parties
held themselves out has husband and wife.  

Can I have my divorce tried to a jury?
Yes.  In Texas, the most common issues tried to a jury relate to custody.  
However, requesting a jury trial during a divorce or custody dispute may
substantially increase the cost and/or time of resolving the contentious
The Law Offices of Noel D. Cooper
(936) 564-9000
The Law Offices of
Noel D. Cooper
117 North Street,
Suite 2
Nacogdoches, Texas
(936) 564-9000
(936) 715-6022 (fax)
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Noel D. Cooper.