Frequently Asked Questions

  • Family Law

    • I’m not sure I want to file for a divorce. Can I get a legal separation?
      Texas does not have formal legal separations. However, options may be available to you that can be used for various purposes. These can include protective orders in cases of threatened or actual domestic violence, temporary orders related to children, or separation agreements made while a divorce is pending. You should seek the advice of our family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation and find out what options are available to you.
    • What is the difference between an annulment and a divorce?

      An annulment legally declares that a marriage was never valid in the first place.

      This could be for several reasons, such as:

      • Being under 18 when marrying
      • The marriage was based on fraud, force, or duress
      • You were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs when the marriage occurred
      • Being mentally incapacitated so as unable to provide consent to the marriage

      A divorce is different because it legally dissolves a valid marriage.

    • What is mediation?

      Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process which simply means it’s another way to resolve your differences in a divorce or family law dispute. However, this process is done outside of court. In mediation, you and the other party will privately negotiate your way to a settlement of the issues at hand with the help of a neutral third party, the mediator.

      Mediators are trained to foster positive communication and cooperation so that common ground can be reached resulting in a mutually-acceptable agreement. The process allows you to remain in control of important decisions rather than be subject to the dictates of a judge. Mediation is faster, less expensive, and a more peaceful way to resolve your family law case.

    • Will I be able to keep our home in my divorce?

      This is an issue that can be addressed in various ways, depending on the specifics of your case. Because a home cannot be divided, a possible scenario could include buying out your spouse’s share or relinquishing other marital assets to offset your full possession of it.

      In other cases, the home could be sold with you and your spouse dividing the proceeds. Each property division case is different and a full assessment of all aspects of your divorce will need to be done to accomplish Texas law that requires a “fair and just” result.

    • How can I change the terms of my divorce afterward?
      Under Texas law, you can petition the court for a modification of orders related to child support, child custody, visitation, or spousal support. However, you will have to provide the court with evidence that warrants such a modification. These cases are generally based on having a material and substantial change in circumstances for the petitioner or his/her children.
    • What does conservatorship mean in a child custody case?

      Conservatorship is used in Texas as the legal term for child custody. It refers to a parent’s rights and responsibilities, including the right to make major decisions concerning the child’s upbringing as well as the right to have the child live with him/her.

      Conservatorship can include joint managing conservatorship in which parents share these rights and responsibilities, sole managing conservatorship, or possessory conservatorship.

    • What is a possessory conservatorship?
      This refers to a parent who has visitation rights only; the child does not reside with the parent. This parent generally pays child support and can be involved in the child’s school activities and medical appointments. He or she also retains the right to have information about major decisions concerning the child.
  • Spousal Maintenance

    • How Is the Amount of Spousal Support Determined?
      The amount of spousal maintenance in Texas is determined by various factors and cannot be more than $5000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse's average monthly gross income, whichever is lower.
    • What Disqualifies You for Spousal Support in Texas?
      A spouse may be disqualified from receiving spousal support if they have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a family violence offense against the other spouse or the other spouse's child within two years before filing the divorce or while the divorce is pending.
    • How Do You  Request Spousal Maintenance?
      To request spousal maintenance in Texas, you must file a formal request with the court during your divorce proceedings. This typically involves demonstrating that you lack sufficient property and resources to provide for your basic needs.
    • How Long Will Spousal Maintenance Last?
      The duration of spousal maintenance in Texas varies based on several factors. It can last up to five years for a marriage of 10 years or more, seven years for a marriage of 10 to 20 years, and up to 10 years for a marriage lasting over 30 years.
    • How Can I Change a Spousal Maintenance Order?

      Spousal maintenance can be modified or terminated in Texas if you experience a material and substantial change in circumstances. Also, it terminates if the receiving spouse remarries or cohabits with a new partner.

      Examples of changes in circumstances can include:

      • Significant Income Change: If the person paying support has a significant increase or decrease in income, this could be grounds for a change in the support order. For example, as the payer, if your income decreases significantly due to a pay cut, you may request a reduction in the support amount from the court.
      • Job Loss: If the person providing the support loses his/her job, this could be seen as a valid reason for modifying the support order. However, voluntary unemployment or underemployment may not be seen as justifiable reasons for a reduction.
      • Illness or Disability: If the person paying support becomes seriously ill or disabled and is unable to work, this can also be grounds for a modification.
      • Retirement: Retirement can cause a significant change in income, which may warrant a modification of the support order.
      • Financial Emergency: Unexpected financial hardships, such as a major medical expense or a natural disaster, could justify a temporary or permanent change in the support order.
      • Change in the Recipient's Financial Needs: If the person receiving support experiences a significant change in his/her financial needs - for example, due to a job loss, illness, or increased living expenses – it may justify an increase in support.
    • How Hard Is It to Get Spousal Support in Texas?
      Texas is one of the most difficult states to win alimony in a divorce. While it is possible to receive alimony through a court order, it is more likely to be obtained through a private contract created as part of the divorce settlement.
    • How Can a Lawyer Help Me Seek Spousal Maintenance?
      Our lawyer can guide you through the legal process, helping you understand your rights and options. At the Law Office of Brian Bagley, we can also help you gather necessary information to demonstrate your financial need and negotiate or litigate on your behalf.
    • How Can a Lawyer Help Me Contest Spousal Maintenance?
      Our attorney can help you challenge a request for spousal maintenance by presenting evidence to show that your ex-spouse does not need support or that you cannot afford to provide it.
  • Divorce

    • How long does the Texas divorce process take?
      In most cases, Texas has a minimum waiting period of 60 days from the filing date before a divorce can be finalized. In the most simple, amicable divorce cases, you may be able to resolve all of the issues at hand within that time frame. However, the process will usually take at least a few months. Contested divorces with complicated disputes can last for close to a year or more.
    • Will I have to go to divorce court?
      Texas offers several alternatives to divorce litigation, including negotiation through informal settlement conferences, mediation, and uncontested divorce for couples with no children and few assets. As such, you can often reach a resolution to your divorce with little court involvement. However, court litigation is much more likely in fault-based divorces, divorces with complex or contentious disagreements, and divorces involving domestic violence.
    • What is the cost of a divorce in Texas?

      The overall cost of a divorce can vary significantly based on a number of factors, including your chosen resolution method, the complexity of the issues that must be resolved, and your attorney. Amicable divorces settled out of court are generally less expensive than contested, litigated divorces. We will help you understand how much your divorce is likely to cost, including our attorney fees and any court costs and other expenses you may incur.

    • What property am I entitled to in my divorce?
      When your marriage ends, you are entitled to sole ownership of all assets that are considered your separate property. This includes assets that you owned before your marriage, assets you received through inheritance during your marriage, and assets defined as separate in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. You also have a claim to any community property that you and your spouse acquired during the marriage, but these assets must be distributed fairly between the two of you.
    • Who gets the kids in a Texas divorce?
      If you and your spouse have minor children at the time of your divorce, you will have to work out a child custody agreement addressing managing conservatorship and possession of your children. Texas family courts prioritize the children's best interests in custody decisions and cannot discriminate based on a parent's gender. In most cases, courts prefer joint custody arrangements, or at least arrangements in which each parent has substantial visitation time. However, sole custody may be awarded in cases in which a parent may put a child at risk of harm.
    • Can I file for divorce in Texas?
      You can file for divorce in Texas if you or your spouse has been a Texas resident for at least the past six months, or if one of you has been stationed for military service in Texas for the same time period. You will need to file suit in the county where you or your spouse has lived for the last 90 days. Since same-sex marriage is now legal in Texas, you can file for divorce if you are in a same-sex partnership and you meet these residency requirements.
    • Can my spouse claim the divorce is my fault?
      A demonstration of fault is not required in a Texas divorce, but you or your spouse may file for divorce on fault-based grounds, including adultery, abandonment, cruelty, and imprisonment for a felony conviction. If the judge finds fault, it can affect the division of assets and any awards for spousal maintenance.