Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much is it going to cost?
2. Why should I hire an attorney to handle my divorce? Can’t I do this myself?
3. How long does a divorce take?
4. I just moved here, how long do I have wait before I can file for divorce in Texas?
5. Does my husband/wife still get to visit with the children if he/she does not pay child support on time, or at all?
6. How often will I be able to see my children during the divorce?
7. What are Temporary Orders?
8. What is a Temporary Restraining Order?
9. What is a Protective Order?
10. Does Texas have alimony? Do I Qualify?
11. I have heard Texas is a no fault state, but what if our divorce is my spouse’s fault?
12. Can I make my spouse pay for the divorce?
Have another question about divorce? Ask us.
How much is it going to cost?
This is the question on everybody’s mind. We are sure that if you are already at the point in your marriage where divorce seems like an option, you have already “paid” in many ways. The costs, both emotional and physical, of ending a marriage are steep. Possible financial devastation is adding insult to injury. At The Whitley Law Firm, we are sensitive to the fact you need to at least have a ball park number so you can begin planning a different future.
The truthful answer is, we don’t know exactly how much your divorce will cost, but we can help you get a number that’s close. At The Whitley Law Firm we will set a minimum retainer to begin your case based on an educated estimate of how much time we believe will be needed to take your case through to the end. If your case resolves quickly, we will refund all unused portions of that retainer. If your case becomes hotly contested, or requires a jury trial, you will be asked to replenish your retainer accordingly.
At our law firm, each case is budgeted from the very beginning. We do this in consultation with the client (and their family if the client wishes) as we understand you know more about your financial resources than we do! We are sure that you work within a budget, and so should we. If you have been denied access to community funds, we can help to fix that.
Our San Antonio divorce lawyers work hard to stay in communication with you about the funding of your litigation. We can tell you exactly how much you have spent and how much remains in your retainer with a simple phone call. We send out bills twice monthly to make sure there are no surprises.
When possible, we offer ways for you to participate in your case as a cost saving measure. If we need documents or to have documents organized in a certain way, we are happy to have you do it yourself! Have your paralegal do it? $125.00 per hour. You do it for yourself? Cost to your retainer, $0.
Why should I hire an attorney to handle my divorce? Can’t I do this myself?
There are very few “simple” divorces. And it’s hard to know what you don’t know. It is in your best interest to have someone who knows what your rights are under the law, and who will work to protect those rights. Most clients benefit from a divorce attorney who will appear in court on your behalf, who will know what documents need to be on file with the court, and who will be able to finalize the divorce according to the law. We have been hired many times to “fix” a homemade divorce decree.
How long does a divorce take?
It is impossible to determine how long your divorce will take, as each case is as different as the individuals involved. We average about 6-9 months. It is important to remember we call it the Divorce Process not the Divorce Event. You probably want to wrap it up and get on with your life as so soon as possible. We want that for you too and will work hard to move your case along quickly. A divorce petition must be on file with the court for 60 days before the divorce can be granted, but factors such as child custody, child support, spousal support, or property and financial distribution may affect the time and work it will take to finalize your divorce.
I just moved here, how long do I have wait before I can file for divorce in Texas?
To file for a divorce in Texas, one of the spouses has to have been a resident of the state for a continuous six-month period. In addition, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for at least 90 days.
Does my husband/wife still get to visit with the children if he/she does not pay child support on time, or at all?
Yes. The court considers visitation and child support as separate issues and insists that these be handled separately. If the non- custodial parent does not pay child support in a timely manner, you may want to consider filing an enforcement action. If you are interested in changing the amount of time the children spend with the non-custodial parent, you may want to consider filing a modification action. Just remember that it is the children’s best interest that will matter to the judge, not necessarily what the parent wants.
How often will I be able to see my children during the divorce?
In most cases, the non-custodial parent will have visitation under a Standard Possession Order. Unless the parties are willing to agree to a different visitation schedule, the following usually applies to families living within 100 miles of each other during the pendency of the divorce:
- Visitation on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of the month;
- Every Thursday evening during the school year;
- Generally, thirty (30) days in the summer;
- Mother’s or Father’s Day;
- Part of the child’s birthday, and;
- Major holidays are split between the parties.
What are Temporary Orders?
While the divorce is pending, your attorney will obtain Temporary Orders, either by going to court, or by agreement, which will establish both parties’ responsibilities for and access to such things as: financial resources, personal property, spousal support, if any, and payment of debts. If there are children involved, the temporary orders will also lay out custody, access, visitation and child support until the finalization of the divorce. The goal of the Temporary Orders will be to make determinations which are in the best interest of the children, and to maintain a healthy relationship between each child and both parents.
What is a Temporary Restraining Order?
A Temporary Restraining Order or “TRO” is a Court Order which, among other things, protects the parties’ financial assets. A “standard” Temporary Restraining Order is sought to prevent either party from draining the parties’ bank accounts. A TRO can be granted without prior notice to the opposing party. After the Temporary Restraining Order is granted, it is then served on the opposing party. The “standard” TRO is so common that many counties consider the parties subject to its terms merely by filing a divorce action. For property, a TRO is, in a nutshell, a “stop/wait/hold” order. If the parties are coming to the court seeking to divorce, it makes sense not to add to the items needing to be divided or dividing them without the other parties’ consent or order of the court. For the children of a marriage, divorce can be chaotic. Getting a schedule in place that is predictable and workable is critical to the healing process beginning.
What is a Protective Order?
A Protective Order is an order by the court when there are allegations of family violence. A Protective Order restricts an abuser from confronting the abused person, or their family members or friends, either in person, by telephone, or by any other means. The Police can enforce a Protective Order, meaning they can arrest the abuser who violates a Protective Order, and the abuser may be charged with a criminal offense.
Does Texas have alimony? Do I Qualify?
Yes, Texas has “alimony” but we call it “spousal maintenance.” In Texas, you must meet one of four requirements to qualify to receive it:
- The paying spouse was convicted of family violence within two years of the date of the filing of divorce;
- The marriage was 10 years or longer, and the requesting spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for minimal needs (including property awarded in the divorce) and cannot support himself or herself through appropriate employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
- The marriage was 10 years or longer, and the requesting spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for minimal needs (including property awarded in the divorce) and is the custodian of a child who requires substantial care and personal supervision, making it necessary for that spouse to remain at home with that child; or
- The marriage was 10 years or longer, and the requesting spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for minimal needs (including property awarded in the divorce) and lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide for minimal needs.
If a spouse qualifies for maintenance under the first, third, or fourth requirement, maintenance can last no longer than three years, and the amount ordered cannot exceed 20% of the gross income of the paying spouse. If a spouse qualifies for maintenance under the second requirement, the term can be indefinite.
I have heard Texas is a no fault state, but what if our divorce is my spouse’s fault?
Even though Texas is a no fault state, meaning the reason for the breakup of the marriage is “insupportability or discord between the parties,” this doesn’t mean you can’t plead for fault. In cases of abuse (both physical or mental), fraud or infidelity, you may choose to add these grounds.
Can I make my spouse pay for the divorce?
No, but a judge might. It depends on the circumstances of your particular case and the particular judge. This is one of the areas where the judge can use his or her own discretion based on the facts presented. Attorney fees are usually each to their own unless there has been abuse, a wasting of the community estate or some other egregious behavior on the part of your spouse.