Divorce Attorney in Round Rock

Helping clients throughout Austin & Williamson County with the divorce process.

Helping Clients Navigate the Divorce Process

Divorces come in all shapes and sizes; some are amicable and resolved quickly, while others are hotly contested and drag on for months and even years. Facing a divorce is a very unsettling time in a person’s life. It calls into question his or her financial security, family stability, and carries with it a host of unknowns. Fortunately the law provides a good measure of structure and protection throughout the process, and a knowledgeable family attorney can walk you through the process.

A divorce begins with an “Original Petition for Divorce” and ends with a “Final Decree of Divorce,” which disposes of all issues related to the parties’ children, property and debts. This process can take as little time to complete as just a few months, or take more than a year. Part of this depends on the level of conflict between the parties, and the complexity of the issues. In some cases, it’s necessary to engage in a process called discovery, in which the attorneys gather information about the value and location of the parties’ assets, questions about child related issues, and general information about the other spouse’s claims and defenses. In contested cases involving children, the court may appoint a qualified mental health professional or representative of the children to assess and protect their needs. No matter what the issue may be, the ultimate goal should be to resolve all disputes without the time, expense and anguish of a lengthy court battle. View our Divorce Process Flow Chart for more information.

Austin divorce process

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Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested Austin divorce

Fortunately, the vast majority of divorce cases do not end up in court. Most couples either agree to the terms of their divorce on their own, or reach a settlement through a process called mediation. An uncontested divorce saves time and money, and reduces much of the emotional strain. It’s important to have a family law attorney guide you through this process to help you avoid common mistakes people make when they try to represent themselves, and to draft the legal documents necessary to finalize your divorce. As a cautionary note, the law does not allow one attorney to represent both parties for a divorce, and the divorce lawyer only has legal duty to the one whom he or she represents. This means that if your spouse hires an attorney to draft the paperwork, it’s still advisable for you to hire your own attorney to review any documents that you’ve been asked to sign.

Common Law Marriage

common law marriage in Austin

Texas law only recognizes the existence of a common law marriage if a couple’s circumstances meet a specific legal test contained in the Texas Family Code.  A couple is not common law married just because they’ve lived together for a long time.  In fact, common law marriage is relatively uncommon.   However, whether or not you are married can have a dramatic effect on what happens to the property and debt you’ve accumulated during your relationship, so if you think you might be married at the time you separate from your partner, you should have an attorney evaluate your specific living arrangement to see if it meets the legal test that establishes a marriage.

Spousal Support

Spousal Support Austin Divorce Lawyer

What many people call “alimony” is actually called “spousal maintenance” in Texas. Texas has fairly restrictive laws on when a judge can award spousal maintenance, and it also imposes a cap on the amount and duration for which this type of support can be ordered. In most cases, a person must have been married to his or her spouse for at least 10 years to even be eligible for spousal maintenance. If a party meets this standard, there are still many other factors that a judge must consider in deciding whether or not to award maintenance, such as each spouse’s educational background, income, and how much property there is to be divided.

After Divorce Support

final decree of divorce in Austin Texas

The most common type of post-divorce matter is enforcement of the Final Decree of Divorce.   A Final Decree includes all of the terms of the divorce, such as the property division, spousal maintenance, child custody and child support.  If one of the parties refuses to obey the Final Decree, the other can file a Petition to Enforce, asking the court to compel the other’s compliance.  Judges take violations of their orders very seriously, and disobeying an order often comes with severe penalties.  Other types of post-divorce matters include asking the court to clarify ambiguous orders, or to change clerical errors in the Decree.

Get Help With Divorce

Need a divorce lawyer? If you are contemplating divorce, have decided to divorce or have questions about your future the Law Office of Jay D. Smith can help.