Do You Need an Attorney for an Uncontested Divorce?

Do you and your spouse want to avoid an expensive and long divorce?  Do you already have an agreement in place regarding the custody of your children and/or property of the marriage and you want to avoid multiple court dates?  An uncontested divorce may be the right option for you. An attorney drafts the paper work, guides you through the sometimes complex legal process, and can make the process simple and less time consuming for a reasonable fee.

What is an uncontested divorce?  

Divorces that are contested can cost more money and take up more time than you can afford. A divorce is basically an order from the court granting your divorce and deciding what’s going to happen to the property of the marriage and what the custody plan will be for the children.

An uncontested divorce is a divorce where there is no dispute as to any issue regarding child custody or property of the marriage, and both parties are willing to sign documents that an attorney proposes to a court for final approval.

How do I start my uncontested divorce?  

An attorney may usually only represent one of the parties in an uncontested divorce in case the divorce becomes contested during the 60 day waiting period to avoid a conflict of an interest. The steps are as follows:

1) Come in for free consultation to receive a a flat-fee quote (includes filing fees to the county) for your uncontested divorce.

2) Client makes payment and is then interviewed about the information needed to draft the documents for the divorce.

3) An Original Petition for Divorce will be drafted, you will review it, and it will be filed with District Clerk’s Office after your approval.

4) The other spouse that we do not represent will need to sign a Waiver of Service and be given a copy of the Original Petition for Divorce to avoid being served and to release their obligation of having to go to court.

5) Both parties sign an Agreed Divorce Decree that reflects all the agreements regarding the property and children of the marriage.

6) A court date is set following the 60 days after the filing and one or both parties recites the agreement to the court and asks that it be approved.

7) The judge will decide if he/she approves the agreement and may grant the divorce based on the findings.

Why You Must Respect Court Orders in Child Custody Cases

If you are a divorced or divorcing parent and are subject to a court order relating to custody of your child or children, then you must understand there may be dire consequences for you personally if you fail to follow that order.

Court orders have the force of law

In Texas, court orders hold the force of law.

That means that violations of court orders can result in a person being found to be in contempt of court which opens the door to the possibility of either or both civil and criminal penalties. This is something you don’t want.

Civil and/or criminal penalties for disobeying

In relation to orders of custody, civil penalties may be paying for the other person’s costs, travel expenses, attorney fees as well as additional periods of possession of the child or children to make up for the deprivation of court ordered time.

Criminal penalties may include jail time. This might have to be served all at once or possibly over weekends. The jail time may also be probated and the person ordered to do community service hours and take classes as a requirement of probation.

Deon Sanders case

Look at what just happened to the wife of former NFL superstar Deon Sanders. Pilar Sanders was sentenced Tuesday to seven days in county jail on a contempt-of-court charge and lost all visitation rights to her three children. The judge found that she had violated the visitation schedule that was part of the couple’s divorce decree, that she failed to return the couple’s children when she was supposed to and took possession of them when she shouldn’t have. Ouch!

Needless to say, no parent needs the aggravation, disruption and consequences that result from violating a court order on custody.

Don’t take matters into your own hands

So if you have a problem getting a person to comply with a court order or find difficulty in complying with one, you need attorney advice on how to deal with the issue with the court. Don’t delay or find yourself in the position of violating the court order.

The Barrera Law Firm can help you right away. Call Ricardo Barrera for a free consultation at 956-428-2822.

Child Custody Modifications in Texas

child custodyChild custody in Texas has to do with the types of decision making a parent makes in reference to the interest of a child or children.

Conservatorship of the child

A parent is deemed either a sole managing conservator or a joint managing conservator.  A person who is deemed sole managing conservator retains all rights to make decisions regarding the health, education, and care of the child.  A joint managing conservator shares these duties with the other parent. The joint managing conservator with the right to designate the primary residence of the child, may establish where the child primarily lives and claim the child for tax purposes, or to gain the earned income credit, unless the decree states otherwise and/or a certain level of support is provided.  One would need to consult both a tax professional and a family law attorney to determine that conclusively.  Also, in determining which parent would have the ability to establish the primary residence, the court would look to factors surrounding the best interest of the child, which would include which parent or conservator would be better able to provide for the needs of that child and create a safe and stable primary residence for that child.

Access and Possession

The access and possession of the child has to do with visitation and the issues that surround how that will occur.  The standard possession order in the Texas Family Code presumes that the standard possession order is in the best interest of the child.  The court may take into account the age of the child as well as the distance between the parents or conservators, in order to determine which possession order would be in the best interest of the child.  At times, circumstances may call for a custom possession order to be created which may be in the best interest of the child, but is only valid with the court’s approval.

Modification or change of prior court orders

In order to modify a prior court order or divorce decree, one must show a substantial change and that this change affects the best interest of the child.  One may modify child support, conservatorship, the determination of who may select the primary residence of the child, the type of access and possession, whether a geographic restriction should be put in place, whether visits should be supervised, whether pick up and drop off should be at a neutral location, and much more.

In order to determine whether a prior court order or divorce decree should be changed or modified, it is necessary to contact a competent attorney who will understand what can be done to ensure that parental rights are fully exercised, and that there is a fair custody order in place that truly benefits the child.  Call attorney Ricardo Barrera with The Barrera Law Firm, PC, for a free consultation at 956-428-2822.