Annulment of Marriage in Texas

Annulment of a marriage is not the same as a divorce. Divorce is the dissolution of a valid marriage. Annulment ends a marriage that was not valid to begin with.

Grounds for annulment include:

    1.  Impotence.  If one spouse is permanently unable to have sex and the petitioning spouse did not know about the impotence at the time of the marriage, the marriage may be eligible for annulment.
    1.  Intoxication.  If one of the spouses was too intoxicated during the wedding ceremony to have had the capacity to consent to marriage, the marriage may be eligible for annulment provided that the spouses did not continue to live together after the effects of intoxication wore off.
    1. Incest.  Spouses who have a familial relationship closer than first cousins do not form a valid marriage.
    1. Fraud.  If one of the spouses “tricked” the other into marrying him or her by hiding or lying about something essential to the marriage, the marriage may be eligible for annulment.
    1. Bigamy.  If one of the spouses was already married, the later marriage is not valid.  However, if the earlier marriage is dissolved and the spouses of the later marriage continue to live together, the later marriage is not eligible for annulment.
    1. Underage.  Marriage between spouses, either of whom was under the legal age to get married, is not valid.  Annulment does not necessarily have to be filed by the underage spouse; a parent or guardian can file on their behalf.  If the marriage continues past the legal age of 18 (or 16 with parental consent or a court order), it is no longer eligible for annulment.
  1. Duress or force.  If one of the spouses was threatened, forced or coerced into the marriage, the marriage may be eligible for annulment as long as the spouses did not continue to live together after the duress was no longer present.

Is your marriage eligible for annulment? Call us at (956) 428-2822 or complete our online form for a confidential and no-obligation consultation.

Divorce: Why You Need Good Representation

When a marriage has reached a point where the only solution to problems are separation, its time to talk about divorce. When you are married, it is often the case that finances become intertwined. A divorce is the process of legally separating a couple’s finances in a way that is, hopefully, fair to both parties. While in a perfect world people would be able to do this simply between themselves, without the assistance of a lawyer and judge, most of the time the emotions that are a natural part of divorce prevent this from being a possibility. A good family lawyer, specializing in divorce, is a critical part of obtaining a fair settlement from a divorce proceeding.

  1. Calm and clear guidance. A good divorce lawyer will give you calm and clear guidance during your divorce. While your emotional state may prompt you to irrational and hasty decisions, the lawyer, who is emotionally neutral, will be able to guide you to make more productive choices.
  2. They know the way the system works. Going through a divorce is a complex task. There are many laws, statutes, and protocols that must be followed. While this may be your first divorce, it is one of many for a good divorce lawyer. This experience with divorces and having good divorce representation at your side will help you to navigate the waters of the divorce system and steer you clear to the other side with as little trouble as possible.
  3. Better chance of child custody going your way. When a divorce involves children, things can get even trickier. Choose your divorce lawyer very carefully if you will be fighting for custody of your children. Make sure that the lawyer you choose has had good success in the past with child custody suits.
  4. Will act as a mediator between you and your spouse. While you and your spouse may have trouble talking rationally about how to divide up your common estate items, a lawyer has no emotional ties to either of you and can act as a neutral mediator between you and your husband. For this reason, you want to make sure the divorce representation you choose is someone you feel comfortable with and who has a history of getting his clients fair divorce settlement.
  5. Why would you want anything less than great legal representation? A divorce can be one of the most challenging, and life changing, events in your life. Depending on how your divorce is settled, you could end up with, or without, your property, children and financial security. Why wouldn’t you want the best possible divorce representation to guide you during this difficult time? Choosing the least expensive divorce lawyer could end up costing you way more than you bargained for in the end, so do your research and make sure you choose a good one.

Having the best divorce representation possible is vital to getting a fair divorce settlement. With the right lawyer at your side, your divorce will proceed much more smoothly and result in a much quicker, and more amiable, split with your soon to be ex-spouse.

Steps to Simplifying a Divorce

Divorce is never going to be easy, no matter what you do. Despite your best efforts, it is an emotionally trying time that is made more complicated by finances and, if you have children, custody proceedings. While there is nothing you can do to take the pain away from divorce, there are steps you can take to cut down on its complexity:

    1. Find a good lawyer. This may seem like a no brainer, but it has to be said. If you choose to take the first rock-bottom priced lawyer you can find, then chances are you will be getting what you paid for. Look for a family law lawyer that has a good track record with divorces in the courtroom. Do some research, both online and by asking the advice of friends and family, especially those that have recently gone through a divorce. While a divorce lawyer is not cheap, choosing the right one is essential if you want to simplify your divorce, and subsequently your life. A good lawyer will take over your case and help you to avoid making poor decisions that could result in the divorce taking too long, or not ending in a way that is fair to your needs.
    2. Give your spouse back their possessions. Make your divorce easier by not having to decide who gets every single little thing. When your spouse moves out, give him or her back those items that are rightfully theirs. Try to divide up as much of the items in your house as is possible to avoid having to spend long hours debating who gets what. You have to decide what is worth fighting for. If it’s a family heirloom you have sentimental ties to, that’s one thing. But if you find yourself battling over a TV you can easily repurchase in the future, just let it go. It’s not worth the headache.
    3. Get your finances in order. When you sit down to talk to your lawyer, be prepared by giving them a full portfolio of your assets and debts, especially those that you hold jointly with your soon to be ex-spouse. You want to make sure that you are not stuck with debt in your name that should be shared with your ex. Having your finances in order will assist your lawyer in being able to create a plan of action for your divorce. The quicker they are able to figure out a settlement, the sooner you will be able to move on with your life.
    4. Be prepared to give. In the end, fighting over every little detail of a divorce will only prolong the agony. Look over your shared assets and decide what is important to you and what you are willing to give up. Going to the bargaining table with the intent of being able to give up a few possessions in order to make the proceedings simpler is sure to save time and heartache. Remember, possessions are just things, and can always be replaced. Your time, happiness and emotional stability are much more valuable in the long run.

Who Gets the Family Pet in Property Division?

Divorce is a very difficult time for most people.  Apart from the obvious issues like support, child custody issues and access, and property division issues, there’s also the matter of who gets the family pet.

Many pet owners have a strong mutual attachment to their furry friends.  A recent report from the American Pet Products Association reveals that pet industry revenues were expected to be more than $75 billion in 2019.  The expenditures are for food, veterinary care, gifts, clothes and even portraits of the pet. In fact, the term “fur babies” has become quite common as more and more people have come to regard their pets almost as children.

Some jurisdictions have taken the divorcing parties’ emotional attachment and the welfare of the pet into consideration.  In 2010, an Alabama appeals court ruled that “where a pet is the subject of a division of property, the courts sometimes consider the best interest of the animal”.  The Vermont Supreme Court said that family courts “may consider … welfare of the animal and the emotional connection between the animal and each spouse”.

However, contrary to how many “pet parents” In Texas view their pets, the courts in Texas (and many other states) regard them as being “marital property” to be awarded or disposed of like any other piece of property such as cars and appliances.   

In property settlements, whether the “property” be animate or inanimate, your wisest course of action is to get the best legal representation available.  

Call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation or complete our online form.

Do I Need a Temporary Restraining Order For My Divorce Even If We Get Along?

woman returned wedding ring to  husband

Texas law provides that one may apply for a restraining order in a divorce case to simply keep the peace, reduce problems between the parties, ensure no one sells off, gifts or gives away property, and to lay the ground rules on what happens while a divorce is pending.

A hearing is set where the matters in the original temporary restraining order are decided as to whether they remain in effect.  Other provisions such as those below are also considered:

1) alcohol around the children;

2) who has control over the home and vehicles;

3) child support;

4) visitation;

5) geographical restrictions;

6) spousal maintenance;

7) and much more.

Temporary restraining orders are a useful tool in ensuring that a well prepared and orderly divorce occur with as little damage as possible.

If you need help with your divorce, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation or complete our online form.

Texas Divorces — Who Gets the Tax Refund?

Under Texas law, anything of value acquired during the marriage, including a tax refund, is presumed to be community property. That means that both spouses have to split it evenly, right?  Not necessarily. It is not that cut and dry. The court takes into consideration specific factors on a case-by-case basis with the objective of a fair and equitable division of the marital estate.

Sometimes, the parties have been living apart, so the court can divide the return based on the length of time of cohabitation with the children.  Other times, back child support is due as a result of living apart, so the tax return can be taken for the purposes of paying the back child support.

The United States tax laws govern who shall claim the children for tax refunds, so it is always advisable to seek an independent opinion from a certified tax professional.

Ultimately, however, division of the tax refund belongs in the province of the divorce court.

Call us for a free consultation to learn more at (956) 428-2822.

50 Ways to Leave Your VIOLENT Lover; PROTECTIVE ORDERS IN TEXAS

illustration of Restraining Orders title on Legal DocumentsDomestic violence is a serious matter. It is not forgivable. It is not something that gets better with time. It is something that must be addressed so the violent person can be handled or removed from the family unit.

While Paul Simon’s song, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, may be about less serious matters, domestic violence is much more serious.

In Texas, Protective Orders are a key tool to accomplishing immediate relief from a violent family member or domestic partner.  The law looks to two major factors:

1) Whether Family Violence occurred; and

2) Whether Family Violence is likely to occur in the future.

A private Texas attorney may draft the application, assist in the preparation of the evidence and affidavits, and the presentation of evidence to get a Protective Order from a judge.

The reasons why Protective Orders are VERY IMPORTANT is that it restricts a person from coming within so many feet, coming to a residence, calling, texting or showing up to work places or schools. This is important because police often have to wait until a crime has been committed before arresting a person, but with a protective order, they may be arrested for simply violating the order itself, for example, driving past your house.

There are 50 ways to leave your lover if they commit Domestic Violence and The Barrera Law Firm, PC can help you.  But first and always, seek emergency police assistance in the event you are in danger and call the law firm after that.

How to Get A Court to Punish Violations of Divorce Decrees in Texas

As the holidays approach, many of us look forward to seeing our families and friends, spending time with our children and teaching them the religious and cultural traditions that we grew up with.

Sadly, the enemy of the judicial system shows its ugly head all too often.  That enemy is intentional disregard for court orders.

Intentionally disregarding court orders is a very expensive, embarrassing, and sad situation for the person who decides to be that “enemy.”

Courts can be ruthless if it is proven that someone is intentionally violating court orders.  The consequences of intentional violations can include both financial punishment and/or jail time.

Get a free consultation with The Barrera Law Firm, P.C. at (956) 428-2822.

Uncontested Divorces in Texas – How do I File?

Uncontested divorces in Texas are unfortunately common. The law requires that there be no expectation for reconciliation, so if you have consulted your church, your trusted friend or parent, or your conscious, and ultimately you decide it’s time to divorce for the greater good, then you should probably call a professional attorney with experience in divorce law to do it for you.

The WORST thing you can do is separate and then wait to divorce after you both have moved on as you are still legally obligated to each other financially and in other ways.

Some people attempt to file a divorce on their own and later discover they are still legally married, when they honestly thought their divorce was complete. Others pay to download forms online and find that those forms are not appropriate to a Texas divorce and waste their money. Others download proper forms and encounter a clerk at the courthouse who is unable to help or direct them because of the law prohibiting them from giving legal advice. And finally, others put their trust in a non lawyer, notary, or friend and take the gamble that they can navigate through the complex laws and issues and get their divorce. Some are successful and later find out they cut themselves out of thousands of dollars in community property and other things they were entitled to including permanent restraining orders, child support, health supporter, name changes, orders against unrelated adults around their kids or overnight, and much more.

There are three general rules you must know to successfully pursue an uncontested divorce:

1) Are you actually married in the first place?

2) Where should you file in order for the divorce to be legal?

3) What are you even entitled to in the first place?

If you do not sort out the three issues above, you may be clawing around in the dark and have a very frustrating experience.

If you or a loved one needs help with an uncontested divorce, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation.  Get what you deserve and get it done right.

Claiming the Children on Your Taxes During a Divorce

Divorce can be confusing as to how taxes are filed.

Normally, as attorneys, we tell our clients to go see a tax professional relating to the preparation of tax filings. However, community property is basically characterized as any benefit, debt, or liability, acquired during the marriage, that is not acquired by gift of inheritance.

Therefore, say your spouse is quick on the draw and file his taxes as “married, but separated” and claims all of your kids as his dependents. You may feel like you missed out. You may feel like your spouse just got the best of you and now your spouse is going to live it up with their new side person on that money.

It does not have to be that way if you have a good attorney.

A good attorney can order the court to freeze that money and make a fair division of that money because it is community property. The moral of the story here is to get the right attorney who knows how to make sure you are prepared. Something can always be done about it.

For more information, please call The Barrera Law Firm, PC for a free consultation at (956) 428-2822.

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