For a free consultation
with an experienced
Austin, Texas attorney.
Evening and weekend
hours by Appointment
Tel (512) 243-6709
Fax (512) 243-7205
Austin, Texas 78701
|FAMILY LAW is
the name given to the branch of civil law that includes the legal relationships
among family members, including husbands, wives, parents, children, and domestic
A family law attorney specializes
in the family law relationships which encompass divorce, pre-marital agreements,
child conservatorship, visitation rights, marital property rights, support obligations,
domestic violence, adoption, paternity, and juvenile dependency and delinquency.
The term divorce refers to the dissolution or the legal end of a marriage. There
are both fault-based and no-fault based grounds for divorce. In Texas a no-fault
divorce is typically based on the marriage becoming insupportable due to a discord
or conflict that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship. A
divorce proceeding encompasses the division of the marital property, child custody,
visitation and spousal maintenance.
Pre-marital agreements are agreements in which a couple
sets out the rules that will govern their property, debts, income and expenses.
A prenuptial agreement allows both spouses to protect their separate
property. Otherwise, if one of them owns an asset now and sells it after marriage,
or co-mingles the asset, the cash may become community property.
agreement also allows both spouses to protect themselves from the other's debts
- those incurred before the marriage and those incurred after. And it may allow
them to determine what level of support one of them will provide to the other
if they divorce or if one of them dies.
Child conservatorship refers to conservatorship awards
or determinations involving a minor child. These determinations involve who has
the right to make decisions about the child, including decisions about education,
religion, medical issues, and discipline, as well as where the child will live,
or physical custody. With "sole managing conservator", you alone have
legal and physical custody of your child. In a "joint managing conservator"
arrangement, you and your ex-spouse share legal and/or physical child custody.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on a child conservatorship arrangement, the
court will likely make a child conservatorship decision based on the "best
interests of your child."
Visitation is the legal term for the right of a non-custodial
parent to visit with their children. Typically, the non-custodial spouse has legal
visitation rights to child visitation or parenting time unless the family court
finds that visitation is not in the best interest of the child. Texas is guided
by a "standard visitation" schedule that permits the non-custodial parent
to have possession on the first, third and fifth weekends, as well as holidays
and summer. However, the court may vary the visitation schedule on a case-by-case
basis. The amount of time and visitation schedule is stated in the final divorce
agreement and may be modified by further court order.
When you build a life together, you
don't think about what to do if you divorce. Newly married couples often buy houses,
cars or land. It is common to open retirement accounts, credit cards, savings
accounts, gym and country club memberships. What happens if it doesn't work out
and these items must be divided in a divorce?
Texas is a community property
state that acknowledges that both parties contribute to the "community"
during the marriage. An often tedious and difficult process is determining how
to divide the assets or debts of the marriage in a just and right way.
Child support is a court-ordered amount that the non-custodial parent must pay
to the custodial parent to cover a proportionate amount of the child's expenses,
including housing and utilities, food, clothing, education expenses, and other
costs. Both parents have an obligation to support their children, both before
and after a divorce.
In Texas, child support is based on the income
of the non-custodial parent and the number of dependent's they have. It is common
for the Attorney General to collect child support and monitor that it is being
Custodial and non-custodial parents have the right to modify the
amount of support when there has been a change in circumstances.
Domestic violence usually refers to crimes involving domestic
abuse, such as child abuse and child neglect, spousal abuse or domestic-partner
abuse, and elder abuse. Domestic abuse isn't just physical; it also covers the
threats, emotional abuse, harassment, and stalking that a spouse, partner, or
date uses to control someone else's behavior. The abuse can be directed against
anyone: children, former partners, roommates, and parents, but it is most typically
directed against women. Domestic violence is a crime. However, the victim of domestic
violence can also file civil charges or file for a Protective Order.
Adoption law creates the legal relationship of parent and child between persons
who are not each other's biological parent or child. In order for an adoption
to be consummated, it is necessary for the legal rights of the biological parent
to be terminated. In Texas, it is common for a guardian ad litem to be appointed
and a social study to be done prior to an adoption. For all legal purposes, adopted
children become the children of their adoptive parents.
Paternity is the legal acknowledgment of a parental relationship between a father
and his child. A child born to a wife during a marriage is legally presumed to
be the husband's child, but this presumption can be rebutted with evidence to
the contrary. A determination of paternity for putative fathers can be established
through a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, a court petition, or estoppel
over time. Scientific evidence, such as blood and DNA tests, is used to establish
or deny parentage of a child in paternity suits.
Once paternity is established,
a child is entitled to the legal rights of a child born within a marriage, including
support from both parents, medical insurance coverage, and inheritance protection.
Juvenile cases involve minor children under
the age of 18. These cases can vary from defending against juvenile charges that
can be filed against minor children which may have penalties similar to criminal
convictions, civil liability for parents for the acts of their minor children,
or the removal of minority for older children.