Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce in San Antonio

Does Texas Have Legal Separation?

Texas law does not recognize any type of status as a legal separation. Spouses may separate and live apart, but unless a divorce is obtained, the parties will remain married.

Parties often ask about legal separation because they are desirous of some court intervention short of a divorce. Parties may agree to separate, but not agree about primary custody, use of the marital home, or some other visitation or property related matter. In such situations, the Texas courts will not become involved with the parties’ marital issues unless one of the parties files a petition for divorce, inviting the state of Texas to become involved.

Is there a Waiting Period?

Texas law provides for a sixty (60) day cooling-off period in the majority of divorce cases. The only exceptions to this waiting period have been carved out by the legislature for matters involving situations involving family-violence. The waiting period begins at the time a petition for divorce is filed. The waiting period doesn’t mean that anything must happen at the sixty (60) day mark, but only that at least sixty (60) days must elapse before a divorce order can be signed by the Court.

What’s The Difference Between Contested & Agreed Divorce?

An agreed divorce is a case where the parties not only are interested in resolving their case by agreement, but they actually have the details of their case defined and are in agreement. If the parties are not in agreement on “anything”, that decision will have to be put before a District Court Judge. Of course, there are opportunities as the case develops for the parties to narrow the scope of their differences, and possibly reach an agreement. But until every detail of a case is agreed, the matter is not agreed – in other words – it is contested.

What Does A Divorce Cost?

The cost of divorce can range from the filing fees for the least expensive and un-represented matters, to tens of thousands of dollars, for a hotly contested custody and property case. For agreed matters, our office will usually charge a flat fee. We can charge a flat fee because if the parties are cooperating, we can calculate the work needed to complete the matter. For contested cases, or cases where it’s not possible to accurately estimate the cost of resolution, we require a retainer to start the case. We bill against this retainer as we prosecute your case. As the retainer is exhausted, you will be asked to replenish the account. The amount of the retainer will depend on our office’s initial evaluation of your case.

What’s The Difference Between Community & Separate Property?

Texas law presumes that any interest acquired during a marriage is community property. Separate property is property that was either brought into the marriage (owned prior to marriage), or a gift to one of the spouses. This same presumption applies to debt accumulated during a marriage. Of course, a premarital agreement can change this presumption. Also, the courts have the authority to divide assets and debts in a “just and equitable” manner, and aren’t required to make a 50/50 split.

Spouses with separate property should be careful to ensure they understand the rules required to avoid accidentally comingling their separate property with community property. The advice of a competent attorney is invaluable here, and can really save your assets.

How Will Child Custody Be Determined?

Contested custody cases are so well known, that they almost define the classification of divorce law. Property cases can be hotly contested, but I’m not aware of any area in law where parties will fight and litigate like they will when they are fighting and litigating over custody issues. The simple answer to how custody will be determined is that the trier of fact, either judge or jury, will make a decision based on the “best interest of the child”. What exactly is in the “best interest of the child” is a much more difficult question.

Custody cases require competent and diligent counsel. A lawyer must know the facts of your case and must be able to skillfully handle this information to arrive at a strategy appropriate for not only your case in chief, but for examining and cross examining each witness.

How Will Child Support Be Determined?

Child support is often a key component in family law cases to both the party paying support and the party receiving it. It is important to have counsel who understands not only how to calculate support, but who understands how the court is likely to interpret “income”, and how child support relates to visitation and access. This is especially important in military divorce matters, where a party will usually have base pay and allowances that are treated differently for tax purposes. Let of our experienced divorce lawyer advise you about the child support issues that are relevant to your case.

What is Collaborative Law, & How Can it Help Me?

Collaborative Law is a relatively recent development in Texas family law. The idea is based on the concept of enlightened self interest. The parties agree that their case will be resolved by agreement, rather than in the courtroom. Pursuant to this agreement the parties legally commit themselves to obtain new counsel in order to proceed with a contest. In this way, both parties and the attorneys have a genuine interest in reaching an agreement. The cost of proceeding works as a disincentive to a contest.

Not all law firms offer collaborative services, and Collaborative Law isn’t a good fit for every case. Call our office to schedule a consultation to discuss how Collaborative Law may work in your case.

Where do I file for divorce in San Antonio?

If you want to file for divorce in San Antonio as a pro se litigant, meaning without legal representation, you must go to the Bexar County courthouse to pick up a divorce packet. On the fifth floor of the courthouse, you’ll find a law clerk who can sell you the packet you need. A Divorce with Children packet will cost you approximately $20, and a Divorce without Children packet will cost approximately $11. The packets are about 40 pages long, with detailed information about how to file your divorce petition.

If you have a divorce attorney representing you, there will be no need to pick up a packet at the courthouse. Your attorney will retrieve and complete the proper paperwork on your behalf.

How do I get a copy of my divorce decree in San Antonio?

There are three ways to get copies of your divorce decree.

First, you can visit the Paul Elizondo Tower and retrieve a copy of your divorce decree in person. This allows you immediate access to your records.

Second, you can mail order a copy of your decree by sending a request letter to the following address: 101 W Nueva, Suite 217 San Antonio, TX 78205-3411

The letter must include a postage-paid envelope for return shipping and a check or money order. You’ll need to call the Bexar County Clerk’s Office to find out exactly how much the copies will cost by mail. It will take seven to 10 days for your records to be sent to you via USPS.

Third, you can call our office for assistance in retrieving a copy of your decree.

Do I need an attorney to file for divorce in San Antonio?

You are not required to have legal representation to file for divorce in Texas, although it is highly recommended.

First, most divorces are not simple. Rarely does a divorcing couple agree on every aspect of the separation. Having a third party help you with negotiations and difficult conversations is in everyone’s best interest.

Second, you don’t know what you don’t know. The law is complex and divorce is no exception. Without legal representation, you can easily miss something important or receive unfair treatment under the law.

Third, it will save you time. The “do-it-yourself” divorce packets are 40 pages long and may take hours, if not days, to decipher. With a lawyer’s help, the process will go much quicker.

How long do I have to wait before I can file for divorce in San Antonio?

If you recently moved to San Antonio from another state, you’ll have to wait until either you or your spouse have been a resident of Texas for at least six continuous months. Additionally, at least one of you must be a resident of Bexar County for at least 90 days.

What are Temporary Orders?

While your divorce is still pending, you and your spouse will be subject to Temporary Orders. These are either set by the court or negotiated by your attorney and agreed upon by your spouse. The purpose is to establish you and your spouse’s rights and responsibilities while the divorce is being finalized. For example, the Orders will determine how and when you can each access joint bank accounts, how the personal property is to be used, and how debts will continue to be paid. If children are involved, the temporary orders will also include temporary custody and visitation orders.

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