Divorce Attorney

Alternative Dispute Resolution In Texas

Dispute Resolution Center Houston

People that seek an amicable divorce with little to no conflict can turn to alternative dispute resolution or ADR. Alternative dispute resolution is a path to amicable and durable solutions during divorce without going to court. That means that you get to reduce cost and preserve workable relationship with your ex-spouse, which makes it easier to raise your children after divorce. An experienced family law lawyer can represent you during mediations and  help you resolve your divorce without litigation.

What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

ADR refers to a process where a neutral or impartial third party helps people communicate and collaborate to resolve conflict. The three common means of ADR for divorce cases are:

  • Collaborative law cases: Both parties involved in divorce retain a lawyer and both have to sign a “no-court” agreement.  The parties involved and their lawyer work together to come up with terms of their marital dissolution without a court intervening.
  • Mediation: It is a confidential process run by a trained third party to help two parties reach a settlement in a controlled environment. Any agreement reached during mediation must be approved by a court.
  • Arbitration:  A retired judge or attorney is appointed as arbitrator with the approval of both parties. The arbitrator listens to evidence and testimony from both sides and then makes a ruling. Both parties must agree beforehand whether the arbitrator’s final ruling should be  binding or non-binding. Each party involved in the divorce gets to retain a lawyer.

What Are The Benefits Of ADR?

Alternative Dispute Resolution In TexasIn a litigated divorce, the judge issues orders for child support, alimony, visitation, property division and more. But ADR allows you to come up with creative ideas that are fair to you and the other spouse. Some of the benefits of alternative dispute resolution methods include:

  • Lower costs compared to litigated divorce
  • Flexibility in resolving issues
  • Confidentiality 
  • Both parties retain control throughout the process
  • Parties are more likely to remain friendly after the divorce is finalized
  • ADR leads to quicker and more efficient settlements and resolutions
  • Ability to come up with creative solutions that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the parties involved in the divorce

Many people chose ADR for divorce because of the confidentiality aspect of it. That means that private events, perceptions or issues and other discussions cannot be used against the couple in the event that the divorce ends up in court. 

What To Expect After Successful Negotiations

In most situations, after a couple reaches an agreement, the  attorneys draft a final agreement that details all the decisions that were made during the negotiations. This happens irrespective of the method used to reach that agreement.  The lawyers then present the written agreement to a judge to review. The judge will then issue an order to finalize the divorce if the judge approves the settlement. A judge is likely to deny approval if the written agreement obviously favors one of the parties that are divorcing.

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Houston Adoption Lawyer

Adoption Lawyer Houston

Finding a child to provide with a loving and nurturing home should be considerably easy especially when you consider the significant number of children  in institutional care. But the process of adopting a child in Houston can be complex without the help of a Houston adoption lawyer. There are many requirements you need  to meet and documentation that you have to provide before your adoption process is finalized. A skilled and experienced Houston adoption lawyer can not only help you handle the initial paperwork but also ensure that you comply with Hague rules on adoption. 

Procedures For Adoption in Texas

You have to go through processes such as termination of parental rights, petitions and more before the adoption is finalized. An individual that wants to adopt has to provide information about their background and lifestyle. The following are the adoption procedures in Texas:

  • Home visits with all family members present
  • Criminal background checks
  • Review of documentation proving that the family seeking to adopt is financially stable
  • Collecting references from relative s and non-relatives
  • Neglect and abuse background checks

Home visits involve a home study professional touring your home to ensure that your home is a safe and stable environment for a child. In fact, the social worker inspecting your home may actually point out any safety hazards you need to fix before placement occurs. As long as your home is safe for the child, you have no reason to dread a home visit.

Criminal Background Checks For Adoption

Fingerprint-based criminal background checks will be carried out for every member of your family as long as they are age 14 or older. Some of the misdemeanors or felony offenses that may cause approval to be denied include:

  • Stalking
  • Robbery
  • Criminal solicitation of a minor
  • Public indecency
  • Intoxication and alcoholic beverage offenses

A person may also be denied if the child abuse central registry reveals that the person has been accused child abuse or neglect , including emotional abuse, physical neglect, sexual abuse, medical neglect, and neglectful supervision.

Why You Need An Experienced Lawyer

Houston Adoption LawyerA Houston adoption lawyer that has extensive experience dealing with adoptions is more likely to pay attention to the small details and can work to prevent unexpected roadblocks. Your lawyer can handle all the legal aspects of your case whether you are adopting through an agency or are adopting a relative. With a lawyer you can avoid the legal pitfalls that could result in you spending a lot of money because of delays. A Houston adoption lawyer can help you with following types of adoptions:

  • Infant adoption
  • Stepparent adoption
  • Foster child adoption
  • Relative adoption
  • Same-sex adoption
  • International adoption
  • State adoption (interstate)

An Effective Adoption Strategy

Your Houston adoption lawyer can help your compare the pros and cons of private adoptions versus agency adoption. The lawyer will then evaluate your situation and help you create a strategy that specifically works for you. Your lawyer will also offer guidance during the home study stage of your adoption process.

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Child Support Attorney In Houston

Child Support Lawyers In Houston

During a divorce one of the major issues that have to be resolved is child support. The law requires both parents to continue caring for the child’s needs and well-being before and after the divorce is completed. However, sometimes a parent may not be willing to contribute their fair share of a child’s expenses during and after divorce. A child support attorney in Houston can help you ensure that the other parent contributes their fair share to cover expenses, and  ensure that the other parent spends time with your child.

How Your Child Support Lawyer Can Help

A child support attorney in Houston can help a custodial parent to initiate certain child support enforcement actions if a non-custodial parent does not pay child support. The lawyer can file an enforcement lawsuit to ensure that your child’s needs are met. Your lawyer can also help you file for a modification of child support if the amount ordered by a court is more than you can afford.  If a court does not consider the entirety of your situation when issuing child custody orders, your lawyer can help you challenge that order. Your attorney can investigate your situation to determine the child support arrangements that is best for you and your children.

Texas Child Support Guidelines

Child Support Attorney In HoustonChild support guidelines make it possible for you and your lawyer to calculate an estimate of the amount you need to pay for child support. There is a limit to how much a parent can pay for child support in Texas. But a parent may have to pay more in the following situations:

  • To maintain the lifestyle a child enjoyed during the marriage
  • The child has a disability that costs a lot of money to manage
  • The child needs psychological counseling for emotional trauma suffered because of the divorce

If the above factors do not apply to your marriage, then you can use the child support guidelines to calculate what you have to pay. The guidelines state that a non custodial parent needs to pay 20 percent of their net income if there is only one child in the marriage. The amount rises to 25 percent for two children, 30 percent for three, 35 percent for four children, and at-least 40 percent for five or more children. To calculate net income you must first add up all your income from various sources and then deduct taxes and the cost of health insurance for the child.

Who Pays Child Support?

In Texas, both parents are required to support the child but only one parent is required to pay child support. The parent that has custody is often required to support the child through housing, utilities and other basic needs. On the other hand, the non-custodial parent pays child support because the non-custodial parent spends the least amount of physical custody time. Both parents can work together with a lawyer to reach an outcome that benefits the child and the parents. Remember that the child’s best interests are considered more important than the benefits each divorcing spouses gets after divorce. Talk to a knowledgeable child support attorney in Houston to guide you through child support legal issues.

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Houston Prenup Lawyer

Houston Prenup Lawyer 

People decide to get a prenup for a number of reasons. In most cases, couples do this because prenups have benefits that extend past the event of a divorce. In fact, a prenup can make a divorce more efficient and less costly, but it can also make a marriage stronger, because it forces the couples to discuss complicated issues before they become major problems during marriage. An experienced Houston prenup lawyer can work closely with you and future spouse to draft an agreement that protects your interests.

Prenups Help You Have An Efficient Divorce

A prenuptial agreement can reduce the time spent on discovery during divorce. For example, parties in the divorce may not have to produce evidence that certain assets are separate property, because they already included them as separate property in the prenup. Since they already agreed on what is separate property in the prenup, the couple will reduce the amount of time spent dividing community property during a divorce. That means they will spend less on legal fees and also avoid disagreements or fights. However, a prenup does not prevent every issue that may emerge during divorce.

Other Benefits Of Prenups

Houston Prenup LawyerYour lawyer can help you draft a prenup that protects and keeps family estates and assets in the family should you and your spouse pass away. You can also use a prenup to set aside assets for your children from a previous marriage or for children that you have with your current partner. A prenup can be an effective way to protect your spouse from debt collection efforts on debt held solely by you. In a situation where one of the parties is wealthy while the other is not, the wealthy party can use the prenup to assure the less-wealthy party that they will be looked after adequately in case their marriage ends in a divorce.  

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What Makes A Prenuptial Agreement Valid?

Your prenuptial agreement can only be valid and enforceable if it meets the following criteria:

  • Each party must enter into the prenup voluntarily
  • The prenup should be in writing
  • The prenup should be negotiated by a couple that is planning to get married
  • The terms in the prenup should be fair to both parties
  • All parties must disclose all their assets and debts, unless they choose to waive disclosure voluntarily

Texas courts enforce any marital agreements but remember that an oral prenuptial agreement is unenforceable. Make sure you hire a Houston prenup lawyer to help you prepare a prenuptial agreement that meets the requirements for legal validity. 

What About A Postnuptial Agreement?

While a prenup is discussed by couples that are not married but intend to marry, a postnuptial agreement can only be drafted by a couple that is already legally married. A postnuptial agreement can actually accomplish most of the things that a prenup can. That means that you can use your postnup to create terms and conditions for a possible separation or divorce in the future. You can also use it to divide your assets into separate property and community property.

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Houston Uncontested Divorce Lawyer

Uncontested Divorce Houston

Taking the litigation route makes it more likely for your divorce process to last months or years before it is completed. So to avoid this most couples decide to end their marriage through and out of court process. An uncontested divorce involves the spouses reaching an agreement about all issues in the divorce out of court. To achieve this, the parties seeking for a divorce must work amicably with the help of experienced Houston uncontested divorce lawyers. Remember that a court must first approve the agreement between you and your spouse for the divorce to be completed.

Understanding An Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, couples decide how they will share custody and other parenting responsibilities. They also agree on the duration of any child support or spousal support, and negotiate on how to go about property and debt division. Then they file court forms and a divorce settlement agreement that outlines the decisions they made on all the issues they negotiated. 

 A judge will review the agreement and approve it if it is fair to all the parties involved in the divorce. Texas judges are also likely to thoroughly scrutinize the agreements on child support and child custody to ensure that they are in the best interests of the child. Just because decisions have to be made amicably in an uncontested divorce does not mean that the parties will agree easily on all issues, or that the process will run smoothly.

How An Uncontested Divorce Lawyer Can Assist You

Houston Uncontested Divorce LawyerYour lawyer will work with you to ensure that you make proper decisions concerning child custody, division of marital property, visitation rights and more. Your lawyer can look at your paperwork to ensure that what you agree to will not come back to haunt you after the divorce. This is very important especially in a divorce case that involves young children or substantial assets or both. A short marriage with no minor children and few assets is easier to end through an uncontested divorce without either spouse hiring a lawyer.

The Pros Of An Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce allows you to end your marriage in the shortest time possible without spending too much money. Your uncontested divorce will also be more private, which means only a few people will know the issues that caused you to seek divorce. An uncontested divorce may result in the couples keeping more assets than they would have had they gone to court. The spouses are more likely to complete the divorce on friendlier terms without any hard feelings.

Is An Uncontested Divorce Right For You?

An uncontested divorce is not for everyone. A marriage that has a history of domestic violence, and other forms of abuse cannot be ended effectively using an uncontested divorce. The power dynamics in such a marriage is so unbalanced that it makes it easier for the spouse with more power to manipulate the process. You may also want to avoid an uncontested divorce if you and your partner cannot talk for a minute without screaming at each other. In such a scenario, the parties that are seeking divorce can turn the whole divorce process into a bitter competition for child custody and property.

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Houston Same Sex Divorce Lawyer

Same Sex Divorce In Texas

The rights for same sex couples during a divorce are mostly similar to those of opposite sex couples that are seeking divorce. That means that in the event of a divorce same sex couples can benefit from divorce laws for property division, child support, spousal support, and others. But that also means that same sex divorce cases have the potential to be just as complicated and frustrating as opposite sex divorce cases. You should seek the services of a Houston same sex divorce lawyer who can protect your interests during a divorce.

Your Lawyer Can Help You Navigate The Process

Whether yours is a contested or an uncontested divorce, your lawyer understands what is at stake and can help you through the process. An experienced Houston same sex divorce lawyer can take a results-oriented approach to your case for litigated or negotiated divorce. You can also ask your lawyer any question about your case, and even calculate an estimate for child or spousal support. Your lawyer will also help you through the property division process and fight to ensure that no one interferes with your stake in the marital property.

Property Division

Marital property (community property) and debts will be divided between the spouses going through a divorce. The marital property is any property or assets that were acquired by either spouse during the marriage-there are exceptions. Anything that either spouse acquired before the marriage is considered as separate property. Separate property cannot be divided during divorce, because it is considered to be the property of the spouse that acquired it prior to the marriage.  

That means that after the divorce, separate property will remain in the hands of the spouse that acquired it and the other spouse will not have any right over that property. In Texas, even cash dividends from stocks held as separate property and all profits fruits, and revenues derived of separate property are community property. You Houston divorce lawyer can help you identify separate and community property, and their value during divorce. 

Child Custody In Same Sex Divorce

Houston Same Sex Divorce LawyerIn Texas, parenting presumptions do not yet apply to same sex couples. What that means is that during same sex divorce one of the spouses can be treated as the step parent of the child. A step parent is not required to pay child support and cannot be awarded visitation rights or child custody. That is why it is important for same sex couples to ensure that they are both legal parents of the child, to protect the child in the event of death of the legal or biological parent or a divorce. In an opposite sex divorce, a father can avoid paying child support by proving that the minor child involved is not his child.

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Alimony Or Spousal Maintenance

In Texas, alimony is called spousal maintenance. You can only get “maintenance” in Texas if you are not able to support yourself, or if the other spouse was convicted of domestic violence within two years of when the divorce was filed. But spousal maintenance only lasts 3 years. 

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High Asset Divorce Attorney

A high net worth divorce is a divorce that involves significant assets. The parties in such divorces have high net worth and own complex estates such as offshore or foreign assets. Fundamentally, a high net worth divorce is not different from a normal divorce, except for the considerable assets that make these divorce cases more complex. High net worth divorce cases also take longer to complete because of the high potential for the parties involved to contest hotly while defending their stake in the community property. You need a high net worth divorce lawyer to help you navigate your divorce if you have assets of significant value.

High Net Worth Divorce Law Firm

You Need A Lawyer For Valuing And Dividing High Net Worth Marital Estates

An experienced high net worth divorce attorney knows how to locate and value businesses and other marital assets. Some of the valuable assets in a high net worth divorce include:

  • Trusts
  • Publicly and privately help companies 
  • Stocks
  • 401k plans
  • Professional licenses 
  • Foreign and domestic real estate
  • Oil and mineral rights royalties
  • Patents and intellectual property

Your legal team can classify the property to determine property that is subject to division and then perform a thorough valuation of the estate. Your lawyer can do this with the help of experts such as financial planners, public accountants, investigators, and other experts. Remember that, during property division negotiations, stock options and retirement assets may be considered.  

Community Property Vs Separate Property

Generally, any property you acquired prior to the marriage is considered separate property while the property you acquired while in the marriage is community property. In Houston, you have to provide proof that a certain property you own is separate property or else the property will be presumed to be community property. Community property is subject to division during a divorce but separate property is not. Your high net worth divorce lawyer can help you gather evidence so that you can protect that property. Any gifts you acquired during the marriage is also considered as separate property.

Can Your Spouse Hide Assets?

Houston High Net Worth Divorce LawyerThere are spouses that do all they can to try and hide some of the marital property in order to preserve their wealth. Some spouses start hiding funds offshore, using trusts, joint partnerships and more, months before they actually file for divorce. Fortunately, an experienced high net worth lawyer can properly request for all relevant information during the discovery stage of your divorce to prevent your spouse from successfully hiding assets. Your lawyer can also use the services of a forensic CPA. The Forensic CPA can review your spouse’s personal financial books and other books to uncover whether assets have been concealed.

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What About Child Support and Alimony?

Most often in high net worth divorce cases, one spouse has been dependent financially on the high earning spouse during the marriage. That means that spousal support or alimony may be awarded to the dependent spouse during divorce. The calculations of child support are often more complicated in high net worth divorce cases because of the expensive lifestyle the minor children were accustomed to during the marriage.

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