Fort Bend County Harris County Experience Divorce Attorney – Jason Lawrence
Divorce Lawyer in Fort Bend County and Harris County, Texas
Complex Divorce LitigationDivorce is a highly emotionally charged matter which often requires immediate attention. If you are considering filing for divorce or are already immersed in the proceedings, you need the advice of a confident and experienced attorney who can provide you with a realistic assessment of your case. Lawrence Law Firm is dedicated to realistically assessing your situation and determining the best course of action to take in order to resolve your divorce matter as efficiently and effectively as possible. While a vast majority of divorce actions settle, some must be tried to a conclusion. Jason is both confident and experienced in the serious work of the preparation and execution of a complex divorce trial.
Regardless of the issues in your divorce, your first step is to sit down with the attorney of your choosing to discuss your situation. We can help you understand the legal process, determine your goals for the outcome of the divorce and design a strategy that can help achieve this outcome. Lawrence Law Firm will address all matters related to your divorce, including:
- Parent child issues
- Property valuation
- Community property division
- Protection of your separate assets
While considering whether a divorce is best for you and your family, it may be helpful to understand how divorce works in Texas. A general overview of divorce in Texas is as follows:
UNCONTESTED DIVORCEJason represents many individuals in uncontested divorces, and he does so for a flat fee. In an uncontested divorce both spouses agree to be divorced on the grounds of insupportability, sometimes referred to as a “no-fault” divorce. Both spouses also agree on all other issues related to the divorce including child custody and visitation, child support, and the division of property accumulated during the marriage.
This is generally the quickest and least expensive method of divorce, however, both spouses must agree on all issues for this process to work.
CONTESTED DIVORCEA contested divorce occurs when divorcing spouses cannot agree on all issues. Just because a divorce is contested does not mean that it cannot be resolved amicably. Lawrence Law Firm is well versed in handling contested divorces and always aims to ensure the most efficient and painless process possible. In fact, the majority of contested divorces are resolved by the agreement of the parties, often following mediation. An experienced attorney, like Jason Lawrence, is often able to effectively negotiate a favorable agreement by removing emotion from the discussion and focusing on the legal rights of each party.
HIGH NET WORTH DIVORCEHigh net worth divorces are divorces in which the parties have accumulated substantial assets during the course of the marriage. Since these proceedings differ from the standard divorces process, the guidance of an experienced professional like the divorce lawyer you'll connect with at Lawrence Law Firm is the key to navigating the best course of action. Often multiple properties, retirement accounts, stocks and often closely held businesses need to be divided. Complex financial documents need to be analyzed in order for a fair and equitable division of property to occur.
MODIFICATION OF DIVORCE DECREEThe agreements or court ordered provisions for visitation and support of your children contained in your divorce decree may no longer be in the best interest of your family. If a material and substantial change has occurred since your original divorce decree was filed.
THE PROCESS OF DIVORCEInitial Filing
After hiring a divorce attorney in a contested divorce, an Original Petition for Divorce is filed on your behalf. Your case is then assigned to a district court in the county in which you live. Lawrence Law Firm handles contested divorces in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Galveston County. After the Petition is filed, a copy of the Petition is served on your spouse by a process server. If your spouse files the Original Petition, you must file an Answer as well as a Counter-Petition. It is usually of little legal consequence which party files first.
Temporary Restraining Orders
Our divorce attorneys will also advise to serve a Temporary Restraining Order on your spouse at this time. This is a common practice. A Temporary Restraining Order, or TRO, should not be confused with a criminal protective order, and does not imply any misbehavior by you or your spouse. A TRO is a series of injunctions that require both parties to maintain the status quo. Both parties are enjoined from making any large or unusual purchases, selling any major assets, destroying any documents that may be relevant in the divorce, and changing the children's school or daycare among other restrictions. The purpose of the TRO is to prevent one spouse from making any large changes without the consent of the other spouse. Jason will always try to keep the process as simple as possible. Filing a TRO helps to achieve this goal.
Temporary Orders Hearing
If there are any issues that need to be addressed early in the case, for example, if the parties can't agree who should live in the house, where the children should live, who should pay the bills, a Temporary Orders Hearing may be necessary. At a Temporary Orders Hearing, a judge will hear from the parties and any other witnesses in the case, and make a temporary ruling on issues like use of property, custody and child and spousal support. Jason also advises this method to keep emotions at bay and focus on what is legally best for both parties. This ruling is not final, but will only remain in place until the divorce is finalized. Many people are able to come to a temporary agreement without attending court, and several courts require that the parties attempt to mediate before a Temporary Orders Hearing.
For many individuals, especially those who have a high net worth estate, discovery is a critical portion of the contested divorce process. During the discovery process both sides are allowed to ask questions and request documents from the other party. Jason Lawrence will work with you to prepare your documents, as well as review and explain the documents provided by your spouse. This allows a fair division of property as it forces parties to disclose all assets and liabilities.
Many courts in the greater Houston area require mediation as part of the legal process of divorce. During mediation, a neutral third party mediator will help the parties reach an agreement. Your attorney will be present during mediation to protect your interests and help you negotiate effectively. Agreements reached during the mediation process are binding and enforceable. Once a mediated settlement agreement is signed, neither party can change his/her mind. Thus, Lawrence Law Firm will take their time to make certain you are fully aware of the permanency of the agreement and approve of all the elements.
In the event the parties cannot reach an agreement, a final trial on the merits will be held. At the final trial all of the issues and evidence will be presented to a judge or a jury for a decision. At Lawrence Law Firm, Jason is an experienced trial lawyer who can help you effectively present your side of the story.
COMMON ISSUESChild Custody
When parents cannot agree as to what living situation is in the best interest of the children and this cannot be settled in mediation with Houston divorce lawyers, child custody becomes an issue in a divorce. Courts make custody determinations by making findings regarding the best interests of the children. Factors such as which parent acted as the primary caregiver during the marriage, the respective work and living situations of the parents and the parenting abilities of each parent are often used in making this determination. An experienced divorce attorney will help explain the strengths and weaknesses of your child custody case, so that you can determine the best steps going forward. In some cases, parents are able to reach an agreement regarding creative custody arrangements that give both parents equal access to the child. Jason is familiar with various arrangements, and will explore which is best suited for your case.
Most courts in the Houston area require one parent to pay child support regardless of the custody arrangement. Guideline child support is based on Texas law and is calculated using a percentage of your net monthly income. In some cases parents agree to non-guideline support in creative custody arrangements. Non-guideline support must be agreed to, as the courts generally apply the guidelines.
Division of Property
All property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property, regardless of who purchased the property or whose name is on the property. Jason will know the ins and outs of the requirement that all community property must be split fairly and equitably between the parties in a divorce. A fair and equitable division is often a 50/50 split; however, there are several factors that can cause one party to be awarded more than half of the community estate. Additionally, some types of property are not part of the community estate, but instead the separate property of one party. The party claiming separate property has the responsibility of proving that the property is separate.
Division of Debt
Most debt accumulated during the marriage is community debt and must be dealt with during the divorce in consultation with your divorce attorney. It is important to remember that even if debt is awarded to your spouse in the divorce, if your name remains on the debt, it will affect your credit if your spouse later refuses to pay. It is best to close all joint accounts rather than having one spouse make payments toward community debts.
Spousal support refers to payments made by one spouse to the other on a monthly basis. Spousal support is often referred to as alimony. There are two types of spousal support in Texas, Chapter 8 spousal support, which is subject to statutory requirements and enforceable like child support, and contractual spousal support which is a contractual agreement between the parties. One type of spousal support may be better that the other depending on your situation, so Jason will speak with you in detail about your situation to settle on the most appropriate choice.
Many courts place a geographic restriction on the primary residence of the children. For example, Harris County Courts often restrict the primary residence of the children to Harris and contiguous counties for so long as both parents live in Harris and contiguous counties. If one parent moves away, then the parent with the children is also free to move. A geographic restriction may also be lifted by the agreement of the parties or for good cause.
Getting a divorce in Texas can be challenging but with the help of Lawrence Law Firm, the entire process can run smoothly and be completed in a timely manner.