Our Practice

Here We Answer Common Questions About Our Texas Practice

Family Law Q&A

Q: How long will it take me to get a divorce?
A: In Texas, there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period from the time your divorce petition is filed until the time the final divorce can be granted. In most of the counties in which we provide family law legal services, the final hearing must be scheduled by the court and is subject to the court’s availability, so your final divorce hearing will be sometime after that 60-day waiting period. If the terms of the divorce are completely agreed, your divorce might be final soon after that 60-day waiting period. Otherwise, the length of time to finalize the divorce depends upon the specifics of your case.

Q: How far behind in child support does he/she have to be for me to file an enforcement?
A: At least 30 days.

Q: Can I get “full custody” of my children?
A: In Texas, it is presumed that parents will be appointed Joint Managing Conservators. This means that parents have mostly equal rights and duties with regard to their children. It does not mean that the parents have equal time with their children. Also, in most cases, one parent is designated as the parent with the exclusive right to establish the primary residence of the children, although that is often subject to a geographic restriction, and may, by agreement, not be specific to one parent or the other. In some instances, it is not appropriate for parents to be Joint Managing Conservators and then one parent is a Sole Managing Conservator and the other is a Possessory Conservator.

Q: Can the Court tell me where to live?
A: Geographic restrictions are favored in Texas. These are restrictions that designate the geographic area in which the children may live. Obviously, that means the parent with the right to establish the children’s residence is also limited to living in that geographic area. Usually, the geographic restriction is only effective so long as the other parent also lives in that area. The terms of the geographic restriction are case-specific.

Q: How is child support calculated?
A: Child support is based upon the paying parent’s “net resources,” which generally means the parent’s gross wages, less the amount allowed to be deducted for taxes, and also less the amount the parent pays for the child’s health insurance premiums. Net resources also includes other types of income, such as rental income, royalty income, and other types of income. It does not include the net resources of the paying parent’s spouse.
The parent’s net income is then multiplied by a percentage that is determined by the number of children (1-20%, 2-25%, 3-30%, 4-35%). The percentage is reduces if the paying parent has a legal obligation to support other children (this does not include step-children).
For example, if a parent has 2 children and makes minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) and pays $100 per month for health insurance, the child support obligation would be: $255.39 per month.
The Texas Office of the Attorney General provides a child support calculator here: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/calculator/

Q: What are my rights as a grandparent?
A: This is a complicated question. Generally, the Texas Family Code provides no specific or separate rights for grandparents unless there is some kind of danger to the children from the parents or if the children have resided with the grandparents for a specific length of time. Grandparent rights/access is a very case-specific matter.

Q: Can I make my ex-wife change her name?
A: No. Whether or not your soon-to-be-ex-wife wants to change her name is up to her. But, it can be part of the negotiations for reaching an agreement.

Q: The other parent is not paying child support, do I have to let him/her see the children?
A: Yes. Violation of the court order by one person does not excuse the other person from following the order. If the other person is not following the order, you should seek legal advice to determine how to force compliance.

Business Law Q&A:

Q: What is the difference between a corporation and a limited liability company?
A: Both a corporation and a limited liability company offer liability protection for its owners.
A corporation’s owners are called Shareholders, and the company operates through a Board of Directors governed by Bylaws. A limited liability company’s owners are called Members, and the LLC can be operated by the Member(s) or by Manager(s) elected by the Members. The company is governed by a Company Agreement.
A limited liability company can make distributions (of profit) in accordance with the agreement of the members, while a corporation must make distributions in accordance with the shareholders’ ownership interests.

Q: How can I set up a bank account in my entity’s name?
A: Generally, you will need the following documents: 1) Certificate of Formation issued by the State of Texas when the entity is formed; 2) Certificate of Filing also issued by the State of Texas when the entity is formed; 3) Bylaws or Company Agreement; 4) Organizational Minutes/Consent; and 5) the Taxpayer Identification Number issued by the IRS for the entity.

Estate Planning/Probate Q&A:

Q: What information do you need to prepare my Will?
A: You need to know if you have a federally taxable estate. This means, do you have in excess of $5.49 million (for 2017) in assets. If so, we will work with your accountant to create an estate plan that reduces the amount your estate will pay in federal estate taxes. If you are like most of us, you will not require such complicated estate planning.
We need to know:
– Who do you want to have your things when you are gone?
– If there are specific items you want to go to specific people
– Who should be the executor of your will (to engage an attorney to probate the will and to distribute your assets), along with at least one alternate
– If you have minor children, who should be appointed their guardian, along with at least one alternate
– If you have minor beneficiaries, who should handle the assets until they are adults, along with at least one alternate

Q: If I am someone’s beneficiary, am I liable for their debts too?
A: Click here.

Q: Do I have to probate a Will?
A: The law requires that you probate a will within 4 years of the person’s death. There may be some instances where probating is not necessary (such as if the deceased left no assets to be included in an estate). If you have possession of a will, you should speak with an attorney to determine what is required.