• Divorce – Divorce is a breakup of the marriage and includes a division of the husband and wife’s property and debts. If children are involved, the court must issue orders concerning the custody, decision-making authority, and possession times of the children (generally called conservatorship) and child support (including coverage for medical expenses) of the children as part of the divorce.
  • Suit Affecting Parent – Child Relationship (SAPCR) – Once filed, SAPCRs allow the court to make orders regarding children named in the suit. The court can order child support and designate the custody of the children according to the best interest of the child.
    • Child Custody – Texas law typically does not use the term “custody.” Instead, Texas law uses the term “conservatorship,” which has to do with rights and duties of parents in relation to the child.  While parents typically share in these rights and duties, only one parent is usually granted the right to determine the child’s primary residence, which is the closest thing Texas law has to “custody.”
    • Child Support – In Texas, both parents have a legal obligation to support their children. This obligation can be satisfied in two ways – actual support (that is providing the child with food, clothing, and shelter) and periodic payments of child support.  When one parent provides most of the child’s actual support, the other parent typically assists by paying child support.  Child support is calculated based on the paying party’s earnings.
    • Paternity (Suits to Determine Parentage) – The Suit to Determine Parentage determines if the man is actually the father of the child and will establish his parental rights and obligations, if the court finds that he is the father.
    • Modification – If there is an order in place regarding the children, either parent can go back to the court and request a modification if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstance from the time of the previous order. The court may modify child support by raising or lowering the amount paid or may change the custody and possession of a parent.
    • Child Support Enforcement – Once the court issues an order with regards to child support, the obligor (party ordered to pay child support) must make the court-ordered child support payments; even bankruptcy does not discharge this obligation. If payment is not made, the obligee (person entitled to receive child support) can file a motion for enforcement in order to get child support.  In an enforcement action, the court has several options available to it to enforce the order of the court, including confinement in jail.  Because confinement in jail is an option, Texas law requires great specificity when it comes to a Petition for Enforcement.  Most non-lawyers do not have the expertise to prepare the petition themselves.  If you are owed child support, a lawyer can help you by preparing the petition and presenting it in court.  If you are facing a motion to enforce child support, you may have certain defenses to the motion.  An attorney can help you investigate those defenses and present them to the court.
    • Enforcement of Child Possession Times – If the other party fails to relinquish possession of the child as ordered, you may need to file a motion for enforcement of child possession times. With this motion, the judge can order the other party to relinquish possession and comply with the orders of the court.  In an enforcement action, the court has several options available to it to enforce an order of the court, including confinement in jail.  Much like a Petition to Enforce Child Support, a Petition to Enforce Possession Times must be very specific, usually necessitating the help of an attorney.  If your child’s other parent deprives you of your court-ordered right to access your child, a lawyer can help you by preparing the petition and presenting it in court.  If you are facing a motion to enforce you may have certain defenses or mitigating factors, which a lawyer can help you develop and present to the court.
  • Grandparents’ Rights – Texas does not grant automatic rights to grandparents; instead, the parents have the right to say whether their children should visit with grandparents. In some circumstances, grandparents can obtain a court order to get visitation with the children, over the objection of the parents.  Finally, in limited instances, the court may grant custody to the grandparents, with the best interest of the children guiding all decisions.
  • Military Divorce and Division of Military Retirement – Military divorces entail much more than civilian divorces due to the numerous military benefits. These benefits are community property and should be divided as such.  An experienced lawyer who has a history of dealing with military divorces and division of benefits is the key to ensuring that all assets are properly divided and each spouse is being treated fairly.
  • Adoptions – Adoption is one of the happiest occurrences at the courthouse. However, the adoption process is not a simple one and usually requires the assistance of an attorney with the knowledge of the documentation and court filings to get the adoption finalized. The Texas Family code outlines several requirements a potential parent must comply with before a judge will grant an adoption.
  • Marital Property Agreement
    • Pre-Nuptial Agreements – While some view a pre-nuptial agreement as a negative way to start a relationship, they are often quite useful because marriages can only end one of two ways: by divorce or death of a spouse. Pre-nuptial agreements can change how a court might classify property upon the end of the marriage. No one wants to plan for a failed marriage or the death of a spouse, but it can be beneficial to protect yourself and the assets you bring to the marriage.
    • Post-Nuptial Agreements (Partition or Exchange Agreements) – Through post-nuptial agreements, more properly called Partition or Exchange Agreements, you can detail what assets belong to each party’s separate estate and what is community property, which could save you time and money if the relationship ends in divorce or the death of a spouse. It can be used as an estate planning tool.
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution – Alternative Dispute Resolution involves a variety of processes by which a case may be resolved without courtroom litigation. These processes include: negotiation, mediation, and collaborative law.  Many cases are resolved through the use of ADR, as ADR can often offer a less contentious and less costly way of resolving the case.
    • Mediation – Mediation is a process in which both parties and their attorneys meet with a neutral mediator in order to come to a mutually acceptable resolution to the case. This neutral third party, the mediator, serves as a facilitator between the parties.  The mediator helps the parties identify areas in which they agree and advance creative solutions that are mutually acceptable and beneficial.  The goal of mediation is to create an enforceable agreement that can later be reduced to final judgment (or decree) in the case.
    • Collaborative Law – Collaborative law is designed for couples who wish to maintain as much control as possible and work together to resolve the issue at hand. Although it is most commonly used in the context of a divorce, this process may be used for prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, and other types of disputes.  It uses cooperative models instead of adversarial techniques in order to help couples resolve their issues civilly and without the pressure of court appearances and litigation.  The lawyers have one goal: help the clients resolve the problem at hand.
  • Protective Orders – When most people talk about “restraining orders,” they are actually referring to protective orders. A protective order is an order from a judge preventing one party from acting against another party in various ways such as preventing physical contact between parties, removing one party from a household, or preventing a party from removing or tampering with property. Whether you feel you need a protective order or are the subject of one, a lawyer can help navigate what to do next.