Divorce & Family Law Attorneys in Sugar Land Serving All of Fort Bend County, Texas
Going through a divorce is a time of grief, frustration, and uncertainty, even if you are the one who wants to part ways. Some married couples who live in Texas try to avoid hiring divorce attorneys, which can lead to costly mistakes arising in the future. It’s always best to consult with a divorce lawyer, even when your desire to separate is mutual, and you are on decent terms with your soon-to-be-ex. Even a simple divorce in Fort Bend County, Texas, might include the division of many marital assets, business assets, payments to equalize the division of property, and putting in the proper language and agreements for child custody, which can adversely impact the friendliest divorce situations.
Under the Texas Family Code, you are entitled to a just and right share of assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of whether you or your spouse files for divorce. By avoiding using an attorney in Fort Bend County, Texas, you could risk not receiving your fair share which does protect your rights. Divorce attorneys have in-depth knowledge about the laws in Fort Bend County–including in Sugar Land and Richmond, Texas—which ensures they can protect the interest of clients who are going through the divorce process. The skilled Fort Bend County divorce lawyers at Skillern Firm have ample experience representing residents who have gone through a divorce. Our team also handles complex divorce cases that involve high-value marital assets, investment accounts, alimony, and child custody issues. Our team also handles divorces for people who want to remain amicable with their soon-to-be ex-spouse but also want to protect their rights.
Our Divorce Law Firm represents people from all over Fort Bend County, Texas including:
- Sugar Land
- Missouri City
If you or your spouse has filed for divorce in Sugar Land, Richmond, or any of the surrounding areas, you need to consult with an experienced divorce attorney in Fort Bend County as soon as possible. You do not have to go through this challenging time alone; we are here to guide you. Contact Skillern Firm today online or at 281-915-2674 to schedule an initial consultation, share your story with one of our team members, and learn about the best way forward for your circumstances.
Fault Divorce and No-Fault Divorce in Sugar Land & Fort Bend County, TX
Texas is one of several states that allow couples to choose whether they want to file a fault or no-fault divorce. No-fault choices are especially popular because they are typically a simple process that leads to a just and right portion of assets for each partner. If you or your partner desires to file a fault divorce, the filer must prove to the court that their partner did something to wreck their union by clear and convincing evidence.
Fault-based divorces can be extremely complicated, and the circumstances of the case sometimes impact the division of assets and child custody. A fault divorce always requires a lawyer to help build a case against the other partner to ensure the court grants the divorce on fault-based grounds. Some examples of evidence include witness statements, bank documents, loan documents, receipts, photos, and videos. Whether you and/or your partner choose a fault or no-fault divorce, the court needs to have grounds to grant you a dissolution of marriage. The most common grounds for fault-based divorces and some basis for no-fault divorces are below.
Grounds for Divorce in Fort Bend County—Fault
If you or your spouse files to dissolve your marriage in Fort Bend County, you must justify your reason to the court by final trial. Various scenarios serve as justification for a fault divorce, and various types of evidence can support you or your partner’s reasoning.
A Partner Is Cruel to the Other
A Fort Bend County court will grant a dissolution of marriage on the grounds of cruelty when the complaining spouse proves by clear and convincing evidence of treatment of a nature that renders further living together insupportable. The notion of cruelty is a broad umbrella that includes various types of treatment, and each person has a different idea of what it means to be cruel. Courts review these cases carefully and evaluate them on their merit. As a broad rule of thumb, actual proof of intentional physical or emotional harm typically serves as justification for a Fort Bend County judge to grant a divorce on the grounds of cruelty. This is why it is so crucial to hire a divorce attorney in Fort Bend County. The Skillern Firm has a team of talented divorce lawyers who are confident with Fort Bend County procedure.
A Partner Has an Affair
Spouses have been cheating on each other since the creation of marriage. People define adultery differently. Some argue emotional relationships outside marriage constitute adultery. To file for a fault-based divorce in Fort Bend County, case law has generally stated that adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse with someone other than one’s spouse. If you have undeniable proof that your partner has been cheating, you have legal grounds to dissolve your marriage. Conversely, if your partner has proof that you were having an affair, he or she has legal grounds for a fault-based divorce in Sugar Land, Richmond, or any of the surrounding areas of Fort Bend County.
Television and movies depict private investigators following a suspected spouse to catch them in the act and get pictures or video evidence. Bank statements, loan documents, lease agreements, and receipts for jewelry, travel, and other gifts can also support a claim of adultery. You should also know that in Fort Bend County, including Sugar Land and Richmond, a Texas court can grant a fault-based divorce on the grounds of adultery for an affair that occurs after you or your spouse file for divorce, even if you aren’t living together. It’s in your best interest to put off new relationships until after a court has granted your divorce.
A Partner Receives a Felony Conviction
If your partner gets convicted of a felony crime, you have grounds for a fault-based divorce in Fort Bend County. Your spouse must be convicted of a felony, imprisoned for one year, and cannot be pardoned. It does not matter if your spouse is convicted by the federal government or the State of Texas; both types of convictions justify grounds for the dissolution of marriage. There is an exception to this fault-based ground in that you cannot file for fault-based ground for a felony conviction against a spouse who was convicted on the testimony of the other spouse. You can still file for divorce, but not on the grounds of a felony conviction.
A Partner Abandons Their Spouse
Abandonment serves as another reason to justify the dissolution of a marriage in Fort Bend County, Texas. You or your spouse must intentionally leave the other with the intent to abandon AND remain away for at least one year. Leaving home does not automatically qualify as abandonment. For example, active-duty military members might be deployed for over a year, but they intend on returning home. Those who abandon their partners have no plans for reconciliation. If you are living in Sugar Land, Richmond, or the surrounding areas, and have been abandoned by a spouse, contact Skillern Firm today online or at 281-915-2674.
Grounds for Divorce in Fort Bend County — No-Fault
No-fault divorces are a popular choice for couples in Sugar Land, Richmond, and throughout Fort Bend County, Texas, not to mention the other states that allow them. Partners do not need to provide evidence that their spouse did something wrong, resulting in less drama that typically leads to a cheaper and quicker divorce. No-fault divorces still require a division of assets, and for couples to deal with custody issues, so they are not easy by any stretch of the imagination. When you file a no-fault-based divorce you will provide a reason to the judge and the most common reason is that you and your spouse have differences that break down your relationship and make reconciliation impossible. A talented Fort Bend County attorney can help you through these seemingly complicated procedures. The following also apply as no fault-based grounds that fall under the definition that you provide to the judge above.
You Have Separated and Live in Different Homes
In some situations, spouses separate long before they file for divorce. Maybe they initially think they will work it out, or maybe they are concerned about the cost of a divorce. Regardless of why, once spouses have lived apart for three years, they can file for a no-fault divorce in Fort Bend County. A judge will not likely grant a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse lived under the same roof at any time during the three years.
Your Partner Has Been Confined to a Mental Health Facility
If your spouse has been committed to a mental hospital, you might have grounds for a no-fault divorce. Your partner must spend at least three years committed in a psychiatric facility with a permanent condition. If your partner improves, you do not have grounds for a no-fault divorce unless the treating physician expects your spouse to relapse. Courts review the circumstances of each case to determine if confinement serves as justification for the dissolution of your marriage.
Residency Requirements to File for a Sugar Land and Fort Bend County, TX Divorce
You must be a resident of Fort Bend County, Texas, to file for a divorce in the county, regardless of fault. Under Texas Law, you must be a resident for six months, and you must have resided in Fort Bend County for 90 days of that time before you can file for a dissolution of marriage. The law does allow for two major exceptions:
- Public Service. If you or your spouse had to leave the state or Fort Bend County for an extended time because of obligations related to military service or another type of public service, you can use your Fort Bend County home as your permanent residence to file for divorce.
- Out-of-State Partner. Only one of you needs to live in Fort Bend County. If you or your spouse relocated elsewhere in Texas or out-of-state, you can still file for divorce in Fort Bend County.
Division of Marital Assets During a Sugar Land, Katy and Fort Bend County Divorce
Dividing assets during the divorce process is often one of the biggest issues for couples who split. Texas is a community property state, which means the courts presume everything was acquired during the marriage and should get divided into a just and right division during a divorce. 50/50 is what most people think of for a just and right division. Texas judges have the power to award things differently under special circumstances, especially common when cruelty, domestic abuse, or child abuse has occurred. A Fort Bend County divorce lawyer will know local law to best help you prepare for your case.
Community Property in Fort Bend County Divorces
As mentioned above, when you file for a divorce in Sugar Land, Richmond, or anywhere in Fort Bend County, Texas, the court presumes all assets are community property. You and your spouse must claim a particular asset and provide evidence that the judge should consider it separate property. Separate property typically includes things you acquired before your marriage, gifts to just you during or before the marriage, and inheritance.
Please note that Income from businesses bought or started before marriage and Income from real estate investments or rental properties that are received during marriage are community property even if the business itself or land is separate property. Income is income.
Assets and property rights can be very complex. To avoid not protecting your rights, you should let a Fort Bend County divorce attorney aide you in dividing your assets. Assets can include financial assets, splitting items, or the financial proceeds of the sale of assets, such as:
- Your residence and other real estates, including vacation homes and commercial properties
- Cars, trucks, boats, ATVs, etc.
- Personal property such as tools, clothes, jewelry, art, etc.
- Business income
- Investments, IRAs, 401Ks
Spousal Maintenance in Fort Bend County Divorces
In Texas, you do not automatically receive or have to pay spousal maintenance when you file for divorce. An exception to this occurs when your marriage involved domestic abuse or child abuse. If you are requesting alimony (which is called spousal support during the divorce process and post-divorce spousal maintenance after the divorce is over in Texas) or if you are wondering if you will have to pay spousal support to your spouse, the court will review the following before deciding to grant spousal support:
- Whether the person receiving support has a disability
- Whether the person receiving support has custody of a disabled child
- Whether you were married for 10 or more years and the person receiving support has the skills to earn income
If the liability of a spouse or child plays a role in divorce or one of you shows that you do not have the skills to earn a livable wage, the person requesting spousal support needs to make an effort to support themselves before the court awards alimony. If the court decides spousal support needs to happen, they will evaluate the following:
- Ability to afford to pay support
- Education and skills of each person
- The extent to which one helped the other with education costs
- The extent to which one contributed property or domestic services to the marriage
- Length of marriage
- Age, ability, and health of the person requesting support
- Whether either party was abusive or cruel
A skilled Fort Bend County divorce lawyer from Skillern Firm can evaluate your divorce situation and advise you on what you can expect in terms of paying or receiving spousal support.
Child Custody in Sugar Land and Fort Bend County, TX Divorces
For couples with children, coming to a child custody agreement–referred to as conservatorship in Texas–is often one of the most contentious parts of a divorce. Texas courts place the child’s best interest first, making joint custody (joint managing conservators) the default for Fort Bend County and Texas divorces. Unfortunately, some scenarios require a spouse to fight for full physical and legal custody of their child or children, which is called sole managing conservatorship.
If you have to go in front of a judge to let him or her decide custody for your child, they will consider the following about you and your spouse before making a decision:
- Home environment
- Ability to provide care
- Willingness and ability to co-parent
- Financial situation
- Employment, especially if one parent travels a lot for work
- Who did the primary parenting prior to filing such as homework, doctor’s appointment, daily routines, etc
A court will also listen to a child’s preference after age 12. Courts tend to lean towards allowing both parents to made decisions about medical treatment, education, and other items about your child’s well-being.
Child support is a separate issue from custody. Fort Bend County courts use formulas to decide the amount of child support based on income. Our divorce attorneys can review your support agreement and ensure it’s fair, regardless of whether you are paying or receiving.
Contact an Experienced Sugar Land Divorce & Family Law Attorney Today
If you are living in Sugar Land, Richmond, or any of the surrounding areas and divorce is on your horizon, you likely feel overwhelmed and might be unsure about your next steps. Protect your rights and ensure you get fair treatment by hiring an experienced Fort Bend County divorce attorney. Your lawyer can also help you avoid making costly decisions that will haunt you later on. Contact Skillern Firm today online or 281-915-2674 for an initial consultation to discuss the details of your divorce and how we can assist you.
Additional Divorce and Family Law Resources in Fort Bend County, Texas
- 328th District Court, Fort Bend County, TX
- 387th District Court, Fort Bend County, TX.
- 505th District Court, Fort Bend County, TX