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Navigating the Divorce Process: Steps and Considerations

The overall divorce rate has leveled off since the 1990s. But divorce’s moral acceptability rate recently hit an all-time high. Marriage dissolution has moved from one of the most controversial moral issues to one of the least controversial ones. Almost everyone agrees that divorce is an acceptable way to end a dangerous marriage.

“Dangerous” is a subjective term that could apply to almost any relationship difficulty. The effects of long-term, low-grade, and sporadic emotional abuse are just as bad as the effects of a one-time violent act.

Divorce laws have changed significantly in recent years. Texas law still includes a no-fault divorce option. However, legislators have overhauled other laws, most notably spousal support and child custody laws. Because of these changes, it’s more important than ever to discuss your case with a Fort Worth family law attorney at the earliest possible time.

Should I Hire a Fort Worth Divorce Lawyer?

Prior to the aforementioned legal changes, many spouses didn’t need lawyers, especially respondents (non-filing spouses). But the environment has changed. The simple divorce and quickie divorce days are gone. Now, unless the matter is more like an annulment, all divorces are complex.

After much debate, Texas lawmakers passed an alimony law in the 1990s, which legislators broadened a few years later. The law is very subjective. Only an attorney can effectively stand up for your legal and financial rights so you receive (or pay) what is fair.

Filing or fighting a divorce now includes some additional emotional considerations. Obviously, a lawyer can’t tell anyone what’s right or wrong to do. But a lawyer can furnish information that helps people make good choices.

The co-parenting law might be the biggest emotional change. Usually, courts require both parents’ active involvement in the child-raising process. Children no longer “live with” one parent and “visit” the other parent.

The Divorce Process in a Nutshell

Almost all marriage dissolution matters settle out of court, and they can settle at any time. However, most of these matters follow the same general procedural outline.

Judges usually hold temporary hearings almost immediately. The co-parenting law has changed these hearings. Now, the judge issues orders that set ground rules, including temporary support and custody orders, for the entire process. Unless a well-prepared lawyer appears at this hearing, the deck will be stacked in favor of the other party.

As for alimony, we mentioned the subjective spousal support law above. However, this law includes a presumption that, even if the obligee has an economic need and the obligor is able to pay, the judge may only award the minimum amount necessary to meet that need.

Child support law has not changed much. Texas is still a percentage-of-income state. The obligor’s income is almost the exclusive factor, at least in most cases. The number of children comes into play as well. Other factors could include a child’s special healthcare or educational needs.

If a divorce includes support or custody/visitation issues, and it usually does, the matter usually settles during mediation. A professional mediator meets with both sides and helps them reach a compromise agreement. Meditation in Tarrant County is about 90 percent successful.

Contact a Diligent Tarrant County Divorce Lawyer

Divorce laws and the divorce process have changed recently. For a free consultation with an experienced Fort Worth family law attorney, contact the Law Office of Kyle Whittaker. We routinely handle matters throughout North Texas.