Dena Fredrickson - Attorney at Law
Dena Fredrickson - Attorney at Law
Dena Fredrickson - Attorney at Law
Dena Fredrickson - Attorney at Law
  Dena Fredrickson - Attorney at Law
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Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Do I have to hire a lawyer?
    2. Where do I start? How and when can I file for divorce?
    3. What is a "legal separation?"
    4. Do I have to have grounds for divorce?
    5. What does it cost to get a divorce?
    6. What is an "uncontested" divorce?
    7. What should I do if I need temporary orders or a protective or restraining order?
    8. Where do I file my suit for divorce?
    9. Do I have to formally serve my spouse with process or can I just give him/her a copy of what I file?
    10. What is included in the Final Decree of Divorce?
    11. Is there a waiting period before a divorce can be granted?
    12. How much will I pay/receive in child support?
    13. Is alimony required in Texas?
  1. Do I have to hire a lawyer?
    It is never required that a person hire a lawyer to represent himself or herself in a lawsuit. This includes a lawsuit for divorce. If you do not have a lawyer, you will be representing yourself "pro se." The term "pro se" comes from the Latin for "for himself (or herself)" and means that the party to a lawsuit does not have an attorney to act for him. And so, the party acts "for himself." While it is never required that you hire a lawyer, there are certain circumstances in which it would be unwise to act on your own, pro se. In a divorce case, if there is agreement or the likelihood of agreement between spouses on issues like custody of children, property division and allocation of debts, a divorce might be handled pro se, although complex legal issues will still need to be addressed even when there is agreement.

    You should consult with an attorney even when representing yourself pro se. Consulting with an attorney knowledgeable in the practice of family law will educate you as to your legal rights, obligations and options and may help you to avoid certain legal pitfalls.

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  2. Where do I start? How and when can I file for divorce?
    You begin the divorce process by initiating, or filing, a divorce lawsuit. The petitioner is the person who files or initiates the divorce suit by filing a document called an "Original Petition for Divorce." Either the husband or wife may be the petitioner. The other spouse will be the respondent. Either the petitioner or the respondent must be a Texas resident for at least six months at the time the suit is filed and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90 days. If the respondent is living in Texas and has lived in Texas for the preceding six months, the petitioner need not be a Texas resident.

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  3. What is a "legal separation?"
    Contrary to the law in some other states, Texas law does not require or have a procedure for "legal separation" or a "marital separation agreement." Not only is it not necessary for the husband and wife to be separated before filing the Original Petition for Divorce, it is common for both to remain living together in the same residence until their divorce is granted. Even if the husband and wife are separated, they are still legally married until their divorce is granted. It is important to remember that any property, including wages, acquired during the separation is still considered community property. (Except generally property acquired by gift or inheritance.) Community property, even after separation or filing for divorce, is up for grabs by either party and will be divided by the Court in the Final Decree of Divorce.

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  4. Do I have to have grounds for divorce?
    Every divorce must state grounds. In a "no fault" divorce the parties ask the Court to grant them a divorce without regard to fault in the break up of the marriage. Your divorce petition will contain the statement that "the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation." Every divorce petition prepared by The Fredrickson Law Firm through our internet services will contain a statement of insupportability, or "no fault" grounds, unless you specifically request other grounds. The additional alternative grounds for divorce in Texas are cruelty, adultery, conviction of felony, intentional abandonment for at least one year, living apart without cohabitation for at least three years, and confinement in mental hospital.

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  5. What does it cost to get a divorce?
    Without hiring an attorney or document preparation costs, the cost of your divorce will include an initial court filing fee and unless citation is waived, a service fee. In cases involving child support, an additional fee may be required for a Writ of Assignment in connection with a Wage Withholding Order. These fees vary from county to county and depend on whether it is an uncontested or contested divorce and whether children are involved. Generally, the initial court filing fees range from $150 to $200. If it is necessary to formally serve your spouse with a copy of the Original Petition for Divorce and Citation (i.e. "process") through a sheriff or process server you will be charged an additional fee for both the issuance of citation by the Clerk and for the service fee by the process server. These fees will add $50 to $125 or more to the cost of your divorce.

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  6. What is an "uncontested" divorce?
    A divorce proceeding is considered "uncontested" when the husband and wife have agreed, or believe that they will reach an agreement on all the issues that must be addressed in a final divorce decree. The typical issues to be addressed involve child custody and visitation, child support, division of property and debts, and possibly spousal support. Sometimes the spouses will appear to be in agreement on all the important issues, then one spouse discovers that the other has hired a lawyer. When that happens, or if the spouses later have a falling out after seeming to be in agreement, the case becomes "contested."

    If your "uncontested" divorce becomes "contested" and you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, the Court will eventually set your case for a final trial to decide who gets what-including custody of the children if minor children are involved. Depending on the Court, it may take anywhere from 6 months to a year for your case to go to trial. Each party also has the right to ask the Court for a temporary restraining order and temporary orders to govern the conduct of the parties, possession of the children, child and spousal support, and use of property until a final trial is held. Needless to say, contested divorces can become quite contentious and emotional and generally involve complex issues that require the assistance of legal counsel.

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  7. What should I do if I need temporary orders or a protective or restraining order?
    Temporary Orders are interim orders granted after a divorce suit is filed but before a divorce is granted. Temporary orders are generally appropriate to temporarily resolve immediate disputes over children's living arrangements, occupancy of the marital home, use of a car, and similar issues. Temporary orders can also compel one spouse to pay for the support of the other spouse (house note, car payment, etc.) until the Final Decree of Divorce is entered. Temporary orders are only necessary if the parties cannot agree on these issues. Temporary orders are appropriate in contested rather than uncontested cases.

    If you feel that you may need temporary orders entered to protect or preserve your interests, then you should consult with and retain an attorney to handle your case for you. The document preparation program offered by the Fredrickson Law Firm, and self-help divorce "kits" and forms in general, are not adequate or intended to meet the complexities of cases involving the issuance of temporary orders. Likewise, protective and restraining orders, which are available to protect the safety of children and victimized or disadvantaged spouses, should be sought through the assistance of a competent family law attorney who is retained to represent you and handle your case.

    In circumstances involving domestic violence or child abuse, the assistance of an attorney is vital for the safety of the victim spouse or abused children. An attorney should also be retained in any contested lawsuit where the parties cannot agree on issues concerning custody, property division or support.

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  8. Where do I file my suit for divorce?
    The divorce suit is usually filed with the District Clerk's Office in the county seat in which either the petitioner or the respondent has currently resided for at least 90 days. Certain of the larger counties, like Harris County, have their own separate designated Family Law District Clerk Office. If you are unsure where to file your divorce petition, consult the District Clerk in your County. If you use our document preparation service, you may simply indicate in your Client Questionnaire whether you wish to file suit in the County of your residence or, if different, in your spouse's County of residence.

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  9. Do I have to formally serve my spouse with process or can I just give him/her a copy of what I file?
    A respondent spouse, that is, the non-filing spouse is entitled to receive formal notice of the filing of the divorce suit through "service of citation." A citation is a notice to the respondent, issued by the District Court Clerk, that a suit has been filed against him/her. No divorce decree can be entered against a respondent spouse without the issuance and formal service of citation, along with a copy of the divorce petition, through a qualified process server. The one exception to this rule is allowed if the respondent spouse signs a notarized Waiver of Citation or Waiver of Service.

    A Waiver of Service allows the parties to avoid the necessity-and extra cost-of service by a sheriff, constable or process server. The Waiver of Service must be signed in the presence of a notary public after the Original Petition for Divorce is filed. The respondent must also receive a copy of the already filed divorce petition at that time. The Waiver of Service is then filed with the District Clerk and the respondent is considered to be properly served and in the divorce lawsuit for all purposes.

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  10. What is included in the Final Decree of Divorce?
    The final step in the divorce process is the entry by the Court of an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce. This document is a Court order that sets out the agreement of the husband and wife on all divorce issues. The number and types of issues will vary depending on the circumstances of the parties and whether children are involved. Generally, if no minor children under 18 years of age are involved, the most common issues are division of the community assets and division of the debts and liabilities. If minor children are involved, the additional issues will include conservatorship (custody) of the children, visitation and access to the children, child support and health insurance for the children. Post-divorce spousal support may also be an issue in both types of divorces. The wife may also request a name change.

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  11. Is there a waiting period before a divorce can be granted?
    Yes. No divorce can be granted sooner than 60 days from the date on which you file your Original Petition for Divorce. Once your Original Petition for Divorce has been on file for at least 60 days, you can schedule a time to appear before the Court to "prove up" your divorce. This involves a brief Court hearing during which the Court will determine if the legal requirements for the divorce are met and you will ask the judge to grant your divorce and approve your Agreed Final Decree of Divorce.

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  12. How much will I pay/receive in child support?
    Texas family law generally requires the parent who does not have primary custody of the children to pay child support to the parent who has the right to determine the primary residence of the children. The parent who is obligated to pay child support is often called the "obligor" and the parent receiving the child support is the "obligee." The amount of child support depends on the monthly net resources of the obligor and the number of children involved in the divorce, as well as the number of any additional children the obligor has a duty to support from a prior marriage or relationship.

    The following are the presumptive child support guidelines when the obligor has no other duty to support children from a prior marriage or relationship:

    • 1 child -- 20% of obligor's monthly net resources
    • 2 children -- 25% of obligor's monthly net resources
    • 3 children -- 30% of obligor's monthly net resources
    • 4 children -- 35% of obligor's monthly net resources
    • 5 children -- 40% of obligor's monthly net resources
    • 6 + children -- Not less than the amount for 5 children

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  13. Is alimony required in Texas?
    Texas recognizes a limited form of post-divorce alimony and calls it "maintenance" or "spousal support." The concept of spousal support is that one spouse will make periodic payments from future income for the support of the other spouse. The parties can agree to include spousal support of any amount in their Divorce Decree regardless of how long they have been married. If there is no agreement, you can ask the Court to order your spouse to pay spousal support provided you meet certain criteria. With some minor exceptions, the basic requirements are that the parties have been married for 10 years and that the spouse seeking spousal support cannot provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs. The amount of spousal support is limited to no more than $2,500 or 20% of the paying spouse's average monthly gross income, whichever amount is less.

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Fredrickson Law Firm " 18531 Kuykendahl" Spring, Texas 77379