Family Law FAQs
Experienced Woodlands, TX attorney answers your frequently asked questions
Your family should be a source of strength and security. But when legal issues inject uncertainty into your relationships, your finances and your rights, it’s easy to feel insecure and overwhelmed. At the Law Office of Jerry Porter, we want our clients to have peace of mind. I take the time to answer all your questions patiently, thoroughly and empathetically. I want you to have the benefit of my 25 plus years of experience.
What follows is a short list of questions that many of my clients ask when I first meet them:
- How is equitable distribution different than community property?
- How is spousal support in Texas determined?
- How is child custody determined?
- How do I get a legal separation?
- How long will it take to finalize my divorce?
I have the experience and knowledge to provide you with reliable advice and representation on Texas family law issues.
Answers based on more than 30 years of family law practice
In community property states like California, each spouse is entitled to 50 percent of the marital estate. Texas practices what is called “fair and just distribution,” which is just another way of saying “equitable distribution.” Equitable or fair and just distribution means that the court weighs numerous factors to determine how much of the marital estate each spouse deserves. Spouses are not guaranteed a 50-50 split, but only as much as their contribution to the marriage and the acquisition of property entitles them.
Texas courts do not order alimony, but can order spousal maintenance based on the duration of the marriage and the supporting spouse’s income. To qualify, a couple must have been married at least 10 years and a dependent spouse must prove a present inability to be self-supporting. Spousal support is limited in duration and the maximum monthly amount is $5,000.
Texas law divides custody into conservatorship, which is legal custody or the authority to make decisions on the child’s upbringing, and physical custody, which is possession of the child. The law carries a presumption that joint conservatorship is in the best interests of the child, but there is no such presumption regarding joint physical custody. Ultimately, the court decides custody based on what it perceives to be in the best interests of the child.
Texas does not recognize legal separation. However, married couples can enter into a contractual separation. Afterwards, the couple is still legally married, and neither spouse is free to remarry, but the ancillary issues regarding children and property are settled.
Since no two divorces are alike, it’s impossible to say with certainty how long the process may take. Some divorces can conclude within two to six months, while others drag on longer. Factors that lengthen the process include lack of cooperation between the spouses, poor legal representation, complex child custody disputes and complex finances. Affluent couples and couples with children should be very careful when choosing representation, making sure that their attorney has the experience necessary to manage all aspects of their case.