General Family Law

In addition to custody and parenting issues, I also use my family law experience to represent clients in divorce and adoption in Smith County and the surrounding counties in East Texas.

For more information visit my Family Law FAQ page then call me at 903-871-1620 for a free initial phone consultation to discuss your circumstances.

Divorce Basics

A divorce suit can include up to five different lawsuits in one:

  • A suit to dissolve the marriage
  • A suit to divide the property of the marriage
  • A suit for spousal maintenance (alimony)
  • A suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR)
  • A tort or contract action

Waiting period: Absent a finding of family violence by the other spouse, you cannot be granted a divorce until the sixtieth day after the suit was filed.

Property division basics: Property division is often a huge issue in divorce. Texas requires a just and right division of community property (not necessarily a 50/50 split), with the court considering the rights of each party and any children of the marriage. Community property includes things owned (assets) and owed (liabilities). A Tyler family law attorney will work with you to identify and characterize property as either the separate property of you or your spouse or community property.

Separate property consists of:

  • Property owned by you or your spouse before marriage
  • Property acquired by you or your spouse by gift, devise (through a will), or descent (inherited)
  • Any recovery for personal injuries sustained by you or your spouse during the marriage

Community property is non-separate property that is acquired by either spouse during marriage. The name on the title or the source of the money used to acquire the property is often immaterial. Community property can even include property you or your spouse acquired while living outside of Texas in a state that doesn't follow the community property framework.

No matter how property is characterized, spouses are given great leeway and can enter into agreements making community property separate property and vice versa.

Spousal Maintenance: Sometimes called alimony, spousal maintenance is the exception and not the rule in Texas. To recover, a spouse needs to show that he can't meet his minimum reasonable needs without spousal maintenance and certain other conditions must also be met.

Adoption

Adoption proceedings take time, and money unfortunately, and they are not as simple as they might seem. Below is some basic information on Texas adoptions:

  • Who can Adopt?: Not everyone can adopt. Stepparents generally can; as well as those placed with the child for the thirty days prior; those with actual possession of the child for at least two out of the preceding three months; those that have adopted the child’s sibling; and those with substantial past contact with the child. A pregnant woman can also file a form giving prospective parents the ability to file for adoption. In addition, adoption requires a waiting period; the child must have lived with the adoptive parent for six months.

  • Who can be Adopted?: Just as not everyone can adopt, not every child can be adopted. Generally, before a child can be adopted, each parent’s parental rights must be terminated. Termination can be voluntary or involuntary, but either way, it is generally required before an adoption can occur.

  • Must others consent to the Adoption?: Sometimes adoption requires the approval of other people, such as the managing conservator of the child and the child if he/she is 12 or older.

  • Required Reports: An adoption evaluation (essentially a study of the home and the suitability of the family) is required. Also, the party seeking adoption must have a criminal background check performed. Sometimes, an Attorney Ad Litem, essentially an attorney that voices the child’s desires to the Judge, is also needed.

  • Effect of Adoption: A person that adopts "steps into the shoes" of the parent, and obtains all the benefits, and burdens, that come with parenthood. For instance, an adoptive parent would be liable for child support were a custody suit to ensue and another party to become a custodial parent. The adoptive parent would also be able to sign off on any matter the biological parent would. For the child, the adoptive parent is the legal father/mother in every way. In fact, the birth certificate can be changed to reflect this and the child can take an adoptive parent’s last name. Notably, the record of an adoption proceeding can even be sealed, such that it cannot be obtained by others, including the child when he/she gets older.

  • What can prevent an Adoption?: Adoption generally requires termination of the parents’ rights. Sometimes, it can be difficult to terminate a parent’s rights. A parent can try to voluntarily terminate his/her rights, but courts don’t like to grant it; it means that the parent will no longer owe child support and many courts want the obligation to continue. Also, a parent’s rights can be involuntarily terminated, and there are many grounds for such termination, most of which are based on a lack of support or the commission of abuse or neglect against the child. However termination is sought, if termination is not obtained adoption generally cannot occur. In addition to needing termination, a court will only grant an adoption if it is in the best interest of the child. An adoption can also fail if an adoption evaluation fails to approve the adoption or if an Attorney Ad Litem, should one be appointed, does not recommend adoption to the judge.

Other Family Law Services

I am also ready to help you with important family law matters such as:

  • Prenuptial agreements, post-marital contracts
  • Post-divorce judgment modifications to child support and spousal support
  • Relocation petitions if you need to move with your custodial child out of the geographic area allowed in your divorce decree, or if you are fighting a move-away petition by your child's custodial parent
  • Stepchild adoption and name changes

Contact My Offices In Tyler

Call TLC Law, PLLC, in Tyler, Texas, at 903-871-1620 or contact me by email to arrange an opportunity to discuss your family law needs today.

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Tyler Office
609 S. Fannin
Tyler, Texas 75701

Phone: 903-871-1620
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Richardson Office
801 E. Campbell Rd.
Suite 245F
Richardson, TX 75081

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