Family Law is a general term, encompassing all legal matters such as divorce, division of assets, property settlements child custody, visitation and support and premarital agreements. Divorces can be a very contentious and emotional, especially where children are concerned. Child custody has seen changes in the traditional practice of awarding custody to mothers, and has gradually shifted where now courts take the father’s role in the family into consideration. The courts today work hard to ensure the "best interests of the children" are considered when awarding custody and setting visitation schedules. The Law Offices of Carl David Ceder, PLLC, is experienced and highly knowledgeable in all aspects of family law, whatever your issue may be. Whether you are going through a divorce, struggling to divide marital assets, dealing with difficult child support, custody or visitation issues, need a premarital agreement drawn up, or need modification and enforcement of prior court orders, Carl will be your advocate during through this difficult process, and he will explain all the details pertinent to your specific case to help put you at ease.
Although no one enters into a marriage planning for it to end, the reality is that over 42% of first marriages do ultimately end in divorce. The rates for second marriage divorces are even higher at 60%. Third marriage divorces rate even higher, exhibiting a dismal 73% divorce rate. Going through a divorce with children brings an even greater range of emotional distress and difficult issues to handle, and emotions often run high. Even under the most favorable circumstances, a divorce can be one of the most painful, difficult experiences one will encounter in their life with the aftermath affecting all parties involved usually for years to come. If you want to make the divorce process less traumatic, you should first seek to hire an attorney who will seek to avoid as much disharmony as possible. A divorce attorney should understand both the legal and emotional aspects involved with the situation, and should try and come to an amicable resolution with minimal turmoil in the process.
With that in mind, it is still important to not make irreversible decisions during this time which could negatively affect custody, visitation, or the division of debts and assets later on in the future. The Law Offices of Carl David Ceder, PLLC, can help guide you through helping make all tough decisions, hopefully easing some of the burden associated with going through the separation. The goal in mind will be simple...to hopefully easy the overall burden of the process so that each party can begin the healing process following the divorce.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
If you are filing the petition for divorce, you are the Petitioner, while your spouse becomes the Respondent. Once you file, the divorce petition should be properly served on the opposing party. After the divorce papers are filed and served, the Respondent has a certain period of time in which to answer the petition — he or she may deny or disagree with the claims made. At this point, most couples with young children, debts, assets and property, may proceed with a contested divorce because they cannot come to agreeable terms. If the divorce is uncontested, the proceedings should continue hopefully without any problems.
A contested divorce will require each party to complete a "discovery" period where each party exchanges information and documents relevant to their case. Often interrogatories are required, as well as requests for production of documents relating to the separation. Depositions may also be taken, which is an oral interrogation under oath, usually in an attorney’s office. All of this is made in an attempt for each side to fully disclose information relevant to the divorce, so each side can come to an equitable settlement according to the law.
Once discovery is complete, the parties and their attorneys will discuss a possible settlement arrangement. If agreed upon, one of the attorneys will prepare an Agreed "Decree of Divorce" which will contain all the terms of the agreement, to be signed by both parties, their attorneys, and eventually a judge. If there is no agreement, a trial date will be set, however, mediation is usually required by the judge before the case proceeds. It takes at least 60 days in Texas from the time of filing to a final divorce, however if the divorce is contested the process can stretch from months, to even years.
Division of Marital Property or Equitable Division
Almost every divorce involves division of property, and since Texas is a community property state both spouses have ownership rights in the marriage’s community property. Don’t confuse a fair and equitable settlement with a 50/50 split, as this is rarely the case. In a contested divorce the judge will consider all aspects of the marriage, including the length of the union, whether one spouse contributed more financially to the marriage, etc. Employee benefits, such as pension, disability payments, 401K, acquired during a marriage are community property as are dividends paid during the marriage from separate stocks or mutual funds. Damages for pain and suffering from an injury suit are separate property, but damages from loss of wages or medical bills are considered community property. Crops grown on separate property or livestock born during the marriage are also considered community property.
Once everything is considered, the judge will then divide the martial assets in the way that is equitable. An order will be signed by the judge enforcing the terms on each party. Dividing assets can get incredibly complex and contentious, therefore having a knowledgeable divorce attorney is important. Carl prides himself in being a skilled communicator, and will work to help this potentially explosive process go much smoother for everyone.
The state of Texas supports a type of divorce known as "collaborative divorce." The collaborative divorce process was formed in response to a very messy divorce litigation system that has traditionally been unfriendly for families attempting to resolve divorce, custody, and child support issues in a painless fashion. Stress and highly-charged emotions are usually in high gear during a divorce trial, and the adversarial nature of the situation can cause real pain and hardshiph.
Collaborative divorce is an alternative to litigation in which the participants make every effort to avoid going to court by sitting down, negotiating, and getting to the real issues at stake, thus ensuring a much brighter long-term outcome for the couple and any children involved. Couples who use choose a collaborative divorce will typically attend four or five meetings, each approximately 2-3 hours long. The couple must agree to be honest regarding assets, debts and property, so they may be divided equitably. When negotiations are complete, and signed by all parties involved, a divorce degree will be issued by the court.
The Law Offices of Carl David Ceder, PLLC, can advocate for you in literally any area of family law. In addition to handling your divorce, Carl is knowledgeable in child custody, child support, visitation and parenting plans, as well as with premarital agreements. Carl will have your very best interests at heart to help see you through this tough and often painful time, and he will work to do his very best to ensure your divorce (or other family issues) proceed with as little trouble as possible.