Austin Family Law FAQs
It’s natural to have a lot of questions when you are dealing with a divorce, child custody dispute or other family law matter. The Austin family law attorneys at Lazar Law have compiled a few of the questions they encounter most often when advising and representing individuals in divorce and other family law matters in Austin, Round Rock and other communities throughout the Austin Metroplex. If you have other questions or want to talk to an attorney about divorce, custody or other family law matters in the greater Austin area, contact Lazar Law at 512-477-1600 to speak with an experienced Austin family lawyer.
Q. What if community funds were used to pay the mortgage on a house that was owned by one spouse prior to marriage?
A. The house is the separate property of the owner-spouse, but the marriage is entitled to a reimbursement for the amount of funds earned during marriage and used to pay down the principal balance of the mortgage. This is called a reimbursement claim and goes on the marital estate spreadsheet as an asset owed back to the marital estate.
Q. When does alimony end?
A. Most often, alimony or spousal maintenance is set for a definite period of time, and alimony terminates at the end of that period. However, alimony can be terminated earlier in a couple of circumstances. These include:
- The death or remarriage of the party receiving alimony
- The party receiving alimony is cohabiting in a permanent place of abode on a continuing basis with a dating partner or someone the person is in a romantic relationship with. The party seeking to terminate alimony would have to prove these facts in court.
Q. Can child support be modified?
A. Child support can be modified based on a substantial change in circumstances. A child support modification requires going to court and convincing the judge that a change is warranted and in the child’s best interest. We can represent you if you are seeking or opposing a change in child support in the Austin Metroplex. Examples of a change in circumstances that might make the current child support order unfair or unworkable include:
- The payer starts to make substantially more money
- The payer loses a job, gets sick or encounters some other significant change in employment or finances
- The child’s financial needs increase substantially
Q. I’m not sure I’m ready to divorce. Can I file for a legal separation instead?
A. There is no such thing as “legal separation” in Texas. In order to have court orders that address child custody and visitation, child support, the payment of temporary spousal support and how the financial obligations will be met during separation, you need to file for divorce in order to get temporary orders, which are orders that govern during a separation. If you want to separate without filing for divorce, you can create a separation agreement to set important boundaries and makes sure both parties are in agreement on how to deal with important issues.
Q. Can we get an annulment instead of a divorce?
A. An annulment is only available in Texas under very limited circumstances, which can be found in sections 6.102 – 6.110 of the Texas Family Code. Some of these reasons are:
- An individual between the ages of 16 and 18 got married without parental consent or court order.
- A party was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of marriage and lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage
- A party was impotent at the time of the marriage, and the partner did not know this fact
- A party was tricked into the marriage by fraud or forced into the marriage under duress
There are other grounds for annulment as well. In many cases, continuing to cohabit with your partner may cancel the grounds for annulment. Speak to an experienced family law attorney to consider your options for annulment, divorce or otherwise dealing with marital issues.
Q. Our divorce is uncontested. Why should we hire a lawyer?
A. It’s important to understand that “uncontested” only means that both parties agree to get divorced, not necessarily how the divorce will get done. Most of the time, there are many details that need to be handled carefully to ensure whatever agreement the parties intend is correctly reflected in the final order, and our clients still deserve the benefit of our expertise even if they feel the case should be easy to handle on their own. This doesn’t mean we’re creating a fight in litigation, but it means we do pay attention to details and make sure we have everything needed to get the work done for our client.
Q. I’m not sure that I want to file for divorce just yet. Should I still consult with an attorney?
A. Even if you are not ready to file, it can be important to speak with an attorney sooner, rather than later, to get advice. So often we are in the position of telling people there’s nothing we can do to fix something they did without advice of counsel. It is better to have the peace of mind about a decision before making it.