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Family Law Learning Center

Sugar Land family law attorney Chikeersha Puvvada presents a family law learning center for you. Click below to expand your selection and find answers to your questions about family law in Texas.

Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I get a divorce?

To file for divorce in Texas, you must have lived in Texas for the past 6 months, and lived in the county where you plan to file for the past 90 days. These rules don't apply to military personal from Texas out of state on duty.

What reasons allow me to get a divorce?

1. Marriage has become "Insupportable" - this is a no-fault divorce where the only reason needed is that the couple can no longer sustain their relationship.

2. Cruel Treatment - either spouse must be guilty of cruel treatment toward the other spouse that renders living together insupportable.

3. Adultery.

4. Conviction of a felony and imprisonment for at least 1 year.

5. Abandonment for more than 1 year.

6. Separation for more than 3 years.

7. Confinement in a mental hospital for at least 3 years.

How long will my divorce take?

In Texas, a divorce cannot be granted until 60 days after the divorce suit is filed. However, that's the earliest a divorce can be granted. If the spouses aren't in agreement on how to end the marriage, then the divorce can take a lot longer. For example, if a trial is necessary, it ideally should take 7 to 12 months to get to trial, but sometimes it may take even longer.

How is property divided during divorce?

Usually, if the parties reach a settlement agreement and don't go to trial, marital property is divided in whatever way the parties agreed. If the divorce does go through trial, Texas courts have the power to make a "just and right" division of all community property. What's "just and right" is determined by the court on a case by case basis. There are many factors the court can consider, including: fault in breakup, disparity of incomes, disparity of age, spouses' financial positions, spouses' health, children's needs, length of marriage and spouses' earning potential. Note, "just and right" division only extends to community property, and a court does not have the power to divide a spouse's separate property during divorce.

What is separate property?

Basically, separate property is any property owned or claimed before marriage. Separate property also includes property inherited or received as a gift during marriage. Finally, separate property also includes any recovery for personal injuries sustained during marriage, excluding recovery for loss of earning capacity.

What is community property?

Community property is any property acquired during marriage that is not separate property. All property is presumed to be community property unless proven otherwise.

Can I get alimony?

For an explanation of how alimony works in Texas, read our article No Alimony, Just Spousal Maintenance.

How soon after my divorce can I remarry?

In Texas, you cannot remarry until 30 days after the court grants your divorce unless the court waives the prohibition against remarriage.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is the fastest and cheapest way to get a divorce. For an uncontested divorce to work, both spouses must agree on the divorce settlement. Usually, only one spouse hires an attorney. The attorney files a petition for divorce with the court, and the non-filing spouse signs a Waiver of Citation, thereby relieving the filing spouse from serving the non-filing spouse with process. The attorney then drafts the agreed upon divorce decree and submits the decree to the court. The decree divorces the parties and states, among other matters, how marital property will be divided, custody of any children and spousal maintenance, if any. The attorney and the filing spouse eventually go before the judge. After the attorney asks his client some routine questions, the judge grants the divorce by signing the divorce decree.

Can I get a legal separation in Texas?

There is no such thing as legal separation in Texas. That is, there is no unique legal status in Texas for a couple that is still married but no longer living together. In Texas, either you’re married or you’re not. However, there are options for those who want to remain married but live separately.

In regards to any children, either parent can file a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) while still married to the other parent. A SAPCR determines how custody, visitation and child support will work. While SACPRs are typically part of a divorce suit or used when the parents are not married, nothing in the Texas Family Code prevents a SAPCR from being filed by two parents who are still married. In fact, two 2014 cases out of the Second District and Third District of the Court of Appeals of Texas held that child support can be ordered even while the parties are still married to each other.

In regards to assets and debts, a married couple can enter into a marital property agreement to legally divide their assets and debts without the necessity of a divorce.

By using a SAPCR and a marital property agreement, spouses can have many of the legal benefits of a divorce without actually being divorced.

How much child support will I have to pay?

For an explanation of how child support is calculated in Texas, read our article Calculating Child Support.

How long do I have to pay child support?

The court can order child support to be paid until the child is 18 years old or until the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. For child support to continue when the child is 18 years old, the child needs to be in an accredited secondary school in a program leading toward a high school diploma. Child support can end early if the child is emancipated by order of a court or through marriage. However, child support can be required indefinitely if the child is disabled.

What is conservatorship?

For an explanation of the basics of conservatorship in Texas, read our article The Basics of Child Custody in Texas.

What is the Standard Possession Order?

Texas has a standard possession and visitation order that is presumed by law to be in the best interests of children. For the purpose of answering this frequently asked question, we're assuming both parents have been appointed as the conservators of the child. Also, when we use the term "non-custodial parent," we mean the parent with whom the child does not live.

Under the standard possession order, if the non-custodial parent lives within 100 miles of the primary residence of the child, the non-custodial parent has possession during: (1) the first, third and fifth weekends each month, starting Friday at 6pm and ending Sunday at 6pm, (2) from 6pm to 8pm every Thursday during the school year, (3) the child’s spring vacation during even-numbered years, starting at 6pm on the day school is dismissed for vacation and ending at 6pm on the day before school resumes, and (4) 30 days in the summer.

If the non-custodial parent lives more than 100 miles from the primary residence of the child, the non-custodial parent has two options for possession under the standard possession order. Under the first option, the non-custodial parent has possession the first, third and fifth weekends each month, starting Friday at 6pm and ending Sunday at 6pm. Under the second alternative option, the non-custodial parent has possession one weekend per month, a weekend of the non-custodial parent’s choice, provided the non-custodial parent notifies the custodial parent at least 14 days before the selected weekend. If the non-custodial parent prefers the second alternative option, then the non-custodial parent must select the alternative option by notifying the custodial parent within 90 days after the parents start living more than 100 miles from each other. The non-custodial parent also has possession during: (1) the child’s spring vacation every year, starting at 6pm on the day school is dismissed for vacation and ending at 6pm on the day before school resumes, and (2) 42 days in the summer.

Under the standard possession order, there are certain holiday periods of possession that are unaffected by the distance between the non-custodial parent and the primary residence of the child. The non-custodial parent has possession of the child: (1) in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28; (2) in odd-numbered years beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after Christmas vacation; and (3) in odd-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school before Thanksgiving and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday. Also, the parent not otherwise entitled under the standard possession order to possession of the child on the child's birthday gets possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. on that day, provided that the parent picks up the child from the residence of the parent entitled to possession and returns the child to that same place. The father has possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. on the Friday preceding Father's Day and ending on Father's Day at 6 p.m., provided that, if he is not otherwise entitled under the standard possession order to possession of the child, he picks up the child from the residence of the mother and returns the child to that same place. The mother has possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. on the Friday preceding Mother's Day and ending on Mother's Day at 6 p.m., provided that, if she is not otherwise entitled under the standard possession order to possession of the child, she picks up the child from the residence of the father and returns the child to that same place.

What is a common law marriage?

A common law marriage is when a couple is considered married despite neither having a marriage license nor going through a marriage ceremony. A common law marriage requires that the parties agreed to be married, lived together as husband and wife and represented to others that they were married.

Articles by Chikeersha Puvvada
Articles about Divorce
No Alimony, Just Spousal Maintenance - August 2, 2016

Summary: Learn how the Texas version of alimony works.

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Simple Steps to Avoid Headaches During Divorce - July 19, 2016

Summary: Learn the simple steps you can take before filing for divorce that will help you avoid major headaches during your case.

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How Much Your Divorce Will Cost - June 13, 2016

Summary: One of the most common and difficult questions for a divorce attorney to answer is, “How much will my divorce cost?” In this article, the average cost of divorces in Texas will be discussed along with the factors that can increase the cost of a divorce.

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Community Property Presumption: How It Can Work For or Against You - June 6, 2016

Summary: During a divorce, all property the spouses currently own is presumed to be community property. This is known as the community property presumption, and it can be a powerful ally or a significant hurdle to leap over.

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Temporary Restraining Orders: Why and When You Need Them - April 13, 2016

Summary: One of the most common concerns for a party considering filing for divorce is how their spouse will react when served with the divorce papers. Will they empty the bank accounts? Will they start harassing the filing spouse? Will they keep the children from the filing parent? Temporary restraining orders (TROs) are a useful tool to protect people and property from these types of behavior. This article explains what a TRO is and discusses why and when they are needed in a divorce case.

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Deferred Mahr in Texas Divorces - September 1, 2015

Summary: In an Islamic wedding, the mahr is a required gift of money, property or possessions made by the husband to the wife. Learn how Texas divorce courts treat the issue of a deferred mahr.

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Considerations with the In-Law’s Family Business - June 10, 2015

Summary: Marrying someone may mean not just marrying that person’s family but also marrying into that person’s family business. However, spouses in such situations who aren’t careful about how they arrange their finances and assets can find themselves with little to nothing if the marriage ends.

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Temporary Spousal Support: Protecting the Financially Dependent Spouse - April 24, 2015

Summary: During a divorce case in Texas, a trial court can order one spouse to pay temporary spousal support to the other spouse. The obligation to pay temporary spousal support can last all the way to the end of the divorce case, and the amount of the spousal support is at the discretion of the trial court. This article explores what factors courts have considered in awarding temporary spousal support and the legal basis for temporary spousal support.

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Marital Property and Reimbursement - March 12, 2015

Summary: Learn how money both spouses spend now on one spouse's pre-marital debts may be money that has to be paid back during a divorce.

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My Spouse is Dumping Assets! aka Fraud on the Community - February 2, 2015

Summary: One of the most common tactics a spouse may engage in prior to filing for divorce is trying to unfairly and surreptitiously reduce the size of the martial estate, also known as the community property in Texas. One of the legal tools an innocent spouse has during a divorce in response to such conduct is known as “fraud on the community.” This article explains what “fraud on the community” means and gives common examples of fraud on the community.

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Dealing with Out-of-State Property in a Texas Divorce - November 18, 2014

Summary: More and more people are moving to Texas, with Dallas and Houston being the 2nd and 3rd fastest growing cities in the United States. This also means that more and more often, people who are going through a divorce in Texas have to split up property located outside of Texas. This article discusses how the Texas courts treat such out-of-state property during divorce.

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Five Red Flags that Your Spouse is Preparing for Divorce - October 20, 2014

Summary: As a divorce attorney, Mr. Puvvada is in the unique position of regularly consulting with individuals who are planning to file for divorce or who have just been served by their spouse with notice of a divorce suit. Their stories have made Mr. Puvvada aware of the way people often act when they are secretly preparing to file for divorce. In this article, we discuss five of the common red flags we’ve seen when a spouse is preparing to file for divorce.

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Dividing the Marital Home in Divorce - October 6, 2014

Summary: For most Texans, their home is their most valuable asset. It’s valuable both financially and emotionally. That is why the uncertainty of what will happen to your home after a divorce can be stressful and worrisome. In this article, we will review the various ways a residence can be divided at the end of a divorce.

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A Divorce Case Step by Step - September 3, 2014

Summary: The process of a divorce case can be intimidating and confusing for the average person. How does a case start? What happens during the case? How does the case end? These are all very common questions I hear as an attorney. Most divorce cases in Harris County, Texas and Fort Bend County, Texas follow a certain routine. This article will provide a broad overview of the major steps in a routine divorce case in Harris County, Texas and Fort Bend County, Texas. Remember, this article is not about what is fought over in a divorce case, but rather about how the fight happens.

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Divorcing a Spouse Who Doesn’t Live in Texas - August 21, 2014

Summary: When a marriage ends, it’s common for one of the spouses to move. Whether a spouse moves to Texas or away from Texas, many individuals end up in a situation in which they want to file for divorce in Texas but their spouse lives in another state or country. This article reviews the issues involved in getting an out-of-state spouse into a Texas divorce court.

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Articles about Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship
What Not to Do in a Custody Case - October 14, 2016

Summary: Learn what not to do in a child custody case.

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Co-Parenting with an Abusive Ex - August 15, 2016

Summary: Learn what safeguards can make co-parenting with an abusive ex tolerable.

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Calculating Child Support - August 8, 2016

Summary: Learn how monthly child support obligations are calculated in Texas.

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Basics of Parental Alienation - July 25, 2016

Summary: Learn how one parent can harm the relationship between their child and the other parent.

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Reducing the Risk of International Parental Child Abduction - July 12, 2016

Summary: Learn how you can reduce the risk that your child is taken and kept overseas by your child's other parent.

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Immigrants and Child Support: The R.J. v. K.J. Case - July 1, 2016

Summary: Some immigrants in the United States, whether here legally or not, do not have the legal right to work for a living in the U.S. However, a recent ruling by a Texas appellate court has held that when it comes to calculating the amount of monthly child support, not having a work permit is not an excuse.

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Child Support and Intentional Unemployment - June 28, 2016

Summary: How often do family law attorneys hear the following questions: "What if I get a job that makes less money? Then can I get a court order to pay less child support?" These folks often plan on earning less, getting their child support reduced and then getting a better job. However, the Texas Family Code is a step ahead and allows family courts to use a parent's earning potential when calculating child support if that parent is intentionally underemployed or unemployed.

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How Summer Possession Works - May 24, 2016

Summary: The Texas Family Code has a standard possession and visitation order that is presumed by law to be in the best interests of children. However, how summer possession of a child works under the standard possession order can at times be confusing. This article explains in simple terms how summer possession of a child works.

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Divorce and the Dependent Child Exemption - October 7, 2015

Summary: Which one of us can claim the exemption for our child on our federal income tax returns? This is one of the most common questions encountered by divorce lawyers, and this is understandable considering the exemption was $3,950.00 per child in 2014. The answer is partly in the IRS’s Publication 501 and partly in the visitation and possession provisions of an individual’s divorce or SAPCR order.

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What the Child Wants - May 26, 2015

Summary: For parents fighting in court over custody issues, the feeling that the court hasn't heard directly from their child can be incredibly frustrating. However, in the appropriate circumstances, the judge in a custody case can meet with the child and find out what the child wants.

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Visitation for Children Three and Younger - February 20, 2015

Summary: Learn how Texas divorce courts draft visitation schedules for divorced parents when children under three years of age are involved.

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Six Months and Anyone Can Seek Custody - November 11, 2014

Summary: A Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) is a lawsuit by an individual seeking to establish custodial rights and privileges over a child. What most people in Texas don’t know is that if anyone, other than a foster parent, has had actual care, control, and possession of your child for at least 6 months, then that person can file a SAPCR for your child within 90 days after the 6 month period.

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The Basics of Child Custody in Texas - November 6, 2014

Summary: In Texas, what most people commonly refer to as “child custody” is actually called “conservatorship” under the Texas Family Code. This article reviews the various types of conservatorships in Texas.

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Enforcing Visitation in Texas: Parts 1 & 2 - September 22, 2014

Summary: If a parent does not comply with the visitation provisions in a court’s final order, the other parent can ask the court to punish the non-complying parent. This is known as enforcement. This article is divided into two parts. Part 1 reviews the steps that should be taken before filing an enforcement case with the court. Part 2 describes the enforcement case itself.

Read Part 1 of the Article

Read Part 2 of the Article

Retroactive Child Support in Texas - September 9, 2014

Summary: In Texas, parents often think that if there is no child support order in place, then they have no responsibility to pay child support to the other parent. That is not always true. In certain situations, a court can order a parent to make future child support payments to make up for child support payments that the court believes should have been made in the past when no child support order was in place. This is retroactive child support.

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Modifying Your Child's Conservatorship Order - July 24, 2014

Summary: Sometimes, the terms of custody and visitation in your current order no longer work due to a change in the circumstances of you, your children or your children's other parent. This article discusses the requirements under Texas law to modify an existing conservatorship order.

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Articles about Marital Property
Cold Feet: Who Gets the Engagement Ring? - August 22, 2016

Summary: Learn who gets the engagement ring when the wedding is called off.

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Income from Separate Property - January 27, 2016

Summary: One of the more interesting and counterintuitive aspects of marital property law in Texas is that income earned from separate property during marriage is community property. This article explains and shows practical applications of this law.

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Gifts: For Me or For Us? - December 22, 2014

Summary: What better time than the holiday season to talk about how gifts are treated under Texas’ marital property system? This article will review who actually owns a gift given to a married person or couple.

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Bank Accounts and the "Community Out First" Rule - October 27, 2014

Summary: Many individuals come into a marriage with a bank account already set up. If the balance in your pre-marriage bank account is significant, then the “community out first” rule will have a big impact on how much of your account balance is exposed to creditors and subject to division during a divorce.

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The Post-Nup as an Asset Protection Tool - October 15, 2014

Summary: A marital property agreement, often referred to as a post-nup, can be a powerful asset protection tool against creditors, especially creditors from lawsuits.In this article, we use the example of imaginary couple Brian and Amy to illustrate the benefits of the post-nup as an asset protection tool.

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The Reach of Your Spouse’s Creditors - August 2, 2014

Summary: When you are married, you may no longer be liable for just your own debts. Marital property and debts fall into different legal categories that have a significant impact on which spouse is on the hook for what debt. This article explains how liability for debts is apportioned between spouses under Texas law.

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Basics of a Pre-marital Property Agreement - July 23, 2014

Summary: A pre-marital agreement can not only protect spouses in case of a divorce, but it can also serve as a powerful asset protection tool. This article discusses what a valid marital property agreement looks like and the benefits of a martial property agreement.

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Texas Family Code - the Texas Family Code online

Texas OAG Child Support Division - the Texas Attorney General's Child Support Division website

Monthly Child Support Calculator - online tool to calculate monthly child support obligations

Fort Bend County Case Records - online directory of District Court cases in Fort Bend County, Texas

Harris County Case Records - online directory of District Court cases in Harris County, Texas

Safety Plan - a safety plan for victims of domestic violence

Family Violence Shelters - a list of organizations and shelters in Texas for victims of family violence

DAYA - an organization that provides support services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Houston's South Asian commmunity

Read Chikeersha's latest article
What Not to Do in a Custody Case
October 14, 2016

Child hiding under pillowsA child custody case can be one of the most stressful times in a person's life. Nothing is more personal and significant to most than their children. When parents are litigating over their rights to their children, the pressure and stress of the case can often make normally rational and reasonable people act otherwise. However, when a parent acts in a way that the court deems harmful to the child the subject of the suit, then that parent will have damaged their standing before the court and the likelihood that they will be successful in their custody case.

Below is a list of conduct that parents in a child custody case should avoid. Keep in mind that this list does not cover every type of conduct a parent should avoid in a child custody case. The common thread through this list is that these actions harm the child and are looked upon badly by most family court judges in Texas.


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The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer-client relationship. Persons accessing this site are encouraged to seek counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

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Chikeersha Puvvada is admitted to practice law in the following states only: Texas, New Jersey.

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