The Torres Attorneys
Common Misconceptions About Divorce and Family Law
Many individuals in Texas are faced with a family law issue at some point in their lives. After experiencing the legal process, these people tend to offer advice to others regarding divorce, adoption, child custody, guardianship, and more. Although they mean well, their advice is often misguided and incorrect, rooted in anecdote instead of fact.
If you are considering or addressing a divorce or family law matter, The Torres Law Firm can provide you with accurate information and legal advice. If you live in Corpus Christi, Dallas, or Fort Worth, Texas, let us set the record straight; whatever you are going through, you need to work with facts. Start by learning the truth about these common misconceptions.
“One spouse can deny a divorce to the other.”
Texas allows both no-fault and fault-based divorces. Because the law provides for no-fault divorce, which requires that only one spouse believes the marriage cannot be saved, one spouse cannot keep the other from being granted a divorce.
“Our assets will be divided 50/50 between us.”
Texas law directs marital assets and debt to be divided equitably, which does not necessarily mean equally. Texas is also a community property state, so property and debt acquired prior to the marriage or as gifts or inheritances is separate property which belongs only to that spouse. Equitable rather than equal division of community property and marital debt allows the court to consider such factors as the behavior of a spouse during the marriage, the health of each spouse, their education, the disparity in their incomes, and who has primary custody of their children.
“If property is only in one spouse’s name, they get to keep it.”
The law assumes that all property is community property unless a spouse can provide evidence to the contrary or stipulates to it being separate property. It would seem that if only one spouse’s name is on the mortgage because the house was purchased prior to marriage, the house would be that spouse’s separate property; however, it is not that cut and dried. If mortgage payments have been made out of a joint checking account during the marriage, the court could consider it as community property or rule that a certain value of it is a marital asset.
“One spouse will get alimony from the other.”
Alimony is less common now because in many marriages, both spouses work outside the home and earn incomes. If awarded, alimony is usually temporary. For example, it can be awarded to a spouse who has been out of the workforce to help them complete additional training and education for employment.
“If one spouse doesn’t pay child support, visitation can be withheld.”
Texas law refers to what is commonly called “visitation” as “possession and access” to children. The court must approve any agreement regarding possession and access and issue an order. That order must not be violated, even if the parent ordered to pay child support fails to do so. In fact, the court will frown on a parent who attempts to punish the other parent by withholding time with their child. Possession and access orders are issued in the best interest of the child, not the parents. Therefore, it is the child who is considered punished when one parent withholds visitation time from the other.
“The mother always gets primary custody of the children.”
Although mothers traditionally were the primary caregivers for children during a marriage, this is no longer a given. Mothers are no longer necessarily the primary caregivers; in many marriages, both spouses are employed outside the home. Additionally, mothers are not necessarily the best parent to hold primary custody. The court favors neither parent automatically but rather, acts in the best interests of the children.
“The children get to decide who they will live with.”
It is the court, acting in the best interests of the children, who decides who they will live with most of the time. That said, children ages 12 and older may express their wishes regarding primary living arrangements.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
Your family law attorney can help you separate fact from fiction and offer sound, experienced legal advice as you navigate divorce and other family law matters. There is no need for you to figure it out on your own or to negotiate from knowledge based on misconceptions. You are far better served with an attorney advocating for you.
Family Law Attorneys in Corpus Christi, Texas
Not all families are the same, and neither are all family law attorneys. At The Torres Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping clients and their families through some of the most challenging and emotional issues they will ever confront in their lives. We put you and your family first—that’s what makes us different. If you are dealing with a divorce or other family law issue, contact The Torres Attorneys today.