Divorce Law in Amarillo, TX

Divorce Law refers to the legal termination of a marriage and often involves working through several complicated issues.

Are you facing a costly divorce in Amarillo, Texas? Does your estranged spouse have an attorney? Usually, couples going through a divorce are unable to compromise on most items and reach an agreement on their own. Thus, many couples go through mediation or the court system to resolve their case.

Issues Involved in Amarillo, Texas Divorce Law

There are many complicated issues that you need to settle during the divorce process. Many of these elicit strong emotions from one party or the other, resulting in volatility.

Dividing Property 

One of the most challenging issues in the divorce law process is dividing property, debts, and assets. In many states, like Texas, anything you and your spouse purchased over your marriage is subject to division. This includes things such as real estate, bank accounts, cars, stocks, etc. Some states split marital property evenly, while others go along with an equitable split. In the latter, the judge weighs the contribution each spouse made to the marriage and uses that information to decide the disposition of property, which may not equate to a perfect 50/50 division of your property, debt,  and other assets..

Child Support 

Both parents are responsible for paying for the care of their children. There is a child support guideline that helps determine how much each parent should contribute based on their income and the amount of time they spend with the children. Child support pays for things such as healthcare, food, clothing, and other basic needs.

Texas uses the Varying Percentage of Income Model to determine child support in Amarillo. This model sets support as a percentage of only the non-custodial parent’s income, with the percentage increasing as the number of children increases. Child support in Amarillo can be paid in many ways, including online through the Texas State Disbursement Unit Internet Payment Website.

Additionally, in Texas, the Office of the Attorney General can address payment delinquency in Amarillo through driver’s license suspension, passport denial, and property liens. Other methods include credit bureau reporting, hunting and fishing license suspension, and lottery winnings intercept. If the delinquent parent is charged with civil contempt or criminal nonpayment, fines and jail can result.

Alimony 

Alimony, or spousal support, can vary dramatically depending on the marriage, and Amarillo, TX divorce law court looks at multiple factors when determining the amount and length of alimony, including:

  • A spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity and level of education
  • The division of property
  • Parental responsibility of the children
  • Sole investments and assets of either spouse

Texas Code prohibits court-ordered spousal maintenance in Amarillo unless very specific criteria are met. The requesting spouse must lack the property or assets to provide for their own basic needs. Additional criteria include if the marriage lasted at least 10 years, or if the non-requesting spouse has a recent conviction for domestic violence. Even if all criteria are met, the statute strictly limits the duration and amount of spousal maintenance. Texas will recognize contractual alimony, which is a settlement agreement between the two parties.

Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody is perhaps the most emotional issue during a divorce that involves children. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the court bases all decisions on what is in the best interest of the child. Keeping this in mind may help navigate the rough waters of custody.

Amarillo judges have broad statutory discretion in determining custody orders, based on Texas Code. However, the Holley Factors, derived from the 1976 Holly v Adams case, are now the standard guide for custody decisions in Texas. An Amarillo judge will look at the needs and desires of the child, as well as each parent’s ability to meet those needs. In addition, the judge will try to provide stability and prevent any future harm to the child from abuse or neglect.

Generally, Amarillo, Texas courts award joint legal custody giving both parents the legal right to make decisions for the children, such as education, medical care, and religious practices. Legal custody has nothing to do with physical custody or visitation. Joint custody does not mean both parents split time with the child evenly, just as Sole legal custody does not bar the non-custodial parent from visiting the child.

The Process of Going Through Divorce Law in Amarillo, Texas

Are you leaning towards getting a divorce from your partner? If so, it is important to understand the necessary steps of the divorce law process.

Step 1: File the Divorce Law Petition

The divorce law process begins when one spouse files a legal petition to terminate the marriage. The petition must include:

  • A legal reason for divorce (grounds for divorce)
  • A statement that shows at least one spouse meets the state’s residency requirements for divorce
  • Other statutory information your state requires

Most states offer the option for filing a no-fault divorce, which does not require a legal reason for the divorce.

You can obtain a no-fault divorce in Amarillo if insupportability is listed as the cause of divorce.

Step 2: Request Temporary Orders

The divorce law process in Amarillo can take several months, but temporary orders can be requested and approved for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Property restraining orders
  • Status quo orders

Request temporary orders as quickly as possible so you are not absent the resources or protection that you need.

Step 3: Serve Your Spouse and Wait for Their Response

If you are the one who files a petition for divorce, you must have your spouse served with their divorce law papers and then file a proof of service with the courts. If your spouse accepts service, then they need to fill out an affidavit to that effect. However, in many cases, the petitioner must hire a process server or sheriff to formally serve the petition on the other spouse. It is this third party who then records the proof of service.

Step 4: Try To Come to an Agreement

The best outcome for anyone going through this process is to have an uncontested divorce, meaning both spouses agree on all issues.

This can be reached between both partners or with the help of a mediator. Not only will this save each spouse money, but there will typically be a lot less animosity.

Step 5: Go To Court

If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement, then the case continues before an Amarillo, TX judge. While there is some benefit to having a judge hand down orders, it may also be a detriment as there is little to no control of the agreement by the parties.

Divorce cases are generally heard in District Courts in Texas, although some cases are heard in county courts at law. If you live in Amarillo, you will typically file for divorce in the Potter County District Clerk’s Office.

Step 6: Receive the Judgement of Divorce

The divorce law trial will end with the official judgment of divorce, ending the marriage. This final dissolution of marriage sets out the details about property and debt division, child custody and all relevant issues between the couple.

Work With an Experienced Amarillo, Texas Divorce Law Attorney

If you are going through a divorce and are unable to reach an agreement with your partner, you should hire an experienced Amarillo divorce law attorney. A lawyer will fight for you and make sure you get what is yours. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Texas state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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