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Frequently asked questions about family law

What factors does the court consider to divide marital property?

Texas courts consider the following criteria in property division:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Either person's prior marriage(s)
  • Each person's age, health, station, income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs
  • Contribution by one spouse to the education, training or increased earning power of the other spouse
  • Opportunity to acquire future income and assets
  • Sources of income, including medical, retirement, insurance and other benefits
  • Services rendered as a parent, wage earner or homemaker
  • Value of each person's property
  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Tax consequences of the distribution
  • Custodial parent designation

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If my husband and I cannot agree on the division of certain household items, will we have to litigate the division?

Most divorce court judges and lawyers try to prevent people from litigating the division of household items, because it often costs more money in legal fees to fight over those items than it would to buy new ones. But if you and your ex-husband cannot agree, it is likely you will need to seek legal help, because your property settlement will not be complete until these items are divided. If you don't do it, the judge will simply divide them in a manner neither of you likes.

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My ex is behind on alimony and child support. What recourse do I have?

You can go to the court clerks office in the court that ordered child support and request that the clerk issue a garnishment against the supporting parent's wages. To do this, you need to know your ex's place of employment, address, and Social Security number. If your ex is at least one month behind, the court sends a garnishment to the employer and the support is taken out of his or her paycheck. You could also go after your ex's property, but this is a longer process and might not be as satisfying, since cars and homes are often leased or mortgaged. Another option is to file a petition for contempt and get an order to show cause why the payments are not being made. This puts your ex back in court. A skilled family law attorney can review the options with you and guide you to the best solution for your needs.

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I am the custodial parent. Can I deny visitation?

The purpose of visitation rights is for children of a divorced couple to understand they have two parents who are entitled to love their children and be loved in return. If the children come back from a weekend with their non-custodial parent and are upset or tell you they do not want to go anymore, that is not reason to deny visitation unless their health and welfare are endangered by the visitation. If you are having a disagreement with your ex or harbor ill feelings, that is not reason to deny visitation. However, the noncustodial parent is entitled only to reasonable visitation. That means if he or she wants to see your child in the middle of the night or is drunk or stoned, you do not have to permit visitation.

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Burton Law Firm is located in Houston, TX and serves clients in and around Tomball, Houston, Fort Bend County, Harris County, Montgomery County.

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