Can I Get an Annulment in Texas?

Sometimes, marriage feels like a big mistake. It doesn’t turn out as a person expected, and they wonder if it’s possible to have it undone. In Texas, the law allows for annulment of marriage in some cases. Here’s what you should know.

First, What Is an Annulment?

An annulment is a proceeding to have a marriage declared void – as if it never existed. An annulment is unlike a divorce, which is a proceeding to end a valid marriage. Annulment is like a divorce, however, in that courts will divide property and determine child custody, if necessary.

Grounds for an Annulment in Texas

There are several grounds for an annulment in Texas. The Texas Family Code says that courts can annul a marriage if:

  • It happened without parental consent, and you’re at least 16 but not 18 years old yet. (If you are younger than 16, the law says that you were never able to legally get married in the first place.)
  • You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when you got married, and you haven’t lived together since the alcohol or drugs wore off.
  • Your partner was permanently impotent at the time of the marriage, you didn’t know, and you have not lived together since you learned about the impotency.
  • Your partner used fraud, duress or force to get you into the marriage.
  • You must not have lived together since you discovered the fraud or the duress or force ended.
  • Your partner didn’t have the mental capacity to consent to the marriage, you should have known about the mental incapacity, and you have not lived together since it was discovered.
  • Your partner was divorced less than 30 days before your marriage, and you didn’t know. You must take legal action within a year of your wedding date, and you must not have voluntarily lived together since you found out.

Lawyers cite fraud as one of the most common reason courts grant annulments, simply because there are so many situations in which fraud can play a role. When one spouse lies about critical facts to trick another into marrying them, Texas courts have granted annulments.
Annulments have been granted in cases involving lies about a partner’s financial situation, a pregnancy that didn’t actually exist, or a child from another partner that wasn’t disclosed. Each situation is different, so it’s important to talk with an attorney about yours.

What’s Not Grounds for an Annulment?

There are some things, however, that are not grounds for an annulment (even though many people think they are):

  • Being married less than one year
  • Lack of parental permission or blessing (if you’re 18 or older)

Choose a Family Law Attorney Who Can Help

Think you might be eligible for a marriage annulment? Turn to a lawyer who can help you navigate the process. Get started by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125. Even if an annulment can’t be granted in your case, you may have other options. A lawyer can guide you through the divorce process or, in some cases, have a marriage voided because it never should have legally occurred.

Sources:
https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.6.htm#6.201
https://3j6g5h1ufrxy3coj463pn7uw-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/family-law-17-18-for-web-022718.pdf

3 Divorce Statistics From the Longest-Running Divorce Study & What We Can Learn From Them

In 1986, researchers at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center started an important study of couples in the Detroit metropolitan area. The study—funded by the National Institutes of Health and called the Early Years of Marriage Project (EYM)—became the longest-running longitudinal study of marriage and divorce. Over time, researchers collected information on more than 740 people. So, what has their data revealed about marriage and divorce? And just as importantly, what can we learn from it?

All Couples Experience Some Type of Conflict

EYM researchers found some type of conflict in every single marriage they studied. There were no marriages in which spouses reported getting along perfectly all of the time.
What can we learn from that? Experiencing conflict in a marriage doesn’t necessarily mean that you and your spouse will divorce. The study found conflict in marriages in which couples had been together for more than 20 years. The key is how you resolve conflict in your marriage – how you and your spouse treat each other when you fight and afterward.

Women Are Twice as Likely as Men to Initiate Divorce

Researchers found that marital tension increased over time for both husbands and wives. However, wives reported more tension at the beginning of their marriages, and husbands’ tensions generally increased over time.
In marriages in which a husband reported lower levels of tension over time, but the wife reported increasing tension over time, the likelihood of divorce was greater. Researchers theorized that the husband’s low levels of tension meant that he just wasn’t that invested in the relationship. Overall, researchers found that women were twice as likely as men to file for divorce.
At our Arlington law firm, we represent both men and women in divorce proceedings. Many of our female clients have become increasingly dissatisfied with their marriages over time. While the decision to end a marriage is never an easy one, many lawyers believe that the spouse who files for divorce has an advantage in divorce proceedings. That spouse has had more time to prepare for the changes that come with the divorce process.

When the Wife Has More Education, the Couple Is Less Likely to Divorce

While women are more likely to file for divorce, the EYM project also found a correlation between a wife’s education and the longevity of the marriage. Over time, couples had a better chance of staying together when the wife had gone to school longer. Other data backs this up as well. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), women with at least a bachelor’s degree have a 78 percent chance that their marriages will last 20 years. By comparison, women with a high school diploma have only a 41 percent chance.
So, what can we learn? Of course, there are many factors involved, but young couples considering an early marriage may be well advised to follow the classic advice: Stay in school.
Curious to know more about this study or our services? We welcome you to reach out to us today.

Sources:
http://projects.isr.umich.edu/eym/funfacts.html
https://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/04/marriage
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5644348/

How Allegations of Family Violence Can Affect a Texas Divorce

Family violence happens when someone uses abusive or controlling behavior to harm another member of the family. It can be complicated and deeply personal. While violence takes different forms in every family it touches, one thing remains constant: Domestic violence can have a significant impact on the outcome of a divorce. Here are some things to consider.

Family Violence and the Divorce Process

The divorce process is often different for people who face violence in their family relationships. Victims of domestic violence also have legal tools they can use for protection. One option is to petition the court for a protective order (sometimes called a restraining order). When a protective order is in place, it can affect many different things–from where a spouse lives during the divorce process to how often he or she sees the children.
Options for resolution are different, too. For example, mediation is often used as a tool for couples to come to an agreement on the issues in their divorces. However, professionals do not recommend medication for couples when domestic violence is a factor. The reason? Judges and lawyers worry that one spouse will have too much leverage in negotiations, and the outcome won’t be fair.
Domestic violence can also speed up a divorce. The Texas Family Code says that couples must wait at least 60 days after filing a divorce petition for a divorce to be final. But this requirement can be waived in cases involving domestic violence.

Family Violence and Child Custody

Judges consider the “best interests of the child” when making child custody decisions. If one parent has a history of domestic violence, the judge will consider that as part of the best interests’ evaluation. Texas law says that parents who physically or sexually abused their children during the previous two years cannot have custody. Even if the kids were never harmed, domestic violence affects things like the ability of parents to make major parenting decisions together, as well as child custody drop-offs.

Family Violence and Property Division

Texas is a community property state. Generally, couples split the things they acquired during the marriage 50/50. However, there are some exceptions, including family violence. Domestic violence can be a reason for courts to decide on the unequal division of assets.

Fighting False Allegations of Violence

Our firm has handled several cases where on spouse made false allegations of family abuse in order to influence a pending divorce or child custody case. This is a serious injustice, and we won’t let our clients be falsely accused. We believe in fighting allegations aggressively and protecting our clients’ rights.

Choose an Attorney With Family Violence Experience

When you are choosing your divorce lawyer, pick one who has experience in domestic violence and divorce. Your lawyer will be experienced in advocating for your rights during the divorce process so that they are protected. You can get started by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125.

Child Custody: What Texas Family Courts Consider

Child custody is often the most emotionally charged issue in a divorce. “How will this affect the kids?” is the first thing most parents wonder about divorce. And fear of losing time with a child can be devastating.
In Texas, there are several things that family courts consider when making decisions about child custody. Here’s an overview from the lawyers at our Ft. Worth law office.

Conservatorship, Possession and Access

Texas divides child custody into two categories: conservatorship and possession/access:

  • Conservatorship is the right to make important decisions about your child’s life. These include decisions about where your child will go to school, what medical treatment they will receive and what religious practices they will follow.
  • Possession and access are where the child spends his or her time. The court may decide which parent the child will live with most of the time, as well as how often the other parent spends time with the child.

The “Best Interests of the Child”

When deciding child custody matters, Texas courts use a “best interests of the child” standard, which was outlined in a case called Holley v. Adams. The case involved termination of parental rights, but courts have said that they should apply in all child custody cases.
There are many factors listed in Holley, including:

  1. The desires of the child
  2. The physical and emotional needs of the child now and in the future
  3. Any emotional or physical danger to the child
  4. The parental ability of the person seeking custody
  5. Programs available to help the parent and child
  6. Plans for the child by the parent seeking custody
  7. Acts of omission by the parent that might indicate the parent/child relationship is troubled

Each Case Is Different

Each child custody case is different. For example, when judges apply the “best interests of the child” standard to very young children, they often give the child’s preferences less weight than they would if the child was older. Older kids get more of a say in where they would like to live and who they would like to make their decisions.
Conversely, with babies, courts consider how well the parent is prepared to deal with the baby’s basic needs–like eating, sleeping and having diapers changed. These things naturally become less of a concern as the child grows older.

Questions About Your Child Custody Case? Ask a Lawyer.

Because each case is different, it’s important to talk with an attorney about the facts of your case. Don’t just rely on internet research. Instead, schedule a confidential consultation. You can get started by contacting the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 1-817-755-1852.

Source

What if an Existing Child Custody Plan Isn’t Working?

As time passes after a divorce, it’s common for child custody plans to stop being as convenient – and appropriate–as they once were. Children grow up. They become teenagers with lives of their own. Sometimes parents move away. Other times, their situations change and they can’t parent the way they once did.
If your existing child custody plan has stopped working for your family, you are not stuck with it. Texas family law allows for modification of existing child custody plans. Here’s what you should know.

If Both Parents Agree, Things Are Easier

As with most parenting decisions, things are easier if both parents agree that the child custody order should be modified. When parents agree, all they need to do is submit a proposed custody order to the court. In most cases, the court reviews the proposed custody order and approves it.
Unfortunately, life is rarely that simple. If parents disagree about the change, they must both appear in court to have the order modified.

You Must Show a Significant Change in Circumstances

In order to grant a child custody modification, Texas family courts require you to show that a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred. You must prove that the change in circumstances makes your current arrangement inappropriate or unworkable, as well as that the proposed change is in the child’s best interests. If you request the modification, that burden of proof rests with you.
What does “material and substantial in circumstances” mean? It depends on your case. Many different changes can qualify.

  • Texas courts have granted a modification when doctors diagnosed a child with a health issue that meant his parents needed to care for him differently.
  • They have also granted modifications when one parent was unable to find significant employment in Texas and was forced to relocate for work.
  • Courts have also granted modifications when a parent struggled with substance abuse and was no longer able to care for a child safely.

Older Children Have Some Say in the Matter

Texas law makes a distinction between children younger than 12 and children who are 12 years old and older. When a child is 12 and wishes to change the primary caregiver, courts may grant the modification. It’s likely that the judge will want to talk privately with the child, and the request will only be granted if the judge believes it’s in the child’s best interests.

Talking With a Lawyer Is a Good Idea

If your family’s needs have changed and an existing child custody plan is no longer working for you, talking with an attorney is a good first step. At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we can talk with you confidentially about your situation and help you take the best course of action. Call our Arlington law office at 817-799-7125 to get started.

4 Things You Should Know About the Texas Divorce Process

Most people who divorce have never done it before and didn’t expect to ever go through it. They have no idea what to expect. If you are considering a divorce or have been served with divorce papers, here are some basics you should know from the lawyers at the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., in Ft. Worth.

1. There Must Be Grounds for Divorce in Texas

Texas isn’t a “no-fault” divorce state. That means that in order to get a divorce in Texas, there must be a reason (“grounds for divorce”). The reason can include things like adultery, abandonment or conviction of a felony. Most divorces cite “insupportability” as the reason, which means that the marriage cannot continue due to conflicting personalities.

2. Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

Divorces come in two types: contested and uncontested. Many people think that they have an uncontested divorce because they generally get along with their spouses. However, the definition is stricter. To have an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must agree on every issue in the divorce. Otherwise, you have a contested divorce. Sometimes, divorces that start as uncontested divorces end as contested ones.

4 Things You Should Know About the Texas Divorce Process

3. You’ll Need to Resolve Four Major issues

Each divorce is different, and not all divorces involve children. Generally speaking, though, there are four major issues to consider in a Texas divorce:

  • Child custody: Texas courts divide child custody into conservatorship and possession/access. Conservatorship is the ability to make major decisions about the child’s life. Possession/access is where the child lives.
  • Property division: There are two types of property in Texas: community property and separate property. Community property is things you and your spouse have collected during the marriage – like your savings accounts and real estate. Your debts are also considered. Community property is usually split 50/50.
  • Child support: Courts order child support according to a series of Texas Child Support Guidelines that consider several factors.
  • Alimony: Courts can sometimes order alimony for a limited time when the receiving spouse is not able to earn enough income.

4. You Only Get One Chance to Do Your Divorce Right

It may sound harsh, but you only get one chance to decide the major issues of your divorce and make sure your interests are protected. It is possible to appeal a divorce in some cases, but it’s much easier to do things right the first time.
Talk with an attorney before making big decisions. Start by taking steps to get as much information as possible. Call the Arlington office of Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-755-1852.

Custody and Visitation: Traveling Children

We at the Schneider Law firm understand the difficulties associated with shared custody agreements, especially for families that live in different states.

This insightful article from the New York Times addresses one of the many issues of interstate familial arrangements – child air travel. In its current state, the American Air Travel industry lacks a system designed to care for children unaccustomed to advocating for themselves. “Because there are no Transportation Department regulations regarding travel by unaccompanied minors, airlines create their own policies, beginning with who can fly, which is why experts emphasize the importance of educating children before they embark on a trip.”

Airline Requirements

Although many American carriers offer services for children designated solo fliers like select seats and airline escorts on and off the plane, and to connecting gates, there is no uniform system in place. While most airlines consider solo fliers from the ages of 5 to 15 as unaccompanied minors, the age limits and the additional fees associated with unaccompanied minors varies from carrier to carrier. Additionally, different fees and services may apply to multiple children traveling together. For example, children that travel together are usually promised a seat close to the front of the plane and airline agents will often escort minors to their seats, again when they deplane, and to connecting gates. Despite the services offered, not all flights are available to children traveling alone and many carriers limit younger children to nonstop or direct flights.

Parental Considerations

Parents of departing children with government-issued identification can obtain a pass that allows them to escort their child to the gate. The pass, which may be obtained at the check-in desk, may require them to stay at the airport until the plane has taken off, and most experts advise doing so in case the plane experiences a mechanical problem or delay and must return to the terminal. Likewise, most airlines will similarly issue a gate pass to the person designated to pick up the child, allowing the person to meet the child at the arrival gate.

Travel experts have recommended that parents prepare their children for flight as they would themselves, including sending them off with identification such as a birth certificate or a passport. Parents are also advised to pack a water bottle to fill after passing through security; some form of entertainment, like books or a tablet computer with an extra battery booster; a fleece or sweater for chilly flights; and food.

Experts also suggest that in the lead-up to the flight, parents should position it as an adventure to ease anxieties. Parents should involve their children in planning flights to make them feel empowered and excited. Finally, just because children can fly solo doesn’t mean all of them should.

If you have any questions or concerns as it pertains to [Texas Family Law], feel free to contact us at (817) 755-1852.

Deferred Prosecution Program – Fort Worth

DPP… What?

Maybe you’ve heard of a friend, a first time offender getting the opportunity to enroll in a program called DPP but what is it and could it be right for you?

What is Deferred Prosecution Program?

The Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP) allows for first time offenders of certain classes of crimes between the age 17 and 24 to complete the program over a period of time to allow the young adult, or juvenile some time to rehabilitate and move forward without the stigma of a criminal conviction. This opportunity has requirements to enroll and stay enrolled that need to be followed closely but for the young adult looking to live their life without a criminal conviction, it is an alternative to the traditional criminal legal process. Once successfully completed the DPP program results in those charges entered against that young adult being dismissed.

If you or young adult child has been charged with an offense for the first time and think you or your child may qualify for DPP, give the Schneider Law Firm a call to schedule a free 30 minute consult with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys.

Walk-Throughs: Not Just for Video Games

Walk-Throughs

How can you help yourself when you are charged with a crime and the way the police have the story isn’t what happened? Your best defense is a lawyer who walks-through the area where the crime allegedly occurred and how everything happened with the client.
The walk-through allows lawyers to later be able to set the scene for a jury to give them a window into your story and what happened during that time.

At the Schneider Law Firm, our team of criminal defense attorneys do walk-throughs on a variety of charges from indecent exposure to murder. If you need the help of a skilled team of trial lawyers ready to defend you and tell your story to the jury, call the Schneider Law Firm to schedule your free 30 minute consult.

Playing Hi-Lo: 3 Year Child Support Review

Most folks don’t realize that after 3 years if there is at least a 20% or $100.00 difference between the guideline child support amount at the time the order was signed and the amount that would be awarded under guidelines in the present day, they can go through a child support review. This review is useful for both payers (“obligors”) and receivers (“obligees”) of child support.

If you receive child support and know the party paying child support received a raise, was promoted, or  got a second job and it has been 3 years or more since the order was signed you can request a review. This review will help raise the child support in accordance with the other party’s new earnings. Unfortunately the child support office doesn’t automatically recalculate child support when someone gets a promotion or a second job but the review means you have the power to request a change for the support of your child.

If you are paying child support and you have a situation where you become unemployed or lose the job you had when the order was first signed and took a job that pays less the judge can assess the situation to see if the child support can be reduced. Though a review is not going to eliminate child support, even if you are unemployed. If you are considered able to work, judges will likely at least order child support in accordance with full-time minimum wage earnings. If you have special skills or degrees and the judge finds you to be intentionally underemployed, the judge may order child support in the amount in accordance with the person’s earning capacity. This helps ensure to make sure people who have the earning capacity to support their children do so.

Judges consider many factors when going through a review such as the person’s current job, earning capacity, the job market, and other children to name a few. It’s a good idea to contact a lawyer and discuss the options for filing a child support review and the likelihood of what will happen and how child support can be adjusted. If it has been 3 years or more since your last child support order was signed, schedule a free 30-minute consult with the attorneys at Schneider Law Firm and see what they can do for you.