Tag Archives: divorce

Received Divorce Papers? Here’s What to Do Next

Received Divorce Papers? Here’s What to Do Next

Have you been served with divorce papers? A divorce can be a bewildering experience—especially if you weren’t expecting it. If you’ve been served, here’s what to do.

Don’t Ignore the Divorce Petition

Depending on your personality and the way you cope with stress, it can be tempting to tuck the papers away and ignore them. Don’t do this. Ignoring legal documents never makes the problem go away.

Instead, it can make things worse because you may be caught unaware, miss important deadlines, or fail to give your attorney enough time to work effectively on your behalf.

Review the Divorce Papers and Check Important Dates

Take a careful look at the divorce papers that you’ve been served. The papers likely tell you important information, like the deadline you have for responding. Usually, this is 30 days in a Texas divorce. You’ll need to work with your attorney to respond by that date.

If you fail to respond to legal papers on time, your ex can take certain actions. You may have waived your right to make certain claims or your ex may be able to obtain a default judgment against you.

Stay Calm

You may be tempted to go crazy—posting about the life-changing event on social media or calling up your closest friends and relatives to tell them what just happened. Before you act, take a moment to collect yourself and process what just happened.

Stay calm and try to make rational decisions during this difficult time. The things you post to social media never truly go away and the things you say to the people you love may sound regrettable tomorrow.

Get Legal Help from an Experienced Texas Divorce Attorney

You’ll want to get help from an experienced divorce lawyer as quickly as possible. Of course, we recommend the attorneys at the Schneider Law Firm as the best choice. However, you’ll want to do your research and find a reputable law firm with in-depth knowledge of Texas family law. Arrange a consultation and bring the divorce papers with you for the attorney to review.

Contact the Schneider Law Firm, P.C.

At the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys can answer your questions about the divorce process and what steps to take next. Call 817-755-1852 or send us a message to talk with us about your situation. We often hear from people who were surprised and upended by divorce papers, and we can be there to guide you and protect your interests during this difficult time.

Your Divorce and Your Ex’s Pension: What You Should Know

Your Divorce and Your Ex’s Pension: What You Should Know

When you’re married, the financial decisions that you and your spouse make affect both of you. The money you put towards retirement becomes your plan for the future, and a pension becomes a crucial part of that plan. So, when you divorce, it’s important to consider your pension.

Division of Pensions in Texas Divorces

Texas is one of nine states that are community property jurisdictions. Divorcing in a community property jurisdiction means that property you and your spouse acquire during the marriage is considered to be equally owned by both of you (with a few exceptions). It’s then divided between you.

Courts consider a pension that you or your spouse earned during the marriage to be community property. In a divorce, the pension is subject to division—either by a judge in court or an agreement between you and your spouse in mediation.

The pension should be included in the divorce agreement as property to be divided. However, a separate order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will allow you to gain control of the pension funds. The QDRO lists the specific details, including when the payments should be paid out and whom they should go to.

Enforcing a Court Order and Getting Access to a Pension

If your divorce agreement outlined pension division but you never got a QDRO, it’s probably not too late. Texas law allows you to go back in time and get one.

Sometimes, years after the divorce, a former spouse refuses to retire or to give you access to the pension funds you are supposed to receive. If that is the case, you can reach out to our legal team for help in getting the court to enforce the court order. When one spouse is acting in bad faith to prevent you from gaining access to a pension that is rightfully yours, the court can step in and protect your interests.

Talk With an Attorney About Your Rights to a Pension

The law is complex, and the outcome of a case often depends on very particular facts—especially when you have a pension. The only way to get answers that apply to your situation is to talk with a lawyer.

Start by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125 or send us a message. Consultations with our attorneys are confidential.

Saving a Marriage When One Person Wants a Divorce

When one person wants to end a marriage, but the other does not, the situation can be heartbreaking. A spouse who wants to remain in the marriage may find himself or herself wondering if there is anything they can do to save the marriage, even though the other spouse wants a divorce.

Things You May Want to Do to Save Your Marriage But Should Avoid

When your spouse wants a divorce, it might be tempting to do whatever it takes to keep them in the marriage. You might be tempted to say ‘yes’ to whatever they’d like, to cook elaborate meals, or to change your physical appearance. Sometimes spouses are even tempted to appeal to the other spouse’s family members or to start thinking about adding another baby to the family. 

These things can seem like they’d help, but they’re not a real fix. If you want your partner to stay in the marriage, you have to look more deeply—taking effective action and getting real support.

3 Actions To Take When a Spouse Wants Divorce

Instead of trying to placate your spouse or change your appearance, try to take certain actions instead:

  1. Get your spouse to participate in therapy with you: Often, when one spouse has decided on divorce, they decide to stop working on the relationship altogether. If that’s the case, there’s not much that can be done. But, if your spouse agrees to work with you to address major challenges in your relationship, you may still be able to work things out and stay together. A licensed therapist can help.
  2. Make meaningful changes in your life: Sometimes, a spouse’s wish to leave the relationship has to do with serious issues. If your spouse has given you an ultimatum because of obstacles in your life—things like your drinking, drug use, temper or unhealthy lifestyle choices—you can take this opportunity to change things for the better. Look up local support groups and attend meetings. Get a therapist or a sponsor. Do the work on yourself and save your marriage. And even if you and your spouse do not end up staying together, you will still benefit because you will be taking care of your own mental, spiritual and physical health.
  3. Rely on your support system: If you and your spouse have your faith in common, turning to your faith can help get your marriage back on track. Sometimes, marriages just go through rocky periods. If you can return to your church, pray together or seek help from a spiritual leader, you both may begin to feel better about the relationship. And if you are not religious, turning to your support network of loved ones can also be powerful. Marriages take work to be successful, but sometimes they take a community, too.

Are You Facing a Divorce? Contact an Attorney.

Deciding to divorce can be a difficult step, especially when both spouses do not agree. Call the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125 or send us a message to talk with us about your unique situation.

How to Cope With Divorce

No matter who filed or what the situation is, coping with divorce is a challenge. It can bring up many different emotions as your life shifts from the way it was before to the way it is now.

At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we often talk with our clients about how to cope with divorce. We make sure they have the tools and resources they need to stay strong and healthy during a difficult time. Here are some things you may want to consider when coping with your divorce.

Accept the Situation

Divorce can bring up many different emotions, good and bad. At times you may feel exhausted, worried, scared or even relieved. All of these emotions are okay, and there is no wrong way to feel. Just take a deep breath, acknowledge your emotions and accept how you feel.

Go easy on yourself and give yourself the freedom to function at less than an optimal level if you’re feeling poorly. It’s okay if you need to cut back on social activities, leave dirty dishes in the sink occasionally or watch an episode of your favorite TV show instead of folding the laundry. You don’t have to be perfect during your divorce, just be sure you’re taking care of yourself.

Take Care of Yourself Physically, Mentally and Emotionally

Take care of yourself physically by eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep and getting routine medical care. Avoid using cigarettes or alcohol to cope. With everything going on, you’ll need to make sure that you are supporting your body in the right ways. Being in good health physically will help give you the strength to move forward with your life as you go through the divorce process.

It’s also important to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. That might mean hiring a therapist, reconnecting with your church or prayer group, or just taking time to explore your interests. Sign up for a class or start volunteering for a cause you feel passionate about.

Get the Support You Need During Your Divorce

You don’t have to go through this alone. Share your feelings with friends, family members and trusted counselors. Hire a legal team to keep your case on track and reach out to them when you have questions about your divorce.

At the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys can represent you throughout the divorce process. We provide the support you need in the courtroom to help you and your family achieve the best possible results. Call 817-755-1852 to talk with us about your situation.

Sources:

https://www.mhanational.org/separation-and-divorce

3 Signs You Are Ready for a Divorce

Divorce is a big deal and deciding to get one will change everything. But sometimes you have to let go of something that isn’t working to move forward with the happy and fulfilled life you know is possible. What are the signs that the time is right? What are the signs that you are ready for a divorce?

1. You’re Ready To Be Honest With Yourself About Your Marriage

Everyone’s marriage is different, and there are many different ways to get honest with yourself about it. That might mean admitting to yourself that things aren’t as perfect as you would have liked or that you are unhappy enough to end the marriage—that you’re ready to stop pretending that things are working.

That might also mean getting honest about your role in your marriage. You can only change your actions. So, if you continue with your marriage, how would you need to change to make things work? Are you willing to make those changes? If you’re not, you may be ready for a divorce.

2. You’re Thinking About Divorce Even When Things Are Going Well in Your Marriage

It’s normal for people to think about divorce after a major fight. A person might have a fleeting thought about ending things, and then take some time to cool down before realizing just how great the marriage is. After all, marriage is hard work and things don’t always go smoothly. But in a working marriage, the good times outweigh the bad.

In a marriage that’s not working anymore, a person might think about divorce even when things are going smoothly. If it’s family movie night and you just made popcorn and the family is laughing, and you’re still thinking about divorce, it may be a sign that you are ready.

3. You’re Willing to Take Responsibility in Your Life

If you’ve realized that you don’t need your spouse to be happy, if you are confident that your children will be okay, if you are willing to put in the work to gain financial independence, you may be ready for a divorce.

Think You May Be Ready for a Divorce? Contact an Attorney.

Deciding to divorce can be a difficult step. Call the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125 to talk with us about your situation. Our Texas lawyers are here to support you and your family during the divorce process, helping you take the next step and move forward with your life.

What Is an Ad Litem?

When child custody matters become complex, the court sometimes appoints a professional called an ad litem to protect the interests of that child. Although they’re most commonly appointed in cases involving children, ad litems also represent adults who cannot represent themselves due to physical, mental or behavioral health issues.

Ad litems can also be appointed to represent missing or unknown parties who should have representation in a legal matter where they cannot be physically present. If your case involves complex matters—such as allegations of child abuse or neglect—here’s what you should know.

The Types of Ad Litems

There are three different types of ad litems. The ad litem’s duties depend on the type of ad litem and the role they are playing in your case. These include:

  • Attorney ad litems: Attorney ad litems are required to be attorneys.
  • Attorney/guardian ad litem (dual role): This person is appointed to act as both an attorney ad litem and a guardian ad litem.
  • Guardian ad litem: Guardian ad litems do not need to be attorneys, but they often are. Courts appoint them to represent the best interests of the child.
  • Amicus attorney: “Amicus” means “friend of the court”. An amicus attorney is appointed by the court to help the judge make decisions about a child’s best interests. The judge appoints the amicus attorney to help the judge be more effective. The amicus attorney does not provide legal services directly to a child.

What Are an Ad Litem’s Duties?

The Texas Family Code sets forth 27 specific duties of an ad litem. The first duty of an ad litem is to investigate to determine the best interests of the child. This can mean different things, depending on the case.

Your ad litem will likely conduct interviews with each parent. They may also interview relevant parties, including your child’s teacher and therapist.  They may also obtain copies of your child’s relevant medical records, psychological records and school records. If your child is four years old or older, the ad litem will also interview the child in a developmentally appropriate way.

The ad litem will then attend mediation related to the child and may attend relevant hearings and trials. The ad litem can testify to represent the child’s best interests effectively.

To get a full understanding of the role the ad litem is playing in your case, you’ll want to talk with an attorney.

If You Need Help With Child Custody Matters, Call an Attorney.

At the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys can answer your questions about the role of an ad litem and help protect your children no matter what challenges you are experiencing. Call 817-755-1852 to talk with us about your situation.

Sources:

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.107.htm

2019-2020 Houston Family Law Handbook

Serving Your Spouse With Divorce Papers

At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we find that our clients are often nervous about one critical point in the divorce process: serving their spouse with divorce papers. Of course, each situation is different. But “getting served” has long been emphasized in the media and popular culture. For many, it represents the moment in the divorce proceedings when the relationship changes forever.

Legally, serving your spouse with divorce papers is called “notification”. In a divorce, the spouse filing for divorce is required by the law to take proper steps to notify their spouse of the divorce case. If you fail to notify them, it can delay your case. In some cases, it may even lead to dismissal of your divorce.

How to Notify Your Spouse of the Divorce

Texas courts recognize several different ways to notify your spouse about the divorce. You and your lawyer will choose the one that works best for you, depending on your situation. Your options include:

  • A court-approved private process server, sheriff or constable may serve the divorce papers after you pay the required legal fees.
  • Your spouse may receive notice through the mail by a certified mailing from the district clerk’s office.
  • If you and your spouse agree, after you have filed the petition for divorce, your spouse may sign a document called a “Waiver of Citation.” This tells the courts that your spouse is accepting the service of the lawsuit.
  • If you do not know where your spouse is, you may be able to give notice by publication. The notice of the divorce proceeding is published in a court-approved newspaper or another approved publication. Usually, the notice must appear in the paper for a certain amount of time before the court considers the notice served.

After Notice Is Given to Your Spouse

Once you officially notify your spouse, they must respond to the divorce petition. The court sets a deadline for doing this. If the deadline isn’t met and your spouse does not respond, you may be able to obtain a divorce by default.

In a divorce by default, property division must be just and right, and child custody must be in the child’s “best interests.” However, the final decision may be made with considerably less disagreement and expense.

Questions About Serving Your Spouse? Talk With Our Lawyers.

At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we work to protect your interests during a divorce. For a confidential consultation, call our Ft. Worth office at 817-755-1852. We can answer your questions about the divorce process, including serving your spouse with divorce papers.

Medical Decisions, Medical and Dental Support for Children

Most parents would do anything to keep their kids happy and healthy. So, when a child’s medical or dental care is affected, it can bring up co-parenting challenges that are difficult to resolve. At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we support our clients in working with their co-parents during the divorce process and afterward. Our focus is on making sure you stay healthy and financially secure.

Making Medical and Dental Decisions for Your Child

When Texas courts make child custody decisions, they decide on something called “legal custody.” Legal custody gives a parent the legal authority to make critical decisions for their child. These decisions can include what doctor your child will see or what type of medical care they will get for a serious health condition.

Legal custody can be given to one parent (sole) or both parents (joint) and is most commonly shared between the parents. That means you and your co-parent will need to communicate regarding important medical decisions affecting your child.

If you and your co-parent cannot agree on medical issues for your child, you have several options. You may be able to have a neutral third party make the decision for you. Sometimes, divorcing parents stipulate this neutral third party in the divorce decree.

You may also pursue mediation to help you arrive at an agreement that works for both parents and is in the child’s best interests.

Medical Support and Dental Support

Texas courts usually order medical support and dental support in addition to child support. This support makes sure that medical and dental costs are covered so that your child can receive the care he or she needs.

  • Medical support: Courts generally order medical support that requires a parent to pay the “reasonable cost” of the child’s health insurance, as well as other medical expenses for a child (like co-pays and deductibles). A judge may order you to provide health insurance coverage for your child, to reimburse the other parent for the cost of health insurance coverage, or to pay cash medical support if your child receives Medicaid.
  • Dental support: Since 2018, Texas courts have ordered that dental insurance must be provided for children in a divorce. Dental support is similar to medical support in that it covers the reasonable cost of dental insurance, as well as other dental expenses for a child (like co-pays and deductibles).

Questions About Your Kids’ Medical and Dental Needs? Contact an Attorney.

Call the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125 to talk with us about your child’s medical or dental needs during a divorce or afterward. Our Texas lawyers are here to support you and your family.

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.154.htm#154.064

 https://texaslawhelp.org/article/child-support-medical-support-and-dental-support#toc-4

How Is Debt Divided in a Texas Divorce?

According to a 2018 study, the average American has more than $38,000 worth of debt. With the recent pandemic and economic challenges our country faces, experts estimate that the number has increased significantly in 2020. So, what does that mean for divorcing couples in Texas? How is debt divided, and what should you do if you and your spouse are considering divorce with debt?

How Texas Courts Divide Debt

If you and your spouse agree on how to split your debt, the judge will likely approve your agreement. However, if you can’t agree, the court will decide how to divide the debt. In Texas, courts divide property and debt using the community property method. This means that the property acquired—and the debt that accrued—during your marriage belongs to both you and your spouse.

For debt that’s considered community property, Texas law requires the court to divide the debt fairly and equitably. The only property or debt not eligible for division is separate property—property or debt that you or your spouse had before the marriage or that meets certain criteria.

Your Divorce Decree Doesn’t Affect a Creditor’s Right to Collect

You should know, however, that your Final Decree of Divorce does not affect a creditor’s right to collect a debt from you. Even if the judge orders your spouse to pay a debt that is in both your names, the creditor may still come after you for the debt if your spouse does not pay.

For example, if your car loan is in both of your names and your spouse keeps the family car, they must refinance the car loan to get your name off the debt. If your spouse is unable or unwilling to refinance the loan, and then they stop paying, you will be responsible for the debt—even though you no longer drive the car. Talk with your lawyer about how to prevent this from happening to you.

Types of Debt to Consider

Be sure to consider all of your debt when making financial decisions about your divorce. These decisions can have a serious impact on your future, so it’s important to review all the details carefully.

Most Americans have some combination of these forms of debt:

  • Credit cards
  • Student loans
  • Mortgages
  • Car loans
  • Personal loans

Dividing Debt: Paying Off Debts From Your Marriage

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for dividing debt in a Texas divorce. Depending on your situation, you and your spouse may choose to sell the family home and vehicles in order to be free of the debts associated with them.

If you don’t, you could be responsible for debt that you cannot pay—especially as the income that supported one household must be stretched to support two. After your divorce, be sure to check your credit report and note any discrepancies. Talk to your attorney about anything that concerns you.

If You’re Worried About Marital Debt, Talk With a Lawyer

If you are considering a divorce and have debt, it’s a good idea to talk with the lawyers at the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., as soon as possible. Talking with us early in the divorce process can help protect your interests and keep your options open.

Call us at 817-799-7125 to get started. Consultations with our attorneys are confidential. We’ll talk with you about your options and help you understand what steps to take to manage debt and divorce.

5 Myths About Divorce You Shouldn’t Believe

Divorce can be a trying process. It can be especially confusing and hurtful when misinformation and myths taint your outlook on divorce. To protect your mindset, there are some myths you must stop believing now.

1. My Spouse Is At-Fault, So I’ll Walk Away With Everything

We know this is an emotional time. It’s normal to want to retaliate against someone who hurt you. Yet, in Texas, marital property belongs to both you and your spouse—no matter who’s at fault. Trust that the court will work to divide your assets equitably and fairly.

2. The Court Always Favors the Mother When Making Custody Decisions

The court will do what they feel is in the best interest of the child. In many cases, the mother has been the primary caregiver for the child, resulting in the mother being chosen for custody. Yet, the court doesn’t favor one party over the other. Instead, they’ll consider all facts before making a decision.

3. Keeping Property in My Name Will Protect It From Division

Separate property is property you acquired before the marriage. While it may be protected in divorce, you risk losing it if you commingle it with marital property. For example, if you use your inheritance to purchase your marital home, those funds are no longer separate. 

Regardless of whose name is on a title or loan, you’ll still have marital interest. It’s up to the court to decide how to divide all marital property.

4. I Need My Spouse’s Approval Before Getting a Divorce

Many years ago, the court required you to have spouse approval before getting a divorce. Now, one spouse can file for a contested divorce. There is no legal requirement stating your spouse must agree to the divorce for the court to grant it.

5. I Can Get Divorced Without the Help of an Attorney

Many DIY solutions exist in the legal industry, especially for divorce. Yet, divorces are difficult and complex situations that require a professional to best protect your interests. A divorce attorney can help you decide which steps are best for you to take and fight on your behalf.

Questions About Divorce? Let the Schneider Law Firm Team Help.

Each divorce is unique. You need the support of a professional attorney who can help protect you. To learn more about your divorce or to speak with an attorney, give our Arlington law firm a call at 817-799-7125 or send us a message.