Originally published by Evan Hochschild.
For those of you who are not experienced with legal cases you may be wondering what sets family law cases apart from other areas of law.
Having worked with clients across Southeast Texas in courts from Chambers County to Waller County and all points in between, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to share their perspective on this question.
One piece of advice I will always give to a potential client is that family law cases are not like contract disputes, or personal injury cases or bankruptcies.
The fact that the subject matter is based on facts and events that you would ordinarily only share with your best friend or your pastor makes the family courts extremely unique. Let’s go over some hallmarks of family law cases and how they cause this area of the law to differ from almost any other.
In most civil cases (i.e. non criminal cases) a party must be very specific in their initial filings with the court in order to maintain a case.
The injury or harm that the person has suffered must be laid out in plain terms for the judge to see. Family law is different. The initial pleading in a divorce case– the Original Petition for Divorce- is a very general document that spells out the names of children, but lacks much specificity otherwise.
The Final Decree of Divorce is the concluding document to any divorce case. This document is extremely specific in nature and takes into consideration the finer points that the Original Petition lacks.
In depth analysis of family life
Family law cases allow a court to have a front row seat to the inner-most workings of your family life. If it alleged that you are a drug user, you can rest assured that the court is going to order you to take a drug test (or two) during your case.
This is usually done in divorces where the parties are also parents. Even after these drug tests are complete a court may order you to be drug tested after the divorce is finalized.
Each county in Texas works with local drug rehabilitation and testing facilities that will administer the tests and report the results back to the judge.
If the custody of your child is at issue, a Court may very well order that a social study be done of your home. A social study is performed by a licensed therapist and/or family counselor who will observe you and your interactions with your children as well as that of your spouse.
This is done in order so that a recommendation may be made as to where the children should spend more time and which parent is better equipped to care for the child.
Although the judge will listen to his or her own judgment and not base their decision entirely on the social study, the evaluation is important and does weigh heavily on the judge.
Division of property into separate vs. community
Many people, even those who have not gone through a divorce, understand that Texas is a community property state.
This means that most property accumulated by spouses during the course of their marriage is presumed to be community property and must be split between the parties- either by agreement or by order of the judge.
Property that was owned by either party prior to the marriage as well as certain property accumulated during the marriage like an inheritance is considered the separate property of either the husband or the wife.
If it comes down to it, either party may hire expert witnesses to testify to whether or not a particular piece of property is separate or community property, and to which spouse the property belongs.
The value of particular property is crucial to know and expert witnesses can be retained to discuss this subject with the judge as well. These witnesses are part accountant and part detective and can be critical pieces of the puzzle for a client and their attorney.
The most important part of any family law case is the child. Divorces with no children tend to wrap up long before divorces with children because people are more likely to fight over kids than they are money.
Family law cases need to determine which parent will have the child during the school week, which parent will have weekend visitation with the child (not to mention how frequently), and which parent will pay child support (and in what amount). This is just the tip of the iceberg on the subject.
A judge must not only evaluate the object facts in a family law case but must take it upon themselves to make a determination as to what is in the child’s best interests. That is about as vague and general a standard to make an evaluation by as can be in my opinion.
Nevertheless, judges in family law cases in Texas make determinations all the time using this criteria. Understanding ahead of time that a Court makes rulings based not only on what is in black and white but also what their perceptions and biases lead them towards is incredibly helpful to a potential family law litigant.
Family Law attorneys serving our client’s interests: The Law Office of Bryan Fagan
While family law cases are heard before judges at the same courthouse as any other civil case in Texas, it is worth noting that family cases have characteristics that set them apart from these other areas of law.
In order to be best prepared for any court appearance hiring the right attorney is essential. Fortunately, the family law attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have worked with attorneys and in courts across the Houston metropolitan area.
In order to learn more about our office and the services we provide please contact us today in order to set up a free of charge consultation.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: “16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Getting Ready for Divorce in 2017 in Texas: Part One of a Two Part Series
- Dividing Property in a Texas Divorce – The Just and Right Division
- Why is Separate Property Important and How to Keep it Separate in a Texas Divorce?
- What Wikipedia Can’t Tell you About Texas Divorce and Marital Property Division
- Texas Divorce Property Division Enforcement
- Separate Property in a Texas Divorce?
- Does it Matter Whose Name is on Title or Deed of Property in a Divorce in Texas?
- Is Social Security Considered Separate Property in a Texas Divorce
- Business Owners and Business Assets in a Texas Divorce
- What to do when your divorce decree does not include a marital asset?
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it’s important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.
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