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Texas Divorce and Family Law FAQs

When you are going through a divorce, child custody dispute or other family law matter, you know that having the full information available about your case is essential to making the best decisions and putting yourself in the strongest position for a favorable outcome. Below you can find answers to questions our family law attorneys at The Butler Law Firm frequently get as we help people with divorce and related matters in Kountze and throughout Hardin County and surrounding areas. If you have other questions or need help with divorce, post-divorce modification, SAPCR, adoption or another family law issue, call The Butler Law Firm for immediate assistance from a skilled and dedicated Texas family law attorney.

Can the custodial parent move and take the child?

The parenting plan that was put in place after the divorce likely has a geographic restriction regarding the residence of the child to enable regular visitation between the child and the noncustodial parent. If the parents share custody in a joint managing conservatorship, any move that negatively impacts the visitation schedule should not be undertaken without first getting the consent of the other parent and/or approval from the court. We can help you modify the parenting plan so that it meets both parents’ needs and can be approved by the court. Alternatively, our child custody lawyers are ready to file or oppose a petition in court seeking parental relocation. The court will only support a move-away that is in the best interests of the child, which may require the judge to weigh the benefit of a better job, better school or being closer to extended family against the consequence of reduced visitation with a parent. We can help you craft a strong legal argument that meets your needs and those of your children.

Can a father be forced to pay child support if he never married the child’s mother?

Both parents are legally obligated to support their children, and a father can be ordered to pay child support regardless of whether the parents were ever married. The mother or child can go to court to get a court order for child support up until the child turns 20 years old. If the father’s paternity has not been previously established, however, the mother will need to prove the father’s parentage before the court will order him to pay support. Paternity is established if the parents voluntarily signed an acknowledgment of paternity when the child is born or soon thereafter, or if mother, father and child lived together continuously for the first two of the child’s life, representing to others that the child is his. Otherwise, one party would need to file a petition to adjudicate parentage and prove paternity in court, battling the objections of the other party if paternity is contested.

Will a prenuptial agreement be enforced if it turns out to be unfair?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into by people who are contemplating marriage, and it becomes effective upon marriage. Most prenuptial agreements impact a person’s rights in some way, such as the right to receive spousal maintenance or the obligation to pay it, or the right to certain property in the event of divorce. Any prenup could, therefore, be seen to favor one party over another, and a court will uphold this contract between the parties unless the judge decides it is grossly unfair to one party. Some of the ways to help ensure the agreement is both valid and enforceable include:

  • The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties
  • The agreement must be voluntarily entered into by both parties
  • Each party should receive full and fair disclosure of the other party’s assets and debts. A party can waive this disclosure requirement, so long as the waiver is seen as voluntary.
  • Each party should have the opportunity to review the agreement with their own attorney before signing the document. This isn’t necessarily required by law, but it will help show the party knowingly and voluntarily signed the agreement aware of its contents and effects.

What is the difference between an annulment and a divorce?

A divorce is the dissolution of a legal marriage, whereas an annulment is more like a formal declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with. An annulment, therefore, is only available in certain limited circumstances. Grounds for annulment in Texas include:

Bigamy – A marriage is void if one of the spouses was still legally married to another at the time of the marriage. In Texas, this includes somebody getting remarried within 30 days of getting out of a previous marriage.

Incest – A marriage between certain related individuals is void. This law includes parents and children or grandparents and grandchildren, siblings (whole or half), as well as aunts or uncles with nieces or nephews (whole or half).

Age – Marriage to a child under 16 without a court order is void. Marriage to someone aged 16-18 without parental consent is voidable.

Deceit – A person who was tricked into marrying can have the marriage annulled. An annulment is available when the spouse turns out to be impotent, but the other spouse did not know this fact at the time.

Incapacity – A person who got married while intoxicated or under a mental disability may be found to have lacked the required mental capacity to get married legally.

Married too soon – Texas law prohibits couples from getting married within 72 hours of obtaining their marriage license. Annulment on this ground must be sought within the first 30 days of the marriage; otherwise, the marriage is valid.

Most marriages that can be annulled can also be ratified and made legal if no attempts are made to annul the marriage or move out after learning of the fact that makes the marriage voidable or void.

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