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What is Alimony and How Can I Receive It?

Posted on in Divorce

Galveston Alimony LawyerYou might have heard of the word alimony before. Perhaps you have heard the term on television or you are considering a divorce and learning about the process. Yet, you may still be unsure about what the term actually means. In this article, we will address the basic elements of alimony in the state of Texas. If you need answers about alimony that are tailored to your unique situation, contact a Texas family law attorney who can help.

What is the Definition of the Term Alimony?

In the Lone Star State, there is a specific legal term for the word alimony. According to state law, alimony is referred to as "spousal maintenance." As the legal term implies, one partner is required to make payments to the other. Sometimes, one spouse is ordered to pay spousal maintenance while the divorce is ongoing. This is especially common if the other spouse was a stay-at-home parent without access to money. However, usually spousal maintenance is ordered as part of a divorce decree. 

How is Spousal Maintenance Decided?

Spouses are encouraged to come up with an agreement about spousal maintenance on their own. They may need to attend mediation sessions to find an agreement that seems fair to both parties.


Galveston Child Custody LawyerDivorce is rarely a simple process, and it can become especially complex when children are involved. Many of the key decisions that divorcing parents must make will be related to child custody arrangements. In Texas, family courts encourage shared parenting and believe that it is in the best interest of the child to have both parents actively involved in their lives. Most of the time, parents will be able to share custody. To ensure that issues related to your children will be addressed correctly during your divorce, you will need to understand how Texas laws address “joint managing conservatorship.”

Texas Laws on Child Custody

When addressing issues related to child custody during a divorce, Texas follows the "best interests of the child" standard. This means that any decisions made by the court regarding child custody must prioritize what is best for the child's well-being.

Texas recognizes two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody, which is also known as conservatorship, refers to a parent's right to make important decisions about their child's life, such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Physical custody pertains to where the child primarily resides and when they will live with or spend in the care of each parent.


Galveston County Business Asset Division LawyerThe divorce process can involve a number of difficulties, and the decisions made about property division and other issues can affect you financially for years to come. When you own a business, the stakes can become even higher. Protecting your business interests during a divorce requires careful planning and the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney. If you are a business owner going through a divorce in Galveston, Texas, the experienced attorney at Daniel R. Bacalis, P.C. is here to help.

The Importance of a Proper Business Valuation

One of the key steps in protecting your business during a divorce is ensuring that it is properly valued. A business valuation is crucial for determining how assets and debts can be divided fairly between you and your spouse. Consulting with a forensic accountant or business valuation expert can help provide an accurate assessment of your business's worth. This will not only give you an understanding of the current monetary value of the business, but it can also inform you about the benefits you can expect to receive as your business grows in the future.

Safeguarding Your Business Assets

To protect your business, it is important to take proactive measures. Some strategies may include:


Galveston, TX Divorce Lawyer Assisting with Spousal Support CasesGetting a divorce can be a challenging and emotional process, and it will involve numerous issues related to a couple's finances, the property they own, their children, their living situations, and much more. While completing the divorce process can be a relief, there are some issues that may continue to affect ex-spouses after their marriage has been terminated. In some cases, spousal support (alimony) may be ordered, and one party will be required to make ongoing payments to the other. However, circumstances can change in the years following a divorce, and couples will need to understand when alimony payments may be modified or terminated.

When Can Changes Be Made to Spousal Support Orders?

According to the Texas Family Code, spousal support, which is also known as "maintenance," is awarded based on various factors, including the ability of each party to provide for their own needs, the property and financial resources available to each spouse, and their respective levels of education and other factors that may affect their employability. If any significant changes occur in the circumstances of either party after the divorce decree has been finalized, an ex-spouse may file a request to modify or terminate spousal support.

Changes in circumstances that may allow for a modification of spousal support will usually be related to significant life events, such as the loss of a job, a serious medical condition, or an improvement in the financial situation of the spouse receiving support. If an ex-spouse who is required to pay support experiences financial issues that affect their ability to pay, they may submit a request asking for payments to be reduced or terminated altogether. On the other hand, if the receiving spouse experiences problems that could affect their ability to eventually become self-supporting, such as a permanent disability, they may ask for support payments to be extended beyond when they would have been expected to end.


Galveston, TX Paternity AttorneysTo ensure that children will have the ongoing love and support they need, it may sometimes be necessary to establish legal parent/child relationships. For mothers, this usually will not be necessary, since at the time of a child's birth, the mother will be recognized as the child's parent and listed on the birth certificate. However, a father may not always be officially recognized as a parent, and it may be necessary to establish paternity.

Paternity Establishment When Parents Are Unmarried

There are some cases where the law presumes that a man is a child's father. These include situations where a mother and father are married to each other, as well as cases where parents were formerly married within a short period before a child was born. That is, if a couple got a divorce or had their marriage annulled, or if the marriage ended when the husband died, the man will be presumed to be the father of the mother's child if they were still married at any time during the 300 days before the child's birth.

Paternity may also be presumed if a couple took certain steps recognizing that a man was the child's father. If a couple was married after the child was born, and the husband asserted parenthood, was listed on the child's birth certificate, or made a written commitment to support the child as his own, the man will be presumed to be the father of the child. If an unmarried couple chose to remain unmarried, but they lived together with their child between when the child was born and turned two years old, and the man stated to others that he was the child's father, he will be presumed to be a parent.


Galveston, TX Child Custody AttorneysNothing is more important than your child’s welfare. If your marriage has broken down, if you have separated from your partner, or if you are no longer in a relationship with your child's other parent, you will want to ensure that you will be able to continue to provide the love, support, and care your child needs. During a divorce or family law case, you may be uncertain about how issues related to child custody will be handled. Based on the circumstances of your case, you may believe that you should have sole custody of your child. However, it is important to understand when this type of custody may be possible and the factors that courts will consider when making decisions about custody arrangements.

Understanding Conservatorship in Texas Family Law Cases

Child custody is often broken down into two components: legal custody and physical custody. In Texas, legal custody is known as conservatorship, and it involves the right to make decisions about how a child will be raised, including the medical treatments they will receive, where they will attend school, and where they will primarily live. In most cases, courts prefer to put joint managing conservatorship arrangements in place, giving both parents a say in how their children will be raised. In fact, Texas law presumes that joint managing conservatorship is in the best interest of the child.

However, joint managing conservatorship may not be appropriate in some situations, and a parent may argue that it would not be in the child's best interests. A parent's history of domestic violence may be a reason why joint custody arrangements should not be put in place. Other situations where sole custody may be appropriate may include when a parent is absent or incarcerated in prison or when the level of conflict between parents makes it impossible for them to cooperate in making decisions for their children.


Galveston, TX High Net Worth Asset Division Divorce LawyerDuring a divorce, a couple will need to decide how to divide their property. This can be complicated and emotionally-difficult process, regardless of the circumstances of the case. However, property division can be especially complex in high net worth divorces, because higher amounts of money and more valuable assets will be involved. While the basic principles of property division remain the same, there are some unique issues that must be considered when it comes to a high net worth divorce.

Characterization of Assets

The first step in dividing property is determining how each asset should be characterized. In most cases, assets will either be defined as either community or separate property. Community property typically includes any assets acquired during the marriage, while separate property includes assets acquired by either spouse prior to the marriage or through an inheritance or gift.

In some cases, however, assets may not fall neatly into one category or another. For instance, if one spouse owned a business before getting married but then used marital funds and labor to expand the business during the marriage, this could lead to complex characterization issues that may require the help of financial experts to resolve. For example, a forensic accountant may be able to trace assets back to their source and determine whether they originated as separate property or were purchased or otherwise acquired through the use of marital funds or income earned during the marriage.


Galveston, TX Child Support LawyerFor married parents going through a divorce in the state of Texas, as well as unmarried parents who expect to share custody of one or more children, child support will be an important aspect of the proceedings. Most of the time, one parent will be responsible for paying monthly child support to the other parent to help cover the costs associated with raising the couple's children. However, parents may be unsure about what expenses are actually covered by child support. By understanding how Texas' laws affect these cases, parents can make sure their children will have the necessary financial resources.

Expenses Included in Child Support

Under the Texas Family Code, child support is determined by taking a percentage of the paying parent's "net resources," which consist of all sources of income they receive minus certain types of taxes and mandatory expenses such as union dues. When children live primarily with one parent, the other parent will be responsible for paying child support. These support payments may address child-related expenses such as:

  • Living Expenses - These may include any expenses associated with caring for children, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, clothing, diapers, and other household items that may be needed on a regular basis.


Galveston, TX If you are currently going through a divorce in Texas, you may be wondering if you are entitled to receive spousal support. While the answer is not always easy to determine, there are some general rules and guidelines that can help guide your understanding of how spousal support works in the Lone Star State.

What Is Spousal Support?

Spousal support—sometimes referred to as "alimony"—is an economic contribution from one spouse to the other following a divorce. Generally speaking, it is designed to provide financial stability to a spouse who may have been financially dependent on their partner during the marriage. Depending on the circumstances of each case, spousal support may be ordered by a court or agreed upon by both parties during mediation or the negotiation of a divorce settlement.

The Texas Family Code details the eligibility requirements for spousal support, which it refers to as "maintenance." Generally, a person will be eligible to receive maintenance if a couple was married for at least 10 years, and the spouse seeking support will be unable to provide for their own needs following the divorce. Maintenance may also be awarded if a spouse has a disability that prevents them from earning sufficient income to support themselves, if they cannot earn sufficient income because they will be providing care for a child of the marriage who has a disability, or if the other spouse committed family violence within two years before the couple's divorce case began.


Depositions in a Divorce Proceeding

Posted on in Divorce

Galveston, TX Divorce Attorney Assisting with DepositionsWhile the vast majority of divorce cases are resolved between the spouses before going to trial, for some, litigation is unavoidable. In other cases, the parties begin preparing for litigation while continuing to negotiate and are able to reach an agreement before the matter is brought before a judge. As your case gets underway, your attorney may request discovery from your spouse and your spouse’s attorney may request discovery from you. Discovery—or the gathering of all information pertinent to the case at hand—may include depositions, and if you have been asked to give a deposition, there are several things you should know.

What Is a Deposition?

You may have heard the word “deposition” on television procedural dramas, but, until they are required to give one, many people are not fully clear on what the term means. A deposition is testimony given under oath in advance of a courtroom hearing or trial, the transcript or video of which may be used later in court. In a divorce-related deposition, the testimony typically takes the form of a series of questions asked by one party’s attorney to be answered by the other party. For example, if you are being deposed, your spouse’s attorney will usually be asking relevant questions.

Topics Covered in a Divorce Deposition

The questions in your deposition may cover a wide variety of subjects, but they should all be pertinent to your divorce. If the attorney asks you a question that you do not believe is relevant, your lawyer can raise an objection that will be noted in the record. The exact questions will depend on what issues are still unresolved in your divorce, but a deposition will generally include discussions about:


Why You Need a Lawyer for Your Texas Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Galveston, TX divorce lawyerWhether or not to hire an attorney to help you end your marriage is always a complicated question. While many young couples without children or significant debt or assets can successfully file for divorce on their own, the majority of divorcing individuals would be taking a major risk by not hiring an attorney. Although many people are concerned that hiring an attorney will be too expensive, employing the help of an attorney actually increases the chances you will save money on child support, spousal maintenance, and other costs. Hiring an attorney to represent you during your divorce can benefit you in many ways.

Save Time and Frustration

The American legal system is one of the best in the world, but it can be tedious to navigate. Divorces, especially complicated or high net-worth cases, can require seemingly endless amounts of paperwork, signatures, meetings, and legwork. Because divorce is often a deeply emotional process, some people find that they are simply unable to handle the added stress of managing the legal aspects of their divorce alone. An experienced family law attorney can help streamline the divorce process, saving you valuable time and resources.

Ensure Accuracy and Eliminate Mistakes

Texas law provides that a divorcing couple’s marital or “community” property must be divided “in a manner that the court deems just and right.” This means that during property division in a divorce, the property and assets a couple has accumulated are not necessarily divided 50/50. Texas courts look at many factors when dividing marital property and always attempt to do so in a way that is equitable and fair. However, without a thorough analysis of each spouse’s financial circumstances, it can be difficult for courts to make a completely informed decision. A family law attorney can help you value your assets and represent debt and income accurately. This helps ensure that you are not shortchanged due to miscalculation or oversight.


Galveston visitation lawyerGrandparents frequently play a major role in their grandchildren’s lives. This can be especially true when one or both of a child’s parents struggle to maintain a positive parental presence due to criminal behavior, drug abuse, neglect or abuse, or even death. In difficult situations like this, a grandparent’s presence and influence can be an invaluable support system for a child who needs guidance and love.

If this sounds familiar to you, you may be relieved to learn that, in certain situations, grandparents in Texas can petition a court to get visitation rights for their child. If a court awards a grandparent visitation rights, that visitation is enforceable just as it would be for a parent. To learn more, read on and then contact a Galveston grandparents’ rights attorney. 

When Can a Grandparent Get Visitation of a Grandchild in Texas? 

Although grandparents often have good ideas about how to raise children born out of years of experience, differing opinions from a child’s parent or a strong relationship with a child are not sufficient by themselves for a grandparent to be awarded visitation. Before a court can hear a case authorizing grandparent visitation, one of the following must be true: 


Galveston family law attorneyTexas family law courts start child custody cases with the assumption that it is in the child’s best interests for both parents to share legal custody or to have “joint managing conservatorship.” Having legal custody of your child, however, does not mean that you have the authority to do whatever you want with your child when he or she is in your possession. Parents must agree to abide by a parenting plan that is enforceable by law and violating the terms of this plan can have serious legal consequences. 

One of the most serious violations of a joint parenting plan is when a parent relocates out of state and takes a child with them without permission. Parenting plans will generally address whether one parent has the exclusive right to designate a child’s residence or whether a parent can move within a certain area without needing to request permission from the other parent or a Texas family law court; however, rarely is an out-of-state move is permitted without prior approval. If you want to move out of state with your child, or if your child’s other parent has the intention of moving out of state and you object, get help from a Texas family law attorney right away. 

When Can a Parent Move Out of Texas with a Child? 

If only one parent has exclusive conservatorship and possession of a child, that parent is free to make all decisions he or she finds in the child’s best interests, including relocation. But when parents share conservatorship and/or possession, they need to get a court order allowing them to relocate out of state. 


Galveston County Child Custody LawyerTexas law and culture encourage parents who are getting divorced to continue co-parenting as peaceably as possible. This means working as a team to raise minor children, despite the divorce and any personal differences between the parents. While this may not be easy, a firm commitment to co-parenting yields better-adjusted kids and less stressed parents, making the payoff substantial for everyone. Here are some things to include in your Texas parenting plan, or possession order, as you start the co-parenting journey together. 

Texas Parenting Plan Requirements

Certain things are nice to have in your parenting plan, but other things are essential. Things that you must have in your parenting plan include: 

  • Whether one or both parents will be managing conservators or possessory conservators. Managing conservators have the authority to make important decisions regarding healthcare, education, etc. for the children; possessory conservators have the authority to spend visitation time with the children


Galveston County Marital Asset Division LawyerAlthough many states are moving away from community property laws in favor of more fair equitable division laws, Texas is one of the nine states that is still strictly a community property state. In Texas, community property is subject to a “just and right division.” Generally, this requires marital assets and debts to be divided down the middle, rather than allowing each spouse the flexibility to take their fair share. 

The process of dividing assets and debts in divorce is crucial for determining your future financial health. While Texas law usually requires a 50/50 property split, determining what that looks like can be subject to some interpretation and negotiation. To learn more about the asset division process in a Texas divorce, read on and then contact an experienced Texas divorce attorney. 

Does Any of Our Property Belong Exclusively to Me? 

The first part of dividing debt and assets in a divorce is collecting an accurate picture of a couple’s finances and belongings. Certain property may be considered personal rather than marital if it was: 


Galveston County Child Custody LawyerWhen parents of minor children in Texas create a child custody order or parenting plan, they agree to abide by the terms of the parenting plan under threat of court sanctions. This helps keep the children’s lives predictable and ensures parents do not experience unnecessary conflict over ever-changing schedules. But when a parent moves, gets a new job, or otherwise has a significant change in circumstances, an existing custody order may no longer be workable. Although Texas courts are wary of changing child custody orders frequently, especially if it appears a parent may be requesting a change to harass the other parent, there are certainly times when such a change is justifiable. 

Do We Need to Go to Court to Change Our Custody Order? 

If the changes to your custody arrangement are minor and you get along well with your child’s other parent, you may be able to agree to make adjustments without going to court. However, any agreement you come to is not enforceable and, if your child’s other parent is manipulative or abusive, an agreement outside of court may expose you to the risk of conflict. If you and the other parent cannot agree, you must both follow the existing order until it is successfully modified. 

Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship

A petition to change a custody order is called a suit affecting the parent-child relationship, or SAPCR. An SAPCR must be filed in the court where your divorce or custody order was originally granted unless the child has moved. If you agree with the other parent about changes to the custody order, the petition can be completed as soon as the court approves it. 


texas divorce lawyerWhile thousands of couples get divorced every year in Texas, if you are approaching the divorce process for the first time it can be intimidating. Divorce has the potential to be simple, but more often it can be quite a complex process that takes many months to resolve. Divorcing couples must agree on issues like property division and custody, and conflict between spouses can make negotiations difficult. Whatever challenges you face in divorce, a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help you resolve them; if you are considering getting a Texas divorce, here is a brief overview of the process. 

Fault or No-Fault Divorce? 

Texas law provides seven “grounds,” or reasons, for divorce. These include cruelty, adultery, and abandonment, and while a divorcing couple does not have to pursue a fault-based divorce, proving fault can have a significant impact on your divorce process. Once you have decided whether you want a fault-based or no-fault divorce, you can file the divorce papers. 

Petition for Dissolution

The infamous “divorce papers” that people get served are the original petition for divorce. Filing for divorce actually begins the divorce case. Once you have filed the petition paperwork, you need to either serve your spouse with divorce paperwork or get them to sign a waiver saying they do not need to be “served” the divorce papers by the sheriff or a private process server company. 


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