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Frequently Asked Questions In Divorce And Family Law

Our attorneys have 25 years of combined experience. Mysti Murphy has been selected for inclusion in Texas Super Lawyers and is a regular lecturer and instructor on matters of Texas family law.

We invite you to read the following FAQ for background and to schedule a consultation for answers to your specific situation. The Law Firm of Mysti Murphy serves the greater San Antonio area.

Does Texas have no-fault divorce?

Under no-fault divorce in Texas, it is not necessary to accuse a spouse of wrongdoing. Either party may assert that the marriage has become “insupportable” or that you have already lived apart for three years. The vast majority of people choose this route. However, Texas also recognizes fault-based divorce. The court can take fault grounds such as adultery, cruelty or abandonment into consideration when dividing the assets. A lawyer can help you weigh the pros and cons of each approach.

Is Texas a community property state?

Yes. This means each spouse is entitled to half of the marital estate, regardless of who was the breadwinner during the marriage. However, community property refers to the wealth acquired during the marriage. Assets owned by either spouse prior to marriage may be exempt from divorce, although the increase in value of those assets may be community property. Another issue is commingling of assets, in which separate property loses its exemption and becomes part of the estate. Lastly, a prenuptial agreement supersedes the community property presumption. In complex and high-asset divorce, it is critical to work with a lawyer who understands these legal nuances.

Are “conservatorship” and “custody” the same thing?

Not quite. The Texas family courts are moving away from the old custody-and-visitation model in which the mom gets the kids and the dad gets a couple of weekends. The Texas Family Code presumes joint managing conservatorship, meaning both parents are involved in important decisions about the child’s welfare and upbringing. The law also refers to possession and access, or shared physical custody. The default is a Standard Possession Order, which guarantees the noncustodial gets at least minimum parenting time. However, it has become increasingly common for parents to have more equalized physical custody under a negotiated (or court-ordered) possession schedule.

What is “alternative dispute resolution”?

The term alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, refers to alternatives to courtroom litigation. Going to court is expensive and adversarial, and puts your future and your children’s lives in the hands of a judge. Mediation is one form of ADR, in which a neutral mediator helps to broker an agreement on property, custody and other issues. Collaborative law is another method, in which the parties and their respective lawyers sign an agreement not to litigate and then collaborate with outside professionals to work out a detailed agreement. ADR is generally quicker and less expensive than going to court and gives you more control over the end result. However, sometimes litigation is unavoidable or advantageous.

Do we need a lawyer for adoption?

The adoption process is complex. There are many potential obstacles to a happy ending. An attorney can guide you through the legal process, from the paperwork and home study to potential conflicts such as termination of parental rights. If not executed properly, an adoption could be delayed or later reversed. Whether you are adopting through an agency, formally adopting a stepchild, or stepping in to adopt a grandchild, legal counsel can anticipate problems and smooth the way.

Answers, Attention, Advantage

Knowledge is critical to making informed decisions that will affect your family and your finances. You can count on the Law Firm of Mysti Murphy for solid legal advice and strong representation that puts you in a favorable negotiation position. Call 210-807-8227 or contact us online to schedule a consultation, including evenings or weekends by appointment. We also accept credit cards.