Navigating Family Courts in Texas: What to Expect

Leslie Barrows
 | Published: 
October 26, 2023
 | Category: 

Navigating the Texas Family Court System: What to Expect and How to Protect Your Privacy

Understanding the process and what to expect is crucial when navigating Texas' family law and system. Whether you're facing divorce, child custody issues, or other family-related legal matters, this guide provides essential information to help you through the process. This article covers necessary topics to ensure you're well-prepared for your Texas family court system journey.

Southlake family lawyer Leslie Barrows and her colleagues at the Barrows Firm advise and represent Texas families preparing for one of the most significant and emotionally impactful events a family can experience. As humans, our anxiety is turned up by insecurity and uncertainty. And when nothing is more uncertain than our family's future, it becomes important to use the best and most experienced family lawyer you can find. At the Barrows Firm, we know what you are up against, and we've seen your issues before and know how to create the right custom strategy to meet your goals.  

Search for Answers to Common Questions in the Barrows Blog Section of the Barrows Firm Website

Please read our Article: Divorcing with Children 105: How to Prepare for Court

Understanding the Texas Family Court System

The Texas family court system deals with various legal matters related to family issues, including divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. To help you better understand what to expect when going to family courts in Texas, we'll break down the process into the following key areas:

1. Filing for Divorce in Texas

When filing for divorce in Texas, be prepared to follow these steps:

Residency Requirements: You or your spouse must have been a Texas resident for at least six months before filing.

Petition for Divorce: One spouse will file a Petition for Divorce, outlining the grounds for divorce (no-fault or fault-based).

Temporary Orders: Temporary orders may address issues like child custody and support while the divorce is pending.

Mediation: Many Texas counties require mediation to resolve disputes before trial.

2. Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody decisions in Texas focus on the best interests of the child. Expect the following when dealing with child custody issues:

Standard Possession Order: Texas follows a Standard Possession Order schedule for visitation, but this can be customized based on the family's needs.

Mediation: Mediation is often required to help parents agree on custody and visitation arrangements.

Child's Wishes: The court may consider A child's preferences, especially if they are 12 or older.

3. Child Support in Texas

Child support is calculated based on the non-custodial parent's income and other factors. Here's what to expect:

Child Support Guidelines: Texas provides guidelines for calculating child support, considering the number of children and the non-custodial parent's income.

Modification: Child support orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances.

Enforcement: The state has strict enforcement measures to ensure compliance with child support orders.

4. Spousal Support/Maintenance (Alimony)

Spousal support, or alimony, may be awarded in some cases. Here's what to know:

Eligibility: The court considers factors such as the length of the marriage and financial need when awarding alimony.

Duration: Alimony can be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances.

Modification and Termination: Alimony orders can be modified or terminated under certain conditions.

5. Property Division

Property division in Texas follows community property laws. Key points include:

Community Property: Most assets and debts acquired during the marriage are considered community property and are subject to division.

Separate Property: Property owned before marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance is typically considered separate property.

Equitable Division: The court aims for a fair and equitable distribution, which doesn't always mean a 50/50 split.

Please Learn This: Social Media in Divorces and Modifications: Dos and Don'ts

Psychology Today: 10 Tips to Prepare for "High-Conflict" Divorce Court

Dressing for Success in Court

When appearing in a Texas family court, paying attention to your attire is essential. Dressing appropriately shows respect for the legal process and helps you make a positive impression. Aim for conservative, business-like attire. Men should consider wearing a suit or dress slacks with a dress shirt and tie, while women may opt for a professional pantsuit or a knee-length skirt and blouse. Avoid flashy or revealing clothing, as this may detract from the seriousness of the proceedings. Dressing neatly and conservatively can help convey your professionalism and commitment to the matter, whether it's a divorce, child custody, or any other family court issue.

Preparing for Your Family Court Case

To navigate family courts in Texas effectively, being well-prepared is essential. Here's what you can do:

1. Hire an Experienced Attorney

Hiring a family law attorney with experience in Texas family courts is highly recommended. They can provide invaluable guidance, represent your interests, and help you understand the complexities of the legal process. Experience means things get done right the first time, and that's worth it.

2. Gather Documents and Information

Collect all relevant documents, such as financial records, communication records, and other evidence related to your case. This will be crucial in building your case. Get as much information together as possible. We can use discovery tools to obtain what you may not have.

3. Attend Mediation

Be prepared to participate in mediation if required. This often leads to a more amicable resolution, especially in child custody and visitation matters. Do not worry if the opposing party tries to screw up mediation, we can address that.

4. Understand Court Procedures

Familiarize yourself with the court's procedures, timelines, and local rules or requirements. This can help prevent unnecessary delays. Remember, the more accomplished out of court, the better, for many reasons.

Psychology Today: Resist and Refuse Dynamics in Divorce: How Can They Be Analyzed?

Psychology Today: 13 Tactics Families Use to Alienate Grandparents

Dealing with Unexpected Outcomes

In the Texas family court, it's crucial to be prepared for the possibility that things may not always go as planned. Legal proceedings can be unpredictable, and court decisions may not align with your expectations. When faced with an unfavorable outcome, it's essential to maintain composure and consider your options. Your attorney can guide you on the next steps, including appealing the decision, seeking mediation, or negotiating a different arrangement.

Remember that family court matters can be emotionally charged, and unexpected outcomes can be challenging to accept. It's advisable to rely on the support of family and friends during these times, and if needed, consider seeking the assistance of a therapist or counselor to help you cope with the emotional impact. Remember that family court is designed to provide a fair resolution, and even if things don't initially go your way, there are often avenues for recourse and adjustment.

Key Takeaways

Navigating family courts in Texas can be challenging, but being informed and prepared is the key to a smoother process. Here are some key takeaways:

Texas family courts handle various family-related legal matters, including divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division.

Texas follows specific guidelines and procedures for divorce, child custody, and support, which are essential to understand.

Hiring an experienced family law attorney is highly recommended for expert guidance.

Preparation, including gathering necessary documents and information, can make a significant difference to the outcome of your case.

Remember, each family court case is unique, and outcomes can vary. While this guide provides a broad overview of what to expect when going to court in your family law case, consulting with a legal professional for personalized advice is crucial. Your attorney can help you navigate the intricacies of your specific case and work toward the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Schedule Your Consultation Today and Get Ready to Navigate Family Courts in Texas with Your Experienced Family Law Guides at the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas