In the State of Texas, women face several financial and parenting challenges that can intensify during and after divorce proceedings. For instance, women’s median earnings in Texas in 2021 were only 85.5% of men’s earnings. Also, women’s debt-to-income ratio has recently been reported as 13% higher than men’s, and many women in Texas spend almost a quarter of their income on childcare. These are steep numbers to consider when you are a woman who is about to part ways with your spouse. At The Stout Law Firm, PLLC, you can find a Houston divorce lawyer for women who understands these financial challenges and other difficulties you may be facing in your divorce and we strive to help you in navigating those difficulties. We have decades of experience, and we are dedicated to championing our clients’ rights in divorces and family law disputes.
Protect Your Financial Well-Being and Your Children
In general, the two main matters that a Texas divorce court addresses before it officially ends your marriage are the division of your assets and liabilities and the determination of parent-child issues. It is not uncommon for concerns about financial insecurity or threats from a spouse to get “sole custody” of the children if a divorce is filed, to keep a woman in a marriage longer than is emotionally or physically safe for her. At The Stout Law Firm, PLLC we understand these complexities and are here to help you navigate the divorce process.
The Division of Property in Divorce Court
Generally, family law courts will only divide community property between spouses, and will confirm each spouse’s separate property as his or her own. The division of property does not have to be 50/50, but it does have to be just and right. The court may also order your spouse to pay your debts or you to pay your spouse’s debts.
Community property is all property acquired during marriage that isn’t separate property. Texas law defines separate property as the following:
- Property each spouse owned before they got married;
- Remedies recovered from a spouse’s personal injury claim, except for relief given for loss of earning capacity during the marriage; and
- Property each spouse obtained during the marriage through devise, gift, or descent.
In Texas, family courts presume that your property is community property unless you can prove by clear and convincing evidence that it is separate, which is a difficult standard to meet. So, if you brought significant assets into your marriage and you want to make sure that you retain those assets in a divorce, you should speak to an experienced Houston divorce attorney for women at The Stout Law Firm, PLLC. Not all spouses play fair during divorce proceedings, and your spouse might attempt to conceal community assets to keep them for themselves. One of our knowledgeable attorneys can help you locate those assets to ensure you obtain the most favorable share of your marital estate.
The popular concept of alimony, referred to as spousal maintenance in Texas, is not a given in every divorce, and parameters exist that a spouse must meet in order to qualify for maintenance. A spouse is entitled to maintenance if one of the following applies to their case:
- They were married to the other spouse for at least 10 years, and they are unable to earn sufficient income to support their minimum reasonable needs.
- They were married to the other spouse for at least 10 years, and they have custody of a shared child who needs substantial care and supervision.
- During the marriage, and within two years of the initiation of the divorce, their spouse committed a crime of family violence against them or their child.
If a spouse is eligible for maintenance, the court decides the amount and duration of the maintenance by looking at the factors below:
- The length of the marriage;
- Each spouse’s ability to independently provide for their minimum reasonable needs;
- The employment history, earning ability, health, and age of the spouse seeking maintenance;
- Contributions each spouse has made to the other spouse’s education, increased earning power, or training;
- The effect of child support payments on each spouse’s ability to cover their minimum reasonable needs;
- The property each spouse brought into the marriage;
- The employment skills and education of each spouse, the time needed to obtain training or education that can help a spouse earn sufficient income, and the feasibility and availability of that training or education;
- Any acts either spouse has taken that resulted in harm to the community property;
- The contributions a spouse has made as a homemaker;
- Any history of family violence; and
- Any marital misconduct.
As you can see, making sure the court awards you the right amount of spousal maintenance can require a lot of evidence and analysis that is often best left to a skilled attorney which you can find at The Stout Law Firm.
If there are children of your marriage, who the children will be living with and what access each parent will have to the children is probably your most pressing concern about the divorce process. Texas family courts encourage both parents to share in the duties and rights of raising their child, and they make custody decisions based on what is in the best interests of each child, taking into account the following:
- How custody will benefit the needs and development of the child,
- How involved each parent has been in the child’s upbringing,
- Whether each parent can encourage a positive relationship between the child and the other parent,
- The child’s preference (if they are at least 12 but this is only a factor, not outcome determinative),
- How close the parents live to each other, and
- Whether the parents can make the the child’s welfare their first priority and make shared decisions in the child’s best interests.
Reaching this crucial decision regarding custody could require the help of healthcare and education professionals, as well as strong advocates for your rights. A top divorce attorney for women in Houston from The Stout Law Firm can keep your child safe and guard your parental rights against any challenges your spouse might make.
You, your spouse, or both of you could be ordered to pay child support for any child you share. This support obligation could last until your child turns 18, until they are emancipated (through marriage or other means), or for the lifetime of your child if your child has special needs. We can help you obtain the best support terms possible to ensure your child is taken care of in the divorce process.
Contact Us for a Skilled Divorce Lawyer for Women in Houston
Our attorneys at The Stout Law Firm have highly unique and extensive skills in effectively representing women. The majority of our attorneys are Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, which is a distinction only 7% of attorneys have. We have also received multiple awards from the legal community and are actively involved in our local Bar. If you need good counsel in a family law matter, please give us a call or contact us on our website to schedule a consultation.