Divorce Lawyer • Dallas–Fort Worth and State of Texas
Family Law Overview
As family relationships grow and develop, conflicts can arise. Family law provides guidelines and offers legal alternatives to remedy the issues family members often face.
At The Nacol Law Firm PC, Dallas Divorce Attorney Mark A. Nacol addresses the concerns of clients throughout Texas in a wide scope of family law matters that include:
“He (Mark Nacol) is the hardest-working attorney I’ve ever met. We were in a very difficult custody battle and knew he would treat it as if it were his own fight. … Through it all, he maintained the utmost of integrity.”
— Nan White / Frisco, TX
More common than any other domestic issue, divorce touches the lives of an increasing number of families in the U.S. every year.
Many legal approaches exist for divorce, and whenever possible, our firm and the Texas family courts favor out-of-court settlements. If relatively few issues are contested, workable alternatives to litigation include:
- Mediation — An informal process in which a neutral third party called a mediator listens and invites discussion on issues in conflict so couples can arrive at an understanding and reach agreements. Mediation is effective when both parties are willing to resolve differences regarding low-intensity disputes.
- Arbitration — A more formal alternative dispute resolution procedure in which a neutral third party called an arbitrator listens to both sides and renders a decision to resolve areas of conflict.
- Collaborative law — An informal and cooperative approach to divorce that focuses on common goals and seeks to arrive at fair, reasonable settlements that benefit the entire family.
Courtroom litigation generally is far more expensive and time consuming than other alternatives and involves conducting discovery, interviewing witnesses and formally preparing and presenting the case at trial. Litigation should be reserved for contested divorces in which trial is the only viable avenue to resolve intensely disputed issues and protect the client’s interests.
Divorce is granted when all issues involving children, property and support have been agreed upon outside of court or ruled on as a result of litigation. At The Nacol Law Firm PC, Dallas Divorce Attorney Mark A. Nacol represent clients in all approaches to divorce, tailoring his legal counsel to the method most appropriate for their needs.
The best interests of the children take priority in child custody matters. In most cases, Texas courts favor joint managing conservatorships, in which both parents share parenting rights and responsibilities. When the court rules on a joint managing conservatorship, one parent retains physical custody, meaning the children reside primarily with that parent, and the other parent is granted frequent, established times of possession. A sole managing conservatorship is another custody option in which one parent is granted most, if not all, rights for parenting decisions.
Typically, when one parent has primary custody of the child or children, the other parent must provide child support. Texas courts follow child support guidelines under the Texas Family Code in determining child support payments. Many factors are taken into consideration, and calculating child support often is complex. However, rough guidelines dictate the following payment percentages based on the number of children being supported:
- One child — 20% of net income
- Two children — 25% of net income
- Three children — 30% of net income
- Four children — 35% of net income
- Five children or more — 40% of net income
- Various discounts for multiple families (children not before the court)
Child support may be subject to modification when circumstances change after the divorce.
In Texas, spousal support is granted under limited circumstances. Factors supporting an order of spousal support (when marriage has lasted 10 years or more) include a lack of earning ability, physical or mental incapacity or custodianship of a child that prevents employment. Domestic violence offenses are another consideration under which the court may grant spousal support.
As a community-property state, Texas requires property be identified as separate or marital before property division may be determined. Property division is based on “fair and equitable” guidelines as opposed to being equally divided between two spouses.
Premarital & Post-Martial Agreements
By addressing ownership of assets and property, premarital and post-marital agreements assist couples in establishing their preferences for rights of possession as opposed to being subject to community-property laws. Marital agreements can be used for minimizing taxes, establishing guidelines on prior assets and debts, avoiding probate if a spouse dies or providing benefits for children from a previous marriage. Should the couple ever divorce, a pre- or post-marital agreement often lessens significantly the complexity of property division.
Moves, paternity suits, career changes, new employment, unforeseen expenses and re-marriage are just some of the changes that occur after divorce. Most violations in divorce orders involve child support, custody and visitation. Such changes make modifications in spousal support and child support, custody, possession and/or visitation necessary. A lawyer can assist you by ensuring that the terms and conditions of final judgments are modified and enforced through the courts.
Paternity & Voluntary Legitimation
In most cases, paternity can be effectively determined by DNA testing. Most disputes regarding child custody or child support sometimes revolve around establishing parentage.
Interstate Jurisdiction- Child Custody Disputes
Many states follow a uniform law regarding state jurisdiction in custody matters, known as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and other laws which make up custody jurisdiction law such as the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act. Texas follows these statutes as well. The idea behind the UCCJEA is to minimize the potential difficulties in determining which of several states has jurisdiction in a matter. Generally, the state the child has been living in for the last six months will have jurisdiction over the matter.
There are a number of factors involved in determining which state to file in. Most likely, there will be only two states involved; but it is possible to have more than two states involved in cases where there is a frequent moving of the parties. Generally, any state in which any of the parties or the child has lived for the last year is a possible place to file an action.
At the Nacol Law Firm PC, we represent parents trying to enforce these laws; cases where we try to persuade courts to apply the specific, narrow exceptions to these general rules in order to have custody cases heard in the most convenient forum in which the most evidence is available; cases where the child’s home state or other basic questions need to be clarified; and cases where parents have been falsely accused of violating these laws.
Same-Sex Unions & Marital Conflicts
In certain states, laws have changed regarding same-sex unions or marriage. However, a number of states recognize same-sex unions. In 2005, voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage in Texas, making Texas the 19th state to do so.
Because the fast-paced business landscape in the U.S. has resulted in a highly mobile society, legal questions arise such as when a same-sex couple relocates to Texas, what legal rights do they have? If they are dissolving their relationship, do the same laws apply to them regarding property division, spousal support and child custody as apply to heterosexual marriages? The Nacol Law Firm PC is well versed in the evolving laws regarding domestic partnerships and marriages and to help clients navigate the legal complexities of same-sex relationships.
For more information on divorce and family law issues in Texas, from Dallas Divorce Attorney Mark Nacol, visit our blog or contact us today at (972) 690-3333.