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Assisting Families Since 1980

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How long do I have to wait before i can be divorced in Texas?

In Texas, there is a mandatory waiting period of 60 days after filing the divorce petition before a divorce can be finalized. This waiting period is designed to give the parties a chance to resolve any issues related to the divorce, such as property division, child custody, and support. However, the actual time it takes to complete a divorce in Texas can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the complexity of the case, the level of cooperation between the parties, and the court’s schedule. In general, uncontested divorces that do not involve disputes over major issues can be completed more quickly than contested divorces that require extensive litigation.

In Texas, how can i get sole custody of my child?

In Texas, being granted sole custody (referred to as “sole managing conservatorship” in Texas) remains a challenging process. The Texas Family Code (Texas’s governing law controlling family relationships) generally favors joint custody (known as “joint managing conservatorship”).  When parents are joint managing conservators, both parents share in the decision-making regarding the child’s upbringing. 

To obtain sole managing conservatorship, evidence must be provided to the judge that it is in the child’s best interest to have one parent designated as the sole decision-maker. That parent will also have the exclusive right to say where the child primarily lives.   Judges require evidence of some kind of serious problem with the other parent, such as a history of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse.

Here are the steps to get sole managing conservatorship in Texas:

File a Petition: You will need to file a petition with the court requesting sole managing conservatorship. This petition should include specific details about why you are seeking sole custody.

Attend Mediation: Before any court hearing, almost all family law judges will require you and the other parent to attend mediation to try and resolve any custody disputes. This requirement satisfies the Texas legislature’s mandate to promote alternative dispute resolution wherever possible.  Most family law courts have hundreds and many have thousands of cases that require the court’s time to resolve disputes.  If an agreement is reached during mediation, the judge, in almost every case, must approve it.

Attend a Hearing: If mediation fails to resolve the disputes, a hearing will be scheduled. During the hearing, both parents present evidence and make arguments in front of a judge. The judge will then make a decision based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Receive the Court Order: If the judge grants your request for sole managing conservatorship, a court order will be issued outlining the terms of custody and visitation.

Importantly, the process for obtaining sole managing conservatorship can be complicated, expensive, and emotional.  Consulting with and securing the representation of an experienced family law attorney remains the best approach to achieve your goals while protecting your child’s best interests.

Divorce and Finances

Have you and your spouse tried hours and hours of counseling?  Do you realize it is going nowhere?  Understand that the divorce process drains financially and emotionally.  Divorce and finances often clash.

On top of the immense emotional transition, the financial situation may be beyond messy.  Child support and the possibility of spousal maintenance create more uncertainty.  Each couple and family remains unique, and it is vital that you prepare for a difficult process.  However, the following tips should point you in the right direction. 

1. Where do you get advice?  An experienced Texas divorce attorney.

Well-meaning friends might offer inaccurate divorce advice.  Ask yourself, has this friend graduated from law school and actually practiced family law?   If the answer is no, take what is shared with a grain of salt.  Even if that friend has gone through a divorce, their experience will most likely not match yours.  Also, was their outcome favorable or disastrous.  Many won’t admit to either result or even somewhere in between.  For one thing, divorce laws vary by state.   If you’re unsure about what actions you can take, consult with an attorney licensed in Texas and even in your County.  A family law lawyer who practices in your county is more likely to have some experience with the Judges who preside over the family courts in your county.

2.  Where is the money going?

Once you realize that divorce looms, examine your income and expenses.  Focus your efforts on recognizing reality and building a workable budget.  Remember that your income may be cut in half requiring changes in spending.  Understanding where the money is going will assist your lawyer and the judge in determining a settlement.

Also, where is the money in the first place?  Where are the savings accounts, retirement accounts, and other property for which to account. Those assets affect the division of property and possibly whether to award spousal or child support.

3.  Documents and Records – where are they?

Gather all the bank statements and other financial documents that you can.  Be sure that you can access every actual financial record that you might need to establish what assets actually exist.  Sometime spouses will not reveal everything absent being forced to do so.   So it makes sense to gather tax returns, W-2 statements, and every other document to which you have access before circumstances become too heated.

The attorneys and staff at C.E. Schmidt and Associates, PLLC have the experience to walk you through this difficult process.  We have done so since 1980.  Divorce and finances can be navigated.  Call today to schedule a consultation.  (281) 550-6650.

How Much Child Support?

How much child support?  Every day people ask that question.  Really, the calculation might be simple or complicated.  Actually, the person who pays child support is called the obligor.  Specifically, the obligor’s net monthly income and the number of children determines the amount.  Whether the obligor has children from more than one relationship changes the amount.

 The Texas Family Code Child Support guidelines determine the amount based upon a ratio.

How much will the amount be?  For example if you have one child,  20% of net income provides the dollar figure.  So, $2000 a month of net income x 20% equals $400 monthly.   If you have one child from a different relationship,  the percentage drops to 16%.   Importantly: (1) The court isn’t required to follow the guidelines in every case. (2) Medical support and other payments are in addition to current support.

Most of the time, the court orders the employer to withhold the amount of child support and medical support.  All of these issues confuse lots of obligors.  We provide free consultations in order to determine if one of our attorneys and your personality match well.  Actually, comfort with your attorney remains vital when you go through custody and divorce proceedings.    A good client attorney match equals better results during the stressful litigation process.  Call our office today for a consultation (281) 550-6650

What is Joint Custody?

Joint Custody

Texas courts and the Texas Family Code promote joint custody.  But what does Joint custody Really Mean?   It means both parents enjoy access to and possession of the child.  Quite simply — a healthy amount of time with the child plus the ability to decide.  The goal remains that divorced parents work together to make important decisions.  The Texas Family Code calls a parent who granted time and decision making power regarding their child a “conservator.”

Texas Family Code, Title 5 §153.001 promotes the following concepts:
joint custody
  1. Children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who act in the children’s best interest;
  2. Parents must provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and
  3. Parents must work to share the rights and duties of raising children after a marriage ends.

While Texas promotes joint custody, in the final analysis, “the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”

Contact Us

For Over 40 years, the attorneys at C.E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC have assisted individuals and families in transition.  We work to eliminate needless hostility, but when required, we will fight for you and your child’s best interests.   Call today for a consultation – 281-550-6650

Child Custody – I want a Modification Now!

When it Comes to a Custody Agreement, is the Final Order Really Final?

The answer really is “Not Really!”  In a perfect world, parents and their attorneys could predict every possible problem that might arise.   “Child Custody – I want a Modification Now” can sneak up on just about any parent.  Unfortunately, no crystal ball exists when it comes to custody.   Experienced lawyers, such as those at C. E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC understand what arrangements minimize the need for a later modifications.  Also, the Judges in Harris County and Fort Bend County attempt to help individuals craft an order that will last long after the final agreement is reached.   Many Judges wish to avoid seeing a set of parents quickly returning to the Courtroom.   However, no one can predict all changes that may occur.

child custody

Most commonly, a sudden, serious health condition,  having to find a new job, the child developing significant emotional issues, and parents’ new marriage partners may all introduce “a material and substantial change” to the family dynamic.   In order to consider modification, the Texas Family Code requires “a material and substantial change” — AND if the change in circumstances was one that the parties recognized during the original order’s negotiating process, the Court may determine that the change does not rise to the level necessary to modify.

The changes that a modified order might remedy include:

  • change of custody – sole managing to joint managing conservatorship;
  • change of the child support amount;
  • changing the child’s visitation schedule.

Since 1980, the attorneys at C.E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC have navigated the treacherous waters found in the modification process.  Experience, compassion, passion, and the ability to zealously advocate for clients matter.  Child Custody – I want a modification now requires seasoned representation!

Call for a consultation today (281) 550-6650



Geographic Restriction on a Parent

This post explains why many judges in the Houston Area, including those in Harris County and surrounding counties, often impose a geographic restriction on a Parent.  In reality, the restriction limits the area in which a parent may live with the child.  Specifically, a judge places the restriction on the parent who has the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence.  Translation, the parent who decides where the child lives the majority of the time must live in a limited area.

The attorneys at C.E. Schmidt and Associates provide experienced guidance and support during the difficult divorce process.  We have been assisting families since 1980 to successfully navigate the divorce transition.  Call today for a consultation (281) 550-6650

What is a Temporary Restraining Order?

Divorce scares almost everyone.  No doubt, people seeking divorce face a new and strange vocabulary.   Also, the process intimidates!  People seeking divorce ask lots of questions, and they should.  First and foremost, Mr. and Ms. Schmidt strive to educate and inform clients about all the special words they hear.  We give clients detailed timelines with steps and instructions, and explain what’s going on!  Actually, our forms provide a lot of peace of mind, we have found.  Daily, we answer the question, “What is a Restraining Order“.  This “teaching” approach resulted from decades of experience dealing with divorcing parties.

QUESTIONS, questions!

One question we hear regularly is, “What is a Temporary Restraining Order?”  And, “Do I need a Temporary Restraining Order in the first place?”  So, what is a Temporary Restraining Order anyway?  Well, first it is an ORDER from a Court.  A Court order means serious business.   The court orders an individual – the Court doesn’t make  a polite request or invite.   Often at the beginning of a divorce case, lawyers assess the client’s circumstances.  Based upon certain information, attorneys  request the Court to order the parties to keep the “status quo”.   Quite simply that means, divorcing parties need to keep doing what they are already doing about money for instance.

In Other Words…Keep Doing What Your Doing!

Examples might include, whoever pays the mortgage and utilities continues to do so.  The order might also command parties to refrain from doing other things like draining bank accounts or cutting their spouse’s access to credit cards.   The Order also includes clear directions that spouses avoid harassing each other.    Also, important to know that unless the Court signs a “kick-out” order or very dangerous circumstances exist, the parties and children remain in the residence.

Differences between Orders

Understand also that the word “temporary” means just that.  The Temporary Restraining Order remains in place for 14 days and may be extended for another 14.  After that attorneys, the parties, and the Court (or a mediator) negotiate another Order that lasts longer.   Lawyers and Judges call that second order a “Temporary Order.”  Yes, how confusing is that already!  Both Orders contain the word “temporary” but one can only last at most a month.  The second order – the Temporary Order lasts usually throughout the remaining divorce process.  Also important, a judge signs a Temporary Restraining Order without even hearing from the other party to the divorce.  Lawyers refer to this as “ex parte”.   Meaning the Court hears only one party’s side of the story.


On the other hand, a Temporary Order requires both parties to participate in the process.  Also, important to understand is most Courts in the Houston area require the parties to attend mediation before the Court holds a formal “Temporary Orders” hearing.  The complexity of all these factors require experienced attorneys such as those at C.E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC.  So, “Divorce – What is a Temporary Restraining Order” remains a question to be answered.   Experienced attorneys answer the question best.  Since 1980, we have provided those answers.  Call (281) 550-6650 today for a consultation.

Property Division in Divorce

First, individuals in Houston Texas require experienced representation when facing property division in divorce. Apart from the emotional impact, dividing property demands detailed attention and know-how. People worked hard to acquire their home, retirement and savings.  Indeed, skilled attorneys such as Eric and Michelle Schmidt understand the complexity of the Texas Family Code. Ultimately, the Texas Family Code governs divorce property division. Importantly, Eric and Michelle Schmidt believe that educating the client reduces stress and confusion.

Second, although many people seeking divorce understand that Texas is community property state. A seasoned attorney, such as Eric and Michelle, know how to help client’s understand not to bank on overly simplistic formulas. if it were only as simple as understanding community property, many headaches would never happen!

To be clear, the law and courts presume that whatever property or assets exist at the time of divorce were acquired during the marriage. That may be far from true. Particularly in a second marriage, individuals may marry with substantial assets. Assets owned on the date of marriage remain separate property absent the parties entering into a Partition and Exchange Agreement. The Texas Family Code provides that gifts and inherited property are separate.

Ultimately, a seasoned attorney, such as Eric and Michelle guide clients to create a detailed “inventory” of all property. That process often aids in the determination whether property is community or separate. When did the client first acquire the right to ownership of the property remains the question. Often, that answer reveals whether it is separate or community.

Divorce remains stressful and overwhelming for most. Therefore, seeking experienced representation typically reduces anxiety. Since 1980, C. E. Schmidt & Associates has assisted clients through the process. Contact us today for a consultation – (281) 550-6650

Divorce and Children – Who Decides?

From the beginning, parents seeking a divorce face important decisions.   Above all, mom or dad fail to realize the amount of detail in a divorce decree.  Extreme detail requires a lot of decision-making!  Divorce and Children – Who Decides requires experienced lawyers.  Lawyers and Family Law Judges use the phrase “parenting plan.”  The “parenting plan” details how certain decisions about the children will be made.    Actually, the parenting plan includes the results of all decisions relating to the children – no matter whether the parties decide or a Judge decides.  Regarding rights and duties, lawyers call the process of assigning rights and duties “allocating parental rights and duties.”  The Texas family code assigns some rights and duties to both parents at all times.   In addition, there are rights and duties that may be assigned to one parent.

Therefore, the following list requires allocation of parental rights and duties – in other words, who decides what:

  1. Who decides the child’s primary residence;
  2. Will mom or dad make medical and dental decisions together;
  3. Regarding psychological or psychiatric decisions – who decides what;
  4. Who pays child support;
  5. Which parent can represent the child in a legal battle;
  6. If the child wants to marry or join the military before 18, who can say yes;
  7. Who makes the child’s education decisions;
  8. Right To Services And Earnings Of The Child;
  9. The Right To Act As An Agent Of The Child;
  10. Duty To Manage The Child’s Estate.

In addition, the “best interests of the child” remains the guiding principle in the allocation of rights and duties.    Accordingly, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing equation – what is best for the child guides the discussion.   The best circumstances for the child after divorce is a healthy co-parenting relationship between the divorced parent.  So to encourage that, rights might be assigned jointly, after consultation, or independently.  Certain rights tend to be exclusively assigned including who pays child support and who decides where the child primarily live.    Since 1980, we have guided parents through the process.   Experience and excellence in representation matter.  Call us today for a consultation (281) 550-6650.

Alimony or Spousal Maintenance in Texas?

The Texas Family Code fails to include the term alimony.  Instead, Texas law provides for Spousal Maintenance.  So, understanding the difference between alimony or spousal maintenance in Texas helps to estimate post-divorce obligations.  Importantly, alimony remains a federal tax code concept.  On the other hand, Houston area judges order spousal maintenance under Texas law.

Both alimony and spousal maintenance consist of a monthly payment to an ex-spouse.  However, as federal law controls alimony, Texas agreed alimony remains a contract between divorcing spouses.  The primary difference between alimony versus spousal maintenance in Texas is the tax liability.  Alimony shift the tax liability from one ex-spouse to the other.  Importantly, seeking tax advice during the divorce process provides the best method to assess post-divorce finances.

Unlike a child support payment calculated on NET income, the Texas statute states that maintenance payments are 20% of average monthly GROSS income.   However, the law caps the payment amount.  It cannot be more than $5,000 OR 20% of gross income whichever is lower.

Clients must understand when spousal maintenance might apply.  The following circumstances may lead to a spousal maintenance order.

  • a marriage lasting at least 10 years;
  • one spouse fails to be able to earn sufficient income to meet minimum reasonable needs;
  • one spouse experiences an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
  • a child of the marriage requires substantial care;
  • one spouse perpetrated family violence.

Since 1980,  C.E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC, has focused on educating our clients and providing excellent service.  Divorce traumatizes almost everyone, so securing strong legal representation brings reassurance.  We provide free consultations, so contact us today at (281) 550-6650 to schedule your appointment. 

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