Family Law FAQs
Find Answers to Frequently Asked Family Law Questions
If you’re going through a divorce, working to secure custody of your child, or dealing with any other family law issue, you likely have many questions. The legal process can seem daunting, particularly for those who have never had to navigate it before. At Justice Law Firm, we are here to help. Our attorneys can answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. Browse our family law FAQs to find answers to common family law questions. Don’t see your question here? Just give us a call at (817) 477-6756 to schedule a consultation with our team.
What is “collaborative law” or “collaborative divorce?”
Collaborative law—sometimes referred to as “collaborative divorce,” though it can be used for other types of family law issues, such as child custody modifications—is a process that allows two parties to settle family conflicts outside of the courtroom. A relatively new concept in family law, collaborative law centers on reaching conflict resolution through a dignified, cooperative, and professional process. The main advantage of collaborative law or collaborative divorce is that it allows the two parties to reach an agreement that suits their particular situation, rather than have an order imposed by the court.
Though it is separate from litigation, collaborative law is still a legal process. It typically involves a professional team of attorneys (one for each party), a neutral communication expert, and a neutral financial advisor. It is important that each member of the professional team has received special training in collaborative law in order to ensure a more effective and seamless process. These professionals will lead a series of meetings, or joint sessions. During the joint sessions, each party will work to communicate their needs, goals, priorities, and interests regarding the issue at hand and related matters. For instance, during a collaborative divorce, both spouses will express their needs and wishes regarding child custody, visitation, asset division, alimony, etc. From there, the two parties will be able to form an agreement tailored to their unique situation. In most cases, people are better able to make decisions regarding their children, their families, and their futures than an impartial judge.
What is a “living will?”A living will is also known as a “directive to physicians,” or a “healthcare directive.” Unlike the medical power of attorney, in which you appoint a healthcare agent, the directive states your preference regarding life-saving procedures. Many people choose between having either a medical power of attorney or a directive to physicians, but it is acceptable and advisable to have both. The attorneys at Justice Law Firm can help you decide which is best for you and your family.
What is a medical power of attorney and is how is it different from a general power of attorney?A medical power of attorney allows you to appoint a particular person as your agent to make medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. A general power of attorney, on the other hand, is a document that gives your decision-making power to another person in regard to business matters, such as selling property or paying taxes. It may take effect immediately or upon disability. Both of these documents are extremely important. If a person becomes incapacitated and doesn’t have either of these documents in place, a guardian would likely have to be appointed by the court to handle these affairs, and that could cost the family thousands of dollars, as well as create unnecessary hardships.
Is personal service always necessary when suit is filed?No. The respondent may voluntarily sign a Waiver of Service, acknowledging that he/she has received a copy of the pleading and does not need to be formally served. If you are presented with a waiver, it should be reviewed carefully, as other rights may also be waived in these documents.
What is mediation and how is it different than arbitration?Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process whereby a neutral person serves as a mediator. Usually, the parties are in separate rooms with their respective attorneys, and the mediator travels back and forth in an attempt to facilitate an agreement between them. Mediation is often used in the litigation process in an attempt to settle the case prior to trial. Many people confuse mediation with arbitration, but they are different in that an arbitrator is like a judge and makes a decision regarding the outcome of the case. The mediator, on the other hand, does not act as a judge but works with the parties and their attorneys to help facilitate a settlement agreement.
If I had a will done in another state but I now live in Texas, do I now have to have a new will prepared?Perhaps, but not necessarily. Each state has its own requirements, so your existing documents may or may not meet the requirements of the state of Texas. You need to have an attorney review your will and all other estate planning documents in the event you move from one state to another, and also after divorce or the birth or adoption of a child.
How long does it take to get a divorce in Texas?
There is a minimum statutory requirement of at least 60 days; however, divorces are rarely finalized in that period of time. If the case goes to trial, it may take two years or more.
The actual time required depends upon many factors, including but not limited to:
- What issues are contested and how contested those issues are
- The amount of debt and property to be divided
- The level of “discovery” or research that is required
- Whether or not minor children are involved
- The level of cooperation with your attorney
- The schedules of the court and the attorneys
What is the cost of a typical divorce?
The cost may vary greatly depending upon the particular facts of each case.
After meeting with you, our attorneys will determine your fee structure based upon a number of factors, including but not limited to:
- Whether the issues are contested or uncontested
- Whether or not minor children are involved
- The nature and extent of property and debt to be divided
- The level of conflict between the parties
- Whether or not injunctive relief is required
- The necessity for temporary orders
- Whether formal discovery is required and to what extent
- Whether a trial date has been set
- The pendency of any other deadlines in the case
Generally, attorneys charge an upfront retainer and bill on an hourly basis, but in some cases, a flat fee may be available.