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Posted on in Divorce

In 2019, there were over 750,000 divorces in the United States alone. Divorce is a complicated process for many people. The emotional and mental toll it takes on family members can be heartwrenching. There are several aspects to work out when getting a divorce. These include considerations regarding children, property, assets, and debt. With so much to work out, it’s no wonder that many divorces end up contested. If you find yourself in difficult divorce proceedings, you must work with a lawyer to help protect you. The team at Hatton and Hatton is ready to help.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce occurs when spouses cannot reach an agreement on the best way to split property, assets, child custody, and visitation rights. This term does not necessarily mean that the spouses are angry with each other, nor does it mean the divorce will get ugly. There are many things you need to go over with your spouse when getting a divorce. With so much to figure out, it is understandable that you both won’t agree on every aspect. In this moment of contention, an attorney can help you navigate the court.

How Can Lawyers Help?

Experienced lawyers understand the emotional and mental stress you are under throughout the process. Our job is to do what is best for you. That’s why we prepare for the hearings and file the correct documents and divorce petition so the court and the other party know exactly what you are seeking.

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Texas is a community property state, which means that everything that comes in or is purchased during the marriage is presumed to be community property. For example, all equity that builds up in a house purchased during the marriage is community property, regardless of which spouse is making the payments.  Likewise, all retirement funds earned during the marriage are considered community property.

By the same token, the debts taken on by either husband or wife or both are also presumed to belong to both. There are rare cases where a debt incurred during the marriage would solely be the responsibility of the person who incurred the debt.  However, usually all community debt is factored into the final division of property.

Inheritances or gifts are considered separate property…so long as the person claiming it is an inheritance or gift can prove so.  Throughout my years handling divorce cases, I have worked with many clients who did not get legal advice when they received an inheritance and did not take steps to ensure that money they received as a gift or inheritance was kept separate.  Comingling of separate and community property funds will make it difficult to divide it out properly down the road.

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Family Law Attorney Nathan Hatton Offers Some Steps to Take

As a family law attorney, I am sometimes asked what steps a parent with children in virtual school should take during a divorce.

  • Make sure both parents are signed up to receive notices from teachers. Taking this step is particularly important if one spouse used to handle all (or nearly all) the communication with the school and with teachers.
  • Reach out to teachers. Be proactive, especially if you have historically relied on your spouse. Let your children’s teachers know you want to hear from them. Consider telling teachers you are getting a divorce so that they can watch for any changes in your children’s behavior or performance.
  • Know how to use the parent or student portal. Whether your child’s school uses Google classroom or some other online learning platform, you should know how to log in to see your child’s progress. If there is not a parent log in, be certain that both you and your former spouse can log in to the student portal. Don’t rely on your child to tell you about homework. Log in and get a sense of what needs to be done during your time. 
  • Take inventory. When you are picking up your child, make sure he or she has any books and materials needed to complete assignments. When you are dropping off, double check that nothing needed for the upcoming week has been left behind. 
  • Make passing the baton a regular part of the drop off ritual. Be sure to tell your former spouse what schoolwork has been completed during your time with your children and which assignments remain to be done so that he or she can easily pick up where you left off.
  • Anticipate possible quarantine. If your student gets Covid and is quarantined, it may be best that he or she not travel between households. Follow your doctor’s advice and common sense.

To schedule a consultation with Attorney Nathan Hatton, call 817-349-8120.

Fort Worth Family Law Attorney Nathan Hatton Explains the Steps in Getting a Divorce in Tarrant County, Texas

While each case is different, and can take its own twists, turns and detours, below are general steps from the time to a party decides to file a petition to a final order.

  1. Filing the petition for divorce. The petition will include basic information about you, your spouse, your children (if any), as well as what you are asking the Court to do in your divorce.
  2. Giving your spouse legal notice. After the petition for divorce is filed, you must give legal notice to your spouse. Notice is usually given by hiring a process server who will deliver a copy of petition to them.
  3. Getting an initial hearing before a family law judge. Your divorce attorney will work with your spouse’s attorney to figure out what you and your spouse agree upon and what remains to be presented to the judge.
  4. Receiving temporary orders. Based on the hearing, the judge will issue a set of temporary orders that are usually close to the status quo. These orders will resolve issues such as where the children will live, what the visitation schedule will be, etc., and will provide a set of rules for you and your spouse to live by until the divorce is finalized.
  5. Answering questions as part of discovery. During a divorce, each party has the right to gather evidence from the opposing party in a process called discovery. The goal of discovery is to assure that you and your spouse have access to the same information so that you can negotiate a fair agreement or present your case effectively to a family law judge. During discovery, you may be asked to produce documents such as tax returns, bank records, brokerage statements, etc.  You may also be required to answer questions under oath in a deposition.
  6. Giving feedback and making tweaks. While you and your spouse are living under the temporary orders, your attorney will gather feedback on what is working and what needs to be adjusted before the judge issues final orders.
  7. Bringing in a mediator. If you and your spouse cannot reach agreement with the help of your divorce attorneys, the judge will give you an opportunity to work with a mediator to try to come to an agreement to spare you the expense of a trial. It usually is beneficial to all parties to reach an agreement.
  8. Going to trial. Only a tiny fraction of divorce cases in Tarrant County reaches this point.  The judge will hear any issues that have not been resolved and render a judgment.
  9. Finalizing the case. Besides a Final Decree of Divorce, there are usually other documents that need to be executed to finalize the divorce.  These range from warranty deeds in order to transfer property to Qualified Domestic Relation Orders to divide retirement accounts.
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