I'm so glad I chose Alison to help me with my decisions regarding a divorce. She gave me unique and practical possibilities and helped me chose the option best for me. I appreciate that Ms. Grant was able to work within my budget. She really took time to listen and get to know me. Once my attorney, she's also now a cherished friend.
Joyce Houchins-Eaves

Archive for the ‘Divorce’ Category

Traditional Divorce vs Collaborative Divorce

Posted on September 25th, 2018

A man and a woman - both looking angry - stand back-to-back beside the words "Traditional vs Collaborative Divorce"As you prepare to get divorced, you likely imagine (and dread) a long, drawn-out, and stressful court battle. But does it really have to be that way?

The answer is that it all depends on the circumstances. In certain situations, you might be able to end the marriage quickly and amicably by going through a collaborative divorce. So what exactly is collaborative divorce? Below is a breakdown of the differences between collaborative and traditional divorce, and the conditions which make collaboration a viable option.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is a form of divorcing your spouse that is handled out of court. Each party still has a divorce lawyer with them, but they meet in a much more informal setting. Before meeting with one another, each party meets with their attorney privately to discuss their wants, their needs, what they’re willing to negotiate on, and what they’re not willing to negotiate on. The two parties then meet to discuss and negotiate the terms of the divorce.

Collaborative divorce is usually pursued when the divorcing couple is on amicable terms and they both agreed to the divorce. Avoiding a stressful court battle keeps these parties on amicable terms and makes the negotiation process much smoother. A collaborative divorce is much quicker and less expensive than traditional divorce, and it allows for better communication between both parties.

Once an agreement is reached, each party signs a “no court” agreement, which means that neither party can change their minds about the terms of the agreement and pursue a court battle.

When Traditional Divorce is a Better Option

Not all married couples split on amicable terms. When there’s contention and anger between the two parties, collaboration is usually not possible. In addition, sometimes only one spouse wants a divorce. In these cases, pursuing a traditional divorce is hard enough; a collaborative divorce is virtually impossible.

Traditional divorce may also be required if the two parties share older children. The courts may require that the children are given the opportunity to discuss openly which parent they’d prefer to live with. Even if the court ultimately decides that a custody arrangement that goes against the child’s wishes is better, this open and honest discussion with the child is important.

If there’s a large amount of money and/or property shared between the two parties, this may also prompt the parties to settle the divorce in court. Money is one of the biggest stressors in a marriage, and it often leads to the most contention in a divorce. Alimony, property division, and child support may take a long time to determine.

And of course, if a couple fails to reach an agreement through collaborative divorce, a court battle will be necessary. Sometimes, there’s just no way to make both people happy, so a judge must determine what happens to the children, money, and property involved.

Mediation

Both kinds of divorce may ultimately require a mediator. In a collaborative divorce, if an agreement can’t be reached on a certain issue, a mediator is often brought in. A mediator is a professional who is experienced in helping people arrive at an appropriate compromise. There are even mediators who specialize specifically in issues regarding children since these are often the most emotional issues. Bringing in a mediator may prevent the need for a court battle.

In a traditional divorce, the two parties may ultimately decide that mutual compromise is better than continuing with a stressful court battle. Even if the judge has already ruled on certain issues pertaining to the divorce, the parties may be able to figure out the remaining details themselves.

If you’re about to go through a divorce, contact Attorney Alison Grant to schedule a consultation. She’ll help you decide whether traditional or collaborative divorce is going to be better in your case and then help you begin the divorce process.

Categories: Divorce

Annulment vs Divorce in Texas

Posted on June 19th, 2018

Two wedding rings with a gavel in the background below the words "Annulment vs Divorce"Many different circumstances may lead someone to seek a divorce. In some cases, the marriage simply stops working, so spouses seek divorce through traditional or collaborative methods. However, sometimes people seek a divorce because the marriage should never have happened in the first place. In such circumstances, annulment may be the right option.

Annulment is generally a shorter process, but it also has a lot of requirements that may be difficult to meet. If you’re seeking to end a marriage in Texas, this information can help you determine if annulment is right for you.

Legal Annulment Definition

A divorce is a declaration that a marriage is over. To obtain a divorce, the marriage must have been valid before one or both parties chose to end it. However, an annulment is more like a statement that a marriage should not have happened and so – legally – did not happen.

A legal annulment is different from a religious annulment. Some religions – such as Catholicism – have strict guidelines against divorce, making annulment the only option for ending a marriage. Getting a marriage annulled by the church and getting one annulled by a court are completely different processes. A legal annulment will not necessarily lead to an annulment being granted by the church; likewise, a church’s declaration that a marriage is annulled will not be valid in court.

It’s also important to understand that an annulment is for a “voidable” marriage, which is different from a “void” one. Void marriages are those which include things like polygamy or child marriages. Since such marriages are not void in the eyes of the law to begin with, they do not need to be annulled.

Annulment in Texas

Every state has laws that allow for marriage annulment, but they all differ slightly. Different states may have different grounds, guidelines, or statutes of limitations for annulment. For example, Texas is one of the few states that allows a person who requests an annulment to demand a jury trial.

If you’re looking to get an annulment in Texas, you must meet one of these conditions

In these last two cases, the divorce must be filed within 30 days of the marriage. In the cases of intoxication, impotency, or fraud, it’s imperative that you don’t live together after realizing that the marriage was a mistake. If you were married under duress or force, you need to leave immediately after being freed in order to prove that you do not want to be married.

Children and Property after Annulment

In some cases, the courts will declare that since the marriage shouldn’t have happened, the property does not need to be divided up. However, they will determine things on a case-by-case basis and may ultimately decide that the usual property division rules of divorce are necessary in your case. Things get especially complicated if there are kids. Children born during a marriage that is later annulled still need to be provided for.

Were you involved in a marriage that should never have happened? Attorney Alison Grant can help you get it annulled. Contact her today to determine if annulment is right for you.

Categories: Divorce

Is Collaborative Divorce Right for Us?

Posted on May 17th, 2018

Two hands shaking over a table with a document, two wedding rings, and a pen under the words "Collaborative Divorce"The divorce process can be emotionally exhausting and cause more conflict than there was when you initially decided on a divorce. Thankfully, there is an alternative to traditional divorce that can make the process quicker and smoother: collaborative divorce. This alternative changes the process as well as the outcome, both in terms of asset separation and mental impact.

Is collaborative divorce right for you? This information can help you decide.

Collaborative Divorce Process

Collaborative divorce is fairly straightforward. Both parties have their own attorney who is experienced in mediation. Once each side has discussed their case with their counsel and made clear what their individual goals are, an initial meeting between both parties and their attorneys occurs. The next meetings will likely involve other professionals such as a financial professional, mental health professional, or an unbiased mediator who can help move the negotiations along.

When an agreement is reached, both sides sign an agreement without court involvement needed. The court will treat the matter as uncontested if successful, and the matter will be closed. If the agreement falls apart, the attorneys involved in the collaborative process are not allowed to represent the parties in court.

Collaborative Divorce vs Traditional Divorce

Collaborative divorce doesn’t work in every case. Here are some factors to consider when deciding if collaborative divorce is right for you:

Of course, two parties wanting to work together won’t necessarily mean an immediate resolution; they still have their differences. However, if they are both willing to work through negotiation or mediation, they can reach a compromise and get things settled much quicker.

Do you think that collaborative divorce is right for you? Do you have more questions regarding the collaborative process in the state of Texas? Contact Attorney Alison Grant today.

Categories: Divorce

How Do I Serve my Spouse with Divorce Papers In Texas?

Posted on April 11th, 2018

A man and a woman sit across from each other at a white table with documents between them and the words "How Do I Serve my Spouse with Divorce Papers In Texas"Going through a divorce is not easy, but it can be less stressful if you know how to serve your spouse with divorce papers the right way. This will reduce confusion and problems and can make the divorce process faster and smoother. Texas has specific rules about how someone has to be served divorce papers, and you will want to make sure you know and follow those rules so that there are no problems down the line. Here is the proper way to serve your spouse with divorce papers in Texas:

Applicable Legal Forms Must Be Completed

The initial paperwork includes the citation, divorce petition, and any forms that you have filled out as a part of your petition. Sometimes there will be other forms, and sometimes there won’t be. It can depend on whether there are children involved, if there are disputes over property, or if there are other extenuating circumstances that will need to be considered during your divorce proceedings. A divorce attorney can advise you on the best way to make sure all the paperwork and applicable forms are included when your spouse is served.

You May Not Serve the Divorce Papers Yourself

It is not legal for you to hand the divorce papers to your spouse and say that they have been served; you will need to have the sheriff’s office or a process server do it for you. That way there is legal proof that a neutral, third-party served the paperwork, and that it was received by your spouse.

The divorce paperwork can also be mailed; however, it has to be sent certified or registered mail, with a return receipt requested. If you are concerned that your spouse may not sign for the letter, then you will want to have them served in person.

Substituted Service May Be Necessary

If your spouse is refusing to sign for the letter and is dodging the process server to avoid the paperwork and the divorce, you may need to petition the court to have them served another way. In these cases, it’s always best to have an attorney help you, so you can get the substituted service moving forward and have your spouse served in a way that complies with the laws of Texas.

Service By Posting or Publication

In rare cases, service by posting (if there are no children) or publication (if there are children) may be required. This is only for those who truly cannot locate their spouse, and who have proof that they have looked thoroughly and carefully for that person. An attorney can help you get this kind of service completed so that you can proceed with your divorce. While this is a more difficult situation, there are ways that a divorce can still be granted.

No matter what your situation is, it’s a good idea to get a lawyer as soon as you’ve decided to get a divorce. Attorney Alison Grant is here to help you with prompt legal services and compassionate advice.

Categories: Divorce

Why January Sees More Divorces Filed Than Any Other Month

Posted on January 26th, 2018

Hands of wife and husband signing divorce documentsThe new year is time for making resolutions, going back to school or work after the holidays, and filing for divorce. Wait, what’s that last bit? It’s true – January is one of the top months for divorce filings, with the numbers soaring over the previous month. One spouse may have had “getting divorced” on their list of New Year’s resolutions, and many couples want to spend one last holiday season together before dealing with the inevitable. It’s after the start of the year that a spouse may make an appointment with a lawyer to find out what a divorce means for them financially or how child support works. He or she then makes a decision: File for divorce, or stick with the marriage, at least for the time being.

Signs of Trouble

Do you think you might join the ranks of the January divorce filers? It’s one thing if you initiate it, but another if your spouse does and you are taken by surprise. Even if you know your marriage isn’t great, a divorce filing can come out of the blue. Look for certain red flags. Has your spouse started behaving differently? Are you leading primarily independent lives with little togetherness? Is there little communication between the two of you? Is the communication usually unpleasant? Money squabbles are a significant indicator of looming divorce.

So what happens if these problems arise in your marriage? Decide whether you want to work on saving the marriage, or whether it is time to move on. If it’s the former, discuss the situation and see if your spouse will agree to counseling. If the marriage has irretrievably broken down, or your spouse has no interest in continuing it, seek out a divorce attorney and find out what options you have available. Divorce is a difficult decision, especially when children are involved, so you want to ensure the decision you make is the right one for you and your family.

The New Tax Law and Alimony

While alimony falls under state law, the way it is taxed is within the federal purview. The new tax bill was signed into law in late December, and it may increase the number of couples filing for divorce this year. That’s because there are significant changes in the way alimony is taxed, starting in 2019. If a couple is not divorced by December 31, 2018, the spouse paying alimony is no longer eligible for a tax deduction. The recipient spouse no longer must pay taxes on the funds. For either party, that’s exactly opposite of prior alimony treatment by the IRS. People already paying alimony are not affected by the new tax law. It’s possible the loss of the alimony deduction will make divorce negotiations more difficult.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering divorce, you need the services of an experienced divorce attorney who fights for your rights. Call Alison Grant, Attorney at Law at 972-434-0021 or contact her online.

Categories: Divorce

How to File for Divorce in Lewisville, Texas

Posted on December 8th, 2017

Close-up Of Hand With Pen On Petition For Divorce PaperWhile Texas law applies to all divorces in the state, jurisdiction pertaining to divorce depends on the region and the courthouse. If you – or your spouse – are Lewisville residents, then all proceedings go through the Denton County Courthouse. Most people will benefit from hiring an attorney to guide them through divorce proceedings. However, if you and your spouse have few assets and no minor children, you can file for divorce yourself, a procedure known as pro se.

How to File a Pro Se Divorce in Lewisville

Go to the Denton County Courthouse, located at 1450 East McKinney Street. You want to head to the District Clerk’s office. The clerk’s office is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To file a pro se divorce, you must bring your original divorce petition, along with two copies. All forms are available through the county clerk’s office. The clerk will provide you with the state-mandated Case Information Sheet to file with the petition. You must pay all fees at the time of filing. Currently, the fee for when your spouse signs a waiver is $289, and a divorce with citation is $297. Call the clerk’s office before you arrive at 940-349-2200 and confirm the fee schedule. You cannot pay with a personal check, but the clerk’s office accepts cash, money orders, cashier’s checks, and credit cards. For the latter, there is a processing fee. Once your petition is filed, the clerk will stamp it with a time and date of filing. A case number and court are assigned.

You must notify your spouse of the divorce filing. You can hire an agent to present this legal notice, or your spouse can sign a form known as “waiver of service” before a notary and file it in court. If you don’t know your spouse’s whereabouts, you must post the divorce notice in a newspaper in the town in which your spouse was last known to reside, as well as posting the notice in the Denton County courthouse.

Before you can go before a judge for a final hearing, the case must be on file for at least sixty days, although there are exceptions. Once this period is over, you may go to the courthouse on Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m. to go to an assigned court and present your case before a judge. Such hearings do not require pre-scheduling if both spouses agree to the divorce. However, if a citation was filed in the divorce and an answer filed, you must schedule a hearing and notify your spouse of the time and date. This means the divorce is contested. If uncontested, fill out the final decree of divorce form.

In an uncontested divorce, you must bring your divorce petition, the answer, and the decree. The judge signs the paperwork, which you then file with the district clerk, so your divorce is finalized. Please be aware the judge cannot assist you in your divorce case – you must know how to present your case in front of the court.

Contested Divorce

If your spouse does not agree to the divorce, it is critical to hire a divorce attorney to represent you. You could end up losing property and/or income. Even if a divorce is not contested, it is wise to obtain a lawyer if minor children are involved.

Contact a Lewisville, Texas Divorce Lawyer

Legal proceedings are complicated. Trying to file for divorce yourself can end up costing you financially and emotionally at a difficult time. If you are going through a divorce, you need the services of an experienced Lewisville, Texas divorce attorney. Call Alison Grant, Attorney at Law or contact her online.

Categories: Divorce

What Information Should I Bring My Divorce Attorney About My Finances?  

Posted on November 27th, 2017

couple consults with agent, signing paperworkFinances are one of the key areas couples facing divorce struggle with; the dissolution of marriage also means the untangling of accounts and a distribution of assets. Who gets what – and who pays who are some of the most commonly asked questions; both are answered in part by a thorough examination of the couple’s finances, assets, and financial situation.

Part of preparing for your visit to the divorce attorney’s office is gathering documentation and information about your income, finances, and even expenditures. Gather these documents before your appointment, and you’ll have everything you need to give your attorney the details she needs to help you with your case.

What Financial Documents Should You Bring to a Divorce Consultation?

Your attorney needs an idea of the amount of money that is arriving each month and an understanding of how much is leaving your household for essentials like food, shelter, transportation, and childcare.

Bank Statements

Your bank statements show how much money you have available, what your typical expenses are, and can provide some insight into your overall financial situation. Bring your most recent statements for both checking and savings if you have joint accounts – or at least your own if you have separate ones. Your bills need to come along for a visit as well.

Pay Stubs

Bring the last few paystubs from your own and your soon to be ex-spouse’s jobs. These papers show how much you earn, how much you keep, and who is providing which services for the family. Health insurance, life insurance, and similar deductions reduce your paycheck but are essential if you have children. Your divorce attorney can use your paystubs to help determine a fair settlement and division for you.

Tax Returns

Even better than individual pay stubs are your annual tax returns. Whether you filed jointly or not, bring the last few for each of you. If anyone owns a business, investments or other items, the tax returns will help give an accurate overview of your total financial picture.

Legal Papers

You may not have anything to share, but if you do have a prenuptial agreement or other important papers that impact your marriage and divorce, you should bring them. If you or your soon to be ex-spouse are being sued, are in foreclosure, or are in the middle of inheriting a pile of cash and assets, these papers need to come to the attorney’s office with you.

Retirement and Investment Accounts

The accounts you hold separately and together need to make an appearance as well, from retirement savings to college savings (if you have a 529 plan, you are likely the owner, not your child).

Having all this information can help your attorney provide you with the best possible advice and ensure you have covered any aspect that could arise. While you may need additional documentation, locating and bringing these items to your consultation is an excellent start.

Categories: Divorce

Is Collaborative Divorce Right for You?

Posted on October 24th, 2017

Couple signing collaborative divorce paperworkSome couples are better off apart, but that doesn’t mean they can’t stand each other. Traditional divorce can turn these disenchanted spouses into bitter enemies, an outcome that’s not good for them or their families. For these couples, a collaborative divorce may prove the best way to dissolve their marriage. Collaborative divorce focuses on a respectful approach to marriage dissolution. It’s a civilized way to get through what could otherwise become a nasty process.

Divorce Options in Texas

Divorcing Texas couples have three different modes of ending their marriage. There’s traditional divorce litigation, which often brings out the worst in everyone. There’s mediation, which involves only the couple and their respective lawyers, and there’s collaborative divorce. The latter consists of the couple and their attorneys, along with a financial consultant and counselor. These last two parties are neutral, professionals trained in collaborative divorce proceedings. Everyone participates, and communication is critical.

Collaborative Divorce Advantages

Collaborative divorce is private. There’s no need to go into the courtroom, with a judge deciding your fate and the litigation part of the public record. It’s a less expensive procedure than other divorce options. Couples with children can work together to ensure their kids have the best situation possible once the family no longer lives together. It also helps avoid other family members taking sides, which can poison the future for all concerned. When it’s over, the only reason to appear in court is to give the approved Final Decree to the judge for approval, which should take all of five minutes.

There’s one other advantage. Sometimes, one of the spouses would rather reconcile than divorce. The collaborative approach, with both sides talking to each other, favors that possibility. Occasionally, collaborative divorce turns into one of those divorces that just didn’t pan out. Even if there’s no hope for reconciliation, the bitterness so common in many situations may turn into a more friendly divorce.

Convenience

With traditional litigation, parties must appear in court or at depositions when they are ordered to do so, not when it is convenient for them. That’s not the case with collaborative divorce, which offers much more flexibility.

Divorce Planning

You likely have retirement plans and estate plans. Think of collaborative divorce as a divorce plan. The financial professional involved in your collaborative divorce process will recommend various options, so each party receives an equitable financial settlement. As in other types of financial planning, the tax implications are discussed. The marital assets, such as the family home or business, receive valuations. Plans are prepared for the future needs of children, along with cash-flow plans for each spouse.

Not for Everybody

Collaborative divorce isn’t for everybody. If domestic violence has occurred, or one spouse earns far more money than the other, collaborative divorce is not the way to go. The same holds true if the marriage is breaking up because of substance abuse or mental health issues.

Contact a Qualified DFW Divorce Attorney

Even the most amicable divorce is difficult, and the circumstances can change. Anyone going through a collaborative divorce needs a lawyer specializing in family law. If you are in need of an experienced divorce attorney, call Alison Grant, Attorney at Law or contact her online.

Categories: Divorce

Talking To Your Kids About Divorce

Posted on August 17th, 2017

Parents talking with teenage boyTelling your child about your divorce is a tough talk, but one that you need to have so that they understand what is going on, know what to expect in the coming months, and most of all, feel secure about their future. The way you approach this topic will depend largely on the age of your child; different age groups will relate to and understand the topic differently. Most experts agree the time to talk to the kids is a few weeks before the divorce becomes final. According to Today’s Parent magazine, the following approaches work well for preschoolers, kids, and teens.

Kids under 5

Infants and toddlers don’t need a lot of explanation; simple, basic explanations work best. Explaining which parent will be moving elsewhere, where the child will be living and how their routine will change is likely enough. Answer any questions and plan on having this conversation a few times as you progress through the process. Kids at this age are adaptable and just need to know they’ll be cared for and loved, no matter where they are living.

Elementary school kids: For older kids, you’ll need to give a little more detail, but the 6 to 11 crowd is still going to want reassurance about where they will be living and how the divorce will impact them. Preparing your child means talking about the basics and fielding questions about everything from “who will drive us to school” to “do I get two rooms”. It’s a good idea to bring teachers and other trusted adults into the loop during this process so that they can provide support as well.

Older kids in this age group already have a grasp on any strife in the home, even if you try to hide it; they also likely know one or more kids that have divorced parents. You know your kids better than anyone, so giving them the level of detail that seems appropriate, staying positive and talking about what they can expect can help a great deal. Older kids may be more stressed by the process or even feel like they are to blame. You may need to talk things out many times after the initial conversation just to make sure they are in the right place.

Teens 12 and Up

Older kids have a far greater ability to understand what is going on and may have pointed questions for you. While they are less likely to think they are at fault, they are far more likely to assign blame to one parent or the other. Your divorce is happening right at the most chaotic and hormonal time – puberty, so expect some anger, irritability, and sadness to come into play.

They may seem older and more independent, but this group needs support just as much as your younger kids. Letting coaches, tutors, and other adults know what is going on can help build a supportive community for your teen; so can making sure they know what to expect and set up a stable routine in the home.

Divorce is an unsettling time for kids, but by taking the time to talk them through the process and reassure them about their own well-being and future, you can minimize the impact it has on your kids. If both parents can provide a unified front and answer questions without strife or assigning blame, the kids will benefit as well. Get the help you need with your separation and divorce; contact our office to learn about the next steps. Our goal is to help your entire family through this difficult time and ensure you get the fresh start you all deserve.

Categories: Divorce

Alimony and Spousal Support in Texas

Posted on July 24th, 2017

definition of alimony in the dictionaryThere is some good news for people going through a divorce and in need of alimony and spousal support in Texas. While in other jurisdictions alimony and spousal support are a virtually synonymous term, that is not the case in the Lone Star State. Texas courts prefer the phrase “spousal maintenance.”

For generations, Texas was one of the most difficult states in the country in which to qualify for such support. Relatively brief marriages – less than 10 years – usually did not meet the criteria for any type of spousal maintenance. While Texas still lags behind most states when it comes to spousal maintenance, a law in place since 2012 does improve the situation somewhat when it comes to spouses in need of support to meet basic needs.

A Community Property State

In other states, legal separation usually precedes divorce. That is not the case in Texas. No matter how long a couple has lived apart, they are legally married until the divorce decree is final. As a community property state, all of the property – and debt – acquired during the marriage belongs to both people, regardless of titling. This can play a role in the way spousal maintenance is determined by the court.

Determining Spousal Support

Under Texas law, various factors come into play in determining spousal support. These include the following circumstances affecting the spouse requesting support:

Other factors that may affect a court’s decision regarding spousal support include whether adultery was involved on the part of either spouse or if there was a history of domestic violence in the marriage.

Maximum Alimony Support in Texas

The maximum amount of support a court may grant the recipient spouse is $5,000 a month, although that number cannot exceed 20 percent of the paying spouse’s income.

Spousal Support Duration

Prior to 2012, spousal maintenance payments were limited to just three years. Now, the court may permit maintenance for up to five years in a marriage lasting over 10 years but less than 20 years; seven years if the marriage lasted more than 20 years but less than 30 years, and up to 10 years if the marriage lasted more than 30 years. There are exceptions based on spousal disability or a history of family violence.

Contractual Alimony

Alimony does not depend on a court decision but is part of the divorcing couple’s property settlement. For the person paying the alimony, the amount is deductible on federal taxes, while the alimony recipient must report the income on his or her tax forms.

Contact Divorce Attorney Alison Grant

The financial consequences of divorce are often devastating. Anyone going through this process needs a lawyer specializing in family law. If you are in need of an experienced divorce attorney, call Alison Grant at 972-434-0021, or contact her online.

Categories: Divorce
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