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FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions in Family Law

What does Legal Separation mean?

Legal Separation can be filed by a married person who wishes to maintain the marital status but separate and resolve all other marital issues. The Court will issue orders for custody and visitation of any minor children of the marriage, child support, spousal support, and confirm or award community and separate property assets and debts. If the other party, Respondent, responds to the paperwork and requests a dissolution of marriage, the Court will grant the dissolution of marriage. Once an action is filed by a Petitioner, the Respondent must be personally served with specific paperwork. If the Respondent fails to file the necessary responding paperwork within thirty (30) days of service, the Petitioner may request an entry of default. Once the default is entered, the Petitioner can complete the legal separation proceeding without the participation of the Respondent. If the Respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court. The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court's signature.

What is Dissolution of Marriage?

Dissolution of Marriage, otherwise known as divorce, can be filed by a married person to end the marital relationship between a husband and wife. Along with restoring the parties to single status, the Court will issue orders for custody and visitation of any minor children of the marriage, child support, spousal support, and confirm or divide community and separate property assets and debts. Once an action is filed by a Petitioner, the other party, Respondent, must be personally served with specific paperwork. If the Respondent fails to file the necessary responding paperwork within thirty (30) days of service, the Petitioner may request an entry of default. Once the default is entered, the Petitioner can complete the divorce proceeding without the participation of the Respondent. If the Respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court. The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its resolution by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court's signature.

What is Summary Dissolution of Marriage?

Summary Dissolution of Marriage can be used by a married couple to end the marriage. This action is very limited and can only be used by a married couple which meets the following requirements:

  1. The parties have been married less than five (5) years as of the date the action is filed.
  2. There are no children together born before or during the marriage, including by adoption, and the Wife, to her knowledge, is not pregnant as of the date the action is filed.
  3. Neither party has any interest/ownership in real estate.

The married couple jointly signs the necessary paperwork and the originals are filed with the Court. After waiting six (6) months, either party can file the document requesting that the marriage be ended.

What is Nullity of Marriage?

Nullity of Marriage can be filed by a married person to restore the parties to the status of unmarried persons, as if they were never married. Certain conditions must be met before the Court will consider the marriage as void or voidable. Regardless of how the case proceeds, the Petitioner, the person who initiated the case, will have the burden to prove to the Court that one of the conditions for nullity has been met before the Court will grant the nullity of marriage. The Court can also issue orders regarding property and debt division, custody and support.

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What is Custody And Visitation?

Before parents can address the issues of custody and visitation of their minor children, there must be an underlying action. If the parents are married, either the mother or the father must first file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, nullity or file the petition for custody and support of minor children's action. If the parents are unmarried, either the mother or the father must file an action to establish the parental relationship or file the petition for custody and support of minor children. Once an underlying action has been filed, the Court can address the issues of custody and visitation. Further discussion of custody and visitation can be located by referring to the appropriate underlying action.



What is Child Support?

Before parents can address the issue of child support, there must be an underlying action. If the parents are married, either the mother or the father must first file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, nullity or file the petition for custody and support of minor children's action. If the parents are unmarred, either the mother or the father must file an action to establish the parental relationship or file the petition for custody and support of minor children. There is no legal obligation to pay child support from one parent to the other until there is a Court order. A Court order is obtained by requesting a hearing. Once an underlying action has been filed, the Court can address the issue of child support in the underlying action. Further discussion of child support can be located by referring to the appropriate underlying action. The Law Office of Bryan Walter will assist you with child support, spousal support and health insurance issues in every way possible.



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What is Civil Harassment?

A person who has suffered harassment may seek a civil harassment protective order. Harassment is defined as:

  1. Unlawful violence.
  2. A credible threat of violence or
  3. A knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person and that serves no legitimate purpose.

The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the victim. The restraining order can include restraints on personal conduct by the batterer, order the batterer to stay away from the victim's home/work and/or children's school, and other miscellaneous orders. There is no requirement that there be a relationship between the victim and a batterer in order to obtain the protective order. There must, however, be recent acts of harassment.

How does Establishing Parentage (Paternity) work?

This action is filed by an unmarried mother or by an unmarried father who have minor children together. Through this action, the Court will determine paternity or non-paternity if the father is found not to be the biological father of the minor child, and make custody and visitation as well as child support orders. Once an action is filed by a Petitioner, the other party, Respondent, must be personally served with specific paperwork. If the Respondent fails to file the necessary responding paperwork within thirty (30) days of service, the Petitioner may request the entry of default. Once the default is entered, the Petitioner can complete the paternity proceeding without the participation of the Respondent. If the Respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court. The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court's signature.



What is Spousal Support?

Once an underlying action for dissolution of marriage or legal separation has been filed, the Court can address the issue of spousal support in the underlying action. There is no legal obligation to pay spousal support by one parent to another other until there is a Court order. In limited situations, the Court can order spousal support in a nullity action. A Court order is obtained by filing a hearing. Further discussion of spousal support can be located by referring to the appropriate underlying action.



What is Petition For Custody / Support Of Minor Children?

Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children may be filed by married or unmarried parents to obtain custody and support orders without filing a dissolution of marriage/legal separation or nullity action, if the parents of the minor children are married, or without filing an action to establish a parental relationship, if the parents of the minor children are unmarried. This action is limited and can only be used in certain situations by a married or unmarried parent. This action does not deal with property or marital status, if the parents are married, or establish a parental relationship, if the parents are unmarried. To address these other issues, the married parents would need to file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage/legal separation or nullity action. Unmarried parents need to file an action to establish the parental relationship.



What are Domestic Violence Restraining Orders?

Domestic Violence Restraining Order is a Court order issued to prevent the recurrence of acts of abuse by a batterer. Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, abuse is defined as any of the following:

  1. Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.
  2. Sexual assault.
  3. Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
  4. Engaging in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined such as molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing, telephoning, destroying personal property, contacting the other by mail or otherwise, disturbing the peace of the other party.

The act(s) of abuse/violence must be recent, within thirty days, and the batterer must be a spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend, someone with whom the victim has or has had a dating relationship, an immediate family member (mother, father, in-laws, siblings, adult children), or a person with whom a party has a child/ren together. A victim that is a target of abuse but does not have the necessary relationship to the batterer may file a civil harassment restraining order, discussed below. The restraining order can include the following: restraints on personal conduct by the batterer; orders for the batterer to stay-away from the victim's home/work and/or children's school; orders for the batterer to be removed from the residence; child custody and visitation and support orders and other miscellaneous orders.



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Simply put, TarrantCountyLawOffice.com is the Family Law specific website for Bryan L. Walter Law, P.C.. However, Bryan L. Walter Law, P.C. practices and helps clients in most other type of legal issues as well, such as criminal defense, or business and or personal injury causes. The website TarrantCountyLawOffice.com was developed specifically with Family Law, Marriage, Divorce and other Family Law related issues, including child custody, child visitation and all other aspects of Family Law in mind. So what exactly is Family Law....?

Family law is the general term used to refer to the various events regarding marital relationships and relationships between parents, grandparents and children, as well as violence between family, friends or acquaintances. How can Bryan L. Walter Law, P.C. help me and my family with our family law issues....?

Bryan L. Walter Law, P.C. provides family law court representation, assistance and procedural guidance in divorce, legal separation, annulments, summary dissolutions, paternity and domestic violence prevention cases. Within these cases, assistance can be sought in many areas including child custody and visitation, child and spousal support and property issues.



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