The Law Office of Steven M. Williams helps their clients with all types of family law issues. The firm
provides representation for:
Divorce - Marriage is a legal relationship between two people. Many legal matters arise when a
marriage is to be dissolved and you need help to find your way to an agreeable settlement. As your legal
representative, the Law Office of Steven M. Williams has the experience and creativity to understand the difficulties
that arise and the flexibility to help you discover new ways to cope during this stressful time.
Alimony/Maintenance - Alimony is an allowance which husband or wife pays to the other spouse for
maintenance while they are separated or after they are divorced. As with other aspects of a divorce settlement,
calculating amounts and determining if alimony is appropriate can be confusing. Be sure to hire an attorney who has
experience in dealing with alimony as part of the dissolution agreement.
Property Division - When a couple has been married for any length of time, it is likely that
they have obtained assets together. If the marriage is dissolved, those assets need to be valued and divided in a
manner that is fair and considers the needs of both parties. Because The Law Office of Steven M. Williams has
extensive experience with divorce, they have also dealt with many levels of property division.
Child Support - It is undisputed that divorce has emotional implications on the family.
Financial implications can be almost as daunting. Because each state has a unique formula for determination of
Child Support amounts, you need proactive representation to help you reach a fair settlement and an efficient
attorney to help you reduce legal costs.
Custody & Visitation - When working toward the right visitation schedule or deciding where
the children should live, each party should have an attorney who is knowledgeable of the state standards and
sensitive to the concerns of both adults and children.
Paternity - Establishing paternity is financially important and establishes parental rights
as well as contributing to a childís sense of identity. The firm has access to the resources to help establish
paternity or to set the record straight when paternity has been incorrectly asserted.
Practice (on home page)
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get a divorce?
Do I need a “legal separation” from my spouse?
Where can I file for divorce
How is property divided between spouses in a divorce?
What is the difference between separate and community property?
How is child support calculated?
What is “standard” visitation
What are temporary orders?
If my spouse and I have agreed to all the relevant terms, what is the general procedure for obtaining and finalizing the divorce?
Do I have to show fault to get a divorce?
At what age can a child choose where to live?
If the spouses have reached an agreement on all of the relevant issues a divorce may be obtained on the
61st day after the divorce petition was filed. If an agreement is not possible and the case must be tried,
the length of time is primarily dependent on the Courtís docket. Most divorce cases are set for trial within
six to twelve months after the divorce petition is filed, but this can vary from one divorce to the next.
While some states recognize a legal status known as “legal separation,” Texas does not. Under the
Texas Family Code spouses are married until the Court grants a divorce. Filing for divorce is the closest thing,
in Texas, to a “legal separation”.
You can file for divorce in a county in which either you or your spouse has lived for at least 90 days, as
long as that same person has lived in Texas for at least six months.
The Texas Family Code requires that the Court divide the community property of the spouses
“in a manner that the Court deems just and right.” This means the Court is not required to
divide the property 50-50 and can consider a variety of factors in deciding what is
“just and right.” These factors can include fault in the divorce, disparity in earning power,
disparity in amount of separate property, etc.
Generally, a spouseís separate property is property that was either:
›› owned by the spouse before marriage
›› acquired by gift or inheritance, or
›› certain kinds of recoveries for personal injuries
Separate property of the parties is not divided by the court. Community property is all property other
than separate property. All property owned by either spouse at the time of divorce is presumed to be
community property. The party that is asserting the claim of separate property has the burden of proof on that issue.
In most cases, child support is calculated using a formula in the Texas Family Code. The payorís monthly “net resources”
(a term defined by statute) is multiplied by a percentage which is determined by the number of children at issue
(e.g., the percentage is 20% for one child, 25% for 2 children, 30% for 3 children, etc.). The payor is entitled to a
reduction if he or she is also responsible for the support of another child from a different relationship.
Most divorces involving children name one parent as the primary Joint Managing Conservator and grant the other
parent (also a Joint Managing Conservator) “Standard Possession Order” visitation. The visitation
is spelled out in great detail in the statute (Texas Family Code Section 153.312) and should also be spelled
out in detail in the Final Decree of Divorce. A very short hand version of a typical visitation order (assuming
both spouses reside within 100 miles of each other) is as follows: the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Friday of every month
from Friday (beginning at either school dismissal or 6:00 p.m.) and ending either at 8:00 p.m. that night or
when school resumes the following morning), as well as 30 days in the Summer, and additional visitation periods
for Spring Break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, depending on whether it is an odd or even numbered year. While
Standard Possession Order is the most common visitation schedule, it may be inappropriate depending on the
particular case. The visitation schedule can also vary by agreement.
Temporary orders are orders issued by a court, after either a hearing or an agreement by the parties, which
are designed to last until the divorce is final. Practitioners sometimes refer to them as “band aid”
orders. Temporary orders commonly address issues such as temporary restraining orders, child support, custody
and visitation of the children, exclusive use of the marital residence, exclusive use of vehicles, alimony, and
interim attorneys fees.
It is common for spouses to believe that they have an agreement, but they actually have not addressed all the
necessary terms, such as child custody or support, or property division. Assuming all required terms are agreed
to in advance of filing, the divorce can be a relatively simple legal procedure. The attorney for the Petitioner
(the filing spouse) files the divorce petition and either has the petition served on the other spouse or the other
spouse executes a Waiver of Service. The Petitionerís attorney then drafts an Agreed Final Decree of Divorce and
any other necessary documents which are reviewed and signed by the other spouse. The other spouse is free to hire
or consult with an attorney of his or her own. After the necessary papers are signed by the parties and attorneys,
the Petitioner and his attorney then go to court for a hearing to have the Court enter the Decree and other documents.
Texas is a no-fault divorce state which means that it is unnecessary to show that either party was at fault in
order to obtain a divorce. It is only necessary to show that there is marital discord and there is no reasonable
expectation of reconciliation. However, many fault issues (adultery, cruelty, etc.) are frequently relevant factors
in divorce cases because they can have an impact on how the community property is divided, or how custody is decided.
One spouse cannot stop the other spouse from obtaining a divorce.
Once a child turns 12 years of age, either parent may ask the Judge to have a conference in his office to
determine where the child wants to live and why. The Court will generally give great consideration to the
childís desires. However, the ultimate determining factor in custody matters is the “best interests of the child.”