FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON FAMILY LAW
How will I make ends meet if I’ve been a homemaker?
My husband and I have been married for 17 years, and we have 3 children. We’re stuck in an unhappy marriage. We’ve tried counseling but have decided to call it quits and get divorced. I’m panicking – how will I support our children? I haven’t worked in years, and honestly, I don’t want to go back to work right now because our kids need me. What are my options?
See an experienced attorney who understands what you’re going through and can help set you up for success. An experienced family law attorney can talk to you about child support, alimony, and a favorable property division. At our firm, we take it a step further. We also provide you with a team that supports you through the divorce and sets you and your kids up for success. We walk you through the issues you may encounter as a single mom and provide you with resources to get back on your feet faster.
My husband just told me he wants a divorce, and he’ll get custody of our daughter because he’s the breadwinner and I’m a stay at home mom. Is this true?
No. Fear and intimidation is a common tactic in these sorts of situations, and your husband knows exactly what to say to hurt you and try to get what he wants. The threat can feel very real and overwhelming, but you know it’s not true. There are plenty of stay at home moms who have custody of their children and living happy lives.
The fact that your husband is working and you are not, in and of itself, is not a reason for him to win custody. If you have dedicated your life to your children and are a stay at home mom, the court is not going to take custody away for that. There are a variety of factors that a court looks at when determining custody. And the fact that your husband is making threats this early in the divorce process could actually backfire on him.
However, long term, you are going to need to figure out what sort of custody arrangement will work for your family, and you are going to have to figure out how you will make ends meet after the divorce. Our firm helps you work through these issues to develop a plan. We explore your fears and help set you up for success after the divorce.
I want to file for divorce, but I don’t want to lose the house. What are my options?
You should consult with an attorney about your options. An experienced attorney will be able to walk you through the basic analysis of what it would require to keep the house or whether it would be better to let it go, such as whether you can afford the house on your post-divorce budget. (Check out our blog here for a more detailed analysis.)
Our firm takes it a step further. Not only do we have this conversation with you, but we also bring in home mortgage and real estate experts to the meeting. These experts can address refinancing and mortgage options, whether we need to create an income stream for you sooner rather than later, what it would cost to relocate, whether a house and mortgage is the right choice vs. leasing for a while until you get back on your feet. They can look for options that keep you in your children’s school district, or close to a job. And once you figure out what you’d like to do, we work with other resources to help you with the transition.
In short, our innovative approach to divorce can address your questions better than an attorney alone can, and we bring it right to your front door, making it easy for you during a difficult time in your life.
I haven’t worked in so long, how will I find a job to support my family after the divorce?
The reality is that many stay at home moms have to go back into the workforce after a divorce. This is one of the toughest struggles we see our clients go through. They are dealing with the heartache of a broken promise their spouse made to them and the fear that their children will be devastated not just by the divorce but also by the fact that mom now has to leave them and go back to work. It’s not an easy situation to be in. We’re moms; we know.
But we practice law differently. We recognize that moms are incredible organizers, time management specialists, negotiators, great listeners, communicators, and multi-taskers. They are intuitive, creative, and innovative. These are highly valuable skills in today’s workforce. And because we are zealous advocates for our clients not just in the courtroom but also for our clients’ success beyond the divorce, we work with them to recognize these skills too. We work with fabulous career counselors and life coaches (many of them were also stay at home moms who went through divorce) that explore options with our clients. Our team inspires stay at home moms and gets them excited about the opportunity to find themselves again.
Yes, it’s going to be tough. But you will have a team to support you. And as a mom, you’ve negotiated tougher obstacles than this! Come see how we can help you plan a brighter future.
My husband/wife and I agree on our divorce – do we still need a lawyer?
Yes. Let me ask you this: if you had appendicitis, would you remove your appendix yourself? Of course not. You would have a doctor remove it for you, even though it is a common procedure. The same goes for a divorce.
Even when you and your spouse agree, there are many misconceptions out there about divorce, and the court process can be confusing. A lawyer can help guide you through the process, answer your questions and make sure that you are not giving up any rights through your agreement; and draft the agreement so that it complies with the law. For example, child support is often miscalculated – would you want to lose out on receiving or saving hundreds of dollars a month just because you used the wrong information? Or you may have property that your spouse is not entitled to but that you end up splitting with him or her or waiving your rights to it. At the very least, you should consult with an attorney before signing anything.
How much does a divorce cost?
The costs associated with a divorce can vary widely from case to case, and will depend on many factors. For highly contentious divorces that involve children and property, the costs can be tens of thousands of dollars. For less complicated situations, it can cost significantly less. If you have a simple case, you may qualify for our ‘flat fee’ services. These services include all the paperwork and documentation involved in a non-disputed divorce. Ask us for pricing and availability.
How long does a divorce take?
In Texas, there is a 60 day “cooling off” period from the date you file the Petition for Divorce until the day you can finish the divorce. The exception is in cases of domestic violence; in which case a court can waive that waiting period. However, a (contested) divorce can, and often does, take longer than 60 days. It is not uncommon for a divorce to take 6-9 months, and sometimes a year or more. It is ultimately up to you and your spouse and how well you get along (or not) that will determine how long it takes.
What is community property?
Community property is the property, other than separate property, that is acquired by either spouse during the marriage. It includes income and wages, and it applies regardless of which spouse’s name is on the title.
What is separate property?
Separate property is property owned before the marriage, property acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance, and any personal injury awards that are not for lost wages. Gifts can include gifts between spouses, such as jewelry or a car.
How much is child support?
Child support is usually calculated according to guidelines set out in the Texas Family Code. In general, child support is calculated based on the obligor’s (the person paying the support) net income. Net income is gross income minus taxes and health insurance premiums paid for the child(ren). Most other deductions taken from a paycheck are added back in for the calculation.
Once the base amount is determined, the child support is a percentage, based on the number of children to whom the obligor must pay support. For example: one child is 20%, two are 25%, three are 30%, four are 35%, etc. up to 50% of the obligor’s income. However, these percentages can change if there are children from other households for whom the obligor has a duty to support, and the guidelines apply to situations where the obligor’s monthly net resources are not greater than $7,500. In addition, there are a variety of factors that the court can consider in determining the child support amount, and the court does not have to award these percentages.
Can I get alimony?
Alimony under the Texas Family Code is called spousal maintenance. To be eligible for spousal maintenance, you must have been married for at least 10 years (unless you are disabled or in a domestic violence situation), and either be unable to earn a sufficient income to support yourself or be the custodian of a child who requires substantial care due to a disability that prevents you from working.
However, spousal maintenance is not guaranteed. You must also prove to the court that there is a need for the spousal maintenance and that there are sufficient resources to pay for it, along with a variety of other factors. Also, if you are awarded spousal maintenance, then it is capped at up to $5,000 or 20% of gross income, and as follows: for marriages lasting 10-20 years – up to 5 years; for marriages lasting 20-30 years – up to 7 years; and for marriages lasting more than 30 years – up to 10 years of maintenance.
What sets the Law Office of Alexandra M. Geczi, PLLC apart from other firms?
Responsiveness: It is our goal to return calls and emails promptly, either by an attorney or a staff member.
Communication: We meet with clients throughout the process, and we provide regular updates to clients with active cases via email or phone.
Team: Family law is more than just divorce, and other legal matters often go hand-in-hand. We work with a team of professionals to address the needs of your case, including financial planners, counselors, business valuation experts, estate planning attorneys, career coaches, and others.
Technology: We offer online scheduling for appointments, Facetime and phone meetings for clients who can’t make it into the office, free Wi-fi in the office, online forms, and easy online payment options.
Caseload: Unlike high volume law firms, we maintain a caseload that enables us to take a personal interest in each client’s case. Our clients are more than just a file to us.