Interim Executive Director
Monday - Friday
8:00 am to 4:30 pm
500 E. San Antonio
El Paso, Texas 79901
Phone (915) 834-8200
Fax (915) 834-8299
Management Action Plan
Domestic Relations Office
- Many people seek a divorce without hiring an attorney, but the Family Law Information Center ("FLIC") strongly suggests that at some time during the divorce process
you consult with an attorney even if you cannot afford
to hire one to completely handle your divorce for you.
- This flyer is intended to give basic information about the "nuts and bolts" of obtaining a divorce on your own.
If you are the person filing, you are known as the
"Petitioner." If you are the person who receives it, you
are known as the"Respondent."
- A marriage occurs in Texas in 2 ways:
- (1) A wedding ceremony
- (2) An "informal" or "common-law" marriage
- What is "common-law" marriage?
- In Texas, what most people think of as a "common law"
marriage is actually called an "INFORMAL MARRIAGE". If
there has not been a wedding ceremony, a man and woman
may be found to have an "INFORMAL MARRIAGE." In Texas,
people are considered to be married, even if there has
been no wedding, if they:
- (1) Signed a declaration of informal marriage. This form
is provided by the County Clerk at the Courthouse OR
meet both the following requirements:
- Agreed to be married,
- Lived together in Texas after making that agreement, AND
- (2) Told other people that they were married.
- In the case where the informal marriage is by agreement,
either party must start a court action to prove that
informal marriage within two (2) years of any break-up.
- There is no time limit for a man and woman to be
together for an informal marriage.
- Getting a Divorce
- If you need a divorce, you should really try to hire an
attorney. The law can be very complicated, and the more
you have at stake, such as children, property, or debts,
the more important it is for you to get professional
help. If you cannot afford an attorney, and you need a
divorce, you may qualify for help - call the Information
Center at 834-8203 for more information.
- Grounds for Divorce
- Texas has what is often called "no-fault" divorce. The
legal term for this is a divorce based upon
"insupportability," which means that two spouses do not
get along anymore and at least one of them wants a
divorce. Insupportability does not mean your spouse has
failed to support you financially.
- A person can also ask for a divorce based on fault, such
as cruelty, adultery, conviction of a felony,
abandonment,living apart, or confinement in a mental
hospital. Getting a divorce based on fault may or may
not give a party any advantage. To determine which
grounds are best for you, you would need to consult
with an attorney.
- If one spouse requests a divorce based upon
"insupportability" the other spouse usually cannot
stop the divorce, even if he or she hopes to get back
- What is an "uncontested" divorce?
- A divorce is uncontested if both people agree on
EVERYTHING: that they want to be divorced, the custody
of the children, where the children will live, how much
child support will be paid, when each parent will be
entitled to access and possession of the children, how
property will be divided, and who will pay the debts. A
divorce is also "uncontested" if one person does not
show up to court or file an answer to the petition for
divorce. The person who filed for a divorce can then get
a "default" divorce.
- Divorce that involves children.
- Custody - The formal legal term for custody in Texas is
"conservatorship." There are two main types of
arrangements: the parent with primary custody can be the
"sole managing conservator" and the other be the
"possessory conservator" or both parents can be named
"joint managing conservators." The main difference
between the two arrangements is that parents with joint
custody often share more decision-making rights. Joint
custody does NOT automatically mean that the
children will spend half their time with each parent nor
automatically affect the amount of child support.
- Child support - In Texas, child support is based on the
income of the person paying support (known as the
"obligor"), and does not usually take into account the
income of the person receiving support (the "obligee"),
or the income of either party's new spouse. The Texas
Family Code is very specific about what counts as
income: it includes overtime pay, bonuses and
commissions, among others. Once the income is
determined, the obligor owes a certain percentage of
his/her income, depending on the number of children.
- Access and Possession - This is often called
"visitation" but the legal term is "access and
possession." When two parents are both helping to
raise children, the non-custodial parent is not just
"visiting," he or she is PARENTING those children.
Texas has a very specific standard possession order
that is presumed to be the minimum amount of time a
child three or older should spend with a
non-custodial parent. This presumption may be overcome
and a different schedule used. This possession order is
quite complicated and often difficult to understand.
- What if a baby has been born that is not the biological
child of the husband, or if the wife is pregnant by
another man at the time of the divorce? The petition and
decree need to state that case. If a judge signs a
decree saying that a child is "a child of the marriage"
this is a judicial finding that the child is the
husband's, and it normally cannot be changed later.