Edna Telles
Interim Executive Director


Monday - Friday
8:00 am to 4:30 pm

500 E. San Antonio
Suite LL-108
El Paso, Texas 79901
Phone (915) 834-8200
Fax (915) 834-8299

Management Action Plan

Domestic Relations Office

  • Divorce Law
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  • 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.
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  • 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."
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  • A marriage occurs in Texas in 2 ways:
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  • (1) A wedding ceremony
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  • (2) An "informal" or "common-law" marriage
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  • 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:
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  • (1) Signed a declaration of informal marriage. This form is provided by the County Clerk at the Courthouse OR meet both the following requirements:
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  • Agreed to be married,
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  • Lived together in Texas after making that agreement, AND
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  • (2) Told other people that they were married.
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  • 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.
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  • There is no time limit for a man and woman to be together for an informal marriage.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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 together.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • Paternity
  • 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.