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Divorce

What are the Child’s Best Interests Factors Under Galveston, TX Custody Laws?

By | Divorce

When a Texas divorce case involves minor children of the two parties, a court must address such issues as custody, visitation, and support. Since the law generally favors a situation where the child has solid relationships with both parents, joint custody is usually the preferred arrangement. From there, however, the statutes covering custody and visitation can be very complicated. In making a determination, the court is guided by state law on the child’s best interests, which includes different factors related to the child’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. An experienced Texas divorce attorney can provide more specific details on how the statute applies to your case, but some general information may be useful.

Texas Law on the Child’s Best Interests

Both statutory and case law have been instrumental in developing the child’s best interests standard. The 1976 case of Holley v. Adams was the first to list out nine factors for a court to review in determining whether a custody and visitation arrangement serves the child’s best interests. They are:

  1. The desires of the child, where appropriate depending on age;
  2. The child’s current and future physical and emotional needs;
  3. Whether there is any emotional or physical threat to the child;
  4. Parental abilities, understanding, and involvement with the child’s needs;
  5. The presence of programs available to assist the parent and child in meeting developmental needs;
  6. Each parent’s plans for raising the child;
  7. The stability of the residential environment where the child will live;
  8. Any conduct demonstrating that a parent’s relationship with the child is not suitable, proper, or advantageous;
  9. Any excuses a parent uses to justify certain acts or omissions with respect to the parent-child relationship.

When Courts Consider the Child’s Best Interests

The interests of the child are always a primary consideration in divorce cases regarding custody and visitation, but it is important to understand how the standard applies.

  • Agreements on Child Custody and Visitation: Texas law encourages divorcing parents to agree on issues related to minor children, but that does not give the parties complete freedom to decide custody and visitation. A judge will review an agreement to ensure it complies with the child’s best interests standard before signing off.
  • Disputes Regarding Care for Minor Children: Where parents cannot agree on visitation, custody, or both, the matter goes before the court in a litigation-style hearing. Parties in dispute can present evidence on how they each meet the child’s best interests test, and the court will issue a decision.
  • Domestic Violence Situations: Where there is a history or threat of violence toward the child or one of the parents, a court may apply the child’s best interests standard to deny visitation or custody under #3 above.

Discuss Visitation and Custody with a Knowledgeable Galveston, TX Divorce Lawyer

If you have questions or would like to know more about how the child’s best interests standard applies in your divorce case, please call 281-843-9776 to reach the Galveston, TX offices of Tad Nelson & Associates. We can set up a consultation to review your legal options with a dedicated attorney. You can also check out our website for more information on child visitation and custody in divorce cases.

Dividing Business Interests in Galveston, TX Divorce Cases

By | Divorce

While parties are free to agree on property division in a divorce case, in the event of a dispute, Texas law requires a court to determine a division of marital assets that is just and right. The judge’s job is relatively straightforward when it comes to distributing such items as a residence, vehicle, bank accounts, and other assets. After evaluating the fair market value of the property, the proceeds are split equitably between divorcing spouses.

However, if you are an owner or stockholder of a privately held business, property division in divorce raises very complicated questions. Interests in a company are unique, typically requiring application of complex valuation formulas. If you are involved in such a situation, talk to an experienced attorney about divorce for business owners under Texas law.

Determining Business Value

Because of the technical nature of placing a value on a business, it is usually necessary to retain financial experts to assist with the assessment. These specialists employ generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) to establish value, including:

  1. Book Value: This approach analyzes the assets, income, and debts of a company. Real estate, equipment, vehicles, accounts receivable, and other types of property are itemized, and the financial expert calculates the current value minus depreciation over time. The Book Value method is a basic way to determine business value, but there are drawbacks. It does not account for items unless they have a defined value. Intellectual property, goodwill, and the owner’s unique contribution are excluded, even where they are central to a company’s operations.
  2. Fair Market Value: Here, a company’s worth is established by determining what buyers have recently paid for a comparable business, operating in a similar industry. The focus is on buy-sell transactions for companies of the same relative size, age, and location.
  3. Going Concern Assumption: Under GAAP, this approach starts by looking at the status quo, assuming that the business will continue to operate under the same circumstances and economic conditions that exist at the time of valuation. Unlike the Book Value, certain assets of indefinite value – such as intellectual property and goodwill – are included.

Evaluating Intangible Assets

A company’s reputation and brand have value. Therefore, this goodwill should be part of a business valuation for purposes of asset division in a Texas divorce case. When one spouse is the primary source of goodwill, determining value can be challenging. The company is worth less by taking away that party’s contributions, expertise, and business relationships. Other assets that are difficult to assess for value may include intellectual property and trade secrets.

When it comes to evaluating intangible assets, the Going Concern Valuation is usually the most effective as compared to the others. This approach includes these values, resulting in a more accurate assessment of a company’s value.

Consult with a Knowledgeable Galveston, TX Divorce Attorney About Business Interests

If you own a business and are going through divorce, it is essential to work with an experienced lawyer for purposes of property division. To schedule a consultation regarding your case, please contact a lawyer at the Galveston, TX offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at 281-843-9776. You can also visit our website for more information.

Finding Assets Your Spouse is Hiding in a Galveston, TX Divorce Case

By | Divorce

In a Texas divorce, there are multiple facets of the case that depend upon determining the full value of the assets which spouses acquire during their marriage. A judge must know how much the entire marital estate is worth before issuing an order divvying up property and deciding whether an award for spousal support is appropriate. Therefore, if one spouse is concealing assets to avoid having them factor into asset division or alimony, it is not possible to enter a final divorce decree that is fair and equitable for both parties. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets under these circumstances, state law does provide options for bringing this property properly before the court. An experienced Galveston, TX divorce lawyer can tell you more about your legal options, and some general information may be useful.

Texas Procedural Rules on Discovery

The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure apply to all civil cases in the state, including divorce proceedings. Just as you could use these rules to obtain information from the other party in a personal injury or breach of contract case, you can take advantage of them to find hidden assets. Available tools include:

  • Requests for Production of Documents: Through your attorney, you can request that your spouse produce all documents related to real estate or personal property. Paperwork such as deeds, bank statements, federal and state tax returns, business interest, and other documents may reveal the existence of assets. Once you identify these items, you can bring them before the judge.
  • Written Interrogatories: This method allows you to ask your spouse questions, in writing, that are likely to lead to discovery of real and personal property. You can then ensure that these items are included in the marital estate.
  • Oral Depositions: You can request a party to a divorce case to appear for an in-person interview session, where your attorney asks questions about income, marital property, and related matters. An oral deposition takes place before a certified court reporter who records the proceedings, so you can use the statements to find concealed property.

Penalties for Hiding Assets or Dishonesty in Discovery

Interrogatories and oral depositions require the responses of your spouse to be sworn to under oath, which is the equivalent of testifying in court. There are severe penalties for providing inaccurate, misleading, or dishonest answers to questions. In a divorce case, a party who commits fraud will be ordered to return the assets so they can be considered in determining property division and spousal support. Plus, the party could be ordered to pay a fine or the legal fees related to uncovering the concealed assets.

Discuss Hidden Assets with an Experienced Galveston, TX Divorce Lawyer

As you can see, Texas law provides you with powerful tools to discover hidden property and wrongdoing in a divorce case. Our attorneys at Tad Nelson & Associates have high-level skills in all aspects of divorce law, but we also have comprehensive knowledge of these discovery rules to ensure fairness in your case. Please contact us today at 281-843-9776 or online to schedule a consultation at our Galveston, TX office.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Galveston, TX Uncontested Divorce?

By | Divorce

In short, there is no requirement under Texas law to have an attorney represent you in any case, including divorce proceedings. The idea of representing yourself is probably attractive considering that you will not pay legal fees, especially if you and your spouse can agree on the important issues. In the absence of disputes over asset division, alimony, and child custody, visitation, and support, you may not expect your legal rights to be compromised. Still, there are a number of reasons you should give careful thought to consulting with an experienced lawyer, regardless of whether your case is a contested or uncontested divorce in Texas. A few key considerations include:

Eligibility Rules for Uncontested Divorce in Texas

There are very strict requirements for taking advantage of Texas’ uncontested divorce process, so you and your spouse only qualify if:

  • You have no minor children together;
  • You are both in agreement about ending your marriage;
  • There are no ongoing proceedings regarding a bankruptcy case;
  • You do not have joint ownership of property;
  • There are no retirement benefits to divide between you; and,
  • Neither of you will seek spousal support, otherwise known as alimony.

Though these requirements seem simple, the details of the statute are much more complicated. You could waste considerable time and effort by trying to file uncontested divorce, only to find that your case must be dismissed because you are not eligible.

Filing Proper Forms and Supporting Documents

To initiate a contested or uncontested divorce case, you must complete and file and proper forms in the Texas county of your residence. These documents are complex; many of these forms must also include supporting documentation.

In addition, Affidavits and other documents require you to swear to and sign under oath. This is the equivalent of testifying in court, so there are serious consequences if you include false or misleading statements – even if you do so by mistake.

Understanding Your Rights

Without a legal background, you put your rights at risk by representing yourself in a Texas divorce case. You may get along with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse and be able to come to an agreement on asset division and spousal support, however, the law requires fairness. If you do not know how to determine what is “fair,” it is likely that you will not get it. Plus, you do have rights regarding child custody, visitation, and support. Your relationship with your child could be in jeopardy or you could receive insufficient child support without the help of an attorney.

Schedule a Consultation with a Dedicated Texas Divorce Lawyer

You may not think you need an attorney to assist with your divorce care, regardless of whether it is contested or uncontested. However, when you do not have comprehensive knowledge of Texas divorce law and cannot foresee what could happen in the future, you can see the importance of having a qualified advocate on your side. Please contact our knowledgeable divorce lawyers at Tad Nelson & Associates to schedule a consultation. You can reach our Galveston, TX by calling 281-843-9776 or contact us online for more information on our legal services.

How Do Texas Courts Handle Undocumented Marriages Performed in Foreign Countries?

By | Divorce

In a contested divorce case, one of the first things you will need to establish before a Galveston judge is that there is, in fact, a legal marriage to dissolve. Texas does recognize common law marriages under certain circumstances, that is marriages where the parties did not go through a licensing procedure or formal ceremony. Obviously, Texas also recognizes marriages performed in other states, or even foreign countries where marriage customs may be sharply different than those in the United States.

Galveston Appeals Court Upholds Wife’s Divorce From Nigerian Husband

Nevertheless, just because a marriage was performed according to foreign custom or law, that does not mean a Texas divorce court cannot assert jurisdiction over the parties, assuming they otherwise satisfy the state’s residency requirements. For instance, if you have lived in Galveston County for at least 90 days and been a resident of Texas for at least six months, you can file for divorce here, even if the other spouse does not live in the state. However, the non-resident spouse may still challenge the court’s “personal jurisdiction” in the case.

Recently the Texas 14th District Court of Appeals, which exercises jurisdiction over divorce cases from Galveston and several surrounding counties, addressed a complicated divorce involving two Nigerian nationals living in the United States. The wife, who lives in Harris County, sued the husband for divorce in 2013. She alleged the couple had been legally married since 1984, when a traditional Nigerian marriage ceremony was performed without either of them present.

According to the testimony of the wife and an expert she hired, such proxy marriages–which are referred to in Nigeria as “engagements”–are commonplace. Basically, the prospective husband asks his family to write the prospective wife’s family for permission to marry. According to the wife, she and her husband had actually lived together for some time and conceived a child before going through the formal engagement ceremony. Ultimately, the couple had three children.

The wife’s expert, an immigration attorney, further testified that these kinds of engagement ceremonies have long been “recognized as valid in the United States.” He cited federal immigration regulations, which expressly acknowledge “customary law by proxy” marriages where the parties are “not physically present for the wedding ceremony.” Such marriages are apparently sufficient to establish marriage for a variety of legal purposes even though there is no legal documentation of their existence.

And that was apparently good enough for the divorce courts in this state to conclude there was a valid marriage–or at the very least, what Texas would consider a common law marriage. The 14th District, rejecting the husband’s appeal from a final divorce decree issued by the trial court, held the expert’s testimony, combined with that of the wife and other evidence, was enough to establish the couple was legally married in Nigeria. Furthermore, given the husband actively participated in the divorce trial, he had effectively waived any right to challenge the court’s personal jurisdiction over him.

Speak With a Galveston Divorce Attorney Today

Never assume that just because your intimate relationship lacks documentation of a formal marriage that one does not legally exist. As the case above illustrates, this is a special concern for people who immigrate to Texas from countries where customary and traditional legal marriages are still enforced. If you have any questions regarding the legal status of your relationship and need advice from an experienced Galveston divorce lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today at (281) 843-9776.

Can I Go to Jail for Failing to Comply With the Terms of My Divorce Settlement?

By | Divorce

Divorce cases involving disputes over the division of marital property can get quite heated. For many Galveston-area couples, it is not so much about the money or the property itself as it is not letting the other spouse “win.” Such emotionally driven decisions often serve to drag out an already lengthy process. And in the heat of the battle, some people forget they are still dealing with a legal system that requires everyone to follow certain rules–or face the consequences.

Court Affirms Contempt Finding After Ex-Husband Waits 3 Years to Turn Over Property to Ex-Wife

Consider the fact that once a Galveston judge issues a final divorce decree, any incorporated marital property division is not a formal judgment that both sides must comply with. To put it another way, if the judge orders you to turn over certain assets to your now-former spouse, that is not a request. It is an order. And if you disobey that order, you can be held in contempt of court and possibly sent to jail.

If you don’t think that can happen, consider this recent Texas divorce case. The couple in this case were legally divorced in 2012. At that time the judge entered an order diving the couple’s marital property. Among other provisions, the judge ordered the husband to turn over 50 percent of the after-tax proceeds from the deferred compensation he received from his employer. This included giving his ex-wife copies of all documents related to the deferred compensation within a certain time frame.

More than three years later, the wife returned to court and filed a motion seeking enforcement of the judgment on this issue. Apparently, the husband never complied with the court’s orders. Ultimately, the court found the husband committed 45 violations of its prior orders. Consequently, he was held in contempt of court and ordered to spend 15 days in jail for each violation–to be served concurrently–unless he complied.

The husband turned over the property at this point. But he also asked a Texas appeals court to quash the contempt order. The higher court declined to do so. The appeals judges were not persuaded by the husband’s defense for his earlier non-compliance, which basically came down to, “I didn’t understand the judge’s order.”

Specifically, the husband said the 2013 division of property order was “ambiguous” as to the calculation of tax rates on his deferred compensation. But as the appeals court pointed out, the husband never raised this point in the three years that elapsed between the court’s order and his ex-wife filing her contempt motion. More to the point, the appeals court said the order was never ambiguous. Both sides proposed different methods for calculating the tax, and the judge simply sided with the wife. The husband may have disagreed with the outcome, but that did not make the judge’s decision “ambiguous.”

Consult With a Galveston Divorce Lawyer Today

In any contested Galveston divorce case, each spouse has the right to present evidence regarding the division of property and have a judge resolve any disagreements. But once the judge resolves those issues, barring an appellate court’s intervention, the order is final and binding on both parties. This is why it is critical to start working with an experienced Galveston divorce attorney early in the process, so you can identify any potential property issues and address them in a timely manner. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 843-9776 to speak with a qualified divorce lawyer about your case today.

How One Spouse’s “Waste of Community Assets” Can Impact a Galveston Divorce Case

By | Divorce

If you are married, any property that you and your spouse acquire during the marriage is considered part of your “community” estate. In the event of divorce, a Galveston judge will divide a couple’s community property in a manner that is “just and right.” This does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. If one spouse has engaged in reckless spending without the other’s knowledge, the judge may consider such a “waste of community assets” as a factor supporting the award of a greater share to the innocent spouse.

Husband Penalized for Failing to Explain Spending Over $800,000

A recent Texas divorce case helps illustrate this point. The couple in this case were married for approximately 36 years. The husband left the marital home and moved in with another woman. During this time he withdrew more than $700,000 from his retirement account.

When questioned in court, the husband could not account for all the money he spent. An accountant retained by the wife determined the husband spent about $800,000 in marital assets during their separation, of which about $700,000 could not be traced. The husband, who represented himself at trial, neither challenged the accountant’s findings nor offered any rebuttal financial evidence of his own.

The divorce court ultimately favored the wife when making a final property division. The judge found the husband “wasted community assets in the amount of approximately $800,000,” and charged that amount against him “as if the estate was reconstituted to include the funds that were wasted.” The husband appealed the judge’s order, but a Texas appeals court affirmed the decision.

The appeals court noted that a “fiduciary duty exists between a husband and a wife as to the community property controlled by each spouse.” While not “fraud” in the criminal sense, “fraud on the community” nevertheless has “all of the consequences and legal effects of actual fraud because it tends to deceive the other spouse or violates confidences that exist as a result of the marriage.” So in the context of this case, the husband’s unaccounted wasteful spending was “fraud” against the wife.

Indeed, anytime one spouse spends or dissipates marital property without the knowledge or consent of the other, there is a “presumption of waste” under Texas law. The disposing spouse therefore has the burden to prove his actions were not fraudulent or wasteful. Here, the husband not only admitted to withdrawing $700,000 from his retirement accounts–which were indisputably community property–but he neglected to challenge the findings of the wife’s accountant. This was sufficient, the appeals court said, to support the “presumption of waste” against the husband.

Get Advice From a Galveston Divorce Attorney

Do not assume that just because you are getting a divorce, you are free to withdraw funds from accounts you jointly hold from your spouse. And never try to represent yourself in divorce court, especially if the other spouse has accused you of financial misconduct. You should always work with a qualified Galveston divorce lawyer who can advise you on how to properly deal with your finances. Call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 843-9776 if you are in the process of going through a divorce and need advice today.

 

Texas Supreme Court to Reconsider Property Division in Fault-Based Divorces

By | Divorce

Texas is a community property state. In plain terms, this means that all property acquired during a couple’s marriage is presumed to belong to both spouses equally. But this does not necessarily mean that community property is divided equally in the event of divorce. So if you live in the Galveston area and sue your spouse for divorce on grounds of fault you can ask for a greater share of the community property if you can prove such a distribution would be “just and right.”

Wife Seeks 100% of Marital Estate Due to Husband’s Child Abuse

The Supreme Court of Texas recently agreed to review the “just and right” distribution of property in a divorce case arising under particularly horrific circumstances. What is especially notable here is the spouse who initiated the appeal actually previously received a disproportionate share of the couple’s community property–80 percent–but she maintains that she is entitled to 100 percent as a matter of law. This is what the Supreme Court will have to determine.

The wife in this case originally sought a no-fault divorce. But she later moved to seek divorce on grounds the husband’s “cruelty.” More precisely, the wife said the breakup of the marriage was the direct result of the husband sexually abusing the wife’s two daughters. In a separate criminal proceeding, the husband was convicted of “continuous sexual abuse” of a minor under the age of 14 and is presently serving a 60 year prison sentence.

An intermediate appeals court held that despite the husband’s unfathomable acts, that alone did not justify awarding 100 percent of community property to the wife. The appeals court cited a 1980 Texas Supreme Court ruling that said division of a marital estate “should not be a punishment for the spouse at fault.” In her present appeal, the wife argues the intermediate court “misconstrued” the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling and took an unfairly “narrow view of egregious fault by the husband in the breakup of the parties’ marriage.”

As the wife explained in her formal brief to the Supreme Court, the primary marital asset is the couple’s home, where the wife currently resides with her daughters. During the husband’s criminal trial, the daughters testified the home is where the husband committed his multiple acts of sexual abuse. Given these facts, the wife argued it would not constitute “punishment” to award her sole ownership of “residence that was the crime scene for the egregious behavior” of the husband. In short, the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling “should not be read to approve of the property division at bar that rewards a husband who has been convicted of multiple criminal acts on his wife’s children.”

In a reply brief, the husband argued the divorce court acted within its discretion to award the wife an 80 percent share of the marital estate, and that “property divisions never have one correct answer” under law. The husband maintained his criminal record should not be given “exclusive” weight and that the Supreme Court has never “identified a circumstance requiring an unequal distribution of the marital estate, let alone an award of the entire estate to one spouse.”

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in this case for February 28, 2018. A final decision is expected sometime thereafter.

Speak With a Galveston Divorce Attorney Today

If the Court sides with the wife in this case, it could represent a critical shift in Texas divorce law with respect to fault and property division. If you are contemplating divorce yourself and need advice on how the law may affect your situation, contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in Galveston at (281) 843-9776 today.

Overcoming the Presumption Against Alimony in a Galveston Divorce Case

By | Divorce

Spousal maintenance–aka alimony–is not as common as you might think in Galveston divorce cases. In fact, Texas law contains a presumption against the award of spousal maintenance by either side in a divorce. But this presumption can be overcome in a number of ways. For instance, if the couple has been married for at least 10 years, a spouse may receive alimony if he or she can prove they lack “the ability to earn sufficient income” for their “minimum reasonable needs.”

Wife Receives Spousal Maintenance Due to Limited Job Training

So how does a spouse go about proving they lack the “ability” to earn enough income? A recent divorce case from nearby Harris County offers a helpful illustration. In this case, a husband sued his wife for divorce. The couple had been legally married for about 10 years, and they had lived together as husband and wife for a longer period–in fact, the wife was just 16 when the relationship began.

According to the wife’s testimony at the couple’s divorce trial, her husband prohibited her from working outside the home during the marriage. After divorce proceedings began, the wife found work as a waitress, and later as a retail clerk. She testified her monthly income was insufficient to meet her “reasonable minimal needs.”

More to the point, the wife said her limited education–she only finished high school–prevented her from obtaining a higher paying job. While she was interested in acquiring additional training to work in the healthcare field, she said that would take at least five or six years, given she had to work full-time and support two young children. Indeed, Texas officials told her she had to maintain her current full-time job in order to retain custody of her children.

The husband testified he never prohibited his wife from working during the marriage, and that her failure to obtain additional education could be attributed to alcohol abuse. The trial judge ultimately credited the wife’s testimony and awarded her spousal support. The husband appealed.

But the Texas First District Court of Appeals affirmed the award. As the appeals court explained, the wife presented sufficient evidence to “overcome the statutory presumption against spousal maintenance.” Specifically, she “exercised diligence” in obtaining full-time work and “attempting to develop the necessary skills to provide for her minimum reasonable needs,” while acknowledging the limitations imposed by state officials.

The First District also upheld the length of the spousal maintenance award. Alimony in Texas is not for an indefinite period. By law when a couple is married between 10 and 20 years, the maximum duration of alimony that a court award is five years. That is precisely what the trial court ordered here. The husband argued that was too long. But the appeals court said five years was reasonable given it would take the wife that time to complete an educational program so she could find a better-paying job.

Do You Need Help From a Galveston Divorce Attorney?

Rebuilding your life following a divorce can be overwhelming, especially if you lack the financial means to fully support yourself and your family. An experienced Galveston divorce attorney can help you by working to make sure you obtain the most favorable financial terms in any final settlement or judgment. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in Galveston at (281) 843-9776 if you need to schedule a consultation with a lawyer today.

 

How Legal Notice Requirements Protect Your Rights in a Contested Galveston Divorce Case

By | Divorce

Obtaining a divorce in Galveston is not a quick process. Even in cases where the parties’ split is amicable, there are certain legal deadlines and waiting periods that must be observed. Generally speaking, such delays are necessary to ensure that both spouses receive proper notice of any court proceedings and have an opportunity to prepare a response.

Appeals Court Reverses Divorce Judgment Due to Lack of Proper Notice to Wife

For example, under Texas civil court rules, when a contested divorce case is initially set for trial, the judge must give both sides at least 45 days notice of the hearing. In other words, a judge cannot receive a contested divorce petition and schedule the trial for a week later. This violates the basic due process rights of the litigants, especially the spouse who is responding to the divorce petition.

When a spouse does not receive proper notice, he or she may move to set aside any adverse order against them. Here is a recent Texas divorce case on point. A husband sued his wife for divorce. In his petition, the husband asked for sole custody of the couple’s three children and an order requiring his wife to pay child support.

The wife contested the divorce petition and filed her own counter-petition seeking sole custody and child support from the husband. She also alleged the husband committed acts of domestic violence and should be denied “access to the children.”

In November 2016, the judge assigned to the case set a trial date that was 42 days later. The wife did not appear at the hearing. After hearing only the husband’s side of the story, the judge granted default judgment in his favor: The husband was awarded sole custody of the children and the wife would have to pay child support.

The wife appealed, arguing the trial judge failed to comply with the 45-day notice requirement. The appeals court agreed. While a party is free to waive their right to receive notice by showing up at the hearing, the wife here did not appear. Therefore, even if she may have been otherwise aware of the hearing date, the appeals court found there was no evidence “to show that [the wife] had received proper notice of this hearing date.” And since the 45-day notice rule is a basic component of due process under Texas law, the wife was entitled, at a minimum, to a new trial. Accordingly, the appeals court reversed the trial court’s previous award of default judgment to the husband.

Get Advice from a Galveston Divorce Lawyer Today

Deadlines matter in divorce litigation. While it is possible to shorten the process to a certain extent if all parties are on board, you should never feel pressured to waive your legal rights, especially when custody of your children is at stake. If you live in the Galveston area and have been served divorce papers–or are thinking about serving them yourself–you need to work with an experienced attorney who can make sure the courts and the other side comply with all legal deadlines. If you need to speak with a Galveston divorce attorney today, call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 843-9776.