Family Law Services
Divorce proceedings can lead to emotional hardship and great expense for your family. When facing divorce proceedings, the assistance of an experienced lawyer can make all the difference. You need a lawyer who understands your concerns, your needs, your goals, and who will work to help you find the closure your family needs to move forward. Sally Bybee has a keen ability to handle the most complex property and custody cases. Sally uses her business background daily in business issues relating to divorce, including property division, characterization and business valuation. Sally is equally qualified to handle issues related to difficult custody cases, including conservatorship, possession, child support, and modification of child-related orders. Sally Bybee is experienced in negotiating a settlement outside the courtroom; however, if litigation becomes necessary, she has exceptional trial skills.
Premarital and Postmarital Property Agreements
Premarital agreements mean agreements between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage. The agreements are in writing and signed by both parties. The parties to a premarital agreement may arrange their marital property rights as they desire. However, the right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement. Premarital agreements often pertain to the disposition of property on separation or divorce, and spousal support.
Postmarital Agreements, also known as Marital Property Agreements, are agreements between married persons. Like Premarital Agreements, the agreements are in writing and signed by both parties. In Marital Property Agreements, a husband and wife often change the character of community property into separate property, agree that income from separate property will be separate property, and convert separate property into community property. A partition agreement is, however, void with respect to the rights of a preexisting creditor whose rights are intended to be defrauded by it.
Often, clients like to consult with an attorney to determine whether or not to proceed with divorce. During this consultation, an attorney can help a client understand the divorce process and discuss with the client what life would be like after divorce, both in terms of financial issues and child-related concerns. Finally, a client can get advice and guidance to assess how to best prepare for the divorce.
Sometimes, people wish to separate without actually filing for divorce. In this case, there are many ways to protect the parties such as entering into a Separation Agreement, or filing a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship which would control child related issues without actually filing for divorce.
A paternity action may be brought by, among others, a child, a mother, a man whose paternity is to be adjudicated or a government agency. Sally Bybee represents all non-government persons in adjudicating or defending paternity.
Step Parent Adoptions
If one parent is involved in a child’s life and the other parent is absent, when the involved parent remarries, the involved parent often desires for the other parent’s rights to be terminated, and the step-parent to adopt the child. You need a family law attorney to assist you with the process of petitioning the court to have the biological parent’s parental rights terminated along with a simultaneous petition for your new spouse to adopt your child or children.
Domestic Abuse/Family Violence
If there is domestic abuse happening in your home, there are legal remedies available and you must act quickly to protect yourself and your children. If there has been domestic abuse or family violence, you may want to have the abusive family member excluded from the residence or other protective measures to be put in place. In this case, consult a family law attorney about filing an Application for Protective Order.
Family violence is defined in the Texas Family Code as “an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself.”
Commonly called alimony, spousal maintenance is money one spouse must pay to support the other during or after a divorce. If you are concerned about how you will be able to support yourself after a divorce, your family law attorney can help you determine whether you may qualify for spousal maintenance.
In 1995, the Texas legislature adopted a spousal maintenance statute. This chapter was expanded in 2011 to increase payments to the party receiving spousal maintenance. This chapter of the Family Code authorized post-divorce maintenance in Texas under certain circumstances. With some minor exceptions, the basic requirements are that the party seeking maintenance must have been married ten years and be unable to be self-supporting.
The monthly maintenance payment is limited to no more than $5,000 or 20% of the payor’s average monthly gross income, whichever is less. The length of the payment depends on the length of the marriage, but basically ranges from five to ten years. However, if the former spouse is physically or mentally disabled or is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who has a physical or mental disability, payments may be extended for as long as the disability continues. The statute now provides for wage-withholding orders for the collection of spousal maintenance.
If your former spouse is not complying with the terms of your divorce decree, you may get legal help to force compliance. For example, if your ex-spouse is not paying child support or following the possession schedule as required by the decree, ask your attorney about an enforcement action to make your ex-spouse comply.
If an Order is entered by the Court, and if a party does not comply with the Order, an enforcement action may be brought. The enforcement action may be filed to enforce any matter in the Order, including, but not limited to, failure to pay child support, failure to allow a parent to exercise possession, failure to divide property, or failure to pay spousal maintenance. There are time limitations for enforcement actions, and there are affirmative defenses to enforcement actions.
The Texas Family Code provides very limited provisions for an aggrieved party to seek an annulment rather than a divorce to end a marriage. If you believe your marriage may qualify for an annulment, consult a family law attorney to learn more about the differences between divorce and annulment. Some annulment provisions pertain to:
- Underage marriage;
- Marriage under the influence of alcohol or narcotics;
- Fraud, duress, or force;
- Mental incapacity;
- Concealed divorce; and
- Marriage less than 72 hours after issuance of license.