South Texas Family & Estate Lawyer

Tel: (210) 224-4077


Contact Info

Primary Location:
6840 San Pedro Ave.
San Antonio, Texas 78216
9:00AM to 5:00PM
9:00AM to 12:00PM

Secondary Location:
700 N. St. Mary’s Street,
Suite 1400
San Antonio, Texas 78205
By Appointment Only

(210) 224-4077



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Law Firm Blog

Texas Divorce Basics

If you're thinking about divorce, this blog will help you understand the basics:

  • residency requirements
  • procedures
  • how long
  • grounds
  • dividing property
  • permanent alimony
  • health insurance

What are the Residency Requirements for a Texas Divorce?

At least one spouse must have continuously resided in Texas for 6 months (Texas Family Code §6.301). Also, one spouse must have resided for at least 3 months in the county where filing for divorce.

The Process

Usually, one spouse (known as the Petitioner) files his/her "Petition for Divorce" with the court, then personally serves the other spouse (known as the Respondent). If amicable, the Respondent can waive the right to be personally served.

When filing, a Petitioner can ask for a temporary restraining order (TRO) requiring that:

  • no assets disappear before they can be divided by the court, and
  • the spouses act civilly toward each other and not threaten or harass each other

The court may issue temporary orders involving visitation, child support, who uses the family home, and other matters. The order may address temporary spousal support (sometimes called 'alimony pendente lite', or pending litigation) and attorneys' fees.

The spouses usually engage in discovery, where they seek more information and documents from each other.

If spouses can settle their case (either by themselves, or through the help of mediation or their respective attorneys), they can avoid the expense, anxiety and time lost preparing for and attending trial. The many benefits of mediation are the subject of another article on this website.

If spouses can't resolve all of their issues, they go to trial.

How Long Does Divorce Take?

At least 2 months in Texas; the divorce can't be granted for at least 60 days after filing the petition. Depending on the parties' cooperation, civility, child and financial issues, a divorce can take months or years. It usually depends on how contentious the spouses are.

What are the Legal Grounds for a Texas Divorce?

Texas law allows for "no-fault" divorces. Texas also has statutory "fault grounds":

  • adultery
  • cruelty
  • long-term incarceration
  • confinement to a mental hospital
  • living apart for at least three years

See Texas Family Code §6.001, et. seq.

Dividing Property

Texas is a 'community property' state, meaning all property acquired while married belongs equally to both spouses. 'Separate property' (for example, through inheritance or by gift) belongs to the designated spouse, as long as that property is separately maintained and not commingled (mixed together). Usually, courts divide property one-half for each spouse; but there are many factors that affect property division (for example, the spouses' earning capacity, and whether there was fault in the marriage's breakup).

Will I Receive or be Obligated to Pay Permanent Alimony (Spousal Support)?

To be eligible for alimony (called "maintenance" in Texas), the requesting spouse must satisfy one of these requirements:

  • the paying spouse committed a crime of family violence within 2 years of the divorce filing date
  • the requesting spouse cannot earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability
  • the requesting spouse was married to the other spouse for 10 years or longer and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs
  • the requesting spouse is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs

See Texas Family Code §8.051. Whether called alimony, spousal support or maintenance, this is usually a huge issue for divorcing couples.

Post-Divorce Medical Benefits

Under Federal law, you might be able to keep health insurance with your former spouse's group plan. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) applies to employers with 20 or more employees. Generally, those employers must offer "continuation coverage" for the first 3 years after the marriage ends. The employer can charge the former spouse for coverage, but not more than 2 percent what other employees pay. There is a 60-day deadline to file after your marriage ends.

The Law Office of Jaclyn Y. Roberson, PLLC is a family law and estate planning firm based in San Antonio serving the citizens of South and Central Texas.

Before You Pay a Texas Traffic Ticket

Nobody wants a traffic ticket, wherever they live. And motor vehicle violations are 'equal opportunity', aggravating celebrities (Wedding Crashers' Vince Vaughn), sports stars (Golf's Tiger Woods) and the not-so-famous.

If you receive a Texas motor vehicle citation, you'll want to keep a few things in mind.

The Texas Surcharge System

Texas' Department of Public Safety (DPS) established the "Driver Responsibility Program" to assess surcharges. Each time a surcharge is added to an individual's driving record, she is notified by mail. Surcharges are in addition to other fees, and do not replace a suspension, revocation, denial, disqualification or cancellation resulting from the same conviction.

Surcharges are assessed in two ways:

  • Point System
  • Conviction Based

They are not mutually exclusive; if you receive both points and a conviction, you will receive separate surcharges for each offense.

Surcharges based on points start once you have 6 points. These surcharges are uniform throughout Texas. After you get more than 6 points, your surcharge is $100. More points will cost you $25 each point. Texas reviews your driving record annually, and your surcharges must be paid each year when points remain on your record.

For convictions on more serious charges, surcharges are paid for 3 years. Although no points are added to your driving record, conviction-based surcharges are expensive. For example:

  • for a DWI (driving while intoxicated), the first offense carries a $1,000 surcharge
  • for a DWI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than 0.16, you will face a surcharge of $2,000 per year

How to Pay for a Texas Traffic Ticket

After you get a Texas traffic ticket, you have 20 days to decide whether to pay or fight it. There are several convenient ways to pay, but not all methods may be available in your county. Typically, traffic tickets can be paid in person, by mail, online or via telephone.

What NOT to do When You Receive a Texas Motor Vehicle Violation

Do NOT ignore your traffic ticket, no matter how trivial or 'minor' it may seem. Otherwise, you could be arrested if a warrant is issued. Your driver's license also may be automatically suspended. In either case, you will incur more time and expense than if you simply paid the original ticket.

What Happens When You Pay the Ticket

If you opt to pay your Texas traffic ticket, you are admitting guilt in the case. A more serious criminal case can have significant consequences (points, surcharges, increased insurance rates, possible incarceration). You should consult with an experienced Texas traffic ticket attorney for advice.

The court may let you take a driver safety program, which may help remove points, lessen fines, fees, penalties, or even dismiss the case. You should seek advice from experienced legal counsel to guide you.

The Law Office of Jaclyn Y. Roberson, PLLC is a family law and estate planning firm based in San Antonio serving the citizens of South and Central Texas.

“Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin Reportedly Dies Without a Will

News outlets report that the legendary musician Aretha Franklin, who died in August, 2018, did not have a will (New York Times). Probate disputes often abound in high-profile cases, especially where there is no will. For example, Prince died intestate (without a will), and his estate is rife with infighting among family members, lawyers, and others who claim interests in his music rights. Resolving those complex disputes can take years, and the substantial expense of litigation drains the estate assets.

What Happens if I Die without a Will in Texas?

If you die without a will, the State of Texas will write one for you. That is called “intestate succession”. The Texas statute is lengthy and comprehensive. In descending order of priority, a decedent’s estate will pass first to his spouse and/or children … and so on.

Per a recent Gallup news poll, more than half of U.S. adults do not have a will. Death isn’t a pleasant topic, and it’s tempting to procrastinate. At the Law Office of Jaclyn Y. Roberson, PLLC we understand our clients’ reluctance to address such a sensitive, emotional subject.

Why a Will is Important

In our experience, many want to give away their property differently than per Texas law. For example:

  • one child may be wealthier, or another child has unique needs, so the parent wants to give them different amounts
  • the decedent may want to give gifts to a neighbor, a girlfriend, university, or a charity
  • a spouse may want her surviving husband to receive 100% of her estate

Texas intestacy law does not allow for any of that flexibility. If you want other people or organizations to inherit some of your property, or if you want to decide different proportions of your gifts, you need a will to be sure your wishes are followed.

Your Will is more than about Giving Away Money

  • name your personal representative (called an “executor” or “executrix”, depending on if male or female)
  • establish trusts for young beneficiaries or children
  • name guardians for children and their property
  • forgive loans from others
  • make your wishes clear, to help reduce family conflicts and heightened emotions (more common with second marriages or divorce)

Why You Should use an Experienced Texas Attorney to Write Your Will

There are dozens (or hundreds) of will-drafting products available on the internet. Although you might be tempted to “do it yourself”, that can be tricky. There’s no assurance a will you write will be legally valid in Texas. Is it properly witnessed? Notarized? Does it comply with Texas statutory requirements?

A well-written, legally binding will does not have to be expensive. In fact, that will give you peace of mind that it’s done right, and will save your estate (and family) significant expense in the future.

The Law Office of Jaclyn Y. Roberson, PLLC is a family law and estate planning firm based in San Antonio serving the citizens of South and Central Texas.