Austin Divorce and Family Law Attorney
We provide both full representation and unbundled legal services.
At The Law Office of Elena Vlady, we are focused on helping our clients make the best legal decisions during some of the most challenging times in their lives. We know how to help our clients because we understand the emotional and financial stakes involved in divorce, property division, child custody and other legal matters. We will protect your best interests, ensuring that the legal steps we take with you today will benefit your life tomorrow and for years to come.
We provide both full representation and unbundled legal services.
“Unbundled” means you hire the attorney to handle only specific tasks, such as preparing the court documents or entering a limited appearance, and then you handle parts of the case on your own to save money. Fewer billable hours means less cost.
Contested & Uncontested Divorce
Our firm handles all detailed aspects of divorce, including:
- Complex or contested divorce
- Uncontested divorce
- Divorce planning and separation
- Marital property division under the community property laws of Texas
- Temporary orders
Complex divorces are those in which couples may not agree on one or more issues. Uncontested divorces can become contested if the parties disagree on even a small number of items. Complex divorces can include high-asset couples and business owners.
Even in the case of an uncontested divorce, it is wise to seek the counsel of an Austin divorce attorney to advise you. Legal representation will ensure that you and your spouse have considered every option and that your rights are protected.
The state of Texas does not have legal separation. However, if you or your spouse is contemplating divorce, there are steps you can take to prepare for that decision in addition to consulting with a lawyer.
Our firm can help you value assets, advise on tax implications and divide marital debt.
Many clients worry about their financial and living situation while their divorce is pending. It is possible to secure temporary orders to determine living arrangements, spending habits and custody arrangements for the interim until your divorce is finalized.
Child Custody & Support
- Third-party rights and grandparent rights
- Fathers’ and mothers’ rights
- Unmarried partners
- Same-sex partners
- Child custody and visitation issues
- Child and spousal support
- Temporary custody motions
- Parenting plans
- Alimony or spousal support
Instead of “custody”, Texas uses the term “conservatorship”. Either or both parents (or a 3rd party) can be granted conservatorship. Conservatorship includes not just where the child resides and visitation, but also decisions including the child’s education, religious upbringing, and health care. We can help you obtain the appropriate type of conservatorship of your children. Texas has a standard visitation order, but we can assist you in creating a more suitable visitation schedule should the standard not suffice.
If your divorce is final but your circumstances have changed, the existing child custody, visitation and support orders may no longer be in the best interests of your children, and may impose an unreasonable hardship on you. In order to obtain a modification, the petitioner must prove the circumstances of the child, a conservator, or a party affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the prior order. These changes may include but are not limited to: relocation, remarriage, new job, an adjustment in salary, change in work schedule, illness or disability, conflicts between a child and a step-parent or parent, substance abuse by a parent, special needs of the child, failure to comply with custody order, etc.
Even if both parties agree to modification and are already operating under their agreement, the parties should still obtain an agreed order that is approved by the court so that it is enforceable.
Enforcement of court orders, whether they are temporary orders or a final decree, is commonly done by filing a Motion to Enforce. Our firm can take you through this process to protect your rights, beginning with discussions with the non-compliant spouse, and going back to court if necessary. If your ex-spouse is not complying with the terms of your divorce decree, or if you have been wrongfully accused of violating the court’s final divorce order, you want an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to protect your rights.
- Domestic violence and neglect
- Prenuptial, cohabitation and postnuptial agreements
- Annulment of marriage
- Domestic partnership partition suits
- Common law marriage
- Name changes
- Emergency Protective Orders
- Paternity determination
These agreements are drafted before and after marriage to answer questions such as how property and assets may be divided if a divorce occurs. The hope is that the agreement serves to answer any questions that may arise. A premarital agreement is a reasonable precaution to take. When a person marries, his or her separate property comingles with property considered community property. This comingling can create major complications in the event of divorce.
There are other contractual agreements, including post-marital agreements and cohabitation agreements, that are also good options for some couples.
Under the Texas Family Code, all community property is subject to division in a divorce. All property possessed by either spouse is presumed to be community property upon divorce, unless it is proven to be separate property by clear and convincing evidence. A premarital agreement allows a person who is about to marry to preserve and protect his or her separate property estate by predetermining the characterization of property or income at the time of divorce or death.
Premarital agreements can involve: wills and trusts, rights to control property during the marriage, dividing retirement and employee benefits, homestead rights, personal behavior, penalties for adultery, etc.
Sometimes an agreement that divides the marital property of people who are already married can be a good way to preserve and protect assets and reach agreements concerning financial issues. These can ease marital stress and sometimes resolve issues to avoid a divorce or divide assets to avoid a dispute about asset division in the event of a divorce. A post-marital agreement or partition agreement may protect one spouse’s assets from the other’s debts or protect assets from the risk associated with a spouse’s business venture.
Unmarried couples can enter into cohabitation agreements that set out their marital status (not common law married) and clarify any financial arrangements or commitments during cohabitation.
When a common law marriage exists, the spouses obtain the same legal treatment given to officially married couples, including the requirement that they go through a legal divorce to end the marriage.
Common law marriage and Common law divorce in Texas may involve issues regarding establishing a valid common law marriage, a common law marriage agreement, a common law marriage disclosure, Child Support laws, Child Custody Laws and marital property division.
Living together is not enough to establish a common law marriage in Texas. There has to be an agreement and a disclosure to the public that the couple is married. In order to have a valid common law marriage, a couple must meet the following criteria under state law:
(a) Be at least 18 years old, because a person under 18 years of age cannot be common law married under Texas law;
(b) Both parties have signed and filed a document called a “declaration of marriage” (using the form found in Texas Family Code Sec. 2.402 and filed with the county clerk in accordance with Texas Family Code Sec. 2.404); or
(c) The man and woman agreed to be married and after the agreement they lived together in this state as husband and wife and
they represented to others that they were married (normally this means using the same last name, referring to the other as “my husband” or “my wife”).
Texas law uses the term “informal marriage,” rather than common law marriage, for these unions. There is also a legal presumption that there was no marriage if no suit for proof of marriage is filed within two years of the date the parties separated and ceased living together.
If your family has experienced domestic violence, your child has been taken from you or you feel someone is creating an unsafe situation for you or your child, it is important to file a petition and receive emergency orders as early as possible. Our firm is quick to respond, experienced and devoted to your family’s safety.
In Texas, the legal definition of fatherhood is dependent upon biology, timing, marital status and a variety of other factors. If the paternity of a child is not legally validated early on, there could be unexpected long-term issues regarding custody and visitation as well as child support at a later date.
Under Texas Family Code Section 161.005, a man who finds out he is not a biological father through DNA testing can petition the court to terminate the parent-child relationship. If the court determines he is not the biological father, his future child support obligation stops immediately, except for unpaid child support. A judge may grant visitation rights to a man who seeks it, even if he is not the biological father, if his absence from the child’s life will cause mental harm. The new law also allows a man who signs an acknowledgment of paternity form at the hospital after a child’s birth to later challenge paternity with a DNA test.
If you have questions regarding rights and responsibilities or the status of a child’s paternity, it is important to seek the guidance of an attorney.
Call us today for a confidential, legally privileged consultation.