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  1. #1
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    Default What Are Your Rights in a Divorce Case if You Can't Afford a Divorce Lawyer

    My question involves a marriage in the state of: Texas

    Husband of 11 years and I separated 7 months ago. We have three kids together. I left the home (without the children) due to years of emotional abuse. There is a history of physical violence as well. He locked me out of bank accounts, the house, took the car, is demanding child support from me (there have been NO official proceedings as of yet), refuses to let me see my children, and is seeking to show that I am an unfit mother on the grounds that I abandoned my children (I talk to them every single day and see them as often as he allows). He has informed me several different times that his lawyer and him are going to pursue a restraining order against me, take all rights to my children from me, and he has spent a lot of time spreading lies and calling me names. He is prior military and recently (in the past two weeks) disclosed to me that he has PTSD but has no formal diagnosis because he threatened not to get treatment from the VA for anything, so instead he has a formal diagnosis of anxiety (he has medication for this).

    I have applied for Legal Aid and have been denied due to lack of resources. I cannot afford to hire a lawyer because I was a SAHM for 5 of the 7 years we have had children. I cannot afford to even file for divorce. He has Legal Shield, so he has legal help. I am living with my sister in the same city as my husband and children. I guess what I am trying to get at here is that I don't know what my rights are. I have had two free consultations in the past two months, but the only thing I have learned is that Texas is a property state and that desertion of children requires that I not have contact with them at all for extended periods of time.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Divorce: Need to Know My Rights

    Texas is a community property state. What this means is that ANY property acquired during the marriage shall be divided between spouses and that any property that you came in with you leave with.

    Why did you not take the children with you? I ask primarily because that seems to be the typical scenario. In any case, I can't find anything that would indicate that you've abandoned your children, in any substantive way, save that you left them with their father, whom you allege is physically abusive.

    He cannot collect child support without that pesky divorce AND a child support decree. At the time of divorce you must petition for physical and legal custody. Be prepared for some sharp and probing questions.

    You are going to need an attorney.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Divorce: Need to Know My Rights

    Quote Quoting Mark47n
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    Texas is a community property state. What this means is that ANY property acquired during the marriage shall be divided between spouses and that any property that you came in with you leave with.

    Why did you not take the children with you? I ask primarily because that seems to be the typical scenario. In any case, I can't find anything that would indicate that you've abandoned your children, in any substantive way, save that you left them with their father, whom you allege is physically abusive.

    He cannot collect child support without that pesky divorce AND a child support decree. At the time of divorce you must petition for physical and legal custody. Be prepared for some sharp and probing questions.

    You are going to need an attorney.
    They also split the debt...

    He has just as much of a right to the children that he does. If she's that unstable, she should have left the children with their father. OP, you can either wait for him to file for divorce or look into a fee waiver from the court based on your lack of income. Yes, you should be sending some type of support for the children (even at this moment - that's a moral statement, not a legal one). In Texas, it is a straight percentage of your income (once you get a job) or imputed based on your earning potential.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Divorce: Need to Know My Rights

    Quote Quoting Mark47n
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    Texas is a community property state. What this means is that ANY property acquired during the marriage shall be divided between spouses and that any property that you came in with you leave with.
    That’s a bit over simplistic. It’s more complicated than that. It is possible, for example, for events to have occurred during the marriage that converts property one of the spouses had before the marriage into community property. Also, some property (like gifts and inheritances) received by one spouse during the marriage remain that spouse’s separate property. Similarly, most (but not all) debts that were acquired during the marriage are community debts and most debts incurred prior to the marriage will not be community debts during the marriage. Again, though, there are exceptions to that.

  5. #5
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    Texas
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    Default Re: Divorce: Need to Know My Rights

    Quote Quoting Mark47n
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    Texas is a community property state. What this means is that ANY property acquired during the marriage shall be divided between spouses and that any property that you came in with you leave with.

    Why did you not take the children with you? I ask primarily because that seems to be the typical scenario. In any case, I can't find anything that would indicate that you've abandoned your children, in any substantive way, save that you left them with their father, whom you allege is physically abusive.

    He cannot collect child support without that pesky divorce AND a child support decree. At the time of divorce you must petition for physical and legal custody. Be prepared for some sharp and probing questions.

    You are going to need an attorney.

    The story is much more complicated than what I wrote.

    I left the children with him because he is a good father, just an absolutely terrible husband. The last physical incident happened in 2012, there were military police and family advocacy involved. Most of the abuse was verbal, emotional. I tried leaving several times in the past, but I have been kept isolated from family and friends, had no access to our finances, so leaving was very hard. I was presented with an opportunity to leave in way that would not require me disappearing into a women's shelter. This has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. I did what I thought was right. I left my children in their home, in their schools, with a father that does love them very much. I was not prepared for him punish me so much. He and I are toxic and cannot be in the same room, or even on the phone, without one or both of us yelling and cursing. In hindsight, I know some things should have been done differently, but I can't change that now.

    We have our first court hearing concerning child support and custody in a few weeks. He has told me that he intends on asking for supervised visitation for me on the grounds that I make irrational decisions (this is because I pulled them out of daycare to spend the day with me one time shortly after we split). I am a good mother. I love my kids, I try to make decisions that will better their lives. I was the primary caregiver in the home (I did everything, cooked, cleaned, involved in their schools, doctor visits, caring for them) and I am scared that this hearing will be a lot of he said vs she said.

    I am in college full-time, seeking whatever job I can find now, and am trying like hell to save up some money.

  6. #6
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    Mar 2016
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    Default Re: Divorce: Need to Know My Rights

    Quote Quoting CourtClerk
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    They also split the debt...

    He has just as much of a right to the children that he does. If she's that unstable, she should have left the children with their father. OP, you can either wait for him to file for divorce or look into a fee waiver from the court based on your lack of income. Yes, you should be sending some type of support for the children (even at this moment - that's a moral statement, not a legal one). In Texas, it is a straight percentage of your income (once you get a job) or imputed based on your earning potential.
    She should not have to send anything and it will not even count toward anything if she sends it. I wouldn't send any money to him if he is as bad as she says and finding any way to screw her. He'll say she never sent anything. If she can get the kids for visits she should buy them things they need and keep receipts.

    Quote Quoting seekinghelp16
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    The story is much more complicated than what I wrote.

    I left the children with him because he is a good father, just an absolutely terrible husband. The last physical incident happened in 2012, there were military police and family advocacy involved. Most of the abuse was verbal, emotional. I tried leaving several times in the past, but I have been kept isolated from family and friends, had no access to our finances, so leaving was very hard. I was presented with an opportunity to leave in way that would not require me disappearing into a women's shelter. This has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. I did what I thought was right. I left my children in their home, in their schools, with a father that does love them very much. I was not prepared for him punish me so much. He and I are toxic and cannot be in the same room, or even on the phone, without one or both of us yelling and cursing. In hindsight, I know some things should have been done differently, but I can't change that now.

    We have our first court hearing concerning child support and custody in a few weeks. He has told me that he intends on asking for supervised visitation for me on the grounds that I make irrational decisions (this is because I pulled them out of daycare to spend the day with me one time shortly after we split). I am a good mother. I love my kids, I try to make decisions that will better their lives. I was the primary caregiver in the home (I did everything, cooked, cleaned, involved in their schools, doctor visits, caring for them) and I am scared that this hearing will be a lot of he said vs she said.

    I am in college full-time, seeking whatever job I can find now, and am trying like hell to save up some money.
    If the MPs and FAP were involved you at least have a recorded incident of it. What happened with that? Did he get charged and convicted? Or did it get dropped?

    You need to have as much evidence of his abuse as you can find. You show that you provided care for them for the majority of the marriage as a SAHM. Do not attack him in court.

    Do you have family that could help pay for a lawyer? How are you paying for college? You might have to put college on hold until this gets figured out.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Divorce: Need to Know My Rights

    Quote Quoting qwaspolk69
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    She should not have to send anything and it will not even count toward anything if she sends it. I wouldn't send any money to him if he is as bad as she says and finding any way to screw her. He'll say she never sent anything. If she can get the kids for visits she should buy them things they need and keep receipts.



    If the MPs and FAP were involved you at least have a recorded incident of it. What happened with that? Did he get charged and convicted? Or did it get dropped?

    You need to have as much evidence of his abuse as you can find. You show that you provided care for them for the majority of the marriage as a SAHM. Do not attack him in court.

    Do you have family that could help pay for a lawyer? How are you paying for college? You might have to put college on hold until this gets figured out.
    If I'm reading it right, she left the kids in his care ... 7 months ago. She's sent a very clear message to the court that she feels he's a suitable custodial parent; if she tries to use abuse in a custody battle she's likely going to come out worse than he will.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Divorce: Need to Know My Rights

    Quote Quoting Dogmatique
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    If I'm reading it right, she left the kids in his care ... 7 months ago. She's sent a very clear message to the court that she feels he's a suitable custodial parent; if she tries to use abuse in a custody battle she's likely going to come out worse than he will.
    I guess she said he only abused her. Either way she needs to figure out how to get a lawyer.

  9. #9
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    Nov 2015
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    Default Re: Divorce: Need to Know My Rights

    By the way, I do realize that the concept of community property is more complex than my simple description. I kept it simple due to a lack of any sort of details.

    As to the child support; last I checked this as a forum on law and not morals. While I will agree that she is morally obligated to provide financial support for her children she isn't, currently obligated until there is a court order. This is the same thing that we tell men. It having been 7 months since she split, however, makes her case about as sound as a sieve.

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