If you are facing a divorce in Texas, you probably have many questions and concerns. It is important to learn all you can about the divorce process and ways to protect your personal and financial interests throughout the process.
I am Houston divorce attorney Leonard M. Roth, and I have more than four decades of legal experience. Please read the information below for answers to your questions about divorce in Texas. Otherwise, contact me online to schedule a private consultation.
How do I get a "legal separation"?
There is no such thing as a "legal separation" under Texas law. Even though temporary orders may be entered by the court, they are not to be construed as a legal separation. And, community property and debt can continue to be amassed until you are divorce.
When can I begin to date?
It depends on what you mean by "date," but generally, not until the divorce is final. Adultery is a ground for the granting of a divorce based upon fault. Your legal status as a married person does not change until a divorce is granted (the Decree is signed by the Judge of your court). Although some judges are lenient regarding dating while a divorce is pending, you should be cautious about taking this risk. The fact that your spouse may be dating should not be an excuse or justification for your conduct; you need to wear the "white hat." If you do decide to date, you should know that it may adversely affect a child custody dispute. In no event should you introduce the children to your dates. No community funds should be spent for the entertainment of third parties or for gifts for your new, special pal.
Can I open my spouse's mail?
No. If you receive any mail addressed solely to your spouse, it should be forwarded to him or to her by you or through an attorney. But, make a copy of the envelope if it looks suspicious or seems to involve financial, romantic or other evidentiary matter. Make a note of the date you mailed it to your spouse.
Should I close bank accounts and/or credit accounts?
If you have been served with a Temporary Restraining Order, you will be prohibited from closing accounts. If you have not, you are free to close the accounts.
However, as with every action you take, you should consider the possible consequences. Closing an account without notice to your spouse may cause unnecessary embarrassment or may also increase hostility and mistrust.
Under certain circumstances, a court may wonder why you didn't close accounts, if your spouse is presented by you to the court as an amoral thief and sociopathic liar. In either case, it is important to carefully consider the potential consequences of your actions. Discussing these options with an attorney will help you make decisions that will positively affect you in legal proceedings. If your spouse is likely to spend or hide money in an account or run up large balances on a credit card, it may be a wise decision to close accounts. If you close bank accounts, don't spend the funds as the court may take that into consideration in ways that you would not appreciate. The best plan is to deposit all the funds from the closed account into a new account, solely in your name, so that you can fully account for the transaction later. You can retain or pay me out of such an account, usually without court sanction (punishment) since attorney's fees, quite remarkably, are considered "necessities" such as food and mortgage payment.
Can I record telephone conversations?
Wiretapping is a felony and can subject you to state and federal criminal prosecution. However, it is lawful to tape record a conversation as long as one party to the conversation consents to the recording or is participating in the conversation and taping it him/herself. Therefore, you may record a conversation between yourself and another person. You may NOT secretly tape a conversation or install a recording device so as to intercept conversations between others. To do so is a felony. The whole issue of recording telephone conversations is very sensitive and the law is very clear. You should carefully discuss it with me before doing anything in this regard. You should always assume that you are being tape recorded in every conversation with your spouse or his/her family and friends