CLINESMITH FAMILY LAW CENTER

There are NO legal separations in the State of Texas. In simple terms, you are either married or not married until the Court enters a Final Decree of Divorce.

In all divorce actions filed in Denton County, like most counties in North Texas, both parties are under a “Standing Order” that enjoins both parties from taking certain actions with regard to marital property or behaving in a certain way with regard to the children. For instance, a “residency restriction” is in effect upon the Court’s receipt of your filed divorce action.

Neither party to the divorce are permitted to “remove the children from the State of Texas, acting directly or in concert with others, without the written agreement of both parties or an Order” of the Court. This is just one of the many standing orders handed down by the Court at the initial filing of your case.


Whether or not you should file a divorce action and how it is likely to proceed are questions we answer everyday in our free consultations. The fact that you are visiting our website means you are considering divorce as an option, and we understand that you are experiencing serious emotional ups and downs right now and have lots of questions. Our job is to walk you through this ordeal and take the necessary steps so that your transition will be as smooth as possible. Our experienced staff is ready to assist you in any way they can and we take pride in the close-knit personal relationships that are established throughout our representation of you. In the meantime, we have taken the liberty of addressing a multitude of questions you may have at this time and anticipate receiving your call so that we can meet your needs in this matter.

We understand that a divorce is a traumatic event, however, it is deemed even more so if there are children involved. Their futures are at stake, and it is our job to ensure that both you and your child(ren) will receive the finest legal representation that our firm has to offer. Every member of our legal team can empathize with being a parent and the love that you have for your child(ren) and the desire you have to spare them unnecessary emotional trauma and pain, thereby instilling a personal sense of duty and obligation to both you, your family, and your case.

Frequently Asked Questions on Divorce

  • How long does it take?
    A divorce cannot be finalized and granted by the Court until a period of 60 days has passed since the date of the initial filing of the Original Petition for Divorce. This would be considered a “best case scenario.”


  • How long do I have to reside in Texas before I can file for Divorce?
    You must reside in the State of Texas for a period of six (6) months and live in your county for ninety (90) days to be eligible to file an Original Petition for Divorce.


  • If I’m pregnant, can I file for Divorce?
    You may file an Original Petition for Divorce at any time throughout your pregnancy, however, your divorce cannot and will not be finalized by the Court until after the child is born.


  • What is the difference between community and separate property?
    Community property is all property or liability obtained during the marriage. Separate property is property that was acquired prior to the date of marriage or property obtained during ht marriage, for example, proceeds from a personal injury lawsuit, a gift, or inheritance.


  • What exactly is alimony and how do I get it?
    Alimony is an allowance made to one spouse by the other for support after a Final Decree of Divorce is rendered by the Court. In the State of Texas, alimony is granted in very few circumstances. You must have been married for ten (10) years and be incapable of providing for your minimal reasonable needs. A spouse may be eligible for support if the person from whom they are requesting spousal maintenance was convicted of, or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that also constitutes an act of family violence.


  • What will happen to our kids?
    In Denton County, the Courts will determine what is in the best interests of the child(ren) involved and typically awards both parents what is called a “Joint Managing Conservatorship,” allowing both parents to have to be awarded “Primary Custody” means that one of the parties will be the primary caretaker and will be responsible for designating the child(ren)’s primary residence. There are several factors that the Court will need to take into consideration prior to making this ruling.


  • What happens when he/she doesn’t comply with the Court’s orders?
    When a party chooses to willfully disobey and/or disregard the Court’s instruction, this action is known as “Contempt.” It is up to the Court’s discretion as to the punishment, however, it is typically a fine, jail time, or both.


In Denton County, as in most counties, the Court encourages and supports the parties to a divorce to settle their disputes as amicably as possible and without Court intervention. In fact, the parties are encouraged to use an alternative dispute resolution method to resolve their differences, specifically, the mediation process.

We always encourage our clients to remain hopeful and can offer no guarantees, but we have mediated to a successful conclusion several contested family law cases that we believed would never settle in mediation.

The Texas Family Code allows children, once they reach the age of 12, to sign a “Choice of Managing Conservatorship,” informing the Court as to their preference of parent to reside with primarily. The Court can consider this “Choice” in determining what is in the child’s best interest in a custody modification.

The choice of managing conservatorship is one piece of evidence the Court can consider. The Court can and will look at the lives of both parties, their relationship with the child and whether a parent may have an issue, for instance, substance abuse, alcohol abuse or some similar issue that would cause the Court to modify the previous custody Order. These issues are some of issues we discuss in our free consultation.

Most adoptions we handle are adoptions involving a step-parent. For instance, a woman who has had a child with a man outside of wedlock and then marries another man who is not the biological father of the child, this is a step-parent. These folks will come in and see me to terminate the rights of the biological father, who, in many situations, have no relationship with the child. Once the biological father’s parental rights are terminated, it allows the child to be adopted by the step-father.

Part of the costs of the adoption is the cost of a home study, a criminal background check on the step-father and in some cases, an attorney ad litem to represent the interest of the child.