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Dallas Ft. Worth Family Law & Bankruptcy Lawyers

Sophisticated Representation for Divorce and Bankruptcy Matters in Texas

A divorce or a bankruptcy can be a very stressful experience. Whether you are concerned about child custody, the future of your family business, or your financial stability, it is critical to speak with an experienced attorney. Powell Law Offices, P.C. distinguishes itself by listening to clients and vigorously advocating for them in family law and bankruptcy matters. Dallas Fort Worth family lawyer Lauren Powell is an experienced courtroom litigator, and she regularly lectures on emerging legal topics. She can find creative and effective solutions to complex legal issues and provide sound advice on which battles are worth fighting.

Lauren Powell is nationally board certified in consumer bankruptcy law through the American Board of Certification. This involved receiving references and reviews from judges, bankruptcy trustees, and fellow bankruptcy attorneys. Her certification thus shows the respect that she receives from colleagues and other key figures in the area of bankruptcy law. Moreover, she has accumulated a thorough knowledge of financial and business matters from her bankruptcy practice, which assists her in providing skilled representation in divorce cases involving complex and valuable assets.

Divorce

A divorce can be contested or agreed in Texas. Contested divorces are those in which there are one or more areas of disagreement. When there is an agreed divorce, the parties negotiate and work together to resolve their issues, and this approach may be more cost-effective. The agreement is filed with the court for approval. Often, an agreed divorce is less stressful, particularly for children, than a contested divorce. In Texas, a divorce can be no-fault, but there are also statutory fault-based grounds of divorce, such as cruelty and adultery.

High Net Worth Divorce

Dallas Fort Worth family attorney Lauren Powell is familiar with the unique issues that may arise during a high net worth divorce. Since Texas is a community property state, any asset originating during a marriage can be divided between the spouses. However, it can be difficult to figure out the value of valuable and intangible items, such as businesses, intellectual property, and retirement plans. For example, if a business needs to be divided, it may be necessary to get the business appraised. When spouses store substantial amounts of money earned during the marriage in a retirement account, such as an IRA or 401(k), the retirement account is likely to be part of the community estate. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will need to be drafted. This lets the plan administrator for a retirement plan know to follow through with the terms of division that are decided in the divorce.

Child Custody

In Texas, the primary issue in child custody is the best interests of the child. There is a preference for joint custody arrangements, but there are multiple options for a court determining custody (or parents negotiating child custody). Sole custody will result in a child living mostly with the parent who has sole custody, and this parent will also be exclusively entitled to make important decisions about how to bring up the child, such as the child's medical care and education. When there is shared legal custody, a child has two homes and lives with each parent for at least 35% of the year. Sometimes there is joint legal custody, such that the child lives mostly with one parent while the other has visitation, but the parents must make important decisions together in connection with raising the child. A family lawyer can help Dallas Fort Worth residents craft the appropriate arrangement for their children.

Child Support

Both parents are obliged to financially support their child. Child support is money paid by one parent to the other parent to help with the cost of rearing a child. It is supposed to cover the cost of shelter, food, clothes, education, daycare, and any activities. Generally, the physical custody of the child will determine who must be the payer of child support. Usually, the non-custodial parent, who has less time with the child, pays child support to the custodial parent. The amount is determined by guidelines; it represents a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance (alimony) is paid by one spouse to the other to provide financial support during or after a divorce. The court often starts by assuming that a spousal maintenance order is not appropriate. To obtain an order for spousal maintenance, a spouse must persuade the court of a strong effort to obtain education or skills needed to provide for basic needs or to get a job that earns income. Spousal maintenance may be awarded if a spouse asking for support will not have enough property at the time of the divorce, and certain other circumstances exist. Dallas Fort Worth family lawyer Lauren Powell can help you pursue spousal maintenance if you need it, or seek a modification if it is appropriate.

Property Division

Texas is a community property state. This means that there is a presumption that all marital property is community property. Most of what was acquired during a marriage belongs to both of the spouses and should be divided in a divorce. Separate property acquired before the marriage will be kept by the spouse who owned the separate property. Inheritances and gifts received by one spouse are also separate property. A spouse claiming that an item is separate property must be able to establish the separate property character of the asset by a preponderance of the evidence.

Mediation

Texas Family Law Case Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, or mediator, is used to facilitate a resolution of the issues that arise during a divorce. Issues that may be resolved during mediation include child custody, property division, and asset valuation. Generally, mediation is a voluntary process, and it allows the spouses to have more control over the outcome of controversies within the divorce. The mediation is confidential. The mediator's only interest in the process is to help you work out a feasible arrangement as separated parents or ex-spouses. If you are seeking a family attorney in the Dallas Fort Worth area to guide you through mediation, Lauren Powell has the knowledge of the process that you need.

Bankruptcy

For many people with massive consumer debt, filing for bankruptcy is an appropriate solution. The bankruptcy code is federal law. However, each state has enacted its own exemptions regarding which property can be kept in bankruptcy. Although you can choose between federal bankruptcy exemptions and Texas bankruptcy exemptions, most debtors use Texas bankruptcy exemptions because they are among the nation's most generous. For example, the Texas homestead exemption would allow you to protect an unlimited amount of value in your home, provided that the property is not more than 10 acres in a city, town, or village or 100 acres somewhere else.

Chapter 7

If your income is more than the state median, you will need to pass a means test to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually takes 4-6 months. When a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed, an automatic stay goes into effect, which means that most of your creditors will need to stop trying to collect the amounts that are owed. When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your property and debts are put under the control of the bankruptcy court and the trustee whom it appoints. The trustee's job is to make sure that your creditors are paid to the extent possible.

Chapter 13

If you do not pass the means test but have regular income, you may be able to reorganize your debts under Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code. Generally, individuals are eligible for Chapter 13 relief as long as their unsecured and secured debts stay under amounts that are periodically adjusted. To file under Chapter 13, you will need to create a feasible repayment plan for your debts, under which you will pay off most or all of your debts over 3-5 years. There are various advantages to filing for Chapter 13. One of these advantages is that you can save your home from foreclosure by catching up on past payments. Another is that you can reschedule the payment of secured debts.

Consult an Experienced Family Law and Bankruptcy Attorney

There is no substitute for knowledgeable legal representation when you are going through a divorce or a bankruptcy. The outcome of these proceedings can affect your life for years to come. Lauren Powell handles family law and bankruptcy matters throughout Dallas and Tarrant Counties, including in Dallas, Garland, Irving, Mesquite, Richardson, Carrollton, Arlington, Fort Worth, and Grapevine. Call Powell Law Offices at 972-584-9382 or contact us through our online form to schedule a free initial consultation with a family lawyer in the Dallas Fort Worth area or get advice on reorganizing your finances.

Meet the Attorney
Picture of Attorney Lauren Powell
Lauren Powell

Attorney Lauren Powell is the founder and President of Powell Law Offices, P.C. Lauren has been fighting for and representing individuals and small business owners for over 12 years. Lauren concentrates her practice in the areas of divorce, child custody, child support, modification, enforcement, family law, bankruptcy, immigration, and wills and trusts. Lauren is very passionate about what she does, and is committed to obtaining the best results for her clients.

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