Divorce

At Gay & Reitz we have over 40 years of combined experience in divorce cases and can help you. Many people consult with us when their marriage is “on the rocks” who are either trying to decide whether they should file for a divorce or they fear their spouse is about to file for a divorce. They want advice on what they need to do in order to protect themselves. They want to know what the outcome of a divorce will to be as to property division and debts and for their children. It is almost always a mistake to just sit back and “hope for the best”. If there are serious issues or you believe your spouse is about to file for divorce, we discuss whether you should file. On the other hand if things are just “not going well” we talk about what you should be doing now to protect yourself. If child custody or visitation may be an issue, then the best interest of the children is the focus of our conversation and what you want for your children. We discuss your property, debts, back-up documents and what division you want. If you or your spouse are thinking about a divorce, call Gay & Reitz. We can help you to make important decisions for your future and for your children’s future.

Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience with prenuptial agreements. It has been estimated that for first marriages the probability of divorce is 50%. For second marriages where one or both partners have children, the probability of divorce is 70%. “Would you board an airplane if you were told that the chance of it crashing was 50-70%?” Probably not. But what if you could get an insurance policy that would save you if the plane did crash? A prenuptial agreement is something like an insurance policy for both prospective spouses to consider. We have prepared prenuptial agreements for clients entering their first marriage, second marriage, clients with children, and clients without children, those of modest wealth and those of high wealth. If you are about to marry, call Gay & Reitz to discuss whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you.

Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience in negotiating and litigating property disputes in divorce cases. Texas is a community property state. The court is required to divide the community property in a manner that is “just and right”.

It is critical to understand that in Texas a 50/50 division of property is not required nor is it even preferred under Texas law. This means that the judge can do whatever he thinks is fair under the specific circumstances of each case. In fact, when children are involved it is typical to have an unequal division.

A multitude of factors can persuade the judge in a particular case to make a “lopsided” division of community property such as a disparity in earning capacity between the parties, poor health, age, education, a fault in causing the divorce, and many others.

Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience in negotiating and litigating separate property disputes. When property is divided in a divorce, the first thing the judge does is categorize each item as either community or separate property. Texas is a community property state and by law, the judge starts off with the presumption that all property is community property and subject to division by the court.

Separate property of a spouse, on the other hand, is not subject to division by the court and must be confirmed to the owner of the separate property. Separate property is: anything owned prior to marriage; inheritance or gift to one party during marriage; and proceeds of a personal injury suit. However, often the distinction between separate and community property is blurred during the marriage by a failure to keep “separate property separate”. This is critical because in a divorce the court will apply the presumption under Texas law that all property is community property. The spouse who contends that an item of property is separate property must prove this by “clear and convincing” evidence – a very high burden. There are a number of techniques that may be available to the attorney to meet this burden and may require expert forensic accountants.

At Gay & Reitz we have represented spouses seeking alimony (called “maintenance” in Texas) and have defended against spouses who sought alimony since it was first allowed in Texas in 1997. The court will consider many factors when evaluating whether alimony is warranted. You will want an attorney who has represented others who have sought alimony and who understands the law and the unique requirements for an award.

Our attorneys bring considerable experience to individuals on both sides. Alimony can be awarded as temporary support during a divorce and alimony can also be awarded after a divorce for a period of months or years depending on the particular circumstances that are proven to the court. The maximum is $5,000 per month.

Children

Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience in custody cases. Most of the time we are able to secure an agreement on all issues regarding the children without a trial. There are many factors that can cause an agreement including the conduct of the parties, sex and ages of the children, preferences, and connection and involvement of each parent. Whether your divorce or child custody case is contested or uncontested, we fully advise you of your parental rights and duties. This is important because you need this to make good and informed decisions on an agreement concerning your children under Texas law.

The focus in custody matters is on the best interest of the children and it’s generally considered to be true that it’s in the best interest of the children to have a strong relationship with both parents. At Gay & Reitz we work very hard using our many years of experience to find a child custody agreement that will work for mom, dad, and the children.

At Gay & Reitz we have over 40 years of combined experience in contested child custody cases. In an ideal world, we will be able to reach an agreement. But it’s possible despite the efforts of our experienced attorneys, that custody will be contested and we will need the court to intervene and make a decision. When children are involved we are very passionate about doing what’s in the best interest of the children and Gay & Reitz will stand in the gap for you. Becky Reitz and John Gay work as a team in their contested child custody cases to achieve a successful outcome in both jury and non-jury cases. If you have a contested child custody problem and you need help, you can count on the Gay & Reitz Law Firm.

Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience in custody issues and are very passionate about doing what’s in the children’s best interest. We have successfully represented parents on both sides of the issue involving relocation of children. Typically a divorce decree will contain a residency restriction that states how far a parent can move a child without the court’s approval. The court’s philosophy is that children generally will benefit by being close to both parents. The court requires the parent that wants to relocate to demonstrate that the move is in the children’s best interest. Normally, if one parent seeks court approval to move with the child outside of the restricted area, the other parent will adamantly object.

Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience in matters involving children. In Texas, the paternity of a father may be established with a written acknowledgement of paternity that is signed by the father and the mother. Paternity can also be established though a court action that is filed to establish paternity by the child’s mother or by a man who claims to be the father. The court action will not only involve the question of paternity of the child, but can settle important issues of child support for the child, custody of the child, visitation with the child, and rights and duties of the mother and of father as to the child. DNA evidence is typically used as evidence to support a finding of paternity in a court action. We have represented both mothers and fathers in paternity proceedings for child support including retroactive child support, visitation, and custody.

Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience in grandparent’s rights cases. One of the most common situations we encounter regarding relatives is in representing (or in defending against) grandparents seeking visitation or custody with a grandchild. Sometimes grandparents find themselves in a situation where the parents cannot or will not provide for the needs of the children. On the other hand, it may be a situation where they are prevented from seeing their grandchildren. The right and ability of grandparents to seek across or full custody is greatly limited in Texas, not only as to the procedural requirements to file a suit for custody or visitation but also place a heavy burden as to the evidence that must be shown to be successful. We have represented clients on both sides of this type of case. If you need help we will bring our experience and passion and every resource at our command.

The attorneys of Gay & Reitz have over 40 years of combined experience in legal matters involving children. We have represented parents who wanted to terminate the other parent’s rights to a child and we have represented parents against termination of their parental rights. Our focus is always to fight for the best interest of the child and we are passionate about that. In Texas adoption involves a two-step process. First, the parental rights of biological parents (or in the case of a step-parent adoption one of the parents) must be terminated. Termination involves a formal lawsuit that results in a court order. In step- parent adoptions, typically one parent signs a legal document agreeing to terminate their parental rights. However, if they refuse to sign the document, there are specific legal grounds in Texas to secure termination of parental rights. Importantly, it must always be proven that termination is in the best interest of the child. Once the termination becomes final, either after a fully contested trial or parental consent to termination, the parent no longer has any rights to the child and a legal adoption of the child can occur.

After Divorce

At Gay & Reitz we have over 40 years of combined experience in enforcement cases. We have secured enforcement of court orders and defended against enforcement. Yogi Berra said “it ain’t over until it’s over” and that is certainly true of divorce and child custody cases. After a divorce and/or suit affecting children is finalized the court retains jurisdiction to enforce its orders. In a divorce these orders may have required alimony “maintenance”; that property be vacated or turned over; documents be signed; or accounts be transferred or any other order regarding property that a former spouse refuses to obey. The offending former spouse can be held in contempt of court and jailed if necessary to secure compliance.

Enforcement suits may also be brought after a final order regarding the children. The former spouse may have failed to pay court-ordered child support; failed to provide health insurance; failed to allow court ordered visitation; or failed to get court permission to move. In these cases, the court may among other things sanction, grant probation or jail the offending party.

Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience in child custody modification cases both contested and uncontested. Modification of a court order for child custody or visitation can be granted if there has been a material and substantial change and modification is in the best interest of the child. Many changes may have occurred after a court order such as parental alienation; conflict; someone remarries; home environment; frequent moves; new siblings; family violence; visitation problems; and the age of the child. Whether the changes are big and important enough to overcome the court’s unwillingness to change the child’s life should be discussed with an attorney with considerable experience in these matters.

Modification of an order for child support can be granted if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances, such as; the obligor is making more money; special needs of the child. Child support can also be modified by the courts based on the “3-year rule” without showing a material and substantial change in circumstances. The attorneys at Gay & Reitz can help you if you need assistance on an issue of child support.