Waco Divorce Lawyer

Waco divorce attorneys at Dunnam & Dunnam are known for our relentless pursuit of successful results. Since 1925, our law firm has guarded everything you value most. Speaking with a Dunnam & Dunnam divorce lawyer will prepare you for the road ahead. Our Waco divorce attorneys are profoundly skillful and compassionate legal advocates. By helping you set your goals, we can help you move forward from a position of strength while protecting your interests. Call us at 254-753-6437 to start the process of getting Dunnam & Dunnam on your side. We have the experience, ability, and passion for getting the job done.

Being your divorce lawyer is a responsibility that we take seriously. Our lawyers are ready to set you at ease during our conversation. We believe in compassion, listening, and client focused results. Our family has helped Waco families for generations. Let us help yours.

Our Waco divorce attorneys know how to present your case to the court. You may feel that you are entirely in the right with the issue you are bringing, but the lawyer has to convince the court of this for you to get the best outcome. The experience of seeing your property divvied up is often very overwhelming. It is best to have an attorney on your side to guide you through the delicate and complicated family law maze. 

Who are the Best Attorneys & Counselors for Waco Area Divorce?

Going through a divorce in Waco can be one of the most stressful times in life. Ending a marriage is not something we take casually. Divorce is a difficult decision, particularly with children. The Waco divorce lawyers at Dunnam & Dunnam expect to make it easier for you and your children. Our skilled Waco divorce team works hard every day to help people going through the challenging legal issues of divorce. We help our clients cope with stress, uncertainty, fear, and financial problems that come with the territory. Divorce is an emotional process that can dangerously cloud your judgment. So it is useful to have adept attorneys who can lead you in the right direction. 

We Can Answer Your Divorce Questions

The divorce process seems intimidating. You probably felt this day was coming. There are many short-term and long-term questions to answer now that you are in the Waco divorce process. Since we have been practicing family law since 1925, we have seen it all. 

For example, you are probably wondering: 

  • Should you move out of the house? 
  • Will you owe spousal support or child support?
  • Will I have to pay something to my spouse at separation?
  • Who is responsible for paying the credit cards?
  • Can I force my spouse to sell the family home?
  • Will my rights in the house be changed if I move out?
  • How will I pay for living expenses if I move out?
  • Who will get custody of the kids?
  • Who will continue to operate our family business?
  • What if my husband or wife threatens to hurt me if I file for divorce?

These are just some of the questions that you probably have about your divorce. Our Waco divorce attorneys will sit down with you, answer your questions, and help you plan a path that will put you in the best place possible in your divorce. Because every marriage is unique, so, too, is every divorce. The distinct path that your divorce follows will depend a great deal on your circumstances and goals. Even if you have agreed to end the marriage with your spouse, you likely have different thoughts about who the children should live with, who gets the car, or who should live in the family home. 

Identifying Property and Assets in a Divorce

The initial step in a divorce is identifying and locating all assets and property that belong to the spouses. Marital assets include your principal residence, vacation homes, or rental units. For many spouses, it involves at least some vehicles and bank accounts. However, additional assets can include:

  • A family business
  • Business executive benefits
  • Stock options and restricted stock
  • 401k accounts
  • Pensions
  • Military retirement accounts
  • Other retirement accounts
  • Motor vehicles
  • Real estate
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Paintings or other expensive collectibles
  • Jewelry

What is Community Property?

Texas is one of nine community property states. Community property means all property that is acquired by either the husband, wife or both during the marriage is property of both spouses, except for the separate property as described below. Contrary to popular belief, community property is not divided 50-50. Instead, a Texas divorce court judge will divide the property according to a “just and right” division. An equitable division of assets does not mean “equal.” 

To determine whether the property division is fair and equitable, Texas divorce courts many consider many factors that include:

  • Reasons for the divorce and fault in the breakup of the marriage
  • The disparity in earning power
  • Tax consequences of property division
  • Financial and parental responsibility for adult children
  • The health of each spouse (disability of a spouse may result in an uneven distribution)
  • Contributions to the home
  • Custody of minor children
  • Attorney fees for the parties
  • Foreign property outside the court’s jurisdiction
  • Need for future support
  • Length of marriage (judges are more likely to stray from a 50-50 split for a long marriage)
  • Education level and future employability

These factors will determine how a judge divides assets in an unequal split. 

What is Separate Property?

Texas law provides for some assets to be excluded from the marital estate. These are called separate assets. For example, inheritances or gifts received before or during the marriage that are kept separate might be excluded. Personal injury recoveries are separate property. Any property excluded in a prenuptial agreement will not be included in the community estate. Our knowledge in Texas Family Law helps protect our client’s interests in properly dividing your assets.  

The spouse claiming that something is separate property has a higher burden of proof than a typical civil case. A “preponderance of evidence” judges an ordinary civil case. A preponderance of the evidence is proven when something if it is more likely than not. A spouse claiming separate property must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the asset is separate property. That means there is a reasonable certainty or strong belief that the property is separate. Some ways to meet this higher burden are through documentation or witnesses with specific information and knowledge about the property. The absence of clear and convincing proof will make the property community property, subject to the “just and right” rule. 

What if separate property is used to obtain community property? The Texas Family Code allows spouses to file a claim for reimbursement in various situations. For example, if separate or community property was used to pay down one spouse’s separate debt, the other spouse may claim reimbursement.

How are Retirement Assets Treated in Divorce?

Texas community property laws treat retirement benefits like other Texas property. But dividing retirement assets is complicated. For example, your retirement fund administrators are not required to honor the terms of a divorce decree that designates benefits to a spouse who is a non-employee. So divorcing spouses must draft a “Qualified Domestic Relations Order” or QDRO to secure the equitable sharing of retirement benefits.

QDROs are incredibly technical, so spouses should take precautions to ensure no mistakes. Spouses who learn later that a QDRO is not acceptable may not be able to return the divorce settlement to adjust the terms appropriately.

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Waco Texas?

Texas has both no-fault and fault divorce. Your reasons for wanting a divorce are set out in a document called a Petition for Divorce that you file in your county. Once the Decree of Divorce is granted (the judge approves your divorce), you will become an unmarried person again. Grounds for a Texas divorce are 1) cruelty; 2) adultery; 3) conviction of a felony (imprisoned for at least one year without a pardon); 4) abandonment (for at least one year); 5) living apart (without cohabitation for three years), or 6) confinement in a mental hospital (for at least three years).

We understand you have many questions about what happens in this process, and we are here to help. What are the minimum requirements for getting a divorce in Texas? Is mediation required before you can get a Texas divorce? Call our Waco divorce lawyers at 254-753-6437 to schedule a consultation to answer how these laws apply to your case’s facts.

Residency & Where to File for Divorce in Texas?

One of the parties to the marriage must have been a resident of Texas for six months and a resident of the county in which the petition is filed for 90 days preceding the filing. Most of our divorces are handled in a McLennan County district courts. Our county has three civil and family courts that hear these cases. These courts typically require a mediation before trial. 

Legal Separation in Waco Texas

Texas law does not provide for legal separation. When you file for a divorce, you can ask the court for orders that deal with things like using the property—e.g., who gets to live in the house—and temporary child custody and support. Texas is a community property state, and living apart does not make the property you acquire separate property. For example, your salary becomes your separate property when you are no longer officially married.

What do divorce clients say about using Dunnam & Dunnam?

Our clients have said that we were “truly [their] voice” and has “empowered [them] since.” Other clients have said that our lawyers are “patient and very good at keeping [the client’s] emotions in check.” You can find more of our divorce client’s reviews on our family law page. Wacoan Magazine voters routinely vote for us as Waco’s Best Law Firm and best family lawyers. We have the experience and results to get your divorce done right.

How To Hire A Waco Divorce Attorney

You contact us
Contact us by phone, email or using our contact form. One of our helpful legal assistants will ask a few questions and schedule a meeting with one of our experienced and trusted lawyers. Please note that no attorney-client relationship is formed by this initial contact.

Free consultation
We will discuss you legal issues with you for free to determine how we can help you. Even though no attorney-client relationship is formed at this stage, everything we talk about is confidential (meaning we promise not to tell anyone) and privileged (meaning we cannot be forced to tell anyone about it).

Follow up
After our first talk we will follow up with you about our proposal on how we can help you.

Agreement
We will give you a short written agreement that details the charges in your case. Depending on the type of case, it can be a one time flat fee, or a retainer with an affordable hourly rate. At this point, an attorney-client relationship is formed.

We represent you
We will be your advocate, working to successfully resolve the matter for you.

Hire a Board Certified Divorce Lawyer in Waco 

A lawyer becomes board certified only after being in practice for many years, obtaining rigorous experience in the practice area and taking a challenging examination. Of the 100,000 lawyers in Texas, only about 900 are board certified in family law. Dunnam & Dunnam has three board-certified family lawyers representing many McLennan County residents in divorce. Our attorneys are respected by judges, juries, and opposing counsel for their tenacity and knowledge of the law. 

Jim Dunnam Waco Attorney at Dunnam & Dunnam

Jim Dunnam

Jim Dunnam is a Board Certified Specialist in both Civil Trial Law and Family Law.

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Merrilee Harmon Waco Lawyer at Dunnam & Dunnam

Merrilee L. Harmon

Merrilee L. Harmon is a Family Law specialist, Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1985.

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Vance Dunnam Waco Attorney at Dunnam & Dunnam

Vance Dunnam

Vance has 60 years of experience as a lawyer in Waco, Texas handling all types of cases in both the office and the courtroom.

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Central Texas Divorce Lawyers

The following lawyers at Dunnam & Dunnam can help with the divorce process:

Brittany Cleere

Brittany is a member of the McLennan County Bar Association, and McLennan County Young Lawyers Association.

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Eleeza Johnson Attorney at Law Dunnam & Dunam

Eleeza Johnson

Eleeza's practice areas include: Personal Injury Law, Civil Trial Law, Commercial Law, Family Law and Pharmaceutical Law.

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Gerald R. Villarrial

Gerald R. Villarrial has practiced family law, criminal law and civil litigation for over 20 years.

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Grace Strange

Grace Strange

Grace Strange is a US Army veteran who puts her determination and passion to work for clients.

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Mason Dunnam

Mason Dunnam is the fourth generation of Dunnam attorneys at the firm since 1925

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We are committed to providing all our clients with excellent legal advice, delivered with compassion and integrity. Call Dunnam & Dunnam at 254-753-6437 to discuss your divorce with an experienced, respected Waco divorce lawyer.