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Divorce Definitions

Alimony - Money paid after divorce to the ex-spouse, usually to the ex-spouse who is a lower wage-earner.  Texas was the last of the 50 states to allow this, and Texas law calls it “maintenance” rather than alimony.

Annulment - An annulment creates a situation that is legally as if the marriage never happened.  The practical aspect is that there is no community property and the parties are to be put back in the property ownership position that they were in prior to the marriage. A civil annulment is actually more difficult to prove than a divorce.  The parties must have never consummated the marriage or as soon as the basis for the annulment is discovered, the parties must cease to co-habitate.

Community Property - All property earned or acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property, unless it is proven to be separate property.  The name on the title is not controlling in this regard.  No matter who earned the money or purchased the item, if the acquisition occurred during the marriage and it is community property, then the property is owned by both spouses.  Texas courts may divide community property in whatever manner they find to be fair, not necessarily fifty-fifty.

Joint Managing Conservators - The law in Texas presumes that all fit parents should be appointed as Joint Managing Conservators of their children.  Although the time with the child and decision-making powers are more equal, generally there is still only one Joint Managing Conservator with the exclusive right to determine where the child resides, and the right to collect child support.

Managing Conservator - A parent or similar person who has, because of court order, the right to possession of the child and the majority of the decision-making powers, including the right to determine where the child resides.  This is the person who is usually referred to as having “custody” or “primary custody”

“No Fault” Grounds - There are several “grounds” or legal reasons for divorce, but the most popular is the “no fault” ground which provides that the marriage has become insupportable due to a conflict of personalities.

Palimony - a financial settlement to be paid like alimony but in a situation between two people who were never actually married but were living together and have decided to end the relationship.

Possessory Conservator - A parent or similar person who has, because of court order, the right to visitation with the child, but has less decision-making power.

Separate Property - Separate Property in Texas is any property owned prior to the marriage or acquired by gift or inheritance at any time.  However, the burden of proof is on the person claiming separate property to show proof that the property is not community property.  Once found by a court to be separate, the court must award to the owner his or her own separate property.

Spousal Support - Refers to money or payments for the financial support of a spouse, court-ordered to be made while the parties are still married, but during the pendency of a divorce.  While Texas does not favor post-divorce maintenance or alimony, Texas does prefer spousal support as needed because spouses have a legal duty to provide for the well-being of one another while they are married.