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Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Divorce

    • How much does a divorce cost in San Antonio?
      In Bexar County, the filing fee for divorce is $293 without children or $344 with children. Keep in mind that this is not the final cost of divorce, since it does not include attorney fees or any additional court or filing fees that may arise during the divorce process.
    • What are the grounds for divorce in Texas?
      Texas allows for both fault-based and no-fault divorce. If a Texas couple wants to file for no-fault divorce, then they would do so using the reason of “insupportability”. This simply means that the marriage can no longer be supported. No further reasons need to be given. Additional ways to file for no-fault divorce include: Separation – If the couple has been living apart for 3 or more years, then they can file for a no-fault divorce. Mental Instability – If one spouse has been in a mental hospital for 3 or more years with an unlikely recovery, then the other spouse can file for no-fault divorce. However, Texas also allows for a spouse to file for fault-based divorce. The primary grounds include: Cruelty Adultery Felony Abandonment
    • Do you have to be separated before filing for divorce in TX?
      In Texas, you are not required to be separated before filing for divorce. However, one of the grounds for divorce in Texas is “living apart” – if you and your spouse have not cohabited for at least three (3) years, then you could file for divorce based on living apart.
    • How long does it take to get a divorce in San Antonio?
      The fastest a divorce can be finalized in Texas is 60 days, because there is a required 60-day waiting period from the date you file your petition for divorce until the date a divorce decree can be finalized. That being said, most divorce cases take longer. Uncontested divorces generally take a few months, while contested divorces often take a year or longer to be finalized due to busy court schedules and complex issues like custody and support disputes.
    • How do I know when it is time to divorce?

      No one can decide for you when you want to file for divorce. The best advice we can give you as a divorce law firm is to listen to your gut and remember that you deserve to be happy. For more information about deciding to divorce or not, you might be interested in speaking with a marriage counselor.

    • What if my spouse doesn’t want to divorce?
      You do not need your spouse’s approval or permission to file for divorce. If you want a divorce, then you can start those proceedings on your own and with the help of an attorney. Finalizing your divorce and figuring out a fair divorce agreement will be a bigger challenge if your spouse does not want to divorce and will not cooperate, but it is not impossible.
    • Will I have to go to court for my divorce?
      At some point, your Texas divorce will bring you to the courtroom for the final hearing. This process involves the judge reviewing the final divorce agreement and approving it, assuming that it has been drafted legally and fairly. If you and your spouse cooperate during the steps of divorce, though, then this might be the only time you have to go to court. For all other court appearances, an attorney can usually stand in your place and act on your behalf. With this said, many people divorce and only go to court once.
    • Can the same attorney represent both me and my spouse?
      In Texas, a divorce attorney cannot represent both spouses, even if each spouse wants to get a divorce. This division is caused by the fact that a divorce is technically a lawsuit and representing both parties would be a blatant conflict of interest.
    • Are Texas divorces public records?
      The majority of divorces in Texas are public records that can be accessed by interested parties. Some details might be omitted for confidentiality, such as if a pending domestic violence case pertains to the completed divorce. Overall, though, you can assume that information about your divorce can be searched in Texas state records.
    • Can I cancel a divorce once it starts?
      A divorce is not complete until the divorce agreement is approved during a final court hearing. Up until that point, the divorce proceedings can be canceled if the spouses reconcile and want to stay together. If the divorce was started by one spouse, then that one spouse can withdraw the petition. But if it was started by both spouses, then both need to agree to withdraw.
  • Family Law

    • How Much Does a Family Lawyer Cost?
      Family lawyer fees vary depending on the unique circumstances of a case and the attorney. Our team can discuss costs after learning more about your case and what you want to accomplish. It’s important to note that parties in divorce, custody, and other family law matters can takes steps to manage costs. Some ways to control legal costs:
      • Be organized: Legal fees are often billed hourly, so it pays to be organized. Gather important documents, forms, and information and provide them to your attorney in a timely manner.
      • Inform yourself: Your attorney is there to guide you and answer questions, but there is a wealth of information you can access through the internet, courthouse publications, and books that can help you be understand the issues in your case and how the process works.
      • Know your options: Educating yourself can go a long way in controlling costs. It also allows you to explore options with your attorney that can maximize case efficiency, such as mediation.
      • Control your emotions. Family law cases can be emotionally turbulent matters, but disputes can be costly. Keeping a calm head can help you avoid actions that increase litigation.
    • Are Family Cases Public Record in Texas?
      Most legal proceedings are matters of public record. And while transparency in our judicial system is in the public’s interest, many folks with family cases have concerns about privacy and the sensitive nature of their proceedings. Fortunately, there are protections built into the system that provide some privacy and confidentiality. One is the attorney-client privilege, which makes information and materials you provide your attorney (and their staff) confidential unless you request otherwise. The attorney-client privilege is an important part of our legal system, and it encourages clients to be honest and open with their counsel. Another way to protect information or prevent privacy violations is record sealing. Under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, certain court records may be sealed from public access. Our team can help you understand the process of sealing records in Texas family law cases and your options.
    • What Should I Expect During My Initial Consultation?
      At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, we strive to create a safe environment during initial consultations with clients, and remind them that we’re here to help, not judge. We then discuss their situation and goals, our experience with issues like theirs, and an assessment of how we can help. Scheduling a consultation with a family law attorney is a great first step, but it will be most productive if you come prepared. Gather and bring any important documents you feel you may need to show the lawyer, such as an existing court order or divorce papers you’ve been served. You can also create a list of questions to ask during your consultations. Some examples include:
      • How is communication handled?
      • What’s your experience in family law?
      • Have you handled similar cases?
      • How do fees work and what are some ways to control costs in my case?
  • Criminal Defense

    • Will my case go to trial?
      A: Not all criminal defense cases will go to trial, but most do to some extent. One of the most effective ways to prevent your case from going to trial before a judge or jury is to allow a criminal defense lawyer to intervene as soon as possible. Our attorneys might be to convince the prosecutors to drop the case against you before it ever goes to court, which can also help keep your criminal record clean.
    • What should I say to the police?
      You should never feel compelled to speak to the police or an investigator in an unofficial setting, such as after they pull you over or knock on your door. If the police are talking to you about a crime, then they think you are a suspect. Be careful with what you say. You should only provide the necessary identifying information. If the police press you for answers, then inform them that you would like to talk to an attorney first.
    • Should I use my Miranda Rights if I am arrested?
      Yes, if you are placed under arrest or are detained, then you can and should invoke your Miranda Rights. You should speak clearly and say something like, “I am officially invoking my Miranda Right to remain silent.” At that point, the officer should understand that you want to speak to your attorney or be provided one before talking. If they pressure you to talk after invoking your right to remain silent, then they are violating your Constitutional rights and the entire case against you could be voided.
    • Who should I call using my ‘one phone call’ in jail?
      When you are provided a chance to call someone after being placed in county jail following an arrest, use the phone call to reach an attorney and no one else. All calls, outbound and inbound, are recorded in jail. Prosecutors will listen to what you said later if you called a family member or friend. If you call an attorney, though, then your lawyer will immediately advise you to watch your word choice and talk as little as possible.
    • Do I need an attorney if I am innocent?
      Everyone needs an attorney once they are arrested or charged with a crime. You might know you are innocent, but the state thinks you are guilty and will try to prove it in court. Do not give the prosecution an early advantage by failing to work with a criminal defense lawyer.
    • Are misdemeanors and felony charges different?
      Yes, misdemeanors are not the same as felonies. Misdemeanors are used to describe and penalize “less serious” crimes like drug possession, nonviolent theft crimes, and so on. A felony charge relates to “more serious” crimes like sexual assault, robbery, grand theft, and more. However, do not be mistaken. A conviction for a misdemeanor or felony can be severely damaging to your future freedom, finances, and reputation.
    • What are the best possible outcomes for my criminal defense case?
      A criminal defense case can end in one of many ways. The “best possible” outcomes will usually include a dismissal of the case and all charges, a not guilty verdict from a judge or jury, or a plea deal that lessens your sentencing requirements considerably.
    • What is bail?
      Following an arrest and processing for certain criminal violations, a judge may approve a bail amount for the charges. You can pay the bail amount to be released from jail while your case is pending. If you appear at all future court proceedings and follow other bail requirements, then you will be repaid the bail amount when your case concludes. If you do not, then the bail is forfeited to the state.

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    Derek and his team will work directly with you through every step of your case. It’s important to us that your case receives highly personalized attention. You instilled your trust in us and we will work to meet and exceed your expectations.

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