Houston Attorney Specializing in Divorce

Houston Attorney Specializing in Divorce

In Texas divorce cases, it is advisable to consider obtaining legal representation as an option. By working with an attorney, you not only gain a representative in court, but also access to valuable insights on common practices in similar divorce proceedings. An attorney is committed to advocating for their client’s best interests and can provide guidance throughout this challenging period. If you’re searching for a Houston attorney specializing in divorce to assist with your divorce, consider reaching out to Renken Law Firm.

With extensive experience supporting individuals from diverse backgrounds and lifestyles, our team of family law attorneys is dedicated to guiding clients through their divorce proceedings. We provide skilled legal representation to assist you during this challenging period.

Based in Houston, our divorce lawyers are well-versed in handling various aspects of divorce cases, including child custody and support, spousal support, division of marital assets, and other family law matters pertaining to children. Do not wait for your spouse to file, instead contact us today to arrange a comprehensive evaluation of your specific divorce and family law case.

Why Being the First to File for Divorce Matters

To get a divorce started, one (or both—more on joint filing later) spouse must file a divorce petition with the court. The filing spouse is often called the “petitioner,” and the non-filing spouse is called the “respondent.”

If you know that there’s no chance for reconciliation, filing first might give you some strategic advantages such as:

Choice of court location. As long as the petitioner follows state and local laws about where a divorce can be filed, the petitioner gets to choose the jurisdiction (location) for the divorce proceedings. Many states have some form of residency requirement to prevent either spouse from intentionally filing for divorce in a state or county that might favor that spouse more than the other. For example, in Michigan, the filing spouse must live in the state for at least 180 days and the county of filing for at least 10 days before the court can accept the divorce petition. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 552.9 (2021).) So, if your spouse lives 100 miles away and files first, you’ll have to travel to your spouse’s courthouse for all divorce-related matters, which will cost you more time and money than if you’d filed first in the court nearest you.

  • Control over the pace of the divorce. The spouse that files for divorce often has a bit more control over how fast the divorce progresses. By filing first, you’ve started the process at a point of your choosing, while your spouse has no choice but to respond on the court’s timeline. Then, while your spouse is working on a response, you’ll have the opportunity to plan your next move.
  • The chance to make the first impression. The initial divorce paperwork contains the petitioner’s statement about the grounds (reasons) for the divorce. The allegations in the petition will be the first information about the case that the court sees—and when you file first, the ball is in your spouse’s court to change the court’s first impression.
  • The first opportunity to ask for temporary orders. The spouse who files first can ask the court for temporary orders before notifying the other spouse of the initial divorce filing. These orders might limit what each spouse can do with marital funds or property, protect one spouse from the other, award temporary child custody, or grant temporary child or spousal support. Although non-filing spouses will have the chance to respond to any requests for orders, their response must be filed before or at the same times as their response to the petition. Non-filing spouses can’t request their own temporary orders until after they have filed their response to the petition.

Does One Spouse Always File First?

Depending on your state’s laws, you might be able to file a “joint” petition for divorce (some states call this an uncontested or collaborative divorce), which means that both spouses agree not only to the divorce but to all divorce-related issues that follow. The spouses write up a divorce settlement agreement, and file it with their petition. The uncontested process in many states is more streamlined than a contested divorce, saving time, money, and relationships.

Your divorce settlement agreement must include the specifics about:

  • the reason (grounds) for the divorce
  • each spouse’s share of the court’s filing fees
  • how you will divide your marital property and debts
  • whether one spouse will pay spousal support, and if so, the amount and length of the payments
  • which spouse will become the primary caregiver (custodial parent) for any minor children
  • a parenting time or visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent, and
  • the amount of child support the non-custodial parent will pay.

As long as both spouses agree to all the divorce terms in writing, the court will approve it in most states. When minor children are involved, the court might require the judge to review the terms more carefully before approval. Still, as long as the custody and support arrangements favor the children’s best interests, the court will approve it.

Houston Family Lawyer for Complex Divorce Cases

Are you looking for a divorce lawyer in Houston to help you navigate the difficult divorce process? Our law office can help you. We work with individuals going through complex separations to help them reach a divorce settlement that fits their specific needs.

Why Choose Us?

Attorney Dawn Renken is a highly skilled family law practitioner based in Houston, Texas. Her expertise lies in handling a broad spectrum of divorce cases, ranging from amicable mediation to challenging contested situations. In 2014, Attorney Renken obtained her mediation license from ADR Services International Inc. Since then, she has assisted numerous divorcing couples who seek alternatives to traditional courtroom proceedings.

Mediation, one of Attorney Renken’s areas of focus, offers a confidential and private approach to divorce, eliminating the need for public court appearances and lengthy litigation battles. As a neutral third-party mediator, she ensures that both parties are equally and fairly represented throughout the process, facilitating constructive communication and enabling the couple to work together towards a mutually agreeable resolution.

If you are in search of an exceptional divorce attorney in the Houston area, consider contacting Attorney Dawn Renken to benefit from her extensive experience and commitment to helping clients achieve peaceful and satisfactory outcomes.

Family Law Attorney in Houston

Renken Law Firm is a trusted resource for family law matters in Houston, TX. Our team of family lawyers is dedicated to providing personalized attention as you navigate through complex family issues, such as custody disputes, divorces, and other familial conflicts. We offer a range of services, including family mediation and adoption, aiming to help our clients find resolutions without the need for costly court litigation. Our clients engage our family law attorneys at Renken Law Firm to ensure the protection of their rights and the best interests of their families.

While every family law case is unique, understanding the process can alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that accompanies it. At Renken Law Firm, we have a team of committed professionals who will guide you through every step of your case, from beginning to end. We believe that knowledge is empowering, and we will work tirelessly to provide you with the information and support necessary to make informed decisions for yourself and your family. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, where we can discuss your individual situation and address any questions you may have.


Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
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