Holographic Wills

In Texas, someone can make a Will on their own, but it must be in the person's own handwriting and show "testamentary intent," which means they intended the document to be their last will and testament. 

Texas Estates Code 251.052 allows that a Will, written wholly in the testamentor's handwriting, is not required to be attested by subscribing witnesses.

This means that if the decedent wrote out a Will then as long as it's in their own handwriting, and there's someone to testify in court to the authenticity of that handwriting, then that handwritten document can likely be used as a Will in a Texas Probate Court. 

Caution should be used in using this as an Estate planing technique.  A Will is a specific, special document that needs to be tailored to meet your needs.  Consultation with a Wills and Estates attorney is advisable before undertaking such a task on your own.

Spousal Maintenance

Texas permits Spousal Maintenance, other states call it Alimony.  To qualify for Spousal Maintenance under the Texas Family Law, you need to be married for at least 10 years or there was spousal abuse, AKA family violence, within 2 years of the divorce, or a medical issue during the marriage that prevents a spouse from finding employment.  See Texas Family Code 8.051

It is a rebuttable presumption that spousal maintenance is not warranted unless the spouse requesting the maintenance has exercised diligence in attaining suitable employment (and been unsuccessful thus far) OR they are developing the necessary skills to support themselves during separation.  See Texas Family Code 8.053.  This means a Court would start from the presumption that spousal support is not warranted.

If you are married for ten years or more, or have been the victim of family violence or have medical complications the prevents you from working, then you have the right to request spousal maintenance.  Whether you receive any, and how much you would receive for what length of time, is highly dependent on your circumstances.  The length of time for any support is between 5 and 10 years, depending on the length of marriage.  You should contact an attorney who knows the details of the law and local judicial demeanor in order to assess your situation. 

Divorcing a spouse who lives outside of Texas

What do you do when you are still living in Texas but your spouse moves away?  Where do you file for divorce if your spouse lives out of state?  Texas Family Code 6.305 Provides that if the petitioner is a domiciliary of this state, i.e., has lived in Texas for at least 6 months and in the County they're filing for at least 90 days, then the Court can exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident if: (1) this state is the last marital residence of the parties and two years has not elapsed since that marital residence ended; and (2) there is any basis consisted with the Constitution of this state and the United States for the exercise of personal jurisdiction [over respondent].

This means that, if you and your spouse are living in Texas and that's the last place you've lived together as Husband and Wife, then you can still file here in Texas.  As long as you both lived here for the requisite 6 months, then you can file here.  If it's been more than 2 years since you two lived together as Husband and Wife then you might have to file in the state where the other spouse lives.  An attorney should be able to discuss the details of your case and be able to determine whether you can file here in Texas or not.

New Texas Rules of Civil Procedure affects family law filings

The Texas Supreme Court has issued new rules changing the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, specifically, Rule 21c dealing with privacy protection for filed documents.  The most recent version of these rules was signed in December, 2013, and can be found by clicking here or on the Texas Supreme Court website.  Make sure you are looking at the most recent version as the Tex. Sup. Ct. released another different version of these changes over the Summer.