Posted 1 years ago by

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Texas Family LawThe virus didn't stop your family law problem. In the Metroplex the virus has, however, limited our ability to get to the courthouse for non-emergency matters.But what about child custody when you are forced to shelter at home? What about the other parent unreasonably withholding your child at this time, or unnecessarily exposing your child to social contacts? What if you are forced to shelter at home with an abuser?The short answer: give us a call.If you have any questions concerning the effect of the coronavirus on your particular family law matter, or need immediate action on a divorce, child custody, or other family law matter, I invite you to schedule a consultation over the phone. (817) 548-5696. I appear in family courts throughout the Metroplex. ... See MoreSee Less
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Posted 2 years ago by

Enforcement of Court OrdersAny litigating attorney -- one that goes to court for his or her clients -- has the main job to obtain, modify, and enforce court orders. Often, getting the court order is difficult. But once that's done, it is natural for the prevailing party to think, "it's all resolved now." If only that were always true.Unfortunately, human nature being what it is (and conflict being a pervasive part of family law cases), many clients find themselves in need of the court's assistance in enforcing the orders they've previously obtained. Maybe the other party won't let you see your child, or won't pay child support, or won't sign legal documents to transfer property after the divorce is over. What then?It's frustrating but necessary at that point to get a lawyer that isn't afraid to hold your opposing party's feet to the fire. Penalties for not following final court orders can include attorney's fees, modification of the final orders, and even jail time for the offending party. Yes, disobeying court orders is taken seriously by the courts. But it requires you to have the fortitude to take the other party back to court and hold them accountable. You can't get despondent; you can't give up on "the system." You simply have to act to protect the court order that you previously worked so hard to get.I'm available to help in these situations, and will work to aggressively enforce your court orders. I invite you to call if you or a loved one are dealing with a disobedient party. ... See MoreSee Less
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Posted 2 years ago by

Proud to sponsor the inaugural Trinity Pride Fest! ... See MoreSee Less
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Posted 2 years ago by

Life is largely about dealing with other people. This is especially true in family court - an entire legal subsystem devoted to resolving difficult personal problems that people can’t work out for themselves.Smart litigants figure out a few things:1. You can’t change other people.2. Other people rarely change themselves, and when they do it’s usually only after great difficulty and major life changes 3. The underlying personal dispute is the maddening, ridiculous, and expensive part of a family law case.4. The issues that the court can actually resolve - about the welfare of children and the division of property - are things that reasonable people should be able to figure out. 5. ... and this is the hard one ... it only takes one crazy person in the case to make it ten times harder on everyone else.So if you’re in a family case - make sure you’re not the crazy one. Make sure you have an attorney that will listen to you AND give you independent advice. Focus on the things you can address - your own behavior. And keep your kids’ needs ahead of your own, understanding that it’s not your child’s fault that you made a baby with the other parent, and that the child needs the other parent.Stop banging your head against the walltrying to get your ex to be a better spouse, a better parent, or heck just a better person. Let it go and accept that they are who they are. Adjust your expectations to meet reality, not your own hopes, anger, or fears. Call me if you need help. A good lawyer will help you assess that reality, set reasonable expectations, and guide you to resolution by settlement or trial to the court. ... See MoreSee Less
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Posted 3 years ago by

Personal Change and Family LawParents, kids, husbands, and wives often find themselves thrust into Texas family law courts whilst in the middle of immense personal change -- changes in the relationships we care about the most. We process these changes largely as grief -- and all the denial, negotiation, anger, and eventual acceptance that goes with it. We experience this like a death, and the personal stakes are huge.So to put it perfectly clear -- when we are involved in a family law matter, we're not at our best. In our better moments, we shoulder the burden and soldier on. In the worst times, we're the walking wounded, bleeding out emotionally and financially -- while our former loved ones wage war on us and strangers in the court system tell us how our future lives will be.It's scary. It can be devastating and leave you feeling utterly alone. I've been there.At times like this we need a guide. Through the legal system, that's an attorney. A good one will listen, and care, offer a straight opinion and give you a clear game plan to try to reach your objectives. A good attorney will ask you the questions you don't want to answer so you can get to the other side of this as intact as possible. And a good lawyer will know when to fight, when to settle, and when the legal problems bleed over into a need for other professional help.If I can be of any assistance to you or a loved one dealing with a family law matter, I invite you to give me, Tamara, and Jessica a call. ... See MoreSee Less
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Posted 3 years ago by

Addiction and Mental Illness in Texas Family CourtsIt's a reality that a large number of Texas family law cases -- divorce, child custody, even termination of parental rights cases -- involve substance abuse and/or mental health issues. I'd estimate that about half of my contested cases involve at least one of these problems.If you are going through this right now, I am terribly sorry. It can be, simply, a nightmare.The struggle with drugs, alcohol, or untreated mental health problems is often all-consuming, whether you're the one with the problem or if it's your spouse, child, or co-parent. Serious dependency or mental health issues can be pervasive, touching nearly every aspect of life and certainly every part of the case. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless.If these problems are affecting your marriage or your child, you need to consult an appropriate counselor and a competent family lawyer.HOW COURTS VIEW ADDICTION AND MENTAL ILLNESSEvery judge is different, of course, but generally, Texas family courts are primarily interested in two things at the outset -- the safety of children and the parties, and ending destructive behaviors (or at least limiting kids' and others exposure to such behavior). Moreover, Judges generally favor stability for children (i.e., maintaining the status quo) and need a REASON to make big changes in a child's life.It is vital to understand this perspective. The Courts are less interested in the diagnosis and more interested in CONDUCT. The diagnosis often explains the conduct. But a diagnosis alone isn't enough. A diagnosis in the absence of destructive conduct may not result in harsh rulings from the Court. In other words, someone that has issues but isn't destructive and doesn't hurt other people isn't going to be harshly sanctioned.That said, safety concerns will always be the primary concern; courts will be cautious when dealing with serious addiction and mental health issues. Key factors are (a) the length of the problem, (b) length and success of treatment and sobriety, (c) violence, self-harm and other dangerous behavior, (d) involvement of CPS, police, mental health/rehab facilities and the like, and (e) most importantly, the protection of children and innocent parties from the problem parent.Also be aware the some judges are simply more harsh or more lenient when it comes to certain problems. Others may be generous with second chances but take a zero tolerance approach to future bad conduct.EXAMPLES1. Parent A is an alcoholic but has been sober for a year and goes to regular AA meetings and is involved in the children's lives. In their custody case, Parent B wants Parent A to be on supervised possession of the children due to Parent A's past conduct.The Court is likely to give Parent A regular access to the children (likely Texas Standard Possession) but (1) prohibit parent A from drinking around the children and (2) grant Parent B the ability to test Parent A for alcohol use, with the threat of supervision in the event there is a positive test.This fact pattern would also hold true if Parent A had a serious, but treated, mental health condition, or drug addiction issues.2. Spouse A, the main breadwinner in the marriage, is an active drug abuser. Spouse B files a divorce case seeking a disproportionate share of the marital estate and supervision of Spouse A's possession of the children. Spouse A refuses to comply with initial court orders regarding sobriety, inappropriate behavior with Spouse B and the children, and financial matters.If Spouse A can't get it together, the Court is likely to maintain harsh restrictions on Spouse A -- including supervised possession, restricted access to children, and financial penalties.This sort of case is often time-consuming and financially draining, due to Spouse A's altered mental state and refusal to comply.3. Teenage Child has a drug addiction and is truant and failing in school. Parent A can't get the child to comply. Parent B blames Parent A for the Child's conduct. Parent A is exasperated.The Court is likely to get third parties (like appointed "amicus" attorneys, counselors, or social agencies like Family Court Services in certain counties) involved early to assess the child's conduct and make recommendations -- while keeping a keen eye out for parental conduct that may be feeding into the child's problems.This fact pattern also applies to the self-harming child that has suicidal thoughts or is "cutting" or engaging in other destructive behavior.These sorts of cases are heartbreaking and can lead in unexpected directions -- such as foster care for children if the Court can't trust either parent to put children's needs first. WHAT TO DO IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE ARE IN THIS SITUATIONFirst, talk to an appropriate counselor. Second, I invite you to call me. It is hard enough being in an addiction and/or mental health situation without knowing what to do or how the case may play out before the judge. Getting a professional perspective allows you to understand your options and set your expectations appropriately.The silver lining is that you are not alone, and that a competent attorney can help. ... See MoreSee Less
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Posted 3 years ago by

Letting GoWe experience divorce and the end of meaningful relationships like a death — a time for grieving, and the processing of all the denial, negotiation, anger and acceptance that goes with it.In family court, much of the conflict - especially in the early part of the case - revolves around the conflict between the parties and their difficulties in getting to a place of acceptance, not only in the relationship but in terms of the arrangements made regarding their children, income, and property.But we can’t help our exes in their grieving and in their own attempts to let go. Indeed, the opposite is true - as the adverse party, we are precisely the wrong messenger many times to help the other person move on.We have to simply work on us — which means protecting our own boundaries. This means different things for each of us. Physical separation, reduction in communication, changing old habits and locations ... each of these may be necessary to establish a new identity of sorts, post-breakup.You’re not alone. Your family, friends, attorney, and especially a counselor can help. The first step of letting go of the conflict is letting go of the idea that you can go it alone, that you can ask for help, and that you can lean into the changes life throws you.Good family lawyers can help you get to the other side of this. If you or a loved one need a guide through the legal process and letting go, I invite you to call me. ... See MoreSee Less
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Posted 3 years ago by

Community and Separate Property in TexasOne of the more misunderstood aspects of Texas Law is the subject of community property.It starts with the idea of an "estate," a concept meaning the nature of one's interest in property. In Texas, a community estate is created upon marriage. It is presumed that all of the couple's property (and income earned after marriage) is in the community estate and subject to division if and when the marriage ends.Put another way, if you're married, the starting assumption is that everything is in the "pot" to be divided.Separate property is that which is not in the community estate. For obvious reasons, parties in a divorce and their attorneys spend a lot of time attempting to "characterize" property as being either community or separate property.Separate Property includes property owned before marriage, property inherited during marriage, and gifts received during marriage.Under the "inception of title" rule, the time when a person gains a legal interest in property determines whether it is separate or community. For example, if you bought the house the day before the marriage, it's separate property.This gives rise to "reimbursement claims," when one spouse's separate property is enhanced or improved during the marriage using community property or income or the other spouse's separate property. For example, if the spouse used her separate inheritance to improve the other spouse's separate property home during the marriage.Commingling of separate and community assets also requires tracing and an accounting of assets to determine to what extent property retained its community or separate character. Many Texas family law court decisions have been made over the years to define these important concepts.If you've got questions about community and separate property in Texas, I invite you to give me a call. ... See MoreSee Less
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Posted 3 years ago by

Supervised Possession in Texas Family CourtsA common request in contested child custody and divorce cases is where one parent requests that the other parent's access or possession of the child is supervised.Supervision isn't appropriate in all (or even most) cases. Here are some examples where supervision isn't appropriate:* The parent has been uninvolved in the child's life previously (this may call for a "stairstep" possession schedule instead)* The child is very young (again, a "stairstep" may be a more proper result)* The parents disagree on basic parenting and caregiving (this typically calls for coparenting education instead)* One parent wants to punish the other parent for personal reasonsIn these cases, it's necessary to separate one's own feelings about the other parent from the actual danger the other parent presents to the child.Supervision is typically indicated in situations involving:* Proven family violence (or threats of family violence) against the child* Mental instability manifesting in proven unstable or odd behavior, hospitalization and/or criminal charges* Addiction / substance abuse issues * On recommendation by a neutral third party, such as Child Protective Services, an amicus or ad litem attorney, or a child custody evaluator* Previous supervision of the parent or removal of a child from the parent* Verified threats or actions to permanently remove the child from the area.In such instances, courts often enter temporary orders (1) providing the supervised parent with a possession schedule conditioned on completion of various steps (2) enjoining (preventing) the parent from engaging in destructive behaviors (3) appointing an appropriate supervisor and (4) arranging for a follow-up hearing to determine the parent's progress.The last point is probably the most important. In many supervised possession cases, the parent is simply unable or unwilling to "play ball" and resists what they see as being controlled by the court or the other parent. These cases often result in the parent's self-alienation from the child and the other party and end poorly because the court can't see a way forward. After all, if the parent can't behave right while they're before the court, how can the court trust that the parent will behave when nobody's looking?The specific schedule and supervisor are going to vary highly based on the case itself. What are the parties' availability? Is the main parent willing and able to safely supervise the other parent? What about other family members? While known supervisors are preferred, often a neutral and safer approach (especially at the beginning) is to install a third party professional -- such as Family Court Services in Tarrant County -- to act as the supervisor. In other cases, private supervisors are also available for a fee.Another supervisor option is "therapeutically supervised possession" in which a mental health professional is appointed to supervise access with the child in a clinical environment, often in conjunction with the child and parent's individual counselors. This sort of professional can be invaluable in giving the court objective information on the supervised parent's status and how the child is responding.While the goal of supervision is to restore the parent to normal possession, in some cases the parent simply peaks -- or "plateaus" -- at a level of parenting that is not enough to justify Texas standard possession. Such cases are either resolved at mediation or end up being tried to the court. ... See MoreSee Less
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