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I pride myself on operating a small, but busy, family law boutique-style firm. I handle cases involving family law and family law related matters, various types of which are discussed below. I want my clients to feel they are getting both quality legal representation and the hands-on attention they deserve.

I WILL LISTEN TO YOU!
I encourage my clients to bring in a list of questions so that we can address all concerns and fears. From a personality standpoint, I lean toward directness because that is what I like from professionals that I hire. I don't tell you what I think you want to hear. My goal is to arm my clients with the information they need so that they can make well-informed decisions.

Divorce
During divorce, most clients feel that they are temporarily “insane.” More often than not it is a time of great turmoil, even if you are the spouse seeking the divorce. It is important to recognize and identify the emotional impact of divorce on you and your family members.

My priority is to help my clients focus on the future. The past should not be the focus although it will be necessary to address concerns over past behavior in future decision making. I provide useful tools to help you make the best choices you can to meet your needs as well as those of your children. My experience and training in the courtroom as well as in mediating cases helps me apply creative thinking to address all issues.

 

Non-Contested Cases
If you have been able to sit down with the other party and discuss and agree on the issues involved in your case, your case may be uncontested. It is possible for me to represent you in preparing the paperwork and proving up the agreement in Court. Even if agreed, certain paperwork must be drafted and certain evidence must be presented to be granted a divorce. You need a lawyer; don’t try to go it alone. Uncontested cases are often times a lot less costly than a contested case. The more you fight, the more expensive any litigation will be. I will explain to you all of your options so that you can make informed decisions on the process in the most cost-effective yet protective way.

 

Temporary Hearing
A divorce has to be on file with the Court for at least 60 days before it can be finalized. Most cases are not finalized on the 61st day. Even with an agreement, we are subject to the Court’s schedule. If contested, a case may be on file for 4-6 months or longer. In some cases, it is necessary to have a hearing at the beginning of a case in order to deal with the issues in the meantime.

A temporary hearing seeks a court order to determine the parties’ rights and duties with regard to conservatorship, support and possession of the children and also temporary exclusive use of property as well as payment of debts while the divorce is pending. At this time, a mutual injunction will also be entered in order to keep the status quo and prohibit one party from getting rid of property without the agreement of the other party.


Regarding temporary child support and payment of marital bills, it is often necessary for each party to complete a monthly expense sheet and to provide proof of income. Proof of income, according to the Texas Family Code consists of income tax returns and all supporting schedules for the last two calendar years as well as check stubs for at least the last three months of the current calendar year. When temporary child custody is at issue, the parties must present witnesses and other evidence to aid the Court in determining the best interest of the children.

 

Discovery
Discovery is often necessary in family law cases, especially when issues are contested. It is necessary so that each side can learn or “discover” the strength of each other’s case. Civil cases are to be tried on what’s revealed and not what’s concealed. As such, both sides are often required to answer interrogatories, to disclose certain information and produce requested documents.

Most of the time, it is necessary to identify and value all of the property and debts involved in a divorce (providing an inventory and appraisement), as well as providing documentation of the characterization and values.

 

Property Division
It is presumed that all property obtained during the marriage is community property. This presumption can be overcome by proving that a certain piece of property is separate property. Separate property is not subject to division as part of the marital estate. Property is deemed separate if it was inherited, received as a gift or owned prior to marriage. Proving to the Court that property is separate or came from separate property requires a higher burden of proof and thorough evidence of such must be presented to the Court.

It is important that the community property and debts be considered as a whole so that one specific asset or debt is not blown out of proportion and become a sticking point. If you disagree on a particular asset or debt, sometimes it is best to set it aside and come back to it after working on the proposed division of the other assets and debts.

 

Spousal Support / Alimony
Temporary support in some cases can be ordered regardless of the length of the marriage. A married couple has a duty to support each other until the divorce is finalized and the marriage is terminated. It is important to realize that if as a couple you had trouble making ends meet with one-set of monthly bills, it may seem impossible and sometimes is impossible to make ends meet with two-sets of monthly bills.

Post Divorce Spousal Support / Alimony can only be ordered if you have been married for 10 or more years. There are several factors for the Court to consider in awarding alimony. All clients want some measure of economic security for the future. It is important that the spouse seeking support create a detailed plan for becoming more financially self-sufficient.

 

Parent / Child Issues
Parent - Child Issues arise in divorce and parentage suits, sometimes with the Attorney General. No matter the specific case, all parent child cases deal with the same overall issues: conservatorship, possession and support.

Conservatorship addresses the different rights and duties allocated to each party.

A possession order is established so that if the parties are unable to work together, there are certain set times for each party to have the child. Presumably, if the child is over 3 years of age, the Standard Possession Order will be entered (see forms for specifics). It is important that both parents feel that they are still parents to the child and NOT just visiting with their child. It is hoped that the parties will work together so that the child can spend the maximum amount of quality time with both parents.

Injunctions may be necessary for the protection of the children. Injunctions address any special concerns one might have about the conduct of the other parent during the time with their children.
Child Support is set based on the established guidelines set out in the Texas Family Code. The Court will also make appropriate orders for health insurance for the child as well as uninsured medical expenses.

 

Paternity / Nonpaternity case
Paternity cases as well as non-paternity cases are also handled through the Court system. It is important to know when a parentage test should be requested and when it should be resisted. It is often necessary in these cases to request the test or request that the test be denied at the very beginning of the case. Even if you are not on the birth certificate, you can claim your child within a reasonable time. If you suspect you are not the biological parent of a child but are married to the mother, it may be possible to ask the Court to deny a parentage test requested by the mother. The best interest of the child is always the overriding factor in every case.

 

Enforcement and Modification
When a case involves children, it is not truly ever over until the child turns 18, and sometimes it does not end then. All parent child issues are subject to be modified. If a party is not paying child support or if a party is keeping the child away from the other parent, an enforcement is necessary to force the other party to obey the Court Order.

 

Geographical Restriction
Geographical Restrictions prohibit the party with whom the child resides from relocating further than a predetermined distance with the child. Recently, this is a contested issue as often, if not more so, than custody due to the multitudes of reasons the parent with whom the child resides may come up with for wanting to relocate, such as: jobs, new relationships, opportunities, desire to be near or away from family. These wants/needs by the parent with whom the child resides have to be balanced with the need for both parents to be active in the child’s life.

 

Grandparent Access
Despite popular belief to the contrary, grandparents do have rights in Texas! Each case needs to be accessed on an individual basis so that the extent of the rights can be determined. Is only access to the child wanted? What is the relationship between the grandparent and the parent of the child? Has the child lived with the grandparent for an extended period of time?

 

Name Change
If the wife wants to change her last name back to her maiden name, a divorce is the time to do it. There is no extra charge to obtain a name change during the divorce proceedings. If the wife determines after the divorce is complete that she wants a name change back to her maiden name, she will be forced to file a whole new case filing fee with the District Clerk as well as drafting a new suit and order for name change.

If parents to a child are not married and a parentage case is to be had to determine conservatorship, possession and support, a name change can also be obtained. It is traditional and the norm for the Court to Order that the child carry the last name of the father.

 

Premarital Agreements
A premarital agreement is an agreement made before marriage that attempts to resolve several issues, including spousal support and division of property in the event of death or failure of the marriage. In order to accurately draft a premarital agreement, it is necessary for an attorney to have a vast knowledge of the Texas Family Code as well as the practice of family law. It is important to draft an agreement that specifically and in simple terms delineates the intent of the parties. It is best to allow plenty of time between the premarital agreement and the wedding to allow both parties time to understand the agreement and allow the other party to take the agreement to an independent attorney for review and explanation.

 

Mediation
As the mediator, I provide a neutral and confidential environment so that the parties can concentrate on the future and address concerns in a cooperative and creative atmosphere. Every case is different. In many cases the real issue is hurt feelings and once we address those feelings, everyone can begin to think positively about the future. I will assist you and the other party in resolving your conflict. With mediation, you – and not the legal system are in control of the process and the outcome of your case.

Most people divorce in hope of making things better, not worse. The divorce process is a conflict and everyone responds differently to conflict. It is hoped that through the mediation process, divorce can be viewed as an avenue to a destination that is smoothest if navigated by both parties working together.

It is important to remember that in a divorce proceeding, even if you attend mediation, it is necessary for the case to go to Court to present the agreement to the Court for approval.

 

Collaborative Law
Collaborative Law is a process in which both parties make an agreement to proceed with their case without Court intervention. Both attorneys should be trained in the collaborative law process. Usually there are several short meetings in order to identify the many issues and attempt to resolve them. If it is necessary to bring in a 3rd party (i.e. counselor or appraiser) the parties will agree on this person as well.

If the case breaks down and the parties reach an impasse, the attorneys involved in the collaborative law process must withdraw from the case so that the case can proceed to Court with new attorneys. Parties opting for the collaborative law process have a vested interest in concluding their case amicably.

 

Kids and Divorce
I was a child of divorce. I believe that it is NOT the actual divorce that damages many children, it is the intensity and duration of the conflict between parents that can destroy children. It is necessary for the parties to work together to address the inevitable changing behaviors of children of divorce.
I will not get a child involved in a lawsuit unless absolutely necessary. I will do everything in my power to make the child as comfortable as possible and educate the child about as much of the process as they need to know.

It is important that you DO NOT talk bad about the other parent to the child. Your child is one-half you and one-half the other parent. When you talk about the other parent, you are putting down your child! If both parents give the child permission to have a meaningful and loving relationship with the other parent, your child will flourish and overcome the situation.

 

Your Relationship with Your Attorney
No matter what specific family law problem you are experiencing, you are going through a particularly rough time. It is very important that you feel comfortable with and like your attorney. Not every attorney is right for every case and not every case is right for every attorney. I am not an attorney that takes every case that walks through my door. When you meet me, you will find that I am a very down-to-earth and a tell-it-like-it-is kind of person. Legal fees are expensive and I will not promise anything that cannot be accomplished just to get a fee. I will tell you the good, bad and ugly, and I expect the same from you. You must tell me everything – the good the bad the ugly, the true and the not true! There is not much that I haven’t heard already so don’t hold back! – the worse thing you can do for your case is to neglect telling me things that you have done or your spouse may accuse you of doing. Many times the "bad facts" are usually not as harmful as you may think. This is a confidential relationship and you should feel that you trust me and the staff in my office.

You and I and my staff are in an attorney-client relationship, which is recognized by law to be a very special relationship. We owe one hundred percent of the allegiance to you and your case and owe no allegiance to your spouse whatsoever. I am required to represent you zealously, but within the bounds of the law.

Do not be mislead if you find me dealing with your spouse's attorney on a friendly basis. Professional and common courtesy dictate this. Good lawyers are perfectly capable of zealously defending and promoting their clients' best interest, without becoming personal enemies. You hire a lawyer to have someone on your behalf who not only has legal expertise, but who will not become emotionally involved. You want your lawyer to use her head, not her heart. Indeed, you should expect your lawyer to be objective and to remain unemotional on your behalf, because it will often be hard for you to do so.

 


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