Whatever your legal situation is with your family, one thing is certain, the lawyer you choose will have a profound impact on how you get to the other side of this challenge. You need a lawyer who knows what if feels like to be in your shoes. This is not the time for harshness, judgment, abrasiveness, callousness … all characteristics we have all seen in a lawyer at some point in time. You deserve a lawyer with compassion, soul, heart, and faith, combined with extensive knowledge, experience, and expertise in family law.
Adoptions are by far the highlight of family law. With little to no conflict, adoptions are a very happy time for families. In order to be eligible for adoption the parental rights of the parents must be terminated. However, in the case of a stepparent adoption, only one of the parent must have had their rights terminated. This makes the child eligible to be adopted by the person married to his or her custodial parent. There are several steps involved in this process, which makes it lengthier then most expect. In-home evaluations must be done and interviews must take place with all members of the household. Background checks are also required for the parent seeking to adopt and the custodial parent.
Often times name changes that were supposed to occur during a divorce or adoption were inadvertently omitted or a party decided to wait because they didn’t feel ready to change their name. It is frequently the case that people think they are entitled to a name change, when in fact, they are not at that time and other litigation must be pursued and an order of the court entered before the name change can occur. The only time a party is entitled to a name change is in a divorce proceeding.
There are two types of divorces, uncontested and contested, both are emotionally draining and bring their own set of obstacles. Getting a divorce is a grueling experience, and you need an attorney who knows the ups and downs you will experience as you traverse this rocky ground. Divorces encompass every area of your life, your finances that you have worked so hard to amass, your family that you love more than life itself, and your personal and business assets that you accumulated through of blood, sweat, and tears. Now, you risk losing more of it than you care to consider in an unforeseen divorce, which presents fearful and unsettling thoughts.
The end products of divorce are basically broken down into two categories 1) children; and 2) property. What anyone going through a divorce wants to know is, “will I get my children and will I get the property I want?” We don’t have a crystal ball and are not in the hocus pocus business (if we were, we surely wouldn’t say it out loud), but what can be promised is fierce and abiding advocacy throughout the entire process. Our law firm will be committed to providing you sound, aggressive, and thoughtful representation with a personalized touch always geared at optimizing your take in the divorce.
Divorces can leave clients a nervous wreck, wondering about every detail and fact. With the stakes so high, you don’t need to be left hanging, feeling left alone by your attorney. Making sure you don’t feel this way is why we are ever vigilant to return calls, texts, and e-mails… without fail. We know that every communication makes a difference in your case, because the more we know the better equipped we are at drafting the most meaningful discovery, negotiating the best settlement, or preparing your case for trial should it come to that.
We know you need to hear from your attorney to ease your troubled mind. If we don’t have news for you, you will be responded to by either the attorney handling your matter or support staff. Even if our response is simply an acknowledgment of receipt with the expectation that we will address your concern in a timely manner.
If you and your partner can settle your differences without a trial, then an uncontested divorce will save you money, time, and heartache. This type of divorce can only happen when the husband and wife can agree on how to dispose of all the assets and debts they accumulated during the marriage, can agree on how they are going to divide their time with their children, if there were children born or adopted during the marriage, and on child support issues. It is highly recommended that if at all possible, the parties work toward obtaining an uncontested divorce. If the parties are able to agree on all aspects of the divorce, the law firm can work with both them.
Uncontested divorces reduce the amount of time and resources your divorce will take. Since trial is not imminent, there will be no need for the parties to attend a lengthy one or two day mediation, which is frequently required by the county in which the divorce is filed, or by court order. Mediation costs add additional expenses because not only will both parties be responsible for the mediator’s fee, you will also be responsible for additional lawyer fees incurred to attend the mediation.
Clients frequently ask when is the soonest they can be divorced following filing the petition. The Texas Family Code states the parties must wait a period of 60 days before any order of divorce can be entered. This 60-day waiting period can only hope to be the case in an uncontested divorce. It is wholly impossible for a contested divorce to be completed in this time frame.
However, if the husband and wife are unable to agree, then the divorce is contested and the court and judges will be involved in resolving the contested matters. A contested divorce is usually accompanied with filing subsequent pleadings, several trips to the courthouse, lengthy discovery, attorneys corresponding with each other in e-mails and letters, as well as over the phone, and frequently court involvement through Guardian ad Litems or Attorney ad Litems who are appointed by the court for the benefit of the children or to protect the assets.
It is often the case that after depositions and mediation are conducted in the case, some issues can be resolved and the ones that remain are the contested issues that will be heard by a judge at trial.
In high net or high asset value divorces, there are additional obstacles as the property distribution is more hotly contested. Frequently, the party with the most to lose has personality quirks that make the divorce even more challenging. In some instances, the parties are celebrities, fortune 500 employees, CEO’s, or dot.com bubble millionaires with inflated egos and flamboyant reputations. When one or both of the parties are celebrities, social elites, politicians, or high profile clients, the added pressure of publicity weighs heavily on the parties. In these instances, a seasoned divorce lawyer with years of experience will implement strategies to minimize unwanted attention and to protect their client’s privacy.
For these reasons, high asset litigants can expect unexpected court interventions, to include discovery enforcement motions, emergency custody hearings, and more. Since assets may have been hidden, it will also be necessary to hire forensic accountants to unearth and evaluate hidden assets, private investigators for suspected infidelity and to locate overseas accounts and property, and accountants to make sense of complicated tax returns, spendthrift trust accounts, and business valuations.
Often in high net asset divorces, one of the parties has become addicted to cocaine or spends thousands of dollars at strip clubs. In situations like this, the innocent party can request the judge to order a receivership to protect assets. This is an unfortunate occurrences because it adds additional hardship and complications to an already daunting process especially if there are children and the needs of the children must filter through the receivership.
Spousal support and maintenance (alimony) and child support are extremely important issues, especially when the financial stakes are high. Typically, divorce cases involving high net worth individuals are multi-faceted and consist of more complex variables than standard divorce cases. These cases typically require sophisticated lawyering to produce a successful outcome.
Already a contentious process, when you want to leave a narcissist, you will find yourself in a tsunami of confusion. Even in the best scenarios, it doesn’t take much for conflict to rise quickly in a divorce, but with a narcissist, hold on to your hair! A narcissist will be more likely to act on their negative, out of control emotions, which is steeped in strong insecurity; they will seek retribution and stop at nothing to punish you for daring to leave them. Your emotional wounds from the wrath of the narcissist will linger long after the divorce, so brace yourself for a bumpy ride. Please visit the Mental Wellness page for more information on Narcissism.
After an order is entered and the parties have been operating under the terms of that order, they often find the need to change it. Sometimes the financial circumstances of one of the parent’s has changed or the needs of the child changes, causing additional financial burdens, or both. Any change to the current order must be done through the courts by filing a Motion to Modify. Creating a written or verbal agreement between the parties does not absolve the child support obligation and can be harmful to either party down the line if litigation happens. A modification can be sought to change child support amounts, conservatorship, and possession and access schedules.
Modifications sought within three years of a previous order are looked at with more scrutiny, and requests must be made to the court prior to being granted permission because the court wants to make sure that making the change is in the best interest of the child or children. If you need a current order modified contact my office and I will work closely with you to get the changes you are seeking.
If the child support amount that was originally set by the court is no longer accurate then you may need to seek a modification. But, the current order must be at least three (3) years before the court will change the amount and the difference in what is being paid now and what the court could rightfully order has to surpass a pre-determined amount set by the legislator. If both of those standards have been met and the obligor (the parent paying support) has had a decrease or increase in their salary, the child support amount may need to be adjusted.
Keep in mind that if the circumstances that have changed are material and substantial then the court can make changes even though three (3) years have not passed. For example, if the child suddenly becomes disabled and/or develops special needs, the obligee (the parent receiving support) may need to seek an increase to better serve the needs of the child. Or if the obligor (the parent paying support) takes on the financial responsibility of caring for an elderly parent, then they may want to seek legal counsel to determine if a modification is recommended. These are just some examples, every case is different.
We are frequently asked about child support arrears and how it works. Arrearages are past due or unpaid support owed by the noncustodial parent. There are many reasons why noncustodial parents accrue large arrearages including: retroactive child support awards, not knowing a support order exists, inability to pay during incarceration, or willful failure to pay. Under federal law, all orders serviced by the state agency are subject to automatic income withholding when a delinquency of at least one month occurs.
Some states charge interest rates on delinquent payments, and Texas is one of them. Some states have statutes of limitations on the length of time during which a child support debt is collectable, In Texas, if an order exists, a claim for retroactive child support must be sought within ten years from the child’s 18th birthday. The rules are different if no order existed and this is known as a retroactive support claim.
Texas does not tolerate child support evaders. Parents who fail or refuse to pay child support can go to jail for up to two years and pay thousands of dollar in fines, on top of the child support they owe. In addition to jail time, there are a multitude of other punishments to include:
There are basically two avenues for which you can be sent to jail for failing to pay child support.
Conservatorship issues are the type of issues that involve who makes decisions for the child, such as, medical, educational, developmental, and religious decisions. Conservatorship issues may occur if one parent has been incarcerated since the last order or no longer provides for the child or participates on a regular basis in the management of the child’s life. If joint managing conservatorship was ordered, but now circumstances of the child have changed and you believe sole managing conservatorship is what is best for your child, then your facts may warrant a modification.
Custody periods, also known as possession and access, dictates the specific time frames each parent has with the child and when and how the custody transfers occur. You may want to seek a modification to place supervisory restrictions on the other parent because their lifestyle is no longer fit for raising a child and you are concerned about what happens when the child is in their care or you want to decrease the amount of time the child spends with the parent during the school year due to diminished academic capabilities. Often times work schedules change and possession and access needs to be modified to suit the new work schedule. There are a many reason to seek a change in the possession and access schedule, so call or e-mail if you think you may need help in this area.
Due to what is known as the tender year’s doctrine, an outdated legal custom that mandated custody of children under age five be automatically awarded to mother’s in a divorce, men are customarily disadvantage during divorce and other family law matters because of these traditional parenting roles. For these reasons, fathers are likely to pay more in child support or be on the receiving end of an unfair custody order.
These facts, while true, are unfortunate because the role of father’s in a child’s life is just as instrumental as the nurture and love from a mother. Although courts should not favor one parent over the other based on gender, this still happens. Your ability to secure representation that overstands the vital position male role models provide, will make all the difference.
One of the law office’s first cases, was a father wanting custody of his young son. To this day, I smile when I think of the photo his father sent when he graduated high school. Since then, we made it our business to specialize in representing fathers who wholeheartedly believe their child’s best interest is served by living primarily with them. It doesn’t mean they don’t need their mother; it just means the child’s well-being is better secured by spending more time with their father. This type of representation requires delicacy and sensitivity, which can only be obtained by a law firm that has successfully represented men in their pursuit to give their children the very best life possible. Since that first case, we’ve represented numerous men seeking the same result…and succeeded.
The data unequivocally confirm that fathers are vital parts of a children’s life. The 2016 census confirmed that 2 out of 5 children grow up without fathers. The Center for Disease Control statistics confirm that children from fatherless homes account for 90% of all homeless and run-away children, 71% of all high school dropouts, and 63% of youth suicides. Research has found children with involved fathers have stronger cognitive and motor skills, elevated physical and mental health, become better problem solvers and are more confident, curious, and empathetic.
Fathers deserve to be represented just as zealously as mothers and we provide the same assurance to fathers that we care about their role in their child’s life.
The state of Texas takes domestic violence seriously and our courts are prepared to provide a number of different remedies to punish perpetrators of violence and protect families and children from the horror of abuse, which will undoubtedly leave lasting effects. These measures can be in addition to any criminal charges the accused may face involving any domestic violence brought by the state.
The limits that a protective order can impose on a person’s freedom depend on which type of protective order is granted. There are four different types of protective orders that may be issued after an accusation of domestic assault:
Frequently, protective orders can be dismissed if the plaintiff or alleged victim has lied. If representation is sought early in the case, inconsistencies may be uncovered, should they exist, which prompt the question of whether the events unfolded as the alleged victim stated.
There is a differentiation between a protective order for assault family violence and a criminal case for assault family violence. The need for a protective order within in a divorce brings with it additional complications, but frequently, the same divorce attorney is hired to represent the client in the protective order hearing and the details of that agreement will need to be addressed in addition to the needs of the divorce.
If the respondent does not particularly care about losing the hearing, he can still contest the protective order while asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
This strategy can make sense because, unlike defendants in civil cases, criminal defendants do not normally have an opportunity to question the alleged victim under oath in a pre-trial deposition. In a protective order hearing, the applicant’s testimony is “on the record.” This means that the respondent can purchase the transcript from the court reporter and potentially use it in their defense in any criminal proceedings relating to the applicant’s accusations.
If the alleged victim’s testimony at the protective order hearing is not truthful then at least the transcript commits him or her to a specific story and provides some protection against additional future fabrications. The defendant’s attorney may also be able to use the transcript to investigate any claims or accusations that can either be verified or discredited. Finally, the hearing transcript may come in handy later if the alleged victim tells a slightly different story when testifying at trial. It can be difficult for the alleged victim to tell the same lie twice without making mistakes.
Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) is a branch of the Texas Health and Human Services that investigates and intervenes with any reports of abuse and neglect of children. If CPS is investigating your family for abuse or neglect, you risk losing custody of your children and this will be an extremely frightening time for your family.
These cases are time sensitive and every moment you are not represented could mean you are closer to losing custody of your children than you know. Whether or not CPS has a court order, if they suspect your child is in immediate danger, they can remove your child from your home temporarily while the case is being investigated. If this happens, a judge will schedule a hearing within 2 weeks after CPS removes a child. You will be asked complete a Child Caregiver Resource Form, which will give CPS the names of at least 3 people, including grandparents and other adult relatives, who might be able to provide care, emotional support, or other support for the child while the child’s home situation is investigated. If there are no suitable family members, they may end up in foster care.
A problem with these CPS cases is parents believe they can get their children back after they have been taken by CPS, so they wait to hire an attorney, or don’t hire one at all. This is not always true. So, please do not delay in hiring counsel because the risk is too high not to.
When the state brings a case against an obligor (the parent paying support) sometimes it is necessary to hire an attorney who understands the system and is willing to defend you with all vigor. This is especially true if the Attorney General seeks to throw you in jail for violating the child support order. If jail time is being recommended by the Attorney General, you have the right to a court appointed attorney.
But, if you can afford a private attorney, it may be to your advantage to seek one out. Often times there are extenuating circumstances and an attorney can plead your case to the Attorney General’s office and reduce the arrears. What you must realize if you are in this situation is the state does not represent you or the obligee (the parent receiving support), but rather represents the interest of the child.
We understand and appreciate the stigma that is deeply and profoundly experienced in this country when you are not the picture-perfect version of what society has decided is all things lovely. We are particularly sensitive to the issues and mass discrimination faced by the LGBTQ community in Texas, and at large. Thankfully, federal and state laws are slowly changing to provide more rights and protections for the members of the LGBTQ community, but there is still a great amount of stigmatism and unacceptance surrounding choices of sexuality, gender, and dress.
What we are finding as individuals become more clear on their intentions and identity and more in tune with their individual needs, they feel compelled to remove themselves from traditional marital situations that they entered into years or decades before to normalize their lives and fit into the role society fixed for them. Many have spent the greater part of their lives choosing to make others happy and have decided living their truth is the only meaningful and lasting choice.
Mixed orientation couples are those in which one member in a relationship is either gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. According to one study, there are up to two million mixed-orientation couples. When the gay, lesbian, or bisexual partner comes out, a third of the couples break up immediately; another third stay together for one to two years and then split; the remaining third try to make their marriages work. Of these, half split up, while the other half stay together for three or more years.
Certainly, realizing and accepting your partner isn’t heterosexual can be difficult and minimizing or ignoring the heterosexual spouses’ emotions is just as damaging as shaming the lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or gay partner who is ready to face their truth. Among the things you may feel are:
Many in this position have insurmountable fear of what their lives could look like if they out themselves or if the heterosexual partner decides to leave the marriage. Notably, all of this is more complicated if minor children are involved. We understand how the thought of leaving the safe, yet uncomfortable marriage is paralyzing and want to help you walk through it with grace and consideration. When you start to discuss your options, you need to know you are heard and no one is judged; we can provide that for you.
“When the pupil is ready to receive the truth, then will this little book come to him, or her.” — The Kybalion”
If you have been arrested for, charged with, or indicted on any of these crimes or a crime not named, call The Alchemy Attorney, or e-mail now for your no cost consultation, so you can experience authentic lawyering, where it is our business to make our skills work for you.