Monday, September 14, 2009

Filing Deadlines

See 9.003 of the TX Family Code

A suit to enforce the division of tangible personal property in existence at the time of the decree of divorce or annulment must be filed before the SECOND ANNIVERSARY of the date of the decree or becomes final after appeal, whichever is LATER, or the suit is barred.

How do I learn about Post Decree Proceedings?

Chapter 9 of the TX FAmily Code

My employer does not want to withhold child support

Check out Chapter 8, Subchapter E (Rights and duties of Employer) in the TX Family Code.

Employers are ORDERED to withhold child support if they receive the right paperwork from the court.

The employer may deduct a small administrative fee for doing this paperwork. 

Keeping paperwork

I encourage everyone to keep all copies of their records until the youngest child turns 22.

The OBLIGOR needs to keep all tax returns, all TX A G corrrespondence, pay stubs, copies of all child support payments, etc.

Some employers withhold child support from an employee's paycheck but they don't send the money to the TX A G office.  If you can prove that the money was withheld from your paycheck, then you are innocent and the employer can be held in contempt of court for NOT mailing the money in.

Maximum amout of child support withheld from earnings

The maximum amount of money to be withheld by an employer for an obligor's disposable earnings is 50%.

However, the obligor is obligated for 100% of the child support ordered.

Therefore, if a obligor takes a lessor paying job, the obligor needs to file a MODIFICATION to reduce the child support ordered.

If an employer does not withhold the right amount of money, the obligor is responsible.

In summary, carefully review each paystub to make sure that your child support is being withheld. 

How to terminate spousal support

Chapter 8.056

The obligation terminates on the death of either party OR on the remarriage of the obligee. 

Or, after a hearing, the court shall terminate the maintenance order if the obligee cohabits with another person in a permanent place of abode on a continuing, conjugal basis.

Alimony has come to Texas!

TX Family Code Chapter 8 -- Maintenance.
We call alimony "spousal maintenance" in Texas. 
However, spousal maintenance is limited in Texas.  With some minor exceptions, the basic requirements are that the party seeking maintenance must have been married 10 years and be unable to be self-supporting. 
The monthly payment is limited to no more than $2,500 or 20% of the payor's income, whichever is LESS.
Alimony is generally limited to no more than 3 years.  However, if the former spouse is physically or mentally disabled, payments may extend for AS LONG AS THE DISABILITY CONTINUES. 
Texas now allows a wage-withholding order to help the spouse collect their spousal maintenance.

Dividing retirement

During the marriage until the date of divorce, all retirement (401(k), pension, etc.) is usually divided 50%-50%.

In order to divide these benefits, the Judge must sign a QDRO document - Qualified Domestic Relations Order that is then sent to the employer(s) who divides the employees plan.

Anything BEFORE marriage is separate property.

In Texas, since we don't have legal separation, the community property continues to grow/decrease until the date of the divorce.

FYI:  However, some plans are NOT divisable.  The railroad has a retirement that states they will NOT divide this benefit EVEN if ordered to do so by a court.

Diving community property

The judge must determine what is "just and right" property division.

This does NOT mean a 50%-50% split. 

Award of Marital Property

See the Texas Family Code -- Chapter 7.


You need to wait 30 days before you marry -- unless:
1. you decide the spouse you just divorced or
2. the Judge signed a Waiver of 30 day Waiting Period so you can immediately marry someone else.

Free booklet for New Dads

If you just found out that you are going to be a "dad" then get a copy of "MAPS FOR NEW DAD".

Published by the Healthy Families of San Angelo, 200 S. Magdalen, San Angelo, TX 76903 or or 325-658-2771

Or go to the Texas Attorney General's website at for a copy.


I live in Harris County and cannot afford to hire an attorney. What do I do?

Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program at 713-228-0732.  Or try Lone Star Legal.  The law schools also have legal clinics -- in Houston they are:
University of Houston Law School, South Texas College of Law and Texas Southern University.

You can also check the State Bar of Texas for other pro bono (free) legal assistance.

what if I suspect child abuse?

Call the Department of Family and Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400. 

Popular Child Support Terms

CP - custodiay parent - the person who has primary care, custody and control of the child.

Obligee - the perso who receives child support

Obligor - the person who pays child support

NCP - the parent who does not have primary care, custody and control of the child.

Paternity - legal determination of fatherhood

DNA - the test done (with a mouth swab) to determine if the man is the biological father of the child.  These results are very accurate.

Default judgment - a judgment entered when a person fails to response to any legal action or fails to appear in court.

Arrearage - past due and unpaid child support that is owed by the NCP

Child support modification - a court-ordered change to a child support order

Court order -- a directive signed by the court

Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) - a document that both unmarried parents can voluntarily sign to establish legal paternity for their child without going to court.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Incarcerated parents and child support

If you are in prison, your obligation to pay chld support does NOT go away. 

The amount you owe will continue to add up and you will be charged interest (6%) on any unpaid child support. 

Eventually, you will be paying interest on interest. 

If you have the ability to pay child support while in prison (savings or investments, etc.) it is in your best interest to pay your child support. 

You can request a modification to your child support due to incarceration, but the judge is not obligated to reduce your child support.

Free Texas publications on family law

Go to the Texas Attorney General's website ( for free publications for Texas residents.  Available in English and Spanish.


Centers for Disease Control: Health topics for infants and children:
type in "infants and children" in the search box for information.

Family law:  866-292-4636 or visit

What is Paternity?

Paternity means legal fatherhood.  When a baby is born to unmarried parents, the law does not recognize the biological father as the legal father.  Paternity needs to be established. 

Call the Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) at 866-255-2006 if you have any questions.

What if I want to make my child support payment in cash?

I do not recommend mailing cash to the TX C.S. Disbursement Unit in San Antonio.

You can make cash payments to grocery stores.  The store might charge a small fee for providing this service.  You should receive a receipt and I highly recommend that you keep all proof of payments until your youngest child turns 22.

To find a location go to to find a location near you.

You must fill out the retailer's payment form.  It will probably ask for your full name, the custodial parent's full name, OAG number and the account number.

TX Child Support Payments

All child support payments should be sent to:  Texas Child Support Disbursement unit, P O Box 659791, San Antonio, TX 78265-9791

On the internet you can visit the TX A G website at

24 hour payment & case status information:  800-252-8014

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I got served legal papers -- now what do I do?

File a document at the courthouse called "AN ANSWER".  It lets the judge know that you want to be involved in the lawsuit. 

If you do nothing, a default judgment can be taken against you.

I sell ANSWERS for $25.

They are free to file at the courthouse.  You need to have at least 3 copies -- the original goes to the court, you keep a copy and you send a copy to the opposing attorney (the one who served you!).

What is Collaborative Law?

Chapter 6.603 covers TX Collaborative Law.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Chapter 6 - Subchapter G of the TX Family Code covers ADR or mediation.

Many counties will not allow a case to go to trial until the parties have attempted ADR.

Some courts require mediation BEFORE they will hear a temporary order hearing.

What are temporary orders?

Temporary orders attempt to balance the rights of the parties with respect to temporary restraining orders, temporary injunctions and other orders.

For example, wife makes $1million a year.  Husband is disabled and unable to work.  Wife controls all the money.  Wife could be ordered to support Husband during the divorce and pay his attorney fees. 

Most courts want to make sure that assets are protected and debts paid during the divorce process.  Most people's biggest asset is their home.  The courts don't want the home to go into foreclosure.  Therefore, a spouse could be ordered to make the payments during the divorce process.

The FINAL DECREE OF DIVORCE settles the property division.  The temporary orders are just "band-aid" orders.  They are not designed to "settle" disputes.  They are designed to make sure the parties do not end up homeless or unable to afford necessities such as electricity and medication.

What is a publication divorce?

Basically, you cannot locate your spouse.  You want a divorce.  You can file a request for the court to allow you to do a "publication" divorce.  It slows down the divorce process.  You must do it exactly correctly or it won't work.

Now with the internet, most courts require that you make a detailed search.  Many courts will appoint an attorney to find the spouse.  YOU get to pay for their time and costs -- start at $500 to $2,000.

It saves you much and time to locate your spouse!

What are the names of some of the pleadings in a divorce?

1.  PETITION --is filed to start the clock ticking.  It can be a very short document (2 pages) that do not include any identifying information (such as social security numbers, date of birth or TX driver's license number).

2.  A WAIVER OF SERVICE - everyone has the right to know that they are being sued.  In order for this to be done, a person approved by the court to "serve" papers on the opposing party must hand the papers to the person then file a notarized affidavit with the court.'

In lieu of service, the party can file a WAIVER OF SERVICE that basically states they know of the pending lawsuit (aka divorce) and they don't want to be served with legal papers.

3.  FINAL DECREE OF DIVORCE - At the end of the case, a legal document is prepared for the judge to sign.  It states how things will be divided by the parties.

4.  In Texas a form known as a BVS FORM needs to be completed and submitted at the same time the FINAL DECREE is submitted to the Court.
The court sends it to Austin, Texas.  Before Texas started doing this, it was difficult to determine if people were divorced.  They would need to search county by county.  Now they just have to file some paperwork and pay a small fee to see if they are divorced.

Do I have to go to court to get a divorce?

Yes.  Even if everything is agreed, one of the parties MUST appear before the court and under oath swear to a series of statements such as state your full legal name, this decree is just and fair, and judge please sign this decree.

There are ways to do this if the person is stationed overseas in the military.
Then you do a notarized statement that is read into the court record.

IF AN ATTORNEY SAYS YOU NEVER NEED TO GO TO COURT, in the State of Texas, this is untrue.

If you don't appear and "prove up the divorce" eventually the Court will dismiss your pending lawsuit (aka divorce) and you will still be married!

Residency requirments to divorce in Texas

In order for a TX court to grant a divorce either the petitioner or respondent must have lived in Texas for the preceding 6 months AND been a resident of the county where the suit is filed for at least 90 days.

So, once you file for divorce, you can move. 

I've had people take jobs out of state and come back after the 60 day waiting period and appear in front of the judge under oath and ask for a divorce.

Grounds for Annulment

Grounds for annulment are limited in Texas.

See Chapter 6 - Subchapter B - Grounds for Annulment in the TX Family Code.

Here are some of the reasons: a.  underage marriage -- but that goes away the moment the underage person turns 18!!; b.  under the influence of alcohol or narcotics -- so you did not mean to get married -- the famous "Las Vegas" marriages.  But if you stay then this option goes away & you just need a divorce; c. Impotency; d. mental incapacity; e. fraud, duress or force; f. concealed divorce; g. marriage occurred less than 72 hours after issuance of license.

Sometimes it's just easier to file for divorce.

So if you were sober and married 80 hours after the marriage license was issued and you went on your honeymoon and discovered that your spouse was a "jerk", annulment won't work.  Being "stupid" is not enough to get an annulment. 

In practicing law for over 18 years, I've done 3 annulments! 

If I leave our home am I "abandoning" all my rights?


You are not required to stay in a place that is dangerous. 

I once had a man that wanted me to make his wife come home so that he "discipline" (aka -- beat her up!) one more time.  FYI:  She did not go back.

Grounds for divorce in Texas

Some grounds for divorce are:
cruelty, adultery, convication of a felony, abandonment, living a part, and confinement in mental hospital.

No fault divorce in Texas

No fault divorce in Texas is also known as "insupportability"

Ending a Marriage in Texas

Under Subitlte C. Dissolution of Marriage

Chapter 6 - Suit for Dissolution of Marriage
Chapter 7 - Award of Marital Property
Chapter 8 - Maintenance
Chapter 9 - Post-Decree Proceedings

Homestead Rights

See Chapter 5 of the TX Family Code.

Premarital & Marital Property Agreements

TX Family Code Chapter 4


The Act is in effective in 27 jurisdictions (aka "states") in the US -- includes District of Columiba, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, N. Carolina, N. Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, S. Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia & Wisconsin.

Claims for Economic Contribution & Reimbursement are changed

See Chapter 3 - Subchapter E of the TX Fam Code.  Many changes made in 2009. 

The new name is "Claims for Reimbursement".

Employee Benefits

In 2009, the TX Legislature repealed some sections dealing with "defined benefit retirement plans". 

Presumption of Community Property

TX Fam Code 3.003 -- it is presumed that all property owned by one or both spouses is community property.  The burden of proof to make an item separate property is by "CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDNECE".

So if you inherit $50,000.  Put it in a separate bank account.  If you put it into the joint bank account, for even one day, it co-mingles the property.

What is "separate property"?

See TX Family Code Section 3.001 --


1.  anything you owned before marriage

2.  anything you acquired during the marriage through inheritance or gift;

3.  the recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during the marriage, except for recovery of loss earning capacity during the marriage.

Informal Marriage

You can go to your local court house and sign a form that states that you have an "informal marriage".

Many people do this.  If this is done, then you need to file for divorce.

How to end a common law marriage?

2 ways:

1.  File for divorce -- or

2.  It is evidentiary presumption of no marriage if a suit for proof of marriage is NOT filed within two (2) years of the parties having "separated and ceased living together".  In other words, this presumption that there was no "marriage" can be fought and depending on the evidence produced for the judge's review, the presumption that there was never a marriage can be overcome.

TX has common law marriage

Just living together is NOT enough to have a common law marriage.  See Chapter 2.401 of the TX Fam Code for everything you need to do.

It's a 3 prong est -- agree to be married, cohabitate in Texas and tell others that you are married.

If you put your "spouse" on your health insurance and list the person is a "spouse", congratulations you are married!

If you put your "spouse" on your car insurance as "spouse", congratulations you are married.

If you file your US Federal tax returns are "married", congratulations you are married!

How young can a person marry in Texas?

Chapter 2 covers this.

You must be older than 16 to marry.  Under 18 you must have parental consent or judicial consent.

Same sex marriage

Chapter 2 of the TX Family Code states that a license may NOT be issued for the marriage of perons of the same sex.

TX used to allow "kissing" cousins to marry!

Chapter 2 of T F C spells out who and who cannot marry in Texas.

In 2005, TX added that you cannot marry a first cousin, stepparent or stepchild. 

(So Woody Allen would not be able to marry his current wife in TX!)

Application for Marriage License

Interesting trivia --

Section 2.004 of the TX Family Code includes that you will fill out a statement before a marriage license is issued.

One of the questions is "I am not delinquent in the payemtn of court-ordered child support."

Popular Question -- If I'm under 18, can I get married without parental permission?

TX Family Code Chapter - the Marriage Relationship

Subsection 2.101-2.103 covers UNDERAGE APPLICANTS

Popular Question - when can a child decide if he wants to visit his other parent?

Simple, the moment he/she turns 18.

If you don't force the child to visit the other parent, you can be held in contempt of court.  As your final order states, you can be fined ($$) or jailed for violating a court order.

If there is a reason the child should not visit the other parent, then MODIFY the visitation order.

For example, Mom is doing drugs and is homeless.  Then go to court and ask the court to modify the visitation order. 

Withholding Orders - New duties of employers

Section 158 now requires any employer with 250 or more employees to remit the withheld child support payments by electronic funds transfeerr by the second business day after pay day. Employers with less than 250 employees can -- but are NOT required to remit electronically.

Medical Support

TX Family Code 154 -- defines terms such as accessibility and reasonable costs as they relate to the child's health insurance coverage. There is now a new section for children involved in IV-D cases aka Texas Attorney General cases.

Child Support Outside Guidelines

If a court allows child support to be outside of TX guidelines, the Court is now required to make and enter findings within 15 days after a request for finding is made. Again, this is more work for the Courts.

Parent Facilitators

The TX Legislature has added a new position. It's called PARENT FACILITATOR. Facilitators are appointed ina nonconfidential capacity. Section 153. -- to read about when and why they may be appointed, their duties and responsibilities, qualifications needed to such, etc.

Rights of Grandparents, Aunt and Uncles

As I tell grandparents that call me, if you want to see your grandchildren be nice to the parent(s) where the child(ren) live! Under Section 153 now the grandparent seeking access MUST include in the Original Petition to the Court an affidavit alleging that denial of possession and access would SIGNIFICANTLY IMPAIR THE CHILD'S PHYSICAL HEALTH OR EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING. The court shall DENY the petition if the facts stated int he affidavit are INSUFFICINET to support the relief requested. If the facts clear this hurdle, the Court is NOT mandated to grant access, but may order easonable access and possession. Example, the child is 1 year old. The grandparent NOT have access to the child is NOT going to significantly impair the chid's emotional well-being. If the Court agrees to allow the petitioner to see the kid, the order MUST specially state, among other things, that the petitioners have overcome the presumption that a parent acts in the child's best interest and that denial of the relief would SIGNIFICANTLY IMPAIR the child's physical health or emotional well-being. This a hard burden to overcome. Grandparents are not going to like this change. The burden to overcome the presumption that a parent acts in the child's best interest is VERY HARD TO OVERCOME. Basically, you are asking the court to say that the parent is unfit or a harm to the child. If the parent is so bad, then why is CPS not involved?

Parents in the Military

Military parents (Chapter 153) rights have been rewritten. Now others can be designated to exercise the rights and possession of the deployed and non-deployed parent, temporary modification of boht child support and possession; make up periods for visitations when the deployed parent returns home; and expedited hearings in the event of deployment. Again, the courts are overwhelmed with family law cases. How are they going to handle expedited hearings quickly? I've been finding that in order to get a hearing, I have to be prepared to wait 2-3 weeks to get in front of a judge. This is going to put more pressure on the Judges. I am interested to see how the courts handle these "expedited" hearings.

Standard Possession Order

No major changes in this area. However, there has been some "cleaning up" of this section of the Family Code.

Primary residence of the child is changed

Wow! The TX Legislature has made some big changes this time! Now if the parties agree, there is no need for one of the parents to be designed as "the parent with the exclusive right to designate the child's primary residence". Now the legal documents only need to include what the geographical area will be for the minor child. Again, as attorneys wrestle with this new change, it is going to be interesting. Many parents agree that the children will live within Harris County and any county contiguous to Harris County (such as Galveston, Brazoria, Montgomery, etc.) So there are several school districts involved. One possible solution will be to restrict the child's residence to certain school districts. In theory, this is a very positive solution. However, I'm curious to see how people that have not been getting along are going to "cooperate". What will school districts do? It's unknown. Can Dad sign the kid up in Ft. Bend School District and Mom sign up the kid to attend HISD?

Statement of 12 yr. old & older says where he/she wants to live is gone!

After making changes to this section (Look up Section 153) over the years, such as lowered the age to 10 then the next Legislative session raising it back to 12, now the statement that allowed a child 12 years or older to state which parent he/she would like to live with is GONE! Now the child can meet with the judge in chambers and talk to the judge. With the courts being overwhelmed by pending family law cases, this change is probably going to slow down the process even more. Now the judge must make time in his/her schedule to meet with children. And someone must bring the children to the courthouse. I doubt that any judge will be pleased if a child misses school for this private interview. The judges in Harris County do NOT want kids to miss school. Since schools end at 3pm, then the judge will have perhaps from 4-5 pm Monday - Friday to interview children privately in their chambers. Say you need to go the Harris County and you live close to the Woodlands, it can easily take an hour to drive from that part of town to Downtown Houston. Some Harris County judges have refused to interview minor children in the past. I am interested to see how the Harris County judges handle this change!

No waiting period for a divorce in certain cases where there was family violence

There is a traditional 60-day waiting period (cooling off period) on all divorces. However, for the first time, if a respondent has been convicted, received deferred adjudication or is under an amergency protective order as a result of a court finding family violence, the court may grant a divorce prior to the normal 60 day waiting period. People that want a quick divorce will now be encouraged to allege some sort of family violence occurred in order to eliminate the traditional 60 day waiting period.

Handgun Licenses Suspended if there is a Protective Order

Family Code Section 85.022 now MANDATES that a court must suspend a respondent's license to carry a concealed handgun, if a protective order is issued against that person. Respondents will certainly now be even more motivated to fight a pending protective order.

Non-Parent Relative Authorization Agreements

Chapter 34 of the TX Family Code authorizes a parent to allow a grandparent, adult sibling or adult aunt or uncle to make certain decisions. Some of the rights that can be delegated to the non-parent relative include consenting to medical care for the minor child, obtaining health insurance, enrolling the child in school, consenting to extra-cirricular activities and allowing the child to obtain a learner's driving permit. This statue became effective 6/19/09. It allows one parent to do this without consulting with the other parent. However, is there is a pending Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (aka SAPCR) or a previous SAPCR order in effect, the agreement must be authorized by the court. This change should keep attorneys busy. I predict that a parent will sign the document to a relative and when the other parent finds out, they will be running to an attorney's office to limit a non-parent making parental decisions.

TX 81st Legislative Session has made changes in our TX Family Law Code

As I've done in previous years, I will add to this blog many of the new changes to the TX Family Code. Most went into effect on 9/1/09. You can access the TX Family Code by going to any major search engine and "googling" TX Family Code. I believe one link is...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Houston Chronicle article by Shannon Buggs

On June 1, 2009, Shannon Buggs wrote an article under "Assets & Values" in the Houston Chronicle about Divorce. In one column she attempted to cover, mediation, collaborative law, DIY divorces, social security issues, etc. Her attempt was excellent! She had limited space and she wrote so that the average reader could grasp what she was conveying. Unfortunately, each paragraph could have been a separate article itself. My only complaint would be the websites she listed for DIY divorces. I'm sure that she "googled" DIY and these were the top sites. It is difficult to compete against these national sites. Their budget is so much greater than mine. Unfortunately, I don't recommend any of these sites. Most of them are located outside of the State of Texas and they claim to be able to give you the forms needed to do your own divorce. They do not include any of the Texas State forms or county forms. They don't include Employer Withholding Orders. I guess that you get what you pay for. I began offering DIY kits to offer people an alternative to these out-of-state sites. My forms are based on the forms that I use for people that retain my legal services. I only sell a kit if I think it will work. I personally talk to each person before preparing the forms. I don't sell you blank forms. I fill in the information so that the forms look like what the judge expects to see. My kits start at $175 and go up to $1,000 -- depends on what I need to do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Co-signing for a relative

I'm often asked about a person co-signing for a relative or friend. It might be a car, a credit card or a lease. If you co-sign for anyone, you are on the hook if the person does not pay. If the person destroys the apartment or vehicle, you are on the hook for the damage. If the person has been irresponsible in the past, what makes you think that they will NOT do it in the future. If you want to co-sign for someone, recognize that you are guaranteeing that this person will do what they said they would do. If they don't, the company will look to you 100% for payment. Be very careful if you co-sign. Be sure you have the money to pay if the person disappears or refuses to pay. If a person was irresponsible in the last 5 years, I strongly recommend that you NOT co-sign for the person. If they cannot afford the vehicle, etc., then why would you co-sign for the thing? Remember, something earned is much more appreciated than something easily attained. Some people expect to be given things. If you co-sign, recognize that you are basically guaranteeing that you will pay if the person does not perform. DON'T EXPECT THIS PERSON TO APPRECIATE ANYTHING! IN FACT, THEY WILL GET ANGRY AT YOU IF YOU EXPECT THEM TO PAY THE DEBT! LASTLY, I'M REALLY SERIOUS! THE PERSON WILL CUSS YOU OUT IF YOU EXPECT THEM TO PAY THIS DEBT. Somehow you will end up being the "evil" person.

What is a holistic Lawyer?

I'm often asked what a holistic lawyer is. Basically, I look at an the entire situation. I listen to the client. I ask lots of questions. I try to see the whole picture. I determine what the potential client wants to accomplish. I then explain to the potential client what I can legally do to accomplish what they want to accomplish. I often suggestions or alternatives to what they think they want. One of my favorite examples is when I received a call from a grown daughter. Her parents had been married over 40 years. Dad was accusing Mom of adultery. Dad is angry all the time. Dad had been hitting Mom. I asked the daughter a lot of questions. Had he always been angry? Had he hit her before? Had he had a physical recently? (Answers to all were - no.) After I learned that Dad had not been to a doctor for over 10 years, I suggested that Dad have a physical. I suspected diabetes, depression, stroke, demensia, Alzheimer's as possible problems. It turned out that Dad was a diabetic, depressed and had the beginnings of demensia. Instead of a divorce, Dad got on medication, and the entire family began counseling to help all the entire family adjust to aging parents. Most attorneys would have just done a divorce. It would not have solved the problems.

Steven Keeva's book "Transforming Practices" Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life

Steven Keeva was honored at the Chicago meeting of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers for the contribution his book made to the practice of law. It was a moving ceremony. I know that his 2 children thoroughly enjoyed it. It gave them an opportunity to see a different side of their dad from attorneys that they had never met. It was announced at the conference that the ABA has agreed to re-publish his book. I recently purchased a copy of the book & I highly recommend that every attorney read it. It is inspirational. I only wish that I'd read this book while I was in law school. It was originally published in 1999 and its relevant has grown ten-fold since its original publication. Steven Keeva was a visionary. It has a true honor to meet and share an evening with him. God bless Steven Keeva and his wonderful family!

International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers

Just returned from the annual conference of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers. This year in Chicago. I've gone 4 years in a row. Each conference has been unique and inspiring. Then I came home 3 years ago, I redid my website and business cards to reflect that I'm a "holistic lawyer". I finally came out of the closet! I expected snickers but instead it has been a brilliant marketing idea. People hear "holistic lawyer" and immediately ask "what's that?". It given me an opportunity to discuss my philosphy and to engage the person in meaningful conversation. I wish more attorneys would "come out of the closet"! If you are an attorney, I can only say...try might like it!

As a parent never say never

There is a saying "make my words soft and sweet because tomorrow I may eat them". When it comes to children, this saying is definately true. My daughter is now finishing graduate school (ok -- I'm damn proud of her!!!) and she is going to share an apartment with a male. I never thought that her dad and I would both agree that this was a good idea. However, we've known him for several years and the security in the apartment they will be sharing is exceptional. As a parent, I have often "eaten" the words that I swore I would never say! So careful what you say you would NEVER say or do because tomorrow you might eat those very words! LOL!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Top 10 reasons to mediate

Why should you consider using mediation to resolve your legal problems: 1. usually it's free or inexpensive 2. it is fair and neutral 3. it saves time & money 4. it's confidenial 5. it avoids litigation 6. it encouarges cooperation 7. it improves communication 8. you are actively involved in resolving your conflict 9. it encourages creative solutions to your conflict 10. it is a win-win situation!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I need a power of attorney over my elderly parent who lives in another state. What should I do?

In Texas we have a statutory power of attorney. However, many banks and other places require that you use their form. I need a lot more information in order to adequately answer your question. Where are the assets? Do you have siblings? Is your parent married? What is your parent's mental and physical state? If the assets are in another state, you need a poa from that state. You definately need to retain the services of an elder law attorney or a probate/wills & estates attorney that specializes in this area of the law. In Texas we have 2 kinds of poa -- medical and financial. They are very different. An elder law attorney might be able to help you and offer solutions that you have not considered. Even if your parent signs the document, the parent can revoke it later. Also, you will be held to a very high standard regarding spending their money. If you have family members, I highly recommend that you talk to them and try to get them on your side. Otherwise, you could end up in court litigating your parent's life and spending all their money. I've seen people spend over $100,000 when 2 adult siblings can't agree what was right for their mother. She eventually died and the problem was solved. Neither sibling inherited anything -- but the attorneys were very happy! Please talk to an attorney immediately. You could save thousands of dollars!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Need to earn extra money?

Sign up to sell electricity in Texas. Works almost everywhere except around the Austin area. It's cheap to become an independent associate & within the first month I received a check that paid for more than half the cost to sign up!!! Even my sister in the Dallas area is saving money. She shopped around and Ignite's plan is cheaper than any other company in the Dallas area. I called my provider, TXU and none of their plans could compete -- so I switched to Ignite.

Savings money on your electricity bill each month!

Check out my website: htto:// I've signed my mom, sister and myself up and we are saving money. Try will probably like it!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Can my spouse take my kids and leave Texas?

If you have all lived in Texas for at least 6 months and in the same county for at least 90 days, then you are a resident of that county. If your spouse or significant other, decides to take the kids and leave the state, you need to IMMEDIATELY go hire an attorney and get papers served on the other parent to get them into a Texas court. If you wait 6 months or more then the county you live in loses jurisdiction over the kids. If you have any questions, I charge $100 an hour to sit down and talk to you. It might be will worth your peace of mind.

For unmarried fathers

If you are not seeing your child(ren), please consider hiring a private attorney to assist you. The TX A G will set up child support, but they usually won't make the mother cooperate regarding visits. It is well worth your money to hire an attorney to REPRESENT YOUR BEST INTERESTS. If you are not married to the mom, then if she won't cooperate, you definately need a judge to ORDER her to cooperate. Why not set up child support and visits at the same time? It's quicker than going to the TX A G office.

Free child support - TX A G office

If you are not receiving child support, then go to the TX A G office in your neighborhood. They are slow due to the overwhelming requests for assistance. However, they are FREE

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pre-divorce consultation

For $100 per hour, I will sit down with you to discuss what you need to do if you are considering separation/divorce. I think it is money well spent. I will give you the current law in the State of Texas. Knowledge is power!

Emancipation in Texas

I get this question from many 17 yr. olds so I thought I'd post my comments again. The TEXAS FAMILY CODE Chapter 31 (available on-line) covers REMOVAL OF DISABILITIES OF MINORITY. Chp. 31.001 cover the requirements - a resident of TX, 16 or 17 yrs. old, self-supporting and managing their own financial affairs. (BF supporting does not qualify!) Chapter 31.002 is regarding the legal document that must be filed - called A PETITION. Must state the name, age and place of residence of the child and the name and place of residence of both parents; reasons why removal would be in the best interests of the child; and the purposes for which removal is requested. Usually a parent has to verify the pleading. Chapter 31.003 is concerning the county to file the document. You file where the child lives. Chapter 31.004 - The Judge SHALL appoint an amicus attonrey or attonrey ad litem to represent the child's interests at the hearing. The only children that usually get emancipated are musicians and athletes. It is done in order that they can sign legally binding endorsements and contracts. The costs prevent most teen-agers from seeking emancipation. Filing fee is approx. $250, attorney to draft the papers would be at least $500, attorney to represent child (appointed by the Judge) can run easily over $500 - anticipate the cost being at least $1,000. Many judges are of the opinion that a 17 yr. old can wait less than 12 months to become an adult.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Check out my attorney endorsements on

I asked a couple of attorneys to write a comment about me on

Check out my client comments on

I asked some former clients to write a few comments about me. Wow! Their comments touched my heart.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Need a probate attorney or a will drafted

I highly recommend W. Kevin Alter at 2020 S W Freeway #225, Houston, TX 77098. His phone number is 713-526-2333

If you need a criminal attorney

Damaris G. Quijano 713-943-7400

If you need an immigration attorney

Damaris G. Quijano 8485 Gulf Freeway #C Houston, TX 77017 713-943-7400

On-line Parening Class

Great Pawn Shop

For an unique pawn shop try THE WRIGHT PAWN & JEWELRY CO. located at 6218 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77057. One afternoon my mom and I spent at least 3 hours in there. So much little time!

Need a great electrician!

I highly recommend GILBERT MOODY. He has been in business over 37 years. No job is too small for him! 713-494-2416

Interior Design & Fung Shui Consultation

I highly recommend Susan Daniels for your interior decorating needs and to have your home and office fung shui'd. Her phone number is 281-367-3581.

Great VET!

I highly recommend Bellaire Richmond Pet Hospital located at 5808 Bissonnet, Houston, TX 77081. Their phone number is 713-668-6882. Their groomer is the best too!

A. Charles Weiner, CPA

If you need a great CPA call "Chuck Weiner" at 713-782-5707. I highly recommend Chuck Weiner!!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Adult B'nai Mitzvah

On Saturday, May 2, 2009, 4 congregants who have been studying for the past 18 months will participate in the FIRST ADULT B'nai Mitzvah at Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism. If you are interested in attending, just send me an email and I'll be glad to give you additional information.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Houston Holistic Attorneys Happy Hour

I would like for Houston attorneys that are interested in meeting each other for fun (and absolutely no purpose) to contact me. I'm going to try to put together an evening within the next 3 months. I did one in 2008. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. If you are interested in meeting for an evening of fun and encouragement, send me an email at fran

What is a holistic lawyer?

Good question! This has been the question that I've been pondering for the past several years. I've taken advanced collaborative law training and advanced mediation training. Before taking collaborative law training I thought that collaborative law was the answer. Unfortunately, collaborative law is great but not what I was seeking. I'd known about IAHL for many years but 2006 I joined their group and attended their annual convention. I was so impressed that I joined the 2006 board. There are many terms used... therapeutic jurisprudence, restorative justice, and humanistic law. None of these terms seemed to "fit" me. I wanted to use my legal knowledge and training to empower my clients to make their own decisions. I wanted to help my clients in their transformation from being a couple to being a single. I wanted to save my clients money. I wanted to educate my clients about the law. I wanted to work with them to resolve their disputes without bloodshed. I wanted the public to know that judges were not God -- a judge is a "stranger" that will make binding decisions that will impact the adults and their children. I wanted my client to work with their soon to be ex to make the best decisions for their family and their unique situation. Since I've now represented up to 3 generations of the same family and since I've watched my client's children grow up, I felt like extended family. Since most of my clients are younger than my children, I feel like their grandmother. I want to use my life experience and my legal experience to blend. I felt pulled in different directions since I'm an attorney, a mediator, a mother, a mother, a friend, a religious person, etc. I wanted to blend all the parts of myself into one. Therefore, I decided to call myself a holistic attorney.

Saving money on your electricity!

TXU and Reliant Energey have pissed me off! I'm trying something new... I signed up and am signing up my mom. Please visit my site and sign up! Perhaps I can even save you some money!

John Paul Barnich

A man that I met almost 20 years ago, John Paul Barnich, recently passed away. We met through our mutual interest and concern regarding people living with HIV and AIDS. His passion for life was huge and definately contagious. He seemed to suck every ounce of life out of every moment. He was exceptionally bright -- with a very dry wit. The most memorial thing about John Paul is his huge "physicial presence" and his huge and contagious smile. He was a huge "bear" of a man with a matching smile. He had a "wicked" sense of humor. When I would see him all I had to say was "what's going on?" and he could make me laugh for 3o minutes. When our mutual friend, Jim Griffith, was in town a few years ago (how time flies!) we met at one of my small Mexican food "dumps" close to Chimney Rock and Bellaire Blvd. Both men agreed that the food was outstanding. We lingered over a delicious dinner. John Paul's wit was sharp that night. I laughed until I cried. The world is definately a better place because John Paul Barnich was in it. I will miss him and how he made me feel. I'm sure that he's in heaven now & causing all sorts of "havoc" and making God laugh.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cutting Edge Law website is now open!

Kim Wright has finally gotten her website up and running. Check out this outstanding website - Cutting Edge Kim is a well known and highly respected attorney and has made a commitment to bring her knowledge and passion to the public.

Check out my videos!!

Check out my 2 videos on:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Free 10 minute consultation

I am willing to try to talk to everyone in Harris County that calls me. However, it's only an opportunity to see if you think that we will work together well. I can't give legal advice over the phone since I don't know all the facts in your case. There is no way that I can completely assess a case in 10 minutes.

What an attorney does?

An attorney sells you their opinion of what is going to happen in court. I've found that many people only give me the facts that will result in their winning the case. However, when I question them and begin to get all the facts, I see that they don't have a "slam dunk" case. Often, these people get mad at me because I begin to explain the weaknesses in their case. Ater practicing law over 17 years, I DON'T GUARANTEE RESULTS. Why? Because I don't know all the facts, and I don't know what mood the judge will be in when we appear in court. ANY ATTORNEY THAT GUARANTEES RESULTS SINCE NO ATTORNEY CAN DO PROMISE YOU THAT YOU WILL WIN!

Police reports

The little pieces of paper you receive if you call the police, really are worth much. If the police officer did not actually see or hear the abuse, it is here-say. It is much better evidence to have a person who heard, saw, tasted, smelled, etc. the actual abuse that is willing to testify in court. Anyone with personal knowledge can testify. If a police officer sees or hears anything, then you need to get their name, rank and phone number so that they can be asked to come to court to testify. NOW THAT IS POWERFUL!

I'm still without an office

Ater 2 months, my new office space is still not ready. However, I'm in the middle of moving my home! I will finally be able to unpack my office files and at least be able to not be surrounded by boxes. I hope to be settled (home-wise) by February 1st! Thank you for your patience.

Birth Certificate

If you are not married, each hospital has their own policy in order to put the father's name on the birth certificate. If you are not sure who the father is of the new baby (or if you are the father and you are not sure if you are the father), then either ask for DNA testing OR don't put your name on the birth certificate. If the man signs the proper paperwork that is then sent to Austin, TX, and becomes a binding legal document in the State of Texas. The man is voluntarily acknowledging that he wants to be the of this child, even if it turns out he is not the bio-father. FYI: Of course, my advice could change in the future, if the TX legislature makes a change the next time it meets. I urge you to talk to a family law attorney before you sign the birth certificate.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Adult Name Change

First get 2 copies of your fingerprint cards and call me. It's easy. Filing fee is approx. $250 in Harris County. The rest is for my time and to talk you through this process. At least one court will NOT grant an adult name change without an attorney. Beware of on-line kits.

Name Change in a Divorce

In a divorce, the woman can ask to go back to any name that she's previously used. It's free! I'm amazed how many attorneys don't mention this freeby to their clients.

I ignored my court date

You definately need to hire an attorney ASAP. If it's been less than 30 days, you can ask for a new trial. If it's been over 30 days, you have a real mess on your hands. Run...don't an attorney's office for advice in person.

I might not be the child's father - what shoud I do?

Ask immediately for DNA testing. If you don't ask, and the court determines that you are the father, at this time, Texas does not have any way for you to correct it in the future. I suspect that this law will be revised but right now the legislature has not fully addressed this issue.

How will the government collect my past due child support?

There are many ways that the government will collect your past due child support: 1. Any federal refunds. 2. Inheritance -- Yes, they will intervene in a probate and get their money. 3. Social Security - Yes, they will take a portion of your ss to pay your obligation. 4. If you die -- they will intervene in the probate of your estate to get money. This really upsets second wives! 5. You can lose your driver's license. 6. You can lose your passport. 7. You can lose your professional license - chiropractor, attorney, doctor, hairdresser, etc. Past due child support is an obligation that never goes away.

Beware of on-line do it yourself legal kits

The State Bar of Texas as determined that the on-line kits that are being sold in Texas by outside companies located in California, Washington, Florida, New York, Colorado, etc. are not within their jurisdiction and cannot be stopped from selling their kits. If you purchase an on-line kit, it is BUYER BEWARE! Read the disclaimer. The kits sold in office supply stores clearly state on the box "state forms are not included". If the kit is "guaranteed" for 30 days, it takes 60 days for a Judge to grant a divorce in Texas. Therefore, if the judge denies the divorce, it is past the "guarantee" date. The clerk that accepts your divorce petition is NOT an attorney and they are required by law to accept anything you submit. You could submit a blank piece of paper and they would have to accept it if you insisted. I've not seen any kits that include the required Texas BVS form and the local county forms. Why? Because it would be impossible for them to prepare forms for every county in the US. I don't see any kits that include powers of attorney to transfer titile to motor vehicles or the Wage Withholding Orders for Child Support. Why? I don't know. But I include them in my kits -- why? Because I guarantee that if you tell me the truth, my kits will work! If you waste your time and money, don't expect an attorney to fix this mess for you for free. In summary, you get what you pay for!

Why I charge for my services?

I went to law school and incurred student loans. I worked very hard. The bar exam was horrible. Basically, 4 years of my life was dedicated to getting my bar card. What does an attorney sell? Their time, their opinion and their knowledge. If you want it free, then go to law school and learn it for yourself.


In Texas we call it removal of disabilities. Texas makes it very difficult to be emancipated. Why? Because at the age of 18, you are an adult. Wh0 gets emancipated? Someone that needs to sign a legal contract like a singer or athlete. You must be self supporting. A boyfriend or friend does not count. You have to prove that you are employed and that you have enough money to pay your own way without anyone else's help. I've never done one -- in 17 years of practice. Why? Because it takes at least $2,500 and no one has ever come up with the money to do it. The burden is on the child to prove that they are competent enough to be an adult.

TX common law marriage

Texas has common law marriage in limited situations: 1. You can spend one night together and be common law married. Example: a friend lived with her bf for 10 years and they were never common law married because she did what I told her to do. 2. You can only be married to one person at a time. Example: If a man is married and lives with another woman for 10 years, he is NOT married to his live-in. Why? Because if he is still married, he can only be married to one woman. 3. If you are underage in Texas, you cannot be common law married. 4. If you have any questions, hire an attorney for one hour to go over the Texas statute with you.

Grandparent Rights

The US Supreme Court in a landmark case known as Troxel several years ago stated that it is a parent's right to determine how and if the grandparents can see their grandchild. In order to gain visitation the grandparents must prove that the parents are not bad parents. This is a very hard burden to prove. The courts feel that the grandparents raised their children. If those children (now the parents) don't want their children (the grandchildren) to see the grandparents, they must have a good reason for doing so. Therefore, if you want to visit your grandchildren: 1. Raise responsible and good children 2. Be nice to your children 3. If your children are unreasonable, then do whatever it takes to visit your grandchildren.

At what age can a child determine where they live?

The answer is: 18. In Texas, at age 12 a child can sign a document letting the judge know their preference. However, this statement is NOT binding on the Judge.