Thursday, January 15, 2009
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.
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!
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!
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.
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
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.
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 walk...to an attorney's office for advice in person.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.