Sunday, January 24, 2010

Check out my blog on IAHL.

As a board member of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers, I've been asked to write a blog entry once a month.  Here is my first entry:

After IAHL’s North Carolina conference three years ago, I ordered new business cards that said “holistic attorney, counselor at law & mediator”. I came out of the closet as a holistic attorney.

Soon after I began using the term “holistic attorney” I received a phone call from an opposing counsel on a difficult family law case. This attorney is a successful attorney with the reputation for being an overly aggressive and for pulverizing his opposing counsel. He was known for never settling a case and for refusing to attend mediation. He is also known as being a total control freak and has a reputation for filing contempt actions for minute matters that are normally settled between the attorneys. If this attorney is opposing counsel on a case, it is assumed that the divorce will run thousands of dollars.

After I said “hello” the first words out his mouth was something like “how dare you tell your client…” and he went on for several minutes accusing me of doing all sorts of irrational and unethical things. I almost laughed because I had done none of the things I was being accused of doing. However, I knew that laughing would only escalate his aggression toward me. My initial reaction was to fire back at him with a barrage of accusations about his client. At the beginning of the conversation, he tried to “bait” me into a verbal battle. No matter what I said, he would fire back with even stronger accusations and he hinted that he would “wipe the courthouse floor with me”.
I decided this was an opportunity to act as peacemaker and to put my holistic practices into play. I took a few deep breaths and asked him some questions from my heart. I then actively listened to his answers. I calmly kept asking him for additional information. No matter what he said I remained calm and respectful. I refused to fight with him. Gradually he began to calm down. His tone softened. He started talking slower. By opening my heart and responding in a non-aggressive manner, I gradually took control of the conversation. At the end of the telephone conversation, he actually apologized to me for jumping to conclusions. He also said that he knew we would be able to settle this case without going to trial. I was shocked due to his reputation for never backing down and for never admitting he was wrong.
When I hung up the phone, I felt peaceful and at ease. I recognized that I had all the power in the telephone call because I remained calm and did not attack him. Instead of being upset, I was felt good and energized. I had now had proof that being a peacemaker (aka holistic attorney) could work.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

When I hear that I've never received paperwork from the Court

Many courts do NOT send you paperwork.  It is time consuming and costs money to mail documents. 

Generally within the State of Texas, if you want a copy of a legal document that has been signed by the Judge, you need to go to the District Clerk's office where the legal matter was handled and pay for it.  In Harris County, the fee is $1 per page (cash or credit card only), no personal checks are accepted.

If you are waiting for a court to mail you something, you will probably be waiting a LONG time.  If you ever get any paperwork, you are truly LUCKY!

Siging a WAIVER OF SERVICE in Texas

BEWARE!  If you sign a document called A WAIVER OF SERVICE within the State of Texas, you are basically telling the JUDGE to proceed without you and ANYTHING in the final paperwork is ok with you.

MOST RECENT HORROR STORY: One gentlemen emailed me today.  He wanted a quick and easy divorce. He did  NOT hire or even talk to an attorney.  He signed the WAIVER OF SERVICE that his wife's attorney prepared.  The divorce was supposedly (he does not know) granted in November 2009.  The paperwork that the Judge signed said that he would make her car note payments until the vehicle is paid for and pay her alimony of over $1,000/month for the next 3 years.  He can't make these payments.  She is treatening to throw him in court.

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!  If you want to save money on legal fees, it might end up costing you thousands of dollars to fix it! 

PLUS: Many times you are TOO LATE to modify the final paperwork that the JUDGE signed. 

"Comments on my blog"

I regularly receive emails reflecting that someone "commented on my blog".  Unfortuntately, many are in languages unknown to me!!  And, most are irrelevant and are just advertising something they are selling.

I'm trying to avoid any of this bogus comments from appearing on this blog.  Forgive me if a few get in! 

In summary, if you read something on any website -- take it with a grain of salt!  In other words, don't take the internet as the gospel. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I am getting at least one phone call or email per day from a teen-ager wanting to be emancipated.  I'm so tired of answering the same question that I'm just going to refer everyone to my blog from now on!

Emancipation is called REMOVAL OF DISABILITIES OF MINORITY in the State of Texas. 

The Texas Family Code is on-line and can be located by using any major search engine.

Look for Chapter 31 in the Texas Family Code.

Basically, on rare occasions, a 17-year-old (or even a 16-year-old) may be sufficiently INDEPENDENT and SELF-SUPPORTING to be eligible for the limited removal of disabilities permitted by Chapter 31 of the Texas Family Code. 

Although the general rule within the State of Texas is that the minor will then have the power and the capacity of an adult, a wide variety of specific constitutional and statutory restrictions based on age will still remain in place - such as the ability to vote or to drink.

One 14-year-old emailed me asking if she got pregnant could she be emancipated.  The answer is NO-- she is not old enough under the law within the State of Texas and she does not qualify to even apply for emancipation.  Therefore, she would be a minor child with a baby (who is also a minor child).  Both she and her child would have to follow her parent's rules.  I don't suggest pregnancy as a way to escape your parental control since it won't work!

Under Chapter 31, the child must be a resident of Texas and be 17 (or 16 and LIVING SEPARATE AND APART FROM THE MINOR'S PARENTS OR MANAGING CONSERVATOR);
be self-supporting and managing their own financial affairs. 

(FYI:  A boyfriend does NOT count as self-supporting!) 

The minor must file a legal document, called a PETITION FOR REMOVAL OF DISABILITIES to ask a Judge to sign an ORDER to remove their disabilities.  There is a filing fee of approximately $300 that is required at the time of filing the petition, a legal document. 

1.  the name, age and place of residence of the child;
2. the name and place of residence of each living parent and/or managing conservator and/or guardian;
3.  the reasons why the minor child is seeking the removal and why the court should grant it; and
4.  the pruposes for which removal is requested.

PLUS:  A parent of the petitioner (the minor child) MUST verify the PETITION, except that if a managing conservator or guardian has been appointed, that person MUST verify the PETITION.


The petitioner shall file the PETITION in the county in which the petitioner resides.


Reminder:  The petitioner must pay for the services of an amicus attorney (or attorney ad litem).  The prices start at $500 and go up.  I've seen $1,500 to $5,000 charged by the attorney based on the amount of work he/she is required to do.   FYI:  The judge will decide how much work the attorney needs to do. 

The court by an ORDER may remove the disabities of a minor child, ONLY IF the court finds the removal to be in the BEST INTEREST of the Petitioner.  The order MUST state if it is limited or general removal of all disabilities. 

What does the term best interest mean?  It is not clearly defined within the Texas Family Code.  Basically, it is the primary consideraiton of the court (Judge) in determining the issues regarding the minor child.  What does that mean?  It differs depending on the Judge.

If a GENERAL REMOVAL OF DISABILITIES is approved, the minor has the capacity of an adult, including the capacity to enter into a contract (such as an apartment lease or buy vehicle).  Additionally, all educational rights that normally go to the parent, including the right to make educational decisions, transfer to the minor whose disabilities are removed for general purposes.

IN SUMMARY, the only cases that I've personally seen where a minor's disabilities are removed have been for musicians and sport figures.  They need to be able to sign contracts for endorsements, etc.

In 18 years of practicing law primarily in Harris County, Texas, I've only had one teen-ager show up that I thought should have her disabilities removed.  After reviewing the prices, she decided NOT to go forward. 

There are pro bono (free) services available throughout the State of Texas.  Go to the State Bar of Texas website for a list.  However, I doubt that most will assist you since their funding and resources are limited.

And, remember, for criminal purposes you are an adult at 17!!

Ignite -- New account for Fran Brochstein

I've changed my website to make it easier to find me:

Ignite is the marketing arm for Stream Energy.  In TX we sell electricity & in GA we sell gas.

I am saving my mom, my sister and myself money.  Check it out & see if I can save you money!

In TX you will still be serviced by Centerpoint -- the same companyt that handles electricity for Reliant and TXU.  I've been with Stream for almost 9 months and it's exactly the same service as I had with Reliant and TXU. 

Call me if you have any questions!