Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Can you sue the person your spouse has an affair with?


Texas eliminated this type of lawsuit called "alienation of affection" many years ago.

Instead be mad at your spouse. 

I always find it interesting that it's always the wife that is mad.  Your husband had the affair.  No hussy forced him to have the affair.  He knew what he was doing.  He was an ACTIVE PARTICIPANT. 

There is something wrong in your marriage if he had an affair.  You need to focus in on that and not focus on the other woman.  You need to be mad at your husband.  He violated your trust.  He violated your marriage vows.

Most of the wives defend their husband's behavior and get angry at me for suggesting that they participated in the affair! 

Important Form for Unmarried Owners of Real Estate

If you are unmarried and own real estate with someone else I suggest that you consider signing and filing with the real estate records of your county a documetn called a SURVIVORSHIP AGREEMENT that states that the survivor of the relationship owns the property 100%.

That means that it does NOT belong part of the person's estate.

The property passes directly to the other person WITHOUT a will to the other owner.

I sell this form for $250 and then I file it at the courthouse in Harris County to make sure that its recorded.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The certified letter I sent was refused - what do I do now?

1.  Keep this certified letter in a safe place.  In fact, put it in a zip-lock storage bag to keep it clean and safe.  

2.  Do NOT open it.  Do not tamper with it in any way. 


4.  You now have evidence to present to the Judge at a future hearing.

5.   Let the Judge open it when you go to Court.  The Judge can then determine what the letter (or package) contained when you originally mailed it.

My decree states that I must do XXX, do I have to do it?

If you were ordered to do something, then you must do it!

I often get the question, I was ordered to attend mediation BEFORE applying for a modification, do I have to do it?

The answer is...yes.

You must attempt to go to mediation before filing for a modification.

You must have proof that you tried to do what you were ordered to do.  If the other party won't reply or won't cooperate, then you are allowed to move forward with the modification.

FYI:  Be sure to keep all documentation (paperwork) that proves you attempted to fulfill what you were ordered to do.   Merely making a phone call is NOT enough!

If the TX Statute says XXXXX does it really mean that?

If a Texas Statute says something like "you must be 16 years old to emanicpate" then you must be at least 16 years old to file a lawsuit to emancipate.

If you are 15 years old and a millionaire, you don't qualify.

The statute is clear and concise, you must qualify for each and every requirement in order to file a lawsuit.

You cannot pick and choose your qualifications.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Harris County Family Courts- Major Changes are Coming in 2011

In November, 2010, Harris County voters are going to make major changes that will impact families for the future of the Harris County Family Courts.

All the Family Courts have contested elections this year!!

The following 4 judges are retiring/leaving the bench:
245th Judicial District Court - current judge leaving benc
308th Judicial District Court -- current judge leaving bench
309th Judicial District Court -- current judge leaving bench
311th Judicial District Court -- current judge leaving bench

The courts where the judges have opponets are:
246th Judicial District Court
247th Judicial District Court
257th Judicial District Court
310th Judicial District Court
312th Judicial District Court  -- Robert Hinojosa won this judicial seat away from David Pharr 2 years ago and David Pharr is trying to regain this seat.  However, David Pharr is stationed overseas in the military so he is unable to actively campaign for this judicial position.  (His political campaign is very quiet since he cannot do anything while on active military duty.)  It will be interesting to see how many votes he gets & will show that the general public has no idea who they vote for -- they vote for the party -- not the candidate. 
This is the first time in approximately 10 years that the family courts are looking at such a "sweeping" change! 

But, we could have a total of 9 NEW family court judges if all the judges up for re-election do not win their seats! 

I doubt that all 9 judges will be replaced but it could happen.  At the present time, all the judges are Republican except for Judge Hinojosa (312th). 

If a huge Democratic sweep occurs, a lot of faces are going to change in the Family Law Center! 

If you don't know, Harris County is now a majority of minorities.  Many Republicans (behind the scenes) are nervous about this election and its outcome.  They are worried if there is a large voter turn-out. 
The new judges will take the benches effective January 1, 2011. 
Therefore, 2011 is going to be a very "interesting" year in the Harris County Family Courts.  No one can predict how the new judges will handle their dockets. 

From past experience, it takes awhile for a new judge to settle into their bench and develop a real feel for the courtroom.

Did you know that new judges have to go to "judge school" to learn to be a judge?  Yes, it's true.  Several years ago, some bright sole determined that even an experienced attorney needed to learn how to be a Judge so judge school was started.  The judges claim it is a very "enlightening" experience.  They have to learn a things that most attorneys never come in contact with -- such as identifying mentally illness or the reality of getting around in a big city via public transportation.

Therefore, if you are planning on having a contested matter in the Harris County courts, I would immediately file your case and attempt to get it settled BEFORE December 31, 2010.  After January 1, 2011, there will be many new faces at the courthouse and probably many new policies and procedures.

Interesting Tidbits:
Only 2 candidates are Black - Sandra Peake and Bill Rice.
Only one candidate is Hispanic -- Robert Hinojosa.
It appears all the rest of the candidates are White.
I could be wrong -- if I am -- I apologize! 

Did you know that Houston has more diversity that New York City?  Yes, it's true.  It's unfortunately that our family courts do not reflect this diversity.  I would think that we would have at least one Asian person running.  I'm wondering how many of these people speak Spanish?

I was sorry that some very fine candidates got "cut" at the primary level.  There were just too many candidates running this year in the primaries.  It seems that everyone "threw their hat" into the ring this year with so many judges leaving the bench.  Unfortunately, some fine potential judges did not get the chance to advance to the finishing line.  It's a loss for people of Harris County.

Loren Jackson -- Harris County District Clerk -- highly recommended

I want to highly recommend LOREN JACKSON - HARRIS COUNTY DISTRICT CLERK  -- for doing an outstanding job the past 2 years.

He has taken the Harris County District Clerk's office from the stone age into the computer age.

His staff is always courteous and professional.  His staff is responsive to email questions and problems.  He is trying very hard to make the Harris County District Clerk's office effecient and productive using less taxpayer money -- something we can all appreciate! 

The Harris County District Clerk's website is www.hcdistrictclerk.com

I can now download most family law final decrees for free as un-certified copies.  It comes in very handy when a new client comes in.  I can also view most family law case summaries on-line.

The website is not error free -- but it's come a long way!

Thanks Loren Jackson!

Threats, threats, threats, and more threats

I wish I had a $1 for every phone call that starts..."my ex calls me and threatens me with...."
If I did, I could already be retired!

After all these years, it's pretty boring. 

The threats are pretty common.

Here are the basic list of threats...

(1) Do what I say or you will be sorry.
(2) Don't ask for any more child support, or you will be sorry.
(3) Give me extra money, or you will be sorry.
(4) Change your visitation, or you will be sorry
(5) Pick up your kids when I say, or you will be sorry.
(6) Skip your vistation, or you will be sorry.
(7) Have sex with me, or you will be sorry.
(8) Fix my (insert broken item), or you will be sorry.
(9) Appear to suffer a lot, or you will be sorry.
(10) How dare you seem to be having a nice life, so you will be sorry.
(11) I have a miserable life, so you will be sorry.
(12) My dating life sucks, so you will be sorry.
(13) My job sucks, so you will be sorry.
(14) I need money for (fill in the blank), so you will be sorry.

Do you begin to see a pattern?

Basically, it's things are bad in my life so you are doing to pay.

It truly does not matter if it's male or female, it goes both ways.

So who suffers the most...easy...the kids.

I want my husband's ex-wife to do....

I just love it when the new wife wants the "evil" ex-wife to do something. 

Today I got an email from the "new" wife demanding that the "old" wife (now ex-wife) legally be required to change her name!  She wanted to know how to go about suing the woman so that a court of law would order her to change her name! 

She claimed that she was worried about getting credit rating confused, but that would not be a problem since credit rating systems use social security numbers and birth dates.

She then admitted that it was mainly that she just did not want tto share the same last name as the ex-wife.

She wanted to "force" the woman to have to change her name.  She could not understand why the woman wanted to keep the name she'd used for the past 20 years! 

I said that after 20 years every knew her with that name.  That changing her name with numerous government agencies such as -- social security, driver's license, as well as her employer, insurance, credit cards, doctors, credit reporting agencies, etc. was a real pain and her records could be potentially lost.

The woman was very upset that she could not legally force the ex-wife to change her name.

In Texas, there is no law that can force a woman to not use her ex-husband's name.

This woman was not very happy with me.

I'm so sick of the drama of summer & non-custodial parents acting badly!

It's summer, it's hot and people are acting stupid.

I often wonder if it is the heat that makes people act really stupid.

Yes, stupid.  I mean...really stupid.

Ok, let me give you one short example...

How about...Telling a 17 yr. old kid about to be a senior in high school that he/she cannot go back to their high school and graduate with their class and "just to get over it".  That it's no big deal.  That they will never see their friends or the rest of their family again.  They can just get their GED. They will never see their clothes, games, and the rest of their "stuff".  That they are now going to live in **** with this non-custodial parent and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop them. 

Wow!  What a loving and caring thing to do to a senior in high school! 

First, what I tell the person calling me is...TAKE A DEEP BREATH. 

The person behaving badly has got to go to sleep sometime.  I find that 75% of the people "re-set" after a good night's sleep.  They wake up and are back to normal.  Or, they sober up.
Or, they go back to work.  Or, they realize that it's not fun to have a really unhappy 17 yr. old in the house and how hard it is to keep an unhappy 17 yr. old in the house.

Second, I tell the person to have the person with custody get a certified copy of the court order and to have that person show up at the door with the police, constable or sheriff when the court order visit is over if the person has not returned the child.

Third, just call the local policing authority and have them go by and ask the person to return the 17 yr. old after they have mailed or faxed a cert. copy of the court order to the policing agency showing that the person does NOT have legal grounds to keep the person.

In reality, everyone wants a 17 yr. old to graduate from high school.  Society wants this kid to graduate from high school.  None of us wants an unhappy 17 yr. old running away from home and living on the streets.

Generally, within 4 days everything settles down.  Normally the drugs or booze wears off.  And the non-custodial parent realizes that their kid is not going to be loving if they are held against their will.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Changing TX Family Law

The TX legislature meets every 2 years.

If you are unhappy with a current law or wish to propose a new law, you need to begin NOW to advocate the TX legislature with your idea.

Then it is really too late.

The TX legislature met in 2009.  They will meet again in 2011.  Now is the time to begin thinking of the changing you want to make in that next session.

The lawyers that work in the family courts work together to try to educate our TX legislature to   improve our current laws and to not create bad new laws. 

I encourage interested people to get involved in the Texas politics.  I'm sure it's very interesting.  I'm sure it's also very frustrating.  Texas is behind many other states in Family law issues.  With science (like DNA testing) and technolgy growing so rapidly, the law just can't keep up fast enouh.

For example, when I was licensed almost 20 yr. ago, there was no such thing as DNA testing. When it first appeared it was expensive and no one understood it initially.  It slowly evolved and was perfected.  Now it's cheap and used daily.  But our laws have not kept up because the TX legislature has so much to cover and not much time to cover it.  The TX Family Code is only a small portion of what the TX legislature covers every 2 years.

I'm a stay-at-home spouse getting a divorce

In Texas we have gender neautral laws. 

Yes, I've represented women that had stay-at-home husbands that had not worked for over 10 years.  FYI:  It's interesting to watch women complain that they are going to have to pay spousal support (aka alimony) to their husbands! 

Yes, I've represented stay-at-home spouses that had not worked over 20 years. 

Unfortunately, getting a divorce is a real shock to a stay-at-home spouse.

Generally, spousal support is designed in Texas to compensate spouses when there is not enough community property to get them by after the divorce.  Many times it's limited to 3 years maximum.  This is a shock to most people.  However, the legislature is now beginning to relize that many stay-at-home spouses are disabled and need more than a couple of years of help. 

Unfortunately, many people divorcing in Texas just don't have enough income to support to households.  The stay-at-home spouse gets dose of reality when they realize that their income is going to drop dramatically after the divorce and that the laws of the State of Texas do not protect them!  This is especially true when they are not within Social Security ages! 

In cases I've mediated, I've actually encouarged some couples to stay married and just live apart.  Most times this is not what the healthy spouse wants.  The healthy spouse wants to get re-married and have a life.  The sick spouse is "clinging" onto their spouse for the health insurance benefits. 

Unfortunately, most legislatures lag behind in what is happening in our society.  If you want to change our current laws, you need to get involved NOW in writing and communicating with our TX legislature.  Don't wait until the legislature meets -- then it's too late. 

My spouse is a real bum!

Many people come to me and tell me what a bum they have as a spouse!

What they don't realize that the Judge wonders what is wrong with them that they married that person!

If you marry such a bad person, what is wrong with you?  Why did you stay married to this person for 10 years? 

If he is a drug dealer, then how did you meet him? 
Are you invovled in drugs? 
Why did you marry him? 
How did you not know that he was involved in drugs and dealing drugs? 
When you learned he was dealing drugs, why did you not leave? 
Why did you have a child with this person? 
Why did you have many children with this person?

Are you beginning to get the idea?

If you are married to such a bad person, what is wrong with you?

I had one client that was married to a very successful drug dealer.  (He was the drug delivery guy.)  He was really upset that when they separated she still made all the money with her new "honey" the new drug delivery guy.  (He just wanted the money to keep coming in.)  She had been the "bright" one.  He could not understand how their drug dealing "family" did not help him get custody.  Unfortuntely, she was very bright and was able to "test clean" on all the drug tests the court ordered.  My client could not test clean -- he was just not that bright!  He just did not get it.  I suggested that he get her "busted" but she was still too bright to get busted! 

One judge in Harris County within the past year, got tired or hearing how bad each parent was, so she just called CPS remove the chidren from both parents and put them in foster care.  The judge wanted to protect the chidren from both parents.  If both parents were doing what the other parent alleged, then the children's lives were in danger.  I got a call from one of the parents, she was livid at the judge.  I agreed with the judge.  If her husband was doing what the mom alleged, the judge was right.  Remove the children and protect the children.  The law in the State of Texas is to do what is in the children's best interests.  The law is NOT what to do what is the parent's best interests.

So if you are in a relationship with a real bum, don't expect the judge to have any sympathy -- especially if you stay more than a couple of years.

How has everyone been the past 2 years?

What is important is what has been happening for the past 2 years.

We have all made mistakes in our lives.  The important question is -- have we learned from our mistakes and have we cleaned up our lives?

There are people that have been in prison, drug dealers, etc. that now have great jobs, live in nice homes, and have custody of their kids.  They are involved in their kids lives, making sure they do their homework, involved in their church, etc.

What the courts (judge) wants to know is what has been happening for the past few years?

So if you have a bad past but if you have cleaned up and are now a respectable citizen and doing the right thing with people that are willing to testify on your behalf, you are in great shape.

Just keeping doing what you are doing!

He wanted me to have an abortion

Many women say to me "he wanted me to have an abortion!"

Sorry!  It's just not that big a deal.  Especially when the kid is 10 years old! 

Many men just "freak out" when they first hear that they are going to be a dad.  They have a moment of panic and fear.  But once the baby is born they are a great dad. 

So mom, get over it!

No court is going to "terminate his parental rights" or whatever because for 5 minutes he behaved badly!

Especially, if he's been behaving fine for the past 2 years!


I would always ask for DNA testing, even if I was married to the woman.

Now in Texas, you can be ordered to pay child support the rest of a child's life -- if a child is disabled! 

Therefore, it's worth a few moment's of potential awkwardness or possible anger to ask for a DNA test! 

Be sure it's your kid! 

Once you are on the birth certificate, it's difficult to get your name off.  Yes, it can be done but it's much easier to just never have your name on it in the first place!

She got pregnant on purpose

Ok guys, if you claim that she "trapped" you into getting pregnant and you should therefore not be ordered to pay child support, it won't work in Texas.

The State of Texas legislature has determined that you voluntarily "participated" so therefore you are responsible for the "fruits" of your labor -- the kid.

If it's your DNA, it's your responsibility.



Having sex with a teen-ager

If you are more than 1-1/2 years older than the teen-ager, please don't have sex with that person!

If so, you could end up a registered sex offender in Texas.

A minor cannot give permission to have sex with you!

Their parents cannot give permission to have sex with you!

So, just walk away

Can my 17 yr. old girl friend come live with me?

17 yr. olds are "strange animals" in Texas.

For ciminal purposes they are adults.

For civil purposes, they are still minor children.

Normally CPS won't get involved in these cases.  CPS is focused on protecting children.  Babies and small children cannot protect themselves.  17 yr. old kids can normally protect themselves so CPS is usually not that worried about them.

What I normally suggest is that the 17 yr. old wait until the moment they turn 18 and they leave the house. 

At midnight on they 18th birthday they can walk (or run) out of their parent's home and they are an adult.  Their parents cannot stop them.  They are free! 

However, they might not be able to take their "stuff" with them.  They can take anything they inherited or they received as a "gift".  That is their "stuff".  Anything their parents gave them (furniture, cell phone, etc.) belongs to their parents.  If their parents don't want them to take their computer, cell phone, etc. then that "stuff" stays.

However, I recommend that if you have any questions that you call your local policing agencies (police, sheriff or constable in Texas) and talk to their dispatcher.  Find out their local policies.  Yes, their policies can vary depending on their superior's orders.  Find out IN ADVANCE what their officers will do if they are called.  In fact, let me know if you are planning to leave, they will put that in the system and be prepared for a phone call.  You can call them when you are leaving and let them know that you are leaving and that you want to leave without any problems.  They will come and watch you leave to make sure there are no problems. 

There is an excellent free pamphlet called "Now that you are 18" that was written by a Texas lawyer's group several years ago.  I can't find my last copy.  You might "google" it and see if you can find it.  It was very informative.

When can a kid decide to vist (or live with a parent)?

In Texas, the answer to when a minor child can decide which parent they want to live with (or even visit their other parent) is 18!

That's it!

18 YEARS OLD!!!!!

I get this question via http://www.avvo.com/ and http://www.lawguru.com/ on a daily basis!

I don't know who or where people get the idea that kids get to make a decision about who they get to live with or when they get decide if they get to visit their non-custodial parents.

There USED TO BE a document that the kid could sign that stated who they wanted to live with but it was NEVER binding on the judge.  The judge ALWAYS had the final say on what the minor child had to do -- up to the age of 18!! 





Now the Juge must interview the child in the Judge's chamber -- alone!! That means --  one on one -- to determine what the child wants to do.  Many judges don't like this.  Many judges just don't have the time to interview every child involved in litigation!  It is just impossible for the judge to interview each child involved in litigation! 

Why?  Since kids attend school and the courts normally close around 5pm.  That gives judges from approximately 4-5 pm (one hour) to interview all the minor children.  That technically means children from age 0-18.  Most judges are not trained to interview small children.  Most small children cannot adequate communicate and many cannot tell fiction from reality.

Most judges are not going to have children removed from school to interview them.  In large cities, like Houston and Dallas, if a child is removed from school they are going to miss a full day or 1/2 day of school.  Many judges don't want to be responsible for a kid missing that much school!

New look to blog

Josh Peterson - don't know you but I love you new template!  Now my blog looks like my website.