Monday, November 5, 2012

Randy Sorrells honored at STCL

South Texas College of Law has moved their legal clinics into a new home and greatly expanded their student legal clinics in order to serve the Harris County indigent population.

They have named the new legal clinic the Randy Sorrels ('87) Legal Clinic in his honor.

The Honorable Leta Parks

The Honorable Leta Parks has been named Chair of the College of the State Bar of Texas - congratulations Leta!

What a great honor for an outstanding lady!

Harris County, Texas Free Legal Services Phone Numbers

Attorney General Office

Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse

Lone Star Legal Aid

Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program

University of Houston
Legal Aid Clinic

South Texas College of Law
Randy Sorrells Legal Aid Clinic

Free Legal Advice
Houston Bar Association
Free Legal Line - first & third Wednesday each month for 5pm - 9 pm

Texas Father's for Equal Rights

Women's Legal Hotline

Crisis Hotline

District Attorney for Harris County

Houston Area Women's Center

SAFE Program
Court Ordered Supervised Visits with Minor Children

Harris County Child Protective Services
To report abuse and/or neglect of minor children

This is not an exclusive list
Look on-line for more agencies

You can always call the "United Way" for more agencies

Crisis Hotline or Houston Area Women's Center might have other referrals if
they are unable to assist you - remember - never give up - keep calling if
you need assistance of any kind - funding changes each year because
grant money moves - so no list is ever accurate for more than a year --
if you need help -- you have to call around to find the help YOU NEED!

Good luck!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What is a BVS form in the State of Texas?

You will need to submit a BVS form to the Court for all divorces and other family law cases in Texas.

BVS stands for Bureau of Vital Statistics.

This form is sent to Austin to be filed -- it is entered into a central computer system available to people to "track" to see if you are divorced.

Before Texas started the BVS Form tracking system, attorneys had to call each county clerk's office to see if a person was divorced in that county.  It was time-consuming and inaccurate.

I think this tracking system started less than 10 years ago - but I could be wrong on the exact time of when it started -- quite frankly I've forgotten.  

Initially attorneys hated filling out the form because it required getting a lot of information from clients - Social Security numbers, dates of birth, Texas Driver's License Numbers, home addresses, city they were born in, race, maiden name, kid's social security number, kid's date of birth, etc.

Also, a lot of attorneys did not like a state agency having all of this information available on Texas residents - but now attorneys have gotten grown accustomed to it.

The judges will not grant a divorce without submitting the form -- no form - no divorce.

Now an attorney can just contact Austin and find out if a divorced has been filed -- quick and easy!

Do It Yourself Forms for Texas Residents -

Go to for assistance if you are doing a divorce or need other assistance in a civil matter in the State of Texas.

Texas Law

I talked to a Harris County Family Court judge 2 days ago and he does NOT like this website because he said the Final Decree of Divorce does NOT properly divide real estate!

So, if you own real estate -- BEWARE!  It will not give you proper title to the property so you will have trouble selling the real estate in the future since no title company will issue you a title policy if this is the only piece of paper you have giving you ownership of the real estate.  In other words, if you try to use this Final Decree of Divorce from the above-listed website as proof that you own a piece of real estate at a later date, you have a worthless piece of paper!


But if you have no kids, no property...this website might work for you.

You will need to submit a BVS form to the Court for all divorces in Harris County.
This form is sent to Austin to be filed -- it is entered into a central computer system available to people to "track" to see if you are divorced.  Before Texas started the BVS (Bureau of Vital Statistics Form tracking system, several years ago, attorneys had to call each county clerk's office to see if a person was divorced in that county.  Now an attorney can just contact Austin and find out if a divorced has been filed -- quick and easy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Updating my website -

Stay tune for changes to my website!

James Strictland, my outstanding and creative web designer, and I talked for an hour today.
I authorized him to do a total over-haul of my website.
It's the first time in over 6 years that I'm letting him have full reign to do what he wants to do!
I trust him so it's time for my website to get a fresh, clean new look & feel.

He is totally re-designing the site and making it faster + making me the latest & greatest in technology.

He convinced me to add some new "techie" stuff to my site so "stay tuned" for some new gadgets to be added in the next month!

I want it to be "dazzling", fast and consumer friendly.

I want it to impress the under-30 crowd but not over-whelm anyone visiting my site.

I will now also have an abbreviated site for smart phones -- something that did not exist a couple of years ago.  Now that I surf on my own smart phone on a daily basis, I want my website to be accessible to people looking for a mediator.

Check back frequently in the next few weeks.

Additionally, this blog should be moving to my website to make it easier for me to post -- Google+ has been a nightmare -- I now have 4 Google+ accounts that I can't seem to all merge plus posting to this blog is getting harder with the changes in Google+.

(Google are you listening!##$@#$@#$#@$@$@#$@#^$@%^#$%&*#%^&!!)

I look forward to your input and comments.

If you see any typos -- let me know! - FREE mediation website

The Conflict Resolution Information Source website -- 

CRInfo (pronounced "See Our Info") stands for "conflict resolution information source." 

It is a FREE service, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. 

As a "linking" site, their staff of editors maintains a keyword-coded catalog of over 20,000 Web, print, and organizational resources, as well as event listings and other conflict resolution-related resources.

I just found it and it seems full of interesting sites to look at for mediation information.

I am now advertising with

I just signed on with and for the next 2 years.

I checked with a mediator in Spring, Texas that has success with their services.

I have found it very difficult to get productive mediation leads but it never hurts to get my name out in the public.

I can add "arbitrator" to my list of qualifications

I just completed "arbitrator" training so I can now add that title to my list of qualifications.

In family law, arbitration is not often used so I don't think that I will use it much.

It seems to be used mostly for government work.

FYI: The Better Business Bureau (BBB) does some arbitration work for free or for low cost.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Family law mediation

Divorce mediation is a process where you and your soon to be ex-spouse (or signficant other) meet with a neutral trained third party family law mediator to reach a settlement in your lawsuit (divorce or SAPRC  or modification).

There is no time limit to the mediation so that you have time to explore and discuss options.  There is no limit as to what issues can be discussed - spousal support, child support, assets, debts, visitation, children's hobbies, children's special needs, etc.

However, if a party admits to child abuse or threatens to commit a crime then the mediator MUST immediately stop the mediation process.  Other than those situations, mediation is a confidential, private process.

Many people like mediation because it is cheaper and faster than going to court.  The mediator asks both parties to be honest and negotiate in good faith.  The mediator attempts to level the playing field.  Neither party is allowed to emotionally or physically abuse the other spouse.  A mediator will attempt to diffuse emotions and focus on common goals to resolve your differences.  You will not be forced to enter into a final agreement.  The process is entirely voluntary.  You always have the right to continue with litigation and trial in front of a judge if you are not satisfied with the mediation process.

Many people like the fact that mediation is a private and confidential process.  The offers made cannot be mentioned to the Judge.  (Just like the Las Vegas ad -- what happens at mediation, stays at mediation.)  Often the mediator will "think outside of the box" and bring creative solutions that a judge could not offer because the Judge must follow the Texas Family Code.  A mediator can offer solutions outside the TX Family Code that might work better for you and your children.

Mediation can often begin the healing process to allow the parties to begin to co-parent their children.  Even though the marriage is ending, the parents will be co-parenting their children for the rest of their lives.  In fact, they will be co-grand-parenting their future grand-children.  It is often said that a marriage might be ending but the family endures.  Mediation is much less adversarial that a trial.  At trial, "mud" will be slung to show how bad each of you are - the hurt feelings are traumatic and will probably impact the children.  After "slinging" all that dirt then you get to leave the courthouse and try to co-parent your children together.  Mediation helps the divorcing couple create a parenting plan that focuses on what is best for the parents and the children.  No judge knows you and your children as well as you do.  A judge will make decisions -- but they will probably be decisions that neither of you like.

Mediation is usually not recommended if there has been extensive physical or mental abuse.  Attorneys recognize that there are a small percentage of cases that just need to go to trial in front of a judge.

If you reach an agreement, everyone signs a document called a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA) that is filed at the courthouse.  It is binding and cannot be changed.  In other words, you are "stuck" with what you sign. The case is done - finished - completed.  Then an attorney must take the MSA and prepare the final paperwork so that a judge can sign it so that can be "enforced" at a later date if one of the parties does not follow the agreements that both of you agreed to do.

Mediation is one form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).  There are many excellent websites that cover mediation.  Each state handles mediation slightly differently.  In the State of Texas, mediation is normally required before you can get a trial date before a judge.

Most family law attorneys won't tell their clients this when a case first starts, but over 90% of family law cases settle before trial before a judge or jury.  Most cases do not go before a jury because in Texas juries only hear a limited number of family law issues -- plus the cost is prohibitive to most people (expect to pay over $20,000 if you want a jury trial.)

If you have a family law case in Harris County, Texas, anticipate being sent to mediation before you get a hearing date in front of a judge.

There are 2 free mediation services in Harris County.  Private mediators charge from approximately  $250-$1,000 per side for 4 hours.

Chapter 31 - Removal of Disabilities of Minority in the Texas Family Code

Emancipation is called "removal of disabilities of minority" in the State of Texas.  You can find it under Chapter 31 in the Texas Family Code.

The chapter is very short.

The judges interpret this law very strictly.  There is no flexibility in the courts of Harris County.  You must meet every requirement.  For example, you must be at least 16 years of age to apply.  If you are 15 years old and 10 months, please don't call an attorney because you cannot file the paperwork at the courthouse!

YOU must be self-supporting -- that means your boyfriend or a family member cannot be supporting you.  You must be able to pay for your rent, food, clothing, utilities, etc. all on your own!  If you have a roommate, that is ok if you are able to pay for your 50% of everything.

You must be able to state where your living parents are currently located.

You must be able to clearly state why the judge should grant your request.

You must be able to clearly state the purpose for this request.

The judge shall appoint an amicus attorney or attorney ad litem to represent the interest of the person (teen) making this request.  The teen MUST pay this attorney.  How much do they charge?  Most attorneys charge at least $1,500 - $2,500 because they have to do a lot of work - interview you, your parents or guardian, perhaps your teachers, your neighbors, your relatives, your employer, visit your home - this takes many hours of their time.

How long does this take to be finalized? I would plan on at least 4 months.

Goggle has made me an "expert" on emancipation & name changes in Harris

I have been receiving a lot of phone calls  (approximately 5-6 calls per week) on name changes for adults and children.  Plus, many calls for teenagers and even parents wanting to force their minor children to be emancipated because they cannot control them.  (Apparently the police make this suggestion when they are called out for "out of control" teens.)

I finally figured out why I receive so many of these calls - when you "Google" something like Texas emancipation I show up in the middle of the page -- but I'm the only listing with a tiny photo so people click on me.  Even though my blog posts on these topics are almost 2 years old, they just call - they never bother to read any of my other posts that clearly state that I no longer litigate or that there are many requiremenets in order for a teen to qualify to be emancipated.

In order to emancipate (called "removal of disabilities of minority" in the State of Texas) you must meet EVERY requirement or the Judge cannot sign the paperwork.  There is no flexibility in the statute.

Some attorneys will take your money and file the paperwork then apologize when the judge denies your final order.  I personally don't want to waste your time or money if I know that the judge is not going to sign the final paperwork.

READ -- Chapter 31 of the TEXAS FAMILY CODE - REMOVAL OF DISABILITIES OF MINORITY -- available on-line.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I am a 9 year Breast Cancer Survivor!

This summer marks my 9th year of being a breast cancer survivor.

Chemo gave me a new motto - "it's easier than chemo"!

It also gave me a new perspective in life -- I became a mediator.

I am an attorney truly believes that most family law issues can be resolved without escalating to court involvement. 

Of course, a small percentage of cases need a judge to be involved - those cases that involve the mentally ill, drug abuse, physical abuse, etc. 

But overall, most family law cases should be resolved peaceably and confidentally between the parties with their attorneys acting as counselors and advisors. 

Important News regarding Patricia Bushman Law Office

Jessica in Patricia Bushman's office has left her employ & taken a new job at a catering company! 

So all of my posts telling people to talk to Jessica are now wrong!

Pat is now going to have to replace her. 

I just learned of this change this afternoon when I went to the office after being in court all morning.

Please be patient as her office goes through this transition.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Family mediation in Texas

Mediation is an affordable, effective, alternative to litigation that preserves the ability of the parents to work together to raise their children.

In family mediation, the parties (and their attorneys - if the parties hire attorneys) meet with a neutral third party facilitator known as a mediator - who assists them in reaching their own settlement.

The mediator guides and assists the parties in coming to their own outcome.

If the parties come to a decision, it is final and binding on the parties.  That means, if a decision is reached a Mediated Settlement Agreement (also known as a MSA) is signed and is filed with the Court.  It cannot later be changed by either party.  It is a final decision -- just like a judge ordered and signed it.  In other words, if you sign it, you are "stuck" with it.

The parties then need to get the agreement typed up by an attorney so that a Judge can signed the final order so that it can be enforced by the Judge in case one of the parties does not follow the agreement.  The mediator that prepares the MSA cannot do the paperwork for the Judge to sign.

The mediation process empowers the parties by giving them the power to make the decisions regarding their future without a Judge making the decisions.

The mediator is trained to remain neutral.  The setting for the mediation is more comfortable and relaxed than at the courthouse and there is usually less stress on the parties.  The parties are allowed to communicate more openly than is allowed in front of a Judge.  The mediation process is confidential -- except when child abuse or criminal activity is concerned.

A family mediator has taken the basic 40 hour mediator training plus an additional family mediation training class.  Additionally, most family mediators have taken many additional mediation classes.  In the Houston area, mediation training is offered year round.

You do not have to be a lawyer to be a mediator.  In fact, many excellent mediators are not attorneys.  Most of the Harris County family law judges will not appoint non-lawyer mediators at the present time.  I believe this is because they want mediators that are familiar with the Texas Family Code.  Prices for mediators vary dramatically.  My rates are $250 per side for a 4 hour mediation - which is very reasonable for Harris County mediators.

There are 2 free mediation services in the Harris County area - Dispute Resolution Center and the Harris County Domestic Relations Office.  The DRO has their own staff.  I volunteer at the DRC and have since 2005.

If no agreement is reached by the parties, then the mediator notifies the Judge than an impasse was reached - nothing else.  No details regarding what happened at the mediation ever leaves the mediation process.

Normally the parties save money by participating in mediation rather than pay an attorney for a trial in front of Judge.  Plus, they save the emotion toll of a trial.

One of the roles of a mediator is to try to balance the needs of the child and the desires of the parties.  The mediator assists the parties in identifying the areas of conflict.  The mediator brainstorms possible creative solutions that might not be possible if presented to a Judge who would be limited to following the Texas Family Code.

The mediator can spend more time than a Judge has in getting to know the parties and the children to determine what are going to work best regarding visitation in the long run and avoid conflict between the parties.  The mediator looks at ways to make it a win-win for both parties.

The mediation process can take several hours.  My longest mediation took over 10 hours.  Everyone wanted to continue because we were making progress.  There were many complex issues and no one wanted to leave.  It look several "drafts" of the Mediated Settlement Agreement to get it right and have everyone sign it.

Usually only the parties attend mediation.  Sometimes if a party has re-married, the new spouse is allowed to attend.  Normally, fiances are not allowed to attend.  (FYI: Rarely teen-age children are only allowed to attend -- if everyone agrees and then they would be in a separate room and they would be interviewed by the mediator and then a third party would drive them home.)

Check out my website -

Preparing to Separate

There are many things you need to do BEFORE you leave your current situation - whether you are married or just living together.

Of course, if you are in a dangerous situation, the most important thing to do is JUST LEAVE!  Your life is more important than your possessions!  You can replace your stuff - you cannot replace your life!

That said, if you are able to take time and plan your exit in a calm & slow manner, this is what I have read that you should do before leaving.

It is NOT everything -- but it is a sample list of things that you should think about doing before leaving...

1.  Opening a checking or savings account in your own name.

2.  Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra set of clothes and medicines in a safe place or with someone that your trust.

3.  Get your own post office box.

4.  Find a safe place where you and your children can go or a person who can lend you money.

5.  Always keep the shelter phone number and change or calling card for emergency phone calls.

6.  If you have pets, make arrangements for them to b e cared for in a safe place.

What you need to take with you...

(this is not just a suggested list -- you might think of more things that you need to take with you -- if in doubt take it with you!)

Your driver's license.

Birth certificate and your children's birth certificates.

Social security cards.


Take copies of your last 5 years tax returns.

Take copies of the last 6 months of pay stubs.

Take copies of all credit cards - front & back.
(take some credit cards with you if possible)

Take copies of all checking & savings accounts for the past 5 years.

Take copies of all investment accounts - such as 401(k) & IRAs - everything you can find for the past 5 years.

Take copies of leases, car registrations, car leases, car purchase contracts, insurance papers, health insurance, medical records, etc.

Take copies of your children's school records.

Take originals (or at least copies) of legal papers -- such as all wills, trusts, divorce and custody papers -- including all TX Attorney General papers.

Take copies of all death and marriage licenses.

Take prescriptions medications that you and your children take daily.

Take all valuable jewelry -- often these things "disappear" after you leave.

Anything that is irreplaceable or an heirloom -- again this often "disappear" & or get "broken" during separation!

Take your address book.

Take all diaries, letters, cards & correspondence.

Take your computer and/or a back-up of your information & your children's on the computer.

You need to be prepared in case information "disappears" after you leave your home.
If you cannot take the originals, then make a copy of all these files & put them in a "safe" place - with a trusted friend.  DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE TRUNK OF YOUR VEHICLE  OR IN YOUR HOME - where these copies could be "discovered" by the other person!

I think the above list should assist you in thinking about what you need to do before you separate.

Good luck!


Judge Judy Warne, Judge of the 257th Judicial District Court of Harris County, Texas has been named Jurist of the Year by the American Academy of the Matrimonial Lawyers.

This is a very high honor & Judge Warne is to be congratulated.  She is an exceptional judge and Harris County residents should be honored to have such an outstanding judge on the bench.  Judge Warne is a frequent speaker at legal events.

Her husband, Doug Warne, is a retired District Court judge too.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mediations - $250 per side for 4 hours

$250 per side for 4 hours

If we go longer than 4 hours then it's $125/hour or $75/per side
cash only - no checks or credit cards

I prefer to do them AFTER a lawsuit has been filed.
That way it is binding if one of the parties does not comply with the Mediated Settlement Agreement.

Remember, if I serve as a mediator I cannot act as an attorney
Some people think that they can hire me and I can be attorney/mediator - untrue!
I am unable to prepare the final paperwork - you must still use an attorney

Attorneys:  I can mediate at my office -- mornings - afternoons - evenings & week-ends
(we have our own a/c and heat)
I can come to your office if that is more convenient

Name Change for a Child

Doing a name change for a minor child is easy -- if both parents agree.

If both parents do not agree, the judge will not do it!

It does take some time because the Harris County courts are pretty busy.
Believe me when I say it is really worth it to hire an attorney -- you will be glad that you did.
Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to get this done.
A good family law attorney can really help you get this done & make it look simple.

I encourage you to hire an experienced family law attorney that knows the judge so that you don't waste your time and money.  If you try to do it yourself, it can be very frustrating and time consuming. 

You can go to the Harris County Law Library in downtown Houston -- but I don't know how good their forms are since so many people go down there -- they might be worn out or someone might have torn the necessary pages out of their form books.  Also be careful about some of the people that hang out there & say that they are attorneys -- there was a guy down there 4 years ago that was a disbarred attorney on drugs that was not mentally stable -- I don't know if he's still down there -- he was giving people bad advice & taking their money. 

Please don't buy a kit off the internet or t.v. 
Those are junk & you are wasting your money!!! 
Plus, they do not include the required State and County forms that the Judge will want. 

Unfortunately, the filing fee is approximately $300. 
All of that money goes to the county.

I'm only mediating these days so please don't call me. 

Call Patricia Bushman at 713-807-9405.
Her first appointment is FREE.
Talk to Jessica in her office for an appointment. 
She books up -- so please be flexible. 
Please let Jessica know that FRAN referred you to their office. 
I rent space in their office. 
They are located at Loop 610 & Kirby by Reliant Stadium.

Filing for emancipation in Texas

I receive more phone calls on emancipation than any other topic.

I have been licensed over 20 years and I have never done an emancipation. 

Why?  Because (a) they are expensive - plan on paying a total of $5,000 (b) you need to be at least 16 years old and have a job and be fully supporting yourself and (c) judges in Harris County do NOT like them and will not approve them.

Be aware that you can pay $5000 and have a full-time job and you still might not get a judge to sign the paperwork.

The only thing that you will accomplish by being emancipated in the State of Texas is being able to sign a legal contract.  That is it.  You will be able to sign a lease.  However, that does not mean that a landlord will lease to you.  You still might have to get someone to co-sign a lease with you.  If you want to buy a car, you will be able to sign a contract but it does not mean that you will qualify for a car loan.  It does not mean that a company has to give you a car loan. 

Being emancipated does not perform miracles.

By the way, it is called REMOVAL OF DISABILITIES in the State of Texas.

You can read about it in the Texas Family Code which is available on-line.  There are many hurdles that you must "jump" in order to even qualify.  If you do not meet them all, a judge cannot sign the document.  The judge will read the Code carefully before signing the paperwork.  The Judge will make sure that you fulfill all requirements.  They are tough! 

In my 20 years, I've only had one young lady that met them all.  She decided to buy a car instead of spending the money to go to court.

FYI:  Living with your boyfriend or girlfriend, is not enough to get the judge to sign your paperwork.  And, if your parents won't agree, it will make it much more difficult to get the judge to sign the paperwork -- not impossible -- but harder.

I don't do them -- call PATRICIA BUSHMAN at 713-807-9405.  Talk to Jessica in her office - her first appointment is FREE.  Tell her FRAN sent her. 

Alienation of affection in the State of Texas

I have received a few phone calls on this matter so I will repost on this issue.

I have posted on this subject before so you can look back on this blog & read my comments before.  It's been a long time since I posted comments on alienation of affection.  Since this matter is a "mute" issue in Texas it just not come up much.  However, recently several people have called me regarding this matter. 
I hope this post clarifies this topic for you.

The Texas legislature eliminated "alienation of affection" as a possible lawsuit many years ago.

In other words, if your spouse is involved with someone else, you cannot sue that person for "dating" your spouse.  There is no lawsuit available to sue that person.  No judge can do "anything" to that person for "entrapping" your spouse and/or causing your spouse to fall in love with that person.  You cannot get any sort of damages (money) from that person.  A judge cannot issue a restraining order against that person. 

If you are angry that your spouse spent money on a third party, then you would need to sue for divorce and in the divorce ask the judge to order your spouse to "reimburse" you for community funds spent on a third party. For example, spouse spent $10,000 on a third party -- you are entitled to $5,000 of reimbursement since 50% of the money is yours and you did not want your 50% spent on the third party. 

In summary, a judge does not have any sort of legal remedy that he/she is able to "punish" the third party (the person dating your spouse) in the State of Texas. 

However, if the person is harrassing you with phone calls or threats of bodily harm, then call the police or the District Attorney's office.  That is a criminal matter.  That would be completely different than a civil matter. 

Civil and criminal lawsuits are handled completely different;

     *  Civil matters are where you sue someone.  Civil cases are between individuals. 

     *  Criminal lawsuits are where the persons violates a law and the community sues the person and the punishment would be jail time and/or a fine (money).  The District Attorney represents the community.  You would not be involved.  You might be called as a witness since you would be the "victim". 

Houston Lawyer Referral Service contact information

Houston Lawyer Referral Service


Their motto is - helping the Houston metropolitan community to find quality legal representaiton in all areas of the law since 1958.

I'm doing CPS mediations at the Harris County DRC

I completed the Dispute Resolution Mediation Training of Harris County, Texas on July 27, 2011.

In August, 2012, I finally decided to try my hand to mediating CPS cases at the Harris County DRC. They are definately challenging and different from other mediations that I have handled since I became a mediator in 2005.

These are unpaid mediations, but since not many mediators will volunteer to handle a CPS mediaiton, I have agreed to do at least 1 a month.

Wish me luck!

Free Seminar for the Public at UH Law School - September 29, 2012


Classes on law issues that are relevant to the public in everyday life

September 29, 2012 - Saturday from 8 am - noon

University of Houston  Law Center - Main Campus - Consumer Law Project - The People's Law School

Call 877-839-8422 for information

Reservations required

Constitution Day - September 17th

September 17th is Constitution Day. 

What will be  happening in Houston on that day?

All citizens who report for jury duty will receive a pocket-size copy of the Constitution that day.

The Houston Bar Association (HBA) is recruiting volunteer attorneys to speak at local elementary schools to spend an hour at classes to speak to students about the U S Constitution. and education children about the importance of the U S Constitution. Attorneys will read a book then the book will be donated to the school's library.  I don't know the name of the book that is being donated - it was not mentioned in the article in the Houston Bar Bulletin for September-October, 2012.

The HBA and the Houston Chronicle will partner  again this year to provide classroom guides to teach middle and high school students about the Constituion and how it affects their daily lives.  Teachers are provided with "The Constitution in the News," an eductional curriculum that examines court rulings on issues such as student drug testing, file sharing, wiretapping, First Amendment issues, student cheating and gun laws, as wells as how the news media covers the issues.  These guides are available free of charge to classrooms. 

Happy Constitution Day!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Parental Alienation

I just left 2012 Advanced Family Law seminar in Houston. 

The book by Dr. Richard Warshak from Dallas Texas is in its 25th printing is apparently the world's best selling book on parental alientation.  It's entitled DIVORCE POISON: HOW TO PROTECT OUR FAMILY FROM BAD-MOUTHING AND BRAINWASHING.  HarperColins, 2002/2010.  It's been published in 6 languages. 

Dr. Warshak has appeared on many television shows in the US and around the world on this topic. 

Advanced Family Law Seminar paper paper on Managing Severe Cases of Parental Alienation covered a new treatment area I was unfamiliar with regarding parental alienation --  Family Bridges: A Workshiop for Troubled and Alienated Parent-Child Relationships.  It's a 4 day educational and experimental program that assists families in making a safe transition and adjustment to court orders that bring the children and their rejected parent together and suspend contact with the favored parent for an extended period.  The workshop usually takes place in a resort setting.  The goal is a successful reunification with the alienated parent and the child with the help of Family Bridges staff. 

There is also a PBS documentary titled, WELCOME BACK PLUTO: UNDERSTANDING, PREVENTING, AND OVERCOMING PARENTAL ALIENATION, that is now on DVD. One college professor shows this 80 minute DVD to her class.  It produced profound reactions to her students from divorced families.  The professor reported that many students had noticed for the first time some form of parental alienation and that many of these students felt empowered to contact their alienated parent.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A. Charles Weiner, CPA

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

I am not giving free advice on my old blog posts! Beware of old blog posts!

I have recently been receiving been receiving a lot of phone calls on these blog posts from several years ago.

Apparently blog posts live on forever on the internet.  I cannot control this.  I recommend that you read the date when I wrote the blog post.  If it is more than a year old, the information contained in the blog post might be based on inaccurate information as it NOW exists!

Please be advised that if a post you are reading is from more than a year ago it might be wrong!  

Additionally, I do not give free legal advice.  I do not give legal advice to people outside of the State of Texas or outside of the United States.

So if you are outside of Texas please do not call me! I cannot help you. I am only licensed to practice law in the State of Texas. Plus I do NOT know laws outside of the State of the State of Texas. I definately do NOT know the laws of other countries!

Plus, I do not give free legal advice!! I charge for my time-- I have practiced law for over 20 years and I no longer litigate.

Additionally, I no longer take active cases or go to court with clients.

I do not care how "cute" you are or how horrible your situation is-- I am not going to accept your case -- especially on a pro bono (free) basis!

So please don't waste your time calling me.

Plus too many people have wasted MY time by calling then NOT accepting my return call or by putting me on hold to take another call!!!

I find it difficult to believe that talking to a "friend" is more important than talking to an attorney! When someone puts me on "hold" to take another call - I just hang up -- how rude! When I am talking to someone on the phone I don't accept any other calls & I expect similar curtesy.

For example, just this morning I returned the call from a woman that called me at 6:42 pm last night and her voice mail was not even working.  I can't understand why someone would call a lawyer  at 6:42 pm and night and expect them to answer their phone.  And then not answer their phone if they were anticipating phone calls from a professional returning their phone calls.

Final rant, free advice is worth what you pay for it!

My office will be closed June 10-24, 2012

I am taking my first vacation since my parents died.

My office will be closed from June 10-24,2012.

I will not have Internet access during that period either.

Please do not contact me and expect a response!

I will be without a computer, cell phone, etc. out hiking getting back to "nature"!


Updating website

Please help me! I am updating my website -- -- and if you see any typos or anything else that needs to be fixed, please let me know as soon as possible. I would greatly appreciate it.

I have found some things that I intend to "fix" but I am looking to improve my website.

I think almost all of the "links" are working. I found a couple that are "broken" and I will remove them.

Plus I have updated my photo. Enjoy my new photo!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Replying to phone calls & emails

I try very hard to reply promptly to all telephone calls & emails.

Recently I've noticed that some people use "bogus" phone numbers & emails addresses.
(Or, they cannot type in their email address or remember their phone number.)  I cannot reply to emails and phone calls when I don't have correct information.

Also, please remember that background noises interfere with your cell phone.  I cannot emphasis how frustrating it is to not hear all the digits of a phone number or to immediately call a person back and go directly to voice mail.  I don't have time to play phone-tag!

If you calling attorneys for legal advice, please be sure to have your cell phone charged up AND be sure to answer your phone.  This is not the time to "screen" your calls.  I am taking time out of my busy day to return your call, you need to take the time to answer your phone!  And, if you put me on hold to take another call, I will hang up on you -- remember -- I'm doing YOU a favor to talk to YOU!

Lastly, in your email "subject line" please put "legal question for Fran Brochstein".  If you leave the subject line blank or put something like "hi", I don't open your email since most of these sort of emails are spam.

And, do not write a long email in one rambling paragraph - I just can't and won't read it -- be sure to write short, concise paragraphs.  I don't need your entire life story to answer a quick question.

Be advised that no attorney is going to give free legal advice based on a short email - the legal liability is just too great.  

If you have a legal problem, you need to pay the money and sit down face-to-face with an attorney in your area that specializes in your legal problem.  

Rose Cardenas, JD

I am not professional associated with attorney Rose Cardenas.

We are not in  professionally connected or associated.

Since she speaks fluent Spanish,  I refer legal cases to her as a courtesy to people that call me.

I've known her  professional for over 15 years.

I have attended the Advanced Family Law Seminar in San Antonio with her for the past 2 years.

She has been licensed to practice for in the State of Texas over 20 years.

I have the same phone number that you do - I don't have any "magic" way to locate Rose!

I am no longer offering DO IT YOURSELF LEGAL KITS

I also no longer offer the DO IT YOURSELF DIVORCE KITS.  

It was a great concept that just did not work.

  • People made appointments -- but did not show up over 50% of the time. Even when I called to confirm their appointment the day before & they never called to let me know that they were not going to show.  For example, one day 4 people were no shows! 
  • People showed up -- but did not bring money to pay me for the kit -- they just wanted to talk for free -- this was AFTER I'd talked to them on the phone & told them what to bring & how much cash to bring with them.  
  • People showed up -- but did as we started to talk it turned out that they did NOT have an agreement.  
  • People showed up but had already bought a kit & they wanted me to fix their on-line piece of "junk" for free -- sorry - they bought a piece of "junk" and I can't fix "junk"!
  • People wanted me to "force" their soon to be ex into an agreement -- that is not an "agreed" divorce -- I cannot "force" a person into an agreement!  (One man actually said in front of me that he would beat his wife if she would not sign the paperwork -- I had my assistant keep him busy while I had her get in her car and leave & when he threatened me I told him that I'd call the police if he did not leave & I refunded his money back to him!)
  • People wanted to me to provide "marital counseling" for them - they needed counseling not legal advice.
  • Some couples wanted me to prepare agreements that violate the TX Family Code so I refused to even do the paperwork since no judge would sign their Final Decree of Divorce.  I was trying to offer kits at reasonable rates based on the TX Family Practice Manual - not re-invent the wheel. Some people wanted a custom-made kit -- but they did not want to pay for a custom-made product!
  • A couple of people had a lot of assets & really needed to hire an attorney to draft their legal documents -- these were not "simple" divorces -- I'm talking about people with over $500,000 in assets, a QDRO needed to be drafted & even profitable businesses -- but they did not want to pay an attorney to do the necessary paperwork -- they wanted to pay $200 for a "simple" divorce when they have $1million dollar businesses, retirement, and real estate investments  -- crazy!
  • And, the opposite was true with debts.  A few couples came in with complex and totally disorganized estates that needed someone to sit down with them and try to figure out their financial mess.  My kit was a one-time meeting that was based on both parties making full and complete honest disclosure to each other.  It was not designed for people with complex legal problems -- good or bad.  People with good or bad legal problems need to sit down with an attorney and have a long discussion about their future.  My one-time limited appointment was never designed for that purpose.
  • Women had men by several different men that required complex paperwork and several child support orders and visitation orders but they did not understand that they did not have a "simple" divorce & the fathers did not want to pay child support -- they had a real legal "mess" on their hands that required each father to be served with legal paperwork.  
  • Battered women came in & needed a protective order & they did not qualify for a "simple" divorce.
  • People bought a divorce petition with children for approximately $150 -- but they never came by for the final divorce documents so I don't know if they ever divorced or if they reconciled.
  • I charged under $200 for a divorce kit with no kids, no property (except vehicles) and I included all required TX forms, Power of attorney for motor vehicles, Waiver of Service and Final Decree and I even told people where to park downtown and what to say to the judge.  I made all copies - people still could not afford to pay for that divorce kit.  

My website

I am in the process of updating my website.

I now only mediate.   My legal practice is now only 100% mediation.

I no longer litigate -- that means that I am no longer practicing family law.   I am serious -- I am not accepting new cases.

I am willing to offer a one-time consultation at $3 per minute -- but that means that I cannot mediate your case in the future.

To serve as a mediator, I must remain neutral.  I must be a clean-slate.

Old blogs never die!

In the past month I've received at least 4 phone calls from people wanting to do adult name changes.  They have seen really old blogs I've posted several years ago on adult name changes.


Please be advised that I have not handled an adult name change in over 3 years.  I'm not current on what the current Harris County Family District Court Judges policies are regarding adult name changes.

Additionally, if you file in a Harris County Civil District Court, those judges have a TOTALLY different policy regarding adult name changes.

For example, in family court you turn in the forms slowly.  In civil court, you hand in all the forms at the beginning.  I have never done an adult name change through the civil court system. I got used to the family court system and I always filed my adult name changes in the family system - those judges knew me so why not go where I'm recognized.

In summary, in the State of Texas, the Texas Legislature meets every 2 years.  They last met in 2011 and some laws changed.  Therefore, you cannot read a blog of mine written before 2011 and rely on it!

Plus, in 2011 several new people took the bench in Harris County Family District Courts.  The laws might be the same but human beings interpret the laws and each judge interprets the laws slightly differently.