Saturday, November 18, 2017

If you don't have a will & other documents in Texas - PLEASE do it now!

Please consider doing the following estate planning documents in 2018. A will is not enough.
You need these docs especially if you are single.
And, probate in Texas is fairly quick and easy if you have a good will. You need an indpendent executor to serve without a bond.
So PLEASE do them now!
1.      Revocation of Previous Powers of Attorneys
2.      HIPAA Authorization to medical providers
3.      Medical Power of Attorney
4.      Directive to Physicians & Family
5.      Declaration of Guardian In the Event of later Incapacity
6.      Statutory Durable Power of Attorney (financial affairs)
7.      Gift by a Living Donor
8.      Appointment for Disposition of Remains
9.      Will

Happy Thanksgiving!

Another year is rapidly coming to an end.

My Dad used to say that the older you get the quicker the years fly by.

So I want to wish everyone a wonderful and joyous Thanksgiving.
Be safe and savor the time you spend with friends, family and even strangers.

If you are reading my blog post, I want to wish you a very happy and healthy 2018 with a year filled with joy, laughter, abundance, fulfillment, peace and ease.

Huffington Post article written by jackie Pilossoph on Divorce

The One Thing That Will Give You Peace After Divorce

11/12/2017 09:26 am ET
Ask someone why he or she got divorced, and typically you’ll get one of these kinds of answers:
  1. My husband left me.
  2. My wife cheated.
  3. My husband’s an asshole.
  4. My wife’s a bitch.
  5. We grew apart.
  6. We were really unhappy.
  7. We never loved each other.
  8. How long do you have?
While I’m not judging anyone for what he or she wants to say or remember in their mind about why they ended up divorced, I think there are some divorced people who have an edge– they have something that helps them find peace and the strength to live a beautiful and authentic life moving forward. That edge is self-awareness.
These people have a gift of being able to look within, realize that divorce is never black and white, and take some accountability for their contribution to the demise of their marriage. And I believe that having the ability to admit some fault is the difference between not only moving on, but having better romantic relationships in the future.
Divorce is a journey. A long one. It’s brutally painful at times, a struggle that often feels hopeless, and includes a roller coaster of emotions, along with lots of mistakes. But, there are some surprisingly amazing parts of the journey. There are moments of sheer joy, inner strength and courage you never knew you had. It’s empowering and you are almost grateful–not that you got divorced, but that you had the privilege of this journey, no matter how painful it is at times.
Part of the journey is self-reflection, looking back and remembering the truth of what the marriage was really like. Some people, to self-protect, only remember this blissful marriage that they thought was perfect. They fail to recall little, subtle things that should have been red flags or signs that the marriage was troubled. Perhaps they turned a blind eye to things because they didn’t want to be divorced.
Others decide their ex is the devil and he or she was 100% to blame. This is easy to do if their spouse was the one who wanted the divorce and /or left for someone else. I’m not saying that someone who had an affair and ended a marriage over it should be vindicated. Having an affair is a horribly selfish, hurtful and cowardly thing to do, in my opinion. But the cheatee isn’t perfect either. And so if that person is willing to face up to that, I think they are better off.
Of the tens of thousands of comments and questions I have received to Divorced Girl Smiling over the years, this reader’s might be one of the most inspiring:
Divorce sucks. I did a lot of the wrong things in my marriage and don’t blame her for leaving. I own it. I do wish however she stayed to see my transformation and give us another chance. I hate that we can’t be together as a family with the kids. I hate some other male figure will be in my kids lives. But I did it and own it. At least I am becoming a better person as a result  #getcleanandsober
Whoever this guy is, I want to give him a huge hug and tell him how extremely amazing I think he is.
“I don’t blame her for leaving.”
“I own it.”
“I did it.”
“I am becoming a better person as a result.”
These are statements that only winners–with self-awareness would make. This guy is remorseful, but takes true accountability for his actions. Because of this, he has a better chance of finding inner peace and leading a happier, more fulfilling life, which includes better future romantic relationships.
His hash tag at the end: #getcleanandsober speaks volumes. I’m not sure if this guy realizes how special he is. Countless men and women with addiction issues don’t have the self-awareness needed to overcome the addiction, in my opinion, even after a divorce. This is a real man who has guts and I respect him unbelievably.
Self-awareness is defined as “knowing self well,” but put in the context of divorce, I think it means having the courage to look in the mirror and say, “Hey, a lot of this (or all or some or a little bit of this) was my fault.”
Another time I heard someone take accountability for his divorce was a few years ago when I was sitting at a Bears game and I met this guy sitting behind me. I’ll never forget. He said,
“I really didn’t treat my ex-wife like I should have. I loved her so much and I did some really stupid things that I truly regret now. I tried very hard to get her back but couldn’t and I have to live with that now.”
Isn’t that more refreshing and honest than someone who plays the victim and takes NO RESPONSIBILITY for anything that went wrong?? It’s maddening how some people just can’t see anything. It’s like they are blind.
The bottom line is, I think to find peace, acceptance and happiness in life after divorce—and to really move on, a person must have self-awareness. Without it, the future will never be as bright.
Self-awareness is the first step to making changes in your life to be the person you really want to be. No one is perfect, but I think we would all agree that each of us strives to continue to grow and evolve into a person we like more and more with each day.
No one can teach a person how to obtain self-awareness. It has to come from within. Faith, therapy, and leaning on friends and family help, but when it comes down to it, self-awareness is about opening your mind. It’s about remember things as they really happened–not what is convenient, or what you wish would have happened.
The journey of divorce never really ends, but rather it is melted into the journey of life. Those equipped with self-awareness will not only have a better journey, but will be able to live each day moving forward with grace, courage, strength, possibly with regret (which is OK), but absolutely with authenticity.
Jackie Pilossoph is the creator of her website, Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of her novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationship column, Love Essentially, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press. Pilossoph lives with her family in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.

This post is hosted on the Huffington Post's Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and post freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Some of the new Texas laws for 2017

The Texas Legislature met this year and, as usual, many new laws are going into effect.

Here are just a few that involve family law or stalking.

1. There is a new revenge porn law now in effect.

2. The Penal Code for harassment now includes phone calls and electronic communications.

Look at Penal Code Section 42.07(a) and 47.072

3. Code of Criminal Procedure now includes stalking provisions that include that no prior relationship is needed and it can last a lifetime for the parties

4. Penal Code 37.09 has been revised to include evidence tampering that includes social media and creating fake evidence or destroying digitized evidence

5. The issues brought up in the Stephanie Lee case are being addressed in the Texas Family Code 153.0071 - family violence as well as impaired party's ability to reason and not in the child's best interest

If in doubt, talk to a Texas attorney that specializes in the area of the law that you have concerns or questions about regarding the new laws.

If you want a law changed, NOW is the time to begin working on it.
You need to contact your local Texas legislature representatives and begin working on the wording that you want for your change to a law or implementation of a new law.

The Texas Legislature meets again in 2019 and if you wait until 2019 it's probably too late.

To pass a law in Texas, you need to talk to your Texas representative, explain why the law is needed, get signatures supporting the law that you want added and/or changed, have people email their TX representatives voicing their desire to a change in Texas law and you need to be in Austin when the legislature meets in 2019 to talk to the reps. in person. It's a lot of work.

Can I have sex with my 16 year old girl friend?

In Texas, the short answer is no.

A girl cannot consent to sex until she is 17.

Even if her parents agree and she's under 17 - they can change their minds and go to the police. You could be charged by the District Attorney's office for a sex crime and end up a registered sex offender for the rest of your life.

There is a "romeo and juliet" law in Texas but basically that is limited to when 2 teen-agers are within 1-1/2 years apart in age.

So if in doubt, walk way.

How can I make a woman in Texas have an abortion?

The short quick answer is that you cannot force a woman to have an abortion in Texas.

In fact, courts have held that a minor female cannot be forced to have an abortion by her parents.

So if you "hook up" with a woman and she gets pregnant be prepared to pay child support until the child graduates from high school and/or turns 18 whichever is LATER.

It will be approximately 20% of all your net resources (not just your income but any other money you make through a second job, investments, rental income, etc.)

Plus, you have to carry the child on health insurance.

And if the child is permanently disabled past the age of 18 then child support continues for the entire child's life.

In summary, if you choose to have sex with a woman then be prepared to pay for it for years to come.

You don't have to be involved in the child's life but you have to pay if you are found to be the bio. dad.

If a woman or TX A G comes after you for child support and you ignore the notice you lose your opportunity to ask for DNA testing.

As a recent Texas court has shown on the internet and on t.v., ignoring a court summons can be costly. In this case, a man (not bio dad) was ordered to pay child support by a court. He ignored the court summons and now he owes thousands for a child that IS NOT HIS! Texas law does not adequately address this issue so until the TX Legislature makes a law on this matter, this guy is probably stuck owing thousands of dollars.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Interim Attorney Fees in Divorce with NO Children by Michelle O'Neil

I keep re-posting Michelle O'Neil's blog pots because they are just so good...

Interim attorneys fees in divorce with no children

I get questions pretty frequently from other lawyers that I mentor about how to request and get interim attorneys fees while a divorce is pending when there’s no kids. 
(The standard for awarding interim attorneys fees in a divorce with kids is different and not the subject of this post.)
Obviously, the first, best way for a lawyer to get paid for representing a client in this circumstance is to get paid upfront, by retainer. Sometimes a client does not have access to the accounts from which to pay the lawyer, so the lawyer must see fees to be paid from the community estate ordered by the Court. Any request for interim fees can only be considered under Texas Family Code section 6.502(4).
An court-ordered award of interim attorney’s fees must:
  • Be based on the needs of the applicant weighed against the ability of the community estate or the other party to pay. Herschberg v. Herschberg, 994 S.W.2d 273, 279 (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi 1999, pet. denied).
  • May not be enforced by contempt – but only as a debt. In re Bielefeld, 143 S.W.3d 924, 930 (Tex. App. – Fort Worth 2004, orig. proceeding).
  • May not make the opposing party destitute in order to pay fees. Herschberg at 279.
  • Cannot be used to make an interim division of the property or to equalize one party to the other pending final division. Herschberg at 278.
  • Cannot be used “to level the playing field” — that is an abuse of discretion. Saxton v. Daggett, 864 S.W.2d 729, 736 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st] 1994, orig. proceeding).
  • Past due attorney’s fees incurred during the litigation are in the nature of a debt and cannot be addressed via interim orders. Saxton at 736.
  • Must be based on evidence showing the reasonableness and necessity of the fees to be incurred. In re Sartain, 2008 WL 920664 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist] 2008, no pet).
Of course, if the parties agree to pay attorneys fees in some manner, that agreement is enforceable. That is not what I am talking about in this post. Here, I’m addressing when and how a court may imposed an attorney fee award by contested order.
Many lawyers and judges I see are surprised that “equalization” is not a proper standard for awarding attorneys fees. This point cannot be emphasized too much! Equalization is never the right standard! If you think about it, this makes sense. One party may have more knowledge of the marital estate or better access to documents. So, that party’s fees may be naturally less, where the other side has to spend more time to gather information that is not at that spouse’s disposal.
The remedy for an improper interim attorneys fee award in mandamus.

New Texas law bans child marriages as of September 1, 2017

New Texas law bans child marriages (yes, you read that right!) effective September 1, 2017

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill eliminating a loophole allowing child marriage. 
The new law prohibits people under the age of 18 years from getting married unless they are emancipated minors. 
Minors are allowed to emancipate from their parents at the age of 16, so the youngest age a person may marry in Texas under any circumstance is now 16. 
The prior law permitted one parent to overrule another parent to allow a 16 year old to marry, and a parent could consent to the marriage of a child of any age with the approval of a judge without regard to whether the child was being subject of abuse or coercion.
According to a Pew Research Center report, Texas has the second-highest rate of child marriage, with 7 out of every 1000 minors aged 15-17 were married in 2014. The national average is 5/1000. Between 2000 and 2014 almost 40,000 minors got married in Texas.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Amicus Attorneys in Harris county custody cases

There are many, many fine attorneys that do amicus work in Harris county.

Here is a partial list of attorneys that will represent children in custody cases.

If someone's name does not appear - it does not mean that they are not good at what they do.

Prices vary according to their experience and years of practice.

A partial list of Amicus Attorneys in the Houston area:

Jetty Abraham

Damiane Banieh

Phyanka Bhandari

Rogers Boudreaux

Julie Brock

Allyson Brupbacher

Patricia Bushmna

Claudia Canalas

Rose Cardenas

Robert Clark

George Clevenger

Jennifer Davis

Laura Arteaga Francis

Karleana Farias

Leo Farias

Kelly Fritsch

Kathy Gardner

Angelina Gooden

Daniel Gray

Alex Hunt

Janet Heppard

Ashley Indelicato

Farrah Kamal

Michele Fulton Kilgore

Megan Kitutis Keimig

Delona Tucker Laxton

Angela Landa

Maria Lowry

Eric McFerren

Alice O'Neil

Georgann Oslesby

Elizabeth Pagel

Dara Percely

Stephanie Proffitt

Holli Palmer

Rocky Lee Pilgrim

Marsha Reed

Dawn Rankin

Alemia Rodriguez

Barbara Rice Stalder

Itze Navarro Soliz

Dennis Slate

Geric Tipsworth

Terisa Taylor

Hillary Unger