Sunday, March 5, 2017

Houston Lawyer Referral Service

Have you been putting off getting help with a legal problem? If you need an attorney or think you have a legal problem, the Houston Lawyer Referral Service is here to help. We assist more than 125,000 people each year with legal matters in the Texas counties of Harris, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Montgomery.


Houston Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to one of over 200 attorneys from 38 different legal categories, including the following types of lawyers:
Every attorney on our service is screened and must meet specific requirements. Our attorneys average 17 years of experience.


Houston Lawyer Referral Service provides free referrals. Our attorneys provide an initial 30-minute office consultation for a reduced fee of $20. We also offer bilingual staff and attorneys, reduced fee attorneys for income-eligible individuals, a 24-hour attorney on call, and referrals to social service agencies.


Houston Lawyer Referral Service is certified by the State Bar of Texas under Article 320d, Revised Civil Statutes, Certificate Number 9305. We are one of only ten percent of referral programs nationwide meeting the strict standards of the American Bar Association.


Houston Lawyer Referral Service is a non-profit community service that was established in 1958. We are sponsored by the Houston Bar Association and nine other local bar associations.
To start your referral, call (713) 237-9429 or (800) 289-4577.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Am I married or divorced in Texas?

The Bureau of Vital Statistics in Austin, Texas keeps track of all family law cases.  I often have people call me to see if they are legally divorced.

1. Check the person's social security number. If the person is dead then the social security number will be inactive.  And, you don't need a divorce since you are a widow.

2.  If #1 does not work, then go to the Bureau of Vital Statistics website and search for information. With your full legal name, date of birth and social security number your info should show up. To be on the safe side, also include info on your spouse along with their date of birth and social security number (if known).  Many times, the spouse will not include your name correctly or your info correctly to make it hard to find you.

3. You can also hire a private investigator to do a search for you. This tends to be fairly expensive but perhaps it's worth it to you.

Good luck!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Texas Legislature for 2017 is very considering some new family laws

In a recent editorial, Maria Anglin argues that getting rid of the no-fault divorce law in Texas is a bad idea. 

State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, supports the idea that any couple looking to divorce should have to "live apart for three years before they can legally divorce." 

Anglin counters that for some, "staying together is a painful mistake."  

Maria Anglin, San Antonio Express News  

Published around 01/07/2017
Read Article: San Antonio Express News    

My 2 cents:
1. Before Texas had "no fault" divorce then couples would hire a p.i. to "catch" the other spouse in a compromising situation. Many were made up.

2. Domestic violence occurs in a lot of divorces. So why force a person to stay married to a "bad" person?

3. The kids can look at the final decree of divorce (files are open to the public) and learn that their parent committed adultery. In my 25 years of being a TX lawyer, I've only done it once - that was when a minister who had sex with a 16 yr. old child was trying to get a new job in another state. This guy did not need to be around teen-age girls!

4. Judges no longer require counseling to try to save a marriage. Why? Because they found it did not work. Usually by the time a person files for divorce they are DONE with the marriage and it's beyond hope.

5. It's going to cost people more to divorce. Divorce in Harris County can run thousands of dollars. Why encourage higher legal fees that the average person cannot afford?

Texas Supreme Court to hear same sex benefits case.

The Texas Supreme Court is to reconsider same-sex benefits across the state. 

The all-Republican state high court has agreed to hear reconsider a Houston case challenging the city’s benefits policy for married same-sex couples. 

In October, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an appeal asking the Supreme Court to reconsider the same-sex benefits case.

Opponents of same-sex benefits may say that gay people have a fundamental right to marry but no right to equal benefits. 

So stay tuned...

Alex Ura, Ft. Worth Star Telegram  
Published around 01/20/2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

3 truths about mediation from


3 Simple Truths about Mediation

Mediation is a process that has led to the successful resolution of a number of different types of cases, including partner disputes, divorce cases, custody issues, intellectual property claims, personal injury cases, multi-jurisdictional tort issues and even some criminal cases.

1. Mediation Can Benefit Both Parties

When mediation is handled properly, it can be an excellent process. Mediation is confidential, so even if the parties do not reach a settlement, they cannot disclose what was said in court. It is also a non-adversarial approach to legal problems in which the participants cooperate to resolve their legal dispute on their own terms. This allows mediation to resolve many disputes faster, cheaper and more amicably than litigation.

2. Mediation Takes Some Time

Participants cannot be in a hurry. The legal issues involved in mediation are often complex with the potential to impact lives for a long time to come. It takes time for the mediator to determine the interests of the parties and to work out potential solutions to these issues. The parties must be prepared to negotiate in an ongoing manner.

3. Not All Attorneys Support Mediation

Not all attorneys support the role of mediation. A seasoned litigator may rely on his or her own skills to try to get the outcome the client wants and may find little need for a mediator. However, mediation can often help both parties achieve positive results and develop solutions that litigation could not provide. Talk to your attorney early in the process to see if he or she supports mediation.

For info on mediation I'd look at the following websites:
Texas Association of Mediators
Texas Mediator Credentialing Association
Association of Attorney-Mediators
Academy of Professional Family Mediators
Association of Conflict Resolution - Houston Chapter
Association of Family & Conciliation Courts 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Wills and other estate planning documents

Please, please, please... talk to an attorney about a will and other documents that you might need.

Everyone needs a HIPAA release due to the recent changes in the laws that can find doctors thousands of dollars.  Even if married, you need a HIPAA release for your spouse to talk to the doctor.

I also recommend that you think about
1. Who you would (or would not) want to be your guardian if you ever need one
2. Who you want to handle your funeral arrangements
3. Do you want to donate your body to science or leave the option open for body party to be donated
4. Who do you want to make medical decisions if you are unable to talk or communicate
5. Do you (or don't you) want to be put on life support if your death becomes inevitable
6. If you have children, who would you like to be your children's guardian (or not be appointed a guardian)
7. Who do you want to handle your financial affairs if you become unable to do so

I know we don't like to think about it but we are all getting older each day and none of us are getting out of death.  At least, I've never met anyone.

You can save money and family feuds if you designate people to take care of your affairs.

And please don't wait until you are mentally unable to sign legal documents.

Do it now when there is no rush and you have time to think about it.

I encourage people to review their financial affairs and where they are in their life every 5 years.

I had someone listed that moved across the country so I had to revise my documents since he was no longer around to help me.

Going to court and talking to a clerk

A friend just told me that she went to court and got legal advice. I asked who she talked to at the courthouse.  She said a clerk at the window.

Please be advised that the clerk at the window might only have a high school decree.  These people are usually not attorneys.  And, they are not supposed to give legal advise.

In my friend's case, since she did not consult with a real attorney it's going to cost her family a lot of money to fix her problem.

Statutory Rape

All men over 18, beware if you "date" or "talk" to any female under the age of 17.

A child under the age of 17, cannot consent to sex.

Even if they parents given you written permission, it's not enough.

If you are more than 2 years older then the girl then the "Romeo defense" flies out the window.

If in doubt, consult with a criminal attorney.

If you are convicted of sex with a minor then you end up a registered sex offender.

Your future employability will be greatly impacted.

Even if she says she is 17, 18, or 19 -- verify -- don't trust her.  Even if she says she's old enough that is not good enough if you are arrested.

Am I emancipated if I'm pregnant and under 18.

The short answer is No.

You are merely a child having a child.

If you want to emancipate (in Texas we call this "removal of disabilities") then you need to see a judge.

Having a baby does not magically make you an adult.