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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sites to locate missing people

Here are just a few of the websites I use to try to find people that are missing:

Hint: Avoid sites that charge $30-$35 for one search. Most are out-of-date. - around $40/year

District Clerk of the county you want - search criminal and civil cases

Real property records of the county you want

County Clerk for the county you want - Marriage records

The county jail for the county you want - lists inmates

The State of Texas inmate search website

The federal inmate search website

I. C. E.

The Bureau of Vital Statistics in Austin (keeps track of all divorces and other civil legal matters)

If you have Social Security Number see if it's still active or "deactivated" due to death.

Search "obituaries"

Monday, July 3, 2017

Harris County CPS attorneys

Here is a partial list of attorneys that say they do CPS cases.  I know most of them. I would call any of them for a consultation if I had a CPS case.

Remember - if CPS contacts you, IMMEDIATELY hire a CPS attorney to help and guide you on this difficult and tricky process.

Bobbie Young

Rocky LeAnn Pilgrim

Dennis Slate

George Clevenger

Julie Brock

Jetty Abraham

Eric McFerrin

Les Shireman

Beth Arnold Trostad

Barbara Rice Stadler

Hillary Unger

Allette Williams

Thao Tran

Gigi Oglesby

Susan Solis

Or check out - best FREE website to locate attorneys in your area.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Consult with an attorney BEFORE you do anything!

BEFORE you do anything, please call a lawyer. Pay for an hour of the professional's time. It's so much easier to nip issues in the bud instead of letting an issue grow until it's overwhelming and very expensive to fix.

Many people call me or post on questions about what they should do.

Over 95% of the time my answer is "consult with an attorney about the facts of your particular case".

I especially encourage people not from Texas or unmarried people to consult with an attorney BEFORE moving in or getting pregnant. Many people are under totally false impressions about the law.

You can actually save a lot of heart-ache and money by learning the law BEFORE making life altering decisions.