Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2 Harris County Military Attorneys

Dennis Slate
Very experienced in military benefits

James Gutheinz
He is an Army Captain

Monday, February 23, 2015

What the term "certified" mediator means in Texas

A person that advertises that they are a "certified" mediator in the State of Texas means that they have completed the basic 40 hour mediation training. As far as I can determine, and I've asked many people to answer this question for me, apparently it means nothing in the State of Texas.

Technically when I completed my basic training in 2004 I was a "certified" mediator.

Since my basic training I have taken advanced training every year - in both family law and in mediation.

For example, in the past year I have completed approximately 100 hours of State of Texas continuing legal education in family law, mediation training and mediation teaching.

The only group in Texas that offers any sort of credentialing is the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association.  I have been a credentialed mediator since 2008.  In 2012, I became a credentialed advanced mediator.  In 2015, I became a distinguished credentialed mediator.

There is no licensing of mediators in the State of Texas.  The TMCA is the only organization that offers any sort of "title" for a mediator.

I would be wary of anyone claiming to be a "certified" mediator.  Ask them what makes them a "certified" mediator.  Ask them if they are credentialed by the TMCA -- very few mediators are able to qualify and maintain their membership in this organization. Ask them how many hours they have in mediation training.

Quite frankly, I've lost count of all my mediation training hours. I did quick calculation and it is easily over 250 hours just in mediation training. This does not include the hours I've spent training new mediators or the hours I've spend in family law continuing legal education.

Association for Conflict Resolution - Houston Chapter

I was voted President Elect of the Houston Chapter of Association of Conflict Resolution at their annual meeting held in January, 2015.

I have served on this board for the past several years.

I look forward to working with this volunteer board to advance the field of alternative dispute resolution in the Houston area.

Texas Association of Mediators

I was elected to the board of TAM - Texas Association of Mediators at their annual meeting on February 21, 2015.

I am one of 3 mediators in the Houston area to serve on this volunteer board.

I look forward to serving on this board.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Who gets engagement ring when couple breaks up?

I can't marry you! – who gets the ring if the engagement is called off?


Can the person who gives an engagement ring get it back if the wedding gets canceled?
For better or worse, some engaged couples start saying "I don't" well before they make it to an altar. This raises a very practical question: Who gets to keep the engagement ring if the wedding is called off? The answer depends on the specific facts of each case, with a particular focus on who is "at fault" for calling off the engagement.
Texas law applies the conditional-gift rule, which means that an engagement ring, by its very nature, is a conditional gift given in contemplation of marriage. The conditional gift rule as applied by Texas courts contains an element of fault. This means that Texas courts will look to which person is at fault for breaking the engagement.
From a practical standpoint, what all this means is that if a women accepts an engagement ring and sometime thereafter breaks the engagement for no justifying reason, the law requires her to return the ring to her former fiancé. In a recent opinion from the Austin Court of Appeals, this rule was also applied to a man. In that case, a man who became engaged and then called off the wedding because of the wife's "sexual hang ups" and "issues with men" was deemed to be at fault, and the woman was allowed to keep the engagement ring.
Keep in mind that the law addressing return of engagement rings varies greatly on a state-by-state basis. For example, many states do not consider "fault," reasoning that it's virtually impossible for a court to determine whether a particular breakup is justified and declining to penalize a person for ending a doomed relationship. Nevertheless, the law in Texas is clear – the person at fault for the canceled engagement can lose their rights to the engagement ring.

Be advised that judges do not like these type of cases.  The cost of litigation will probably exceed the value of the ring.  Plus, most courts will order you to mediation to resolve this case.  Fran

Engagement Ring appellate case


NO. 03-02-00302-CV

Michael Curtis, Appellant
Michele Anderson, Appellee



This is an appeal from a summary judgment in a suit brought by appellant Michael Curtis to recover a diamond ring from appellee Michele Anderson after Curtis terminated the couple's engagement.

Curtis sued for breach of an oral agreement and conversion, and the trial court granted Anderson a summary judgment. Curtis appeals arguing that Anderson was not entitled to summary judgment because the ring was a conditional gift, and Anderson's possession of the ring became an unlawful conversion when Anderson refused to return the ring.

We will affirm the judgment of the trial court.

To read the entire opinion - google the above information & read it for yourself.

Monday, February 16, 2015

CPS Attorneys in the Houston area - partial list

Here are the names of some attorneys 
that I have worked with on CPS cases.

Bobbie Young, RN and Attorney

Barbara Ramirez


Rose Cardenas


Claudia Canales


Jontae Chatman


Katrina Griffith


Eric McFerren


Rogers J. Boudreaux, Jr.


Leonel "Leo" Farias


Julie Rosemary Brock-Clure


Stephanie Proffitt


Patricia Bushman
I think she's raised her usual deposit rate to $3,000
effective 8/15/2014.  Her first appointment is free.

Or, look on under "CPS attorney" and your county.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE immediately hire an attorney if CPS contacts you.  Do not wait! It is never a good idea to try to "negotiate" with CPS without an experienced attorney standing next to you!

Texas estate planning website

The best website for estate planning is...


The best free website for all sorts of forms that you might need is

They cover name changes, divorce (with and without children), powers of attorney...all sorts of forms.

Please don't waste your time and money on forms that you have to pay for online or from an office supply store.

Sample Consent letter for minor children to travel outside of the US

Before using this form, check with the public carrier and the embassies of the countries into or through which the child or children will travel to determine if the carrier or the country requires a specific form or other information for a valid consent. 

Many carriers will not allow a child to travel without a notarized permission letter from the other parent.  Many carriers require that the form be their approved form.  

Be sure to make sure that everything is done prior to travel dates.

For information regarding this issue from the Department of State, see

                     Consent for Child[ren] to Travel 
                           Outside the United States


To Whom It May Concern:

Re: Consent for Child[ren] to Travel Outside the United States of America

I,___________________________, am the [mother/father/managing conservator] of the following children:


I give my consent and permission for [this/these] child[ren] to travel outside the United States of America with ____________________________________[name of adult traveling with child[ren]], who is the child[ren]’s ___________________________ [describe relationship], during the period and to the locations stated in this consent. 

The child[ren] [is/are] scheduled to depart on or about _______________ [date] for ________________ [location of first intended destination]. [If applicable, include interim locations and dates of travel.

The child[ren] [is/are] scheduled to arrive back in the United States of America on or about  ____________________ [date].

[Name of conservator or parent]
__________________ typed name
__________________ full address
__________, TX ____
__________________ phone number
__________________ email 

State of Texas                                )
County of  _____________            )

This instrument was acknowledged before me on __________________________, 20__ by _____________________________[name of conservator or parent].

 Notary Public, State of Texas

Fran Brochstein's Resume



Bar Admissions

2009                 Admitted to the U. S. Supreme Court
1991                 Admitted to State Bar of Texas


1990                 J. D., South Texas College of Law
1990                 Summer Internship with the 247th Harris County Family Court
1989                 Tulane Law School summer school in Jerusalem, Israel
1976                 B. S., University of Houston in Business Technology
1972-74            Attended University of Texas in Austin
1972                 Graduated from Bellaire High School


Additional Mediation, Collaborative Law & Ad Litem/Amicus Training

2014                 AVDA Pro Bono Legal Training  - Service by Publication

2013                 Parenting Coordinator Training

2012                 Arbitration Training & Domestic Violence in Mediation Training

2011                 Elder and Adult Care Family Law Mediation Training & CPS Mediation Training

2009                 Amicus/Ad Litem Training & Thought Resolution Protocol Mediation Training

2007                 Advanced Mediation Training & Transformative Mediation Training

2005                 Family Law Mediation Training – DRC & Amicus Attorney Training                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
2004                 Basic Mediation Training – DRC

2003                 Advanced Collaborative Law Training

2001                 Basic Collaborative Law Training

2000                 Ad Litem Practice in Family Law Courts


Current Professional Affiliations

State Bar of Texas & Houston Bar Association

Member of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) & Family Law Sections

College of the State Bar of Texas

Houston Bar Foundation – Life Fellow           

Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) – Houston Chapter & the National Organization

Association of Attorney-Mediators (AAM)

Texas Association of Mediators (TAM)

Texas Mediator Roundtable

Texas Mediator Credentialing Association (TMCA) – Credentialed Mediator since 11/2008 and now an Credentialed Advanced Mediator since 11/2012

Current Board Positions:

Association for Conflict Resolution – Houston

Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity – Houston Alumni


Honors & Awards

2013 & 2014     Named one of the best family law attorneys in Houston by Houstonia Magazine

2005-2014        Volunteer at the Harris County Dispute Resolution Center & Houston Volunteer Lawyers

2008-2011        Equal Access Champion – from the HBA, Houston Bar Foundation & HVLP

2008                 Outstanding President of Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity - Houston Alumni Senate

2002                 Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Pro Bono Work  - Houston Volunteer Lawyers

1992                 AIDS Advocate Award from the Bar Association for Human Rights

1989                 Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity – Outstanding Member at S. TX. College of Law

1989 & 1990     Who’s Who Among Law School Students

1990                 STCL Student Bar Award for Outstanding Service

1989                 STCL – Dean’s list – Spring Semester


Trainer on Mediation

Harris County Dispute Resolution Center – Family Law Mediation Training

Manousso Mediation & Alternative Dispute Resolution Training


Former Non-Profit Board Positions:

National President - Phi Gamma Nu Business Fraternity, 2007 and 2008
President - Houston Alumni of Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, 2006 and 2007
Board member - Steven’s House, 1995 – 2003
Board member - International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers, 2004-2008
President – American Business Women’s Association – Galleria Chapter, 1983
Board member – Houston Blood-donor Volunteers, 1979 & 1980




PARENTS -- The moment your child turns 18 their medical providers will not talk to you -- you need the following HIPAA Release in order to have access to their medical providers OR ask their medical care provider to provide a form for the 18 yr. old to sign.

If your child is headed to college, you definitely need to have your child sign this document or a similar document to have access to their records in case of an emergency.

(This happened to my child -- she almost died her second year of college -- she was in another city & thankfully I had this form so that I could talk to her medical care providers while she was too ill to speak.)

I encourage every parent to have their adult children execute this information so that they can continue to communicate with their medical providers. 

 Be aware that the 18 year old can revoke this permission at any time.  


            I, __________________________, intend for any agent named in this release to be treated as I would be treated with respect to my rights regarding the use and disclosure of my individually identifiable health information and other medical records.  

          This release authority applies to any information governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"), 42 U.S.C. 1320d and 45 C.F.R. 160-164.

            I authorize the disclosure of any information governed by HIPAA to be provided to the following:  __________________________________.

(include full legal name, relationship, address, phone number & email address)

            Accordingly, I hereby authorize any physician, health-care professional, dentist, health plan, hospital, clinic, laboratory, pharmacy or other covered health-care provider, any insurance company and the Medical Information Bureau Inc. or other health-care clearinghouse that has provided treatment or services to me, or that has paid for or is seeking payment from me for such services, to give, disclose and release to any agent who is named herein and who is currently serving as such, without restriction, all of my individually identifiable health information and medical records regarding any past, present or future medical or mental health condition, including all information relating to the diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, and drug or alcohol abuse.

            This authority given to any named agent shall supersede any prior agreement that I may have made with my health-care providers to restrict access to or disclosure of my individually identifiable health information.  

         The individually identifiable health information and other medical records given, disclosed, or released to any named agent may be subject to redisclosure by a named agent and may no longer be protected by HIPAA.  

            The authority given to any named agent herein has no expiration date and shall expire only in the event that I revoke this HIPAA Release in writing and deliver it to my health-care provider.  

                There are no exceptions to my right to revoke this HIPAA Release.

                                                                                  PRINTED NAME & THEN SIGNATURE 

       SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO BEFORE ME by the said _____________________, Principal, this               day of                             , 20___.

                                                                         Notary Public, State of TEXAS

4 San Antonio Attorneys that I have met & can recommend

Jane Freeman Deyeso
3107 Broadway
San Antonio, TX 78209

Carmen Rojo
1610 Broadway
San Antonio, TX 78213

Clint Lawson
7555 E. Mulberry Suite 200
San Antonio, TX 78212

All 3 are board certified in Family Law

I don't know this attorney personally but she promotes "non-litigation" divorces.
If you want to avoid litigation and attempt to resolve your case in a "peaceable" manner then I highly recommend that you contact her:

Hilary A. Bell
Attorney and Family Law Mediator
Wevorce Associate
The Historic Milam Building
115 E. Travis Street Ste.742
San Antonio, TX 78205
Phone:  (210) 892-8532
Fax:  (210) 802-4595

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


                                              Release of information
                                          AUTHORIZATION FORM

I, ____________________________________hereby authorize _______________________ and its affiliates, its employees and agents (collectively ________________________), to release to _______________________________
[Insert full name of person/organization]

my personal health information maintained by ___________________ (e.g., information relating to the diagnosis, treatment, claims payment, and health care services provided or to be provided to me and which identifies my name, address, social security number, Member ID number) except the following information about me:


[DESCRIBE INFORMATION NOT TO BE DISCLOSED, IF ANY] for the purpose of helping me to resolve claims and health benefit coverage issues. I understand that any personal health information or other information released to the person or organization identified above may be subject to re-disclosure by such person/organization and may no longer be protected by applicable federal and state privacy laws. This authorization is valid from the date of my/my representative’s signature below and shall expire the earlier of __________________________ [INSERT DATE/EVENT UPON WHICH THIS AUTHORIZATION EXPIRES] or the date my coverage ends with _________________. I understand that I have a right to revoke this authorization by providing written notice to _______________________. However, this authorization may not be revoked if _______________________, it’s employees or agents have taken action on this authorization prior to receiving my written notice. I also understand that I have a right to have a copy of this authorization. I further understand that this authorization is voluntary and that I may refuse to sign this authorization. My refusal to sign will not affect my eligibility for benefits or enrollment or payment for or coverage of services.

Name of Member:
Signature of Member: _______________________________________

 If applicable, Legal Representatives sign below: By signing this form, I represent that I am the legal representative of the Member identified above and will provide written proof (e.g., Power of Attorney, living will, guardianship papers, etc.) that I am legally authorized to act on the Member’s behalf with respect to this authorization form.

Name of Legal Representative: ____________________________________
Signature of Legal Representative: _________________________________
Date: _________________________________

Name of Witness: ________________________________________

Signature of Witness: ____________________________________


A separate authorization agreement should be prepared for each child. 

This will not work if CPS have placed the child with someone.  You need to hire a family law attorney with CPS cases if CPS is involved in your case.  Look on for a "CPS attorney" or look on this blog for my post on Harris County CPS attorneys that I know.

This form can be revoked by the parent at any time but if you have allowed the person to have the child in the home over 6 months -- then they then have legal standing to file a lawsuit against you and ask for permanent custody of the child.  Then no policing agency (sheriff, constable or police) will remove the child from the non-parent's custody if a lawsuit is pending.  

If you sign this, it means that you are voluntarily surrendering your child to a non-parent. This form can be used against you at a later date in order to ask a judge to ask for permanent custody of the child.  

I do not recommend using this form unless you talk to a family law attorney in person to understand what problems could arise in the future.


This is not a court ordered legally binding document -- a court order must be signed by a Judge in order for it to be legally binding AND enforceable in the future on all parties.

This expires the moment the child turn 18 and becomes an adult in the State of Texas.

If you have a terminal illness, then going to court and asking the judge to order another conservator is a good idea.  It is rarely done but the judges but I have done several when one parent was terminally ill and the other parent was absent.  It involves some creative lawyering and I recommend that you hire an experienced family law attorney to guide you.
The other parent must be served. If you don't know where they are then it would be a publication lawsuit which is more costly and takes a lot longer.  But it might be a way of solving your problem.  

                              Authorization Agreement for Nonparent Relative

The parties to this authorization agreement are—

Name of parent:
[Telephone number/Best way to contact]:

If the other parent is participating add:

Name of parent:
[Telephone number/Best way to contact]:

Name of relative:
Relationship to child: [grandparent/adult sibling/adult aunt/adult uncle]
[Telephone number/Best way to contact]:

If more than one person will be given rights then add -- 

Name of relative:
Relationship to child: [grandparent/adult sibling/adult aunt/adult uncle]
[Telephone number/Best way to contact]:


The other parent of the child [is deceased/has had [his/her] parental rights terminated].


The other parent of the child is not a party to this authorization agreement. 

The following information is known about the other parent:
[Telephone number/Best way to contact]:

The child who is the subject of this authorization agreement is—
Date of birth:
Last three numbers of Social Security number:
Location of Birth:

The parent[s] authorize[s] the relative to perform the following acts in regard to the child:
(select what the non-parent is allowed to do) 

1.         to authorize medical, dental, psychological, or surgical treatment and immunization of the child, including executing any consents or authorizations for the release of information as required by law relating to the treatment or immunization.  AND/OR

2.         to obtain and maintain health insurance coverage for the child and automobile insurance coverage for the child, if appropriate; AND/OR

3.         to enroll the child in a day-care program or preschool or in a public or private primary or secondary school; AND/OR

4.         to authorize the child to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, civic, social, or recreational activities, including athletic activities; AND/OR

5.         to authorize the child to obtain a learner’s permit, driver’s license, or state-issued identification card; AND/OR 

6.         to authorize employment of the child; AND/OR

7.         to apply for and receive public benefits on behalf of the child.

The relative has been given authorization to perform the functions listed above as a result of a voluntary action of the parent[s], and the relative has voluntarily assumed the responsibility of performing those functions.

Neither the parent[s] nor the relative has knowledge that a parent, guardian, custodian, licensed child-placing agency, or other authorized agency asserts any claim or authority inconsistent with this authorization agreement with regard to actual physical possession or care, custody, or control of the child.


To the best of the [parent’s/parents’] and the relative’s knowledge, there is no court order or pending suit affecting the parent-child relationship concerning the child; there is no pending litigation in any court concerning custody, possession, or placement of the child or access to or visitation with the child; and the court does not have continuing jurisdiction concerning the child.


The court with continuing jurisdiction concerning the child is the [number] Court of [county] County, Texas. In cause number [number in which order was issued or litigation is pending], that court has given written approval for the execution of this authorization agreement.


To the best of the [parent’s/parents’] and the relative’s knowledge, there is no current, valid authorization agreement regarding the child.

This authorization is made in conformance with chapter 34 of the Texas Family Code.

The parent[s] and the relative understand that each party to this authorization agreement is required by law to immediately provide to each other party information regarding any change in the party’s address or contact information.

The parent[s] state[s] that this authorization agreement—

expires on the occurrence of the following circumstances: [specify] [.]
is valid until revoked[.]
expires on [date] [.]

and continues in effect after the death or during the incapacity of the parent[s].

Warnings and Disclosures

The parties to this authorization agreement acknowledge—

1.         that this authorization agreement is an important legal document;

2.         that the parent[s] and the relative must read all of the warnings and disclosures before signing this authorization agreement;

3.         that the persons signing this authorization agreement are not required to consult an attorney but are advised to do so;

4.         that the parent’s rights as a parent may be adversely affected by placing or leaving the parent’s child with another person;

5.         that this authorization agreement does not confer on the relative the rights of a managing or possessory conservator or legal guardian;

6.         that a parent who is a party to this authorization agreement may terminate the authorization agreement and resume custody, possession, care, and control of the child on demand and that at any time the parent may request the return of the child;

7.         that failure by the relative to return the child to the parent immediately on request may have criminal and civil consequences;

8.         that, under other applicable law, the relative may be liable for certain expenses relating to the child in the relative’s care but that the parent still retains the parental obligation to support the child;

9.         that, in certain circumstances, this authorization agreement may not be entered into without written permission of the court;

10.       that this authorization agreement may be terminated by certain court orders affecting the child;

11.       that this authorization agreement does not supersede, invalidate, or terminate any prior authorization agreement regarding the child;

12.       that this authorization agreement is void if a prior authorization agreement regarding the child is in effect and has not expired or been terminated;

13.       that, except as provided by section 34.005(a–1) of the Texas Family Code, this authorization agreement is void unless—
(a)     the parties mail a copy of the authorization agreement by certified mail, return receipt requested, or international registered mail, return receipt requested, as applicable, to a parent who was not a party to the authorization agreement, if the parent is living and the parent’s parental rights have not been terminated, not later than the tenth day after the date the authorization agreement is signed, and
(b)    if the parties do not receive a response from the parent who is not a party to the authorization agreement before the twentieth day after the date the copy of the authorization agreement is mailed under paragraph (a) immediately above, the parties mail a second copy of the authorization agreement by first-class mail or international first-class mail, as applicable, to the parent not later than the forty-fifth day after the date the authorization agreement is signed; and

14.       that this authorization agreement does not confer on a relative of the child the right to authorize the performance of an abortion on the child or the administration of emergency contraception to the child.

[Name of parent]

SIGNED under oath before me on ______________________________ by  _______________ [name of parent].
Notary Public, State of Texas

[Name of parent]

SIGNED under oath before me on ______________________________ by ________________ [name of parent].
Notary Public, State of Texas

[Name of nonparent relative]

SIGNED under oath before me on ______________________________ by _________________ [name of nonparent relative].
Notary Public, State of Texas

[Name of nonparent relative]

SIGNED under oath before me on ______________________________  by __________________[name of nonparent relative].
Notary Public, State of Texas