I have been asked this question more times than I can count during my career. More often, it is stated to me as fact, as in “well my child is over twelve, so she gets to decide who she wants to live with.” This belief is based on a misinterpretation of a very real Texas Family Code statute concerning the wishes of a child twelve or older.
Here is what Texas Family Code Section 153.009 says Continue reading
There was a bit of a stir in the media this week when a Utah lawmaker proposed a bill that would give family court judges the authority to consider fault when deciding the issue of alimony in a divorce case. The news reports I have seen are unclear on whether this bill would modify the law to make it permissible for a judge to award alimony solely upon a finding of adultery by the payor spouse, or if it would simply allow the judge who has determined that a spouse is eligible to receive alimony to factor in the bad conduct in determining the amount and duration of the alimony award. Continue reading
I was recently asked by someone going through a divorce whether she had the right to switch lawyers during the case. The answer to her explicit question is yes, absolutely. A party to a lawsuit has the right to hire any licensed attorney they choose to represent them, including the right to change lawyers while a case is pending.
Does It Make Sense to Change Divorce Attorneys
The more important question that I was not asked is Continue reading
Many people going through a divorce are not familiar with what mediation entails. This article will describe the process and explain its uses and benefits in a divorce case.
What Mediation Is and What It Is Not
Mediation is essentially a settlement conference attended by both parties and both lawyers and facilitated by a third-party mediator who attempts to get the clients to reach an agreement on all issues in their case. Continue reading
Temporary Orders are orders issued by a court during a divorce case (and sometimes in modifications) that address how things will proceed while the divorce is pending. There are many different issues that temporary orders can deal with, including but not limited to these common ones:
Use of Property – For example, who gets to stay in the residence while the divorce case is pending. Continue reading
One of the most common misunderstandings about Texas family law involves informal or “common law” marriages. Many people believe that after you live together for a certain period of time you automatically become married, even if neither party wants to be. This is not true in Texas, nor in any other state that I am aware of.
How Can You Get Married Without a Wedding?
It is possible to become married without the usual requirements of obtaining a marriage license, waiting at least 72 hours and then having a wedding ceremony. Continue reading
It doesn’t happen that often but occasionally in my practice a divorcing couple will decide that they want to work on the marriage and not go through with the divorce.
Most of the time this happens very early in a case, although I have occasionally seen it even after we have reached a settlement. I suppose it can be a real wake up call to someone when their spouse files for divorce. They might realize that the situation is a lot more serious than they previously thought and they decide to really put their best foot forward to try to save the marriage before it is too late. Sometimes this works, sometimes Continue reading
It is not uncommon for us to be the second law firm in a divorce case, after the client has grown frustrated with the lack of progress or success that the first lawyer had. Here are what I believe are the keys to choosing the right divorce lawyer. If you would prefer to watch a video I did on this subject, you can view one on the Morgan Law Firm Austin divorce site.
Hire Someone Focused Exclusively on Family Law
One of the common denominators I have seen in divorce clients who are unhappy with their attorney is Continue reading
Apparently the media is really interested in how Facebook usage can lead to divorce. I was recently interviewed on Fox News 26 on the issue and how it has impacted divorce practice. You can see the interview here (my portion of the interview is about 3:00 into the story).
While my office is located in the Galleria area of Houston (in Harris County), throughout my practice I have also handled divorce cases in Fort Bend County as well. Currently, my caseload is approximately 75% Harris County and 25% Fort Bend County. Here is a little bit of information about the Fort Bend County family law courts.
Fort Bend County has only two divorce courts (technically they are known as “family courts”), the 328th District Court and the 387th District Court. Both courts are located in the old courthouse at 401 Jackson Street in Richmond, Texas. The presiding judge for the 328th District Court is Judge Ronald Pope and the presiding judge for the 387th District Court is Judge Robert Kern. I have had many cases in both courts and find both judges to be fair, conscientious and dedicated to following the law in their rulings.
Judge Kern has been a Fort Bend County family law judge since 1999. Judge Pope has been on the bench in Fort Bend since 2003. The Associate Judge for the 328th District Court is Brenda Mullinix. The Associate Judge for the 387th District Court is Walter Armatys.
The handling of a divorce case in Fort Bend County is very similar to that of Harris County, although there are some significant procedural differences in practice. For example, in every Harris County family law court after a divorce case is filed the court will issue a Scheduling Order which will set that case for trial, with the trial date usually being six to nine months after the case was filed. In Fort Bend County there is no such automatic scheduling and in order to have a trial the lawyer for one of the parties (after meeting certain pre-trial requirements) has to request a trial date and have it set on the courts docket. So if neither party’s lawyer pushes the case towards trial it can remain pending for quite some time. This sometimes catches lawyers who aren’t familiar with Fort Bend procedures off guard, wondering when they will be set for trial.
Ultimately though, the same Family Code and Rules of Procedure and Rules of Evidence apply, so in practice a Fort Bend County divorce case is not all that different from a Harris County divorce case.