Family Law

Visitation – What is the Texas Standard Possession Order?

The Standard Possession Order (SPO) is a default visitation schedule defined by the Texas Family Code that is used in the vast majority of Texas divorce cases involving children. It is extremely detailed and lengthy and is one of the main reasons that divorce decrees in cases with children are usually 30 to 40 pages long. The Standard Possession Order statute is Texas Family Code Section 153.3101 through 153.317.

Every order has its own particular provisions, so please refer to the specifics of your own order for guidance if you have one. Also note that all of the terms are subject to alteration, either by negotiation or court order. This article is designed to give a brief overview of the statute and how its key provisions work when the standard language is used without tweaking. Here are some of the key provisions Continue reading

Can a Child Age Twelve Decide Which Parent to Live With?

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.

Section 153.009

Here is what Texas Family Code Section 153.009 says Continue reading

Alimony – Should Fault Be Considered?

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

Can a Client Change Lawyers during a Divorce Case?

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

Mediation of your Houston Divorce Case

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

What are Temporary Orders and Do They Happen in Every Case?

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

Common Law Marriage Explained

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

What Happens to the Case When a Divorcing Couple Reconciles

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

Keys to Hiring the Right Lawyer for Your Divorce Case

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

Facebook and Divorce, Part 2

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).

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