In the aftermath of the groundbreaking case of Obergefell v. Hodges and the legalization of same-sex marriage in Texas and around the country, many same-sex couples are now wanting to start their families using alternative reproduction methods.
But as one recent Texas case* reveals, recent changes to the Texas Family Code regarding assisted reproduction are not an absolute assurance that same-sex couple’s plans will work out. A DIY approach without legal counsel can prove disastrous.
*In re P.S. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/tx-court-o...
For more information about Family Law in the Harris and Galveston County area of Texas, please visit us at www.thepalmerlawfirm.com
Every divorce is different and impacts the lives of people differently, but there is almost one universal truth- that a divorce will impact your finances. How much you will be affected will vary from case to case, and with the help of an experienced Texas divorce lawyer, you can mitigate the negative impact to a great degree. But the fact is that you WILL be affected financially by a divorce. Here are five tips to help you deal the financial impact of divorce:
1. View yourself as temporarily broke rather than permanently poor.
When you are in a stressful economic circumstance, it is important to view this as a temporary situation. View yourself as temporarily broke, not permanently poor. To see yourself as “poor” implies a permanent state; a hopeless condition in which you are doomed for the rest of your life. To be “broke”, on the other hand, implies that your situation is temporary and that you have the intelligence and capacities to bounce back and improve your economic condition.
You must shift your thinking to believing you are not a victim and to begin searching for ways to overcome your current circumstance.
2. Let go of the blame.
To improve your situation, you need to let go of the blame you place on your ex-spouse or soon-to-be-ex-spouse for the scary economic situation you're in. It doesn't help you improve your situation to spend your time focusing on your Ex. Instead, focus on what you can do with your own capacities and abilities to emerge from the economic hole you are in. Blame only saps your power and gives your weaker impulses an excuse to do nothing- which you know will get you nothing.
When you begin to see yourself as an activator of new economic possibilities rather than a passive recipient of misfortune, positive things can begin to happen.
3. Cut costs.
Taking charge of your situation begins with assertive action. Create a new budget for yourself. Look at your expenses and eliminate or reduce. This may be painful at first, but you will quickly adapt. Begin with expenses that you probably should have eliminated a long time ago such as unused gym memberships or subscriptions that you do not use. Then focus on conveniences that you can probably do on your own such washing your own car, or cooking your own meals. You may rediscover the advantages up doing these things on your own instead of paying someone to do it such as getting more exercise and eating healthier.
You can't escape the math: no one can't live with the same expenses when they have a reduced income. But instead of letting this get you down, see this as an opportunity to simplify and clarify your life and begin to make healthy choices.
4. Retool yourself.
If you do not have any marketable skills or your skills are outdated, now is the perfect time for you to retool yourself so that you can get a decent paying job, or launch a new career. If you are not ready to get a degree, there are many job training programs available to you at community colleges. These are two-year colleges that have low tuition and financial aid in which people of all ages can and do attend. The excuse you might give that you are “too old” to go back to school is simply nonsense; you will find people from 18 to 68 years old in your classes. Counselors are available to help you find employment after you complete the program.
Other alternatives are part time or full time jobs that may not appeal to you but which you can tolerate if you know though that these jobs will not become a permanent way of life. Working at them during the day and going to school at night might be difficult, but it is a temporary sacrifice for a brighter future. Telling your friends, neighbors, and acquaintances that you were looking for employment is also a sensible thing to do. You might be pleasantly surprised that simply telling people you are available for work can lead to eventual employment.
5. Keep a positive mental attitude.
The most important tip is to always keep in mind that although you may be taking one step back, you may need to do this to take your two steps forward. Staying positive, keeping away from depressing people or situations, going easy on the alcohol, and avoiding self-pity, and the like keeps you motivated to take those two steps forward. Not only that, but it will make the journey easier overall because you will not be making things so hard for yourself. For example, if you are constantly thinking about your divorce in the workplace and allowing it to depress you , you will be blinded to opportunities to improve your present career or move on to a better one because you're still fighting the battles of your divorce in your mind and feelings and behavior. How can you get a merit pay increase if you work ineffectively and act like a sad sack on the job because you are still feeling depressed over your divorce while performing or attempting to perform your assignments? When you feel you are a victim, you will act like one, guaranteeing a place for yourself on poverty row.
Let those feelings go and begin with a clear slate. Only then can positive things begin to happen for you. You may see that now is the time to seek out a better job with another company, or you may become more aware of possibilities for a transfer to a higher position in the company you work for now. Or maybe you are fed up with working for others and are sick and tired of always being told what to do. You may begin you may be ready to strike out as an independent entrepreneur. Opportunities abound for you to explore those options if you will release the creative energies inside yourself that are being throttled by your negative feelings about your divorce.
Coming through a divorce with the best possible outcome requires not only a healthy outlook and attitude, but a clear plan for the future and the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney to help you develop a legal plan that will help keep the damage from the divorce from devastating you. We are available to help if you need any assistance. Please call The Palmer Law Firm at 832-819-3529 or visit us at www.thepalmerlawfirm.com to find out how we can help you deal with the financial impact of your divorce.
The ground-breaking Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), which links the right to marriage as a personal right protected under the U.S. Constitution Has sent ripples throughout the family law world. The ramifications of this case will be talked about for many years to come and just what its limits are will be the topic a family law for just as long.
As lawyers , it's our job to take prior cases end apply them to the cases we have before us. But sometimes this effort stretches thing a bit far.
This was the case of Lecuona versus. Lecuona , No. 03-17-00136-CV out of Travis County. The case was appealed all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case.
Shawn Hall Lecuona appealed from a final divorce decree that ended her marriage to Mark R. Lecuona.
Mark was the petitioner in the original case, and the sole ground for divorce on which he relied, and which the district court subsequently found, was the no-fault "insupportability" ground. Insupportability is the basis of the “no-fault” divorce scheme in Texas and is by far the most common ground plead for in Texas divorces.
Shawn opposed the divorce on religious grounds and urged that Mark's suit, and particularly the no-fault "insupportability" standard on which he relied, unconstitutionally infringed her protected interests in what she viewed as an immutable "blood covenant" among the couple and the Almighty.
In her appeal, Shawn relied United States Supreme Court's decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down state prohibitions against same-sex marriage as a violation of a "right to marry [that] is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person" and protected by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the federal constitution.
She said that Obergefell translates into a constitutional restriction against Mark using Texas's no-fault divorce law to end a marriage. She argued that for her professed religious reasons, she desires to stay married and because this is a sincerely held religious belief, Mark cannot divorce her.
So the question is: Does the State of Texas violate a person’s First Amendment’s freedom of religion if it grants a divorce despite a person’s sincere religious belief that marriage is a sacred bond that cannot be broken.
The Court held that Obergefell, whose analysis is rooted in the Supreme Court's view of personal liberty, does not, either directly or by implication recognize what would effectively be an affirmative constitutional right of one spouse to compel an unwilling other spouse to remain married.
The Court also points out that to NOT grant a divorce because of religious grounds of one spouse is a violation of the other spouse's liberty to NOT hold that believe that liberty and state divorce laws.
The Court also pointed out Shawn's theory represents a significant and novel expansion of Obergefell . People are trying to use Obergefell in many novel ways but the courts have stated that Obergefell is limited in it’s scope and doesn’t open wide a door to all kinds of novel claims that run contrary to firmly established principals.
For example in Pidgeon v. Turner, 538 S.W.3d 73, 86-87 (Tex. 2017) the Texas Supreme Court observed that Obergefell "did not address and resolve" the issue of "whether and the extent to which the Constitution requires states or cities to provide tax-funded benefits to same-sex couples" or invalidate Texas "Defense of Marriage" enactments, "'[w]hatever ramifications Obergefell may have for sexual relations beyond the approval of same-sex marriage are unstated at best . . .'" (quoting Coker v. Whittington, 858 F.3d 304, 307 (5th Cir. 2017), and citing other authorities recognizing Obergefell's limited scope)).
In general the lower courts must use what the higher courts have said at face value and not craft novel extensions to suit a desired outcome.
In Ex parte Morales, 212 S.W.3d 483, 488 (Tex. App.—Austin 2006, pet. ref'd) in a novel constitutional challenge to Penal Code Section 21.12, through that "as an intermediate state appellate court, we must . . . defer to the authoritative pronouncements of higher courts that currently define the scope of the constitutional principles we apply here" (citing Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. v. Schuster, 144 S.W.3d 554, 564-65 (Tex. App.—Austin 2004, no pet.))).
Covenant marriages are a perennial bill offering in the Texas State legislature but year after year it fails to pass. Covenant marriages would make it more difficult for married couples to get a divorce by adding additional requirements , waiting time , fees or other impediments to getting a divorce. Only three states so far have adopted covenant marriages and the data shows that very few residents within those states elect to enter into "covenant marriages". One of the significant reasons why a covenant marriage statute would be difficult to pass is because of the controverting liberty issue cited in the Lecuona case. Specifically, that the state cannot impose religious conditions on a either spouse's right to be married or not to be married.
Another aspect to consider are two new statutes under the Texas government code that went into effect in 2017. These statutes are commonly known as "anti-Sharia law" (although they were not specifically named as such to avoid then being challenged in court) also limits the ability of the State to put religious conditions on obtaining a divorce.
Foreign law as the proponents of these statutes have attempted to make sure do not apply in Texas courts was the religious based domestic laws of Muslim countries or Sharia law. Could these new statutes be used to further prevent religious conditions being imposed I'm getting a divorce? I think that is interesting food for thought.
One thing this election cycle has done is to bombard the public with negative impressions about the American democratic process. Your children are absorbing all of this in as well- and getting a very negative first impression of our how our nation elects our representatives in government. But negativity is not the whole picture. We know that there are many honest and good citizens who seek office with the sincere motivation to make our nation a better place. And while cynics and pundits may make headlines by gleefully sneering at the side shows in politics, the silent majority of Americans are hopefully expectant that election day will be the beginning of a better time. For all it's faults, most Americans take great pride in what this nation is, and what it potentially could be. Deep down, most of us have faith that our democratic process is the best the world has to offer, and we have feel that our elections will make us even stronger nation.
As a patriotic parent, you want your children to love America as much as you do. So how can you teach your children about American democracy without them being permanently affected by the negativity they are seeing in the media? Here are five 'winning' things parents can do to make election day special and give kids a positive view of our democratic process:
1. Be a Role Model of Involvement
Volunteer in a political campaign and give your kids a firsthand look at how their democracy works by getting them involved, too. Start by giving them a candidate's T-shirt, cap or button. Plant a campaign sign in the front yard. They'll have lots of fun going door-to-door with you, handing our flyers, or working in campaign headquarters.
2. Watch the Debates Together
Watch the candidates' debate on TV and ask the kids who they thought won. For older kids, you might consider attending the debate, if open to the public. If you've got a houseful, organize your own "political debate" at the dinner table. For once, the kids can actually argue with your blessing, but it is a great opportunity to model that you can argue a political point, but still love and respect those with different views.
3. Play Politics
Children play as a safe and fun way to prepare themselves for future adult roles. Encourage them to role play about politics. Suggest to your child's teacher that the class have a mock election at school. Kids Voting USA offers special age-appropriate Election Day activities. Classes from kindergarten through high school can exercise their "right" to vote through this hands-on learning experience. Find out if there is a Kids Voting USA affiliate near you and if such a program can established at your children's school. It's non-partisan- and fun.
4. Get Out The Vote With Your Kids
On Election Day, involve your kids in get-out-the-vote activities, and then throw your own election night party at your home for friends, neighbors, and the kids. Or, if you are working for a candidate, let your kids join the party at campaign headquarters to watch the returns come in.
5. Kid Candidates
Got a kid with political ambitions? Encourage him or her to run for school office (even if you have to handle the tears that might go with the agony of defeat). In order to run a campaign, they will need a campaign manager, a snappy campaign slogan, and a platform. Make the campaign a family affair with everyone pitching in to make posters and buttons as well as being resident guinea pigs for the candidate's speech practices. Running for office is a great way to understand the challenge and excitement of the democratic process. It will give your child new respect for candidates who put themselves on the line this way.
Recent changes in the legislation as related to child custody evaluations require greater scrutiny in determining whether someone is qualified to be a child custody evaluator. The 2015th Legislative Session established qualifications for an expert to be appointment as a custody evaluator. The following information is helpful and necessary in determining whether an evaluator is trained and qualified to conduct the evaluation. If a child custody evaluation has been ordered in your case, you should ensure your attorney does the following to ensure you have a trained and qualified person conducting your evaluation according to the new child custody evaluation statue (TFC Section 107.101).
1. Get a Resume
It may sound elementary, but your attorney should ask the evaluator for a Curriculum Vitae/Resume.
2. Check Evaluation Experience
Confirm that the evaluator has a minimum of two years full-time experience in conducting contested child custody evaluations. If not, ensure that the evaluator has conducted a minimum of ten contested custody evaluations under the supervision of a qualified professional. Your attorney should also ask how many contested child custody evaluations the evaluator has completed to date. If the evaluator has conducted adoption evaluations and child custody evaluations, request that they identify the number of cases for each category.
3. Check Trial Experience
Additionally, your attorney should ask the evaluator the number of times he or she has testified and/or has been deposed in contested child custody proceedings. On average, professionals who complete evaluations tend to testify on ten to twenty percent of their cases, including depositions.
4. Check the Percentage of Work
Your attorney should determine what percentage of the evaluator's practice is dedicated to child custody evaluations and/or forensic work. If the evaluator engages in other forensic work, inquiring as to work other forensic work.
5. Find Out the Total Costs
Determine the fees to be charged by the evaluator, to include any retainers required, the evaluatorr's hourly rate, as well the evaluator's rate to testify in court or at a deposition. The average range is extreme and can be as low as $1,000 per evaluation and as high as $20,000 plus per evaluation. In determining whether an evaluation should be conducted in your case, you should be mindful of whether you can actually afford the evaluation.
Texas's new custody evaluation statute has placed Texas family law on the cutting edge nationally. Texas is one of the few states with an actual statue related to child custody evaluations. This new statue was written to assist attorneys in effectively evaluating custody evaluators PRIOR to their appointment. You should make sure your attorney is knowledgeable about the new statute and is using it effectively to ensure you get a fair and professional custody evaluation.
If you have any further questions, you can contact us at www.the palmerlawfirm.com
SOURCE: "Direct and Cross of a Child Custody Evaluation Expert", 42nd Annual Advance Family Law Course
There are many ways to enforce child-support orders in Texas. Here is a listing of the top five methods used by attorneys.
5. Judicial writ of withholding.
This method is used when the obligor's (one who owes) is behind in their child support in an amount that is greater than or equal to the total support for one month OR if a wage withholding was not ordered at the time child support was originally set. A judicial writ of withholding deducts current child support and child-support arrearage (back child support) is taken our directly from the wages of the parent who owes. Obviously if the obligor's is self-employed, this method won't do any good, but if the obligor's gets a paycheck- this method can be very useful.
4. Levy on financial institutions.
This method applies when the obligor's misses a child-support payment and the obligor's has some property. This method places a lien on any real or personal property that is owned by the obligor's. There are some limits on this method because some kinds of property are exempt.
3. License suspension.
This method can be used if the obligor's is in arrears in the amount equal to or greater than three months of support AND the obligor's has been given the opportunity to make payments under a repayment schedule AND the obligor is not keeping that repayment schedule. This method is really a "nuclear option" and so as you can see there are several conditions that have to be met before a judge will order it. However, it can be a VERY effective method to get the obligor's attention if they repeatedly fail to pay child support.
2. Levy on financial institutions.
This method is also very effective to get the attention of an obligor because it freezes the obligor's financial accounts until the financial institution pays the child-support arrearages from the accounts. This method can be tricky because you have to first have the amounts owed judicially determined AND to be effective, you need to know which accounts have money in them- which can be difficult to determine.
This is the most common, and often the most effective method. This is used any time an obligor misses a payment or makes a late or partial payment. It subjects the obligor to incarceration (jail time), community supervision and/or payment of a fine. There are two kinds of contempt- civil and criminal and you should talk to an attorney about which method is the best to do what you want- which is to get the obligor to pay.
When seeking to enforce a child support order, obliges (parents owed the money) have to be aware that there are often strict deadlines that have to be followed. It is important to IMMEDIATELY seek the assistance of licensed family law attorney to make sure that you don't miss your deadlines.
For more information, you can contact us at www.thepalmerlawfirm.com.
Three years after the U.S. Supreme Court forced the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, and one year after the justices told holdout states to do the same, (Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___(2015)) droves of LGBT Americans are taking advantage of their new rights.
A Prudential Financial Inc. survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans has found that far fewer are single—and far more are married—than four years ago. While the drumbeat of coast-to-coast legalization was undoubtedly a driving force, the speed of this nationwide sprint to the altar has been remarkable, the study showed. Overall, 30 percent of LGBT respondents said they were married, up from 8 percent in 2012. That's more than triple.
Adoption is a court procedure by which one or more persons enter into a legal parental relationship with another, establishing legal obligations of child support for food, clothing, education, inheritance, and custody rights. Adoption laws have undergone great changes in recent years to accommodate the needs of all the parties involved- that is, the adopting parents, the natural parents, the child or other adopted person (sometimes an adult or a lover), private investigators, lawyers and judges. Traditional agency adoptions arranged by licensed charities and publicly funded social service agencies, or county adoptions conducted by state agencies were once the norm. Now independent adoptions, arranged privately between natural mothers and adoptive parents and requiring court approval, have become more common. People thinking about adoption in Texas should first think about the following considerations before taking action. Doing so first will help facilitate the adoption process.
1. Contact a lawyer who practices primarily in the area of family law for an initial consultation.
The lawyer can help you better prepare for the interview with the adoption agency. Ask the lawyer about the eligibility requirements and for an explanation of the various petitions and legal documents that must be filed in court to consummate the process.
2. Know the eligibility requirements.
Texas imposes age and lifestyle requirements. Some judges are reluctant to grant adoptions to elderly coups or grandparents for reasons of age. Others are unwilling to grant adoptions to unmarried or homosexual couples. However, such decisions may be successfully appealed where circumstances dictate it is in the best interest of the child.
In response to growing frustration with the length of time children resided in foster care and concern about decisions involving returning children to dangerous home settings, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). sdf The law requires states to implement programs insuring that reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption or with a legal guardian be made. Social workers must quickly identify, recruit, process, and approve qualified families for an adoption, or risk losing federal aid.
3. Consider a private adoption.
Texas allows adoption through private agencies, but there are limits on the fees that can be charged by natural parents, surrogate mothers, and lawyers. In private adoptions, you have to locate a birth mother willing to give up her child for adoption. This may be easier than you think, but in any event, in Texas an attorney CANNOT assist you with locating a birth mother. Typically a Texas adoption attorney will handle all other legal and financial aspects of the adoption.
4. Consider the legal implications of an adoption
Before you being the process, you should consider the various legal rights and responsibilities that arise with a complete adoption:
Change of name. Request the name change be made part of the final adoption decree and be sure to include this request in the petition for adoptions that is filed with the court.
Inheritance. Typically, a child loses all rights involving the natural parents, including the right to support and the right to inherit from a biological parent who dies without a will.
Sealed Records. Usually a court order must be obtained to open the file, an this may be granted only for a good reason such as a medical emergency.
5. Consider the concept of an open adoption, which allows the adoptee to have ongoing contact with certain blood relatives.
This is occasionally provided for in an agreement with older children; the proposed agreement is introduced at the adoption proceeding, and the judge carefully scrutinizes the document and weighs all the factors to determine whether this should be granted.
Facilitating the creation of a new families through adoption is a great honor and one of the most professionally and personally satisfying aspect of my job as a family law attorney. If you have any questions about the adoption process in Texas, or if I can be of any other assistance, please do not hesitate to book a personal appointment of call me at 832-819-3523.
Modern Texas Lawyers are mobile and agile. They are doing a lot of advocacy right from their cell phones and are always on the lookout for applications that will make them more efficient. Here are the top five practical apps that can help Texas Lawyers on the go.
Whether it is keeping up with the latest news or reading a business book, the long stretch of Texas roads can be opportunities for the mobile lawyer to get up to speed. Audible is the best and largest audio book/newspaper/magazine source. Stream or download to your phone, plug in to your truck's audio jack and you are good to go!
4. Texas Constitution and Statutes.
It's not a code book, just the law. A great asset when you need to quickly throw down code numbers.
3. Calendars by Readdle.
The best I've found. The monthly view actually displays text- even on your little phone screen. Invaluable when you are standing at the bench picking an entry date that doesn't interfere with you son's baseball game.
You wanna get paid don't you? This app tracks your time from your phone and generates serviceable invoices directly from the app that you can email or print. This ain't Time Slips. It's just drop dead simple- which what I love about it.
All your files. At any time. At any place. Need I say more?
Apps come and go and lawyers have to keep looking to find the best ones. Of course there are all the considerations about security and confidentiality in the use of apps- but that's a topic for different day.
1. Act quickly and decisively.
Most victims of domestic violence submit to an abusive spouse because of social pressures, or their own idealistic expectations. Others feel they cannot afford to leave their marriages for economic reasons. However, a failure to act may only prolong the misery and produce increasingly violent attacks. Seek help from friends, religious organizations, victims' services agencies, crisis intervention centers. If a situation is serious, it may be necessary to leave home and temporarily stay in a battered women's emergency shelter.
2. Save Evidence.
Take color photographs of injuries as soon as possible to prove the extent of the abuse. Have the pictures signed and dated by a witness or the person who took them.
3. Seek immediate medical attention immediately after a beating.
Ask the doctor or nurse to document the injuries in a written report. Be sure the name of the person causing the injury is mentioned in the report. A doctor's visit can help prove that injuries were caused by the beating, and the medical records can be used in court to prove a case. Other evidence, including torn or bloody clothing, pictures documenting damage to a house or a car, and the testimony of witnesses, should also be saved for future use.
4. Seek legal assistance as soon as possible.
First, do NOT take the law into your own hands. In Texas to prevail with a self-defense claim, a battered spouse who fights back must prove a reasonable apprehension of imminent danger of bodily harm. Some lawyers use evidence of past beatings and threats to prove reasonable apprehension. Others argue that it is a reasonable response for a woman of slight build to use a lethal weapon (gun or knife) even if a man attacks her with just his fists. In Texas, a spouse who has a reasonable and immediate fear of sexual assault is permitted to use deadly force. In most other cases, women who fight back with deadly force can expect to face criminal charges.
Next, get legal help. You can seek the help of volunteer services, or a private attorney. With domestic relations services you may be able to obtain a protective order that requires your spouse to either leave the house and/or stay away from you and the children. A private attorney may additionally help you:
5. Seek Emotional/Psychological Counseling
Systematic patterns of abuse dis-empower the victim and often make them psychologically and emotionally impaired to the point where they are incapable of making sound decisions for themselves or their children. IT IS VITAL to begin the road to mental health by seeking professional counseling. Your legal struggles will require you to have sound judgement as you make very significant decisions about your legal and financial future as you move beyond a life of abuse.
Divorce not only can hurt the heart, but also the wallet. The financial fallout can be even worse for those who divorce later in life as carefully managed retirement plans quickly unravel.
So-called gray or late-life divorces have steadily risen since 1990. The divorce rate among those between 55 and 64 has more than doubled, while the rate among couples 65 and older has tripled. Overall, about one in four couples over 50 divorce.
That has some serious financial implications, especially for women. More than a quarter of women who went through a gray divorce fell into poverty, versus 11 percent of gray divorced men. Expectations for a comfortable retirement have to be adjusted when couples split near or during their golden years.
Source: Financial Times
The practice of family law is unique because in no other area of law is the character of a party so important to the outcome of a case. Especially in cases involving children, the “best interest of the child” standard that courts use means that the parties’ lifestyle is especially relevant, and will likely be put on full display in the courtroom by the lawyers in the case.
How does an attorney get such personal information about the party he is working against? Traditionally, a lawyer could go through a long process called discovery that requests answers under oath to prying questions about relationships or the production of tangible things like embarrassing photographs. But in the modern world all of these things (and more) may be served up on a silver platter by the opposing party themselves. More and more people are getting into the habit of broadcasting their status updates, tweets, and Instagram photos by convenient putting them on the internet for easy, 24/7 access by lawyers hungry to find dirt on them. It is a regular feast of evidence.
And that is not all. The ubiquity of Facebook has grown over the years, so has it’s standing as legitimate communication device. A few months ago, a posting on Facebook was successfully used to serve a party. The judge in the case called social media the “next frontier” as “forums through which a summons can be delivered.”
How does a lawyer get into an adverse party’s account? I’ve seen some people with their privacy settings completely turned off. Another route might be if the spouse has not removed my client from her friends list, or through close family and friends.
Another method followed by some (not I) is to create a profile of an attractive person who shares a high school or employer with “the target” and then you add the target’s friends. Once a few of them accepted (and many will), the common background and the mutual friends will convince most people to accept the profile as a friend. This however is an ethical grey area that I personally choose not to go down. In the courts I practice in – this behavior would not sit well with the judge.
At a minimum, a good family law attorney needs to be aware of how to access public profiles. A good family law attorney also needs to warn their clients to stop Facebooking and Instagramming and Tweeting unless the posts would look fine on the homepage of their grandmother’s church.
Contrary to popular belief, marriage isn’t dead. It’s not even dying.
The institution is probably more respected and admired than ever before — just not in a way that encourages millennials to partake in it.
You can see this in national survey data, recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about Americans’ views of various family arrangements.
At first glance the report suggests that Americans may indeed be less devoted to the sacrosanctity of marriage — or at least that we’ve become more tolerant of once-stigmatized non-marital sexual behaviors . In 2002, for example, slightly more than 6 in 10 Americans said they thought it was okay for a young couple to live together without being married. By 2011-2013, the period of the most recent survey, the share had jumped to more than 7 in 10.
Similarly, the report finds that Americans have gotten more accepting of women who bear and raise children out of wedlock, of unmarried 18-year-old couples who decide to have sex and of same-sex couples who adopt children.
On these and other familial and procreative arrangements, Americans have become measurably more liberal. But on one crucial measure, they have become much more conservative.
That measure is divorce.
Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement that “Divorce is usually the best solution when a couple can’t seem to work out their marriage problems.” In 2002, about half of Americans disagreed. Within a decade, the share had risen to more than 60 percent. In the most recent data, younger Americans — a cohort with the lowest marriage rates on record, mind you — were especially likely to perceive divorce as an unacceptable response to marital strain.
Source: The Washington Post
Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 21c Privacy Protection for Filed Documents has had a substantial impact on family law cases.
A divorce with children could, and oftentimes will, have filings that include all of the types of sensitive data this rule addresses. Rule 21c became effective January 1, 2014, and it states:
(a) Sensitive Data Defined.
Sensitive data consists of: (1) A driver’s license number, passport number, social security number, tax identification number, or similar government issued personal identification number; (2) a bank account number, credit card number, or other financial account number; and (3) a birth date, home address, and the name of any person who was a minor when the underlying suit was filed.
(b) Filing of Documents Containing Sensitive Data Prohibited.
Unless the inclusion of sensitive data is specifically required by a statute, court rule, or administrative regulation, an electronic or paper document, except for wills and documents filed under seal, containing sensitive data may not be filed with a court unless the sensitive data is redacted.
(c) Redaction of Sensitive Data; Retention Requirement.
Sensitive data must be redacted by using the letter “X” in place of each omitted digit or character or by removing the sensitive data in a manner indicating that the data has been redacted. The filing party must retain an unredacted version of the filed document during the pendency of the case and any related appellate proceedings within six months of the date the judgment is signed.
(d) Notice to Clerk.
If a document must contain sensitive data, the filing party must notify the clerk by: (1) designating the document as containing sensitive data when the document is electronically filed; or (2) if the document is not electronically filed, by including on the upper left hand side of the first page the phrase: “NOTICE: THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS SENSITIVE DATA.”
(e) Non-Conforming Documents.
The clerk may not refuse to file a document that contains sensitive data in violation of this rule. But the clerk may identify the error to be corrected and state a deadline for the party to resubmit the redacted, substituted document.
(f) Restrictions on Remote Access.
Documents that contain sensitive data in violation of this rule must not be posted on this rule. Texas Family Code Section 102.008 “Contents of Petition” subsection (a) requires that the petition and all other documents filed in all suits affecting the parent-child relationship, except suits for adoption, be entitled “In the interest of______________, a child.” Section 102.008 (b) requires that petitions include the name and birthdate of the child. If the child’s name must be in the title of all documents filed in a suit affecting the parent child relationship, and the child’s name is sensitive data, aren’t all filings going to include sensitive data? It is entirely possible that a Judge could reach that conclusion.
Many attorneys use the child’s initials in place of the child’s full name in the style of all documents filed after the original petition. However, this would not comply with a strict interpretation of Texas Family Code Section 102.008 (a). It is best that you contact the court clerk to determine if the Judge in your case has a stance on this issue and if so, how they want you to style your filings. Texas Family Code Section 105.006 (a) lists the information that must be included in a final order in a suit affecting the parent child relationship, except for terminations and adoptions. This information is as follows:
(1) the social security number and driver’s license number of each party to the suit, including the child, except that the child’s social security number or driver’s license number is not required if the child has not been assigned a social security number or driver’s license number; and
(2) each party’s current residence address, mailing address, home telephone number, name of employer, address of employment, and work telephone number, except as provided by Subsection (c). This means that in all final orders in suits affecting the parent-child relationship, other than termination and adoptions, there will be numerous types of sensitive data.
Many attorneys will redact social security numbers, and driver’s license numbers and leave only the last three to four digits in the final order. A strict interpretation of Texas Family Code Section 105.006 (a) and Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 21c (b) is that the driver’s license numbers and social security numbers are required by statute and therefore should not be redacted. Again, the best way to determine how to address this situation is by calling the court clerk to determine the court’s preference.
Emotional divorce can happen years before a legal one. An emotional divorce is when a husband, a wife, or both become convinced that they are no longer the top priority in their spouses’ lives. Long before someone seeks out a lawyer, they may have already emotionally separated from their spouse. Here is a list of the top five types of emotional divorces.
1. The “Honeymoon” Divorce
This is the type of emotional divorce that begins almost immediately after the wedding ceremony. It is a sinking “what have I done?!” feeling when all the excitement of the wedding gives way to the reality that you have just married someone who you are really not compatible with. Differences of religion, spending habits, and other value differences that didn’t seem to matter in the courtship suddenly become inescapable as you realize you will be with this person forever. Power struggles erupt soon after the honeymoon is over and you become emotionally divorced.
2. The “My Relatives Come First” Divorce
Here, the top priority for a spouse is their family and the spouse comes second. When family events come before your spouse’s needs, or when a spouse has failed to mature their childhood attachments into an adult relationship, then an emotional divorce is the result.
3. The “My Career Is More Important” Divorce
Today, most people have begun careers that they are passionate about prior to getting married. As single people, many chose to dedicate much of their personal lives to advance in their careers. However, once married, your personal life is no longer your own. If a spouse fails to adjust their priorities and continues to work late hours, and on weekends at the expense of spending time with their spouse- then their real love- work is revealed and an emotional divorce has occurred.
4. The “Baby Makes Three” Divorce
When pregnancy and birth brings a new member to the family, it is natural for some adjustment in the marriage relationship. However, some women (and some men) devote all their love and attention to the baby and save nothing for the marriage. Babies demand immediate attention but when caring for the needs of the newborn ALWAYS takes precedent over the needs of the spouse, then the child becomes a substitute for the relationship and the parents become emotionally divorced.
5. The “Great Expectations” Divorce
Some people view a potential spouse as “good husband” or “good wife” “material”. They see a life of material wealth as the main benefit of the marriage. When this expectation is the number one priority, then it is a sure bet the marriage is doomed. Inevitably, disappointments or financial set-backs will precipitate a divorce, but this type of emotional divorce happened even before the marriage. Such unions may be financially solvent, but they are emotionally bankrupt and therefore- D.O.A.
If you and your spouse have already had an emotionally divorce, it may be time to move on. If you need more information about this topic, contact the Palmer Law Firm at www.mydivorcefirm.com to schedule your free divorce consultation.
In the old days, a spouse who was suspicious that their partner was hiding assets from them would hire a private investigator in hopes of turning up information, lawyers say. But now, funds are transferred electronically and many clients never set foot in the offshore jurisdiction where they have their accounts. So today, most lawyers wait for the court to order ‘‘discovery,’’ a process in which both parties exchange information pertinent to the case, and then look for instances where assets have mysteriously disappeared.
Experts in the industry say that Americans are still hiding money offshore from litigious spouses and tax officials alike, but that it is getting harder for them to do so. In the last few years, the Obama administration and the Treasury department have erected staggering penalties for those who hide their wealth offshore, as well as many new reporting requirements.
India’s Supreme Court is considering petitions that challenge Muslim laws governing marriage on the grounds that they discriminate against women, a charged issue that risks angering the country’s orthodox Muslims. A panel headed by the chief justice that is hearing the petitions directed the government this week to release an official 2015 report that looks at the impact of some of India’s religion-specific laws on women’s rights and recommends legal reform.
Attorney Sean Y. Palmer has over 18 years of legal experience as a Texas Attorney and over 24 years as a Qualified Mediator in civil, family and CPS cases. Palmer practices exclusively in the area Family Law and handles Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Adoptions, and other Family Law Litigation cases. He represents clients throughout the greater Houston Galveston area, including: Clear Lake, NASA, Webster, Friendswood, Seabrook, League City, Galveston, Texas City, Dickinson, La Porte, La Marque, Clear Lake Shores, Bacliff, Kemah, Pasadena, Baytown, Deer Park, Harris County, and Galveston County, Texas.