2 months ago

Drugs & Alcohol in Tarrant County Family CourtsSubstance issues are unfortunately common in family law matters, particularly in child custody disputes and in cases involving family violence and criminal conduct. It is important to know that courts' treatment of these issues varies greatly depending on the judge and the circumstances.The main thing to keep in mind is that courts are looking for parents to act in their children's best interests. When parents put their substance issues ahead of their kids, judges act to protect the children and appreciate those parents and relatives that bring the matter to the court to get control of the situation.Alcohol is usually addressed differently than drugs by local courts. If a person's conduct while drinking is problematic (violence; DUI; public intoxcation; neglectful parenting), the courts will generally order that the offending parent not use alcohol while in possession of children and often order testing as a means of policing that order. Violations of such injunctions often lead to supervised possession by the parent that can't stop drinking while with the kids. Some courts will suggest (or even order) that the parent go to courses or treatment for their drinking issue.Illegal use of controlled substances (including using legal prescription drugs without a prescription) are dealt with more harshly. Supervision of their parenting time is usually ordered until the person is clean on a hair strand drug test, often with monthly spot-testing to ensure compliance.Alcohol testing is typically done with urine tests (with a roughly 72-hour lookback period) and breath tests, some of which require rental of equipment. Testing protocols can be expensive and embarrassing.Drug testing is by nail (toe or finger), hair strand, or urine, and the lookback period for testing is generally longest (and most expensive) for nails, followed by hair, followed by urine. Some drugs (marijuana, notably) stay in our nails and hair longer than others. Courts and drug testing facilities are very aware of the many methods people use to try to cheat drug tests; I have never seen a situation where a test was successfully cheated. Courts take a dim view of people that attempt to skew the results.Hiring an attorney that understands how your particular court deals with these issues is a critical consideration. If you are dealing with these issues in your family law matter or would like to schedule a consultation, please give us a call at 817-548-5696. ... See MoreSee Less
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5 months ago

It is unclear whether the leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the Dobbs case will become the majority ruling of the Court. We'll just have to wait and see.In breaking down Justice Alito's draft opinion, it is important to note that not only does he strike down Roe v. Wade, but all of its intellectual underpinnings found in prior precedents of the Court that have fundamental effects for many Americans. He expressly rejects the logic of many watershed cases including Loving v. Virginia (which struck down laws against interracial marriage), Lawrence v. Texas (striking down sodomy laws used to persecute non-heterosexual persons), and Obergefell v. Hodges (striking down laws against same-sex marriage). In Alito's opinion, if a right is not found in the Constitution (or its Amendments), then it is a matter left to the States.Which is of course, what gave rise to Loving, Lawrence, and Obergefell in the first place.Each of these prior rulings were based on the Court's establishment of fundamental rights to privacy and to make decisions for ourselves as Americans. This is the cascading potential effect of the Dobbs decision; in the long run, it will likely not just be about abortion, but also about all of the other cases establishing federal rights not found in the Constitution.If Dobbs becomes the law of the land, then these issues would likely be addressed by state legislation once again and challenged through the federal judiciary. In Texas, our state legislature and governor's mansion are controlled by Republicans who are aggressively trying to roll back the clock on fundamental rights for a large number of Americans. It seems likely that many of our fellow Texans are likely to lose many of their protections they have increasingly enjoyed (with the rest of us) for the past 50+ years.If you or a loved one need assistance with a family law matter and are concerned about your rights as a spouse or parent, I invite you to contact me at (817) 548-5696. ... See MoreSee Less
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8 months ago

From a client ..."Hello sir,It was pleasure to work with you and your team. I am always thankful for your effort on this case. You worked tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome on my behalf and assist me with my financial circumstances. As a foreign citizen, it was hard for me to understand some laws and order but you were always there to help me out. I am hopeful that your other clients will also be satisfied with your work." ... See MoreSee Less
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3 years ago

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Texas Family LawThe virus didn't stop your family law problem. In the Metroplex the virus has, however, limited our ability to get to the courthouse for non-emergency matters.But what about child custody when you are forced to shelter at home? What about the other parent unreasonably withholding your child at this time, or unnecessarily exposing your child to social contacts? What if you are forced to shelter at home with an abuser?The short answer: give us a call.If you have any questions concerning the effect of the coronavirus on your particular family law matter, or need immediate action on a divorce, child custody, or other family law matter, I invite you to schedule a consultation over the phone. (817) 548-5696. I appear in family courts throughout the Metroplex. ... See MoreSee Less
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3 years ago

Enforcement of Court OrdersAny litigating attorney -- one that goes to court for his or her clients -- has the main job to obtain, modify, and enforce court orders. Often, getting the court order is difficult. But once that's done, it is natural for the prevailing party to think, "it's all resolved now." If only that were always true.Unfortunately, human nature being what it is (and conflict being a pervasive part of family law cases), many clients find themselves in need of the court's assistance in enforcing the orders they've previously obtained. Maybe the other party won't let you see your child, or won't pay child support, or won't sign legal documents to transfer property after the divorce is over. What then?It's frustrating but necessary at that point to get a lawyer that isn't afraid to hold your opposing party's feet to the fire. Penalties for not following final court orders can include attorney's fees, modification of the final orders, and even jail time for the offending party. Yes, disobeying court orders is taken seriously by the courts. But it requires you to have the fortitude to take the other party back to court and hold them accountable. You can't get despondent; you can't give up on "the system." You simply have to act to protect the court order that you previously worked so hard to get.I'm available to help in these situations, and will work to aggressively enforce your court orders. I invite you to call if you or a loved one are dealing with a disobedient party. ... See MoreSee Less
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3 years ago

Proud to sponsor the inaugural Trinity Pride Fest! ... See MoreSee Less
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3 years ago

Life is largely about dealing with other people. This is especially true in family court - an entire legal subsystem devoted to resolving difficult personal problems that people can’t work out for themselves.Smart litigants figure out a few things:1. You can’t change other people.2. Other people rarely change themselves, and when they do it’s usually only after great difficulty and major life changes 3. The underlying personal dispute is the maddening, ridiculous, and expensive part of a family law case.4. The issues that the court can actually resolve - about the welfare of children and the division of property - are things that reasonable people should be able to figure out. 5. ... and this is the hard one ... it only takes one crazy person in the case to make it ten times harder on everyone else.So if you’re in a family case - make sure you’re not the crazy one. Make sure you have an attorney that will listen to you AND give you independent advice. Focus on the things you can address - your own behavior. And keep your kids’ needs ahead of your own, understanding that it’s not your child’s fault that you made a baby with the other parent, and that the child needs the other parent.Stop banging your head against the walltrying to get your ex to be a better spouse, a better parent, or heck just a better person. Let it go and accept that they are who they are. Adjust your expectations to meet reality, not your own hopes, anger, or fears. Call me if you need help. A good lawyer will help you assess that reality, set reasonable expectations, and guide you to resolution by settlement or trial to the court. ... See MoreSee Less
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4 years ago

Personal Change and Family LawParents, kids, husbands, and wives often find themselves thrust into Texas family law courts whilst in the middle of immense personal change -- changes in the relationships we care about the most. We process these changes largely as grief -- and all the denial, negotiation, anger, and eventual acceptance that goes with it. We experience this like a death, and the personal stakes are huge.So to put it perfectly clear -- when we are involved in a family law matter, we're not at our best. In our better moments, we shoulder the burden and soldier on. In the worst times, we're the walking wounded, bleeding out emotionally and financially -- while our former loved ones wage war on us and strangers in the court system tell us how our future lives will be.It's scary. It can be devastating and leave you feeling utterly alone. I've been there.At times like this we need a guide. Through the legal system, that's an attorney. A good one will listen, and care, offer a straight opinion and give you a clear game plan to try to reach your objectives. A good attorney will ask you the questions you don't want to answer so you can get to the other side of this as intact as possible. And a good lawyer will know when to fight, when to settle, and when the legal problems bleed over into a need for other professional help.If I can be of any assistance to you or a loved one dealing with a family law matter, I invite you to give me, Tamara, and Jessica a call. ... See MoreSee Less
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4 years ago

Addiction and Mental Illness in Texas Family CourtsIt's a reality that a large number of Texas family law cases -- divorce, child custody, even termination of parental rights cases -- involve substance abuse and/or mental health issues. I'd estimate that about half of my contested cases involve at least one of these problems.If you are going through this right now, I am terribly sorry. It can be, simply, a nightmare.The struggle with drugs, alcohol, or untreated mental health problems is often all-consuming, whether you're the one with the problem or if it's your spouse, child, or co-parent. Serious dependency or mental health issues can be pervasive, touching nearly every aspect of life and certainly every part of the case. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless.If these problems are affecting your marriage or your child, you need to consult an appropriate counselor and a competent family lawyer.HOW COURTS VIEW ADDICTION AND MENTAL ILLNESSEvery judge is different, of course, but generally, Texas family courts are primarily interested in two things at the outset -- the safety of children and the parties, and ending destructive behaviors (or at least limiting kids' and others exposure to such behavior). Moreover, Judges generally favor stability for children (i.e., maintaining the status quo) and need a REASON to make big changes in a child's life.It is vital to understand this perspective. The Courts are less interested in the diagnosis and more interested in CONDUCT. The diagnosis often explains the conduct. But a diagnosis alone isn't enough. A diagnosis in the absence of destructive conduct may not result in harsh rulings from the Court. In other words, someone that has issues but isn't destructive and doesn't hurt other people isn't going to be harshly sanctioned.That said, safety concerns will always be the primary concern; courts will be cautious when dealing with serious addiction and mental health issues. Key factors are (a) the length of the problem, (b) length and success of treatment and sobriety, (c) violence, self-harm and other dangerous behavior, (d) involvement of CPS, police, mental health/rehab facilities and the like, and (e) most importantly, the protection of children and innocent parties from the problem parent.Also be aware the some judges are simply more harsh or more lenient when it comes to certain problems. Others may be generous with second chances but take a zero tolerance approach to future bad conduct.EXAMPLES1. Parent A is an alcoholic but has been sober for a year and goes to regular AA meetings and is involved in the children's lives. In their custody case, Parent B wants Parent A to be on supervised possession of the children due to Parent A's past conduct.The Court is likely to give Parent A regular access to the children (likely Texas Standard Possession) but (1) prohibit parent A from drinking around the children and (2) grant Parent B the ability to test Parent A for alcohol use, with the threat of supervision in the event there is a positive test.This fact pattern would also hold true if Parent A had a serious, but treated, mental health condition, or drug addiction issues.2. Spouse A, the main breadwinner in the marriage, is an active drug abuser. Spouse B files a divorce case seeking a disproportionate share of the marital estate and supervision of Spouse A's possession of the children. Spouse A refuses to comply with initial court orders regarding sobriety, inappropriate behavior with Spouse B and the children, and financial matters.If Spouse A can't get it together, the Court is likely to maintain harsh restrictions on Spouse A -- including supervised possession, restricted access to children, and financial penalties.This sort of case is often time-consuming and financially draining, due to Spouse A's altered mental state and refusal to comply.3. Teenage Child has a drug addiction and is truant and failing in school. Parent A can't get the child to comply. Parent B blames Parent A for the Child's conduct. Parent A is exasperated.The Court is likely to get third parties (like appointed "amicus" attorneys, counselors, or social agencies like Family Court Services in certain counties) involved early to assess the child's conduct and make recommendations -- while keeping a keen eye out for parental conduct that may be feeding into the child's problems.This fact pattern also applies to the self-harming child that has suicidal thoughts or is "cutting" or engaging in other destructive behavior.These sorts of cases are heartbreaking and can lead in unexpected directions -- such as foster care for children if the Court can't trust either parent to put children's needs first. WHAT TO DO IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE ARE IN THIS SITUATIONFirst, talk to an appropriate counselor. Second, I invite you to call me. It is hard enough being in an addiction and/or mental health situation without knowing what to do or how the case may play out before the judge. Getting a professional perspective allows you to understand your options and set your expectations appropriately.The silver lining is that you are not alone, and that a competent attorney can help. ... See MoreSee Less
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4 years ago

Letting GoWe experience divorce and the end of meaningful relationships like a death — a time for grieving, and the processing of all the denial, negotiation, anger and acceptance that goes with it.In family court, much of the conflict - especially in the early part of the case - revolves around the conflict between the parties and their difficulties in getting to a place of acceptance, not only in the relationship but in terms of the arrangements made regarding their children, income, and property.But we can’t help our exes in their grieving and in their own attempts to let go. Indeed, the opposite is true - as the adverse party, we are precisely the wrong messenger many times to help the other person move on.We have to simply work on us — which means protecting our own boundaries. This means different things for each of us. Physical separation, reduction in communication, changing old habits and locations ... each of these may be necessary to establish a new identity of sorts, post-breakup.You’re not alone. Your family, friends, attorney, and especially a counselor can help. The first step of letting go of the conflict is letting go of the idea that you can go it alone, that you can ask for help, and that you can lean into the changes life throws you.Good family lawyers can help you get to the other side of this. If you or a loved one need a guide through the legal process and letting go, I invite you to call me. ... See MoreSee Less
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