Holiday visitation schedules are a problem for many people. I get phone calls from people looking for a quick answer to their problems with child custody and visitation issues. Without looking at the actual possession order it's impossible to answer the questions. Although Texas has a "Standard Possession Order", it is often tailored to specific situations. The Standard Possession Order is like a "rack suit", i.e. a generalized outline which may be tailored to specific circumstances if need be. Asking a lawyer to opine on your possession of your children when the lawyer doesn't have the actual possession order before him is futile.
What is "best interest" in Child Custody? I receive many inquiries about what does "best interest" mean in context of child custody? There is no definition in the Texas Family Code for "best interest" of a child. It is a lot like "beauty" in that its definition lies in the eye of the beholder, the tryer of facts in the case, whether it's the judge or a jury.
Enforcement of child custody and visitation should be handled by a lawyer in family court. The police will generally refuse to get involved by saying this is a civil matter not criminal. What do you do if a parent or third party wrongfully withholds a child from the parent with custody or keeps a child beyond the time allotted for visitation?
Thoughts about divorce by a divorce lawyer: A divorce is nothing to enter into lightly or on a whim. Threatening a spouse with it is like threatening thermonuclear war between nations. Divorce should be a last resort when there is no hope for the marriage, when one spouse cannot continue in the relationship and remain mentally or physically healthy, when counseling would be a waste of time, when the relationship is toxic to the spouses and to the children, or when the other spouse refuses to try to save the marriage.
Why shouldn't you dodge process server? After all, if they can't find you, they can't serve you. If they can't serve you, you can postpone the suit. Right? Wrong. The rules of civil procedure require service of citation upon a defendant in order to give the defendant notice of the suit and an opportunity to defend it.
Why do you need a family law attorney? After all, there are forms available on line and all you need do is fill in the blanks. A problem with forms is they often need to be tailored to fit the circumstances. Another problem with forms is the forms often do not apply. I saw an instance where a person asked which forms should she take to court in 60 days when she was going to have a hearing on child custody. When you have a contested hearing, you should take a lawyer with you. There are appropriate forms such as a financial information sheet, a proposed parenting plan, and an exhibit list which may be necessary to help the judge. But, you need a lawyer to present your case.
Property division in Texas can be interesting where spouses jointly own property which is not community property. If property is community property, it can be divided by the court in a divorce in a manner deemed "just and right". Again, like the "best interest" of a child in the earlier blog, it is a matter of judicial discretion. The court does NOT have to divide marital property equally. So long as the court's decision is not an abuse of discretion (again a legal term which is defined in case law and not in statutes), the decision will stand on appeal.
Wiretapping in divorce cases is fraught with danger for the unwary. Both Federal and State laws govern a spouse's attempt to intercept, record, or use the other spouse's conversations. The federal Wiretap Act is violated when any person intentionally intercepts, tries to intercept, or uses a third party to intercept or try to intercept any wire, oral, or electronic conversation. Long story short: don't tap your wife's phone or place a "bug" where she has an expectation of privacy.
Update on Family Law Courts after Harvey, thanks to Judge Sylvia Matthews: The District Clerk's Office issued jury summons for jury service to resume on October 16, 2017. Civil District Courts, Probate Courts, and Civil County Courts are not calling Jury trials through the end of October. The family courts, juvenile courts and criminal coruts will be the priority for jury calls in October.
One marriage at a time is the rule in Texas. I've had inquiries from people who were upset to learn the divorce in their previous marriage, for one reason or another, had not been finalized. This revelation came during the second "marriage" and caused some concern as to the status of the current "spouse". The law in Texas recognizes only one marriage at a time. If for some reason, the first divorce is not final, the only solution is to make it final by finishing the divorce. Once the first marriage is declared at an end by divorce, then the second marriage may be recognized as valid without the necessity of a formal marriage cerremony--lf the requirements for a common law marriage are met. BUT the second marriage cannot be retroactive to a date before the end of the first marriage.