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As a family law attorney, we are involved in a wide array of domestic issues ranging from a husband and wife who have simply fallen out of love and grown apart over the years, to situations involving infidelity and the very real emotional damage that echoes for years to come even after the divorce is finalized, to situations involving children—who will take the kids to baseball practice?  Who will be responsible for paying for their health insurance?  How will their expenses be handled?

But above all of the complications and struggles that pervade the separation and dissolution of a family unit, there is one issue that the parties, their attorneys, and the Courts place a priority on addressing, and that is family violence.  Continue reading →

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When it comes to divorce, we have all heard that timeless adage that is passed between friends, co-workers, neighbors, and the rowdy crowd of stampers that amass for Saturday-night Bingo – “Never voluntarily move out of the marital residence.”  A majority of the time, people are not exactly sure why they need to stay in the family residence, they just know that somewhere along the way, this sage proverb was firmly engrained into their psyche and should never be challenged.

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In light of the specific issues that are faced by litigants in family law cases, the District Courts of Dallas County have promulgated a series of orders (collectively the “Dallas County Standing Order Regarding Children, Pets, Property and Conduct of the Parties”) that applies in every divorce suit and every suit affecting the parent-child relationship that is filed in Dallas County.  The Courts have determined that the Standing Order is necessary “because the parties, their children, and the family pets should be protected and their property preserved while the lawsuit is pending before the Court.”

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Our society is rapidly changing—from technological advances, to medicinal breakthroughs, to the meteoric ascension of the multinational corporation, individuals and communities are forced to adapt to our culture’s fast-paced global expansion.  While there are certainly many factors that have contributed to these changes, our ability to communicate instantly across thousands of miles and travel thousands of miles in a matter of hours has created a society less focused on the proverbial “home roots.”

When parties finalize their divorce or have an order issued relating to their children, what happens when one or both parents have their home roots pulled up by out-of-state job transfers, family issues that require relocation, or new opportunities that send one parent across state lines?  Is the order issued in the first state enforceable by the parent who has moved to a different state?  Can the traveling parent modify the prior order in another state, or are they stuck litigating in the courts of the state that issued the original order?  What if both parents and the child no longer reside in the state that issued the original order?

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act was crafted to provide answers to these questions. Continue reading →

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Last month was an exciting one for Texas family law attorneys.  During this year’s legislative session, our friendly representatives down in Austin had their hands full with a number of new bills that sought to alter significant portions of the family law landscape.

There were three bills that passed their way through a House committee but ultimately were voted down after strenuous lobbying by the Texas Family Law Foundation.  The first bill that was voted down was HB 4093, which sought to repeal section 6.001 of the Texas Family Code.  Section 6.001 provides that “the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault if the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.”  Had HB 4093 passed and been signed by Governor Abbott, parties seeking divorce would have to prove another valid ground for divorce, including adultery, cruelty, living apart, or abandonment.

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Are you currently serving in the military or know someone who is?  Texas is home to one of the largest populations of active military members in the nation.  As such, the Texas Family Code has specific statutes that address the unique issues facing our military members in the family law context.

For instance, what happens if you have primary custody of a child after a divorce and you are called overseas or ordered to military duty in another state?  Texas Family Code § 153.701 states the following: Continue reading →

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Recently, a story out of New York has been circulating across the internet involving a Manhattan Supreme Court Judge that permitted a woman to serve her husband with divorce papers through a private Facebook message.  According to the story, the husband was a somewhat transient individual who lacked a fixed place of residence and was not employed.  The woman and her attorney tried everything they could to get her husband served, but even a private detective was not able to locate the whereabouts of the husband.  When the woman told the Judge that her communication with her husband was mostly through Facebook, the Judge decided that service through Facebook message was the new frontier of ensuring due process in the twenty-first century.

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Welcome back to the third and final installment on the ways in which paternity is established in the state of Texas.  This blog post will focus on adoption and some of the interesting intricacies that can spring up as prospective parents peruse the legal landscape of adoption in Texas.

Chapter 162 of the Texas Family Code contains the statutory rules surrounding adoption.  A question commonly asked of family law attorneys is:  “Who may be adopted?”  Section 162.001 provides that a child residing the state of Texas may be adopted if:  Continue reading →

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Welcome back!  Let’s dive in to the third way in which paternity can be established in Texas:  an adjudication of paternity.  Under chapter 160 of the Texas Family Code, an “adjudicated father” is defined as a man who has been adjudicated by a court to be the father of a child.  Well that is not very helpful is it?  Kind of like trying to describe the color blue to a blind person by saying that it looks very blue.  Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?

Texas law provides that a civil proceeding may be maintained to adjudicate the parentage of a child, and that such proceedings are governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.  One of the main considerations when discussing suits to adjudicate parentage in Texas is whether you have standing to bring the suit.  Subject to certain exceptions, a proceeding to adjudicate parentage may be maintained by: Continue reading →

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If you have ever wondered how paternity is established under Texas law, here are a few key points to remember.  First, there are five ways in which a father-child relationship can be established:

  • (1) an unrebutted presumption of the man’s paternity;
  • (2) an acknowledgment of paternity;
  • (3) an adjudication of paternity;
  • (4) adoption; and
  • (5) the man consents to assisted reproduction by his wife resulting in the birth of the child.

Now, what does it take to be considered a “presumed father” under Texas law, and how can that presumption be rebutted?  Well, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if: Continue reading →