Having Family issues?

As attorneys, we deal with very sensitive and complex issues at the worst moments in people’s lives. One of the worst can be issues involving the family. The ending of a marriage, the conflicts between parents in raising a child, the hurt involved in it all. Emotions guide many clients throughout these processes, much more than a criminal or immigration case. Attorneys can end up being more counselors to clients through their time of need rather than legal advisors. The attorneys at Alonso & de Leef, PLLC are experienced in dealing with these issues and guiding clients through these trying times. An attorney can fight but once they leave, the family is left to pick up the pieces. We fight for our clients and their families so that they have something to build on for the rest of their lives.

The attorneys at Alonso & de Leef, PLLC are experienced in many areas of family law, including

Divorce

Getting married is a fun, easy process. It’s a happy time in a couple’s lives where they commit themselves to each other and celebrate their love. When that love turns sour, emotions come out and, in many cases, the decision is made to end the marriage. The process is not so fun and easy. It’s long, complicated, and tiresome. Unless a couple is 100% in agreement on all the issues, a court battle most likely will ensue.

When an individual files for divorce, they are asking the court to first and foremost, end the marriage. However, many more issues arise as the result of a divorce, such as property division, paternity, child custody/visitation, and child support.

In Texas, a couple can ask for a divorce simply because the relationship has become so bad that they cannot stay together anymore and there isn’t a chance they will get back together. This is called a no-fault divorce. No-fault divorce means a spouse does not need to prove the other spouse did anything wrong to be granted a divorce; you no longer want to be married and will not get back together.

However, Texas does still allow for a divorce based on the fault of the other party but these are not as common as they once were. Statutory fault grounds include:

Along with ending the marriage, the court will also divide the parties’ property. Texas utilizes a community property system in divorce cases: property acquired during a marriage belongs to both the husband and the wife (community property), unless they can show that it was acquired before the marriage or they acquired it during the marriage by gift or inheritance and then their spouse has no right to it (separate property). It is presumed that any property acquired during a marriage is community property but it can be classified as separate property if you can prove the property meets the definition.

Just because something is determined to be community property doesn’t necessarily mean that the property will be divided 50/50. The Texas Family Code requires a just and right division of community property. That means a Judge can consider all the factors, including bad behavior, fault grounds, or disparity in earning capability, to reach the just and right division and divide the property 55/45 or 60/40. Everyone’s circumstances are different and require analysis by an experienced divorce attorney.
If a party is married and has children under the age of 18, the issues involving the children such as custody, visitation, and child support will be handled along with the divorce. There are very limited circumstances where this may not be the case.

If you are considering a divorce or have decided that your marriage is irreparable, contact a divorce attorney to guide you through this complicated process. Divorce cases are complex and largely contested. They involve a high level of analysis that an experienced divorce attorney can provide as they guide you through the process. The attorneys at Alonso & de Leef, PLLC can review your specific circumstances and advise you of your rights and options.

Paternity

Married or unmarried, living together or not living together, in a relationship or not in a relationship, Texas parents, both mothers and fathers, have legal rights and obligations regarding their minor children that begin at the child’s birth.

In Texas, there are 5 ways to become a father:

Each way has specific requirements and sometimes steps that must be accomplished before a father can exercise his rights or a mother can enforce the duties of a father.

However, “street lawyers” can confuse the issues surrounding paternity causing parents to not fully understand the laws and their rights and they do not take action until it is too late. There are time limits on some issues and failure to act can sometimes result in a parent giving up considerable rights.

For example, if a child is born during a marriage and is not the husband’s child, the husband has four years to contest the paternity. The only way around this time limit is if the alleged father, the husband, doesn’t find out that the child is not his until years later. Then, from the day he suspects the child is not his, he has two years to file a suit contesting paternity.

Paternity is a sensitive and extremely complicated topic involving many emotions and legal pitfalls. We at Alonso & de Leef, PLLC are willing and able to assist and guide you through the process.

Child Custody/Visitation

Parents care more about their children than they do about themselves. They will lay down their lives for their children and fight to the death to avoid “losing” their child or children to the other parent. These emotions are justified but sometimes will lead to inaccurate conclusions about the law.

There are few rights that Texas laws protect besides the right to be a parent. Very few people actually “lose” access to their children in a divorce or custody proceeding. A parent may see a decrease in time they spend with their child but that is only because the child is spending time with the other parent. Courts must balance both parents’ rights to spend time with their children. It may not always be 100% fair to the other parent, but the courts are ordered to protect the rights of both parents to be a parent to their children.

Texas does not use the term “custody” when referring to how rights and duties are allocated between parents; we use “conservatorship.” Despite the different terminology, we’re essentially discussing the same thing.

The Texas Family Code allows for two types of conservatorship:

Generally, joint managing conservatorship means the parents have the same rights and duties regarding the children. There are ways to reallocate the rights and duties so that parents must make decisions together or one right is exclusive to one parent but essentially the main difference is the children live with one parent and they have visitation with the other parent. Texas presumes it is in the best interest of the child for both parents to be named joint managing conservators.

Sole managing conservatorship means one parent has all the rights and duties to a child and the other parent may only have visitation. There is a high burden for a parent to be named sole managing conservator; it is usually reserved for situations where there has been abuse, neglect, or family violence.

Visitation in Texas is a relatively settled issue. The Texas legislature wrote a Standard Possession Schedule into Chapter 153, Subchapter F of the Texas Family Code that most Judges follow when making visitation orders. Depending on each family’s situation, there can be some variation. Courts prefer that parents work together as co-parents in determining when each parent spends time with the children.

The issues involving child custody or conservatorship and visitation are detailed and complex. There is no one right answer for any family or child. Each situation is different and must be analyzed differently. The family law attorneys at Alonso & de Leef, PLLC are experienced in these issues and will advise you on your rights and options.

Child Support

Texas law is clear that each parent owes a financial obligation to their children whether the children live with them or not. Each parent has a duty to support the child, including providing the child with clothing, food, shelter, and medical and dental care. For the non-custodial parent, this duty results in a child support order.

The Texas Family Code clearly defines the amount of child support the non-custodial parent must pay which is based off the number of children and taken from the monthly net resources of the non-custodial parent.

Having other children not subject to the suit that the other parent has a legal duty to support is such a common occurrence, the Texas Family Code has developed guidelines for those situations.

The family law attorneys at Alonso & de Leef, PLLC are well-versed in the laws surrounding child support and the guidelines. We will fight to obtain a child support order in the proper amount and advise you on your rights.

Modification

No one can predict what situations or circumstances will pop up in the future when it comes to family law. We do all that we can to plan ahead but sometimes it becomes necessary to change the terms for custody/conservatorship, visitation, or child support. Courts would prefer not to make any modifications after an order has been entered but sometimes it is unavoidable. There are limited circumstances when an order can be modified depending on the modification requested.

Most custody, visitation, or child support modification are filed claiming there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances, such as one parent has been convicted of child abuse or has developed a severe drug habit. Those examples are on the far reaches of what can be considered a material and substantial change and every situation is different. It’s best to meet with a family law attorney to discuss your particular situation and your legal rights and options.

Examples of material and substantial change in circumstances that would allow for a change in child support, include but are not limited to: loss of employment by parent ordered to pay support; increase or decrease in income by parent ordered to pay support, or child begins living with parent ordered to pay support.

This list is not complete and everyone’s situation is different. The family law attorneys at Alonso & de Leef, PLLC are well-versed in the laws surrounding modifications and are ready to analyze your case and advise you on your rights and options.

Credit or Debit Card Fraud as well as Fraudulent Use or Possession of either Identifying Information or Credit Card or Debit Card Information are all extremely complex and technical charges that require specific forms of evidence to hold the state to their burden of beyond a reasonable doubt. You need an experienced attorney on your side to scrutinize and explain the evidence and your options so that you can make the right decision in your case. We at Alonso & de Leef, PLLC are willing and able to assist and guide you through the process and fight for you.

Enforcement

Once a court order is rendered, it is a criminal action to violate that order. If an opposing party has violated the order in any manner, a motion may be filed asking the court to hold that party in contempt. This can be done for either a temporary order or a final order.

Enforcement actions may be pursued for violations of a custody order, visitation order, child support order, spousal maintenance order, or property division order. If a party is found in contempt, the possible penalty is the same as a Class B misdemeanor – $500 fine and up to 180 days in jail for each violation or contempt finding. The opposing party can also be ordered to pay the filing party’s attorney’s fees.

These types of motions are very detailed and intricate. If not drafted properly a Judge will not be able to grant relief and the filing party will be forced to start over. Because of this, it is best that you hire an experienced family law attorney to assist you.

Of course, as with any criminal action, there are defenses that can be asserted for all violations. Sometimes there is a valid reason to violate the order but it needs to be presented to the court in the proper way and in the proper language for it to be legally valid. When this happens, it is imperative that you have an experienced family law attorney on your side to assist in crafting the proper defense. The family law attorneys at Alonso & de Leef, PLLC are well-versed in the laws surrounding enforcements and are ready to analyze your case and advise you on your rights and options.