A Tale of Two Divorce Clients

Published August 15, 2012 | By

Please note that the clients and lawyers referenced in the video and transcript are purely hypothetical and not based on actual people.  If you prefer reading to watching, please see the transcript below:

TRANSCRIPT:
Deciding whether your marriage is over and you need a divorce is a gut wrenching, emotionally-draining experience. For those who conclude that it is the appropriate course of action, reaching that point is often a relief because you’ve made a decision. It feels like it’ll be over soon and you can begin rebuilding your life. But far too often the divorce case begins and you discover that things are far from over.

Selecting a lawyer who is going to effectively handle your divorce is extremely important, but most people have no idea how to pick the right lawyer for their case. 

What you need is a divorce firm that specializes in divorce and that has a track record of satisfied and happy clients. A firm that focuses on what should be the main objective in every divorce case: getting the client a fair result as early in the process as possible.

Lets do a hypothetical comparison of two men who have decided to get divorced. 

One, lets call him Bill, mentions to a co-worker that he and his wife have separated and that he’ll be getting divorced. His co-worker enthusiasticly tells him about his lawyer nephew who handles divorces. Bill, thinking his case will be simple and his spouse will agree, ends up hiring the nephew even though he is primarily criminal lawyer. Bill thinks to himself, ‘how hard can a divorce be, right?’ 12 months later, a frustrated Bill is still not close to being divorced.

Lets compare Bill’s situation to Steve’s. Steve had heard plenty of nightmare stories from his divorced friends and knew that he didn’t want to take any chances. He wanted an excellent divorce lawyer. Steve asked these same friends for recommendations, but none of them gave what you would describe as a “ringing endorsement” of their attorney.

So Steve went online looking for the right divorce lawyer for his case. He was looking for experience, a focus on family law, and a firm that had a track record of satisfied clients. When he found a firm that fit this description he scheduled an initial consultation to meet with the lawyer and see if his experience in person would match what he found online. When it did, he hired that firm. Even though his case involved children and some complex assets, four months later Steve was divorced and very satisfied with the result. 

Why were these two outcomes so different? Let’s examine what happened.

Bill’s attorney, not having much experience in divorce cases, was never entirely sure how to proceed. He was frequently hesitant to push forward on the case because he was afraid that he might miss something. He spent a lot of time on issues that turned out to be not that important, while he neglected to focus on issues of extreme importance. He just never was confident that he was handling the case correctly, so he moved very slowly and indecisively.

In contrast, Steve’s attorney knew from experience exactly what needed to be done. He focused on the steps that needed to be taken to get a fair result for Steve as soon as possible. The steps required vary depending on the particulars of each case, but what is crucial here is that Steve’s attorney remained focused throughout the case on the primary overriding objective: get Steve a fair result as soon as possible.

These two men had very different experiences. One had a divorce case filled with frustration, delay, and unnecessary expense. The other experienced a smooth, efficient process handled by a true professional.

While divorce is always an emotionally difficult and painful situation, it shouldn’t be made more difficult by having an attorney who is not qualified or experienced enough to get you an excellent result in a reasonable amount of time. 

If you’re interested in working with a divorce firm that knows exactly what it takes to get a fair result in the minimum time required, then feel free to call the Morgan Law Firm. We would be happy to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation in detail along with your options. Just fill out the form below and we will review it and get back to you to schedule a consultation. If you prefer, just call our office and you can schedule a consultation right away. We look forward to helping you in any way we can.

Posted in Alimony, Child Support, Divorce, Parent-Child Issues, Property Division, Separate Property, Videos | Taged , ,

What is Separate Property in Texas?

Published July 8, 2012 | By

This video explains the basics of separate property in Texas.  If you prefer, you can read the transcript below:

TRANSCRIPT

My name is Scott Morgan, I am a board certified family law attorney. In this video I am going to give an overview of separate property in Texas.

Texas is a community property state. In a Texas divorce case all property owned by either spouse is presumed to be community property. The court is required to divide the community property in a fair and just manner.

However, you can rebut this presumption if you can prove that an asset meets the definition of separate property. In that case the asset is confirmed as your separate property and not factored into the community property division. The court has no authority to award one parties separate property to the other spouse.

Under the right circumstances this can make a huge difference in the overall outcome of a property division.

So what is separate property? There are three types. First, certain types of personal injury recoveries are separate property, but this is quite rare. Second, gifts and inheritances are separate property. Finally, property that was owned by a spouse prior to marriage is that parties separate property.

A common complication is that separate property is not always easy to prove.

You must prove that an asset is your separate property by clear and convincing evidence. This evidentiary standard is significantly higher than the usual preponderance of evidence standard.

Additionally tracing the asset back to its origin can also be challenging.This is especially true with financial assets that have mutated and grown and moved into different accounts during the marriage.

The bottom line is that if you’re getting divorced and have significant assets that you believe might be separate property, you should get a very good family law attorney to help you prove those claims.

I hope this video has been helpful and informative. If you have any questions comments or suggestions for future videos please feel free to comment below.

Posted in Alimony, Divorce, Property Division, Separate Property, Videos | Taged , , , , , ,

How To Calculate Child Support in Texas

Published July 8, 2012 | By

This video goes through the process of calculating child support in a typical Texas case. If you prefer, you can read the transcript below:

Video Transcript

My name is Scott Morgan and I am a board certified Texas family law attorney. In this video I am going to walk through an example of a very simple child support calculation.

In Texas child support is calculated using a formula from the Texas Family Code.  To calculate the child support amount you start with the payor’s monthly gross income.  That amount is then reduced to allow for certain deductions, such as taxes and certain health insurance expenses.  Once these deductions are made you have calculated the payor’s monthly “net resources.”

Note that this number is likely not the same as the payor’s actual take-home income.  There are a lot of deductions that come out of someone’s paycheck, for example 401k contributions, that are not factored into the calculation of monthly net resources.

Once the monthly net resources are calculated, you multiply that amount by a percentage to arrive at the monthly child support amount.  The percentage is determined by how many children there are, with a reduction in the percentage if the payor has other children he is legally responsible for.

As a simple example, lets take a payor who makes $96,000/year or $8,000/month.  Assuming this payor is not self-employed (the net resources calculation is slightly different for the self-employed), we would look at the statutory deduction chart and see that the monthly net resource amount would be $5,920. If we further assume that the child support is for one child and the payor has no other children, then the statutory percentage would be 20%.  We multiply the net resource amount ($5,920) by 20% to arrive at a monthly child support amount of $1,184.

This has been a very simple example and, as with everything in family law, there are certain exceptions that can apply, but this is how child support is calculated in the vast majority of cases in Texas.

I hope you found this video helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions for future videos please feel free to comment below.

Posted in Child Support, Custody, Divorce, Enforcement, Modification, Parent-Child Issues, Videos | Taged , , , , ,

Pick the Right Divorce Lawyer – Here’s How

Published June 21, 2012 | By


This is a video by Scott Morgan, giving his three best tips on how to find the right divorce lawyer for your case. It originally appeared on his blog at austindivorcespecialist.com. If you would prefer, you can read the transcript below:

Transcript

I’m Scott Morgan, founder of the Morgan Law Firm. I am a board certified Family Law attorney and I have practiced family law since 1994. In this video I am going to give you my three best tips for how to pick the right divorce lawyer for your case.
My first tip is to find out choose a lawyer who is experienced and focused on family law and divorce cases.  Sometimes people hire attorneys for their divorce who have very little experience handling divorce cases, thinking that as long as the lawyer has trial experience of any kind that is enough.  Nothing could be further from the truth.   Family law is a very specialized area that is constantly changing. You really need someone whose focus is on family law.

Tip number two – find out what past clients have to say about the attorney.  There is no substitute for getting actual feedback from someone who hired this same attorney and worked with him or her.  If you were referred by someone you know who was a past client, all the better.   Ask this person what it was like to be a client of that lawyer and, if they had it to do over again, would that hire the same lawyer and why or why not? This will give you the very closest thing to the actual experience of being this lawyer’s client before you decide who to hire.

Lastly, tip number three – After you meet with the lawyer for the first time ask yourself if you would be comfortable working with this attorney.  No matter what the résumé says, no matter what the lawyer’s past clients say, if you just don’t feel comfortable with and confident in the attorney, you should keep looking.

Obviously, hiring the right divorce lawyer is a very important decision and one you want to get right the first time. Making the wrong decision and having to switch attorneys in the middle of a case is no fun.  But if you follow these three simple tips you are much more likely to find the right attorney for your case.

If your case is in the Austin area feel free to give our office a call and schedule a consultation.  We would be happy to see if we could assist you.

 

Posted in Child Support, Custody, Divorce, Parent-Child Issues, Property Division, Separate Property, Videos | Taged , ,

Facebook and Divorce – KHOU Interview

Published June 19, 2012 | By

This is another interview of Scott Morgan, this time by KHOU, on the subject of facebook and divorce. See the other facebook divorce interview here.

Posted in Divorce, Videos | Taged ,

Facebook and Divorce – Interview on Fox News

Published June 17, 2012 | By

This was an interview of Scott Morgan in 2010 on Fox Houston on how facebook can be an issue in divorce cases. There had been a lot of publicity at the time about facebook “causing” divorces. It is still common that facebook and other social media play a role in a divorce case, but the media buzz surrounding the issue seems to have died down.

Posted in Divorce, Videos | Taged , ,

Need Information on Austin Divorce?

Published April 19, 2012 | By

Our website is designed to provide Austin area residents with information on divorce and family law so that they can make more informed and better decisions about their situation. Take a look at all of the information on our site and leave a comment or question if there are any areas that you would specifically like to see addressed.

To get you started here are some good areas of the website to begin with:

Morgan Law Austin Divorce Blog – We frequently update our blog to continually add posts on issues related to divorce, family law and how people can educate themselves on the process.  Divorce is never fun but the more you understand the process the less scary it becomes and the better you can manage your case and improve your likelihood of a positive outcome.

Divorce Video Library – One of the most popular areas on our site.  The video library addresses many of the most common questions and issues in Texas divorce and family law, all designed with explanations that a non-lawyer could understand.  This is probably the best place to start if you are trying to get an overview of the divorce process in Texas.

Blog Posts in Divorce Category – These are blog posts that specifically address divorce issues.  While the blog covers family law issues of all sorts (modification, enforcement, etc.), these posts are focused solely on issues related to divorce.

 

Posted in Videos

I’ve Been Served With Divorce Papers! Now What do I do?

Published April 19, 2012 | By

If you have been served with divorce papers and would like to schedule an initial consultation with one of the Morgan Law Firm attorneys please call our office at (512) 551-0807. Please make the staff member you speak to aware that you were served with papers and when that happened. If your papers included a notice of a hearing, also mention that and give the date of the hearing.  Due to the approaching court deadlines after service we recommend you call rather than use the email contact form.

If you have been served with divorce papers there are two things you need to do right away:

#1 – Remain Calm

Often it is a shock to be served with divorce papers, so it is completely understandable if you feel like things are spinning out of control.  However, it is very important that you keep your wits about you so that you can think clearly and make good decisions.  Know that many people have stood in your shoes before (you probably know quite a few) and they all managed to somehow get through it and you will too.

The biggest obstacle to avoiding a nightmare divorce is to let your emotions run away with you.  This keeps from making good decisions that are in your best interest.  Do whatever it takes to remain calm and understand that although it might seem like things couldn’t possibly get worse, at some point in your life this will just be a past event and you will move on with your life.

#2 – Act Promptly

One of the primary legal effects of being served with papers is that it gives you notice and creates certain court deadlines that you must respond to. Here is exactly what you should do after being served with a Citation and Petition for Divorce.

Read the Papers from Beginning to End

This sounds obvious but it is actually quite common for clients to come to the initial consultation without having read the papers through even once.  As unpleasant as it may be it is absolutely necessary that you read the document so you can understand what is being alleged and make notes on what you want to ask your attorney about.  The document will contain a lot of legalese that might not make much sense but your attorney will be able to explain exactly what is meant by the various provisions.

Contact a Qualified Divorce Attorney and Schedule an Initial Consultation as Soon as Possible

Since you have been served with papers you do not have any time to waste.  The time period for you respond to the lawsuit begins to approach on the very first day you were served.  If the papers include a Notice of Hearing you could have a court appearance that is a matter of days away.

The biggest mistake people make in this situation is to procrastinate.  This is a situation that requires immediate action so that your rights can be protected.  If you fail to appear in court for a temporary orders hearing after you have been served with notice your spouse will likely get everything he or she asks for. If you fail to file an answer by the deadline you are likely to have a default judgment taken against you on a final basis.  All of this can be avoided by acting promptly and hiring a good family law attorney who will look out for your interests.

Common Questions After Being Served with Divorce Papers

I have never been violent towards my spouse, why did she get a Restraining Order against me?

In Texas Temporary Restraining Orders are very common and the process of obtaining one is laid out very specifically in the Family Code.  No proof of any wrong-doing is required in order to obtain one. Either party that asks for a restraining order will get it.  Judges typically require that a restraining order be mutual against both parties, not just one. The language in the statute defines several actions that are prohibited during the case, such as destroying records, selling property, hiding the children, canceling insurance, etc.  If your divorce papers include a Restraining Order you should definitely review it carefully and ask your attorney about any of the language you do not understand. Violation of a restraining order can lead to being held in contempt of court.

I just want to get divorced, why do we have to do a hearing on Temporary Orders?

In Texas a motion for temporary orders is very common in divorce cases and generally the hearing is held early in the case.  If a party files a motion for temporary orders and requests a hearing they are entitled to it.  Either by agreement or hearing, temporary orders are entered that typically last as long as the divorce case ends.  Common issues include: custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, use of property including vehicles and residences, payment of bills and, depending on the case, any number of other issues.

Nowhere in the papers I was served with does it explain what my spouse wants.

The purpose of the divorce petition is simply to get the case started.  Depending on the specific allegations there may be additional details provided as to your spouse’s contentions, but the actual terms they are seeking will come out later in the settlement negotiations.

Does my spouse have a big advantage because he/she filed first?

In my opinion there is no significant advantage to being the Petitioner instead of the Respondent. The only difference I might consider an advantage is that the Texas Rules of Evidence provide that at trial the Petitioner gets to put on evidence first, and the Respondent (although they are entitled to do cross-examinations) does not get to put on their case until the Petitioner finishes putting on  their evidence.  Since the vast majority of cases settle this typically is a complete non-issue.

As mentioned above, if you would like to schedule an initial consultation with one of the Morgan Law Firm attorneys please call our office at (512) 551-0807.

 

Posted in Videos