Unlike the "divorce lawyers" of days gone by, the family law attorney of today must be versed in a wide variety of technical areas of the law, as well as the intricacies of the Texas Family Code. To properly serve clients, and guard against unfair outcomes, the firm's family law litigators combine decades of experience, with established track records of success, and a wide variety of substantive knowledge from disciplines and areas of the law related to child development, business relationships, retirement planning, tax law and planning, and other areas necessary to effectively plan and fully comprehend the impact of the case on the client's goals.
After the divorce petition is filed, there is typically an initial hearing in the case. At this "temporary orders" hearing, the parties may agree on orders to be entered in the divorce case, but if agreement cannot be reached, the court will decide issues relating to child custody, child support, the right to reside in the marital residence, interim use of property, and other matters related to the parties and their children. Proper preparation and presentation of key evidence in the temporary orders hearing will set the tone of the case, thus making the temporary orders hearing a key strategic juncture in the case.
Following the temporary orders hearing, the parties may engage in formal discovery providing information needed to further litigate the issues, or make an educated decision to settle some or all of the issues in the case. If the parties cannot agree on issue resolution themselves, the court will often refer the case to a mediator for further settlement discussions.
There is an old saying that "a jury is twelve people chosen to decide which side has the better lawyer." While that old addage may inspire humor, the reality is that when settlement is not a realistic option, it is critical that the lawyer representing the client be a master of all aspects of the trial of the case. The trial of family law cases is a unique and carefully crafted art that the lawyers at the firm have practiced, honed, and refined, through years of representing families and children.
Child custody is a deeply complex issue that confronts parties with children in divorce cases. Although each case is factually different, the firm litigates child custody cases based on the central and guiding principle of acting in the best interest of the children.
Life is dynamic, and sometimes circumstances change from the time that prior orders were entered regarding child custody, thereby necessitating a modification, or enforcement, of those orders. The court retains jurisdiction to modify such orders, and in many instances, a suit for modification of a prior order may raise and inject new issues into the case when such issues change the balance of the child's best interest.
Likewise, child support orders are reviewable for adjustment when there has been a material and substantial change, or in certain instances set forth in the Texas Family Code. The court has broad discretion to determine child support, considering both the actual expenses related to the children, and the presumptive guidelines for support codified into law. The court is granted the power to depart from the guideline amounts when the needs of the child are proven to be in excess of the guideline amount, or when deviation is required to preserve the best interest of the child.
As with all child related litigation, the best interest of the child must be the driving force and central focus of the case.