Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Harris County Parenting Classes

Here are some 4-hour parenting classes:

Online Parenting Programs
onlineparentingprograms.com
starts at $39.99
also offers co-parenting classes, high-conflict classes, ager classes ad parenting skill classes
755-886-0869 - based in Carson City, Nevada
info@onlineparentingprograms.com



Stop the Conflict
www.relationshipseinar.net
www.divorceasfriends.com
713-520-5370
Bill Ferguson
Price - unknown



Parenting Choice.com
$39.99
www.parentingchoice.com



ParentClassOnline.com
$29.99
www.parentclassonline.com
830-372-4555



Family Services of Greater Houston
www.familyservices.org
713-861-4849
Se Habla Espanol
also offers classes on anger management, substance abuse assessments and other parent education classes

This list is only an example of some of the classes offered in the Houston area -- look on-line for more classes.



WARNING:
The 308th Judicial District Court of Harris County likes for people to attend in person - the judge does not like on-line classes



Monday, April 7, 2014

Timeline for removal of a child by CPS

If the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) also known as CPS take possession of a minor child in the State of Texas without the agreement of a parent or guardian, the following deadlines apply.  The date is calculated from the date the child is removed from the home.

Day 1 - Removal of a Child /Emergency Hearing

Day 14 - Adversary Hearing

The court will make temporary orders regarding the child or return the child to the parent, guardian or relative if the court finds it is safe to do so and is in the child's best interests.

"Best interest of a child" is not defined in the State of Texas and every judge has their own definition of this term.

Day 60 - Status Hearing

Day 180 - Permanency Hearing

Day 270 - Permanency Hearing

Day 360 - Trial/Dismissal of Suit or Extension of the Case

Day 720 - Trial or Dismissal of Suit

The judge must either dismiss the case or the court will enter a final order regarding the conservatorship of the child by this date (Day 720).

As you can see, you need to immediately retain the services of an attorney if your child is removed from your home.

If your child is removed, you definitely need an attorney at the hearing on Day 14.
If you miss this hearing, then you won't get a chance to go before the judge again until 2 months have passed.

If CPS gives you a "service plan" you need to do it!
CPS is free to modify the "service plan" whenever they want to do so.
Keep a detailed log of everything going on.
Write down each phone call, email, etc. to CPS - date, time and name of person you called.
Also, contact the person's supervisor if you don't hear back within 24 hours.
Be aware that CPS workers have a very high turn-over rate - you might end up working with 2-4 different CPS workers during your case.

There will be an attorney appointed to represent the child.  Contact this person immediately.  Normally it is a family law attorney.  Judges take the attorney ad litem's recommendations under serious consideration.

If you want to take the child into your home, you need to show up to court and let the judge know that you want the child.  Your background will be thoroughly checked by CPS.  If you are a non-relative, you need to show some sort of "ongoing" relationship with this child.


Flat-rate uncontested family law (such as divorce, name change, modification, emancipation) cases

I am willing to do uncontested family law cases if everyone agrees and there is no need to go to court.

Name Change $2,000 plus all court costs & filing fee costs (approx. another $500)

Divorce - no kids - $1,000 plus all costs (court costs & filing fees (approx. another $500)

Divorce - with children - no QDRO or unusual visitation orders - $2,500 plus all court costs and filing fees (approx. another $500)

Divorce with children & a QDRO prepared by a QDRO company
(this still involves me doing more work on the case) - $3,000 plus all court costs and filing fees (approx. another $500)

Emancipation of a Minor Child - $2,500 plus all court costs and filing fees (approx. another $500)

Modify Custody or Child Support - $2,500 plus all court costs and filing fees

Add another conservator to the court order - $2,500 plus all court costs and filing fees






CPS Emergency Removal of a Minor Child

CPS may conduct an emergency remove of a child if a CPS worker finds:

There is a present danger of serious harm to the child in the home;

The caregiver's protective capacities are insufficient to keep the child safe from the harm;

and/or

There are reasonable efforts that CPS can make to prevent removal of the child that would be consistent with the safety of the child.

If a child is removed by CPS (without a hearing) an emergency hearing must be held by a court on the "first working day" after removal of the child, but no more than three (3) days after removal.

See Texas Family Code Section 262.106

At this hearing, the judge will determine if the factors listed above exits.

If the judge finds any of the 3 above listed reasons exist, then the child will remain in the possession of CPS until further order by the court.

To read more go to www.tyla.ortg and download "What You Should Know about your Child Abuse, Neglect or CPS case.

Hire an attorney immediately to represent you in court if CPS has taken your child.

Look on www.avvo.com for an attorney in your area.
It's the best free website that I know of for people looking for an attorney.




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Beware of programs to "hack" cell phones and tablets

I've just become aware of some potentially dangerous websites that sell programs to hack into cell phone and tablets.

They also sell passcode and password "crackers".

These sites claim that they can capture and monitor everything on your cell phone or tablet. It also claims to "control" the microphone and camera.  It allows the person to use GPS to track you.  It gives you "spoofing" tools.

Quite frankly, this technology scares me.

One website is www.flexispy.com
Their premium program sells for $149 year
Their premium program sells for #349 year

Beware! Their premium program claims it can record phone calls and "spy" on messages.  This is illegal in the State of Texas - if you are not a party to the conversation.  Your attorney can be held liable if he/she even listens to this type of potential evidence so many attorneys won't even let you bring info like this into their office & they don't want to know that such evidence even exists!  The fines are huge & it's a federal crime too.  It's not admissible in court & the judge cannot hear illegally obtained information -- so it is a waste of time and money.  But, as you probably are aware, a stacker might not care that obtaining this information is illegal and there there could be criminal prosecution if caught.

For anyone involved in a potential custody fight, you need to be extra careful.
You might consider not using a smart-phone.
And be careful of any emails or texts you receive.


Monday, March 17, 2014

www.TexasLawHelp.org - Free legal forms

The best website for people that want to do their own forms is...

www.texaslawhelp.com

Their forms are not all perfect but they are free and based on Texas law.



The Supreme Court of Texas has approved (2013) forms for people that need a divorce with no children and no property.  That packet of forms is on this website.  The judges must accept these forms if you fill them out properly! Be careful because several judges have denied divorces because the forms are not completed properly.




Monday, March 10, 2014

Fran Brochstein LLC | Lawyers - Divorce in Houston

December 2013 - Houstonia Magazine

In the December 2013 issue of Houstonia Magazine I was selected (along with over 400 other Houston attorneys) as one of the top attorneys in Houston.

There were 30 attorneys listed under Family Law - and I was one of them!

I did not pay for this endorsement.

Quite frankly, I did not know about it until a friend called me.  I had never heard of the magazine. I think it is distributed in the Galleria area and I don't live in that area of town.

Thanks Houstonia Magazine!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Article written by Don Sinkov of New York - www.yourdivorcemediator.com

Below is an article written by Mediator Don Sinkov of New York.  It is excellent & I think you will find it informative.  Enjoy!

CHOOSE DIVORCE MEDIATION?
Separation and divorce are among the most painful and disruptive events an individual or family can experience. Tension quickly develops when a divorce is contemplated. The problems are both financial and emotional, deeply touching all members of the family.
This is not the time to place your lives in the hands of someone who will cause you additional financial hardship and prolonged litigation. Mediation of matrimonial matters are found in every State except New York. Mediators will not be found in courts in New York. You got to ask yourselves why?
Divorce Mediation aims at reducing tensions, not increasing it. With the help of a divorce mediator, couples negotiate their own settlement and learn the techniques for resolving future differences. Divorce Mediation is for couples who want to retain control over the decisions that affect their lives and don’t want their children caught in the middle.
Divorce Mediation is not just for couples who already know how to cooperate. Divorce Mediators show people how to work together productively in spite of their anger.
Sometimes during Divorce Mediation, other professional services are needed. A list of professional referrals is available including accountants, lawyers, financial planners, career counselors, psychotherapists and child psychologists.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
  • Takes less time, so you can get move ahead with your life.
  • Costs less.
  • Allows you to control the decisions that affect your life.
  • Benefits children, and others close to you, by reducing conflict.
  • Avoids public disclosure of financial and personal matters because it is confidential.
WHAT POINTS ARE DECIDED?
  • Equitable Distribution
  • Custody and Parenting Arrangements
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
  • Tax Implications
  • Ways to Avoid Future Problems
HOW DOES DIVORCE MEDIATION WORK?
Puts the pieces of the agreement puzzle together with Divorce mediationDivorce mediators have special training in matrimonial law, financial planning, taxes, and the emotional effects of divorce on adults and children. The mediators will help you and your spouse work together to reach an agreement.
Mediators help couples separate their spousal role, which is ending, from their parental role, which is continuing. The mediators will help you focus on the relevant issues and help identify possible options. You will actively participate in the negotiations leading to reasonable solutions and a mutually satisfactory agreement that considers the needs of all family members.
The mediator is not an advocate for either party and does not make any decisions. Instead, the mediator helps you explore all options and their consequences.
Mediation is also for couples who do not have children, or whose children are grown.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE AND WHAT IS THE COST?
The average length of time it takes to reach an agreement is 2-6 hours. Sessions are scheduled for two hours each and are usually a week or two apart.
Divorce Mediation time is charged on an hourly basis. The cost for a mediated settlement, including the cost of attorney review, is usually less than one third of a traditionally litigated settlement because you, and not your lawyers, are doing the negotiating.
WILL I NEED AN ATTORNEY?
After mediation, an attorney, with your consent, will draft the legal agreement which becomes a binding contact. Don works with experienced attorneys who will prepare your Agreement. Each party may have the agreement reviewed at his or her own cost, or waive review by an attorney before signing it. The agreement may then be used as the basis for an uncontested divorce.
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
At the first session, the mediation process is explained in detail. Divorce Mediation is informal, but thorough. Don will guide you through the entire process, so don’t worry. You don’t have to be a great negotiator. He will make sure that everything that needs to be addressed is covered, and that nothing is left to chance.
Once the process is understood, the real work begins. With the help of the mediator, the couple starts by discussing their concerns. These can be financial concerns, such as division of marital assets and marital debt, or how bills will be paid; emotional concerns, including questions like, “What do I do now?”, or, “If my spouse moves out, how will I pay the mortgage?”, or, “What about insurance?”; or practical concerns, which encompass many areas, such as who will live in the marital residence or where the children will live. Step by step, decisions are made. During this process, care is taken to make sure that the needs of all family members are considered.
Once a tentative agreement has been reached, a formal agreement is drafted.
POST-DIVORCE MEDIATION
Post-divorce mediation can help you resolve issues that arise later, such as parenting and scheduling, financial matters and communication.
The reason post-divorce issues arise, is simply that people’s lives change. Your lives, your children’s lives, and living arrangements are some of the things that might change. Even though you covered all the issues relevant at the time of the divorce, there is no way to predict how future events might bring about the need for an adjustment in your agreement. As an example, the visitation agreement that you made initially might need amendment in light of a new job or a new relationship. As your children grow, their needs change, too, and what was appropriate for a six year old, might not work for a teenager.