Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One Judge's view on visitation by the non-custodian parent in Texas

Visitation by the non-custodial parent: 

A lot of comments/questions have been made on a facebook attorney group (a private group for only Texas family law attorneys) about whether or not a parent can send his parents, new wife, whoever to exercise his period of possession. 

Lots of opinions have been expressed by family law attorneys about this, but in a case in Montgomery County recently (CCL #3, Judge MacDonald), the judge had this to say (paraphrased): 

"Dad's time with the child is his time, and he can do what he wants with it. If he wants to send the child to spend that weekend with his parents, that is his right. He does not need Mom's permission, any more than Mom needs Dad's permission to let the child spend the weekend with a friend, or the maternal grandparents, or anyone else. Mom cannot refuse to surrender the child to Dad's designated competent adult because she doesn't believe Dad will be the one exercising the period of visitation. It is Dad's choice." 

So, there's One Judge's Opinion. 

Another judge might have another opinion.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

What the term "certified" mediator means in Texas

A person that advertises that they are a "certified" mediator in the State of Texas means that they have completed the basic 40 hour mediation training. As far as I can determine, and I've asked many people to answer this question for me, apparently it means nothing in the State of Texas.

Technically when I completed my basic training in 2004 I was a "certified" mediator.

Since my basic training I have taken advanced training every year - in both family law and in mediation.

For example, in the past year I have completed approximately 100 hours of State of Texas continuing legal education in family law, mediation training and mediation teaching.

The only group in Texas that offers any sort of credentialing is the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association.  I have been a credentialed mediator since 2008.  In 2012, I became a credentialed advanced mediator.  In 2015, I became a distinguished credentialed mediator.

There is no licensing of mediators in the State of Texas.  The TMCA is the only organization that offers any sort of "title" for a mediator.

I would be wary of anyone claiming to be a "certified" mediator.  Ask them what makes them a "certified" mediator.  Ask them if they are credentialed by the TMCA -- very few mediators are able to qualify and maintain their membership in this organization. Ask them how many hours they have in mediation training.

Quite frankly, I've lost count of all my mediation training hours. I did quick calculation and it is easily over 250 hours just in mediation training. This does not include the hours I've spent training new mediators or the hours I've spend in family law continuing legal education.

Association for Conflict Resolution - Houston Chapter

I was voted President Elect of the Houston Chapter of Association of Conflict Resolution at their annual meeting held in January, 2015.

I have served on this board for the past several years.

I look forward to working with this volunteer board to advance the field of alternative dispute resolution in the Houston area.

Texas Association of Mediators

I was elected to the board of TAM - Texas Association of Mediators at their annual meeting on February 21, 2015.

I am one of 3 mediators in the Houston area to serve on this volunteer board.

I look forward to serving on this board.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Who gets engagement ring when couple breaks up?

I can't marry you! – who gets the ring if the engagement is called off?


Can the person who gives an engagement ring get it back if the wedding gets canceled?
For better or worse, some engaged couples start saying "I don't" well before they make it to an altar. This raises a very practical question: Who gets to keep the engagement ring if the wedding is called off? The answer depends on the specific facts of each case, with a particular focus on who is "at fault" for calling off the engagement.
Texas law applies the conditional-gift rule, which means that an engagement ring, by its very nature, is a conditional gift given in contemplation of marriage. The conditional gift rule as applied by Texas courts contains an element of fault. This means that Texas courts will look to which person is at fault for breaking the engagement.
From a practical standpoint, what all this means is that if a women accepts an engagement ring and sometime thereafter breaks the engagement for no justifying reason, the law requires her to return the ring to her former fiancé. In a recent opinion from the Austin Court of Appeals, this rule was also applied to a man. In that case, a man who became engaged and then called off the wedding because of the wife's "sexual hang ups" and "issues with men" was deemed to be at fault, and the woman was allowed to keep the engagement ring.
Keep in mind that the law addressing return of engagement rings varies greatly on a state-by-state basis. For example, many states do not consider "fault," reasoning that it's virtually impossible for a court to determine whether a particular breakup is justified and declining to penalize a person for ending a doomed relationship. Nevertheless, the law in Texas is clear – the person at fault for the canceled engagement can lose their rights to the engagement ring.

Be advised that judges do not like these type of cases.  The cost of litigation will probably exceed the value of the ring.  Plus, most courts will order you to mediation to resolve this case.  Fran

Engagement Ring appellate case


NO. 03-02-00302-CV

Michael Curtis, Appellant
Michele Anderson, Appellee



This is an appeal from a summary judgment in a suit brought by appellant Michael Curtis to recover a diamond ring from appellee Michele Anderson after Curtis terminated the couple's engagement.

Curtis sued for breach of an oral agreement and conversion, and the trial court granted Anderson a summary judgment. Curtis appeals arguing that Anderson was not entitled to summary judgment because the ring was a conditional gift, and Anderson's possession of the ring became an unlawful conversion when Anderson refused to return the ring.

We will affirm the judgment of the trial court.

To read the entire opinion - google the above information & read it for yourself.

Monday, February 16, 2015

CPS Attorneys in the Houston area - partial list

Here are the names of some attorneys 
that I have worked with on CPS cases.

Bobbie Young, RN and Attorney


Barbara Ramirez


Rose Cardenas


Claudia Canales


Jontae Chatman


Katrina Griffith


Eric McFerren


Rogers J. Boudreaux, Jr.


Leonel "Leo" Farias


Julie Rosemary Brock-Clure


Stephanie Proffitt


Patricia Bushman

I think she's raised her usual deposit rate to $3,000
effective 8/15/2014.  Her first appointment is free.

Or, look on www.avvo.com under "CPS attorney" and your county.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE immediately hire an attorney if CPS contacts you.  Do not wait! It is never a good idea to try to "negotiate" with CPS without an experienced attorney standing next to you!