Mr. Heiman has been successfully representing clients in divorce cases and other family law matters at both trial and appellate levels for over 25 years.
Convincing a Court to Lift a Residence Restriction on a Child (Part 1)
The ability of a court to restrict the residences of children is one which varies under state law, from state to state. I am licensed to practice law in only the State of Texas, so my discussion will focus on Texas law. While there may be similarities to the laws of other states, you should check with an attorney licensed in the state in which your case sits, if that state is not Texas.
Protecting Children When a Parent Has a Substance Abuse Disorder
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “A substance use disorder (SUD) is a mental disorder that affects a person’s brain and behavior, leading to a person’s inability to control their use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications. Symptoms can range from moderate to severe, with addiction being the most severe form of SUDs.” When a parent has a SUD, the parent-child dynamic is always affected to some degree.
Having a Child Custody Case With Pending Criminal Charges Against You
In our practice, we see cases in which there is a pending criminal charge, such as for DWI, and a civil case, involving child custody issues. Sometimes, the criminal charge involves an alleged assault. Whenever we have one of these cases, we build our case on demonstrating the best interest of the child. It is too easy for the parents to focus on one another, as opposed to what the court truly cares about: what is best for the child or children of those parents. Our job is to make sure that the case is properly focused where it should be.
What Are The Steps To Take After Deciding To Divorce? (Part 2)
In the last post, we discussed the initial four steps to take after deciding to divorce. That article is here. Being familiar with those actions, will help put these next steps into context. As we stated there, ideally you would work through all of these steps before a divorce is initiated by either spouse. Your head will be clearer then, and you will be able to think without the stress of a pending divorce hanging over your head.
Step 5 - Secure Your Information. The first obvious step in this regard is to change your mailing address; but not for your spouse’s mail. And, advise people whom you expect might write to you, to use your new mailing address (which might be a post office box). Storing copies of important documents electronically, in the cloud, is a good way to be able to access them. But, it’s only good if you, and only you, can access them. So, new accounts and passwords are a must.
What Are The Steps to Take After Deciding to Divorce? (Part 1)
Deciding to divorce is a big decision. Once it has been made, proper preparation is, like with so many things in life, a key to making the outcome more likely to be positive for you and your family. And, yet, because it can be such an emotional decision, many people do not develop a plan for successfully moving through the process. This piece is designed to guide you in developing that plan.
Initially, it is important to go through this process before beginning the divorce. That is when issues can be pondered without having the pressure of a pending divorce affecting your decision-making
Step 1 Who will be your allies during this process? Divorce can be emotionally-taxing. One or both spouses may make emotional decisions that create chaos, confusion, or worse. It is easier to get through those times with allies---family members and friends who can provide support. It is also important to have people who you can talk to regularly; esp. if other family members and friends decide to not be there for you at this time. Having the support of allies help you to better weather the storms of your case.
Step 2 Do you understand the property matters? Do you have, or can you get, documentation (hard copy and/or virtual) pertaining to all debts and assets of the family? Car titles, mortgage statements, retirement and brokerage account statements, bank or credit union statements, loan applications, credit card bills, health and life insurance policies, and tax returns are all important to have. Do you know where to obtain any of those documents which you do not already have? Is there anyone who can assist you with this process? Be sure to store electronic versions of those documents in the cloud (such as via OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box), so that you can access them from anywhere that you have an internet connection
Keeping Children Safe
During the craziness of this year, many of our children find themselves in the unusual circumstance of living in potentially dangerous situations. In addition to the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, insecurity in income, housing, and food, add stress that affects the lives of many family members. These stressors are currently enhanced, now that family members are forced to spend more time together, indoors,
During times of crisis, society’s most vulnerable members typically are most at risk. And, so it is for children during this time. Having very little power to alter their environment or life situations, they are dependent upon adults to keep them safe and healthy.
Families spending unusually large amounts of time together do well to establish boundaries for playing, working, and attending school. Designating specific areas for those activities, allows family members to operate in a more relaxed manner. And, being relaxed and comfortable is the opposite of feeling overcome by stress!
It is also important to give more thought than usual to securing dangerous items, so that kids are less likely to access them. Think about items such as alcohol, tobacco, prescription (and non-prescription) medicines, and firearms. While those items should always be secured from children, their security is of even greater importance currently, since children have more time athome to explore and to experiment.
And, of course, potential dangers to our children, via the internet, are enhanced now that children spend even more time online, for activities such as their schooling, and other group meetings. In fact, according to the FBI, “The internet, for all of its benefits, also gives criminals and predators an easy way to reach young people. The FBI most often sees crimes against children begin when an adult:
What are Parents’ Options Regarding School Re-Openings
Are Texas Courts Open and Operating Now?
Our courts began operating far differently than usual, beginning in March, 2020, and they continue to still do so today. This process began when Governor Abbott issued a disaster proclamation on March 13, 2020, “certifying that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses an imminent threat of disaster for all counties in the State of Texas.” He authorized the suspension of the normal rules and procedures for the “conduct of state business… that would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with this disaster.” Following that declaration, both The Supreme Court of Texas, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, issued their “First Emergency Order Regarding The Covid-19 State Of Disaster,” which drastically changed the way that Texas courts operate.1 Texas courts are, however, and have been, open and operating, albeit differently than they did prior to March 13, 2020.
Can You Get Divorced During a COVID-19 Shutdown?
Many courts are not currently operating as they did before during this shutdown. They are, however, open, and processing some cases. Here, in Texas, our state courts are holding “essential” hearings, via Zoom. Essential hearings, in the context of Texas Family Law cases, consist of those concerning matters such as temporary restraining orders, CPS child removal, and applications for protective orders (due to allegations of family violence). All others, such as routine divorce temporary orders hearings, are presently not occurring before June 1, 2020.
Coronavirus: Can Texas force Parents to Quarantine Their Kids (and themselves)?
It was reported earlier this week that with the number of Covid-19 corona virus cases increasing, the 11 regional presiding judges in Texas earlier this week began appointing judges within their respective region to be available to process cases where infected people refused to self-quarantine. The Texas Office of Court Administration is in charge of this project. When can someone be forced into quarantine, and what are the criteria for making that decision? That is what we will discuss today.
Since there have been no reported cases in Texas where a person infected by the Covid-19 coronavirus has refused to self-quarantine, this week’s actions are merely precautionary. According to personnel at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas who I spoke with on March 5, 2020, they have previously had to require patients infected with tuberculosis to be quarantined, when those patients refused to self-quarantine themselves. So, the potential refusal of a patient infected with Covid-19 to self-quarantine should not be surprising.