Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Whether Halloween for your family is usually filled with spooky traditions (boo!) or trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, no parent wants to miss out on their kids in cute costumes, or digging out a few of your favorite treats from your little one’s candy bag at the end of the night for yourself (It’s okay, we all do it!).
Parents can consider approaching Halloween without scares of fighting, “split-time” or alternating “every other year,” and make this year a treat for your children. But remember, it takes a commitment from both parents for these treats to work, and a promise that there will be no conflict or tension between parents around their kids during this special time.
Treat #1: Trick-or-Treat Together. True—you may not be pulling the matching family costumes out of the closet—but still, children can benefit from seeing their parents come together to support them, even if it is just for one night of fun. You can consider getting input from your children about the neighborhood they prefer to trick-or-treat, without asking them to choose. Once there is consensus, Mom and Dad can discuss and agree upon the place and time that the other parent will come by for shared parenting time during trick-or-treating. Ideally, you would tell the children together about your new Halloween plans and let them know that both of you are so excited to see them in their awesome costumes this year!
If trick-or-treating is not possible together at the same time, you can accomplish a similar goal of sharing the holiday by having Dad go out with the kids for an hour while Mom hands out candy, and then switch so that Mom goes with the kids while Dad hands out candy. It still shows parental cooperation, and this may also minimize any tension.
Remember, Halloween trick-or-treating is a brief, but memorable for your kids. As parents, you are capable of protecting this precious time by raising the level of cordiality, despite what may have been a rocky history. Let down your guard, keep it light, focus on your children and appreciate that years in costumes are numbered. You can do it!
Treat #2: Other Halloween Events. Trick-or-treating can be fun, but so can all the other spooky events going on around the Halloween season. From haunted houses and hayrides or even school Halloween parties, there is something for everyone. If being together for the holiday is just not possible, make it a point to celebrate in different ways with your children. Maybe Mom goes trick-or-treating, but Dad gets to help at the school Halloween party. That way, no one misses out on festivities. Here’s a healthy co-parenting Tip: Dad could reinforce Mom’s relationship with the children by letting them know how cool their costumes were by the photos that Mom sent him – and Mom can do the same by telling the kids how cool she think it is that Dad went to school and helped with the party. This positive reinforcement is the foundation of healthy co-parenting, and what kids need most emotionally and developmentally.
Treat #3: Make Halloween a Group Affair. If the idea of trick or treating with your former spouse and children is simply too scary on Halloween, try relieving the pressure by making it a group event. Make a plan with a group of other parents and children to go trick-or-treating all together and invite the other parent. This may reduce the awkwardness of not having others to socialize with, and your children will feel special to know they get to spend the holiday with not only both of their parents but also their friends.
Treat #4: Who Wants Even More Halloween? Candy for Everyone the Night Before! Admittedly, not the healthiest approach from a nutritional standpoint, but if you and your spouse are not able to celebrate together, try alternating years where one parent has the children the night before Halloween and the other has time with them on Halloween night. The night before Halloween can be just as fun! New traditions can be created. Maybe the night before you start a dress-up-and-go-to-the mall-tradition. Or a dress up and movie night. Maybe even a trick-or-treat the night before Halloween!
For many parents, some of these creative approaches to Halloween may be possible. These ideas may have also helped you think of your own fun ways to approach it too. And for others, these approaches may not be possible at all—just do the best you can given the circumstances.
In any event, be well, be safe, and Happy Halloween.
Monday, October 28, 2019
Why Do People Abuse?
Domestic violence and abuse stem from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abusive people believe they have the right to control and restrict their partners, and they may enjoy the feeling that exerting power gives them. They often believe that their own feelings and needs should be the priority in their relationships, so they use abusive tactics to dismantle equality and make their partners feel less valuable and deserving of respect in the relationship.
No matter why it happens, abuse is not okay and it’s never justified.
Abuse is a learned behavior. Sometimes people see it in their own families. Other times they learn it from friends or popular culture. However, abuse is a choice, and it’s not one that anyone has to make. Many people who experience or witness abuse growing up decide not to use those negative and hurtful ways of behaving in their own relationships. While outside forces such as drug or alcohol addiction can sometimes escalate abuse, it’s most important to recognize that these issues do not cause abuse.
Who Can Be in an Abusive Relationship?
Anyone can be abusive and anyone can be the victim of abuse. It happens regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race or economic background. If you are being abused by your partner, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You might also blame yourself for what is happening. But, no matter what others might say, you are never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions. Being abusive is a choice. It’s a strategic behavior the abusive person uses to create their desired power dynamic. Regardless of the circumstances of the relationship or the pasts of either partner, no one ever deserves to be abused.
(Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline)
If you believe that you are a victim of abuse and need immediate help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-787-3224. If you live in Harris or Galveston county and need help obtaining a protective order, divorce or any other family law help, you can get more information by calling The Palmer Law Firm at 832-819-3529.
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
"A parent who becomes aware of dangerous behavior or damaging influences ...can ask the court to protect the children by removing them from the source of the immediate or potential danger."
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Sunday, August 11, 2019
The General Rule:
No matter the form of communication, the general rule is - assuming you aren't doing it for an illegal reason (harassment, etc.) if you are recording a communication between yourself and another person, you may be alright in recording it. But if you secretly record a conversation between two other people you may get in big trouble. But are many exceptions and precautions to this general rule, so you must read on!
Summary of statute(s): An individual who is a party to either an in-person conversation or electronic communication, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the communication, can lawfully record it, unless the person is doing so for the purpose of committing a criminal or tortious act. A person also can lawfully record electronic communications that are readily accessible to the general public. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 16.02 (Vernon 2011).
In-person conversations: The consent of at least one party to a conversation is required to record an “oral communication,” which is defined as “any oral communication uttered by a person exhibiting an expectation that the communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying that expectation.” Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 18.20. Thus, an ex-wife can record a conversation with her ex-husband at a Starbucks because she does not need consent to record conversations in public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. However f she records the same conversation in the privacy of the home, where privacy is usually expected, then she should get the ex-spouses permission before recording or she may be breaking the law.
Electronic communications: Things can get VERY SERIOUS when recording electronic communications because Federal Wiretapping Laws may come into play.
The consent of at least one party to any telephone communication is required to record it. And because the provision of the statute dealing with wireless communications applies to “a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature,” consent likewise is required to disclose the contents of text messages sent between wireless devices. Id.
Hidden cameras: It is a felony to photograph or record a person without the person’s consent in a public place “with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person,” or in a bathroom or private dressing room “with the intent to invade the privacy of the person, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person,” and to disclose any images obtained by these means. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 21.15.
The law, however, does not criminalize the use of recording devices for other purposes in areas to which the public has access or there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e., filming conversations on public streets or a hotel lobby). The state’s highest court for criminal cases recently held that the statutory prohibition on photographing or videotaping a person in public without that person’s consent with the intent to arouse or gratify a sexual desire did not implicate, much less violate, a defendant’s free-speech rights because the statute was not a regulation of speech or the contents of a visual image but rather a regulation of the photographer’s or videographer’s intent in creating the image. Ex parte Nyabwa, 366 S.W.3d 710 (Tex. Crim. App. 2012).
Criminal penalties: Illegally recording an in-person conversation or electronic communication is a felony offense. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 16.02.
Civil suits: Anyone whose wire, oral or electronic communication has been recorded or disclosed in violation of the law can bring a civil suit to recover $10,000 for each occurrence, actual damages in excess of $10,000, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and court costs. Under the statute, an aggrieved person also is entitled to an injunction prohibiting further unlawful interception or disclosure. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 123.004.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans (5th Cir.) held in 2000 that a television station and reporter who obtained illegally recorded tapes of telephone conversations, but who had not participated in the illegal recording, could nonetheless be held civilly liable under the federal and Texas wiretap statutes. Peavy v. WFAA-TV, Inc., 221 F.3d 158 (5th Cir. 2000). The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, along with two other cases raising similar issues. The Supreme Court refused to hear the Texas case but decided in one of the other cases, Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001), that media defendants could not be held liable for publishing information of public concern that was obtained unlawfully by a source where the media were blameless in the illegal interception. Following the Bartnicki decision, the parties in the Peavy case settled out of court.
Disclosing recordings: Not only can you get in serious trouble for illegally recording a communication, if you then show the illegal recordings to anyone, you may be breaking additional laws. Trying to get your attorney to listen to, watch or hold on to such illegal recordings counts. And then if your attorney tries to use illegal recordings in court, you BOTH can be violating the law.
Disclosing the contents of a wire, oral or electronic communication obtained through illegal recording is a felony. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 16.02
The bottom line
The bottom line is that if you plan to record conversations without informing everyone that you are recording them, then make sure you follow these guidelines:
1. There are no circumstances when you can record a person for an illegal purpose such as to harass them or for sexual gratification.
2. At least one party to the conversations needs to be aware they are being recorded;
3. Do not record someone when they should reasonably expect privacy (such as in their home);
4. If you have an illegal recording in your possession, do not try to show it to anyone.
It is best to consult with a lawyer before attempting to do any sort of fact gathering on your case.
If you have any further questions about taping phone calls, recording conversations or taking videos in relation to your family law case in Texas, please visit our website at www.thepalmerlawfirm.com.