Saturday, January 13, 2018

40 Documents You Should Bring To Your Divorce Lawyer

Attorneys charge by the hour so it literally pays for you to be prepared. Here is a list of items you should be gather prior to meeting with your divorce attorney so that your initial interview will go quickly and efficiently.

1. Individual income tax returns for past three to five years (federal, state, and local)
2. Business income tax returns for past three to five years (federal, state, and local)
3. Proof of your current income
4. Proof or spouse’s current income
5. Prenuptial agreement, if already drafted
6. Divorce decrees from previous marriages
7. Bank statements
8. Certificates of deposit
9. statements
10. Retirement account statements
11. Trusts
12. Stock portfolios
14. Stock options
15. Mortgages
16. Property tax statements
17. Credit card statements
19. Loan documents
20. Utility bills
21. Other bills (e.g., school tuition, unreimbursed medical bills, etc.)
22. Monthly budget worksheet
23. Completed financial statements
24. Employment contracts
25. Benefits statements
26. Life insurance policies
27. Health insurance policies
28. Homeowner’s insurance policies
29. Automobile insurance policies
30. Personal property appraisals
31. Real property appraisals
32. List of personal property, including home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, computers, home office equipment, clothing and furs, etc.
33. List of property owned by each spouse prior to marriage
34. List of contents of safety deposit boxes
35. Wills
36. Living Wills
37. Powers of Attorney
38. Durable Powers of Attorney
39. Advance Health Care Directives
40. Your checkbook.

Your lawyer may not ask for all these items, but there is a good chance each of them will be needed at some course in your divorce.  Gathering them now will help you and your lawyer.

Sean Y. Palmer has worked as a Divorce and Family Law Attorney in the Houston Metro Area for the last 18 years.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Twelve Rules for Better Writing Better Legal Emails

Better e-mail writing can result in proposals that win contracts, get you promoted, and just get your message across to the receiver and ultimately win your case. Here are 12 tips on style and word choice that can make your legal e-mails clear and persuasive.

Its human nature for your moods to vary. The beauty of emails is that real time conversations , e-mails are written alone and on your own schedule. Take advantage of this and take the time to let your best personality shine through. Although it is tempting to immediately reply to an email to get it out of your inbox, a better strategy for important e-mails is to compose our answer when your time is not pressured- and especially wait if your are angry.

Most lawyer lean too much in the direct of formality and the emails tend to be long winded and stiff. The better way is go is to keep it simple. Write to express- not to impress. A relaxed conversational style can add vigor and clarity to your emails.

Lawyers are busy people and they charge by the hour. Make your writing less time-consuming for them to read by telling the whole story in the fewest possible words. Avoid redundancies - needless wordiness and phrases that repeat the same conference.

Good writers strive for consistency in the use of numbers, hyphens, units of measurement, punctuation, etc. Keep in mind that if you are inconsistent in any of these matters of usage, you are automatically wrong at least part of the time.

Use legitimate legal or technical terms when they communicate your ideas precisely, but avoid using legal jargon just because the words sound impressive.

Using big, important-sounding words instead of short, simple works is a mistake. Fancy language just frustrates the reader.

Readers of emails want facts. Don't just say good, bad, or fast. Say how good, how bad, how fast.

Long, unbroken blocks of text are stumbling blocks that intimidate and bore readers. Break up your writing into short sections and short paragraphs which makes the text easier to read.

Drawings, graphs and other visuals can reinforce your e-mail. Especially with legal communications, visuals can make your emails more effective.

Voice refers to the person speaking works or doing an action. Whenever possible, use the active voice. Your writing will be more direct and vigourous; your sentences will be more concise.

Poor organization stems from poor planning. Before you write an email, plan. For very important emails, you should create a rough outline that spells out the contents and organization. The outline is a tool to aid your organization, not a commandment etched in stone. If you want to change it as you go along- fine.

Keep your email as short as possible. The art of being concise in your e-mail writing can require considerable effort in the rewriting and editing stage. Philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote to a friend and apologized for sending a long letter. He said, "I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn't have the time."

Top 15 Texas Family Code Sections Dealing with Contempt of Court

A motion for contempt is not limited to the Texas Family Code.  A violation of other types of court orders may also be the subject of an family law enforcement action- for example, a temporary order concerning the emergency protection of children.

A court clearly has the power of contempt to enforce such orders, assuming the order meets certain tests.

Listed here are the Top 15 Family Code sections that mention contempt or enforcement or define when something becomes an order of the court and is therefore enforceable, such as Associate Judge's recommendation or registration procedure.

1. § 6.506- Violation of temporary court orders concerning divorce and property, including spousal support.

2.  §105.001(f)-  Violation of temporary orders concerning children.

3.  §157.007-  Affirmative Defense to Motion for Enforcement of Possession or Access

4.  §157.008- Affirmative Defense to Motion for Enforcement of Child Support

5.  §9.008 and 157.421-  Clarification of orders not specific to permit contempt

6.  §160.622- Violation of Orders Concerning Paternity Testing

7.  §9.012- Enforcing the Division of Property

8.  §152.303- Enforcing a Custody Decree from Another State

9.  §154.188- Enforcing Orders Requiring Health Insurance for a Child

10.  §81.004, 85.024, 85.026- Provisions of Title IV Protective Orders

11.  §159.603- Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (same effect as Texas order)

12.  §264.306-  Child and Family Services, Refusal to Participate in Counseling Regarding Abused or Neglected Child- Community Service as Sanction for Contempt

13.  §201.013- Associate Judge's Recommendation Becomes Order When Signed by the Court

14.  Civil Practice and Remedies Code §31.002-  Although Not Not Contained In the Family Code, The Turnover Statue is included Because it Has Application to Enforcement of Judgments.  The Court May Enforce By Contempt Its Order Concerning Turnover of Assets.

15.  §8.059- Maintenance (Alimony) When AN Order of the Court Or When An Agreement For the Payment of Maintenance Has Been Voluntarily Entered Into Between The Parties And Approved By the Court.

The proper handling of a contempt matter requires technical skill and care and a vast knowledge of the Family Code and other applicable Texas Codes.  If your case involves contempt, you should seek out the help of an attorney who is experienced in this complex area of the law.