dallas divorce attorney

My Divorce is Costing Me What? Why is This Divorce Costing So Much?

Financial costs of divorce may often be significant. Divorce lawyers, like any other professionals, are paid according to their skill, training and experience. In Texas, one can expect to pay an advance deposit from $2,500 to $25,000 depending on the complexity of the legal issues involved, as well as the quality and expertise of counsel selected. In addition to the legal fees, some cases require “expert testimony” regarding the value of certain significant assets, i.e. business interests, the marital residence, rental properties, art work and more.

One reason most experienced divorce lawyers want a substantial retainer is that once an attorney files an appearance, they are charged with duties in their role as an officer of the court. Under law and court procedure an attorney must make appearances and file specific legal documents with little or no discretion depending on the opponent’s conduct. Initial filings and other documents may appear deceptively simple, but can challenge even the most patient person. The devil truly is in the details, especially where haggling parties look for disagreement. Even minor issues can blow up, and evolve into unnecessary expense.

Divorces involve complicated issues and many times it is necessary to have a temporary hearing sooner rather than later to sort out legal and monetary issues for the pendency of the divorce proceeding.  Who will continue living in the home?  Who will make mortgage payments?  Who will make payments on automobiles?   Who will pay certain credit cards?  Who will pay utilities?  Who will maintain the property?  Who will be responsible for the debts?  All questions must be carefully considered and weighed out.

In divorces with child related issues there are more complicated factors to be considered.  Who will receive primary custody of the children? Where will the children live and how often?  What school will the children attend?  How will their education be paid?  How much child support will be paid? What visitation schedule will work for the parents and the children?  How, when and where will the child exchange take place?  Which parent will maintain health insurance?  Will the child’s residence be restricted to a particular geographical area? 

In all cases, marital assets must be divided; and even if there are few marital assets and only marital debt, there remains much to fight about, or resolve.

The state of Texas makes it unethical for lawyers to take a divorce action on a “contingency fee” basis. That leaves only two ways for a divorce lawyer to be paid: by the hour, which is the most common; or on a flat fee basis. Hourly fees in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex area for a divorce lawyer range anywhere from $250 per hour to $550 per hour and up, depending on your choice.

In the cases where one party has a distinct financial advantage, the economically disadvantaged party can apply for temporary attorney fees and costs to be paid immediately by the party in control of the resources provided a fund is available for such use. In a proper case, such temporary motions often are granted by the trial court in order to level the playing field.

After every hearing, whether it concerns child related issues, marital assets, debts of the parties, or property owned by the parties, an order must be drawn by counsel based on either the court’s decision or the agreement of the parties.  Many times these orders involve the drafting of further legal documents such as Deeds of Trust, Deeds of Trust to Secure Assumption; Special Warranty Deeds, and Real Estate Lien Notes relating to the parties home; Powers of Attorney to transfer title of automobiles; Wage Withholding Orders for the withholding of child support; and Austin forms (required by the Bureau of Vital Statistics in every divorce action).  Often a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is necessary to divide retirement plans, accounts, pensions and the like.  These are just a few of the necessary documents required in some divorce actions.

Bottom line is: the less the parties fight the less they will pay. Lingering animosities do not expedite resolution. Courts do not want to hear “he said/she said.” Whether that is right or wrong is for a social commentary, not a legal guide. That is why there are ‘irretrievable breakdown’ divorces.

Other factors that affect the cost of divorce are: whether the divorce is adversarial; how much you pay hourly for your legal counsel; if you and your spouse are battling over child custody issues involving children; the number of marital assets and debts you have to deal with; and whether your spouse’s attorney is unnecessarily aggressive and adversarial, without purpose.

When selecting a divorce lawyer know what you are looking for.  Your counsel should be a person in whom you can put your total trust — after all your emotional health, the emotional health of your child(ren) and potentially the emotional health of your grandchildren could be at issue. The way to keep divorce costs under control is to select the right lawyer and to force your intellect to overrule your emotions when making decisions.

By Nacol Law Firm | Property and Asset Division
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Supervised Visitation in Texas – Part 1

Former spouses often use informal visitation arrangements as an opportunity to assault, harass, stalk, and emotional abuse their children and former partners.  In addition, some parents will use their children as a means to hurt the other parent by denying access to the child(ren) even though such access has been ordered by the court, i.e. failing to be at home during scheduled visitation periods, failing to bring the child(ren) to a scheduled location for the other parent to exercise their court ordered visitation, faking illness, etc.

Supervised visitation takes place between the non-custodial parent and his or her child(ren) in the presence of a third party who observes the visit to ensure the child’s physical and emotional safety.  Though sometimes reasonably and successfully ordered, visits voluntarily supervised by friends and family in their homes can be fraught with danger for the child and parent, as well as the monitor, especially in cases of domestic violence.  Family members may trust the parent whose visits are being supervised and therefore may not take proper or sufficient measures to assure the child(ren) are watched or monitored at all times during the visit. 

Consequently, when supervision is indicated, possession/visitation supervised by a neutral third party with the capacity to enforce effective safety measures is normally ordered and enforced by the courts.  The expenses of such supervision are often excessive and may in themselves create a detriment to possession by a parent.  Such agencies may also provide reports and recommendations to the court based on the success or failure of the supervised visits.  Such recommendations assist the courts in making informed decisions regarding supervision and whether continued supervision in the best interest of the child(ren).

If supervised visitation is requested, some type of compelling reason and evidence, based on the circumstances surrounding the child(ren) must normally be established.  Such evidence may include denial of access, drug addiction, mental or physical abuse, neglect, or severe mental illness of a parent.  The following is a potential list of acts and/or circumstances that may be considered contrary to a child’s best interest.

• Violence or physical endangerment – A noncustodial parent may be denied visitation rights if the parent has abused the child or threatened physical violence.
• Emotional harm – Where sufficient proof is offered of potential emotional harm or that standard visitation has detrimentally affected a child’s welfare, supervised visitation may be ordered.
• Child’s wishes – A court may consider the child’s wishes as to visitation.  The weight given to a child’s preference is dependent on the child’s age, emotional stability, maturity and motives.
• Abduction – There must be a showing that there is a strong imminent probability of abduction to limit visitation on this basis.
• Substance abuse – A parent who abuses drugs or alcohol may be ordered to supervised visitation restrictions if the conduct endangers the child or if the parent uses abusive language and/or mistreats the child.
• Mental illness –Mental incapacity may be a reason for supervised visitation only if it is determined by the court that there is a reasonable potential for harm to the child due to such mental illness.
• Sexual behavior – Courts rarely deny visitation solely on the basis of a non-marital heterosexual relationship.  Courts will, however, cancel overnight visitation by a child with a parent because of the parent’s cohabitation on a showing of an adverse and material negative impact on the child.
• Incarceration – Visitations due to incarceration may be suspended only on a showing that such visits are detrimental to the child.

To have more of your questions answered on supervised visitation in Texas, or for answers to any other Texas child custody concerns you may have, call  Dallas Divorce attorney Mark Nacol of the Nacol Law Firm P.C.

By Nacol Law Firm | Possession of Children
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Texas and Federal Confidentiality Laws – Use Caution with Your Texas Divorce

There are many legal and proper ways to obtain proof of a spouse’s infidelity.  Take care to avoid tactics used to obtain private information that may violate federal and Texas confidentiality laws and a spouse’s right to privacy.  You may be tempted by others to obtain proof of a partner’s infidelity by various inappropriate and/or illegal methods.  Reading emails, recording telephone calls, installing spyware or geographical tracking devices or even setting up hidden cameras are just a few methods a spouse may be offered when entertaining the thought of catching a cheating spouse.  However, such actions may expose both parties and their attorney to civil liability and possible criminal penalties.  Under Texas law, it is a crime to install a geographical tracking device on a vehicle owned by another person.  When emotions are running high, it is imperative that you seek proper counsel as to the proper legal action to be taken when establishing facts.

Both federal and state wiretapping laws apply to divorcing spouses.  A spouse may sue the other spouse or their agents for invasion of privacy.  Federal law regulates electronic surveillance of conversations and access to emails, faxes and voicemail.  The law imposes civil and criminal sanctions for intentional interceptions of electronic communications.  However, accessing email after it has been transmitted, i.e. downloading a text from your telephone or email from the hard drive of a family computer, is not an offense under the Federal Act.  Texas has laws that also prohibit the interception of communications.  Under such laws, counsel may also be held liable if they disclose information received from the intercepted communications provided by their clients.

Federal and Texas laws both allow recording of telephone calls and other electronic communications with the consent of at least one party to the communication.  Under the one-party consent statutes, a spouse may record conversations in which he or she is participating.  This has been extended to include parental recording of a child’s conversations with a third party, including the other parent.  The parent can consent to the recording on behalf of the child so long as the parent has a good faith objective and a reasonable belief that it is in the best interest of the child, even if the child is unaware of the recording.

It is important that a spouse take great care in their means and methods of gathering information.  Information obtained by illegal means can expose one, even if he or she is a spouse, to civil liabilities and possible criminal prosecution.  Texas recognizes that every person has a certain right to privacy.  Such right is violated if a person intentionally intrudes upon the private affairs of another by offensive means.  Accessing stored email or secretly recording a spouse can be a violation of a spouse’s right to privacy.  If a suit is filed, the damaged spouse may recover monetary damages, including punitive damages.

For answers to your questions on gathering information for your Texas Divorce, contact Dallas fathers rights attorney Mark Nacol with the Nacol Law Firm, P.C.

By Nacol Law Firm | Texas Confidentiality Laws
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Please contact father’s rights Dallas Attorney Mark Nacol, or father’s rights Dallas Attorney Julian Nacol with the Nacol Law Firm P.C., for legal insight to your rights as a father. Both attorney Mark Nacol, and attorney Julian Nacol , provide counsel in the area of family law including divorce, father’s rights, interstate jurisdiction, child support, child custody, visitation, paternity, parent alienation, modifications, property division, asset division and more. Attorney Mark A. Nacol is board certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Our attorneys at The Nacol Law Firm P.C. serve clients throughout Texas, including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Grayson, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant counties and the communities of Addison, Allen, Arlington, Carrollton, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grapevine, Highland Park, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano, Prosper, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park, Murphy,Wylie, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Irving, along with surrounding DFW areas.

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