Video Transcription:

Things not to do during your divorce process. Don’t date. Don’t do drugs. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t use your children as pawns or put them in the middle. Don’t dredge on the past of your divorce process. Let the past be the past. We’re trying to move forward. It’s not gonna be beneficial emotionally or financially for you to focus on the past when we’re trying to get you moving forward. If you need counseling to deal with issues in the past, that’s probably a good idea to seek counseling or a support group in some form or fashion. Let us guide you in the divorce process and make sure you don’t step in any of those land mines in moving forward. We wanna make sure you get through the divorce process in the least financially impacting way and the most beneficial for you family and your situation.

Ramos Law Group, PLLC, your family law team of experts.

Video Transcription by Speechpad.com.

Reducing the Cost of Legal Representation

A divorce is one of the most challenging and emotionally draining experiences someone can go through. An effective and experienced family law attorney can help guide you through this trying process, but it’s no secret that hiring legal representation in Texas can be expensive. Consider these tips:

  • Send specific, numbered questions via email
  • Gather documents and do your own homework
  • Create a timeline of your case

In this video, Mary E. Ramos outlines these tips to help reduce the cost of representation in Texas. If you’re going through a divorce, or any other difficult family law situation, contact the expert attorneys at Ramos Law Group, PLLC for more information.

1. Send Your Questions Via Email

Divorce can get expensive, especially when people won’t agree to things. As soon as attorneys get involved, expenses begin to skyrocket. One of the ways that you can reduce your attorney fees during the divorce process is to communicate via email to your attorney when you have questions and concerns.

At Ramos Law Group, attorneys may request that clients send questions, numbered one through five, in an email so that they can addressed and dealt with in an efficient and timely manner. The office policy is to return all emails within a 24 hour period.

2. Do Your Own Homework

Another way to mitigate your expenses is to do as much homework as you can on your own and gather documents to provide your attorneys. The less time that your attorneys have to work on your case, the less expensive it is for you.

3. Create a Timeline

One of the most effective tips to help reduce the cost of representation in Texas is to create a timeline of your case for your attorney. In other words, write out the ‘story’ of your case. Your divorce case is a story, and the only way your attorney is going to be able to relay that story to the judge is to know exactly what is going on. Remember: this your case, this is your marriage, these are your children, this is your life.

By providing as much detail as possible to your attorneys, they will be able to express your concerns to the judge more accurately; it’s like drawing a picture in a coloring book, and filling out that picture with as much detail as possible. This puts your attorneys in a better position to reach the goals set in your case.

Contact Our Team Today

Mary E. Ramos is committed to achieving positive outcomes for each and every one of her clients. As a board certified family law attorney, she has the knowledge, experience, and reputation you’re looking for when you’re going through a divorce. Consider these tips to help reduce the cost of representation in Texas, and schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Ramos Law Group, PLLC, today.

If you’ve recently been served with divorce papers in Texas, chances are you’re having a hard time understanding exactly what it is you’re supposed to do next. While taking some time to absorb this information is completely understandable, it is also imperative that you act quickly to protect your rights. Take the time you need to work through your initial emotional response by seeking the support of friends and family. Once you’re able to think clearly, you’ll want to start putting together your formal response and planning the next steps forward.

Preparing Your Response

After a few days, you’ll want to decide whether or not you need a divorce attorney. Putting together your response can be a tricky and painstaking process, one which could require careful planning if you need to respond to multiple allegations. The attorneys at Ramos Law Group have extensive experience dealing with clients who have been served with divorce papers and need to enter a formal response.

Do I Need To Go To Court?

If you’ve recently been served with divorce papers, you may be wondering if it is necessary to go to court. As soon as your attorneys file your response, the opposing counsel will be notified. From that point, your attorneys will try to see what can be done by agreement, if temporary orders need to be put in place, or temporary injunctions that say neither party will cancel insurances, accounts, or transfer money. This will maintain the status quo until both sides’ attorneys can divide the community estate between parties.

After this phase, there may be an option to attend mediation. Mediation is required on all cases before a final trial is heard in front of the judge, but usually it is helpful to have the parties mediate as soon as possible to obtain financial information about both parties and understand the divorce situation.

Contact Our Team Today

Mary E. Ramos is dedicated to achieving positive outcomes for all of her clients. She and her team understand that any legal situation involving family is emotionally challenging, and they work hard to get results while making the process as painless as possible. If you’ve recently been served with divorce papers in Texas, contact the trusted team of family law experts at Ramos Law Group, PLLC, today.

If you’re going through a divorce and you and your spouse have children, it’s important to take parenting classes to learn how to communicate effectively to serve their best interests. However, the court may also require that you and your spouse attend classes as part of an agreement made with your child custody lawyer. Above, board certified family law attorney Mary E. Ramos outlines a few of the benefits of parenting classes during a divorce in Texas.

Parenting After Your Divorce

There is a four-hour parenting class that’s required and depending on the court, you may be required to attend multiple classes. Our attorneys encourage clients to take these classes early on, so that they have that knowledge and information to utilize during the case. The parenting class doesn’t teach you how to be a parent, but it teaches you how to communicate in two different households. This is where you can leverage the benefits of parenting classes.

It can be hard enough to discipline children in one household; in two separate households, being able to discipline and communicate with your children can become extremely difficult. Children of divorce will learn how to manipulate their parents, and parents, despite their separation, need to be on the same page with how they’re going to move forward and address these issues.

If divorced parents don’t talk to each other, children will pick up on it and start to say what each parent wants to hear. If you are on the same page with the other parent, you can address concerns you have with your children directly with the other parent — not through your child. It’s a better way to protect your child from being impacted with the divorce process. Regardless of your divorce, you’re going to be a co-parent for the rest of your life.

Contact Our Team Today

Choosing a divorce lawyer and going through a divorce can be one of the most emotionally challenging events in one’s life, and attending co-parenting courses with your spouse will be no different. Yet the benefits of parenting classes during a divorce extend well beyond satisfying the orders of the judge; it’s important to put the wellbeing of your children front and center to help them with this difficult transition.

If you have more questions about parenting classes during a divorce in Texas, or you need the expert advice of a board certified family law attorney, schedule an appointment with Ramos Law Group, PLLC, today.

Video Transcription:

Normally when parents have an issue with communicating with each other, there is a great website that a lot of attorneys and judges use, called OurFamilyWizard. Now this is an online calendaring program where both parties can actually log in and create an account for their children. On this website, they can post the children’s extracurricular activities, doctors’ appointments, they can even include requests for exchanges of weekends and whether or not the other custodial parent will actually accept or deny those exchanges. And you can post uninsured medical expenses all to the same website.

One of the benefits is that you can’t go in and change the information from the website and if a judge wants to, they can always log in, and look, and review the communications between the parties. If you have a disagreement about whether or not you exchanged weekends, or agreed to a different schedule other than your order that’s in place, you can also refer to the website as a means of documenting what happens.

I also like clients to consider using this website because when you come in for a divorce, you have to create a story and a history of your relationship, and address the concerns that you’ve had with the other parent, regarding your children or any other situation. If you maintain participation through Our Family Wizard website, then that’s all been documented for you, and you can just hit print and we will have all of that documentation ready to go, and it’s in admissible form for the court. The courts now are actually requiring a lot of parties to participate through Our Family Wizard, and this is a good way to keep everybody accountable for their actions.

Ramos Law Group, PLLC, your family law team of experts.

Video Transcription by Speechpad.com

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The Supreme Court of the United States released their opinion on Obergefell v. Hodges. The decision came down to a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice Roberts dissenting, joined by Justice Scalia and Thomas. Justice Alito also filed a dissenting opinion in which Scalia and Thomas also joined.

Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent delivers his opinion that the Supreme Court over –stepped their boundary as a Court, and thus have stolen this issue from the people of the United States. He dissents that the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to say what the law is, not what the law should be.  This statement really seems to portray the entire center of his dissent.  Further, he calls the decision of the court an “extraordinary step” and “ an act of will, not legal judgment.” He brings forth the realization that it can be tempting and an onerous job for Justices to rule on controversial issues, as they can easily confuse their own personal preferences with the requirements of the law.

He states that the Court is “not concerned with the wisdom or policy of legislation and the majority neglects that restrained conception of the judicial role.” Basically, Chief Justice Roberts again forces his theory of over-step, as the Court interpreted what the law “should be.”

Further, he makes clear that his dissent is not about his personal views on same-sex marriage, but rather it is about our democratic republic and the theory that this decision rests with the people of the United States and not with the Supreme Court of the United States. He also delves into a long list of precedential cases and historical cases such as Loving vs. Virginia, which gave interracial couples the right to marry.

He continues in his dissent to reference the majority, who provided definitions for marriage, as well as the historical and societal views of marriage and the marital relationship.  His two cents regarding the union of marriage seem to boil down to the idea that marriage is fundamental and did not come about as part of a political movement. He further states that, “marriage arose in the nature of things to meet a vital need: ensuring children are conceived by a mother and father committed to raising them in the stable conditions of a lifelong relationship.” Further on this thought, he states and implies that procreation is a societal need and that society has recognized the act of procreation between a man and a woman as marriage.

He again explains that the majority’s view and decision is more of a social policy than of a matter of constitutional law. He explains that the majority’s argument “stripped of its shiny rhetorical gloss  is that the Due Process clause gives same- sex couples a fundamental right to marry because it will be good for them and for society.”

To make his dissent even more forthright and impactful, he read his dissent from the bench, something that he has never done in all of his ten year term as a Justice!

Justice Antonin Scalia, a fellow dissenter of the Chief, characterized the decision as a “judicial Putsch” and suggested that, before he signed on to an opinion like the majorities, “I would hide my head in a bag.”

Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14-556, slip op. at 28 (Sup. Ct. June 26, 2015).

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Last Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States released their opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Obergefell consists of a number of consolidated cases that originated from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, all states that limited marriage to a union between a man and a woman.  The petitioners in Obergefell are fourteen same-sex couples and two men whose same-sex partners are deceased.

The petitioners sued the state officials who are responsible for enforcing the state laws in question.  All of the trial courts, the individual United States District Courts in the petitioners’ home states, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

The respondents appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which consolidated the matters and reversed the decisions of the trial courts.  From there, the Petitioners sought review by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Supreme Court review considered two issues on review:

  • Whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex; and
  • Whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to recognize a same-sex marriage licensed and performed in a state that does not grant that right.

The Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment does require both.  Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.

The Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment extends to certain personal choices.  Examining numerous previous decisions regarding the right to marry, the court held that such analysis requires conclusion that same-sex couples have the right to marry.  The Court notes that the reasons that marriage is fundamental apply equally to same-sex couples.    First, the Court addresses how the right to marry is central to personal autonomy.  Second, the Court notes that the right to marry is fundamental as it promotes the two-person union over others because of the level of commitment.  The third basis is that it protects children and families.  The Court notes that all parties are in agreement that same-sex couples provide children with loving and nurturing homes and that the children of same-sex couples, without the protections of marriage between their parents, suffer.  Finally, the Court notes that marriage is an integral part of social order in our country.  Justice Kennedy notes that, although limiting marriage to opposite-sex unions may have seemed natural and just, such limitation conflicts with the central value of the fundamental right to marry.

After discussing that the right to marry is fundamental, the court holds that under both the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, same-sex couples may not be deprived of the right to marry.

Next, Justice Kennedy turns to the second question presented.  As the Court held that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry in all states, there is no legal basis for a state to fail to recognize a marriage based on its same-sex nature when lawfully performed in another state.

In conclusion, Justice Kennedy writes:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.  In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.  As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.  It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.  Their plea is that the do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.  Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.  They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.  The Constitution grants them that right.

Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14-556, slip op. at 28 (Sup. Ct. June 26, 2015).

Immigration and DivorceThe state of Texas and the Texas Family Code do not mandate that a person be a citizen of the United States to receive a divorce or pursue a custody case. The only residency requirement is that a person must have resided in the state of Texas for the previous six months and resided in the county of filing for the previous 90 days. There is no distinction in the Texas Family Code between a legal or an illegal resident.

A court will not consider immigration status when awarding child custody, child support, property division, spousal maintenance, or any of the other various family law issues one may encounter in the family law court system.

There are immigration status implications for those going through a divorce so it is important to discuss your facts with an attorney if your case involves immigration issues.

Child Support in TexasIf there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the child, three years since the last child support order and a difference in the month child support amount by either 20% or $100 from what is currently ordered, then you are entitled to ask the Court to increase the amount of monthly child support ordered.

This cannot be done by a simple agreement by the parties; a new order must be signed and approved by the Court for the increased amount to go into effect. You can achieve this by either working with the Office of the Attorney General or hiring a family law attorney to file a modification suit for you.

The party who receives the monthly child support (called the Obligee) can contact their local Office of the Attorney General Child Support office to request that a review be done and increased child support be ordered. The upside to using the Office of the Attorney General is that the services offered are free and can be done without hiring an attorney. The downside is that the Office of the Attorney General is inundated with thousands of cases per year and it can take some time before your case is set for trial on the court’s docket for a child support modification.

Child Support ModificationThe potentially faster method would be retaining private counsel. An experienced family law attorney will be able to tell you how much of an increase in child support you can expect to receive. Private counsel will also likely be able to set the matter for a hearing faster than the Office of the Attorney General would be able to do so.

If you think you are entitled to an increase in child support, contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC and schedule a consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

Same-Sex Marriage in Texas

06/26/2015 – Same-sex is now legal across the nation. – Alfredo

Texas is currently one of twenty states in the United States which ban same-sex marriage via a constitutional amendment. In October 2014, the US Supreme Court let stand a ruling held by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals finding Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The resulting effect was that same-sex marriage bans are effectively voided in states such as Utah, Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma. By declining to rule on the issue, combined with the changes in attitude toward same-sex marriage throughout the country, it can be inferred that the Supreme Court believes that same-sex marriage will become the norm throughout the United States.

Texas, along with Mississippi and Louisiana, comprises the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has not yet ruled on the issue of same-sex marriage. It appears the tide is changing on the ban however. On November 10, 2014, Texas lawmaker Rep. Farael Anchia (Democrat) introduced a bill into the 2015 Legislative Session that would revise the current state law language specifying that a marriage is between a man and a woman. A similar bill introduced by another lawmaker would add an amendment to the state Constitution. Both of these bills could be voted on by the citizens of Texas in the 2015 elections.

For now, same-sex marriages from other states are not recognized as valid marriages in Texas. A same-sex couple previously married in another state will not be able to procure a divorce from a Texas court, as the Texas court system does not recognize that a valid marriage exists. This has overreaching effects on many family-law related cases other than divorce, including child custody disputes and adoptions.

It is possible for a same sex couple to adopt a child or have a custody arrangement through the family courts however conservative values are still pervasive throughout many small-town court systems and even to some extent the metropolitan court systems and until the ban on same-sex marriage is overturned, it will continue to be exceedingly difficult for same sex couples to receive recognition of their marriages, divorces, or family law needs.

Since there are family law issues that can be settled in the Texas Family court systems, it is important to be represented by a family law attorney who is sensitive to the challenges same sex couples may face and has experience in the area. Contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC and schedule an appointment to discuss your case and ask questions relating to the legal process.

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