This blog usually highlights legal developments or interesting articles. This post is different--it's personal, I'm going to brag about my dad.
He's a runner, a stair-climber, a cyclist, a family lawyer, and a licensed (inactive) master plumber. My dad has been participating in the National and Texas Senior Games for years. He's won medals in the 400, 800, and 1500 meter races at the National Senior Games. He finished first in his age group climbing up the Empire State Building in 2012. Now, he's been recognized for his fitness accomplishments--and his callout for all of us to try to be more fit-- in the Texas Bar Journal's In Recess section. I'm proud of his accomplishments, in and out of the courtroom.
He's still at it. He won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the Texas Senior Olympics this past weekend in the 400M, 800M, and 1500M races
The article appears below, and here's a pdf download link to the whole In Recess on the State Bar's website.
Under the Texas Standard Possession Order, April 1st of each year is the deadline for the non-primary parent to designate his or her 30 day extended summer possession period. The standard possession order states that April 1st is the deadline for the non-primary parent to give written notice of the extended possession period to the primary parent.
Remember, the non-primary parent still has the same 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends as during the school year. The extended summer possession time is additional, and must be exercised in two periods. Each possession period must be at least seven consecutive days long. An extended possession period must end at least seven days prior to the child resuming school, and cannot begin before the child's school has ended for summer vacation.
As always, refer to the court's final decree/order if there's any confusion.
The Dallas Morning News is reporting that United States District Judge Orlando Garcia has ruled that Texas' ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Both the Texas Family Code and Texas State Constitution ban same-sex marriage. The article cites the judge's decision:
“Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” he said in his order. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.” Lawyers arguing for the State said that the legislature and the citizens of Texas had chosen to "preserve the traditional definition of marriage." It appears the judge was not swayed by that argument. Judge Garcia "acknowledged his ruling would be far from the final say on the matter" the DMN reports. It is likely that the Supreme Court will decide the issue by ruling on this case (or one of the 22 similar cases in other states) in the future.
Personally, I'm not surprised by this ruling. Recently, federal courts in Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah and other states have struck down various state-level same-sex marriage bans. These cases are a direct result of the U.S. Supreme Court's U.S. v. Windsor decision. In Windsor, the Court struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that restricted the federal definition of "marriage" and "spouse" to heterosexual unions was descriminatory and violated the Fifth Amendment.
The judge has stayed his ruling from taking effect until the ruling can be reviewed on appeal. So how does this ruling effect Texans?
Right now, nothing has changed. Same-sex couples are still prohibited from obtaining a marriage license. It is likely that the State will appeal the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Read the whole article here, it also has a copy of the Judge's ruling attached.
It's hard to imagine life without text messaging, e-mail, and social media. They help to make the world a smaller place. But they can also carry significant risks, especially when you find yourself in the middle of a legal proceeding such as a divorce. Firing off an angry e-mail, text, or tweet could have potential consequences in your case. With social media and electronic communications, the name of the game is think before you text.
Communication between spouses can be important evidence in a divorce case. E-mails and text messages can help show a judge or jury the real dynamics of a relationship, and potentially impeach a witness who is on their best behavior because they're in court. These are just a few examples of electronic evidence, which is an emerging area in Texas Family Law.
Once you send text, e-mail, or social media post, it is out of your control. Before sending something, answer a couple questions.
1) What might a judge or jury think of this text/e-mail/post?
2) Do I want to have to explain this to a judge or jury?
3) Do I want this published in the newspaper?
4) Would I want my children to see this?
It's in no one's interest that a message like the one below gets sent and then entered into evidence at trial:
The above comic is from a webcomic called Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. It seems absurd, but it serves as an example: you don't want to be that guy.
There are a lot of parts of a divorce case that are out of a client's control, like court schedules, but e-mails, text messages, and social media posts are definitely within a client's control. Don't commit an unforced error. Think before you text.
Amelia Earhart was an American icon. She is one of, if not the, most famous female aviators in history. It turns out she was a woman ahead of her time contemplating marriage, according to documents released from Purdue University.
The internet has been abuzz about Amelia Earhart's "prenup." While most people don't remember much about marital property law in 1930s Connecticut, it's pretty clear that this document wouldn't hold water as a modern premarital agreement in Texas. The Texas Family Code demands certain formalities, such as the document must be signed by both parties. This document is not signed by either Amelia Earhart or her (future) husband, George P. Putnam.
Premarital agreements in Texas generally deal with the parties' property. The family code allows broad freedom to arrange marital property rights as the prospective husband and wife wish. This document looks like it doesn't deal with property rights, marital or otherwise, at all.
It looks like a letter from a woman who is contemplating a serious change in her life. She wants to continue her remarkable career and to maintain her privacy as she adds another person to it. She even asks George to "let her go" in a year if they "find no happiness together." She seems to have a rather different view of monogamy than what was dictated by the customs of the times. After all, adultery was a crime in many states in the 1930s.
And, it turns out that she was way ahead of Connecticut. Adultery was illegal in Connecticut as recently as 1990, when four people were arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Shortly thereafter, the Connecticut legislature voided the adultery criminal statute.
The letter appears below.
NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and her husband are divorcing after seven years of marriage, according to news outlets. On another end of the spectrum, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman recently announced they were separating after more than 30 years of marriage. Whether you're a race car driver, a teacher, a movie star or a stay-at-home parent, the decision to end a marriage is one of the toughest decisions our clients have to make. When thinking of divorce, consulting with an experienced family law attorney can help a client understand how the law will effect their family moving forward.
At Raggio & Raggio, one of our attorneys will explain the law to you in understandable terms, not in legal jargon. We'll ask questions to get at the heart of the issue. We'll explain how a Texas divorce works and work to craft a customized legal strategy to help you best reach your goals.
Using Danica Patrick's case as an example, did she and her husband have a premarital agreement? If their divorce were to be in Texas, Texas law generally enforces premarital agreements. We'll see what happens in Danica's case.