FAMILY LAW

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THE LAW OFFICE
OF
DENISE WILLIAMS

6001 Savoy,  Suite 512
Houston, TX 77036

Office: 713-914-0963
Fax: 713-334-3270
The information provided in this website is offered for informational purposes only; it is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice. Replies to
e-mail messages, if any, will be from a licensed attorney but will be general in nature and will not form an attorney-client relationship. Be aware that
the confidentiality of information sent over the internet may not be legally or otherwise protected.
Finding the right divorce and family law lawyer can be a huge task - but it's important for you to make the
right decision for you. Legal matters themselves can be complex and confusing. When you add the hurt
feelings and strong emotions of family problems, it can be a very tense situation. I will try my best to
explain the law and your rights so that you completely understand the legal process involved in divorce,
child custody, visitation, and support and how those processes will affect you and your family.

Please                        if you would like to set up an initial consultation to discuss the details of your situation.
If you are looking for a divorce attorney in Texas, I have the experience to help you through the divorce
process so you can move on with your life.

Family Law - An Overview
Family law is the term that is applied to the laws and rules developed regarding family relationships.
Family law rules define not only the relationships between members of a family but also between a family
and society as a whole. More than any other area of the law, family law reflects the values society shares
regarding how people who are related should treat each other.

Typically, family law attorneys assist people with the making and breaking of family relationships. Specific
areas of representation usually include marriage and relationship planning, divorce, paternity, child
custody and child support. Some family law attorneys also provide assistance in the area of adoption.
When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and
assistance of an experienced family law attorney often proves crucial to your understanding of the issues
involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of the family-related concern you face.

Marriage
Marriage is a legal and business union as much as it is a romantic one. Although the limitations and
requirements vary by state, basic marriage laws are similar. All states prohibit marriage to more than one
person and marriage between close family members. Some of the more common limitations are:

* A prohibition against marriage between brothers and sisters, parent and child and marriage between
aunt or uncle and niece or nephew.

* Minimum age requirement, typically 18 years. Many states permit marriage at a younger age if parental     
consent is given.

* Residency by one or both of the parties within the state for a specific period of time.

Federal and state laws give married couples many benefits, including:

* Certain tax privileges;

* Federal benefit rights, such as social security, disability, unemployment, veterans' pension and public
assistance benefits;

* Inheritance rights under state intestate succession laws;

* Claimant rights for loss of consortium;

* The right to make medical decisions about your spouse in the event of disability; and

*The right to legally protect marital communications.

Because marriage is a legal and business arrangement, it may be wise to consult with an attorney about
the advantages of entering a premarital or prenuptial agreement. Many couples find it helpful to work
through financial issues and the potential disagreements such issues can create before marriage.

Divorce
A divorce is a method of terminating a marriage contract between two individuals. From a legal standpoint,
divorce gives each person the legal right to marry someone else. It also legally divides the couple's assets
and debts and determines the care and custody of their children. Each state addresses these issues
differently. However, most states follow the same basic principles and use relatively uniform standards.

In some states you need to prove fault, commonly referred to as "grounds," to be able to obtain a divorce.
The majority of states allow at least one form of "no-fault" divorce, where it is not required to prove any fault.
If no-fault grounds for divorce are available in your state, either party may obtain a divorce, even if the other
party does not consent to the divorce. In some states both fault and no-fault divorce grounds are available.
An experienced attorney can help you determine if you should pursue a fault based or no-fault based
divorce.

The primary issues to be decided during a divorce are alimony or spousal support, property division, and,
if there are children, child custody and visitation and child support. When spouses agree, they can usually
obtain a divorce quickly. More typically, divorcing spouses have disputes regarding their post-marriage
financial arrangements and the care and custody of their children.

Each state has different laws regarding division of marital property. Thirteen states follow the community
property system, where marital assets are split equally. The rest of the states use an equitable distribution
system that divides property after consideration of a number of elements in a manner the courts deem to
be fair given the particular situation. Any award of alimony, or ongoing financial support from one spouse to
the other is made in conjunction with the distribution of property. Property division and alimony are often
hotly contested and the early advice of an experienced family law attorney can greatly impact the ultimate
result.

Child Custody & Visitation
The care and upbringing of children following divorce is often an ongoing source of conflict for divorcing
parents. Custody must address both physical custody, or the rights and responsibilities regarding the
day-to-day care and activities of their children and legal custody, or the legal rights and responsibilities
associated with the child's upbringing. Sometimes the couple agrees to an arrangement and sometimes
the court determines one for them. In the past, courts routinely gave mothers physical custody and gave
fathers visitation rights, sometimes awarding joint legal custody of the children with the children residing
with the mother. Today, the courts have begun to realize that sometimes it is in the best interest of the
children that they reside with the father, and reverse the roles of the parents. The courts are favoring joint
ongoing child rearing responsibilities, with the children residing where it is most practical and where they
will flourish best.

Divorcing couples often tackle custody and visitation issues as soon as they separate. Courts generally
honor any custody agreements divorcing parents reach regarding their children. When custody is
contested, most courts will require parents to participate in a mandatory mediation session. Mediation is
an alternative dispute resolution process where divorcing couples work with a specially trained neutral
third party to try and resolve some or all of their disagreements. If mediation is unsuccessful, the court will
determine custody. Though rules differ from state to state, most courts generally reach decisions about
custody and visitation after considering what arrangement will serve the best interests of the child. Courts
often use custody evaluations performed by an outside expert to help them reach such a determination.

Except when parties agree otherwise, courts often impose standard visitation and custody orders. A typical
visitation schedule allows a non-custodial parent to see the children one night a week, every other
weekend and some portion of school and summer holidays. In order to change a court-ordered custody
and visitation scheme the parent seeking the modification must show a substantial change in
circumstances. Some states will only consider a request for modification within two years of an original
custody determination if there is a showing that the child is endangered by the current arrangement. In
order to prevent parents from shopping for friendly rulings in different states, some states will only
consider custody-related requests if the child has been a resident of the state for six months or longer.

Child Support
Biological parents must financially support their children. That obligation usually lasts until the child
reaches "the age of majority" (depending on state law, 18 or 21) or becomes self-supporting. The
responsibility to provide support in the form of regular payments generally arises when one parent has
primary custody of the child. An order for child support may be entered during or after a divorce. Either
parent may be ordered to pay support depending upon how custody is arranged. An unmarried mother
may also file a petition for child support in family court and an order for support will be entered once
paternity has been established.

In every state, the amount of support is set after the needs of the child and the parent's income are
assessed through the use of state specific guidelines. The paying parent must regularly make the ordered
payments. Failure to remain current with child support obligations exposes the paying parent to significant
penalties. Every state has a Child Support Enforcement office. Along with the family court, these agencies
have the power to suspend professional or business licenses, take away driver's and recreational
licenses, require payment of future owed sums in advance or place non-paying parents in jail when child
support obligations are overdue.

Once support has been ordered, both parents have the right to request changes and some states
undertake regular review of existing orders without the need for a specific request. Paying parents face a
difficult time when making a request that support be reduced. Even if a paying parent's current income is
insufficient to meet their support obligations, a court may impute a higher earning capacity to them and
order support based on that higher earning power. Because of the state specific requirements involved in
child support, parents can benefit from the advice and involvement of an experienced family law attorney
when child support issues arise.

Adoption
Adoption is the legal procedure that allows a family to make a child who is not biologically their own part of
their family. Every adoption, whether foreign or domestic, requires the action and approval of a court to
become final.

Each state has its own policies and procedures controlling child adoption. Most states have measures in
place to assess the fitness of the adopting parents. Upon adoption, adopted children generally receive all
the benefits afforded to natural children and parents owe adopted children all the legal duties of care and
support owed to a natural or birth child of the marriage.

Adoption relieves birth parents of the financial responsibilities they owe their children. In the past, adoption
also meant birth parents relinquished the child forever without the privilege of seeing the child or being
otherwise involved in the child's life. However, particularly in domestic adoptions, policies have changed
and birth parents sometimes now are allowed open adoptions where they maintain contact with their
children after adoption becomes final.

Family law attorneys who offer adoption-related services can help both adoptive and birth parents
throughout all phases of the adoption process.

Conclusion
Family relations create a host of legal consequences. Whether you are contemplating marriage or divorce,
or are considering adoption, an experienced family law attorney can explain the laws that apply to your
particular situation and help you understand their effect so that you may make the best choices for you and
your family.

Family Law

Adoptions
Child Abuse - Victim
Child Custody and
Visitation
Child Support
Divorce
Domestic Violence
Enforcement of Decrees
Family Law
Guardianship
Mediation
Military Family Issues
Name Changes
Paternity
Prenuptial Agreements
Restraining Orders
Separations
Spousal Support or
Alimony
State Child Protection
The information provided in this website is offered for informational purposes only; it is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice. Replies to
e-mail messages, if any, will be from a licensed attorney but will be general in nature and will not form an attorney-client relationship. Be aware that
the confidentiality of information sent over the internet may not be legally or otherwise protected.

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THE LAW OFFICE
OF
DENISE WILLIAMS

6001 Savoy,  Suite 512
Houston, TX 77036

Office: 713-914-0700
Fax: 713-914-0963