The 'Other' Family Law
Back in the Dark Ages, when I went to law school, the Texas Family Code had just been codified. Up until then, for over one hundred years, all the family law statutes were in various places called Articles and scattered throughout the law books in various volumes lying about in dusty law libraries.
These days, however, with the luxury of having so many resources online, anyone can now obtain and read the Texas Family Code. This is the set of statutes which have been enacted by the Texas State Legislature, and which are amended every two years, and codified into one Code book, which for the Family Law statutes, results in the Texas Family Code.
So, when you want to know the answer to a Family Law question in Texas, you simply have to read the Texas Family Code! Right?
WRONG! And this is yet another reason you should almost always hire a good lawyer.
In our system of government, please recall that there are three branches: the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial. Simply speaking, the Legislature, comprised of Representatives and Senators elected by their constituents, meet in Austin every other year and enact various laws about all kinds of subjects, including Family Law. They are the Legislative branch. They enact laws which end up being the Texas Family Code. The Governor of Texas, representing the Executive branch, may veto occasionally get involved in the legislative process by veto to overrule the Legislature’s ideas. He’s not too important for this topic. But what’s most important for you, as a Family Law client, is the Judicial branch.
The Judicial branch of our government consists of various levels and types of Courts. The most important courts in terms of making actual law affecting you are the several regional Texas Courts of Appeal and the Texas Supreme Court.
These Courts are regularly tasked with INTERPRETING, EXPLAINING or CLARIFYING the statutes or Codes which are enacted by the Legislature and sometimes even the Texas Constitution. Often, in doing so, these Courts essentially MAKE NEW LAW. To truly understand actual Texas Family Law, you must also be acquainted with these Courts’ written opinions which are issued for lawyers to read and interpret.
There are numerous examples. Here are a few of the more obvious ones:
The Texas Family Code states that the Court will determine custody based on the “best interest of the child.” It also says that the Court, when deciding how to divide a couple’s property, shall divide the property “as the Court deems just and right.” What do these phrases mean? How are they applied to the facts of a case, or more especially, YOUR case? Well, there have been many Court decisions produced over the years which interpret, explain or clarify these legislative phrases and even go so far as to tell lawyers what factors are considered and which are not. To understand what the law is, then, means you have to also understand how the Courts have ruled on these types of cases. This affects YOUR case.
There is a reason lawyers spend three years in Law School and many hours in Continuing Legal Education. It may not seem like it to us at the time, but the skills we are taught are in fact invaluable to the art and science of practicing law and providing services to clients. Do not underestimate what skills and knowledge you pay for when you hire the services of an experienced professional. You need that extra knowledge that only lawyers will readily have.
If you want a lawyer who stays current on the evolving nature of Texas Family Law, and especially if you are living in our great area cities such as Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, The Colony, Little Elm, Prosper, Lewisville, Carrollton, Addison, Richardson, Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Coppell, Colleyville, Southlake, Rockwall, Forney, Kaufman, Waxahachie and the like, give me a call at (817) 338-4500 and let me help you.
I hope this information is useful. Best wishes.