HELP! I NEED A LAWYER!

Helpful Tips and Finding and Hiring a Lawyer: A Richard T. Sutherland Podcast

In this podcast with attorney Richard Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas answers the questions most people ask about how to go about finding a lawyer. This blog article serves as a summary of key points. Anyone who needs a lawyer should listen to this podcast and learn the questions and answers about the process of finding a lawyer, meeting with them for a consultation and about elements of the attorney-client relationship.

Listen to Richard T. Sutherland’s Podcast About How to Find and Hire a Lawyer
HELP! I NEED A LAWYER! Helpful Tips in Finding and Hiring a Lawyer
HELP! I NEED A LAWYER! Helpful Tips in Finding and Hiring a Lawyer

Common Questions and Issues in Finding and Hiring a Lawyer for Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, and Modifications.

If you needed to hire a lawyer, how would you go about it?

Financial professionals such as CPAs are also good sources to finding lawyers. They might give you a referral to call a lawyer they know, like and trust. If the lawyer, you call works in a different area of law practice they can make a recommendation and give you the name and number for a lawyer who can help you.

What if no one you know has hired a lawyer or they didn’t like the person they hired?  

One way to find a lawyer is to ask family and friends if they know any lawyers and find out what their thoughts were about the person they hired.

Many people search the Internet and find an attorney in Google search results. If you are looking for a lawyer in a specific practice area you can search that way, for example, “divorce lawyer Wichita County” or more specifically for divorce, child support, child custody or adoption.

You can also use some attorney specific sites such as Lawyers.com or Martindale Avvo where you can find attorneys who are rated by their peers. For example, an AV rated lawyer is deemed to have the highest legal ability and ethical qualifications. Simply search in the filed of law you need a lawyer and where.

What if the attorney I found doesn’t have any recommendations by former clients or has been given poor recommendations, should I avoid that lawyer?

Unfortunately, poor online reviews of lawyers may be a result of a disgruntled client who failed to achieve what may have been a completely unrealistic goal. Worse, it may be a review by the spouse of the lawyer’s client who didn’t like the result and blames his or her spouse’s lawyer for the outcome. Worse yet, the negative review may be placed by the other lawyer.

Note that a lawyer cannot use their client’s name for a review without the client’s express permissions since the lawyer is ethically required to keep the client’s identity confidential.

Are all initial consultations free?

No, all initial consultations are not free and there are reasons why. A lawyer’s advice, as another famous attorney, Abraham Lincoln once observed, is their stock and trade. Giving their trade away for free makes no sense. Lawyer’s advice has value. In a consultation, when the client gives the lawyer confidential information, the lawyer is disqualified from representing anyone ese in their case. So, if the husband has a consultation, lawyer is disqualified from talking to the wife because of the attorney client privilege with the husband.

Unfortunately, there is a common practice by some lawyers, encouraging clients to go and speak with other lawyers to disqualify them from being hired by the other party to the divorce. Some call this an “X out.” So, if husband hires a lawyer and is worried the other lawyers in town might represent wife, they might encourage husband to go talk to the competition law firms so they can’t represent his wife.

Consultations have value. Some lawyers provide a minimum period of free advice such as 30 minutes or less for consultation and other lawyers agree they won’t charge a fee unless the person doesn’t hire them. If the lawyer is hired, the consultation will be charged since the lawyer obtained information necessary to represent the client.

How do I know whether I am going to be charged?

Ask the lawyer when you make the consultation appointment.

I don’t think it’s fair for the lawyer to charge me when all I did was ask him questions.

Lawyers provide legal advice, most often in the form of answers to questions. As you expect to pay a doctor for their advice, you should appreciate paying a lawyer for theirs as well.

What should I expect when I meet a new lawyer?

Prepare a list of questions. You should be comfortable talking to the lawyer about your questions and receiving their response and advice. The lawyer may describe the substance and procedure involved in their situation. If you do not understand, always ask for clarification.

There are no guarantees about the outcome of any case, and you should beware of anyone who claims they can guarantee an outcome. Your lawyer should explain fee and billing practices, so you understand what to expect when you receive a bill for attorney’s fees and costs.

What is a retainer?

A retainer is an amount of money determined by the lawyer as a deposit against costs and fees. There is no a standard retainer and every lawyer may determine their retainer agreement with a client. Filing fees, such as the $630.00 filing fee in Wichita County for a restraining order case, can be paid from the retainer.

As the lawyer works on your case and tracks their time, they apply the hours they work against an hourly rate and bill your retainer. The retainer may need replenishment as the case continues. No lawyer or client knows how long a case will take or what it may cost since there are so many things that can happen.

What is a non-refundable retainer?

Non-refundable retainers are fees paid in advance to secure a lawyer’s services and compensate them for the loss of opportunity to accept other employment. Listen to this podcast and learn why the better rule for practice for family law attorneys is to avoid having non-refundable retainers, for reasons including ethics and professional conduct rules.  

I don’t really have a lot of money to hire an attorney, could he represent me on a contingent fee basis?

No, contingent fees are not allowed in divorce and family law matters. It is prohibited. Richard T. Sutherland explains the unique conflict and conflict of interest between a lawyer and client if contingent fees were to be allowed in family law matters such as custody and adoption.

Can my attorney refuse to release my file to me if I haven’t completely paid him?

No, they cannot hold your file hostage for payment. Doing so may result in damage or prejudice to your rights, prohibited by Texas rules of conduct for lawyers.

I want my mother, father, sister, brother, best friend or someone to come with me when I first consult with an attorney, is that permissible?

Yes, it is common. First the attorney must explain the attorney-client privilege, that it belongs to the client, not the attorney. Richard T. Sutherland routinely explains attorney-client privilege issues and situations to clients who can make an informed decision whether to allow another to be present during their consultation and why they may be exposed to potential danger. Listen to him explain on the podcast.

Are all conversations between an attorney and a client legally protected?

No. If the client were to tell the lawyer that the client intends to engage in criminal behavior after leaving the lawyer’s office, the lawyer is required to report to law enforcement the client’s intent to commit a crime.

There are other times a lawyer must report the abuse or neglect of a child or indecency with a child. Also, changes in testimony can result in the client withdrawing from the case in open court if the client has told the attorney about some act or event and when testifying in court and denying the act or event occurred.

What if I want to change attorneys? How do I do that?

Write your attorney a letter letting him or her know he or she is discharged immediately as your attorney. If you hired someone new, as the new attorney to prepare a motion to substitute counsel and an order of substitution and to send the motion and order to your former attorney for signature. Your former attorney should be given a reasonable amount of time to copy your file before returning original documents to you which must include his notes.

Do I even need an Attorney? Can’t I just get some forms from the Internet and represent myself?

You are not required to have an attorney in Texas. If your case is going to court, you should be familiar not only with the Texas Family Code but also with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and the Texas Rules of Evidence. There is not a separate set of rules and procedures for people who represent themselves and no one at the courthouse can give you legal advice.

In this podcast, Richard T. Sutherland explains in detail the pitfalls of trying to do your own divorce using information and forms you find on the Internet.

If you say “Help! I need a lawyer!”, call The Law Office of Richard T. Sutherland at (940) 691-2100.

Located in Wichita Falls, Richard T. Sutherland is an experienced divorce and family lawyer for divorce, child custody, adoption and other marriage and divorce matters. Contact him from the website or call the office at (940) 691-2100. Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

High-Stakes Divorce in Wichita Falls, Texas

What Do We Mean When Talking About High-Stakes Divorce in Wichita Falls, Texas?

A high-stakes divorce, child custody or family law matter is one requiring experienced, aggressive and detailed legal counsel and representation. In Wichita Falls, families with high-conflict and high-net-worth concerns are best represented by a divorce and child custody lawyer who thinks outside the box and uses years of experience to their advantage. Maintaining privacy and dignity in divorce and custody cases is also important when sensitive issues become the focus of negotiation and litigation.

The issues involved in a high-stakes divorce can be issues of money as well as custody and parenting. Every custody case is unique as is every family. While determining child support can be straight forward, making decisions in the best interest of the child is not always so easy.

Especially when there are unique family circumstances and dynamics involved, high-conflict custody cases require a seasoned family law attorney with the experience to successfully strategize and navigate a challenging case. A well-experienced divorce and family law attorney, Richard T. Sutherland, is an asset in a serious custody case and high-stakes divorce in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Use this link for podcast summaries for a variety of divorce and family law topics explained by Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas.

High-Stakes Divorce in Wichita Falls
For High-Stakes Divorce in Wichita Falls, Texas, Call Richard T. Sutherland (940) 691-2100

Complex Income and Assets in High-Stakes Divorce and Custody Cases

When you divorce in Texas the assets acquired during the marriage are community property to be divided based on what is just and equitable. There are many factors affecting property distribution and how property is characterized as community property or separate property which was owned or claimed by one spouse before the marriage or was acquired by gift, devise or descent.

Meanwhile, separate property, not subject to division in a Texas divorce also includes a spouse’s recovery from a personal injury award, except for recovery for loss of earning. Determining what is separate property and what is community property can be complex and involve serious conflict and is certainly considered a high-Stakes divorce. Listen to our podcast, Community and Separate Property in Texas for additional details.

Issues involving complicated income and assets also affect how income and net resources are determined for purposes of child support and for spousal maintenance if it applies. Many people have variable income, own business and have other unique income. It is important to use an experienced high-stakes divorce attorney who knows how to address unique income and assets.

Business Ownership, Shareholder Agreements and Liability Challenges

There are many family businesses in North and Northwest Texas where large families share ownership of shares in a business and have business assets and liabilities to consider when getting divorced. There can be premarital agreements, postnuptial agreements with duties and obligations affecting the party in a divorce or related family law action involving money.

Consider the setting where your soon to be former spouse is a seated member of a board of trustees for the family business in which you and your spouse both own shares. Buying out your spouse and negotiating their exit from the board can challenging.

The more complicated things are the more there is to win or lose. The experienced high-stakes family lawyer has seen a few challenges in their years of practice and has an important grasp on what it takes to make sure they have all the facts, use the best business professionals and anticipate tax strategies people may have, all to avoid negative consequences of important decisions.  

You may also enjoy this Forbes article, 5 Crucial Steps to Make Your Divorce Less Painful.

A High-Stakes Custody Lawyer in Wichita Falls Who Does Not Back Down Easily

Children only get one chance to grow up right and be ready for a successful transition to early adulthood and their best interests must always come first. Issues regarding children involve parents having rights and duties to make decisions for them, and determine where they reside, go to school and church and more. Medical and mental health issues can also be issues of conflict between parents who do not agree. When parents cannot or will not come to a unique settlement agreement on custody issues, these decisions will be made in Court. Judges prefer parties to come to their own agreements, and while one might not like the other parent’s offer, the judge or jury decisions could be less appealing.

Richard T. Sutherland explains Texas child custody and conservatorship

In Texas we call custody, conservatorship and visitation refers to periods of possession or access to the child. While many co-parents are appointed as joint managing conservators, cases involving family violence and child abuse affect conservatorship and can result in one parent being named sole managing conservator and the other a possessory conservator. These are high-stakes child custody issues.

The determination of which person or parent has the right to exclusively determine the primary residence of a child is a contested issue that is the center of many custody trials before a judge and/or a jury. A trial on this issue alone can involve several witnesses, experts and evidence.

For Every Divorce, Modification, Enforcement or Custody Matter, Be Ready for Conflict and Surprises

When a couple decides to divorce, or the divorce become inevitable, they may start the process with the intention of being agreeable on several divorce and custody issues. As cases are ongoing during the process of exchanging discovery and participating in a temporary orders hearing, things can break down.

When agreements break down and conflict grows, it is important to have the advice, counsel and representation of a divorce lawyer with strategy experience. When it gets to the point two people cannot agree on the color of the sky, they rely on their lawyer to help them through the process and help them know their bottom line.

When there is so much to lose, getting it done right is important. When children are involved, their best interests must be the top priority in Wichita Falls family law.

Call Richard T. Sutherland at (940) 691-2100 for your consultation for high-stakes divorce in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Divorce, Modifications and Enforcement Cases in 2019

Why People File Divorce, Modifications and Enforcement Cases after the New Year

Families look forward to the holidays and couples in challenging marriages and co-parenting situations hope for the best. While being optimistic that the holidays will bring out the best in people, too often they are reminded why they are having conflict in their marriage or with the other parent of their children.

Because Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are so important to children, many parents who know their marriage is on rocky ground, chose to put conflict aside. Many people who were thinking about a divorce, child custody modification or case for the enforcement of court orders are ready to move forward after the holidays and when the kids are back in school.

Divorce Modifications and Enforcements
For Divorce, Modifications and Enforcement Cases, Call Attorney Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas at (940) 691-2100.

Family Violence and Protective Orders

Family violence, drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse and spousal abuse are serious matters. People who don’t leave dangerous marriages and relationships put themselves and their children at increased risk.

The first move when getting out of harm can be a protective order. Your divorce lawyer can help you obtain a protective order on an emergency basis when warranted. If the other party, the respondent, violates the terms of the protective order, they can be arrested and jailed. Protective orders are serious business and should only be used when necessary to protect family members from the threat of or continued harm.

What to Look for When Searching for a Divorce and Family Lawyer

When divorce is inevitable, and the marriage is broken, it is important to be well-prepared. It is important to hire a divorce lawyer focused on divorce and family law issues, an experienced trial attorney with the experience and strategy to produce results.

Whether the matter is a new divorce, modification or enforcement suit, an experienced family law attorney will create a unique strategy in the best interests of the family and children involved. Richard T. Sutherland is a seasoned Wichita Falls divorce lawyer with a career of leadership among divorce and family lawyers in Texas.

Our website offers a growing library of blog articles and podcasts. Listen to attorney Richard T. Sutherland and learn the elements of a variety of divorce, custody and family law topics in Texas.

First Steps When Filing for Divorce in Wichita Falls

There are resources online including the content on this website to help people learn about divorce and what to expect. When someone knows they are ready to start the process and file, they must be ready to move forward. Hiring a divorce lawyer they can trust is important.

Divorce attorneys like Richard T. Sutherland appreciate that divorces can be difficult and emotional. They are accustomed to seeing good people going through rough situations.

It is important to be organized and give your divorce lawyer the information they need to create the best negotiation and litigation strategy to help you and your family.

Being Prepared for Custody Modification Cases

Custody modifications are original suits filed to change the terms and conditions of a court’s temporary or final orders regarding conservatorship and possession or access to a child. When modifications are filed within one year of the last order regarding conservatorship or possession or access, there are several factors that can be alleged to demonstrate that it is in the best interests of a child to make a modification to the custody orders.

In cases including family violence and child abuse, the court may presume a material and substantial change in circumstances required to modify the rights and duties of persons or parents having conservatorship and possession or access to the child. For example, an order naming both parents as joint conservators can change to one parent being the sole conservator. The terms and conditions of possession and access can also be restructured.  

Exclusive rights to determine the residence of the child may also be modified based on grounds and factors for modifications including the above, as well as economic situations, such as a new job requiring a parent to relocate.

Enforcing Possession or Child Support Orders

As children grow older their needs change. As parents pursue new relationships, dynamics change. Sometimes what worked well for years becomes a conflict. When possession schedules become a problem and conflict increases it can become necessary to file an enforcement suit, seeking the court’s intervention in high conflict situations. The court can find people in contempt. They court can also order additional periods of possession or access to make up for an interference with possession or access.

Failure to pay child support also leads to enforcement cases. When a child support obligor changes jobs, loses a job or has a change in employment generally, child support payments can be interrupted. Issues with child support payments and arrearages can be resolved out of court, or a new enforcement case can be filed with the court and served on the non-compliant child support obligor.

Richard T. Sutherland is a Wichita Falls Divorce and Family Lawyer for Divorce, Modifications and Enforcement Cases

In the new year and after the dust has settled, or at any time of year, things can change for people and their families and a divorce, modification or enforcement case is necessary. Richard T. Sutherland is a well-experienced divorce and family lawyer in Wichita Falls, Texas and he has a career’s worth of experience negotiating and litigating cases requiring everything from out of court agreements to significant trials before a judge or jury. He is licensed to practice law in Texas, not Oklahoma.

For a consultation for divorce, custody modification or enforcement of possession or child support, contact us online or call the Law Office of Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas at (940) 691-2100.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

CPS Taking the Child and Subsequent Hearings

CPS Taking the Child After CPS Investigation

In our recent Wichita Falls Family Law Podcast, Attorney Richard Sutherland explained the key elements and purpose of Child Protective Services (CPS) in Texas and what to do when CPS calls. Use this link to listen to: What to Do When Child Protective Services Calls.

In this follow-up episode we learn what options CPS uses to remove the child from the home in an emergency with or without a court order. Attorney Sutherland also talks about the CPS adversary hearing, the service plan, the status hearing, permanency hearings and the final dismissal.

CPS Taking the Child
CPS Taking the Child and Subsequent Hearings Require an Experienced Family Law Attorney. Call Richard Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas at (940) 691-2100.

The Initial CPS Hearing

After CPS completes its investigation it may remove the child from the home if it is warranted. CPS can take possession of a child in an emergency with or without a court order based on the child’s health and safety.

CPS can also seek an emergency order from the court authorizing possession of the child if there is an immediate danger to the health of safety of the child. In certain circumstances CPS taking the child without a court order is allowed in an emergency, which Attorney Sutherland explains.

Learn about the CPS child removal and hearing sequence in this podcast. The first step is an initial hearing following CPS taking the child in an emergency without a court order.

There are limits on the reasons CPS can take a child into its possession including issues involving: homeschooling; economic disadvantage; parent charged with nonviolent misdemeanor (with two exceptions); parent charged with family violence; parent declined to have the child immunized; parent provided low THC cannabis to child to whom low THC cannabis was prescribed.

You may also be interested in our podcast, Children Adjusting to School.

Another popular recent post is, Why Do People Divorce After the Holidays?

For a list of several popular podcasts please see, Divorce and Family Law Explained by Richard Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas.

The Full Adversary CPS Hearing

Unless the child has already been to returned to the parent or person entitled to possession and the temporary order is dissolved, then a full adversary hearing must be held no later than the 14th day the child is taken into possession. Under some circumstances the deadline could be extended.

Questions before the court in a suit where there was an emergency removal:

  • Is there a danger to the physical health and safety of the child;
  • Is the child in danger of becoming a victim of trafficking;
  • Where these the acts or failure to act of a person entitled to possession and would leaving the child in the home be contrary to the child’s welfare?
  • Did the urgent need for protection require the immediate removal of the child?
  • Were reasonable efforts made consistent with the circumstances and providing for the safety of the child, to eliminate or prevent the child’s removal?

CPS Suit Where the Child Was Not Taken into Possession by the Department              

The court issues a temporary order to prevent continuing danger to the child with reasonable efforts to provide for the child’s safety, including taking the child from the custodial parent, non-custodial parent or relative, unless it is not in the child’s best interests.

The temporary orders date applies to next steps. CPS is appointed as a temporary managing conservator of the child. CPS prepares a service plan for the parents within 45 days of the temporary orders. The service plan explains what the parents must do to get their child back. The service plan can be amended at any time.

A status hearing comes next,within 60 days after the temporary orders, so the child’s status and service plan may be reviewed. Not later than 180 days there is a permanency hearing,subsequent permanency hearing no later than 120 days following.

The CPS suit dismissal occurs the first Monday after the first anniversary of the date the court renders the temporary order unless the court has commenced a trial on the merits.

Important Takeaways:

  • The purpose and idea behind the CPS process for taking the child, is to reunite the child with the custodial parent except where that would not be in the child’s best interest.
  • The procedure and system of hearings and steps along the way is complicated and an experienced family law attorney should be retained to assist in a custodial parent being reunited with their child after CPS removal.

Richard T. Sutherland is an experienced Wichita Falls, Texas divorce and family law and child custody attorney. In a situation where CPS taking a child into custody is your concern, call us at (940) 691-2100 or contact us through our website.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Why Do People Divorce After the Holidays?

divorce after the holidays
Need to finally file for divorce after the holidays end up being the last straw? Call the Law Office of Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls at (940) 691-2100.

Five Reasons People Divorce After the Holidays

There are several reasons divorce increases after holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. In many instances people trying to keep things together can end up falling apart over the holidays and realizing their life is short and they need to make a change. But why now, during what should be the happiest time of the year?

  1. Happy Holidays for Children

Holidays are especially important to children. Thanksgiving and Christmas are a time to see grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. When parents divorce and kids may not see their extended family in the same setting. For many parents this is a reason to stay together for one more holiday season, depending on the situation and age of the children.

Divorce after the holidays gives children time to accept that things are going to change. While their extended family may still be there, things will be different. A divorce right before the holidays might be difficult for children. When the divorce comes after the holidays there is much more time for kids to adapt to change.

  1. Hope for Holiday Miracles

Life gets busy and the problems in marriages can easily be ignored. Couples in conflict know they have issues to work through. Arguments get postponed and remain unresolved. People grow apart. There is always hope, however that a Thanksgiving or Christmas miracle will spark the love and pave the way for healing.

When the miracle doesn’t come, and the conflict is reinforced by negative statements or behavior, people may realize that the marriage really is over. People are good at pretending things are okay and conflict will be resolved, but others may be able to see past the image of happiness. When the miracle saving the marriage doesn’t happen many consider accepting their feelings and seeking a divorce after the holidays.

Questions about the process? Please review this page of podcast summaries and links to all the important topics in Texas divorce, custody and family law in general: Divorce and Family Law Explained by Richard Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas.

  1. Truth and Flaws Exposed and Realized

Is it time to admit reality? The flaws that are already there seem more apparent over holidays. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, we spend more time with people. Increased interaction with a spouse with whom you have unresolved conflict is challenging. The things that bother you are inescapable. Have you ever been on a long car ride with someone you just wanted to be away from?

When couples realize they no longer love each other or even like one another, it may be time to call it quits. At times people simply grow apart. At other times people change. Things the other may do that are irritating can become so obnoxious that it drives you crazy. You start realizing you can no longer stand the former love of your life. That is when you know it may be time to file for a divorce after the holidays.

For more thoughts on post-holiday divorce, see the article on the Today Show website: Is divorce more common during the holidays?

  1. A New Year, a New Life

Do unhappy people want to spend another year in a bad marriage? A better question may be whether people spend another year trying to fix something beyond repair. As New Year’s approaches, we all look back. What did we do this year to make it great? Was it not so great? How many more years do we spend being unhappy or unfulfilled?

New Year’s resolutions for many include divorce and taking back one’s life and independence. Especially when people have wonderful children they love, they believe their marriage was not a waste. That said, a choice for happiness and personal journey may overcome the desire to remain together as a married couple.

Read our blog article, January Divorce Filings in Wichita Falls, for more thoughts on point.

  1. Support of Family and Friends

Around the holidays people seem tend to be more emotional and may talk to family and friends about marriage issues they might otherwise keep to themselves. And when the wine may flow, and emotions pour, some people may be telling someone else about their troubles in a way they can finally admit it to themselves.

It is painful admitting problems in marriage, when the holidays do not go as planned, or are not what they were in years past. Coming to accept conflict means you have an option to address problems and fix things. Accepting the reality of the situation might also trigger an avalanche of emotion leading to the decision to call a divorce lawyer and file for divorce after the holidays.

People also divorce after the holidays for additional reasons including substance abuse, family violence, cheating, financial problems and everything else that can go wrong in a marriage and family.

A post-holiday divorce might also be something that has been coming for a long time. Depending on the age of children and circumstances in the family, there could be challenges with child custody, spousal maintenance and issues over property and who will live in the marital residence.

Richard T. Sutherland is a Wichita Falls area divorce lawyer with decades of experience in high conflict divorce and custody issues. Whether you expect your divorce to be messy or you no longer know what to expect from your spouse, it is important to hire a divorce lawyer with the experience to anticipate the unexpected. Contact Mr. Sutherland via the website or call the Law Office of Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls today at (940) 691-2100.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Children Adjusting to School

Children Adjusting to School: Looking Out for the Child's Best Interests and Co-Parenting.
Children Adjusting to School: Looking Out for the Child’s Best Interests and Co-Parenting.

Factors Affecting Children Adjusting to School

Divorced parents with a duty to cooperate with one another about their children’s education and school experience may find that there are issues arising over children adjusting to school. Whether it is a new school year, classmates and teacher, or a new middle or high school, transition can be difficult.

If your child’s school called you, would you talk to their other parent, and if so, how soon? Just because one parent is the primary daily caregiver does not mean that the other parent is not equally as important in their child’s life and education. The competition to get into good schools is tighter than ever and every step in your child’s school experience and records is important. If you have a positive co-parenting relationship with the other parent, it may be a good idea for both of you to participate in any conferences with the school and with the child. Showing solidarity and a lack of tolerance for negative behavior can make the right impact on a child. Keeping the communication lines open also allows for you and the other parent to keep up with your child’s behavior and demeanor when the other parent has their time with the child.

Is the Problem Something at School or at Home?

As parents it is easier to point the finger at another than at ourselves. When the school calls and says our child is having problems and not responding normally it is easy for us to assume the new teacher or kids in class are the problem. While sometimes it is someone else that is affecting your child, the someone else could be someone you did not expect.

Imagine that you have been fortunate that co-parenting your child has been a positive experience, for the most part. Now your ex-spouse has a new significant other and recently your child has been getting into trouble at school or has changed direction in their attitude towards studying and homework. When the student who normally receives good reports from school is now failing to complete assignments and turn work in on time, might be making a cry for attention or more.

Taking Care in Making Substantial Changes

Where in many cases an adjustment problem at school can be about normal growth and maturity or a response to factors in or out of school, attention to the child’s needs can be what it takes to cure the adjustment problem. Be cautious about making serious changes to the routine of a child and their base of friends and culture. Of course, if there is a risk of harm to the child or a significant impairment to their ability to function and learn at school, there may good cause to make a change. Whenever possible, discussing these issues as adults with the other parent is helpful in solving problems or agreeing to make reasonable changes.

In Wichita Falls area divorce and family law cases, attorney Richard T. Sutherland is focused on best interests of children and has worked in many capacities representing children’s best interests in court. If you need to make a custody change or are considering moving because of issues with children adjusting to school, you can call Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls to discuss your rights and options. Call (940) 691-2100 or Contact Us through our website.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

What to Do When Child Protective Services Calls

What to Do When Child Protective Services Calls: A Wichita Falls Family Law Podcast with Richard T. Sutherland
What to Do When Child Protective Services Calls: A Wichita Falls Family Law Podcast with Richard T. Sutherland (940) 691-2100.

Who is Child Protective Services and What is its Purpose?

This month’s Wichita Falls Family Law Podcast with Richard Sutherland focuses on Child Protective Services (CPS) and provides an overview of key elements of the purpose of the agency and what to do when Child Protective Services calls.

Questions Answered in this Child Protective Services Podcast

  • What is Child Protective Services?
  • What is the purpose of CPS?
  • What is meant by the word, “abuse” and what is “neglect?”
  • What is the general process of CPS reporting?
  • What is involved in the investigation process?
  • Why people hire attorneys and how they represent parents in CPS cases?

Highlights of this CPS Overview Podcast

About Child Protective Services: CPS is a division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the agency investigating reports of abused or neglected children in Texas. There are 13 categories of what constitutes abuse and four categories for neglect under Texas law. Note that accidents and reasonable discipline not exposing the child to the risk of substantial harm are excluded from the definition of abuse in Texas.

Who makes CPS reports? The Texas Family Code requires any person having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect SHALL IMMEDIATELY MAKE A REPORT. This requirement includes people with whom certain communications are otherwise privileged such as:

  • Lawyers;
  • Clergy;
  • Medical Practitioners
  • Social Workers
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Employees or members of boards that license or certify professionals;
  • Employees of clinics or health care facilities that provide reproductive services.

About the CPS Report: The report should include the reporting party’s belief that a child has been abused or neglected or who has died of abuse or neglect, and the report can be made to law enforcement, CPS or state agencies regulating a facility where alleged abuse or neglect occurred. The reports contain the name and address of the child and other persons responsible for the care of the child and other pertinent information.

About the CPS Investigation Process: Being prepared in the event CPS or law enforcement contacts you about a report of abuse or neglect is important. Contacting an attorney is advisable and it does not mean you look guilty. There are a variety of steps involved in a CPS investigation and interviews of the child may take place at school or at home, including persons CPS determines are necessary to be present.

Important Takeaways: A CPS complaint can arise in a variety of settings such as one spouse in a divorce making complaints of the other to try and improve their chances of getting sole custody or a larger share of the marital estate. There is protection for people who are wrongfully accused. CPS is duty bound to investigate all complaints to protect the interests of children. Being organized and having an experienced family law attorney is important.  

In the next podcast in this series we will talk about suits brought by governmental entities to protect the child.

Richard T. Sutherland is an experienced Wichita Falls, Texas divorce and family law attorney. If you need to learn more about what to do when Child Protective Services calls, or any other matter involving the best interests of and care of children, call us at (940) 691-2100 or contact us through our website.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Military Deployment and Custody in Texas

Richard Sutherland Podcast: Military Deployment and Custody in Texas

Military deployment, military mobilization or temporary military duty can impact the lives of parents with children in and around Wichita Falls, Texas. In this monthly Wichita Falls Family Law podcast discussion with Attorney Richard Sutherland, we discuss a few of the key issues and answer common questions about the impact of military deployment and child custody.

Military deployment and custody in Texas
Military deployment and custody in Texas

Military deployment and custody in Texas and the impact on families in and around Wichita Falls

  • Modification of the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child or modifications of the terms and conditions of possession of or access to the child
  • Temporary Orders entered while the military member is absent on military deployment, military mobilization or temporary military duty
  • Temporary Orders when the military member’s rights are going to be affected by military deployment, mobilization or temporary military duty

Listening to this podcast interview about military deployment, military mobilization and temporary military duty will be useful for anyone who is a parent of a child and may be deployed in the armed services. Texas law provides for a variety of situations and Richard Sutherland explains what you may be able to expect in a variety of circumstances.

Just because you serve your country does not mean you have to sacrifice a relationship with your child. Did you know that a designated person can generally act in your place while you are unavailable? Do you want to designate a person to exercise your custody or visitation rights while you are on deployment? Listen and learn about the variety of situations that can affect military parents in and around Wichita Falls, Texas. Call Wichita Falls, Texas divorce and family law attorney Richard T. Sutherland to learn more and to schedule a meeting to discuss your situation. (940) 691-2100.

Please also have a look at the categories of podcast content on our Wichita Falls Family Law website!

About Richard Sutherland: Attorney Richard T. Sutherland practices family law and commercial litigation in Wichita Falls and all over Texas. Since being licensed by the State of Texas in 1976, Richard Sutherland has been an active member and leader in many legal organizations including the State Bar of Texas. He is a frequent speaker and continuing legal education contributor. Sutherland is an alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin and the Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Kids, summer and social media

Kids, summer and social media

Kids, summer and social media can be challenging for parents. Use some tools in this article to keep up.
Kids, summer and social media can be challenging for parents. Use some tools in this article to keep up.

This summer there are many social media apps and conversations going on in your children’s cell phones and devices keeping the kids preoccupied and parents wondering what they are doing and to whom are they talking?

Whether they are playing video games, texting a good friend about going to the pool later or they are heavily involved in a large group message about who knows what, all a parent can see is that the kid is glued to their phone. While this may seem innocent enough, the potential for mischief is there, and even more prevalent when kids are out of school for the summer and have too much time on their hands.

Do you know what social media apps your kids are using?

Most parents with children old enough to have a phone or device understand that kids use different social media than their parents, on purpose. While many teenagers have a Facebook account, they only post things there for parents and the more adult crowd. Among peers, kids are using everything from Twitter to Snapchat and Instagram, as well as many more social media apps to which you have never been introduced.

See this article with a list of popular social media apps for teens.

The engineers who design social media apps for teens must understand a child’s concern for privacy from spying eyes when the images on the app button on the phone looks like something other than a social media app. For example, there is an app that looks like a calculator and is actually an image storage app. Maybe the thought is that if mom or dad is looking into their kid’s phone, they will not bother to check the calculator app to see if it adds and subtracts correctly.

Find your son or daughter’s username/handle/screen name

The key is finding your son or daughter’s creative username. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where most people use their real names in their profile, in many of the other social media apps like Instagram, the user makes up their own unique profile name, like a personalized handle they will use on all the other sites. Most people, younger and older use the same personalized screenname so because their peers will recognize them on a variety of social media apps.

Monitoring your kids’ usernames and social media profiles this summer

There are apps you can use to see what your kids are doing.

Once you find your child on Instagram, for example, and make a note of their username, you can then create your own profile on different apps to monitor your kid and figure out what they are up to on their phones all day this summer while they otherwise might be playing sports and other activities.

Most parents pause to consider whether they are breaching the parent-child trust by spying on their kids, but those concerns are quickly alleviated by concerns about bullying and all the other awful segments of humanity to which children can be exposed online and on their social media apps.

During summer break kids have lots of time on their hands and as parents it makes sense to not only pay attention to how much time they are in their phones all summer, but to also monitor their activity the best you can.

For information about Wichita Falls Divorce and Family Lawyer, Richard T. Sutherland, please call (940) 691-2100.

You can follow Attorney Richard T. Sutherland on social media and find useful articles and resources for you and your family. Richard Sutherland is on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. For a virtual library of blog articles and podcast interviews about Texas divorce and family law please visit WichitaFallsFamilyLaw.com.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.

Geographic Restrictions and Relocation

Richard Sutherland Podcast: Geographic Restrictions and Relocation

This is The Wichita Falls Family Law Podcast, with Attorney Richard Sutherland. We talk about Texas divorce and family law. This month’s topic is geographic restrictions and when those restrictions may be lifted to allow for relocation.

Geographic restrictions and relocation issues in Texas family law:

  • Issues of geographic location involving children
  • Why courts impose geographical restrictions
  • What are the reasons parents ask the court to lift geographic restrictions?
  • Factors the courts consider when deciding to lift geographic restrictions
  • Problems that may arise when geographic restrictions are lifted

Today we are focusing on what happens when life happens, and parents want and or need to move.

First, understand that the Texas Family Code follows public policy of the state to assure that children have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child, meaning that they provide a safe, stable and nonviolent environment for the child. Texas public policy encourages parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.

Texas courts imposes geographic restrictions until the child reaches the age of 18 and the court no longer has jurisdiction over the child, or when the non-custodial parent or conservator no longer resides within the geographical area imposed by the court. The geographic restriction may also be lifted when the custodial parent files a petition to modify the order which granted the restriction.

There are several reasons that a custodial parent might have to seek to life the geographical restrictions to allow for relocation. Listen to the podcast to find out and learn more.

For additional general information, please read about Wichita Falls, Texas Family Law on our website.

Richard Sutherland talks about geographic restrictions and relocation in Texas in this Wichita Falls divorce and family law podcast.
Richard Sutherland talks about geographic restrictions and relocation in Texas in this Wichita Falls divorce and family law podcast.

Attorney Richard T. Sutherland practices family law and commercial litigation in Wichita Falls and all over Texas. Since being licensed by the State of Texas in 1976, Richard Sutherland has been an active member and leader in many legal organizations including the State Bar of Texas. He is a frequent speaker and continuing legal education contributor. Sutherland is an alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin and the Oklahoma City University School of Law.

For information about Texas divorce and family law please call Attorney Richard T. Sutherland in Wichita Falls, Texas by dialing (940) 691-2100.

You can follow Attorney Richard T. Sutherland on social media and find useful articles and resources for you and your family. Richard Sutherland is on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For a virtual library of blog articles and podcast interviews about Texas divorce and family law please visit WichitaFallsFamilyLaw.com.

Richard T. Sutherland represents people and families in Wichita County, Archer County, Baylor County, Clay County, Foard County, Hardeman County, Jack County, Montague County, Wise County, Young County and Wilbarger Counties in North Texas and has accepted cases in other areas West, North-Central and in South Texas.