Adoptions Attorney Leslie Barrows
Immigration and family law: Marriage 
 

Immigration and family law questions are common among many new people moving to Southlake, Fort Worth and all over Tarrant County and Texas from all over the United States and overseas nations. We receive questions from U.S. citizens who want to get married to another who is not yet a legal resident or citizen. It is common to seek advice from immigration and family law attorneys before getting married. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website contains information on point and answers to frequently asked questions similar to the following brief overview.

Validity of the Marriage

A common immigration and family law question is whether a marriage performed overseas is valid and recognized in the U.S. For immigration purposes, the rules are similar to family law in that a marriage ceremony performed which is legally recognized as a bona fide marriage in another jurisdiction and country will be recognized as a valid marriage in the U.S., and here in Texas.

Proving Marital Union

In the immigration code there is a specific requirement that a person seeking permanent residence through marriage must live with the other spouse in a “marital union.” The USCIS website contains the regulations and definitions used in proving marital union[i].

Conditional Permanent Residence

Conditional permanent residence is a common immigration and family law issues. Conditional green cards are available to permanent residents in marriages until two years after the marriage at which time the conditional status may be removed. The purpose of the conditional status is to prevent fraudulent marriages. The conditional card is not renewable, and the applicant must file a petition to remove conditions within 90 days of the expiration date of that conditional green card[ii].

Terminating a Beneficiary’s Status

The beneficiary of a legal resident status will not lose their status if they remain married and are living separately. If, however, the status is conditional, USCIS could inquire about the living situation in effort to prevent fraud. If the married couple is divorced, the resident beneficiary loses legal status and may not remain lawfully in the U.S. without another source of legal status.

It is common for foreign legal residents to consult and worth with both an immigration and family law attorney to assist with the dual systems of law that can affect their legal matters.

About Us: For more information please contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

[i] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Marital Union.

[ii] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Conditional Permanent Residence.

Podcast: November is Adoption Month 
 

 

This is The Barrows Firm Law Review, a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas law and events that affect families and the community of attorneys and professionals who serve them.

Podcast: November is Adoption Month

Adopting children from foster care

  • How do children enter the foster care system?
  • After how long can foster parents adopt?
  • Preparing the whole family for a permanent adoption

Parenting after adoption

  • Children understanding adoption at different development stages
  • The impact of trauma on adopted child development
  • Reassuring adopted children are safe with new family

School and adoption

  • First experiences with people outside close family and friends
  • When drawing a family tree can be a proud opportunity
  • Teachers understanding adopted children and their adjustment

How to become a foster parent in Texas and adopt your foster child

  • What is required to qualify to be a foster parent who wants to adopt?
  • Working with a Texas adoption agency like the Gladney Center in Fort Worth
  • Working with your Department of Family and Protective Services caseworker

Listen above or on our Blog Talk Radio channel Click/tap here to listen any time

Leslie Barrows is the principal founder of The Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas. In her firm’s main practice areas of family law and juvenile law, Leslie is consistently challenged with dynamic cases and clients. When winning is what matters, people trust Leslie Barrows based on her reputation and winning track record over the past decade. Leslie earned her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University and she earned her law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. She is a member of numerous organizations primarily focused in Tarrant County.

For more information at (817) 481-1583 for The Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas, not far from the Southlake Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

Divorce modification and enforcement 
 

After your divorce is final you may need to consider modification and enforcement actions when your life and circumstances change substantially. Ideally your divorce degree and parenting plan was negotiated and written with an eye on foreseeable life change in the future. As children grow older and parents have new life experiences, what used to work well in raising and parenting the children might need to be modified or enforced. Of course, we always prefer to negotiate modifications and enforcements the polite and easy way when possible. Other times stubborn and willful people only respond to post-decree court proceedings, unfortunately.

Modification of custody or support order

Whether you are the joint or sole managing conservator, your custody plan and possession and access time for visitation with your children may require modification with major life changes. Common events leading to custody modification include a new job requiring a move, locally or outside Texas, and changes in the child’s personal and development needs and availability to spend time with both parents.

Child support is calculated based on the net resources of the noncustodial parent ordered to pay child support. Net resources accommodate a broad ability to pay, and are not simply a function of take-home pay. When the parent paying support loses a job, has a substantial increase in pay or otherwise has different net resources, the child support and withholding order may need modification.

Violations and enforcement of court orders and terms of the divorce decree

Despite best efforts some people cannot seem to follow the duties imposed on them by the divorce decree and orders of the court. Too often and ironically the person who pushed for a certain schedule or clause in the parenting plan is the one who cannot seem to stick to what they agreed to do.

Whether the issue involves possession and access of the children, payment of medical bills and extra expenses beyond child support or they payment of child support itself, there are several enforcement options. Sometimes a well-written letter to the other attorney may help get the attention of a parent who will not comply. Other times a trip back to court may be required. For some stubborn people, a contempt of court charge or visit to the local jail helps people get back on the compliance track.

About Us: For more information please contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

Family law cases with criminal problems 
 

Divorce and family law cases can be complicated enough without the additional problems of criminal charges facing one or both parties. Criminal issues may be the cause of the divorce or occur in response to the divorce and what is happening to the people involved. Because the required proof and evidence is different in family and criminal law, the family law case take a slightly different course. There are also new questions about rights and obligations in the divorce or family law case that are impacted by the effect of criminal charges and issues.

A possible scenario where criminal problems affect a divorce:

Husband files for divorce from wife and among the issues are allegations of painkiller abuse. Wife is involved in a car wreck and is arrested for DWI while on pills. Meanwhile, husband is arrested for violating the terms of the court’s standing orders for improper firearm possession.

Common ways the family law case can be impacted:

Following the wife’s DWI arrest, the first issue that arises may be the use of marital funds to pay the retainer fee for wife’s DWI attorney. Husband may object, and request wife use her credit card or take out a small loan, an issue that could go to a hearing.

Meanwhile, husband may use the DWI arrest to support the allegations that wife has painkiller abuse and addiction problems and should not get custody of the children. Wife might seek to delay parts of the family law case until her DWI case is finished, as she believes she will be found not guilty.

In the divorce case, at a temporary orders hearing, father was ordered temporary custody of the children, as it was right after mother’s DWI arrest and her driving privileges were at issue. When father is arrested for violating the standing order, mother and her attorney ask the court to change the temporary orders since father was arrested for firearm possession.

There are a variety of criminal offenses that can occur that impact a family law case:

  • Charges of domestic and family violence;
  • Substance abuse and DWI, public intoxication arrests;
  • Crimes where children were present and/or involved;
  • Interference with the court’s child custody order.

About Us: For more information please contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

Podcast: Holiday custody and visitation schedules, the time is now 
 

This is The Barrows Firm Law Review, a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas law and events that affect families and the community of attorneys and professionals who serve them.

Holiday custody and visitation schedules, the time is now:

  • Family and relatives going out of town or heading into town for the holidays;
  • Sharing time on common holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s;
  • Co-parenting in an agreeable way that everyone wins, especially the children;
  • If you cannot reach agreement or there is a problem, do not wait until the last day;
  • Updates about The Barrows Firm and Tarrant County Adoption Day, Nov. 17.

Leslie Barrows is the principal founder of The Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas. In her firm’s main practice areas of family law and juvenile law, Leslie is consistently challenged with dynamic cases and clients. When winning is what matters, people trust Leslie Barrows based on her reputation and winning track record over the past decade. Leslie earned her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University and she earned her law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. She is a member of numerous organizations primarily focused in Tarrant County.

For more information at (817) 481-1583 for The Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas, not far from the Southlake Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

Moving a child during a Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship 
 

In Texas, a Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) case is one where a judge is asked to make an order regarding child custody, visitation, child support and responsibilities for medical support. A SAPCR does not involve the dissolution of a marriage or the division of debt or property among spouses, a SAPCR only involves issues involving children.

When a parent has sole custody, called the sole managing conservator, that parent has the right to designate the primary residence of a child. If parents have shared custody, and are joint managing conservators, the parenting plan assigns one parent as having the right to designate primary residence.

Texas Family Law rules for venue and transfers of a SAPCR

If the parent who has the right to designate the child’s residence decides to move, they can. The original court where the parties were divorced or had parents’ rights determined in a SAPCR, is the court that retains continuing exclusive jurisdiction over case and the parties. If, however, a parent moves far away or out of state, they can ask the original court to transfer the case to a new county or state.

The rules for transferring SAPCR cases are unique in the Texas Family Code and the normal Texas civil procedure rules do not apply. Generally, an original SAPCR suit must be filed in the county where the child resides. To transfer the case to another court, the parties can ask for a one-time transfer of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction, when the original SAPCR case is filed; not later and not by other downstream counties if the parties move.

What can happen when SAPCR cases are improperly transferred

A Texas Court of Appeals case out of Corpus Christi[i] involved several transfers of a SAPCR case through various counties, ending in a final trial in Nueces County. The final judgment in the SAPCR case was set aside and the case was transferred back to its original counties. The parties moved several times, filed several motions to transfer the case, and the Court of Appeals Court noted that a motion to transfer is timely when made at the time the initial case is filed.

About Us: For more information please contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

[i] IN the INTEREST OF C.G., 495 S.W.3d 40 (2016)

Celebrate Tarrant County Adoption Day, November 17 
 

November 17, is not just another Friday for foster children who get to join their family forever. Emotions run high, smiles wide and flashes from cameras fill the room of happy volunteers and families adopting their foster children. Teddy bears for the newly adopted also fill the room and show the generosity of the professionals working at the event and behind the scenes. The Tarrant County Adoption Day event is a day-long event celebrating new families and their finalized adoption process.

Tarrant County Adoption Day is an annual event anticipated year-round.

The first Tarrant County Adoption Day event was held in 2000 as part of the celebration of National Adoption Day. The celebration in Tarrant County is one of several hundred adoption events nationwide. Last year there were 76 children adopted and this year many more will become a permanent part of a loving and caring family.

Memories will be made on November 17th. Mothers will receive roses, fathers will receive the pens used by judges to finalize adoptions and a framed family photograph make the day special for the families who participate in adopting their foster child.

You can volunteer and help take part in Tarrant County Adoption Day.

To learn more about Tarrant County Adoption Day, visit the event website and Facebook page. Also, register to volunteer online. By clicking the volunteer section that best fits your availability you may help with setting up the event on Thursday afternoon or early Friday morning. There are volunteer options for working registration tables, being family escorts, courtroom aides or if you do not mind, you can offer to be placed wherever help is needed from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

About Us: For more information please contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

 

Juvenile Law Podcast: What happens in juvenile court hearings in Texas 
 

This is The Barrows Firm Law Review, a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas law and events that affect families and the community of attorneys and professionals who serve them.

What Happens in Juvenile Court Hearings in Texas:  

  • What are the important roles in the Texas Juvenile Justice System?
  • What are some definitions in the juvenile system that differ from adult court?
  • How do parents help their child if they must go to a juvenile court hearing?
  • What are common elements and issues involving juveniles and probation?

Leslie Barrows is the principal founder of The Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas. In her firm’s main practice areas of family law and juvenile law, Leslie is consistently challenged with dynamic cases and clients. When winning is what matters, people trust Leslie Barrows based on her reputation and winning track record over the past decade. Leslie earned her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University and she earned her law degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. She is a member of numerous organizations primarily focused in Tarrant County.

For more information at (817) 481-1583 for The Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas, not far from the Southlake Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

Texas Courts: No standing orders in Tarrant County divorce, but mutual TROs are common 
 

In many North Texas counties, standing orders are mandatory, but in Tarrant County most divorce cases involve mutual temporary restraining orders (TROs). If your divorce is in Denton County you will receive and are subject to standing orders that apply to everyone involved in a divorce or suit affecting a parent-child relationship. The standing orders take effect with the filing of the lawsuit. Standing orders are a formalized version of a TRO, a set of rules require parties to maintain a status quo and refrain from certain behavior that could cause damage to parties to the divorce, children involved and property and assets. The biggest difference between standing orders and TROs is that a standing order is automatic and not requested by one of the parties. If your divorce is in Tarrant County you can decide with your lawyer whether a TRO is reasonable and necessary and whether you may agree to a mutual TRO.

What language is contained in most standing orders, such as in Denton County?

In accordance with the Texas Family Code, Denton County adopted and issues its standing order compelling parties to a divorce or suit affecting a parent-child relationship to adhere to the following standard rules: (these bullet points are a general summary and not exact language).

  • Not to disrupt children by removing them from the state to change residence, nor withdrawing them from school, hiding them from others, making disparaging remarks about the other spouse, or talking about the divorce case;
  • Refrain from actions that are intended to harass, annoy, alarm abuse, torment or embarrass the other party. Don’t show up at their work to cause a scene;
  • Preserving community marital property and funds during the divorce, and not destroying, removing, withdrawing, selling or transferring assets so that the proper divorce procedure may be used to properly account for and distribute community property consistent with Texas law;
  • Preserving and not concealing personal and business records relevant to the parties and the marriage;
  • Maintaining and not withdrawing or borrowing against insurance policies;
  • Parties may engage in the regular course of family business during the case;
  • Language regarding the service and application of the standing order.

What are the benefits of having TROs instead of standing orders in Tarrant County?

Some, all or none of the bullet point examples of the standing order above can or may be used in a TRO. Even though it is standard practice among some attorneys, others do not bother with a TRO unless there is a real and present threat of harm to one of the parties, children or assets at issue. In many cases, a TRO can start with a threat of harm or a threat that one party might, for example, raid and stash the contents of a safe deposit box at the bank.

In addition to being able to narrowly tailor the language of your custom TRO, when entering into a mutual TRO to which both parties agree to be bound during the pendency of the case, there are fewer or more potential violations depending on the amount and type of language used. People are not encouraged to hunt others down for violating standing orders, however, there can be situations where people read others’ actions as violations of the court’s order. This can lead to unnecessary conflict in the case. On the other hand, when custom language is used, the intent may be to use broader terms the parties know a judge may have to apply in the event on party starts pointing their finger at the other.

What happens if someone violates a TRO or a standing order?   

It would be an understatement to say that judges strongly prefer the parties to a divorce or suit affecting a parent-child relationship to obey the orders of their court. When people chose to ignore a court order they may be charged with direct or indirect contempt of court which can lead to fines and penalties including jail time.

Violations of orders not to disrupt children or people can lead to consequences as can violations offering the destruction, removal or wasting of community property. When the damages are financial in nature the party guilty of violating the order may be charged with reimbursing the marital estate for the value of the damage, plus penalties if the judge so orders.

Even if one party is accused of violating a TRO and not found in violation, the judge is not likely to be happy being the referee over a he-said, she-said match. Once you lose credibility with your divorce judge it may be difficult to reverse that damage. While the judge must act within the guidelines of the family code, remember they have broad discretion in many areas.

About Us: For more information please contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.

Adopting your stepchildren in Texas 
 

Today there are many stepparents who love and raise their stepchildren as their own. Why not make them your own legally? The decision to adopt your stepchild reflects your love and commitment to everyone in your family. To adopt a child in Texas you must be at least 21 years of age and a responsible and financially able provider. The application and process involves several steps and an experienced family law attorney can help advise and represent you to ensure success in adopting your stepchild.

Once you adopt your stepson or stepdaughter, they become your legal child with all the rights and responsibilities as a natural born child. As parents think about estate planning and caring for the family and its wealth preservation, adopting stepchildren makes them a legally recognized child for will and estate planning purposes. Without formally adopting a stepchild, there is no legal operation of law that would treat a stepchild as a naturally born child.

Adopting a stepchild requires consent or the termination of the other natural parent

If for example, you are married to the mother and custodial parent, the non-custodial father must consent to the adoption and their natural parental rights would need to be terminated as a matter of law. If the non-custodial parent is not involved in the child’s life, it may be easy to get them to voluntarily waive their custody, visitation and natural parental rights so that you can adopt the child as the stepparent.

In the event the other natural parent is deceased, the same would have to be proven in court to proceed in an adoption. Where the other natural parent is alive and ascertainable, an action may be filed in the court to terminate the other’s parental rights. The parent whose rights are sought to be terminated must receive service of process to be aware of the proceedings and have the right to appear before the court. In some cases, the other parent is in prison or has lost contact and is nowhere to be found. There are a variety of possible issues in parental termination actions.

The court ordered social study and evaluation process

Adoption requirements in Texas include a social study evaluation. An official evaluator will visit you and your family to learn more about everyone involved and to consider the best interests of the to-be-adopted child. The evaluator prepares a social study report and recommendation to the judge in the adoption case. Judges give significant weight to the evaluator’s report, but are not bound by it and can make their own decision based on facts and appropriate discretion.

Social study evaluations should include information about the all the relationship a child may have with various family members and those interested in the adoption case. While the purpose behind these evaluations is to prevent unfit individuals from obtaining legal rights as parents of non-natural born children, the process also allows for communications about the long lasting legal implications of an adoption of the natural born child of another.

Adoption proceedings in court involve an amicus attorney

Once the social study evaluation is complete the court can appoint an amicus attorney to serve the court in reviewing all the information in the file, conducting their own similar investigations and research, and presenting a recommendation to the judge whether to allow the adoption to be finalized. What may appear a redundant lawyer of procedure is an important part of the adoption case, another set of eyes and ears on each adoption.

About Us: For more information please contact The Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located at 700 East Southlake Boulevard in Southlake near the Town Square.

You can follow The Barrows Firm on social media and find important articles and resources about Texas law and how it may affect you or your family. The Barrows Firm is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. To read client endorsements and reviews of Attorney, Leslie Barrows, please visit her Avvo.com profile.