Adoptions Attorney Leslie Barrows
New Texas law on family violence and protective orders 
 

A protective order is granted to a petitioner, “if the court finds that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future.[i]” As of September 1, 2015, there are additions to the law under Texas House Bill 1782[ii] The additions to the protective order for family violence law include presumptions that family violence is present under certain circumstances and that presumption allows the court to grant the petitioner’s request for a protective order based on a presumption of family violence when certain facts are alleged. As the Texas legislature clarifies the conditions of the law on family violence and protective orders, more victims of family violence can seek and obtain the legal protection they need for their safety.

About family violence and protective orders.

A protective order is a civil order of a family court in Texas, governed by the Family Code[iii]. When the individual family member(s) asking the court for a protective order they must prove the necessary elements of family violence are necessary for the court to grant the protective order. The power of a protective order is police power to immediately arrest and bring before the court a named individual who violates the terms of the protective order. When a court issues a protective order upon finding family violence occurred or is likely to occur, the order lists specific activities that another individual is not allowed to do. For example, the respondent may not be allowed to be physically present within a certain distance from other members of the family. The order can also prevent someone from showing up or making contact with others at a school, place of work or worship. Phone calls, emails, text messages and social media contact can also be requested to be addressed in a protective order.

If a protective order is violated, call the police immediately. When the named individual in a protective order violates its terms, they may be arrested and jailed until they can see the judge for violating the order. The police power behind a protective order and threat of being jailed should deter people from threatening or committing family violence, however, the protective order is just a piece of paper and individuals with clear intent to do harm may not be dissuaded from violating the order, so it is important to take safety precautions.

The new law for protective orders includes presumptions the courts can use to grant a protective order.

If you request a protective order, the court may grant the order to the petitioner if a presumption that family violence has and is likely to occur in the future, under the new law, changed by House Bill 1782 if the following conditions are present:

  • If the respondent is convicted or placed on deferred adjudication with community supervisions for any of the following offenses against the child for whom the petition is filed;
    1. An offense under Title 5, the offenses against other persons as provided by the Texas Penal Code, in a situation where family violence was determined to have taken place; or
    2. An offense under Title 6, the offenses against family members as provided by the Texas Penal Code;
  • The respondent’s parental rights have been terminated; and
  • The respondent is seeking or attempting to seek contact with the child.

The new changes to the law for family violence protective orders may make it easier for some petitioners to obtain an emergency 20-day order (which can be extended to two years)[iv], which can cause increased liability for the people against whom protective orders are issued. Attorneys can provide legal assistance and counseling for Texans seeking protective orders as well as those who have protective orders naming them and controlling their behavior. For more information about family violence and protective orders, contact The Barrows Firm.

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 downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.

[i] TEXAS FAMILY CODE, SECTION 81.001, Entitlement to Protective Order.

[ii] TEXAS HOUSE BILL 1782, Effective Sept. 1, 2015.

[iii] Texas Attorney General, Crime Victim Services, Protective Orders.

[iv] See HNiii above on protective orders.

Changes to Texas Spousal Maintenance Law 
 

Among the new laws taking effect this month is House Bill 901, containing changes to the Texas spousal maintenance law. There are additional eligibility conditions in the additions to the current spousal support section of the family code. The new law also includes updated maximum amounts and duration. Further changes clarify the legislative intention and order when certain conditions are present, for example, when the spousal maintenance recipient is also the primary care giver for a disabled child. H.B. 901 streamlines the process of reviewing and calculating maintenance eligibility, amount and duration, adding more certainty in Texas divorce cases.

Spousal Maintenance Eligibility[i]

To qualify for spousal maintenance, the court must make the finding that the maintenance-seeking spouse cannot provide for their minimal reasonable needs because they lack the sufficient property (money/income), and one of the following conditions must be present:

(1) While the divorce is pending or within two years before filing, there was a proven offense of family violence against the seeking spouse;

(2) The seeking spouse cannot earn sufficient income due to incapacitating physical or mental disability, was married more than 10 years and generally lacks ability to earn sufficient income, or is the custodian of a child of the marriage requiring supervision due to mental or physical ability, which impedes the ability of that spouse to earn income.

Among the list of factors the court reviews in determining the nature, amount, duration and manner of spousal maintenance payments now includes some additional occurrences such as an expanded clarification of marital misconduct to include adultery and cruel treatment by either spouse. A history or pattern of family violence is also a factor in maintenance determinations.

Maximum Amount of Spousal Maintenance[ii]

The new law increased the maximum amount of spousal maintenance the court may award to being a monthly amount not greater than either $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income. The previous maximum amount was $2,500. The new law also identifies exactly what money is calculated in determining gross income.

Duration of Spousal Maintenance Order[iii]

Likely the biggest change to the spousal maintenance law is the extended duration of maintenance, with options for the court to grant maintenance not only for a maximum period of three years, but for five, seven or 10 years, depending on the length of the marriage. The law still follows the general rule that maintenance should be limited to the shortest reasonable period of time that it may take for the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income and get necessary skills training, if reasonable.

Clarification: Contempt of Court for Failure to Pay[iv]

The new law adds clarification to the provisions for enforcing the court’s maintenance order or an agreement by contempt. While the court may use a finding of contempt of court to enforce a maintenance order against the maintenance obligor, the court may not enforce any provision of an agreed order for maintenance that extends maintenance further beyond the court’s options stated in the Family Code. In addition to provisions covering failures to pay, the new law also adds a section to control the matter of overpayments and repayment procedures[v].

Modification of Spousal Maintenance

Leslie Barrows, family law attorney and founder of The Barrows Firm, offers her insight when asked how she is prepared to assist spouses with maintenance orders, who have concerns that the change in the law might affect them, “If spousal maintenance was awarded in the Final Decree of Divorce, I would take a few minutes and see if you are eligible for a modification of your current spousal support order.  You may even be eligible to collect past due payments and possibly terminate your spousal support order depending on the current living situation of your former spouse.”

The Barrows Firm in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, also with offices in Arlington and Trophy Club, represents families with legal issues in the area of divorce and family law, as well as juvenile, criminal, probate law and estate planning. You may make an appointment to meet with an attorney in the Fort Worth or Trophy Club office by calling (817) 481-1583 or by contacting The Barrows Firm through the website. The Barrows Firm is also active on social media, on Twitter and Facebook.

 

[i] Texas Family Code Sections 8.051 and 8.052.

[ii] Texas Family Code Section 8.055

[iii] Texas Family Code Section 8.054

[iv] Texas Family Code Section 8.059

[v] Texas Family Code Section 8.0591

Estate Planning For Everyone: Wills, Estate Planning and Probate Law and Litigation with Attorney Tylene Di Sciullo 
 

The Barrows Firm Law Review is a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas family, criminal, juvenile, probate and estate planning law and events. Attorney Tylene Di Sciullo is one of our featured hosts from The Barrows Firm, who shares insight and information about popular areas of the law affecting many families in Texas, and today we are talking about wills, estate planning and probate law in North Texas.

Estate Planning For Everyone: Wills, Estate Planning and Probate Law and Litigation with Attorney Tylene Di Sciullo, of counsel to The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas

  • Who needs a will, what can a will accomplish, and what happens if you pass without a will?
  • How can we protect the interests of biological children and other members of blended families?
  • When do we need durable or healthcare power of attorney documents and authorizations?
  • How does probate litigation work, what can we expect, and can we avoid the court process?
  • Identifying major life occurrences that require updates estate-planning documents and plans.

Tylene Di Sciullo is of counsel to The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas and her practice is focused on wills, estate planning and probate law and litigation. When not in court or counseling clients, Tylene Di Sciullo is a competitive swing, country western and ballroom dancer who takes all the steps, with style and grace, both on the dance floor and in law practice. When winning is what matters, many in the Fort Worth area go to The Barrows Firm based on their reputation an winning track record over the past decade. Tylene Di Sciullo earned her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington and she earned her law degree from Texas Wesleyan School of Law. She is a past Texas Wesleyan School of Law Alumni Board of Director and Officer. She was also Chairman of the Habitat for Humanity Committee for one year with the Tarrant County Bar Association. To speak to Tylene Di Sciullo please call (682) 708-4158.

 

Jury trials in Texas divorce and family law 
 

The Texas Family Code identifies several elements of a divorce and family law case that can be tried before a jury, seeking a verdict that the court will not overturn, involving a variety of issues. Family law attorneys addressing a jury panel have the opportunity to artfully tell their client’s story and explain how and why the jurors should return a verdict in their client’s favor. Some people prefer a jury to a judge if they are concerned the judge will not have a good impression of them. While there are several issues that can be litigated with a jury, the judge is the only one who can rule on other issues, as determined by the Texas Family Code and laws.

The status of a marriage is an issue in divorce cases that can be decided by a jury.

A Texas jury may decide the grounds for divorce, whether a marriage is void, and certain grounds for annulments of marriages.[i] While many people petition for divorce based on the no-fault grounds, proof of fault-based divorces may be a good match for an impartial jury. A jury can also hear a trial on the issues involved with common law marriages in Texas[ii]. Whether a couple effectively represent themselves as married can be a surprising disagreement between the parties when one wants a divorce from the other who says they were never married in the first place. On the other side of the coin, some people get married with a prenuptial agreement, something that also may go to a Texas jury to determine whether the agreement is valid and enforceable.

Juries can render verdicts on child custody and residential matters.

Texas is unique, in being the only state where juries can render verdicts controlling the custody of children and their primary residence. Specifically, the family code specifies that a Texas jury can determine the appointment of a managing conservator (custodial parent), joint managing conservators and possessory conservators.[iii] The role of the conservator is to make decisions for the child and manage their care and daily life. Another right the conservator may have, which can be determined by the jury, is whether there will be any geographic restrictions on where the child may live, for example, limited to a certain county or defined area.[iv] The Texas jury can decide which parent may determine where a child will live.[v] These are a few of the common decisions that can be made by a judge or a jury, if one of the parties makes a jury demand.

A trial by jury may be used to determine the status of property, values and distribution.

Issues involving property can be very complex. While Texas is a community property state and marital assets are generally divided equally, there can be issues involving inherited property, business interests, and that which is otherwise argued as separate property not to be included in the marital estate. These are all issues that juries may determine.[vi] Additionally, the jury can hear the testimony of experts, review evidence, and make determinations of the dollar value of property in the marital estate.[vii] Issues of ownership and agreements concerning who gets what are generally fitting for a Texas jury.

The judge can determine anything a jury can, but the judge has exclusive authority over certain matters in which the jury may not render a verdict. For example, the enforcement of court orders, adoption, paternity, visitation and child support are not matters where Texas law allows the option of a jury trial.

The Barrows Firm attorneys frequently answer questions about the process involved in divorce and family law cases. For more information about the options for a trial by judge or jury, contact The Barrows Firm using the links below, or by phone at (817) 481-1583.

The Barrows Firm in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, represents families with legal issues in the area of divorce and family law, as well as juvenile, criminal, probate law and estate planning. You may make an appointment to meet with an attorney in the Fort Worth or Trophy Club office by contacting The Barrows Firm through the website. The Barrows Firm is also active on social media, on Twitter and Facebook.

 

[i] TEX. FAM. CODE §§ 6.001-6.007; TEX. FAM. CODE §§ 6.105-6.110

[ii] TEX. FAM. CODE § 2.401

[iii] TEX. FAM. CODE § 105.002 (c)(1)(A)-(C)

[iv] TEX. FAM. CODE §§ 105.002 (c)(1)(E)-(F)

[v] TEX. FAM. CODE § 105.002 (c)(1)(D)

[vi] Cockerham v. Cockerham, 527 S.W.2d 162, 173 (Tex. 1975)

[vii] Archumbault v. Archambault, 763 S.W.2d 50, 51 (Tex.App.—Beaumont 1988)

Diversion Programs: Giving good people a chance with Fort Worth, Texas criminal law attorney Sherry Armstrong 

The Barrows Firm Law Review is a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas family, criminal, juvenile, probate and estate planning law and events. Attorney Sherry Armstrong is one of our featured hosts from The Barrows Firm, who shares insight and information about popular areas of the law affecting many families in Texas, and today we are talking about Tarrant County criminal diversion programs.

Diversion Programs: Giving good people a chance with Fort Worth, Texas criminal law attorney Sherry Armstrong

  • The purpose, scope and eligibility for Tarrant County District Attorney’s diversion programs.
  • Programs for young people; how deferred prosecution programs keep kids out of the system.
  • Veteran’s diversion programs and how to get the right help and not sit in jail.
  • Felony Alcohol Intervention Program and trying to close the revolving criminal door.
  • Mental Health Diversion Program and the issues facing many participants.
  • First Offender Drug Program applications and considerations.
  • Qualifying for a diversion program and how lawyers can help you find one.

Sherry Armstrong specializes in criminal defense, juvenile law and family law at The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas. Sherry credits competitive sports and residence life with giving her the tools she needed to become a successful attorney, and she promises to fight for her clients. When winning is what matters, many in the Fort Worth area go to The Barrows Firm based on their reputation an winning track record over the past decade. Sherry Armstrong earned her undergraduate degree from Louisiana Tech University and she earned her law degree from the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. She is a member of numerous organizations primarily focused in Tarrant County. To speak to Sherry Armstrong please call (817) 481-1583.

Texas wills and estate planning for everyone, all adults 
 

Why do people wait for a vacation overseas to contact their family attorney to update their wills and estate planning documents? Leaving a friend or neighbor in charge of taking in the mail, watering lawns or feeding the dog while we are out of town for a week or two is one thing. What happens in the case you cannot make it back as scheduled, or are unable to communicate or worse? Because we cannot control the world, we plan for emergencies. Looking at facts and statistics, most emergencies do not happen in the course of a vacation to Europe or Mexico, they happen within a few miles of home. Texas wills and estate planning are for everyone.

Another misconception some people have is that estate planning is only for the rich. You certainly do not have to be an oil baron in order to require a few estate-planning documents that protect you and your family in the case of your temporary or permanent incapacity. Think of how many privacy laws for our protection render us frozen in the event we cannot sign for things or access systems just to pay bills and keep the lights on if we cannot do it ourselves.

Divorce, custody and remarriage are also considerations for anyone trying to direct what happens to their assets, liabilities and the care of children and pets if something were to go wrong while on vacation or just on the way to work one day. An updated will and set of estate planning documents will give you and your family peace of mind, knowing if you can’t be there to make your own decisions, the decisions made will still be yours.

There are a few standard will and estate planning documents every Texas adult and parent should keep.

Texas Last Will and Testament. A properly written and signed will, prepared within the requirements of Texas law, allows you to make choices for the distribution of your property, who will have the task of doing that distribution, and of course, who you appoint to care for children or pets after you pass. In the event you die in Texas without a valid will, the state laws[i] will be applied and your estate assets will be divided to your living immediate family members. Blended families pay particular attention to wills because parents might want their blood children to take under a will before the family members of later married individuals.

Texas Durable Power of Attorney. In the event you are on that vacation overseas and decide to stay longer, or if you are in a medically induced coma after being involved in a car wreck on your way to work one day, a durable power of attorney document will allow your business and affairs to keep moving, even if you cannot. You can appoint a family member or friend to sign your checks, manage your assets and business affairs in your temporary absence. A properly drafted durable power of attorney can address with specificity exactly how want decisions and transactions are made if you cannot be there to make them in person.

Texas Healthcare Power of Attorney. Some of the biggest decisions that we can make concern the manner and delivery of healthcare services. As we age, mental health questions also arise. In the instance we lose our capacity to make sound decisions in the present, an appointed family member or friend with power of attorney over your healthcare might make decisions that save your life or carry out your wishes. Power of attorney for healthcare is also important to children and a power of attorney for a child can also be prepared so there is no question as to what happens if an emergency happens when one or both parents is unavailable.

In addition to wills and power of attorney documents, HIPAA authorization documents and physician directive documents, when properly prepared, can help you avoid unnecessary hold ups and policy barriers and restrictions when healthcare events occur out of the ordinary course of daily life.

The Barrows Firm attorneys frequently answer questions about wills and other estate planning documents, not only when people are going on a big vacation, but when they periodically update financial and business affairs, or simply when there is a change in the law or the tax code and they want an attorney to advise them whether they should take action.

The Barrows Firm in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, represents families with legal issues in the area of divorce and family law, as well as juvenile, criminal, probate law and estate planning. You may make an appointment to meet with an attorney in the Fort Worth or Trophy Club office by contacting The Barrows Firm through the website. The Barrows Firm is also active on social media, on Twitter and Facebook.

[i] Texas Estates Code Ann. §§ 201.001-201.003., Chapter 201 Descent and Distribution

What can a parent or guardian expect when CPS investigates a report of child abuse and neglect? 
 

Child abuse and neglect are serious concerns and it is the job of Child Protective Services (“CPS”) to respond to complaints alleging abuse and neglect. CPS is the administrative agency of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (“DFPS”). “The mission of The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is to protect children, the elderly, and people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation by involving clients, families, and communities.[i]” DFPS not only investigates matters involving children, but also reports of abuse of people 65 years and older and adults with disabilities.

We often hear about CPS on the news when something bad happens to a child, often involving a dangerous incident. For example, a recent news story reported the arrest of a mother in Wichita Falls, Texas, for endangering her child. It was reported that the mother left her four-month-old child in her car seat, in her Chevrolet Impala, with the engine running, for close to 45 minutes while shopping at Kohl’s department store. The woman was “arrested, and charged with Abandoning or Endangering a Child. CPS was called, and the child was released to another family member.[ii]

While many cases are reported to CPS, only a handful of them involve adverse action against parents.

CPS has a duty under Texas state law, to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect by parents or other members of a family or household. The woman who left her child in the car might be convicted of Abandoning or Endangering a Child, in criminal court, but her child might not necessarily be removed from her care. CPS could investigate and make a finding that the mother made a big mistake that she is not likely to do again, and the fact she left the car running and may have had the air conditioning on, could be a substantial factor in how CPS might decide what, if any action to take against the mother.

Investigations of abuse or neglect require a CPS caseworker to interview the child at the subject of the complaint. Interviews are recorded, either audio or video, at home, school or an otherwise reasonable location. Within 24 hours of an interview, the caseworker should inform the parent or guardian of their interview and nature of any allegations. When the caseworker discusses their report, the parent or guardian has an opportunity to explain any injuries, risk of abuse or safety concerns. A criminal history is also conducted to investigate any individuals involved in an abuse or neglect investigation.[iii]

CPS investigations lead to reports that indicate any action to be taken to protect the safety of a child.

CPS caseworkers may take additional steps, authorized by law, depending on the nature of the case. Most investigations are completed within 30 days. The caseworker’s confidential (not public) report records the determination, made by the caseworker and their supervisor, whether a child was abused or neglected, at risk of future abuse and neglect or is otherwise safe. CPS may elect to order Family Team Meetings, develop Safety Plans, require a Parental Child Safety Placement agreement, or remove a child from the care of the parent, guardian or family member involved in the case.

Consulting with and having a lawyer represent an individual involved in a CPS investigation is a good idea, and may be done at any time during an investigation. A family law attorney knowledgeable and skilled in CPS matters can help explain the law involved in the investigation process and as well help make an accurate record of the facts and circumstances involved in the specific case. Attorneys at The Barrows Firm receive calls and questions about CPS investigations and are able to answer additional questions and represent parents and guardians who may be the subject of an investigation.

The Barrows Firm in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, represents families with legal issues in the area of divorce and family law, as well as juvenile, criminal, probate law and estate planning. You may make an appointment to meet with an attorney in the Fort Worth or Trophy Club office by contacting The Barrows Firm through the website. The Barrows Firm is also active on social media, on Twitter and Facebook.

 

[i] Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Mission Vision and Values.

[ii] News Channel 6, Wichita Falls, Police: Woman Arrested for Leaving Child in Car, Jul. 13, 2015.

[iii] Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, A Parent’s Guide to a Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigation.

Texas child support and custody modification 

Texas child support and custody modification

The Barrows Firm Law Review is a monthly Internet radio show podcast featuring information about Texas family, criminal, juvenile, probate and estate planning law and events. Attorney Leslie Barrows is our featured host as she shares insight and information about popular areas of the law affecting many families in Texas. In this episode, Leslie walks us through common issues in Texas child support and custody modification.

Popular family law modification topics covered in this podcast interview:

  • What leads to child support modification and how complex is the process?
  • Why change the nature of the parenting relationship, custody and visitation rights?
  • Under what circumstances can you modify temporary or permanent spousal support?
  • What are the best steps to proving the obligor has changed income if they withhold payroll and bank records?
  • How do you pursue modification suits to avoid hostility among the parties?
  • Why are modification suits as or more complex than the original court action?
  • What happens if you don’t like your judge and or when you want to appeal a decision?

For more information about Texas child support and custody modification contact The Barrows Firm, P.C..

Leslie Barrows is the principal founder of The Barrows Firm in Fort Worth, Texas. In her firm’s main practice areas of family law, criminal defense and juvenile law, Leslie is consistently challenged with dynamic cases and clients. When winning is what matters, many in the Fort Worth area go to The Barrows Firm based on their reputation an winning track record over the past decade. Leslie Barrows 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. To speak to Leslie Barrows please call (817) 481-1583.

Student truancy is no longer a criminal offense in Texas 
 

Truancy is no longer a criminal offense, effective September 1, 2015 as Texas students go back to school.

There are more than 5 million students enrolled in public schools in the State of Texas, and many more in private schools.[i] As they go back to school this fall, fewer Texas students will face criminal penalties for truancy. Parents, teachers and students have mixed reactions to a change in the law. A social advocacy group who lobbied for a change in the law, Texas Appleseed, researched truancy in Texas and released a report, Class, Not Court: Reconsidering Texas’ Criminalization of Truancy, and among their top findings they stated in their May 2015 newsletter, “There is no evidence to support the notion that children are simply “skipping class.” Factors that have led to truancy include chronic illness, taking care of a relative, homelessness, being a victim of bullying, and having undiagnosed special education needs.[ii]

Not everyone supports the change in the law, removing criminal penalties and consequences for truancy. Dallas County Commissioner, Mike Cantrell believes that attendance rates are going to decrease and dropout rates will increase, as stated in a recent article in The Star Telegram[iii].

“Opponents of the new law make one good point: Requiring schools to do more to address attendance problems will cost school districts money,” the editorial stated, “That includes costs to either hire a truancy-prevention facilitator or add these duties to an existing employee.”

Truancy is no longer a criminal offense, effective September 1, 2015 as Texas students go back to school.

Where truancy is currently punishable as a class C misdemeanor, after September 1, truancy may be enforced with a civil fine. The new law concerning truancy, House Bill 2398, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 18, 2015, takes effect this year on September 1. Section 25.094 of the Texas Education Code, Failure to Attend School is no longer included in Article 4.14(g), which sets forth municipal court jurisdiction. Additionally, HB 2938 amends Chapter 45 of the Code of Criminal Procedure so that criminal charges of parents contributing to nonattendance may be dismissed by the court, and parents may be free from criminal penalties for the truancy of a child. Expunction of truancy offenses is also permitted under the change in Texas law.

The new law on truancy will reduce the dockets in criminal courts and jails, as it causes an increased workload on Texas schools where more work is necessary to address attendance problems. Where the threat of criminal prosecution for skipping school may have pressured students to attend class, the Texas Education Agency and its administrators now have the burden to keep students in school on their own accord.

Not everyone is happy with the change in the law, but law and policy makers feel this is right for Texas.

Without the teeth of the threat of criminal punishment, many educators worry about exponentially increasing drop-out rate increases. Meanwhile, the author of the law, state Rep. James White, says, “You have to ask yourself a question. Is that necessarily a reason to criminalize being absent from school? Because someone says or believes the drop-out rate is going to increase?[iv]

The Texas Appleseed group, in their research, found more than 115,000 truancy cases were filed in 2013, more than all other states combined. The group’s executive director, Deb Fowler, does not agree that criminal prosecution for truancy has any impact on attendance. “There is absolutely no evidence – zero research – that supports such a punitive approach to chronic absence or attendance problems,” she said. “In fact, there is research that shows that court-based interventions are largely ineffective as an intervention.[v]

The Barrows Firm can offer additional information about the new law and help with truancy expunctions.

The Barrows Firm in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, represents families with legal issues in the area of divorce and family law, as well as juvenile, criminal, probate law and estate planning. The Barrows Firm attorneys covering juvenile legal matters, such as truancy, can help students and parents with truancy cases and court issues. You may make an appointment to meet with an attorney in the Fort Worth or Trophy Club office by contacting The Barrows Firm through the website. The Barrows Firm is also active on social media, on Twitter and Facebook.

[i] Texas Education Agency, Enrollment Trends, 2013-2014 November 2014 PDF

[ii] Texas Appleseed, May 2015 Newsletter, Truancy Reform Efforts

[iii] The Star Telegram, Editorials, Under new law, truancy is not criminal, Jul. 13, 2015.

[iv] The Texas Tribune, Schools, Courts Worry About New Truancy Law, By Terri Langford, Jul. 12,2015.

[v] See HNiv above.

Family law attorney joins The Barrows Firm 

The Barrows Firm, which has offices in Tarrant and Denton counties, has added another dedicated advocate for families confronting legal issues.

Lyndsay A. Newell, a 2012 Texas Wesleyan University School of Law graduate, joined the firm as an Associate Attorney May 26. In addition to her law degree, Newell also holds a Master of Science in Child and Family Studies from The University of Tennessee – Knoxville. She will specialize in family law.

Leslie Barrows founded The Barrows Firm in 2006. It is a full-service law office based in Fort Worth, with respected attorneys engaged in criminal, civil and family court cases.

Newell was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2012. She is experienced in family law, real estate, appellate law and general civil litigation. She also was a judicial intern in The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth in 2012 and 2013.

“Lyndsay’s detail-oriented nature and experience in the appellate courts give her a firm understanding of family law. But, it’s really her empathy for clients and her passion for representing them vigorously in the courtroom that make her a great addition to our team,” Leslie Barrows said. “No doubt about it – she’s the attorney you want in your corner.”

Newell also is a member of the American Inns of Court, the State Bar of Texas’ Family Law Section, the Tarrant County Bar Association and the Tarrant County Family Law Bar Association.