Do's & Don'ts

Do's And Don'ts In Family Law Cases

1. Do I need to notify anyone if I decide to move or go out of town?

Yes, if you move or are planning to go out of town on vacation or otherwise please let us know where you can be reached and provide us with your new address and telephone number (preferably in writing).

2. Do I need to say anything when I allow my boyfriend/girlfriend to move in with me? Or decide to change jobs?

Yes, you should notify this office as to any change in your living situation (i.e., roommates, live in girlfriends/boyfriends, etc…), change in job status, or any changes that may affect the outcome of your case.

If you have any question about the effect of the change in your living situation, please set an appointment with our office to discuss the change before it takes place.

3. Should I document any problems I have with my child(ren) or the other party in while my case is pending?

Yes, keep a day-by-day diary and describe in the diary significant events that occur during the course of your daily living from the time you get up from bed and dress at the beginning of your day to the time you go back to bed at the end of the day and include any problems experienced with the other party (spouse, ex-spouse, or ex-significant) or the child(ren) (if applicable).

4. Where do you I keep any evidence that will help my case?

Any evidence, which comes into your possession, should be transmitted to this office for safekeeping. If you are reminded of any facts, which you have not reported to us, make a note of such facts and report to us as soon as possible. Let us know the names addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses subsequently discovered. Keep all physical objects, which might serve as evidence to support your allegations. Don’t keep evidence any place that your spouse/partner can have access.

5. Do I need to track my expenses?

Yes, you should maintain a separate itemized daily list of all your expenses relating to the child(ren), spouse (if filing for divorce), ex-spouse, ex-significant other, etc. (as applicable). Payment of expenses should be by check and you should get a written receipt (preferably two copies) and send or bring all canceled checks and receipts to this office.

6. If the other party brings documents regarding my case to me personally, is it okay if I sign them if it looks okay to me?

No, do not sign any legal documents relating to this matter without our prior approval.

7. Should I discuss my case with children? What if the children are asking?

No, as a general rule, do not discuss legal matters with the children. Legal matters involving children are extremely stressful for most children. Discussing legal issues with the children will probably negatively affect the outcome of your case.

8. My child(ren) think I’m the “bad guy” in our situation. Is it okay if I tell them the mean things the other parent/party has said/done?

No, do not make any disparaging remarks about the other party, their significant other, or their family to or within the hearing of the child. This not only may have a negative effect on the outcome of your case, it negatively affects the child.

9. Should I talk to the other party about this case?

If it can be done in a constructive manner, yes. If not, avoid situations with your ex-significant other, ex-wife, or soon to be ex in which you may be accused of making threats, violence, stalking, telephone harassment, or actually committing any of these acts. Meeting in a public place is usually a better alternative than meeting your spouse at their place or yours. If you must meet them at their residence, record the conversation from beginning to end.

10. Is it okay to start dating before my divorce is final?

Dating or having an intimate relationship with someone during the pendency of a divorce is still considered having an extra marital relationship (an affair). About half of the judges treat this conduct the same as they would if you were still living with your spouse and it may affect the outcome of your case.

Dating or having an intimate relationship with someone during the pendency of a divorce is especially harmful in cases involving children. It is an absolute “no” to introduce this person to your child. All things being equal in a divorce, this is a deal breaker. Almost every judge will hold this conduct against you in divorce proceedings.

In any case, regardless of whether it’s a divorce or modification, involving children, if you have dated more than one person in a period of time less than a year or two, do not introduce your date to your children. In other words, if you’re dating around, do not introduce these people to your children. While this may be awkward at times, most judges will consider such behavior negatively in a divorce, custody, or possibly a visitation case.

11. Is it okay to record my conversations with the other party?

Yes, if you are in a contested matter, record all conversations between yourself and the other party, their friends, or family. In Texas, you can record your telephone calls. You cannot record anyone else’s telephone conversations, including the child’s. If you record conversations, number your tapes and keep a record of what is on each tape. It gets extremely expensive to pay our staff to review tapes. If there are potential problems at exchanges, record the exchanges. The use of video tapes to prove or disprove the facts of your case in an invaluable tool.

Be aware of what you do or say, the opposing party or a private investigator may be taping or recording your conduct or conversations. Do not do or say anything you wouldn’t want the judge to hear or see. If you have any questions, set an appointment with our office before you act.

12. Am I allowed to speak with anyone or submit anything to the court?

No, if you are represented by an attorney, you cannot correspond with the court, submit your own documents, or otherwise contact the court about your case. This is looked down upon by judges and court staff, and may negatively affect the outcome of your case.

Additionally, you cannot send letters to or call the judge about the facts of your case. This is considered an ex-parte communications and is a violation of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and various ethical rules. Again, this is looked down upon by judges and court staff, and may negatively affect the outcome of your case. If a client violates this rule, our office will withdraw from your case.

13. Is it all right to remove my property from the residence?

Prior to the filing of a divorce, if you have or plan to moved out of the family residence or from the residence of your significant other, move all of your personal property, keep sake items, photographs, guns, cars, motorcycles, etc. Many times these items mysteriously disappear, are sold, or given away. Once these items are lost, sold, or given away, they are forever lost to you and judges will probably not address this issue.

Regardless of whether you have moved from the residence, remove your important documents from the residence. Again these items seem to mysteriously disappear or show up in court to be used against you.

Do make copies of the records of your significant other and store the documents in a place for safe keeping.

If a divorce has been filed, most counties have a standing order that precludes parties from moving anything other than their personal possessions.

14. Can I buy or sell property?

No, most courts have standing orders that are in effect at the time the case filed, which precludes parties from selling or encumbering property, buying large ticket items, or incurring non-essential debt. If there are not standing order, typically, there are temporary injunctions in place that preclude selling or encumbering property, buying large ticket items, or incurring non-essential debt. Even if there is no standing order or injunctions in place, in most courts, it would not be a wise idea to sell or encumber property, buy large ticket items, or incur non-essential debt.

15. How do I communicate with my attorney or his staff?

If you need to correspond with our office, please follow these guidelines:

    • If you have any non-legal questions, call my legal assistant/paralegal. Many times, my assistant or paralegal can answer your questions; or she can write down the question, ask me, and call you back with an answer quicker than we can meet. If she cannot assist you, ask for a telephone or office conference.
    • If you have billing questions, call my receptionist or legal assistant.
    • If you need to talk with me about a legal issue or something that you feel I need to address with you, call and ask who ever answers the telephone to set a date and time for a telephone or office conference.

These procedures are in place to keep down your bills and increase our office efficiency, so please follow them.

DISCLAIMER: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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