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What is Common Law Marriage?

What is a Common Law Marriage?

A common law marriage, or informal marriage, is a legally binding union that occurs without the ceremony of a formal marriage. In the State of Texas, it is equal under law to a formal marriage.

What Are the Elements of a Common Law Marriage?

There are two sets of circumstances that make a common law marriage valid in the State of Texas. The parties must either sign and register a declaration of informal marriage on a form provided by the county clerk, or meet the following requirements:

  1. Both parties must agree to be married and live together as a married couple in the State of Texas;
  2. The couple must represent themselves to others as being married; and
  3. The couple must be over the age of eighteen (18) and not in a marriage with anyone else.

A couple can represent themselves to others as being married in several different ways, such as sharing finances or property together. Contrary to popular belief, there is no set amount of time that a couple must live together in order to make the common law marriage legitimate.

How Can I Prove my Common Law Marriage?

There are multiple different avenues to prove a common law marriage. Three of the most common examples would be owning real estate jointly, having a joint bank account, and filing joint tax returns. These actions tend to prove that the couple lived together in Texas and represented themselves to others as being married.

Divorce in a Common Law Marriage

Divorce in a common law marriage is the same as divorce in a formal marriage, with one notable exception. If one of the parties does not file for divorce within two years of their separation, then the State will presume that the marriage was never agreed upon by both parties. If the State deems the marriage valid, then the division of marital assets and liabilities will be the same as in a regular divorce.

 

For more information regarding common law marriage or other family law matters, please feel free to contact Paul Goetz of The Cox Law Firm at (817) 860-9200.

 

 

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Can I Reverse My Divorce?

Reverse My DivorceIt is not uncommon during the process of getting a divorce for a couple to reconcile and decide to stay together. If this happens, what does it mean for you and your divorce proceedings? Here is what you need to know when trying to reverse a divorce at each stage of the divorce proceedings:

During the Divorce Proceedings:

Before the Petition is signed

At this point, nothing has happened in your divorce proceedings. If you sought legal guidance, you probably have incurred attorney’s fees. This is the only matter that must be addressed if you decide to reconcile with your significant other.

Before the Petition is filed

If no paperwork has been filed with the court, there are few ramifications for changing your mind. Of course, you will have to pay all your attorney fees up to this point, but you will be spared the cost of the court fees and filing fees. There are also no legal ramifications if you change your mind before you file the petition with the court.

After the Petition is filed

At this point in the divorce process, it is not impossible to prevent a divorce, but a few extra steps must occur first. Your attorney will have to file a motion. The attorney can either ask for the case to be dismissed or ask the court if they would grant a motion to suspend the proceedings. Dismissing the case entirely will completely stop all divorce proceedings; this should be done if a couple is absolutely sure they are reconciling. Suspending the proceedings means that the court pushes the issue down the calendar, allowing the couple to decide if they want to continue or dismiss the case.

Up to this point, the couple has likely accrued attorneys’ fees and the filing fee. The filing fee falls on the person who filed the petition in court. If the couple decides to suspend the proceedings, the filing fee does not have to be paid again. However, if the couple decides to dismiss the case and refile later, a new filing fee will be added.

After the Divorce Proceedings:

If your divorce proceedings are nearing the end, and you and your spouse decide to reconcile, there are fewer options available. If the divorce settlement has already been sent to a judge, the attorneys can ask the court to not rule on the settlement. This has to be done fairly soon after the settlement has been sent to the judge.

If the judge has signed the divorce decree and it has been less than thirty days, the attorneys may ask the judge to reverse to the decision. However, this is up to the discretion of the judge. An attorney may be able to file for an appeal or a modification of the settlement, but this is also left up to the discretion of the court. If a judge decides not to reverse his decision, you will have to remarry if you want to remain wedded to your spouse.

The best thing to do is be honest with your attorney throughout the divorce process. Even if you are just thinking about reconciling, it is best for the attorney to know so they can halt proceedings if necessary.

If you’re planning on getting a divorce, contact the compassionate team at Cox Law Firm. We’ll be here every step of the way to make sure you get the outcome you’re looking for during your divorce. Call us today at 817-618-6975 to learn more or to schedule an appointment.

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What is “Personal Injury”?

In the legal world, “personal injury” describes cases in which an individual is injured or harmed by another person or entity. The circumstances surrounding injuries vary from case to case, but usually an injury occurs unintentionally, because of carelessness or disregard that lead to an accident.

For example, a personal injury accident would be if someone fell because a railing on a staircase was not attached properly. The person who fell could pursue a personal injury claim to hold the negligent party accountable and seek damages or monetary compensation for injuries that arose from the accident.

Other common incidents that could amount to personal injury claims are:

  • Car accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Medical malpractice
  • Premises liability
  • Product liability
  • Slip-and-fall Cases
  • Workplace injuries
  • Wrongful death

If you are injured, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Time is of the essence in personal injury cases.

If you are injured and believe you have a personal injury claim, contact the Cox Law Firm and let their double-board-certified personal injury attorney, Steve Pierret, determine the best path for you.

 

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Ed Cox Comments on Amber Guyger’s Chances of Parole in USA Today

Ed Cox of the Cox Law Firm was contacted by USA Today to speak on Amber Guyger’s chances of parole and the potential impact of Botham Jean’s Family’s support. The Article goes on to quote Mr. Cox on several factors that are examined by the Texas Parole Boards.

Mr. Cox discusses factors that the boards will consider, such as support from Botham Jean’s Family, along with Guyger’s behavior while incarcerated and her involvement in self-improvement opportunities. These and other static and dynamic factors are weighed by the Parole Boards of Texas when determining if someone is deemed fit to reintegrate into society.

Read More at USA Today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things to do when preparing for a divorce

Contact an Attorney

An attorney can be an extremely beneficial first step in planning for a divorce. An attorney will guide your decisions and make sure your divorce is as easy as possible. An easy way that you can help your attorney is have your general information ready for the attorney to assess and plan a personal strategy for you. The general information should include names, jobs, date of marriage, separation date, any children that belong to this marriage or past marriages, past jobs, incomes, and potentially social security numbers. The rule that you should follow with your attorney, is the more information the better. This allows the attorney to know what to expect in this divorce.

To Do List

A few things that should be high on your to do list is calculate daily living expenses for you and your spouse, change passwords on your personal accounts, and start collecting all documents that an attorney or judge might need. It is smart to put these documents on a flash drive and to make copies as backups.

These documents can include:

– Tax Filings
– Bank Statements
– Retirement Account statements
– Mortgage Documents
– Deeds
– Titles (Car, Motorcycles, Boats, Etc.)
– Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements
– Any medical or dental benefit plans
– Any records or statements that pertains to debt
– All insurance plans (life insurance, health savings, etc.)
– Business Records or Pay Stubs
– A list/inventory of assets (real property or stock options)

Not To Do

– Don’t clean out your bank accounts
– Don’t take your kids any place without talking to your spouse
– Be discreet in your text messages and emails
– Don’t bring any new adults around your children before you are separated
– Don’t assume it will all handle itself

If you have more questions about what you should do when preparing for your divorce, contact The Cox Law Firm. The attorneys will answer your questions and help prepare you so you are well-equipped for your divorce.

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The Stages of a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Personal Injury lawsuits are unique to each situation.  Various factors will determine different outcomes, but most personal injury lawsuits follow a similar process.  The simplest way to learn what your personal injury lawsuit might look like is to contact the Cox Law Firm and let their double-board certified personal injury attorney, Steve Pierret, determine the best path for you. In order to prepare yourself for your personal injury case, it can be beneficial to know the general stages of a personal injury lawsuit.

The Incident

This is the basis of the lawsuit.  Some type of an accident has occurred, which caused injuries or damages.  The party filing the lawsuit seeks compensation for these damages and injuries.  Compensation may include medical bills, loss of income, future medical care, property damage, and recovery for pain and suffering.

Hiring an Attorney

An attorney will assess the facts and help you determine what claims, if any, are valid and what is the right protocol for seeking justice.  Hiring an attorney early on can often help you obtain your compensation quicker.  An attorney will also help you stay organized and focused, and ensure that your case is timely filed and all deadlines are met.  An experienced attorney can also guide you in how you can contribute to your personal injury case and seek adequate compensation for you.

Gathering Information/ Building Your Case

Once the lawsuit has been filed, both parties will try to find all information regarding the incident.  Attorneys will comb over medical files, accident reports, and other documents that pertain to the accident and damages.  Experts, such as a doctor or accident reconstructionist, may need to be hired to assist in proving your case.  This time of gathering information is called the discovery stage of the personal injury lawsuit.

Negotiation, Mediation, & Settlement

A large number of personal injury cases are resolved without ever going to trial.  Attorneys negotiate with each other to reach a beneficial settlement for their client and, thus, avoid the time, costs, and uncertainty of going to trial.  Alternatively, parties will agree to mediation, a process in which an impartial third person helps the parties reach an agreement.  Mediation is often used to resolve cases because it too can save time and money for both parties.

Trial

A trial is where the attorneys present evidence to a judge or jury to convince them who was at fault and why damages should be awarded.  The attorneys will use the documents and evidence that were gathered during the discovery stage of the lawsuit and question witnesses who have sworn to tell the truth.  Trials can vary in their length and each trial is unique based upon the particular evidence, witnesses, documents, judge, and jury involved.

Jury Verdict and the Possibility of an Appeal

After the trial is over, the jury discusses the evidence in private and decides who was at fault by voting.  Sometimes the jury (or the judge if a jury is not used) will find that more than one party is at fault, and in that situation will determine the percentage of fault for each person involved.  The jury will also determine the amount of damages.

The losing party is entitled to appeal.  Grounds for appeal could include such things as: evidence was admitted that should not have been; evidence was kept out that should have been admitted; or the judge made an incorrect ruling.  A transcript of trial will be prepared and the attorneys will use it to prepare their appeal briefs, which are filed with the appellate court.  The appellate court may hold oral arguments before issuing their decision, which could result in having retry the case.

Payment of Damages

Most often, if the injured party wins at trial, he/she will be paid their damages from  the losing party’s insurance company, whether it be auto insurance, property insurance, or malpractice insurance.   If there is no insurance coverage, the winning attorney will have to use legal process, such as wage garnishments, to enforce the verdict and collect the damages for their client.

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The Parole Review Process

  1. The experts at Cox Law Firm will evaluate your case—or that of a loved one—and advise you if we believe you will benefit from our services. We will take your Texas parole review case if we ascertain that you have a reasonable chance of an approval vote, or would otherwise benefit from our representation. We are committed to presenting the strongest and most compelling case for an inmate’s release on parole.
  2. The team at Cox Law Firm will help you to ascertain where your parole case is in the administrative process and whether the inmate is eligible. If we determine eligibility, we will develop your case by gathering information and formulating a plan for an effective presentation to the parole board. We will collect and organize the most beneficial information regarding your social and educational background, family history, employment record, occupational skills, and mental and physical health history. We will also closely examine your criminal history—including prior probations, convictions, and incarceration—and will ascertain whether time served is proportionate with the nature and severity of the offense(s).
  3. In preparation for your parole board hearing, the staff at Cox Law Firm will compile comprehensive information regarding your prison record, including adjustment, in-prison employment, custody level, classification, disciplinary history, and participation in recommended therapeutic programs. We will spend time talking with you and your family to ensure we have a clear understanding of all possible mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense. We will advise you how to address problems that may have led to the commission of a crime to show the inmate’s seriousness in not wanting to re-offend. Rehabilitation programs, education, vocational training, social/emotional therapy, and an inmate’s personal growth are all relevant factors in a parole hearing.
  4. The experts at Cox Law Firm will also work closely with an inmate’s family members and friends to develop a workable re-entry/re-integration plan to present to the parole board. The board will be looking for stable housing, employment, and/or financial support for a parolee, as well as a strong social support system and any maintenance therapy or substance abuse support groups that may be deemed beneficial.
  5. As your parole review representation, we will not only present the most positive profile of our client to the board, but will also address the specific concerns that may sway board members toward a negative vote. For example, our clients may face protests from law enforcement or impassioned testimony from victims or their families. The experts at Cox Law Firm will work to minimize the concerns of the board raised by such adverse information and testimony.

Representation In Parole Revocation Hearings

In the event of revocation action, Cox Law Firm is committed to aggressively defending our clients’ right to remain free. In many parole revocation cases, the allegations against a parolee may be disproved by presenting evidence and/or a cross-examination of witnesses during the hearing. In cases where a violation is likely to be proven by facts, Cox Law Firm experts will introduce mitigating factors and circumstances surrounding the violation, putting forth positive information in an effort to convince the Board that the violation does not merit parole revocation. We will also ensure that our clients are able to get their own side of the story on record during the revocation hearing; these records become a part of an inmate’s file and may be considered again during subsequent parole hearings.

The Cox Law Firm is also available to represent clients in cases involving prison time credit, prison administrative issues, prison discipline, and prison classification. For more information on parole representation, contact Cox Law Firm or visit our parole website.

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Were You Involved In A Hit & Run?

Here in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, we experience a high volume of cars and traffic. Sadly we experience a high volume of hit & runs as well. A hit & run accident occurs when a vehicle hits either you, your vehicle, or your property, and instead of stopping and providing aid or insurance, the person illegally flees the scene. It can be a very traumatic experience that results in serious injuries.

What should you do if you have been involved in a hit and run?

  1. Take care of yourself. Try to remove yourself from harm’s way by putting on your hazards, moving to the curb, or if your car is unmovable getting out (if you’re able to) and moving to a safe location.
  2. Call the police. Under Texas law, hit & runs are illegal and taken very seriously. It is important to go on record with what you remembered happened.
  3. Take the medical help. Car accidents are serious. It is important to be examined because you might not be aware of the injuries that occurred in the accident. Again, your safety is the most important thing.
  4. Depending on your condition, try to get the contact information of anyone who might have witnessed the accident.
  5. Finally, contact a board-certified attorney. Hit and runs are complicated, it is important that you have an experienced attorney who can seek the compensation you deserve.

What are your claims?

Potential claims you might have are an uninsured motorist claim and personal injury protection (PIP) benefits against your policy. If the other driver is found, you could pursue both negligence and gross negligence claims against the driver (his insurance) for your injuries and your property. An attorney should look at your individualized case and decide with you what claims you are wanting to pursue.

Why it’s important to contact a board-certified attorney after a hit & run?

Car accidents are complex, there are a lot of people and entities that can be involved. An experienced attorney can fight on your behalf to find the right insurance coverage and claim for you. Car accidents are not usually quick to recover from, it takes time and resources. Personal injury attorney’s already have access to many of these resources and know how to proceed to try and make this as easy on you as possible.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a hit & run, please contact us. We can answer any questions that you might have relating to your accident.

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Social Media Habits You Should Avoid When Getting A Divorce!

Social media is a platform where we stay connected with friends and family, update people on life events, and express our views and opinions. People can post multiple times a day and nobody thinks twice, so why is it important to avoid certain normal social media habits during your divorce?

Social Media Platforms Are Not As Private As You Think.

We have come to believe that if a person is not your “friend” on social media they are unable to see your account. That is simply not true. Individuals with technological means have  ways of accessing posts that you intended to be private. Additionally, your social media posts can be requested by a judge or an attorney if they believe it will be relevant in any legal proceedings.

Poor Social Media Choices Can Hurt Your Case.

Some divorces are not amicable, and even if your divorce is amicable, social media can be used against you to either lessen your monetary claims, attack your credibility in custody matters, or show that you have hostility towards your spouse. For these reasons, it is crucial to be aware of your social media activity during a divorce.

Things To Avoid Posting:

  • Allowing friends and family to post about your divorce
  • Ranting about your case, attorneys, expectations, or spouse
  • Images of excessive drinking or partying
  • Liking memes or funny pictures depicting negative views on marriage
  • Posting videos or pictures of your kids doing activities that your spouse would not approve
  • Radical or lavish purchases
  • Your location or vacations you’ve taken

So What Can You Post?

Divorces can sometimes take months to years, and not posting on social media for that extension of time can seem an unimaginable task, so what is okay to post? Well, if you find that you need to post during your divorce, keep the posts simple , light, and positive. Post updates about kids, extended family, or maybe congratulate a friend on their new job. The key is to not post anything negative or potentially damaging to your image during your divorce proceedings.

Divorces can be daunting, so it is important to try and make the process as easy as possible. One way achieve this is to avoid social media; another is to have a qualified attorney. Since divorces are so unique and individualized, it is crucial to have an attorney guide you through this difficult and trying time by offering advice and guidance on your divorce, so you can focus on yourself and your family.

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Reducing the Impact of Divorce on Children

Deciding to get divorced is a very difficult decision especially when kids are involved. Once you’ve made the decision, an adjustment period begins. Dr. Patrick F. Fagan, Founder Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, found that children whose parents are divorced can be more susceptible to health, behavioral, and emotional problems, if the proper steps are not taken.

Your Behavior is a Huge Factor

“Behavioral modeling” is the psychological process when a child will copy or mimic the emotions, words or actions that they see. Thus, the first way to mitigate the effect of divorce on your child, is to not be negative, lash-out, or argue with your spouse, ex-spouse, or others in front of your children. This seems simple, but it means being cognitive of what your child might be witnessing. For example, if you are gossiping with your best friend about your ex, complaining about child support to your parents, or whispering things under your breath, your child can pick up all of these conversations.

Make the Transition Easy on Your Child

Try to change as little as possible in their routine. If your entire family is at a school function the focus should be on your child and not on the potential animosity you might feel or the awkwardness you wish to avoid with your ex. It is important to remember that children in divorced families with minimal conflict are not very different than families with parents who are not divorced, so putting your child first in all events will help to keep the conflict down.

Be Respectful to Your Ex and to Yourself

Communication is hard without the added pressure of a divorce. This means you will probably have to work twice as hard working on the communication you have with your ex. Make sure you are clear and concise when communicating with your ex, the less confusion, the smoother things will run. This also means you need to understand what your limits are and what you are comfortable with when it comes to communication and seeing your ex. If there are clear lines that are established, your child is less likely to get confused and lash out.

A Easy and Quick Divorce is Best For Everyone

The best way to make this transition easy for your child is to find an attorney who understands the complexities and sensitivities that go into a divorce. Finding someone who has your and your child’s best interests in mind and someone you trust is key to making this life change easy on your family.

If you are considering getting a divorce, or need legal guidance on matters dealing with divorce, child custody, and property division. Please email, Paul Goetz. He will listen and develop a personal plan for you and your family.

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