Given my situation, how would you handle my case?
We provide a FREE 30 minute phone consultation to get an over-view of your situation and your need for legal services. We provide a preliminary analysis and make suggestions for how we would handle your case. Once we are retained, we will do a more lengthy and detail In-Take to determine your interests and develop the factual “lay of the land”. There are may ways in which a legal case may be resolved. We do our best to seek more peaceful ways to resolve conflicts; this usually helps to lower costs. If the other side is willing, we can custom design the best process (pathway) to get your case resolved. We will then work with you to develop a case management strategy suitable to the pathway selected — a negotiation track or a litigation track.
How long will it take?
Time from first filing to final orders depends on several factors: (1) the type of case, (2) the level of inter-personal conflict, (3) the legal complexities, (4) the relationship complexities, (5) the willingness of the other side to engage in creative problem-solving versus litigation, and (6) the condition of the court’s docket if contested hearings are required. Each case is unique. We can give some guesses about time after we have been retained and completed an in-take.
How much will it cost?
Each case is unique. The cost depends on the amount of attorney time and staff time required to resolve the case plus incidental costs. The attorney/staff time required depends on the factors mentioned in FAQ No. 2 above. You need to know the hourly rate for each attorney and staff member who will work on your case. Ask about billing practices. Costs also includes filing fees, fees for services of citations and other processes, and fees of other services providers such as, court reporters, appraisers, expert witnesses, investigators, and others, if needed. Also, the attorney will ask for an up-front unearned retainer. The amount of the retainer is negotiable and will depend on the complexity of the case and resources available. Limited scope (unbundled) representation is available when requested and is suitable.
Can you guarantee the out-come I want?
A competent attorney will never guarantee a result or out-come. Your attorney may give a probability assessment of what arguments and positions are more likely to succeed. Your attorney should help with some risk analysis of changes for success of certain claims, but this is not engineering. Predicting what a particular judge will do on a particular day is similar to predicting a month in advance what the weather will be at a precise location on a certain time of day. Part of the reason that clients make agreements is to avoid the risks and uncertainty of a judge’s decision.
What if my partner and I don’t want a big and expensive fight?
Lucky you! You have come to the right place. We are pleased to help couples who are transitioning and realigning their relationship to get through the legal maze with minimum transaction cost while preserving mutual respect and good-will. Depending on the complexities of your case, we will recommend procedures and pathways that complete your case with a minimum of court/judge involvement. The legal system does encourage parties to negotiate and resolve legal issues by making agreements. Our training and experience in mediation, collaborative divorce, negotiation, and conflict systems design can help you and your partner work through your transition. The aspiration is to manage inter-personal relationships that preserve mutual respect and still optimize satisfaction of the interests of each and when children are involved protect their best interest as well. Caution: “Kitchen table negotiations” directly between the parties can be dangerous. Do not sign anything binding before talking with your private attorney.
What do I do if my partner is being difficult or won’t talk with me?
It is very stressful to have a partner who won’t talk (freeze out) or who is being stubborn, irrational, or making unreasonable demands or threats. In a small percentage of cases, you may have a partner who suffers from one of the personality disorders who has been identified as a “high-conflict” personality. Responding to this type of person is challenging and tricky. Our experience and training enables us to give you coaching on how best to respond to such behaviors. Sometimes the difficult person will hire an aggressive attorney; this will make the situation ever more difficult. There are techniques for handling such people. Usually a frontal counter-attack is not the best approach, at least at first. However, if all else fails, you may have no option but to engage in contested litigation. Remember, it takes two to tango and look good doing it.
Will you fight for father’s rights?
SHANNON LAW will stand-up for a father’s rights in and out of court. “Rights” are defined by law — statutory and case law. The struggle usually is over the amount of possession time and the amount of child support. However, judges apply those laws; and, judges have broad discretion. Judges usually have some pre-determined notions about “father’s rights”. State statutes define both a “standard possession schedule” and an “expanded possession schedule”. Father’s are often seeking a 50-50% periods of possession coupled with a request for reduced child support and/or no child support. At SHANNON LAW, we help the father define his “interests” in terms of needs as well as wants; then we seek to find cost effective ways to maximize his needs/wants. We help fathers develop realistic expectations given the circumstances in their case and the view point of the judge to whom the case is assigned. Then, we use all of our knowledge, skills, and experience to advocate vigorously to attain the father’s needs/wants.
How would you help a woman protect her rights?
By being assertive!. It is our job as the mother’s lawyer to be very assertive in standing up for the mother’s interests — meaning to seek to optimize her needs/wants. Determining her needs/wants is a principal part of our In-Take. Of course, the job of the court is to look out for the best interest of the child and to balance the rights and duties of both the mother and the father in accordance with the statutory and case law.
What happens if there is family violence or domestic violence?
Family violence (FV) or domestic/dating violence (DV) [sometimes referred to as “intimate partner violence” (IPV)] is present in a significant number of cases when a couple is together, when they are separating, and frequently when they have children. DV is defined by statute. If someone reports you for DV, you need to hire a private attorney. SHANNON LAW is here to help.
DV usually requires an unwanted touching that is intended to cause harm or inflict pain on the other person or is a threat to do so that is believed. A victim of DV may make a call to the police and/or make a report. If law enforcement is called to the scene, after interviews, it is possible that one partner will be arrested. A criminal charge for assault with DV may be filed. A Magistrate may issue an Emergency Protective Order. In extreme cases, the victim and children may need to seek shelter in facilities set-up to temporarily house victims of extreme DV. The victim of DV may contact the locate prosecutor (usually the County Attorney-DV Unit) and seek a civil protective order. The victim may hire a private attorney to seek a civil Protective Order. If you are the victim of DV or if you are wrongfully accused of DV, SHANNON LAW is here to help guide you through the legal process — either to seek protection or to defend against false claims.
What happens if Child Protective Services has been contacted?
Child Protective Services (part of the Department of Family and Protective Services-DFPS) is charged with the investigation of reports of child “abuse” or “neglect”. If someone has made a report of “abuse” or “neglect” of your child or of a child in your extended family. you should contact a private attorney to guide you and/or the parent through the process. SHANNON LAW is here to help.
The terms “abuse” or “neglect” are defined by statutes in the Texas Family Code. Any one may call the DFPS hot-line to make a report, but certain professionals such as attorneys, health-care providers, teachers and mediators are legally obligated to make a report; reports of “abuse” or “neglect” are not protected by the attorney-client privilege. Once a report is made, it will be referred to a CPS case-worker who is obligated to make inquiries. There are different levels of inquiry. If a full investigation is opened, the CPS will issue a finding in their report. If the level of “abuse” or “neglect” is serious, CPS may call a conference and/or make a child safety plan. In extreme cases, CPS may remove an adult from the home or may remove a child from the home and seek to place the child with care-takers other than the biological parents.
What can we do to keep costs low?
Making voluntary agreements through negotiation is the best way to keep costs low. A private attorney is usually needed because of legal and/or financial complexities and/or is the relationship issues are difficult. Seek a private attorney who will help you and the other party seek peaceful ways to work through all of the legal, financial, and relationship issues — rather than engaging in litigation warfare. [Coaching] [Best Way to Resolve Conflict]
Encourage your partner to seek a problem solving attorney rather than an aggressive litigator. Note: There is a difference between being “assertive” and “aggressive”. SHANNON LAW is always assertive and pro-active in seeking solutions that optimize satisfaction of our client’s interest/needs.
Frequently, we will recommend the Collaborative Divorce method. This requires both parties to hire a collaborative divorce attorney. SHANNON LAW is a Collaborative Divorce Law Firm. We can help you and your partner find collaborative divorce trained and experienced attorneys.
How do you handle communications with your client?
Communication with our client is at the heart of our case management. We consider our client to be part of the attorney-staff team for management of your case. Communication is usually by phone, Zoom meetings, and frequent exchange of emails and text messaging. We work with our client to define their “interests/needs” and then develop a strategy to seek satisfaction of those “interests/needs”. The management of a legal case is highly dynamic and fluid — factual circumstances are constantly changing. Therefore, it is highly important that our communication channels are always open and we are available. No important decision will be made without our client’s prior approval. You will be fully informed about the status of your case at any time.
What are your billing practices?
We use CLIO for case management and billing. This program allows our team to engage in real time logging of billable time and expenses. We will issue a bill at least once per month and more frequently if the case is in a active stage with significant accumulation of billable time and expense. Our invoices will be detailed by date, actions taken, rate, and amount billed for each action. We bill in six minute increments. Our contract asks our client to contact us if they have any questions or concerns about our billing. We do not charge for time to discuss a client’s questions or concerns about our billing.
How can I tell if you are experienced enough to handle my case?
“Experience” means doing something with enough frequency to develop a high level of skill. Legal experience involves having detailed knowledge of the law (constitution, statutes, and case law) in the field of practice — family law — which includes divorce, custody, post final order modifications and enforcement. Knowledge of related matters such as domestic violence and reports of child “abuse” or “neglect” is included.
Knowledge of the law in the books is important, but it is not enough. Experience also includes sufficient practice time with local courts and opposing counsel so your attorney may make sound judgments and recommendations. Part of our job is to help develop realistic expectations.
SHANNON FAMILY LAW and our team have over 25 years of experience practicing family law in Travis and Williamson Counties. This means about 95% of our case load has been divorce, custody, modifications and enforcement. We know the law in the books, the local judges, and other attorneys who regularly practice in this field. I am trained and experienced in family trial law, mediation, and collaborative divorce. I am the President and Founder of the Enlightened Family Justice Institute. I am the current Chair of the Innovations in Collaborative/ADR Workgroup of the State Bar of Texas Collaborative Law Council. I am a member of many professional organizations including the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and its Texas Chapter. I frequently attend Continuing Education training in fields related to family law and local bench-bar meetings. I am also widely read in areas outside of law, including conflict resolution, negotiation, individual psychology, family system theory, sociology, philosophy and conflict systems design.
Chemistry in the attorney-client relationship is also important. We offer a 30 FREE initial consultation so you can get a feel for how it would be to work with us. Check out our testimonials from former clients.