Family Law

Protecting Your Interests in Family Law Matters

The attorneys at Crenshaw, Dupree & Milam, LLP., serve clients throughout West Texas in all areas of family law. From the joy of expanding your family through adoption to the difficult ordeal of a divorce and custody issues, we have the experience to help you navigate all types of family law matters.

We handle cases involving all aspects of family law, including:

We understand that family law issues can be an emotionally traumatic experience for everyone involved, especially when you have children. When you face difficult issues in your life, whether it is a divorce, child custody and support issues, visitation matters, enforcements, modifications, or pre-marital agreements, we understand you have serious concerns about the outcome. We strive to protect your rights, while keeping down the stress level and emotional toll it may have on your family. Whether the case is tried to a jury or settled amicably, we will help you attain the best result possible and see it through to a successful conclusion. We are prepared to take whatever action is necessary to protect your assets and see that you and your children have the resources and the arrangements necessary for you all to flourish. We understand that every client is unique, so we will design a strategy that meets the client’s expressed goals and will keep you informed through the process. Each client will fully understand their options and the likely consequences in order to make the best decision possible for their unique situation.

At Crenshaw, Dupree & Milam, L.L.P., our divorce attorney has experience representing individuals and families throughout West Texas. Ms. Barber is dedicated to providing clients with knowledge, professionalism and effective legal counsel with confidence. Her extensive court room and jury trial experience provides every client with the outstanding counsel and advocacy each client deserves. She understands the stress and difficulties each client faces, and because every client is unique, Ms. Barber treats every client with compassion and a willingness to engage in hard-fought litigation to produce the best possible outcome in every case.

What is a Collaborative Divorce/Modification/Enforcement?

Board-certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Family Law, Ms. Barber not only has extensive jury trial and bench trial experience, but is also one of a few in Lubbock and the surrounding areas who is certified in the Collaborative Law Process. The Collaborative Law Process works with a network of professionals who are some of the most highly trained mental health and financial professionals in the area to reach a settlement agreement outside of the courtroom. We work as a team to meet our client’s goals, while allowing the parties to transition through these life-altering challenges with dignity and respect.   This process helps to keep these highly personal issues confidential and out of the courtroom, while allowing the parties to use the best professional resources available to orchestrate the outcome in the manner they choose. We are committed to helping you and your family through this process in the most expedient and stress-free manner possible. We will be there with you every step of the way and will work diligently to obtain an outcome that fully accommodates the needs of you and your family.

The Collaborative process is one in which you and your spouse each have specially trained professionals work through the issues of your case without court intervention. It is a confidential and private process which allows you and your attorney to accomplish your goals without destroying your relationship with your spouse or exhausting your community funds litigating the issues in controversy. The process recognizes that relationships and obligations continue, especially when children are involved, even after a divorce or other contested proceeding. This process focuses on helping families work towards a respectful resolution in a safe environment without the embarrassment of unwanted public attention. We strive to move forward in a positive manner that focuses on the future, rather than the past.

Contact me to assist with finding unique and creative ways to solve your current situation, whether it be a high net-worth divorce, alimony or spousal support issues, child custody issues or any number of other family law related issues. We can help you navigate one of the most difficult times in your life. To learn more about the Collaborative process, visit the Texas Collaborative Law website for more information. www.collablawtexas.com.

Divorce

Divorce can be a daunting experience. Everyone needs a guiding hand to put their mind at ease while going through one of the most life-changing experiences they will ever face. Consequently, it is vital that you have a competent divorce attorney on your side to lead the way. Board Certified family law attorney by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Stacey S. Barber, specializes in working hard to protect your assets, your family and your future. In high profile or high net-worth divorce cases, we often use Agreements Incident to Divorce to avoid disclosing the assets divided by utilizing this document, which is not filed with public court records at the conclusion of the case. When you work with our law firm, you can trust that our team works with professionals and talented negotiators to help achieve the best result for your case, from collaborative settlements to hearings and trial. We stand by our clients to advocate for them no matter what the challenge.

Divorce is most often imagined as involving courtroom appearances, evidence and witness testimony to accomplish a divorce. We offer a different approach that involves the Collaborative Divorce process, which gives our clients the diversity to approach divorce and other contested family law issues in a non-litigated manner handled outside the courtroom where that approach would be best for our client. Whether it’s a litigated divorce or collaborated outside the courtroom context, our board-certified family law attorney can get you the results you deserve while zealously protecting your rights.

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Collaborative Divorce

A different approach our lawyers offer is to divorce outside the courtroom context, where families have the ability to create their own customized divorce, focusing on protecting their families and preserving their resources and assets through solution-oriented, interest-based negotiations. There are no court hearings, it is less stressful, and the final outcome is better for their family and their estate. Go to the collaborative divorce website at www.collaborativedivorcetexas.com to find Stacey S. Barber and learn more about alternative methods we offer to the traditional litigated divorce.

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Modifications

Many have experienced a change in circumstances that affect their ability to comply with divorce court orders, which requires modifications to make it more workable. Custody and other terms of the order are usually subject to modification if they’ve become unworkable, but property division cannot be modified, only clarified, by the court. Whether your situation involves child custody, visitation, child support or alimony, you will want an experienced attorney on your side to help you obtain the results you need and that are in the best interest of your children.

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Enforcements

When one of the parties to a divorce decree or court order does not fulfill their obligation under that order, the other party may file a suit to compel the party in default to comply. The court retains jurisdiction to render a contempt order for possession and access of a child if the motion is filed not later than the sixth month after the child becomes an adult or the order expires under operation of law. The court retains jurisdiction to enforce child support orders on the second anniversary after the child becomes an adult or the support terminates by operation of law. However, property enforcements only allow a two year window within which to enforce a division of property, and the court may not amend, modify or change the terms of the division of property.

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Alimony and Spousal Support

Alimony and Spousal Support are two different methods by which one spouse may acquire support from the other spouse post-divorce. Alimony is a contractual obligation entered into voluntarily by one party, often times used to equalize the division of property in a divorce case. For instance, if one spouse keeps the business, she may want to buy out the other spouse’s interest in the business by paying monthly installments to the other spouse until the obligation is paid. One should always secure the payments with an insurance policy or asset that can be liquidated in the event the paying spouse defaults on the note. Spousal support is usually court-ordered, but can also be entered into by agreement. If court ordered, the beneficiary of the support must meet the requirements under the code to qualify for post-divorce support. Some of those requirements involve having been married for 10 years or more, unable to find suitable employment, or the spouse seeking support is disabled or cares for a child that is disabled. The support is limited to a number of years depending upon the number of years of marriage. We can help secure the best possible outcome for your financial needs, whether the situation involves paying or receiving support post-divorce.

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Asset and Debt Division

We will put together a composite inventory of the separate and community property at issue in the divorce. Those items accumulated prior to the marriage, by gift, devise or descent, will be classified as your separate property and not subject to division in the divorce, while those items accumulated during the marriage will be considered the community property of the estate subject to division.

Valuations of businesses, investments, retirement plans, and all other property associated with the estate, both separate and community, will be fully addressed by our highly qualified experts with whom we have developed a professional working relationship over the years and who stand ready to assist.

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Business Owners Divorce

Businesses are just one of the many complicating factors divorcing families often face during a divorce, especially when the businesses are family owned or jointly owned by the divorcing couple. Typically a fair market value is used to determine the net worth of the business, however, other approaches are recognized to value the business such as an income-based approach. Each business is unique with regard to the most appropriate valuation to use, depending on the type of entity involved. Many different rules and discounts may apply to each situation based on the formation of the entity and other differentiating circumstances associated with that particular business. Restricted stocks, retained earnings, inventory, partnership property, personal goodwill, buy/sell agreements, and many other variables must all be considered in the overall value of the company, which is why you need the most competent representation possible when it comes to complex property divorces.

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Pre-Marital and Post-Marital Agreements

There are many circumstances when the need to protect your property, either before the marriage or during the marriage, arises. Pre-marital agreements can provide for the disposition of your property in a manner agreed to before the marriage in the event of a divorce or death during the marriage. Post-marital agreements, likewise, can have the effect of retroactively creating separate property already acquired as community property during the marriage so that it achieves the same result as having had a pre-marital agreement in place before the marriage.   The most common use for such agreements is to preserve separate property already accumulated before or during the marriage.

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Common Law Marriage

To establish an informal marriage (marriage without formalities) in Texas, the party seeking to prove the informal marriage must present evidence to the court that either the parties executed an agreement to be married or agreed to marry, lived together as husband and wife, and told others they were married.

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High Net Worth Divorce

High net worth divorces are typically far more complex than other divorces because they involve a multitude of different entities and structured estates that must be considered when divesting either spouse of their interest in that particular asset. Therefore, it is crucial that you have experienced legal representation to safeguard your personal and professional wealth during this process. All characteristics of the property at issue must be considered to trace separate property holdings of either spouse, restricted stocks, retained earnings, inventory, partnership property, personal goodwill, buy/sell agreements, and many other variables must all be considered in the overall value of the property at issue. We will ensure that your lawyer approaches these complex issues using the most qualified experts necessary for each particular situation, including certified public accountants, forensic investigators, financial planners, and licensed psychologists or psychiatrists when dealing with child custody cases.

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Same-Sex Family Law Issues

Obergefell v. Hodges is a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case which held in a 5-4 decision in 2015 that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.   Now that same-sex couples have been given full rights to marriage benefits, many are looking for competent advice to lead them through the myriad of issues that face them in this new arena of family law. We stand ready to help you navigate through divorce, custody issues, property division, spousal support, and any other issues you face as a result of a marriage to maximize the end result you deserve.

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Property Division

Whether your case involves a high net worth estate or one that is not so complex, there is a fundamental approach that must be taken with every case involving property issues. Everyone wants to defend their interests in a marital estate, which requires a proven and effective leader to protect your interests in the assets at issue. Whether it involves a business, professional career or family inheritance, it is our primary goal to protect your personal assets and ensure your ability to move forward after the divorce in the best possible situation to do so financially.

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Child Custody, Possession and Visitation

Custody is determined based on best interest of the child standards in the Texas Family Code. We have handled hundreds of custody cases, from divorces to enforcements and modifications involving prior court orders. We have successfully represented both fathers and mothers involving custody suits. Conservatorship in Texas involves joint managing conservatorship when both parents need to be involved in the child’s life, and sole managing conservatorship when the other parent’s rights should be tailored back for good cause. Contact Stacey S. Barber to provide compassion and excellence for those in need of the insight and dedication called for in a custody dispute.

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Paternity

Fathers who have a child and are not legally married to the mother need to understand how to protect their rights to their child. Whether the child is a prodigy of natural reproduction or assisted reproduction, paternity can be established in a number of ways. A father may establish his paternity rights by being considered the presumed father if he was married to the mother at some point, signs an acknowledgment of paternity, has his paternity adjudicated with a court, or adopts the child. Challenging paternity is somewhat more complicated because several deadlines apply, such as rescinding an acknowledgment. Likewise, if a child has an acknowledged or adjudicated father, time limitations apply during which the father has to prove fraud, duress or material mistake of fact with regard to challenging the paternity. You will need a skilled family law attorney to help you navigate these complex legal issues if you are not the child’s father, and we are the one to call.

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Child Support

Child support is typically ordered in divorce cases to be paid by the party not having primary physical custody of the child. Child support is for the purpose of providing financial support for the child while primarily in the care or custody of the other parent. The obligation typically is paid until the child turns eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. In some instances, child support may be required for the lifetime of a disabled child if the needs of the child require support for life. The amount of child support is based on the payor’s net monthly income depending on the number of children involved:

  • One child is 20%
  • Two children are 25%
  • Three children are 30%
  • Four children are 35%
  • Five or more children are 40%

Those amounts are offset if the obligor has children from another relationship they are currently supporting. These amounts may be increased if the obligor’s monthly net income exceeds what is currently $8,550.00 in net earnings per month depending on the proven needs of the child. We have the knowledge and expertise to assist in obtaining the best possible outcome for our client’s particular needs.

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Grandparent Rights and Other Relatives Rights

Grandparents play an important role in their grandchildren’s life, and can develop strong bonds that last a lifetime. Grandparents’ rights generally apply to the custody of a grandchild and visitation privileges.

Grandparents may file suit requesting custody if they have general standing under 102.003 TFC to file suit, and the child’s present circumstances would significantly impair the child’s well-being or the child’s custodian consented to the suit.

Visitation statutes vary widely from state to state. In Texas, a court can authorize grandparent visitation of a grandchild if the following circumstances exist:

The grandparent is a parent of a parent of the child and:

  • at least (1) parent’s rights have not been terminated;
  • denial would significantly impair the child’s well-being; and
  • the grandparent is a parent of a parent of the child who has been incarcerated for (3) months, found incompetent, died, or does not have access to the child by court order.

In re Derzapf, 219 S.W.3d 327 (Tex.2007) – “To succeed on her claim for access, grandmother must overcome the statutory presumption that denying the children access to her in particular – not grandmother and step-father jointly or the family as a whole – would significantly impair the children’s physical health or emotional well-being.”

The legislature set a high threshold for a grandparent to overcome the presumption that a fit parent acts in his children’s best interest such that a grandparent must prove that denial of access would significantly impair the children’s physical health or emotional well-being.

We have the experience and expertise to assist when it comes to grandparent’s rights to custody and visitation.

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Relocation

During a divorce, it is customary that the parent with whom the child will reside is limited to designate the child’s residence within a geographic area where the other spouse resides to encourage frequent contact between each parent and the child. To lift such a restriction at the time of the divorce or in a modification proceeding, the moving spouse must establish to the court that the circumstances require the move and that the move is in the best interest of the child. Because each case is unique given the circumstances, this is often times a point of contention which we will pursue zealously to obtain the outcome our client needs.

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Termination of Parental Rights

Depending on whether or not the termination sought is voluntary or involuntary will determine the complexity of the litigation ahead. If the parent is seeking a voluntary termination, the parent must first sign an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of their parental rights in order to proceed. Texas courts rarely, if ever, allow one parent to terminate their right unless another qualified adult is prepared to step in as the parent in substitution of the terminating parent’s absence. Other options to deny paternity are somewhat more complex because they involve statutes of limitations within which the acknowledged parent must file before the deadline expires. DNA testing and other means are available to disprove paternity in the event the parent is not the biological parent of the child. Involuntary grounds for termination are numerous but have a high threshold of proof before a judge or jury can involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights to their child. Trust our experienced attorneys to protect your most essential rights when it comes to paternity of a child.

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Adoptions and Name-Changes

The best part about the practice of law for any attorney is to help navigate and witness an adoption. We have developed our own unique niche to represent parents wishing to adopt out their child, and those wishing to adopt a child. We can assist in a name change for the child during an adoption, and even an adult name change if one was not addressed in a divorce proceeding. Contact us to assist in getting all the documents completed correctly and timely so the adoption process goes smoothly and the end result is accomplished in a timely manner.

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Contact Us

Contact our office today to learn more about our services and how we can help you. You can reach us by phone at 806-762-5281 or via e-mail.