Civil litigation is not a term that is familiar to everyone, although it is simple enough to understand. Civil litigation is defined as a legal dispute between two parties where no criminal sanctions exist. There are also several stages of civil litigation that every person should know.
The first stage is the pleading stage. This consists of filing a complaint against someone for some kind of wrongdoing that is not criminal. It is up to the court to decide whether the claim is substantial enough to proceed further. Defendants will usually file a motion in an attempt to dismiss the case, but that decision is ultimately in the hands of the court.
The following stage is the discovery stage. It is just as it sounds. It is a process of discovering evidence to prove each side’s case. Either side can ask questions through depositions or interrogatories.
After the discovery stage, defendants will usually file a motion for a summary judgment. That makes the claim that the plaintiff does not have sufficient enough evidence to continue with the lawsuit. If the court rules on the side of the defendant, then the lawsuit is finished. If the court does not rule in favor of the defendant, then it is on to a trial.
Most times, both parties are sent to an arbitration hearing where a mediator will attempt to work out a deal between the two parties before having to appear in court. This can also be referred to as a settlement conference. If the two sides cannot agree, a court date is set and then it is off to a trial.
The time frame between filing a complaint and going to an actual trial could wind up being a rather lengthy one. Since criminal lawsuits rank higher in priority than civil lawsuits, there could be a lot of waiting involved.
Once the trial process has concluded, there is always the option to appeal the ruling. That could drag the lawsuit out even longer.
Each stage of civil litigation could be filled with quite a few complexities that the average person may not understand. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced litigation attorney working for you. John A. Hixson, Attorney at Law is proud to continue to serve residents of Arlington, Mansfield and Grand Prairie in all kinds of litigation cases.
This past year has introduced a new change that affects probate law in the state of Texas. Elderly residents often find themselves in need of someone else to take charge of their affairs. In the event that they become incapacitated or incompetent.
It seems simple enough. When a person can longer take care of their own affairs, someone else steps in and takes over. That is where power of attorney comes into play.
However, a new law has changed things.
Texas’ new Statutory Power of Attorney form differs from the previous way power of attorney was handled in the state. Now, principals have to initial where each of their powers are to be granted to the person they are entrusting with their affairs, also known as an agent. This form also starts with a written warning to the principal that they need to choose an agent they deem trustworthy.
Furthermore, there is a choice of when the power of attorney can go into effect. It could be immediate or it could be delayed until the principal’s future incapacity. There is also a closing section which further attempts to protect the principal.
At the conclusion of this new form, the agent claims personal liability and responsibility to act in the best interest of the principal. Nevertheless, the principal has to have the capability of initialing this kind of form. Without that capability, it is invalid.
It is just one more way of helping to make sure elders’ assets and best interests are protected. It is also somewhat monumental because it has been almost two decades since any changes were made with Texas’ statutory power of attorney. The last changes made came in 1997.
Statutory Power of Attorney could be a complex issue when dealing with the preparation of wills or probate. Any estate planning could always be a slippery slope, and that’s why it is important to seek assistance from a trusted professional.
Hixson Law Firm can walk clients through this process and make sure all your rights are protected. Preparation and probate of wills, trusts, and affidavits of heirship are just some of the areas our attorneys can help you. Arlington, Grand Prairie and Mansfield residents now have a real solution with real lawyers who are ready to work for you.
Title disputes are not a frequently talked-about topic in everyday conversations. Still, they happen more than people might believe in the state of Texas. There are plenty of reasons that can cause a title dispute.
A significant amount of local property records have not been transferred to computers. The records remain on paper, some of which date back even hundreds of years. This sometimes makes it difficult to decipher where actual property boundaries exist. However, the main reason for title disputes is not poor record-keeping. The main reason is lost or misfiled titles.
Fraud is another common reason for title disputes. There are cases where individuals will attempt to sell a piece of land to more than one person. There are other instances when individuals will attempt to sell land they do not even own.
Moreover, real estate transactions can be stopped because of title disputes. There have been many instances where wrong names have been listed on a title, or a title was not updated following the death of the previous owner.
Boundary disputes over where the real property line exists can also lead individuals into a legal battle. Deed restrictions are an add-on to titles which dictate land usage and these restrictions can also become a source of disagreement that leads to a legal dispute. Foreclosure issues are another common cause for title disputes in the state of Texas.
Attempting to fix a title on your own is not a recommended solution. Only a professional real estate lawyer can step in and help remedy the situation. If you find yourself involved in a title dispute for any reason, Hixson Law Firm can come to your aid. Our experience will make things a whole lot easier as we strive to resolve your situation. Residents of Arlington, Grand Prairie and Mansfield can have the experience on their side with the trusted team of professionals at Hixson Law Firm.
Real estate lawyers often become inundated with disputes over leases when it comes to renting property in the state of Texas. There are sufficient reasons that enable tenants to break a real estate lease and other reasons which do not justify such an action.
First, there is no buyer’s remorse in the state of Texas. Once a lease is signed, it is binding. Tenants do not have the option of reneging on a contract a day or two after it is signed as there is no three-day grace period. Even if no money is exchanged, the lease is still binding.
There is also no ‘rent control’ laws in the state of Texas. The landlord has the right to raise the price of rent at the conclusion of the lease, but not before that time.
Landlords are responsible for making necessary repairs. However, their negligence does not give tenants the right to just up and move out. In order for the lease to be legally broken, there needs to be a court ruling that states a tenant is no longer liable for that lease. Until a tenant takes the landlord to court and obtains a ruling from a judge, the tenant is bound to that lease.
There are procedures put in place by the state in the event that necessary repairs are not made to the property. Tenants need to get familiar with those procedures and follow them accordingly. Withholding rent is deemed as a form of retaliation and could make the tenant subject to eviction. Another interesting fact is that tenants can be evicted in as little as two weeks.
Tenants who decide to break a lease on their own will still be held responsible for the remaining months rent. Yet, if there is an unsafe environment in which the landlord did not provide adequate security, there would be just cause for breaking the lease. But the tenant must still prove that the landlord is guilty of misrepresenting the property.
While the law is clear on why a lease can be broken, there remains a lot of gray areas. If you find yourself involved with any kind of dispute regarding a real estate lease, Hixson Law Firm is staffed with a team of professionals that can go to work for you. Our attorneys strive to protect the rights of residents in the Arlington, Mansfield and Grand Prairie communities.
Estate planning is important to everyone. You do not need to own a big house or have hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank to plan an estate. No matter how much or how little you own, everyone can follow the same essential steps to estate planning.
If you are to die without a will, Texas statutes will determine how all your assets will be divided. So the first step to planning an estate is the preparation of a will. It can be done on your own, but it is not recommended since a will of that kind may not hold up in court.
The next step to follow is the Texas durable power of attorney. This allows you to appoint someone to manage your assets in the event that you can no longer manage them yourself. If your physical health or mental well-being is deteriorating, there is a pressing need to have someone you trust handling your finances. If there is no durable power of attorney, the court will order the guardianship and decide who handles your affairs.
The third step is similar in that it also involves the power of attorney but from a medical standpoint. The Texas medical power of attorney is a document that permits you to choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
The next step is place to further protect people in a medical setting. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPPA, sets limitations on exactly who can view your medical records. Gaining a HIPPA authorization lets you name a person who can access your medical records and enable them to share information with health care providers.
The last step is to create a living will, which is also referred to as the Texas Directive to Physicians. This document clarifies your instructions to physicians when it comes to the use of artificial methods that will keep you alive should you experience a terminal condition.
Each step was created to make sure your life unfolds to your exact wishes. Estate planning is a careful process that can be made easier with the help of the professionals at Hixson Law Firm. Our probate attorneys are available to assist people young and old in Arlington, Grand Prairie, Mansfield and other neighboring communities.
In the state of Texas, mechanic liens need to be filed in a certain time frame. There are also different contractors eligible to file a mechanic’s lien and time limitations, and procedures differ for each group.
Original or general contractors are the ones who deal directly with the property owner. Their affidavits need to be filed by the 15th day of the fourth month after the contract was terminated, work was finished, or the site was abandoned. The liens also have to be filed with the clerk in the county where the work was performed.
First-tier subcontractors are individuals who have agreed to terms to do work on the property with the original contractor. First-tier subcontractors need to send a certified letter to the original contractor for unpaid services in the same time frame, by the 15th day after the fourth month of service.
Second-tier subcontractors do not have any type of dealing with the original contractor. Their agreements are arranged with the first-tier subcontractors. They must follow the same guidelines as first-tier subcontractors but must also send the original contractor a preliminary notice before filing a lien. That preliminary notice must be sent before the 15th day of the second month in which they supplied labor or materials.
Liens can also be filed by material suppliers. Any first-tier fabricators must provide the property owner with notice by the 15th day of the second month after the order for materials were received. An affidavit must then be filed by the 15th day of the fourth month after materials were received or from the time the contract was breached.
There are many steps to take before actually filing an affidavit for a lien and then there is another process that comes afterward. No matter what kind of contractor you are, Hixson Law Firm can help with your mechanic’s lien or construction project dispute. Contractors in Arlington, Mansfield and Grand Prairie can lean on our experience to walk you through every part of the process and help find the best possible outcome for you.
Most divorce cases seem pretty cut and dry. A couple wants to separate so they go to court, and it is off their separate ways. There is much more to it than that. There are also plenty of truths many people do not know about divorce in the state of Texas.
Should a married couple be expecting a baby, mostly all courts in the state of Texas will not finalize the divorce until the baby is born. The reason for this is due to the need of an eventual child support order which will be included as part of the final divorce decree.
A divorce can also be done without any feedback from the party being served with divorce papers. From the time respondents are served with divorce papers, they have 21 days to respond with an answer. If an answer is not provided, the case becomes default and the process can be finished without the respondent.
Once a divorce is final, neither party can marry someone else for the next 31 days, unless they can show a just cause to the court. However, the divorcing parties can remarry each other within that 31-day period.
Texas is a no-fault divorce state which means that a divorce can be granted without having to put any kind of blame on the spouse. However, there needs to be grounds for a fault-based divorce.
According to Texas law, a spouse is granted the right for a fault-based divorce if their spouse has been convicted of a felony and incarcerated for up to a year. One year of abandonment also gives a spouse grounds for a fault-based divorce. Couples who have lived apart for at least three years can file for a fault-based divorce as well.
Children who are at least 12 years old have the right to declare which parent they would like to live with, though the court still has the final say in the matter.
Divorces happen for many reasons. Whatever those reasons may be, it’s important to have an experienced divorce attorney working for you. Hixson Law Firm has helped many spouses through the divorce process in the Mansfield, Arlington and Grand Prairie areas. The help you need to move on with your life is waiting for you at Hixson Law Firm.
Any matter of child custody rarely fails to include child support. With more than half of marriages ending in divorce, many children need child support from their non-custodial parent.
This also holds true with unwed parents, who share a child together. Both have certain obligations to fulfill as parents.
Many people are obligated to make child support payments every month. But just how much should those payments be?
It differs from person to person and depends on the amount of income earned. In the state of Texas, the non-custodial parent of a child is required to pay child support. How much is contingent upon a number of factors. Those factors include the non-custodial parent’s net income, net resources and any other resources. It also includes the number of children the non-custodial parent is currently supporting.
Those non-custodial parents making an income of $8,500 a month or less are responsible of paying out 20% of that income if they are paying support for one child. The number jumps up to 25% for two children and then up to 30% for three children. The scale increases to 35% for four children and 40% for five children. Parents with six or more children have to pay out no less than 40%.
If a non-custodial parent pulls in a monthly income of more than $8,500, a higher amount of payments can be ordered by the court.
Those numbers are not permanent and can be subject to change. Should a change or termination of employment occur, there can be modifications made to the child support order. A raise or drop in salary could also prompt the need to make some modification,
If you find yourself on either end in this kind of circumstance, it is advisable to seek counsel from a family attorney.
John A. Hixson, Attorney at Law, can point you in the right direction when it comes time to handle your child support case. Hixson Law Firm will work toward getting you the most favorable results. Residents of Arlington, Mansfield and Grand Prairie now have a qualified child support attorney they can trust.
Family law applies to many areas of a divorce. Child custody, a division of assets and alimony are all popular topics in any divorce. There is one more area that often needs discussion.
Who gets to keep the family pet?
Dogs and cats become part of the family so letting them go is not always an easy thing to do. If a divorcing couple cannot decide on who gets to keep the family pet, there are ways for a court to arrive at that decision.
People sometimes consider pets a part of the family, but the Texas court system does not see it that way. Texas court views pets as property, which means the community property rule applies to pets. Community property is defined is property that was acquired during the marriage.
There are a few ways to gain custody of your pet, all of which require proof that the pet is separate property. If you purchased the pet prior to the marriage, a bill of sale or veterinary bills will suffice as proof. Although it is more difficult to prove, you could attempt to claim that the pet was given to you before the marriage. Another way is to prove that your pet is separate property was to show that a loved one who passed on willed it to you.
If there is no way to prove that your pet is separate property, and there can be no agreement reached between parties, a judge will rule on who gets possession of a pet.
Other pets, such as horses and show animals, are deemed valuable assets. If a couple cannot agree on ownership of these kinds of pets, then the judge is likely to order the pet to be sold and then distribute the funds accordingly.
Pets are important to people and parting with them can be a difficult part of a divorce. If you are facing or considering a divorce, make it much easier on yourself by choosing Hixson Law Firm to represent you. Our attorneys are sympathetic to every situation and will work to meet the needs of all our clients in Mansfield, Arlington, Grand Prairie and other nearby communities.
There is a lot to do for women once a divorce is final. One of the main items on any woman’s agenda is returning her maiden name. It may seem like a bit of a daunting process, although there are some relatively easy steps to follow.
The first step is gathering the necessary documents. Those documents include a legal ID, which could be a driver’s license, passport or state identification card. You will also need your divorce decree and some kind of proof of age. A birth certificate or hospital record would suffice.
In instances where women do not have a copy of a divorce decree, they can use a Divorce Records Request Letter. This is essentially a letter sent to the court clerk requesting another copy of the divorce decree
Once all those necessary items are in hand, check to make sure that your divorce decree grants you permission to change your name. If that is the case, this is the document which will allow you to go through with a legal name change.
If it does not grant you permission, there is still more work to be done. You will need to contact the court to make an amendment. If the court does not allow amendments, then the alternative would be to file a Texas petition for a name change.
But your work does not stop there.
Even after your divorce decree grants you the right to legally change your name, you will have to start notifying some agencies on your own. That starts with government agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and Social Security Office.
A trip to your local Motor Vehicles branch or local social security office should do the trick. But you must start at the social security office by filling out a Social Security form SS-5. Make sure to bring all your necessary documents again, the ones mentioned earlier in this article.
A certificate from the social security office approving your change of name will be enough to use when changing the name on your driver’s license.
There could be a few tricky parts to this process which could be simplified with the assistance of a divorce lawyer at Hixson Law Firm. Our legal team has extensive experience helping women with name changes in Arlington, Mansfield, Grand Prairie and other surrounding communities.