In today's litigation climate virtually every court will require the parties to attend mediation. Mediation is useful both in terms of settling a claim as well as discovering weaknesses in your claim as well as weaknesses and/or strengths in the opposing party's claims against you. There are numerous strategies on how to handle mediation and proper preparation for a mediation puts you in the best position for a favorable outcome. Many people put a bottom line resolution into their plan prior to entering mediation. This sometimes works but as often as not if you (or your attorney) are a creative out-of-the-box thinker you can craft a solution to offer to the other side that will allow the case to be resolved favorably to you.
In the State of Texas, if you had a charge filed against you dismissed, received a deferred disposition (similar to deferred adjudication) on a class C misdemeanor and successfully completed that deferred disposition, you were found not guilty, or your case was no billed, the charge and/or arrest can still show up on your criminal record. While it may not show up as a conviction, the best way to ensure that your criminal record is clean is to apply for an expunction. An expunction is the process by which all records and computer references of your arrest and prosecution are destroyed from law enforcement agencies, courts, prosecutors, and state and federal repositories of criminal records like the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The charge and/or arrest will be on your criminal history until you are granted an expunction. However, there are limitations on one's right to an expunction. Only a lawyer familiar with your specific fact situation can evaluate your expunction eligibility. We can take a good look at your record and work to get it as clean as possible.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created special provisions in United States immigration law to protect domestic violence victims who are not U.S. citizens. These special provisions may help you obtain lawful permanent residence if you are a victim of domestic violence. Under VAWA, battered non-citizens who are married to, or recently divorced from, U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents can, in certain circumstances, self-petition (without the help or knowledge of their abusive spouse) to obtain lawful permanent residence.
In Texas the monetary jurisdictional limits for a small claims court is $10,000.00. This threshold allows a suit to be filed if the total amount that is sought by the plaintiff is less than $10,000.00, however, it is not always wise to take this type of matter to small claims court for a number of reasons. First, many of the judges in Texas for small claims court are not lawyers but members of society who have had little or no training in the law. This leads to inconsistent remedies and results. Second, small claims court judgments can be easily appealed to the county court at law. This makes for double the work for the attorney to take a case through small claims court as the appeal process is a trial de novo (everything is re-litigated). Three, small claims court do not have formal discovery procedures and therefore many times a trial is nothing more than a "shoot from the hip" trial without a fair and proper litigation by the parties. Therefore, we recommend that if the case is important to you, you retain an attorney, and the case be filed either in a county court at law or a state district court.
Many times it is important to be the first to file in a divorce case because the District Judges who hear the cases hear them regularly and it is best to grab their attention by presenting your case first. Because you file the divorce, that allows you to present your case to the Judge and/or Jury before the other side has an opportunity to present witnesses. This can be a strategic move and will not be viewed as you instigating the divorce, as there are always two parties involved in a divorce at a minimum.