Michelle May O'Neil joins Godwin Lewis, P.C.

I am very excited to announce that effective today, July 1, 2014, I am joining the firm Godwin Lewis, P.C. in downtown Dallas as a shareholder. After 20+ total years of practice, and 10+ years with O'Neil & Attorneys, I am excited for the new opportunities ahead of me. As a firm owner, I have always tried to provide high quality representation in a personal atmosphere.

I believe that joining Godwin Lewis will help me to do a better job by focusing all of my efforts on my clients' best interest, eliminating the administrative tasks involved with owning and running a law firm. Godwin Lewis has offices in Dallas, Houston, and Plano, allowing me to expand my family law litigation and appellate practice beyond the Dallas area, to a statewide focus. The new firm also has lawyers that practice at the top of their field in 39 practice areas, providing depth to the services that I can provide to my clients. From business litigation to tax law, from immigration to estate planning, Godwin Lewis can cover just about every need that my clients may have. Built on a foundation of preparedness, out-of-the-box thinking, creativity and exceptional trial skills, Godwin Lewis PC is a mid-size trial and appellate law firm which has earned a national reputation for handling complex, high-stakes litigation and gaining desired outcomes. By joining forces with the Godwin Lewis team I can enhance the foundation of service to my clients.

I will continue to blog here at www.dallastxdivorce.com, providing readers with updates and insight into family and divorce law as it affects the Dallas, Texas area.

New contact information:

Michelle May O'Neil, Shareholder
Godwin Lewis, P.C.
1201 Elm Street, Suite 1700
Dallas, Texas 75270
Direct: 214-939-4427
Direct fax: 214-527-3123
Main: 214-939-4400
Email: Michelle.Oneil@GodwinLewis.com
website: www.GodwinLewis.com

Habeas granted - no jail for failure to pay a debt

The Dallas court of appeals granted the petition for writ of habeas corpus this week in a case where a lady was jailed for civil contempt of court for failure to pay a debt to her ex-husband. In the divorce decree, the wife was ordered to pay $40,000 to the husband as part of the property division contained in the decree.  The specific terms of the property awarded referenced the obligation as a “debt” but ordered a date specific by which she was to make the payment. The day after the passing of the payment deadline, the ex-husband filed for contempt of court against the ex-wife for nonpayment.  The Hunt County judge held her in civil contempt and ordered her to jail until she paid the $40,000.

Michelle O’Neil of O’Neil & Attorneys filed the emergency petition for writ of habeas corpus with the Dallas court of appeals on behalf of the ex-wife. The Dallas court immediately granted bond and ordered the ex-wife released from jail.  All total, she spent 4 nights in jail.

The Dallas court of appeals then granted the petition for writ of habeas corpus, vacating the Hunt County contempt order.  The court examined three legal principles:

1.      The constitutional prohibition against imprisonment for a debt – article I, section 18 of the Texas Constitution;

2.      Texas Family Code section 9.012(a), which provides for enforcement by contempt of an order requiring the delivery of specific property or an award of a right to future property; and,

3.      Texas Family Code section 9.012(b), which disallows contempt enforcement of an award of a sum of money in the nature of a debt unless the sum of money existed at the time the decree was entered or was a matured right to future payments.

Not every obligation to pay money in the future is a “debt”.  A payment of money to be made in the future is not “debt”, according to the court of appeals, if it represents the former spouse’s share of a specific fund, including a matured right to payments, which are community property and in existence at the time the divorce decree was rendered. For an award of money in a divorce decree to be enforceable by contempt, “the divorce decree must indicate the funds existed at the time the decree was rendered or specify particular community funds from which the amount is to be paid.”

In this case, the ex-husband argued that ex-wife had access to separate property to meet the obligation, but the Dallas court of appeals rejected this argument because the divorce court cannot divest someone of separate property.

So, the Dallas court of appeals concluded that the Hunt County Judge imprisoned the ex-wife for nonpayment of a debt in violation of the Texas Constitution, the contempt order was vacated and she was released and discharged from custody.

Hat tip to Betsy Branch of the Branch Law Firm in Rockwall Texas for the stellar job she did in representing the ex-wife at the trial court level and in fighting tooth and nail to protect her client’s constitutional rights under attack.  If you need a great, board certified family law attorney in Rockwall, you should call her.

Read the court’s full opinion in In re Kinney here.


Social Study Evaluation: Free Booklet Download Available

O’Neil and Attorneys announces the release of its latest publication – a booklet entitled Social Study Evaluation.  When going through a contested custody case in a family law matter or divorce in Dallas and throughout Texas, judges frequently seek the assistance of a social worker to evaluate the circumstances of each party and make recommendations about conservatorship and possession/access for each party – this is called a social study. This booklet is designed to be  a guide for family law clients going through a social study evaluation as part of a contested custody case. The booklet covers topics such as the initial interview, the home visit, completing the social study questionnaire, and what to expect in the social study report.

Michelle May O’Neil has authored numerous publications.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. Her second release, Basics of Texas Divorce Law was originally released in 2010, with a second edition released in 2012 to update legislative changes.  Also in 2012, Ms. O’Neil published the firm’s first booklet What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage in Texas. The booklet about social study evaluations is the second in a planned series of booklets about various family law topics.

The booklet is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD at the O’Neil and Attorneys website www.oneilattorneys.com.  It is also available in print format at the O’Neil and Attorneys offices in Dallas, Texas.


Best Texas divorce lawyers list

Founding Attorney Michelle May O’Neil and Associate Attorney Katie Lewis, or O’Neil & Attorneys Dallas family law firm, were named to the 2013 Texas Super Lawyers List for divorce. Super Lawyers uses a rigorous, multi-phase evaluation process in order to select attorneys in each state for its final listings.  Only 5% of attorneys in Texas are included in the Texas Super Lawyers list.

This marks the third year Ms. O’Neil has been chosen for inclusion in the top 5% list of Texas Super Lawyers. She has been board certified in family law since 1997, a group that includes only about 1% of the lawyers state-wide.  In addition, Ms. O’Neil received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell based on peer-review for having the highest level of legal ability and ethical standards.  And, Ms. O’Neil has been given a 10.0 Superb (on a 1.0 to 10.0 scale) rating from Avvo.com, based on the Avvo mathematical formula for rating a lawyer’s background including years of practice, disciplinary history, professional achievements, and industry recognition.

This year has been an impressive one for Ms. Lewis.  Earlier in 2013, Ms. Lewis received the recognition of being Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Out of over 70,000 attorneys licensed to practice law in Texas, only 7,000 have earned the right to be publicly recognized as Board Certified specialists, and only 725 are board certified family law specialists. As a further honor, Ms. Lewis was named to the Texas Super Lawyers list for divorce attorneys for 2013 based both on peer review and industry recognition of her abilities in Texas divorce law.

“We are honored to receive such high accolades from Texas Super Lawyers,” says O’Neil. “I am especially proud of Ms. Lewis for all of her achievements this year.”

O’Neil & Attorneys provides compassionate yet relentless legal services to clients seeking representation in family law matters, such as divorce, complex marital property divisions, or child custody. The firm represents clients in the Dallas area and across the State of Texas.


O'Neil & Attorneys Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

Today is the 10-year anniversary of the beginning of my law firm. What a great time it has been! I have been practicing family law in Texas for 22 years, 16 of those years in Dallas, and now 10 of those years in my own divorce boutique firm in Dallas. I remember when I made the decision to leave the security of the firm I worked for and branch out… I was scared that no client would ever find me in this big city. But they did. And, I’m grateful. From my early years in Bell County, to the days at the McCurley firm, to now, many people have influenced my career and made me a better lawyer. Here’s some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

•  From Tooter Porter, a legal assistant in Bell County who took me under her wing, I learned how to file a divorce at the courthouse, how to set a hearing, how meet a client who is in jail, how to draft pleadings (in the days before everything was on the computer). Beyond the procedural, I learned from Tooter many lessons in strategy and life.

•  From Jimbo Kreimeyer, a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Bell County, I learned lessons about how to stand up for my clients. He taught me about fighting the system and sometimes even the judge if the client’s interest warrant it. I learned not to be afraid of what the judge or opposing counsel might think or say or do, as long as I was doing what was best for my client. He told me, you aren’t a “real” lawyer until you’ve been held in contempt by a judge for standing up for the client’s rights. The point being, when there’s a crossroads between fighting for the client versus protecting myself, a lawyer should always have the courage to choose the client. (I have had to do that a couple of times in my career. Thanks, Jimbo, for giving me the courage.)

• From Judge John Barina, in front of whom I tried one of my first trials, I learned that a lawyer doesn’t have to object every time an objection is available. Choose objections wisely, when they really matter, and when there is a good reason. Don’t just object to object. I also learned that sometimes, even when I fought my hardest and best, losing might be in the client’s best interest.

•  From Bobby Barina I learned about Sun Tzu’s Art of War and how useful that can be in the strategy of litigation. I learned about techniques for cross-examination. I learned about creating strategies for a case, but also implementing strategies for dealing with other lawyers. I learned the art of advocacy. I also learned about how politics affects the practice of law. We spent many nights in our youth drinking coffee and discussing esoteric theories of law, which made me a better thinker and a better strategiest litigator.

•  From attorney Ed Brown I learned not to go down rabbit trails.

•  From Judge Jack Prescott I learned not to get offended if a man calls me “dear” or “honey” and to relax a little on my feminist tendencies.

•  From Judge Bill Black I learned not to take it personally if a judge yells in court. From Judge Ed Johnson, I learned to take it personally when a judge yells in court.

•  From Kathy Kinser I learned about being a strong female litigator while still acting like a lady. I learned that it’s okay to wear pants to court. I learned that looking prepared and being prepared are both important. I learned the science of advocacy.

•  From Mike McCurley I learned that preparation is the key to winning. Evaluate the strategy of both sides’ arguments from all angles and think through all possible avenues of response. I also learned to know the law better than anyone else in the courthouse. And, I learned not to get stuck in the form book – create your own pleadings asking for what you want. There are many “McCurley-isms” that those of us who have “been there” know and understand. One of my favorites is, “sometimes all you’ve got (to argue) is due process, that’s when they I know I really mean it”. And, “the ostrich dance – when you stick your head in the sand, wiggle your ass, and call it dancing”.

•  From Mary Jo McCurley I learned the benefit and necessity of taking care of my personal health and wellbeing.

•  From Julie Crawford I learned that what you know is important, but so is who you know. Socializing and getting to know other lawyers is important because it establishes rapport and a working relationship before you have to discuss a client’s difficulties.

•  From Lisa McKnight I learned to stop thinking so much and take action. I also learned to think on my feet and cover every angle in cross-examination. “Keep your overhead low,” Lisa said, over and over again when I first started my practice.

So to all of the lawyers and judges along the way that have influenced my career and made me a better lawyer, thank you. To the clients that have entrusted me to handle their case, thank you. And a special thank you to my husband who keeps me grounded and sane, even when I’m stressed out and going crazy. This has been a great 10 years – here’s to the next 10!

Best Attorney in North Dallas by Living Magazine

Living Magazine has named family law attorney Michelle May O’Neil as the best attorney in North Dallas/Park Cities. See article: Best of North Dallas and Park Cities.  Ms. O’Neil has been board certified in Texas Family Law since 1997 and recertified every 5 years thereafter. We are honored that our clients and friends nominated us and voted for us.  This is a nice honor.

Ashley Russell named 2013 Texas Rising Star

O’Neil & Attorneys attorney Ashley Bowline Russell has been selected to the 2013 Texas Rising Stars list for family law. Each year no more than 2.5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas are selected to receive this honor.  “Ms. Russell is an up-and-coming lawyer in the Dallas family law community and we are very proud that she has received recognition for her accomplishments,” says Michelle May O’Neil, the firm’s founding attorney. This is the second year that Ms. Russell has received this recognition. 

Ms. Russell is a 2006 graduate of SMU Dedman School of Law and has worked for O’Neil & Attorneys since graduating.  She focuses her time in the family law appellate section of the firm, handling appeals, mandamuses, and general legal research and briefing. 

Each year researchers with Thomson Reuters’ legal division solicit nominations from attorneys across Texas, asking them to identify the best practicing attorneys age 40 or younger or those who have been practicing for 10 years or fewer. The nominated candidates go through a rigorous review process before being ultimately selected to the list. 

Founded in 2003, O’Neil & Attorneys is a boutique law firm in Dallas, Texas focusing solely on family law matters.


Basics of Texas Divorce Law 2nd Edition now available in e-book format

We proudly announce the release of our popular Basics of Texas Divorce Law in a 2nd edition and now in e-book format for download to popular e-readers. You can access the e-book at the publisher’s website at: Lulu.com

It is also available through iTunes for the iBook app. It will be available at Barnes and Noble’s site for the Nook soon.

The e-book retails for $6.99 each

Michelle May O'Neil Goes Live Tonight!


We at O'Neil & Attorneys are excited to announce that Michelle May O’Neil will participate in a live webcast on issues of common law marriage tonight at 8:30 p.m. CST on HuffPost Live, the streaming network for the Huffington Post. The segment will explore whether common law marriage should be recognized, what common law relationships involve, how they evolve, and what can happen if you don’t address them. Be sure to tune in – you won’t want to miss this!

For more on common law marriage see our other posts:

Am I Even Married? (Common Law Marriage)

Common-Law Marriage: 10 Ways to Know if you Could Be Involved in a Common-Law Marriage

Common-Law Marriage: What You Should Know About Common-Law Marriage in Texas

Common-Law Marriage: Examples of Situations Where a Texas Court Found that No Common-Law Marriage Existed

Legal Effects of a Common Law-Marriage


Dallas Family Law Attorney, Michelle O'Neil Lawyer -- Texas Divorce Attorney

Texas Super Lawyers list names O'Neil as one of the best divorce lawyers in Texas

 Michelle May O’Neil was named to the list of Texas Super Lawyers for family law in the 2012 edition of Texas Monthly magazine.  Each year the Texas Super Lawyers list recognizes the top 5% of Texas attorneys in various practice areas. 

Texas Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas, including Texas family law, who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Each year lawyers in Texas are invited to nominate the top attorneys they have personally observed in action.  Additionally, an attorney-led research staff searches for lawyers who have attained certain honors or results.  Then, the researchers evaluate candidates by 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement.  Research evaluations are based on information from a variety of online and database sources including law firm websites, legal publications, and information supplied online.

Texas Super Lawyers magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the Texas and the ABA-accredited law school libraries. Super Lawyers is also published as a special section in the Texas Monthly magazine and distributed to their subscribers state wide.

In the United States, Super Lawyers magazine is published in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., reaching more than 13 million readers.

Michelle O’Neil’s profile on Super lawyers: http://www.superlawyers.com/texas/lawyer/Michelle-May-ONeil/b5299271-82d0-45b0-8936-1441e5b007f1.html


Ashley Bowline Russell Named 2012 Rising Star


Congratulations to O’Neil & Attorneys associate lawyer Ashley Bowline Russell for being named a 2012 Rising Star by Texas Monthly Magazine.  They recognize what we at O’Neil Attorneys already knew – Ms. Russell is one of the up-and-coming family law attorneys in Dallas, Texas.  Ms. Russell is a 2006 graduate of SMU Dedman School of Law.  She has worked for O’Neil & Attorneys since she graduated from law school.  Her practice extends to both family law litigation and appellate matters.


Best Divorce Lawyers in Texas listed in Texas Monthly

Michelle May O'Neil has been named one of the best divorce lawyers in Texas by Texas Super Lawyers Magazine.  The list of best lawyers in Texas will appear in the October issue of Texas Monthly Magazine. See the listing below:

www.dallastxdivorce.com/uploads/file/Superlawyers ad.pdf

Basics of Texas Divorce Law

Hot Off The Press!

Our new book is ready and available on lulu.com. Basics of Texas Divorce Law

Co-written by Michelle May O'Neil and Ashley Bowline Russell, Basics of Texas Divorce Law provides essential information about a Texas divorce, including the four stages of a Texas divorce proceeding, the difference between a no-fault divorce and a fault divorce, how to approach dividing property in a Texas divorce, and the four issues that relate to children in a Texas divorce.

You can order the book directly by clicking on this link:  Basics of Texas Divorce Law.  The book retails for $12.99 online.

Best Family Law Attorney in DFW, Says One Client

A lont-time and very satisfied client writes,

"I first met Michelle in 2005 and, as a client, she has represented me as my counsel ever since. Based on my personal experience with Michelle, I believe she is probably one of the best family law attorneys in the DFW metroplex. I believe that I was very lucky to find Michelle at a time in my life when I most needed a very good attorney to represent me in my divorce.

At the time, I was faced with the possibility of having only limited visitation with my children and the possibility of my children being relocated out of the DFW area. Michelle took on the challenge of getting me the results, from a year long court battle, to insure that my children would remain in the area so that their Mother and I could share as joint managing conservators. Nothing was and is more important to me than having me a close relationship with my children. Both, their Mother and I are actively involved in the daily activities of the Kids. Consequently, their Mother and I have a friendly relationship and communicate continuously to improve the quality of our children’s lives.

Most recently, their Mother remarried and requested the court to grant relocation to a county outside of the metroplex. Due to my location of work and the place where they would be residing, I would not have been able to see the Kids as much as I have for the past five years. Our lives have become so inextricably intertwined that a change in the location would have been detrimental to everyone in the family.

Therefore, I opposed the move and once again Michelle represented me in another year long battle that finally ended in an all-day trial in June of 2010. The results of that trial assured that the children would remain within a two and a half mile radius of where I live. I was very satisfied with the Judge’s decision to deny the request. And, obviously, I was very pleased with Michelle’s representation.

Michelle is a professional attorney at the highest level and I would gladly recommend her as counsel to anyone."

Dave Buchanan

It is fulfilling for us to represent a client who is so dedicated to his children as Mr. Buchanan.  If you know of anyone who is in need of a Dallas area family lawyer for a relocation case like Mr. Buchanan's please ask them to give us a call.

Learning How To Do a Rain Dance

No, we didn't really dance around begging some higher power to send down the trickles of water.  Actually, I participated in a very interactive conference about law firm marketing where I heard more about educating clients about the benefits of hiring my law firm, what sets my law firm apart from other Dallas family law attorneys, and improving the provision of service to our clients.  Here's why you should hire my firm to represent you in your Dallas area divorce:

  • We have a been-there, done-that perspective based on our extensive experience in divorce, child custody, and complex marital property litigation.
  • We have hands-on real world experience from the ground up in family law matters in Texas.
  • Our experience allows us to distinguish the real, meaningful issues from the ones that don't matter.
  • We keep our clients informed about the status of their case.
  • We stay informed on the up-to-date legal issues that matter in divorce and child custody cases in Texas by teaching and attending educational seminars.
  • We research all legal issues that make a difference to our client.
  • We gather all of the necessary and relevant documents on cases.
  • We can put together a team of professionals outside of the firm to assist with solving the client's problem -- for example, a forensic CPA, a business valuation expert, a home valuation expert, a parenting coach, psychological experts, witness coaches, etc.
  • We will use negotiation skills to make every effort to resolve your case without the emotional and financial expense of going to trial.
  • We keep the client updated about all settlement offers from the opposing side.
  • Only you can decide the final settlement of your case.
  • We conduct depositions and interviews of key witnesses for the client's position as well as the opposing side's position.
  • Your attorney will prepare you for trials and hearings at your comfort level.
  • Your attorney will be by your side during all hearings and trials of your case.
  • We apply our experience in appeal of family law matters to sift through the irrelevant issues at a trial, and we use our trial experience to sift through the irrelevant issues on appeal.

Any other reasons you can think of? The list remains a work-in-progress.

Thanks to Stephen Fairley and Rich Strauch of The Rainmaker Institute, John Bisnar of Bisnar/Chase, and Alex Morris who gave a lot of great information.  Check out Stephen's blog The Rainmaker Blog.

Dallas Kids Expo Features O'Neil's book All About Texas Law and Kids

Dallas Family Law attorney Michelle May O'Neil previewed her book All About Texas Law and Kids with her co-authors Bobbi Sheahan and Sharon Ramage at the Dallas Kids Expo on Saturday.  The audience submitted general questions which were answered by the authors based on the book. O'Neil provided copies of the book to give away to the first three audience members who asked questions.  Plano Children's Theater generously donated season tickets to give away for questioners.  O'Neil answered general questions about the law and children on topics such as child custody, child support, guardianship, grandparent rights, and age for marriage.  A portion of the Q&A is posted on youtube video and embedded below:


Toddler Tug of War Article Quotes Dallas Family Law Attorney O'Neil

Dallas Family Law Attorney Michelle May O'Neil was cited in an article published today in the Texas Lawyer news magazine.  The article entitled Toddler Tug of War:  Mother and Couple at Odds in Parental Rights Termination Case by John Council discusses a case pending in the Houston 1st Court of Appeals seeking to terminate a mother's parental rights when the baby was secreted from the mother by the father and unknowingly placed with a prospecitve adoptive family.  The case turns on the question of whether the prospective adoptive family's ability to provide a better environment for the child than the mother should play a role in determining whether the termination of mother's rights is in the child's best interest. 

From the article:

Michelle May O'Neil, a family lawyer and partner in Dallas' O'Neil Anderson, believes the 1st Court's decision may ultimately boil down to Jordan's "fundamental right to parent."

"The rights of a parent are constitutional. A parent has a liberty interest in establishing a home for their children and in raising their children. And the government can only interfere in that parent's rights when there are certain adequate reasons," O'Neil says. "For example, if CPS [Child Protective Services] has to take a child from a parent, they have to prove some sort of abuse."

Neither Jordan's mental health history nor her economic situation should figure into a court determination to end her parental rights, O'Neil says.

"Mentally ill people have a right to be parents. The government only has the right to interfere in parental relationships if there is abuse to the child," O'Neil says. "And you can be mentally ill and not abuse your child. One does not equate to the other."

"The question cannot be the quality of the family that the child is placed with," she adds. "The question in a termination proceeding is whether it's in the best interest of the child that the biological parent's right be terminated."

Ann Crawford McClure, a justice on El Paso's 8th Court of Appeals who is a past president of the State Bar of Texas Family Law Section, agrees with O'Neil. Texas courts require a higher burden of proof in parental rights termination cases than in normal family law cases, McClure says.

The Dosseys "have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that it's in the best interest of the child. The courts have been clear that you can't weigh lifestyle in that determination," McClure says. "You can't look at an adoptive family and say they are better off financially and can provide opportunities that the mother can't in determining the best interest of the child."


Dallas Divorce Lawyer Featured Nationally on Avvo Website

Dallas Divorce Lawyer Michelle May O'Neil is presently featured with the nationally recognized Featured Legal Guide on www.avvo.com, a directory of lawyers across the country.  Her article on Valentine's Day Tips From A Dallas Texas Divorce Attorney discusses ways to keep a marriage together and avoid divorce, with tidbits from her 18 years experience as a divorce lawyer in the DFW metroplex area of Dallas, Texas.  The article is also featured in the Avvo Advocate electronic newsletter with legal advice for everday life.

Dallas Divorce Attorney Featured on Avvo

Dallas Divorce Law Blog Receives National and Local Attention

Dallas Divorce Lawyer Michelle May O'NeilYesterday was a great day for us here at the Dallas Divorce Law Blog.  We started the day with recognition from the Dallas Morning News MomsblogDallas divorce lawyer Michelle May O'Neil has been honored as a contributor to the DMN Momsblog.  Her post entitled Who Calls the Doctor When a Child Has Two Homes? was featured yesterday. 

The blog was also recognized as the Best in Law Blogs on November 10, 2009 by LexBlog.  The entry entitled Parent Coordinator v. Parent Facilitator -- What's the Diff? received this national attention.

Good work guys!

Dallas Divorce Attorneys featured on national blog

Dallas Divorce Attorneys MIchelle May O'Neil and Nathan Anderson were featured today on the national blog Real Lawyers Have Blogs by Kevin O'Keefe on the topic of lawyer blogging.  The post recounted an interview by Lisa Kennelly about O'Neil Anderson's unique take on blogging. 

See the post here:  Michelle May O'Neil of Dallas Divorce Law Blog:  LexBlog Q&A

Or, read the article after the jump.

Continue Reading...

Dallas Divorce Lawyer Michelle May O'Neil Appears On Local Television Program Today

Today, channel KDTX featured Michelle May O'Neil on the television show Joy In Our Town to discuss challenges in paying and receiving child support in a down economy.  O'Neil gave pointers to obligors (paying support) who have lost their jobs and find it difficult to make the payments, as well as to obligees (receiving support) who need to collect and enforce the payment.

UPDATE:  Unfortunately, the show's airing has been delayed until November 13, 2009 at noon.  But you can see it below!

To watch the video, click here: www.youtube.com/watch


All About Texas Law and Kids Book Release

Dallas Divorce Lawyer Michelle May O'Neil announces the release of the book All About Texas Law and Kids, a book co-authored by Bobbi Sheahan, Michelle May O'Neil, Claudia Cano, and Sharon Ramage.  Children are relevant to every aspect of the law, and they cannot represent themselves.  From the seizure of the FLDS children to the debates over what is taught in schools, the intersection of kids and the law is front-page news every day in Texas.  This book is a useful resource to practitioners, parents, and non-parents alike.

Can a grandparent sue for visitation?

Can a former love interest sue for visitation?

Who is legally responsible for vandalism committed by a 16-year-old or a 6-year-old child?

Can a 12-year-old child decide where she is going to live?

What is an open adoption and is it the right fit for you or your client?

Where do you start with a special needs student?

Are you advising a client on the employment of minors?

What happens when a child gets hurt?

Written by leading family law experts, Bobbi Reilly Sheahan, Michelle May O'Neil, Claudia Cano, and Sharon Ramage, All About Texas Law and Kids answers all of these questions and many more.  This pocket-size resource includes sections on:

The Rights and Obligations of Parents

Child Protective Services

Custody and Child Support


Education:  Homeschooling, Public and Private Schools

Special Education

Children and Criminal Law

Children and Employment

Kids, Sex and Texas Law

Kids and Vehicles

When is a kid not a kid?

Kids and Contracts

All About Texas Law and Kids is published by the Texas Lawyer, an IncisiveMedia publication.  The book retails for $69.95 plus tax ($75.72) and can be ordered at www.lawcatalog.com

Dallas Divorce Lawyers Host Open House

Michelle O'Neil at O'Neil Anderson Open HouseDallas Divorce Lawyers Michelle May O'Neil and Nathan Anderson hosted an open house celebrating the opening of their new location at Lincoln Centre Two.  The event was well-attended, despite the weather, by clients, lawyers, and judges alike.  O'Neil Anderson was formed in 2009 to provide compassionate yet relentless service to client in need of family law services.  Michelle May O'Neil is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has practiced family law for her entire 17+ year career.  Nathan Anderson joins the firm after practicing with the ligitation division of a civil firm in Houston.

Ms. O'Neil and Mr. Anderson appreciate all of those who braved the weather to attend the open house and welcome their clients, friends, and collegues who were unable to attend to come by and see the new space.

Dallas Divorce Lawyer Defines a "Win" at the Advanced Family Law Conference

Dallas Divorce Lawyer Michelle May O'Neil

Teaches Other Lawyers About Winning

Michelle May O'Neil, founding partner of Dallas' O'Neil Anderson family law boutique firm, presented at the Advanced Family Law Conference held in Dallas in August 2009.  O'Neil presented her paper Winning Your Case Before You Go To Trial together with Judge William Harris of the 233rd Family District Court of Tarrant County, Texas.

Here's an excerpt from the paper:

 Dictionary.com defines a “win” as achieving victory or finishing first in a competition. Many times in family law litigation it is hard to define what constitutes a “win” in any particular case. What really is a “victory”? For some clients the simple act of obtaining the divorce will be considered a “victory”. Others set their standard of a “victory” very high, such as when a client will only be happy if he or she has the child 100% of the time.

Much of “winning” is determined by where the bar gets set to define a win. Establishing achievable goals remains one of the most essential aspects of client relations, as well as “winning” the case.

An additional aspect of “winning” might be to cut short what might otherwise be protracted litigation. This paper aims to review methods of “winning” the case prior to an extended trial on the merits of the case. This paper presumes that “winning” is defined as achievement of the client’s reasonable goals in a quick and efficient manner. This paper discusses various aspects of disposition of a case, both on procedural grounds as well as the merits of a claim, prior to trial. Areas such as jurisdiction, special exceptions, default judgments, summary judgments, declaratory judgments, discovery, sanctions, and pretrial appeal are covered.


Dallas Divorce Lawyer Quoted in Dallas Morning News

Dallas Divorce Lawyer Michelle May O'Neil was quoted in the July 2nd, 2009 edition of Dallas Morning News in Emily Ramshaw's article Child Support Suffers As Economy Suffers.  The story lead Thursday's edition with Ms. O'Neil's picture appearing on page 14A.  

Here's the excerpt from the article pertaining to Ms. O'Neil:

Michelle May O'Neil, a family law attorney with clients in Dallas and Collin counties, said Crouse's case is common. She's seen a steady uptick in child support-paying parents who have either lost their jobs or had their hours reduced.

O'Neil said family court judges, who traditionally have issued permanent rulings, are giving these financially strapped parents temporary relief instead.

If someone is unemployed, she said, a judge generally will temporarily reduce child support, and then call a review hearing a few months later.

"A kiddo's expenses don't go away just because the economy is tight," O'Neil said. "Judges are giving people a Band-Aid so they can find another job."


The Big Move

We moved!  We are on the other side of the move and in the new, pretty office amid boxes and pictures on the floor. The new office is at the intersection of the Dallas North Tollway and LBJ Freeway. Our new address is:  O'Neil Anderson, Two Lincoln Centre, 5420 LBJ Freeway, Suite 500, Dallas, Texas 75240.  Our phone numbers are the same:  Telephone 972-852-8000 and Facsimile 972-852-8001.

Drop by for a tour if you are in the area.

"Change is inevitable.  Growth is intentional."