As a divorce lawyer in Dallas for 20+ years, I’ve learned that divorce lawyers wear many hats when working for their clients.  From mental health counselor to financial planner, from creditor’s rights to business litigation,  divorce lawyers give advice to clients about many different areas of their life. 

This week, I wore the hat of a landlord/tenant lawyer. My client received two rental properties in the asset division and now he must learn to deal with issues such as property managers, security deposits, and rent collection.  At the same time that he assumed the ownership and responsibility for the properties, the tenants in both properties moved out.  Thus, we had to address the return of the security deposits to them in accordance with the law. The rental properties are in another state, so this complicated matters.  We also had to reconcile the rents received, mortgages paid, and HOA dues paid. I’ve been asked to interface with the property management for both units to make sure that the security deposits are addressed properly and to ensure my client’s records are up-to-date with his take over.  Having a basic understanding of landlord/tenant law assisted me in helping the client navigate these  new waters. 

I also was called upon in another case to research the criminal record of the opposing party.  We found that he has multiple criminal convictions.  Because I’m not as familiar with criminal law, and especially federal criminal law, I called a friend who practices in that area for advice.  Sometimes it is better and more economical to seek help from a specialist in an area rather than charting new waters. 

I’ve also had to address bankruptcy issues this week regarding a third client. For various reasons, the client may need to file for bankruptcy and we had to evaluate whether to file now or whether it would be better for him to file at some point in the future. He was under the mistaken impression that filing bankruptcy would speed up the divorce process.  To the contrary, I had to explain to him that filing bankruptcy actually works to stay the divorce proceedings, which will elongate the process, not shorten it.  Again, I called in a bankruptcy lawyer to advise the client in areas unfamiliar to me. 

At any point in time, a divorce lawyer must also know something about business law, corporate litigation, bankruptcy law, creditor’s rights, criminal law, landlord/tenant, real estate law, estate planning, and many other areas.

 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.