When representing a person going through a divorce, sometimes you have to be the bearer of bad news and sometimes you have to give your client a reality check. I tell all my clients at the beginning of their case the following;

“You are the Captain of this ship. My role here is to advise you of the law in Texas, my experience in certain situations and what the likely outcome would be if there were to be a hearing. However, you are going to be making all the big decisions as it pertains to your case.”

I have clients ask for things in their divorce that are outside what the law provides. A perfect example is a parent who pays child support to the other parent wanting the yearly tax deduction for the child. This issue is governed by Federal law and states that the person receiving child support is the person entitled to claim the deduction for the child on their yearly tax return. Because this is governed by Federal law, no state Judge can order a person paying child support to be awarded the right to claim the child on their taxes. The only way a parent paying child support will get to claim the child on their taxes is if the other side agrees to it. It is my job to advise my client of this law as well as maintain his/her expectations on the issue.

Maintaining a client’s expectations is essential to a successful divorce. A divorce attorney is there to educate and help facilitate a settlement that is fair to their own client. This process can be challenging yet necessary.
 

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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.