Diana Larson and Erik Larson Named to Houstonia Magazine’s Top Lawyers 2015

The Firm congratulates Diana Larson and Erik Larson for their selection to Houstonia Magazine’s annual list of Top Lawyers in Houston for 2015.

To contact Diana or Erik about representing you in your case, contact us at (713) 221-9088.

Reimbursement for Child’s Health Insurance Premiums?

Texas child support orders often provide that the parent with visitation rights is ordered to provide a health insurance policy for the child.

However, what happens when the parent with visitation rights (NPC – non-possessory conservator) fails to obtain the health insurance policy when ordered to do so? If the possessory conservator (PC) then puts the child on the PC’s health insurance policy so that the child has health insurance, can the PC seek reimbursement of the child’s health insurance premium from the NCP? If the PC has a claim, how is this calculated?

In this example, the PC has a potential claim for reimbursement for premiums under Section 154.182 of the Texas Family Code. So, the Texas Family Code does allow the PC to seek reimbursement for the costs of insuring the child NPC failed to cover, if the NPC was ordered to obtain coverage and failed to do so.

Many times the parent stepping in to cover the child has an insurance plan that covers the entire family, regardless of how many children are covered by the policy. Does this have an effect on the PC’s potential claim? In this circumstance the PC may not have incurred any additional out of pocket expense to obtain the child’s health insurance coverage. Does the PC still have a claim for reimbursement in this situation?

In Bird v. O’Donnell, 03-04-00603, Austin 2006, the court of appeals ruled that the PC must show an increase in actual incurred cost due to adding the child to that insurance policy. The court held that there could be no reimbursement of the premiums in that case, because the premiums did not increase when the child was added to the policy. Because the premiums did not increase, there was no additional out of pocket expenses incurred by PC by adding the child to the policy.

Therefore, in these kinds of reimbursement cases under Bird v. O’Donnell, the PC has the additional burden to show that adding the child to the policy caused a specific increased out of pocket expense to the PC that was not present previously.

To speak with Diana Larson or Erik Larson about your case, call us at (713) 221-9088.

Diana Larson and Erik Larson Named to Houston’s Top Lawyers 2015

The Firm congratulates Diana Larson and Erik Larson for being selected to H Texas Magazine’s annual list of Houston’s Top Lawyers for 2015.

In this issue, H Texas Magazine states that it compiled the list of 2015 Top Lawyers in Houston based on “nominations from clients and peers as well as rigorous background checks.”

To contact Diana or Erik about representing you in your case, contact us at (713) 221-9088.

What Child Custody Arrangement Benefits Kids Most in Divorce?

In almost every divorce or custody case, parents worry about the children’s emotional health during visitation with the other parent. Parents also wonder about what child custody arrangement benefits kids most in a divorce. However, a new study on custody arrangements benefiting kids, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, as well as legal consultation from an experienced family law attorney may provide valuable insight.

The study found that children of divorce are at their healthiest point emotionally and mentally when they share time with both parents after the divorce or split, rather than living with only one parent.

One of the study’s researches stated that “It was surprising that children who have two homes and move frequently report less stress symptoms than those who live in one stable home after their parent’s separation.”

In the study, the kids who lived with both of their divorced parents reported significantly fewer emotional problems and other issues than children who lived with only one parent. The study’s authors conclude that their findings “indicate that stability in the child’s parents’ relations is more important than stability in housing.”

This finding is consistent with past research which has shown that children suffer the most emotional issues when there is a high level of conflict between the parents in a divorce, rather than the fact that the parents physically separate in the divorce. The literature has shown that a high level of conflict between parents is significantly more harmful to children than the parents’ physical separation in a divorce.

When parents work to keep the level of conflict low in a divorce, this will benefit the children emotionally.

Divorce Mediation or Trial?

Mediation Cartoon

A divorce trial can be much like a duel – the parties give up a significant amount of control of the outcome, and there is usually some risk of an unfavorable outcome which may have been avoidable. There are certainly times when a trial is the only option. However, in many more cases, mediating a divorce case is also a realistic option that should be given serious consideration.

Mediation can be a very effective tool to help bring divorce cases to a successful resolution early in the case. Mediation is a formal settlement conference with a third-party neutral, a mediator, basically conducting shuttle diplomacy between the parties’ rooms at the settlement conference.

However, whether any particular divorce mediation is successful or results in an impasse depends very much on the quality of the mediator. A mediator of moderate to low quality significantly reduces the likelihood of a successful mediation. High quality mediators are truly few and far between, but they do exist and are worth their weight in gold for their abilities to help the parties move toward resolving their case.

To learn more about whether mediation is an option in your case, contact Erik Larson or Diana Larson at The Larson Law Office at 713-221-9088

Diana Larson Receives AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell

The Firm is pleased to announce that founder and partner Diana Larson has earned an AV® Preeminent™ rating from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings.

An AV® Preeminent™ Rating “is a testament to the fact a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.” This distinct achievement of professional excellence is earned through a strenuous Peer Review Rating process, which places Diana Larson among the elite of fellow legal professionals.

Martindale-Hubbell has been conducting peer-review ratings for over a century to identify and recognize lawyers with the highest legal ability and ethical standards. Lawyers are rated by their peers — attorneys and judges — in the categories of legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communication ability and legal experience as well as a high level of ethical standards.

Erik Larson Named to Houstonia Magazine’s Top Lawyers for 2014

The Firm congratulates Erik Larson on being named to Houstonia Magazine’s list of Top Lawyers for 2014. In its December 2014 edition, Houstonia Magazine selected only 40 Houston Family Lawyers to this year’s list.  Kudos to Erik on being elected to this very small group of Houston divorce attorneys!

To speak to Erik or Diana Larson about your divorce, child custody, or other family law matter, call 713-221-9088.

Enforce a Texas Child Custody Order

What is Enforcement of a Child Custody Order?

What can a parent do if the other parent refuses to turn the child over at the scheduled time under a Texas child custody order? When another party to an order has committed violations of the terms of the order, a motion for enforcement of the order can be filed with the Court.

Penalties for Violating Custody Orders

Possible penalties in enforcement actions include contempt of court, jail time for the person who violated the order, assessing attorney’s fees against the violator of the order, and make up time for the parent deprived of time with the child.

Motions for Enforcement are Highly Technical

Because holding someone in contempt triggers higher due process considerations under criminal law, drafting the motion for enforcement is highly technical and must be done carefully. If a motion for enforcement is not drafted correctly, it could be dismissed by the Court as a result. Therefore, it is critically important in Houston courts that the divorce lawyer exercise great care in drafting the enforcement motion.

Contact either Erik Larson or Diana Larson at 713.221.9088 if you have a possible enforcement action of a child custody order or divorce decree.

Larsons Named to Houston’s Top Lawyers List by H Texas Magazine

The Firm would like to congratulate Diana Larson and Erik Larson for being selected to H Texas Magazine’s annual list of Houston’s Top Lawyers for 2014.

In its July 2014 issue, H Texas Magazine states that it compiles the list of Top Lawyers in Houston based on “nominations from clients and peers as well as rigorous background checks.”

To contact Diana or Erik about retaining them to represent you in your case, contact them at (713) 221-9088.

Top 7 Legal Mistakes Businesses Make

The continued profitability of a successful business can be put at risk if a business owner fails to anticipate the following key legal issues that often arise. Business people need to be prepared on the front side for these challenges. Otherwise the results of legal mistakes businesses make can be costly.

1. Not Having Agreements with Employees.

Businesses often have trade secrets or confidential information such as customer lists. This information needs to be protected from employees who may go to work for a competitor or open a competing business. Non-disclosure, non-competition (non-competes), confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements can be valuable tools to a business.

2. Lack of a Corporate Structure.

Owners of businesses often expose their personal assets to business liability by failing to incorporate their businesses. (I am not talking about merely having a DBA). Having the correct business entity for your business purposes and needs is critically important to protect personal assets. Also, failing to follow certain corporate formalities, such as not commingling personal assets and business assets can expose your personal assets.

3. Lack of an Owners’ Agreement.

When there are multiple owners of a business, life changes in the lives of owners will occur that will affect the business. These include divorce, death, parting of ways between owners that result in the need for a buy-out and many others. Unless the owners have an agreement in place before these transitions occur, it is often very difficult and sometimes impossible for owners to reach agreement without the matter resulting in litigation.

4. Not Using Written Contracts.

Relying on oral agreements is typically a bad idea for many reasons. As time passes, memories fade, expectations change and the potential for disagreement increases. It is much better to address all issues directly and in writing at the beginning so that all parties are clear as to what is expected on all performance issues.

5. Using Incorrect Contracts.

Just as important as using a written contract is using the right contract. Standardized contracts should be carefully tailored to the needs and issues in the specific engagement.

6. Not Understanding the Contract.

The business owner should understand every provision of the contract before entering into the agreement. There are times when a business must sign a contract to get an account, or job and the other side will not negotiate the terms of the contract. However, Even if a business owner is not practically able to negotiate the terms of the contract with the other party, the business owner needs to understand each provision of the contract.

7. Underestimating the Time, Risk and Cost of Litigation.

Lawsuits also frequently involve much more time than owners initially expect – time that would otherwise be spent on growing the business. Litigation can also be much more unpredictable and expensive than most business owners anticipate at the beginning of a case.

For more information on protecting your business from these and other legal mistakes businesses often make, call your business attorneys in Houston – Erik Larson or Diana Larson – at 713.221.9088.