Business law encompasses all aspects of starting and running a business. This means that sole proprietorships, general partnerships, LLCs, and corporations all fall under the umbrella called business law.
At Carpenter & Associates, we help you manage your business’s legal needs from formation, organization and on onward, as you deal with these issues:
Our firm has a strong tradition in litigation. We handle diverse and complicated legal matters in state and federal courts at both the trial and the appellate level. Representing both plaintiffs and defendants, our litigators work on behalf of energy sector publicly traded clients, corporations, small businesses , and individual clients, tax-exempt organizations and estates.
Our firm has served as outside General Counsel for numerous corporations. We understand what it means to get the deal done while protecting our clients from liability. We have been entrusted with successfully structuring and negotiating construction contracts in excess of $400 million dollars with foreign heads of state.
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense or if law enforcement has contacted you in connection with a criminal investigation, it is critical that you obtain legal counsel immediately to defend your liberty and preserve your rights. Josh Carpenter's extensive experience as a police officer allows him to understand the value of having competent legal counsel from beginning to end.
If you have been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated, the time to protect your rights starts the moment those flashing red and blues come on behind you.
As a rule, you should refuse all tests. Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are designed to bolster the prosecution’s case against you. You cannot “pass” and expect to go on home. If the officer suspects intoxication enough to ask you to perform the tests, you’re likely going to be arrested regardless. So, you might as well be arrested without providing more evidence against yourself. This refusal extends to any and all breath or blood samples the officer asks you to give.
There are consequences to a refusal but those are easier to deal with than a DWI conviction. Even with your refusal the office may obtain a warrant to have your blood drawn. If this happens, do not fight the officer or the nurse. There are plenty of ways to attack this blood test in court. The whole time you are with the police officer, refuse to answer any questions regarding alcohol use, drug use, intoxication, etc. Again, these interview questions are designed to bolster the state’s case against you. Politely refuse to answer without the advice of an attorney.
Once arrested, post bond as soon as possible. Then immediately contact us at Carpenter & Associates. The clock starts running the moment you are arrested to challenge certain things such as any drivers’ license suspensions.
While misdemeanor offenses can seem insignificant, they can have a major impact on your future. A conviction of a misdemeanor offense can prevent you from obtaining certain licenses or cause you to lose professional licenses.
Many misdemeanor offenses can gradually enhance into felony charges with repeat offenses. Studies show that individuals who receive a first conviction for any misdemeanor are significantly more likely to be convicted of subsequent offenses, in part because of increased scrutiny you may be subjected to during “routine” law enforcement encounters or traffic stops.
Do not wait to go to court on a misdemeanor to get legal help. Often times, attorneys can resolve misdemeanor offenses while they are in the intake process if you act quickly enough.
If you find yourself charged with a felony offense, the time to start your defense was yesterday. While some felony charges will arise from a traffic stop, a sudden knock at the door, or a sudden and unanticipated series of events, many felony charges are the result of investigations which may have included contact from law enforcement wanting to discuss something with you. If you have reason to suspect you are under investigation or if law enforcement has contacted you about an issue, you need to take immediate steps to protect your rights.
Felony charges in Texas carry penalties ranging from six months state jail to the death penalty and many can be enhanced based on particular facts in the case. Getting legal counsel as early as possible is the only way to protect your freedom and your rights.
If you find yourself in criminal trouble here are five rules you must follow:
1. Politely refuse to answer law enforcement questions without a lawyer.
2. Post bond as soon as possible.
3. Do NOT discuss the facts of your case while using any phone provided by the jail.
4. Do NOT discuss the facts of your case with others in jail with you, your family, your bondsman or anyone other than your attorney…your attorney and you share attorney-client privilege that no one else listed above shares.
5. Hire Carpenter & Associates.
One of the most disheartening things to experience as an attorney is the transformation that occurs within a family when someone dies and their money and stuff are up for grabs. Many families have been torn apart by greed and bitterness. Your efforts now to plan your estate not only give you the last say as to what happens with your life’s earnings and property, but also helps to nip these problems in the bud and preserve family unity.
No one likes to contemplate death. It is uncomfortable and unsettling to many. But for a brief time we feel it is critical for you to do so. One way or another, your property will need to be passed on. If it is passed on through a thoughtful and artfully crafted estate plan you maintain control beyond the grave, make the process easier on your surviving family members, make the process less expensive, and preserve assets that may otherwise be lost in the shuffle. At Carpenter & Associates, we have teams of professionals who live for helping you prepare for death. From the simplest will to Trusts, tax and Medicaid planning strategies to family limited partnership and complex estate plans, our teams have the experience, knowledge and compassion needed to help you craft the plan that best suits your needs.
If you think you don’t need a will because you don’t have much, consider this… Medical malpractice alone is believed to account for almost 10% of annual deaths nationwide. Another 6% or more result from accidents. As much as another 10% can be caused by products that lead to cancer deaths. The point being there is roughly greater than a 1 in 4 chance that you will die from something that may leave your family with a wrongful death claim.
Who brings that claim for your family?
What happens to the money that comes from the claim?
These questions would be answered with your estate plan.
A will is a document that serves a number of important functions. First, it establishes who should be in charge of administering your estate. This person is known as the Executor. It is wise to name one or two alternative Executors in your will in case the first one dies before you or refuses to be the Executor when the time comes. Second, your will sets forth which of your family you intend to inherit from your estate. Third, your will sets forth what property those individuals are to inherit and what happens to the items not specifically given to an heir. And lastly, it sets the rules for how your estate will be managed. A properly executed will is the single most important document in any estate plan regardless of the complexity. At Carpenter & Associates, we stand ready to guide you through the process step-by-step.
A trust is a document that can be created and become operative during your life or can be created as a term of your will. Trusts are particularly beneficial when the estate is of higher value or when minor or disabled heirs are anticipated. A properly written and executed Trust can virtually eliminate the need for probate, if the rules are followed correctly. That is the somewhat tricky part. In brief, a Trust essentially creates an entity separate from yourself or your spouse and then names individuals as successor Trustees and as beneficiaries. Whenever you pass away, the property held by the Trust remains in the Trust but your successor Trustees automatically gain the authority to manage that property for the benefit of the beneficiaries. This can include dissolving the Trust and distributing the property to the heirs, selling the property and dividing the proceeds and whatever other methods you direct when you establish the Trust. The important factor is listing all assets or asset classes and transferring every asset with a title or deed from you and your spouse to the name of the Trust. Yes, this can be complex. But the reward is high. Carpenter & Associates is ready to tackle it for you.
Powers of Attorney:
Beyond your will or trust, your powers of attorney are probably the next most important thing to have done. There are two documents here which will independently set forth who you want in charge of your property when you lose capacity to do it yourself and who you want making medical decisions for you when you aren’t able to do so yourself. These documents must follow certain rules to be effective, but Carpenter & Associates are ready to prepare them for you.
Other documents you may need and should consider include:
Please feel free to ask us about these and other options.
Whether a will has been written or not, property must be legally distributed. This process is called probate.
If your loved one left a written will the process for probate is frankly quite a bit simpler provided that the will is well-written, properly executed, and uncontested.
We start with an “Application for Admission of Will to Probate and for Issuance of Letters Testamentary.” This is a document we will write for the proposed executor of the estate and file with the Court.
Once the will has been properly posted and appropriate notices have been provided, we prepare documents entitled “Proof of Death and Other Facts,” “Oath of Executor,” and the “Order Admitting Will to Probate and Granting Issuance of Letters Testamentary.”
Next we set a prove-up hearing. At the hearing we present these documents and testimony of the proposed executor and the court generally approves it all and we are done at that point.
Next, we assist the Executor with the administration and transfer of estate property and the drafting of the “Inventory, Appraisement and List of Claims.” Once that document is complete we file it with the Court to formally close probate.
If there is no written will the process of probate becomes more complicated and expensive but remains equally necessary.
In this circumstance, there are two applications:
The first is for “Determination of Heirship.” Since there is no will, an interested person must apply for the Court to determine who the heirs of the estate are and to propose a list of such heirs and their respective interests in the estate.
The second is and “Application for Independent (or Dependent) Administration and for Issuance of Letters of Administration.” This document also sets forth who we believe the heirs to be but also names an individual to be appointed as administrator of the estate. The administrator will have the same powers, basically, as an executor named in a will.
The next step is service of these documents which is done by a combination of certified mail and publication. Once publication is completed, then we file a “Motion and Order Appointing Attorney ad Litem for Unknown Heirs.”
The attorney ad litem is an independent attorney appointed by the Court to conduct an independent investigation to determine whether all heirs have been included in the Application for Determination of Heirship. This attorney will talk to the applicant and at least two other disinterested witnesses and will then prepare a report for the court. There is a fee for this attorney that will be paid by the applicant from the estate.
Once this report is done then we set a hearing for prove up with the same Oath, Proof of Death and an Order Granting Independent Administration and Issuance of Letters of Administration. Once this order has been entered, we then have to do another publication of notice to creditors. Then we prepare the Inventory, Appraisement and List of Claims and file it with the Court no later than 90 days from the Order.
The probate process without a will costs significantly more and takes more time to complete. Which is why we encourage everyone to have a will as their minimum estate plan.
Poor drafting of wills can lead to and sometimes cause family members to contest the validity of the will.
At Carpenter & Associates, we seek to prevent this by ensuring our wills are drafted with the greatest care and clear, unambiguous language. If you come to us for probate, however, and a will contest ensues, our probate team is fully prepared to engage and protect your interests and those of the estate.
Regardless of the complexity, our team here at Carpenter & Associates are eager to assist you with all of your estate planning and probate needs.
Our attorneys are very experienced in complex matters in all areas of family law having handled hundreds of cases, including:
We understand Family Law is a very sensitive area of the law in a way in which really no other area of law compares. We have adopted the following principles to provide effective and efficient legal counsel throughout the state of Texas:
Client Centered. We know a painless experience in family matters is often impossible. We strive to ensure that our services don't how difficulty to what you are going through but instead make the pain, less. The only thing we care more about than winning your case is you.
Transparent. We are clear and direct. Litigation is complicated enough without clouding our communication with out clients in legal jargon.
Approachable. In the modern world there are countless ways to make sure the lines of communication stay open even when our office may be closed. We use the latest technological resources so you can schedule meetings and sign documents easily and from anywhere. We’re ready when you are ready.
Our children are the most important people in your life. If you are currently facing a child custody battle, it may benefit you to contact the educated and experienced team at Carpenter & Associates. Whether your case must be handled through the use of litigation or can be resolved amicably with the use of mediation, you can count on the firm's child custody lawyers to assist you.
Our child custody lawyers throughout Texas recognizes that no two individuals are going through the same situation. The the team ensures that every client is provided with a high level of personalized attention, compassion, and respect. Additionally, the team works to come up with custom solutions, tailored to fit the unique needs and goals of each client.
When it comes to the well-being of your children, you would not want to place your child custody case in the hands of just any lawyer, would you? At Carpenter & Associates, our child custody attorneys in Texas understand how emotionally draining and overwhelming child custody cases can be—especially if they involve having to go to court. The team possesses a great deal of experience handling custody cases and they are prepared to assist clients no matter how complicated the situation may be.
Texas uses the term “conservatorship” while most states simply use “custody”. As a result, the parent that has custody of the child is known as the “conservator”. A few terms that stem from this are:
The following are the common reasons why a judge might give sole managing conservatorship to one parent:
If one parent is assigned as the sole managing conservator, the other will be considered the “possessory conservator.” This parent may still have the right to child visitation; however, the rights of the possessory conservator are limited or restricted to protect the best interests of the child.
Regarding joint managing conservatorship, the judge will consider the following factors, which are also aligned with the best interests of the child:
Child custody can be arranged in several different ways. Both parents can have equal custody of the children post-divorce, or one parent may have majority or sole custody. Normally, the court arranges this after evaluating the parents and their relationship with their children. Also, the court will need to evaluate whether or not parents could work together in a joint custody relationship.
The courts can award joint legal or physical custody and may require ex-spouses to split their time with the child equally or in a percentage that is most convenient.
If the court is responsible for determining child custody in your case, then they will decide the matter in what they conclude to be the best interests of the child.In order to act in the best interests of the child, the court evaluates:
The courts in Texas encourage spouses to work through child custody plans together using a mediator. At the offices of Carpenter & Associates, the firm can provide you with a trustworthy and helpful mediator. In mediation, you and your spouse will sit down and calmly work out a custody plan that works best for both of you and one that helps the children. The judge normally adopts the parents' plan unless it is not in the best interests of the child. This can help keep your children out of court and maintain a calm atmosphere in the home.
Regardless of how complicated matters may seem, the team does everything in their power to help clients reach favorable results. Clients always work directly with our child custody attorneys, and the team always strives to go above and beyond what is expected of them.
Child support is a set monthly payment that is paid by a non-custodial spouse to a custodial spouse to provide for the regular expenses of the children from a marriage. This allows a non-custodial spouse to fulfill his or her parental duties.
In Texas, physical custody always determines who will pay child support. The parent who has physical custody will always be the recipient parent and the parent who does not have physical custody of the kids (regardless of whether or not he or she has legal custody) will pay the child support if ordered by the court.
You might be wondering what the minimum amount is for child support in Texas. The courts calculate child support payments based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent's income. Our child support lawyers can estimate how much the state will expect you to pay in minimum child support by doing a simple calculation.
The court will evaluate all wages, salary, commissions, tips, overtime and bonuses as income for calculation purposes. This also includes any government benefits, severance pay or retirement benefits. The courts will also factor in alimony, gifts, prizes, and other costs. The court will then affix a percentage which will be the amount you are required to pay monthly for child support.
Quite frequently when we meet with potential clients who are interested in establishing child support after breaking up with their Ex they are also interested in establishing retroactive child support. They want to know if retroactive child support is allowed in Texas and how much can they get. In this article, we will discuss what the Texas Family Code has to say regarding retroactive child support.
Retroactive child support would mean that in addition to a court ordering monthly child support from a current date going forward, that court would require a parent to pay child support for previous times when that parent was not helping to support their child.
This could mean that if a parent has not provided any support for several years they would be significantly behind in their child support. This amount could be few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In short yes, Texas Courts may order retroactive child support under Texas Family Code Section 154.009 if a parent:
the court may order a parent subject to a previous child support order to pay retroactive child support if:
Many parents may believe that they are only responsible for child support if there is a court order in place. However, it may be true a parent may not be forced to pay any child support without a court, it does not mean a court may not find the non-supporting parent responsible for that time they did not help once a court order is established.
Retroactive child support is not mandated by the Texas Family Code when paternity is established, but rather, is left to a factual determination on the part of the trial judge.
When establishing child support the asking parent can ask for in their petition to the court for both:
Retroactive child support is not automatic as with other things sought under the law you must plead for them in your request to the court.
The presumption under Texas Law is that retroactive child support for four prior years is reasonable and in the best interest of the child.
This presumption may be overcome and support for additional years can be awarded if evidence is presented that the obligor:
Other factors will consider when deciding whether to Order retroactive child support include:
Generally when making a decision on where to begin retroactive child support a court will look at:
If a court decides to order retroactive child support, the amount of the retroactive child support payment according to Texas Family Code Section 154.009 will be calculated using the same formula used when calculating guideline child support:
It is not uncommon for a client to express concern to us regarding possible changes to their income during a divorce in relation to their obligations to pay child support. What we usually tell them is in general after a divorce property issues are done. However, under the law of Texas child issues are generally not done until after the child graduates high school or turns 18 whichever comes later.
Basically this means that child support law was written with the understanding that the person responsible for paying child support’s ability to provide financial support for their children might change.
Should a change occur that would impact a parent’s ability to pay for child support. They are allowed file a “Petition to Modify” the child support order on the basis that there has been a “substantial change in circumstance”.
Possible reasons for a substantial change in circumstance may include:
Generally, once my client’s understand there are options available to them to modify their support obligations if necessary they feel better. These same options are available to a parent who feels like the other parent is not providing adequate support to a child.
Child Support Modification Considerations:
Something parents should keep in mind is that child support is not supposed to be a punishment or a form of revenge. Child support is a real responsibility that is designed to provide for the needs of the child.
Another consideration when deciding whether to file for a modification should be a cost benefit analysis on whether it is worth it financially or emotionally. For example, if you file:
The lawyers at Carpenter & Associates are dedicated to helping you and your family find the solution that works best for everyone. We understand things may have changed from the time child support decision was made, and we will work to promote the best interests of you and your child in the modification of the child support order. If you have questions regarding modification of a child support order contact our family law attorneys to schedule a free consultation and discuss the details of your case.
In Texas, parents have the legal obligation to support their children until the child reaches the age of 18, or until the child stops going to high school whichever is later.
If your child was disabled before his or her 18th birthday, that duty will extend into adulthood. This duty to support does not apply to children who are self-supporting, living away from home (if over the age of 16) or married. If the parent who pays child support dies, the obligation to pay does not die with him, but will accelerate and be due immediately from his or her estate.
You may not stop paying your child support simply because you believe the amount is too much, or because you have been denied visitation with your child. In both cases, there are legal remedies available to you, and you should talk to a lawyer.
Likewise, filing for bankruptcy will not relieve you of your duty to pay child support. Even if your debts are discharged, you must continue to pay child support.