Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Cramp Law Firm, PLLC
Cramp Law Firm, PLLC's posts


Stopping Annoying or Harassing Texts and Calls
I've been asked this question enough that I thought it merited a short blog post.  Is there anything "legally" that can be done to stop a soon-to-be-ex-spouse or their new love interest from sending annoying or harassing texts or phone calls?  Yes, on both the civil and criminal sides of the law.

On the civil side, if it's the soon-to-be-ex-spouse (i.e. the other party in divorce litigation), an enforcement action can be brought for violation of temporary injunctions that prohibit that sort of conduct.  If found in "contempt," the court can order fines up to

Post has attachment

Jury Issues in Divorce
This is the first blog in a two part series on "jury topics."  In this first part, we'll look at what issues a jury can decide in divorce.  In the second part, we'll look at what issues a jury cannot decide.

 In divorce, either party has the right to demand a jury trial.   In a jury trial, the jury only decide questions of "fact," generally meaning whether or not something happened, or what about a fact question is true or not true.  The judge always decides questions of "law," generally meaning what are the legal consequences that follow once a fact has been established.  The questions of "fact" that a jury can decide follow:

Post has attachment

When an Executor Declines, Who Else Can Serve?
Sometimes all persons named in the Will as Executor decline or are unable to serve.   Assuming there's more than one person interested in stepping up to the task, the Estates Code establishes the order of preference, as follows:,-Who-Else-Can-Serve_bl19693.htm

Post has attachment

Military Divorce: Jurisdiction to Divide Military Retired Pay
Filing a suit for divorce doesn't automatically give a State court jurisdiction to divide military retired pay.  Federal law (specifically, Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act found in Title 10 of the United States Code at Section 1408) requires that a State court establish jurisdiction over military retired pay in one of three ways, as follows: 

Post has attachment

International Custody Battle Settled as Mexican Mother Permitted Into Houston to Reunite With Child
What are some of the complexities of an international custody dispute? 

International child custody disputes can quickly become a complex web of jurisdictional, procedural, and policy-related intercessions – making a smooth outcome something to hope for, but not expect. While custody conflicts across the Mexico-U.S. border are hardly uncommon, issues routinely arise that require difficult bureaucratic involvement and lengthy periods in limbo. 

In one recent case, a mother had to wait an entire agonizing month before reuniting with her child, all due to a snag in the system that resulted in the wrong child being sent from the United States to Mexico. 
How they got it wrong: A mother waits an entire month for her wrongfully-deported child

In the western Mexican province of Michoacan, a woman and her 13-year old daughter were finally free to travel from Mexico back to the United States following
- See more at:

Post has attachment

Divorce and Conveying Title to the House
Many times in divorce one of the spouses will keep the house.  In all cases, the divorce decree should contain a legal description of the house and clearly divest one spouse of his or her community interest by giving that ownership interest to the spouse who will keep the home.  But, once the decree is signed by the judge, the work is not done.  Transfer of the divested spouse's interest must be visible in the county's real property records, otherwise the spouse owning the home may run into difficulty when it comes time to sell (i.e. a title company cannot verify the transfer when investigating the chain of title).

In general, making the transfer visible in the county's real property records can be done in one of two ways.  First, the divested spouse can be ordered in the decree to sign a Special Warranty Deed as "grantor" conveying his or her interest to the spouse keeping the home, the "grantee."  The deed is then recorded.  Second, the decree itself can contain language that  makes it a "muniment of title for all property awarded and transferred herein."  A "muniment" is merely a document that evidences title -- the decree serves as the equivalent of a deed.  The decree is then recorded in the county's real property records. 

What is the advantage of one over the other?  Transferring title by Special Warranty Deed costs less to record since the deed is about 3 pages.  It also keeps the other terms of the decree out of the public's eye.  Transferring title by the decree serving as a muniment of title gets the job done quickly when the other spouse is hostile and getting cooperation in signing a deed is uncertain at best.

Post has attachment

Compelling Return of a Child: Habeas Corpus
A Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus provides the means to compel return of a child when the other parent is in wrongful possession.   The petition can be filed in the court of continuing exclusive jurisdiction (e.g. the court that rendered the last final order affecting the child) or in a court in the county where the child is found.  The parent filing the petition is known as "the Relator."

Only the right to possession is determined in a Habeas Corpus proceeding.  The determination hinges on the existence of a valid court order that gives the Relator a superior right of possession.  The issue of which parent "should" have possession based on any real or perceived change of circumstances cannot be relitigated.   In that light, any attempt by the parent in wrongful possession to argue that the "best interest of the child" require a change of possession must fail.  Once a superior right of possession is established, grant of the Writ of Habeas Corpus "should be automatic, immediate, and ministerial."  In re deFilippi, 235 S.W.3d 319, 322 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2007, no pet.).

Speak with a qualified family law attorney for more information about this and related topics.

Post has attachment

Divorce and Title to Real Property Located Outside Texas
Some couples getting divorced in Texas, such as military or Federal civil service families, own real property outside of Texas.  This begs the question of whether a Texas divorce decree can dispose of real property located outside of Texas when dividing the marital estate.  The answer is, yes, as long as the court has personal jurisdiction over the spouse ordered to covey title.  The most clear example of a court acquiring personal jurisdiction over a spouse is when the spouse either filed the suit for divorce (i.e. they are the Petitioner) or the spouse responded to suit by filing an answer or otherwise participating in the proceeding (i.e. they are the Respondent). 

With personal jurisdiction established, a Texas court can hear evidence to characterize the property (i.e. determine whether it's one spouse's separate property or both spouses' community property), value the property, and order one of the spouses to convey title to the other.  The key point is that the court's power to order a spouse to convey title rests on the court's personal jurisdiction over that spouse.  If the spouse refuses to convey title, he or she can be found in contempt. 

What a Texas court cannot do is render judgment affecting title to real property outside of Texas (or, for that matter, outside of the court's jurisdiction if the property is in some other Texas county).   For example, a divorce court in Bexar County, Texas, could not render judgment in a suit to quiet title (i.e. determine the true owner) for real property located in some other State.

Author Jim Cramp is a retired active duty colonel and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm.  The Cramp Law Firm provides a spectrum of family-related legal services in the greater San Antonio Region.,-TX-Family-Law-and-Military-Divorce-Blog.htm

Post has attachment

Geographic Restriction: Limiting the Child's Residence in Divorce Casees
Courts routinely impose a geographic restriction at the temporary orders hearing  in divorce cases that involve minor children.  The restriction normally limits the child's residence to the current county of residence plus contiguous counties ("contiguous" means the surrounding counties whose borders touch the current county of residence).  So, for example, a geographic restriction that limits the child residence to "Bexar and contiguous counties" means the custodial parent (and child) could live anywhere in Bexar, Medina, Bandera, Kendall, Comal, Guadalupe, Wilson or Atascosa counties.  The purpose is twofold: (1) to keep the custodial parent and children in the local area until the divorce is finished; and, (2) to facilitate the non-custodial parent's visitation rights. 

Whether a geographic restriction will also be included in the final decree of divorce is a separate matter.  Sometimes it is included.  Other times it isn't.  For final orders, one factor courts consider is the parents' near-term and long-term employment prospects.  If a credible argument can be made that the custodial parent needs to be able to move anywhere in Texas or some other State, then courts frequently remove the geographic restriction.  The need to be able to change residence without restriction is a key factor in military divorces and Federal civil service divorces.

It's important to emphasize that a geographic restriction only affects the "right to change permanent residence" and not the "right to travel."  So, if either parent wants to take the children out of Texas to visit the grandparents or go on vacation, that's okay.  Traveling does not violate a geographic restriction.

For questions about geographic restrictions and other issues in divorce, speak with a qualified divorce attorney.

Post has attachment

Does The Surviving Spouse Automatically Inherit The Homestead?
Does the surviving spouse automatically inherit the homestead?  No, there is no automatic transfer of the deceased spouse's ownership interest to the surviving spouse.  If the deceased spouse gifted his or her interest to the surviving spouse in a Will, then the Will must be probated in order for the transfer to occur.  If the deceased spouse died without a Will, then the answer is driven by the laws of intestacy (i.e. the laws that determine who gets your property when you die without a Will).  If all children of the deceased spouse are also children of the surviving spouse, then the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased spouse's one-half interest.  If the deceased spouse had one or more children who are not also children of the surviving spouse, then the deceased spouse's children inherit the deceased spouse's one-half interest (noting that the surviving spouse continues to own his or her one-half interest).  Even when no Will existed, some type of probate action is necessary to make the inheritance effective (e.g. Small Estate Affidavit or Determination of Heirship with or without Administration).  Speak with a qualified probate attorney for more details.

- See more at:
Wait while more posts are being loaded