What is a common law marriage?

In essence, a “common law marriage” is a marriage without a ceremony conducted by an authorized person. A common law marriage exists when a man and woman agree to be  married and, thereafter, live together as husband and wife while representing to others in their community that they are, in fact, married. In Texas, there is no specific period of time a couple must live together before establishing a common law marriage.

Thought to be a remnant of the “dark ages” of family law, it is surprising how often this issue arises, whether in matters of divorce or probate. I, personally, have noticed that this situation is much more prevalent in the poorer communities among us.

This is one of the reasons our firm provides pro bono services to the disadvantaged. The issue of whether a party is married under “common law” can have a big impact on a person’s rights under the law, and we believe, as the Texas Lawyer’s Creed proclaims, that it is a lawyer’s responsibility to assure that all persons have access to competent representation regardless of wealth or position in life.

Joshua Coffman selected as Rising Star for second time

The Law Office of Joshua Coffman is excited to announce that attorney Joshua Coffman has been selected as a 2015 Texas Super Lawyer Rising Star. Joshua was also recognized as a Rising Star in 2014.

Super Lawyers is a “research-driven, peer-influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.” Super Lawyers’ mission is to “provide visibility to attorneys who exhibit excellence in the practice of law.”

Joshua is thankful for the support of his paralegal Nancy Ankrim, family, friends, and loyal clients who all helped to make this recognition possible.

To see this year’s list of Super Lawyer Rising Stars, pick up a copy of the April edition of Texas Monthly magazine.

What is a retainer?

Most lawyers engaged in the practice of family law use retainers. Yet, I’m often asked, “What is a retainer?”

A retainer is a specific amount of money that is obtained in advance of the legal work to be performed.  The retainer is placed in a trust account and used as a reserve for the lawyer to charge against as he works on your case.  The amount of the retainer is determined primarily on the estimated amount of time that needs to be dedicated to your case for the month.  Typically, retainers are refundable and, thus, the amount of the retainer in trust after charges is refunded to the client upon closure of their case.

Abraham Lincoln once quipped that a retainer was important because the lawyer then knew he had a client and the client knew he had a lawyer.