By: E.A. Putman
I won’t lie; I am uncomfortable with change. Yet, I know it’s inevitable. There’s been a lot of change in the last few weeks. The weather changed. The time changed. The Astros lost the World Series. And, just half a mile away from Minute Maid Park, The Putman Firm, PLLC was closing the doors on its Second Ward location where it had operated for almost six years. I didn’t think I would cry almost daily as I packed my office–I mean it’s just an office, right? But, I did, and here’s why: it was more than an office. It was a family law firm in a building with a rich history and plentiful memories.
The building housed at 2311 Canal Street is the former site (and second location) of Anson Jones Elementary, which was the oldest public school in Harris County. When clients and guests alike would come to the office, they would often be creeped out by the aged hallways. I swear, the building still had an old public school smell lingering. But, it was more than just a former school that existed on the corner of Canal and Franklin from 1966-2006. At one point during the time I officed there, the building housed a hair salon, another law office, a South American Restaurant, and the OAG Child Support Division office. When the high-rise luxury apartments adjacent to my office broke ground in 2019, all of these businesses began to migrate to other parts of Houston.
A CHANGE HAD COME.
“I Ain’t Mad at Cha“ is a song by American rap artist Tupac Shakur (2Pac). It was released on September 15, 1996, two days after his untimely death in Las Vegas. The song is a reminiscence of how time has changed from when he was younger to when he became famous.
Change is the common theme in family law. From married to divorce. From parties attempting to co-parent without government intervention to parties abiding by a court order outlining visitation and child support. Depending on the circumstance, many parties reflect with sadness on how things used to be. Other parties, like the first words spoken in the song, feel like, “Change, shit. I guess change is good for any of us.”
I am not a therapist, though everyone knows there’s a reason lawyers are also called “counselors.” After practicing law for nearly ten years and having litigated many cases to judge and jury, one thing I am certain is that the mindset plays a huge role in situations involving change.
Change can be offensive. At first, I was really offended that it was time to leave my building. I’ve known the neighborhood was changing for years and sooner or later my old building would be demolished for a newer concept to fit the progressive neighborhood. I know many family law litigants can relate. Change? What do you mean you want to change from being married to divorce? How dare you change the situation of informal child support to put me on child support papers?
Change can also be good. The divorce that’s causing someone anxiety may be due to the comfort in the consistency of the institution of marriage versus the survivability of the actual marriage. Will the change from married to single ultimately be good? That depends.
Child support “papers” are more than just an obligation to pay child support. Look at it this way: if you have ever struggled to see your children or felt like getting to spend time with your children is largely dependent on how the other parent feels about you that week, a child support order may not be such a bad thing. A child support order will also lay out provisions on the rights and duties of the parents as well as the possession and access schedule (i.e visitation plan) for the parents. That change may be necessary.
Change is also required to get you to your next step. Ask the R&B singer Ciara. I often write about the theme of change. And I know from personal experience, that sometimes the door that you desire to open will often wait until the door you’re standing in the frame of to close.
Lastly, when going through family law litigation, your mindset has to change to what’s practical. If you have not had a consistent relationship with your children or seen them in years, don’t file a custody lawsuit and expect to be named the primary parent absent some extreme or unusual circumstance. I am not saying it cannot ever happen, but remember family law is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are claiming insupportability (i.e. irreconcilable differences) in a short marriage where there are no children and only minimal property, understand it may not be feasible to take them to the bank.
Too often the stereotype of family law leads people to believe it has to be nasty. Far from it. Next time you find yourself a party to a divorce, custody, child support, or visitation case, try not to allow the other party’s actions to incite you. Just think of it like this: Change can be good. I ain’t mad cha.
The Putman Firm, PLLC is a family law litigation firm that handles a wide array of family matters including criminal matters that intersect family law, i.e. family violence assault cases, protective orders (criminal and civil) and allegations of child abuse. If you or someone you know are seeking legal assistance for a family law case, contact The Putman Firm, PLLC at (281) 501-9033. You can also schedule a consultation by visiting Your Family Law Attorney.