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James Victor Esh -- The Intersection of Family Law & Real Estate

Posted by James Victor Esh | Feb 07, 2024

I really enjoyed speaking with my colleague Holly Draper.  She is an amazing attorney and was humbled she invited to speak about Real Estate and Family Law (to be fair I'm not a big fan of seeing myself speak...  or read myself on a transcript but that is a professional certainty.)



Victor Esh: One thing to think about is in the vast majority of our cases, at least, I would say, over 70%, probably the number one asset is the real estate asset. Usually that's what you're either the one house or the multiple pieces of property that you're dealing with. And so it's very important on that aspect just to have some basic general background information.

Voiceover: You're listening to the Texas Family Law Insiders podcast, your source for the latest news and trends in family law in the state of Texas. Now, here's your host attorney Holly Draper.

Holly Draper: Today, we're excited to welcome James Victor Esh to the Texas Family Law Insiders podcast. Victor is an attorney with Cotten Schmidt living in Corpus Christi, Texas. He's a military veteran having enlisted in the United States Marine Corps out of high school and serving for four years of active duty before attending college at the University of Arkansas. Victor went on to get his JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He began his legal career as a title attorney, but went on to become a family lawyer. He has 15 years of litigation experience in family law and probate. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Victor: Thank you. It's so good to be here. Thank you, Holly.

Holly: So why don't you tell us a little bit about your background?

Victor: Yeah. So you know, it was a great introduction from my own personal history. From a legal background, as you mentioned, I started as a title attorney. A lot of our colleagues probably came into family law thinking, oh, this is what I love, or, you know, some of us I should say, come into thinking that this is the my life path. I was not one of those, though.

Holly: Me neither.

Victor: Well, about around the time of the real estate bubble when that all crashed, I went with it. And family law was what basically paid the bills, at least initially. And then, you know, I've became, I think I'm good at it, if not great, but I will leave that for others to decide. I do feel at least I'm competent enough to practice and enjoy this area, along with a few of my others of litigation, so.

Holly: How would you describe your current practice?

Victor: So I took some time off of as many of you, some of your audience may know, I actually practiced up in the Dallas metroplex for about 15 years. My family moved down to the Corpus area, and I took about a year off. And I've now started with Cotten Schmidt. I do litigation, and specifically, all litigation or all civil litigation, I should say, primarily in the areas of probate litigation, and then we do some insurance defense, and I'm working on building my family law practice as well. So backup from the Corpus area from when I was in Dallas.

Holly: So did you work from that same firm when you were in Dallas, or is this a new position?

Victor: No, I was actually with Alex Geczi, PLLC. She's a good friend. And I was working with her. Right before the pandemic I joined her firm. And then the move happened sort of incidental afterwards to that. And then before that, I managed a Legal Aid Office. And then I had my own practice for about five, six years prior to that. So kind of a meandering thing. But all has been in the civil litigation area.

Holly: So today, we're going to kind of dive back to your title attorney days a little bit and talk about the intersection of family law and real estate. I think a lot of family lawyers have little to no background when it comes to real estate. But it's something we have to deal with a lot when we're dealing with divorces. So why do you think this is such an important topic for Family Lawyers to think about?

Victor: Well, and that's a great question. I think and with regards of family law and real estate, a lot of times, as you were saying, a lot of time, a lot of family law attorneys don't have a lot of background in that. And I would say one thing to think about is in the vast majority of our cases, at least I would say over 70%, probably the number one asset is the real estate asset. Usually that's what your, either the one house or the multiple pieces of property that you're dealing with.

And so it's very important on that aspect, just some basic general background information. Kind of understand the transactions and how it works. The other thing is, is I think important for practitioners to understand is that your, if you made a fatal mistake. And hopefully, some of the things we'll talking about today. There's some redundancy, if you build into your practice, you don't have to worry about those mistakes. But if you make a fatal mistake, you may not learn of it till 5, 10, 15, 20 years later, and that can be a very rude awakening call. 15 years later, you're the attorney that handled this. What were you thinking?

And so that I think is kind of important, at least if not just to understand that very basic thing. Because, you know, you put in there a refi, you know, you got to refi the house in three years, they never do it. All right, and then all of a sudden somebody passes away, and now you've got a whole nother thing that you gotta be dealing with. So, again, sometimes you don't find about some of those things, mistakes, or that you may have made until way later. If you don't watch out for just some common practices.

Holly: And that's one of the reasons why, you know, I always encourage people who are thinking they can DIY their divorce or they can, you know, it's going to be making it hostile and contested if I hire a lawyer, so you know, the other side wants us to do this on our own. A lot of times I see those fatal mistakes coming in the form of DIY divorces where somebody comes, you know, my divorce decree didn't require a refinance. And you know, I can't get a house now, what are we going to do about that? Nothing, you're gonna wait until they sell it or refinance it all on their own free will, you're stuck.

But you know, I think it is definitely a possibility that attorneys can make those mistakes too. Especially when they are newer attorneys. And maybe they don't know what they don't know. So you definitely want to be sure you know what you're doing, when it comes to deeds, and what to put in our decree and all of that.

Victor: And as you know that, you know, a lot of times, you know, in family law, we can sometimes get a little relaxed in the sense that we always have modifications. Oh, you know, and I don't say that flippantly. But sometimes you're like, oh, I can always come back and modify. And as you know, and a lot of our audience here knows, that's not the case, property division. So you get, you get a very short window on that.

Holly: So when we were chatting before we started recording, you mentioned, your biggest pet peeve relates to legal descriptions. So talk a little bit about that. Tell us what you mean.

Victor: Well, so when we were, when you mentioned the speaking about this topic, that was one of the things that I recall coming on probably from the background as a title attorney, coming into family practice and seeing, sometimes you and frankly, you can spot a family law practitioner that doesn't have a lot of real estate practice, basically, on that final decree very fast. And usually, it's on that legal description.

One, there's not one at all. And we'll get to that in a little bit. But the other one is basically, you know, the legal description that they use is not the right one, or it appears to be something that they can almost tell you immediately, it came from the, you know, Central Appraisal District. And that's common, but that's not what I would consider the official legal description.

In fact, it's not. And so, you know, it's important to know where to go find those, where to go through and make sure you're getting the right source document. And there's nothing wrong with starting with a Central Appraisal District, but certainly not where I would end by any means.

Holly: So that I mean, it's interesting, you say that, because it's, I know a lot of people who that's where they go for the legal description, if we don't have a deed already from, the client didn't give us one or something like that. Well, I'll go with the Central Appraisal District. What's the difference typically, between what you would find on the appraisal district website, and what the true legal description is?

Victor: So part of this is the inner work, understand the inner workings of how kind of the counties work in general. So you know, we have a district clerk, a county clerk, and then there's agency or entities that process things outside of there. One of those is that Central Appraisal District, okay. And it's important to understand district and county in a minute, we'll talk about that later. But the Central Appraisal District is essentially, you know, they're responsible to tax stuff.

And so they do want to have a current role of who owns property that's important to them. But that's not their main focus. And so when you go apply to this appraisal district, you know, they have some internal processes that try to check those names, but that they're not, that's not what the if you ever make a mistake, nobody's gonna go back and go, well, I checked at the CAD. And they're like, oh, that's fine, then you're fine. No. Because the official public records are the county records.

All real estate records in Texas, official public holder of the record is the county clerk. And so when you go to the Central Appraisal District, they were filling in that legal description and the ownership information as part of their tax duties not for the public records. And why that's important is, for example, that legal descriptions, usually very short, very short line that they have. And if you're in a platted city and county, or you're dealing with a subdivision that's platted.

And what I mean by that is got a lot one block a or, you know, that type of legal description, you probably you're gonna be okay. Put in the county at the end and the state and you probably gonna get by with it, assuming that the person typed that in actually accurately typed in the legal description that came from guess what the official one that came from the county.

So it's a great place to first start to see who the owner of the property maybe is, and then the legal description, but it's not where I would end. The other little asterisk I would give is ownership. It's again, a great place to start. But one, I have seen CADs change just based on obituaries. Other CAD office on news reports, even once a local knowledge, the small area, they just knew that this person passed away and they knew that the only son was and so they updated and you know, when you look at the history, it just shows blank.

You know, the source is blank. So, my point is CADs a great place to get great information. It tells the last deeds, a lot of times it tells you information about property, legal, it's a great starting point. But when you get down to drafting the legal description, you really should go back to that deed that they, that your client came into title to that property. Whatever that is. Whether it's a deed or an order or something like that,

Holly: So if your client doesn't have the deed or copy of the deed, where, what's the easiest way to go about finding it?

Victor: So as we were talking about, if you effectively most places you can type in the county that, you know, Dallas county official public records, deed records, and it will pop up a link. But the official place you need to go to the county clerk's office. So if you call the county clerk's office or go to the website, a lot of times they'll have a place that you can link in. And most of the state is on one system, there are some counties that are using different electronic systems if you want to do it remotely.

And you can navigate that dependent on the county. And you just type in the name and the information and it'll pull up the deed, and you usually can download them. If that county, some of the smaller counties are not accessible that way, or they're using their, you may have to call them and order it physically from there. But most of our larger counties, you can do it directly online. In fact, a lot of my research is done directly like that.

Holly: So we all refer to our houses or business or whatever, by the street address. 123 Main Street in whatever city, right? Why isn't it sufficient just to use the street address in your divorce decree?

Victor: The street address doesn't really exist, doesn't exist physically, frankly. I think that's kind of the easiest thing. The counties and the postal office, I don't know exactly how they assign the names, but those are just designations assigned by them. And so they don't have any legal significance. That legal significance is that county again, kind of goes back to just the way our public, you know, our land records are handled is that county rec clerk is the one that goes there. And they're the ones that's responsible for maintaining that. So that's kind of the main point of any of that, is the county records is the first place to go to.

Holly: So if you have a decree, it's already been signed. May have been signed years ago. And it only references the street address, is there anything you can do about it?

Victor: Maybe. You know, there's lots of different maybe the legal options that can kind of come out there. Hopefully, some of those things, we're going to talk about a minute on the decree, what you should be doing, the types of deeds and stuff that would hopefully have been correct. Because I have seen decrees where they don't even mention the legal description, but then you go to the county records, and I did all the deeds that did all the ancillary documents afterwards.

And it's all fine. Having a legal description in your decree just saves you a product, that redundancy I'm talking about, at the beginning, that if you did just leave. For example, take the two decrees, one with just a street address and one with a legal description. The street address, if you fail to do those deeds and those ancillary documents to transfer legal title with the county, that's going to do no good.

You're gonna have to do other things to make that happen. If you include that legal description in the decree along with the invest in somebody, investor language, in other words, title is invested in you, and divesture language that's important from the other person, then you can actually take that and just go record in the county records.

And that's sufficient. You don't need anybody's decree, deeds or anything else filed, because that will transfer title just by the order of the court. So if you just have a street address, if you're in that situation, you're really left with only one potential option. And that is asking the court to clarify the order. Specifically clarifying the legal description in there.

And you probably can get that done. I think most courts if you've addressed, if you have at least put an addressed property in the decree, then you're probably gonna be able to get at least a clarification on what the description was on the property. The point with all that is you have to go back to court. It costs money, and it takes some time to do it.

Holly: So you were talking about divest language and things like that, if you had that in your decree, you wouldn't necessarily need deeds to transfer the title. So if you, what I've seen in decrees is okay, you have your legal description of the property, you know, this property at 123 Main Street with legal description, whatever is awarded to the wife. And then later in the decree, you have language saying the title language basically saying that this document decree should be enough to transfer title. If you don't have any language beyond that, can it be used to transfer the title?

Victor: Absolutely, yeah. So using the legal, so I like to think of the legal description and then also the other language of you've got to go sign this deed and this deed of trust and all this, that additional language in addition, I like to think of those as election of remedies. So I have one remedy of going down to the clerk and just filing it.

My other remedy is, you know, contempt or enforcement actions, not necessarily contempt, but maybe but other enforcement actions with the court. So the legal description in the decree saves you a lot of headache, in case that other stuff doesn't get done, because you can just use that decree.

Now the big difference is, as you know, most of the special warranty deeds and perhaps the dots, are just, you know, ten, maybe if you had them all, 10 pages between all of them. Where as a decree a lot of times 40, 50, and you get charged by the page. So usually makes a lot more sense just economic or money wise to do it that way.

Holly: Plus, if you're filing that 40 or 50 pages decree with the county clerk, you're now putting a lot of other personal information out there in the county clerk's record, when it really should just be a transfer of property.

Victor: Yeah, and then a lot of place that a lot more people looking. I mean, most people don't go to the district clerk website to go look at decrees and stuff. A lot of people go out to the official public records all the time to get stuff. And sometimes just to be nosy, I guess, I don't know.

Holly: So one of the topics when you know, whenever people come on the podcast, they kind of give me a list of things to talk about. And one of the things that you had talked about was pro forma. So tell us what is pro forma? And what does that really mean?

Victor: So it's a great question. So a lot of times, you will see, you may, you'll see this line, Texas has got a homestead rules. Obviously, if you own a property that is community property, and it's your homestead, before you can alienate that property, do anything with it, to go through and encumber it, you've got to get the consent of your spouse.

All that fancy mean, all that fancy language basically means is, if you want to do something with the house, legally with title in some form, or fashion, get money or whatever, your spouse has got to sign off on that. And we call that pro forma signing. They're not assuming any legal obligation or anything else. They're just consenting to there.

So a lot of times, you will sometimes see it on the deed, but you will definitely see on the deed of trust to secure assumption. And if you're looking at the, and you should see it on the deed as well. A lot of times won't see it on the note though. So if you think about the three, you got the deed, and you got this deed of trust, which we'll talk about.

And then that note, which is the actual obligation under. You'll see the person that owes the money on that sign it, but you often won't see the spouse find that because they're not taking a legal obligation, but they do have to sign the deeds that are filed on county record showing that they've consented to whatever you're doing.

Voiceover: This episode of the Texas Family Law Insiders podcast is sponsored by the Draper Law Firm, providing family law appellate representation across Texas. For more information, visit or call 469-715-6801.

Holly: So speaking about deeds, I know you had mentioned several different kinds of deeds already in this discussion. But a lot of attorneys especially newer family lawyers may not know the difference between all the different types of deeds and when you want to use which kind. So, first of all, what is the difference between a conveyance document and a deed of trust?

Victor: So a conveyance document, and that's a great, a great distinction. I like how you worded that. A conveyance document is any document that is transferring title from one person to another. I actually, we all think of those as deeds. And that is on there. There's a couple of ones that we use in Texas that are not actually what I consider deeds. But a conveyance document is anything that actually transfers title from one to another.

I would actually me personally, I actually think of orders from probate court and stuff like that as well, because it transfers title, but I don't think in a strict sense they are because that's just a court order. But if you think of a conveyance document, anything that transfers title to another that's filed in the county. With regards to deeds of trust, there's no conveyance on them. And in fact, I would, and I would just, I would never use it as a source document.

What it does, what does happen is it puts a lien on the property and says you have a mortgage. And if you don't pay it, here's the terms where I can come back and get that house or get that piece of property. Not necessarily a house, I guess it could be any property. But it's not conveying anything. And in fact, if you don't have a deed, you don't have anything to encumber.

So even if you signed a deed of trust, but never signed a deed, without ever doing anything more, you've done nothing. So deed of trust really is just evidence and a lien on the property, and then providing the terms in case they need to foreclose and what they need to do on that. So those are the two different broad categories, and of course underneath conveyance, there's lots of individual ones.

Victor: So let's talk about those. What are the different types of conveyance documents? And when would we want to use any particular one?

Victor: For some of us this I may go back to law school 101. But a lot of us that do family law, this is a common all the time. So in Texas, we generally convey property using special warranty deeds. In other jurisdictions, they may use a general warranty deed. They're both conveyance documents, it just is the length of time that the seller is warranting the property. But the point is, it is a conveyance document, it conveys property from one to another.

It actually effectuates that transfer legal interest, a legal title. As we said deed of trust don't do that. The other ones that kind of come up sometimes you may see you'll sometimes hear a deed well I guess, like a gift deed for example. And a gift deed is you think about a normal transaction you have a buyer or seller or somebody transfers money. So in a gift deed you would have somebody that just gives it for their love and affection. Usually between family members. And that's usually where you see gift deeds.

But several others that you kind of hear that are out there. For example, sometimes you'll hear often the term quitclaim, and I'll put in quotes right now quitclaim deed. I do not consider a quitclaim deed at all. Some of my real estate colleagues may disagree with that terminology. But it's really, you'll sometimes hear the same thing called by estoppel, deed by estoppel. They're effectively the same thing. If essentially, you're not really conveying anything.

You're just saying that if I ever had an interest in or if I have an interest in it, I'm not, I'm not making that claim. So you're just basically that estoppel argument. Even if I were to try to make a claim on it. I'm now estoppled because I signed this document. So it's not really a deed in that sense, but it does effect title in the sense that that person is not claiming any title. That gets a little more in a nuance thing.

There are reasons to do that. Most cases, I would always, it would be a rare situation, with a community property home that used a quitclaim deed, because the spouse generally has a legal interest in the property and can make a conveyance. In other words, they can sort of say, I own this property, I need to convey it.

And then though, that's when you need a deed. So let's say you have a situation where they don't, you know, we were talking about the warranties, you know, special warranty deed, the the the seller is saying, I guarantee I own everything in this. The alternative to for example, a quitclaim deed in that situation where you have a spouse would be a deed without warranty.

And that is an actual, so if you think about it, quitclaim and deed without warranty sound very similar in the sense that they both affect title, but the deed actually transfer, says, I own this, and I'm transferring it. Whereas a quitclaim says, I'm not sure if I do. But if I do, I'm not making any claims.

Holly: So if you had done a quitclaim deed, for, you know, thinking that you were going to transfer wife's interest to husband on divorce, or whatever. Deed has been signed, it's been registered with the county clerk, and husband wants to go sell that property. Is the quitclaim deed going to be sufficient for him to do that down the road, or is ex-wife now going to have to cooperate because she didn't do a special warranty deed.

Victor: You're probably going to be fine. I'd say talk to your title attorney. Frankly, at the end of the day, if you have a legal description, you're going to be perfectly fine. I would say in the decree, but if you are using a quitclaim deed, and you did a transaction like that, say five years ago, when it comes up, generally speaking, even your title company is going to look in the whole, at the whole circumstances.

So they're gonna see the divorce. So they're likely to understand that. So you're probably not gonna have a problem. Where you do get a problem is title companies generally will not insure over quitclaim deeds. So in the family law context, you're probably not gonna run into a lot of them. And if you are a lot of problems with that. If you do, I'd probably check another title company, and see if that before I start any legal considerations.

I would just see if I can get another title company. But that's generally where the quitclaim deed is going to give you problems in transactions in the future is the sale of the property. And that's where it would likely come up, I think.

Holly: So what about, talking about deeds of trust. Where are those going to come into play in a divorce?

Victor: So family law is, has, well, I think it's unique, I guess it's so unique to me, because it's first time I've ever heard of it. Well, first time I ever dealt with it directly. As a title attorney, I see them all the time, I just kind of ignored them. But you're talking, I think you may be referring to the deed of trust versus a deed of trust to secure assumption. And so, you know, when I was working as a title attorney, we just, you know, oh, it's a lien on the property.

I didn't really have to pay a lot of attention. I had just started out and I was like, okay, I know it's a lien on the property, I don't have to worry about it. But in the family law context, we do, a lot of times do handle deeds of trust, to secure assumptions. And we have oil coins, and sometimes that come in addition with that, but effectively, what that is, is just like you go to a lender, the lender is gonna take a mortgage out in exchange for you, giving you money.

In the divorce context, your spouse is gonna let you have the house in exchange for that deed of trust to secure assumption. And what that does is effectively say that spouse is guaranteeing that, okay, I'm going to continue paying on the mortgage. While you're, even though you're moving out, I'm gonna continue paying on the mortgage, and go forward with that, and guarantee the other spouse.

Now, if you fail, that allows the spouse to come in with a remedy to go through and foreclose on that lien and evict your ex-spouse out. Where I have seen this come up, and you may have as well is where one spouse has done the deed, but nobody ever did the deed of trust to secure assumption.

And so you have a spouse that's living in there and maybe stops paying on it, and the spouse that moved out who's still on the note, because mind you, obviously the family court doesn't have jurisdiction over that lender. Still on the note, still obligated, can't do anything about the spouse still living in there because they failed to do the deed of trust secure assumption.

Holly: I think it's a mistake some attorneys make to think it's enough to have a deed of trust to secure assumption without also requiring a refinance requirement. Or having a requirement that if it's not refinanced within a short amount of time, you can force the sale. Because just as you mentioned, the lender doesn't care what your divorce decree says, the lender doesn't care about the deed of trust to secure assumption. They want the bills paid.

Victor: Yeah, for them that they don't. In fact, if it's a major lender, you know, they have regulations that how much property, they can keep on books and things like that, as far as real estate owned REO properties and stuff like that. So from a lender, it's not personal, it's a business transaction. And so they're going to collect where they can. And, you know, the divorce is a separate, secondary issue, so.

Holly: So one other topic that we were going to kind of dive into a little bit today is dealing with separate property issues in the context of divorce. Oftentimes will see, you know, somebody owned the house before the marriage or someone has inherited real estate. When we're talking about temporary orders, and while the divorce is pending, what can a court do with that temporary, or that separate property?

Victor: So this is an interesting topic, because I think sometimes as some especially new family law attorneys think, oh, it's separate property, hear that term, the court has no authority over separate property, it's mine, you can go on. That is not the case during dependency of the case. During dependency of the case, for one, you may think it's separate property, it may be very well, everybody's knows a separate property, but a court has not made that determination.

And so from a practical standpoint, it's all property. And so when we're looking at, for example, a temporary orders, the court has the authority to go through and make orders related to the use and possession of the property. And so it is possible for separate property, especially in like a separate property, marital home, courts could issue an order saying one spouse can stay there, etc, and what have you.

That's not necessarily, that's not the same at the end of trial. But during temporary orders that's somewhat I think, is a distinction in the code. It's not really a distinction in the code, but maybe something that's not well thought out, maybe. I don't know.

Holly: Do you think it is wise for attorneys to get into whether or not something is separate property or not at a temporary orders hearing?

Victor: Oh, that's a great question. I guess it would depend on what the separate property we're talking about. I think it's certainly wise to start having that conversation if you haven't. And especially for example, in the same, the same situation, you're talking to where there is a separate property house, let's say, well, let's just assume there's a separate property house.

And the courts making orders related to that. It's really good to have the conversation for one just an economy standpoint. If you, if everybody knows that was an inherited house, and is certainly going to be there, maybe we need to look at some other options for the spouse that doesn't have an interest in that legal property. Because otherwise, you're looking at double moves, you're looking at a lot of extra expenses.

So I understand I'm not I don't live in a fairytale world. I've been doing it for 15 years, I know litigation and family. But having that conversation at first is very important, because it can save you a lot of pain. And then frankly, you also and I agree, whether it's this topic or any of them, you let you know where the other side is, on that.

Whether or not you're gonna have any disputes, or what you need to, if you need to be doing discovery in a certain area or something like that. So I certainly would be having that conversation as soon as possible. And especially if it's a major asset. And one, especially if you think there's gonna be some litigation around it.

Holly: So if you are dealing with a divorce that has that inherited house, that separate property house, some sort of inherited or separate property real estate, what should an attorney be doing to try and prove that separate property real estate?

Victor: So as you know, everything's presumed to be community property if it's acquired after the date of marriage, that entire inception of title doctrine, etc. That hey, if it's acquired day of marriage or after it's community property with the exceptions that are laid out. And we've talked about a couple of those. One being an inheritance, or if it's by gift. So if I'm looking for those things, first thing I'm going to be looking for is hopefully that the date of purchase.

I think that's actually the number one and primary question, obviously is, when was that purchase, when was that asset acquired? And if it was before marriage, we know what we know it automatically. There's really that's the easy one. Where it is a little more complicated, or I would say sometimes a lot more complicated is where you have or, for example, by you have a piece of property and one spouse is contributing money to the mortgage every year for 10 years.

And then you're going to divorce it was purchased before and so you have this dispute over money. And the law is got a conflict or not a conflict but it says you know, the court doesn't have authority to transfer legal title in those issues. So from an evidentiary standpoint, I want to know where the money's coming from. Who's making those payments.

So when the property was acquired, who's making the payments, who's the legal title, are there any agreements, written agreements? Not necessarily, verbal agreements are great. I love hearing about them, but they don't mean much in real estate much. But written agreements that people have written, explaining what they intend, or what have you.

Did they ever, the other thing is did they ever convert it to community property or was a piece of property ever, I'm not using a correct term right now, but was converted to separate property, for example, through an agreement or an agreement that's allowed. So all those questions, those documents are going to be really important. The second thing is just the history and timeline of the parties and assets. I think that's very important.

And then the relationships of the parties is going to be very important as well. Because that relationship can also in effect, what courts will consider the title. We go back to that, if it's a close relationship, it's more likely to be construed as a gift. Whereas if there's no relationship, sometimes that old term that BFP that bonafide purchaser rule will come into play.

Holly: So we're just about out of time. But one of the questions I like to ask everyone who comes on the podcast is, if you could give one piece of advice to young family lawyers, what would it be?

Victor: I would probably go through and encourage to find a mentor. I personally enjoy mentoring, but find somebody a mentor, I would not have excelled in family law if I did not have some wonderful mentors in the Dallas area. There's absolutely they know who they are. And it just wouldn't have happened. All from everything from this very basics.

So a mentor is number one, and there's lots of places to find them. Go to the Dallas Bar Association. And if you're local, or Collin County, the local Bar Associations, get into the Family Law Section. Attend the meetings once you know at least once a quarter and just talk with people, because it's going to be really important.

And then don't be afraid to ask a question. Frankly, and I don't know how many times I sometimes ask opposing counsel questions, assuming that we have a relationship where it makes sense. But don't ever be embarrassed to say I'm not familiar with this area. What's your thought on this process? You're not giving up anything by doing that. You're just humbling yourself to do this.

So that's what I would tell a family law attorney, a new family law attornies, especially. A mentor, and never, it's easy to ask opposing counsel, not familiar with this, explain it to me like I'm a child or whatever. Because I need to know and that's, that gets that there. And that's an easy conversation. I sometimes do that all the time. Even now.

I don't understand your position. Explain it to me, like I don't understand. Or explain to me because I don't understand this area. Usually most people are more than happy. This is why I think, or this is the rule, so. That would be what I would say to new attorneys, for sure.

Holly: So where can our listeners go if they want to learn more about you?

Victor: So our website, our firm, I joined as an associate attorney with Cotten Schmidt. So they are welcome to find me at That's co t t e n, and it's with an e, s c h m i d And of course, welcome to call me directly at my office at 361-502-3031 or whatever anybody may need, but that's how you can get a hold of me. I'm easy to find. Find my name. That goes for most of us I would imagine.

Holly: All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. For our listeners, if you enjoyed this podcast, please take a second to leave us a review and subscribe to enjoy future episodes.

About the Author

James Victor Esh

Victor understands the struggles of families.  It is at the core of how he practices.  When a family must be reshaped, he understands the emotional struggle this causes.  He seeks to resolve conflicts in the most efficient way by reaching agreements where they can be made.  When an agreement can'...

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