FAQ

Real Estate

Traffic tickets/warrants

Personal Injury

Family Law

Estate Planning

Civil Law


Real Estate

  1. How does one proceed with evicting a tenant?

In order to evict a tenant, a landlord must file what is known as a forcible detainer suit. The landlord must first give notice to the tenant to vacate the premises.

  1. What is the proper way to deliver the notice to vacate?

Delivery can be my mail, in person to anyone who is at least 16 years of age at the premises, or by attaching the notice to vacate to the inside of the main entry door.  One of these methods must be followed completely, if not the court can dismiss your forcible detainer suit for improper service.

  1. What should I do next, once I have given the required notice to vacate?

The next step is to file a sworn complaint which should detail, the reason for the eviction and the way notice was given. The written Sworn Complaint must be brought in the name of the landlord.

  1. When can I get a default judgment?

If a tenant fails to file an answer within the required time after service, you as the landlord may request a default judgment. It is the landlord’s responsibility to call the court and schedule a time for the default hearing.  However, if the defendant files an answer to the petition, then the forcible detainer action is considered a contested hearing. The burden will be on the landlord to prove his or her claim to the court.

  1. What are reasons that a tenant can be evicted?

In Texas, most landlords evict tenants for failure to pay rent, for holding over, or for violating a portion of the lease agreement.

  1. Can my landlord change the locks?

A landlord cannot intentionally prevent you from entering the premises unless ordered by the judicial process.  If the landlord changes the locks the landlord must place a written notice on the tenant’s front door. It must state that there is an onsite location  or telephone number where the tenant may obtain the new key delivered within 2 hours after calling. The landlord must provide the new key to the tenant at any hour regardless of whether the tenant pays any of the delinquent rent.

  1. What are my remedies as a  tenant if the landlord does lock me out?

Only if the landlord does not bring the key or refuses to deliver the key, the tenant may either recover possession of the premises or terminate the lease; and recover from the landlord a civil penalty of one month’s rent.  Other actual damages can also be recovered.  To see what other damages you may be entitled to recover, call our office for your free 15-minute consultation.

  1. My landlord has turned off my utilities, what can I do?

A landlord may not interrupt or cause an interruption of the utility unless the interruption results from bon fide repairs, construction, or emergency. If the landlord does cause an interruption, the tenant may recover possession of the premises or terminate the lease and recover from the landlord the tenant’s actual damages plus one month rent.

Traffic tickets/warrants

  1. How long do I have to respond to a traffic ticket?

Many traffic citations have that a defendant must respond either within 20 or 21 days after receiving the traffic citation. One must either mail in or appear at the court before the 20 or 21st day after

  1. What is a capias warrant?

A capias warrant is a warrant that is usually issued after you have entered a plea, and requested a form of disposition which can include defensive driving,  or entering a payment plan but you did not follow through on the agreement.

  1. What is an alias warrant?

An alias warrant is issued in a case where one simply fails to appear for the court date or you do not respond to your citation within the set period provided for you.  An attorney can help you lift an alias warrant.  To see what our office can do for your alias warrant, call our office for your free 15-minute consultation.

  1. Why must I place a bond?

After the date for appearance has passes, one may issue a warrant for arrest. If the warrant for arrest is issued, a bond must be placed in order to lift the alias warrant. If it is a capias warrant, the only option is to pay the full bond amount to have the case resolved.

  1. If I pay an attorney to handle my traffic tickets, what will they do?

As an attorney, we can speak with the Prosecutor to try and resolve your case without trial. In particular, an attorney can get the alias warrant lifted; have a court date set to resolve your ticket, and bargain with the Prosecutor to reach a more favorable agreement for you.

Personal Injury

  1. Is there a fee for my case?

No.  We will represent you on a contingency basis. This takes the worry out of paying up front. We recover a percentage once  you recover. Therefore, you do not owe anything unless we win your case.

  1. What do I owe if you do not win my case?

Nothing. In the event that you do not receive a recovery in your case, the attorney’s time and costs the firm incurred are waived.

  1. Will my case have to be filed in court?

No, not necessarily, most personal injury cases are resolved prior to filing a lawsuit or even going to court.

  1. How long will it take to resolve my case?

Every personal injury case is unique. This means that the length will depend on different variables, which could include:

  1. length of time to complete medical treatment;
  2. how complex the injuries you received;
  3. the defendants insurance company, policy limits; and
  4. whether your case can be resolved through settlement and prior to trial.
  1. Is the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan right to handle my personal injury suit?

The Law Office of La’Donna Harlan prides itself on customer service; this means our whole goal is to service the client. When you call the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan you will speak with your attorney and not a voice recording. Second, the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan is a small service law firm that aggressively pursues the big firm results for its clients. The Law Office of La’Donna Harlan takes a personal interest in each and every case that walks through our office. If your goal is to hire an attorney that will give your case the undivided attention and commitment that it deserves, then please contact the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan for a free 15-minute phone consultation at (972) 293-8888.  Remember there are no fees unless we win your case.

Family Law

  1. What is the process of filing for divorce?

In order to obtain a divorce in Texas, one must first file an Original Petition of Divorce. The spouse must be then served with the Original Petition of Divorce. Once the Original Petition of Divorce is filed, there is a minimum of 60-day waiting period. These are the beginning steps to every divorce. To find out the next steps in a more detailed divorce, give The Law Office of La’Donna Harlan a call for a free 15- minute consultation.

  1. My husband and I have been separated for 15 years, but I have accumulated a house and car since then, can my husband take my car if we are divorced?

In Texas there are two types of property in a divorce. The first type of property is separate property. Separate property consist of any property that was acquired during the marriage, property that was acquired by gift devise or descent,  property acquired after divorce, or property acquired during the marriage using separate funds (tracing must occur).  Community property is any property that was acquired during the marriage, whether acquired just in one-person name or after being separated for fifteen years.  This means that yes even after being separated for 15 years, it would be considered community property and therefore could be subject to a just and right division during a dissolution of marriage. Call the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan to receive a free 15- minute consultation!

  1. How does the court decide to divide property amongst spouses who are divorcing?

Texas Courts use what is known as a just and right method in order to divide property amongst spouses who are dissolving their marriage. This does not mean that everything will be split down the middle. There are many factors that a court can take into consideration when making a just and right determination

  1. I am not sure if I want to get a divorce, how do I obtain a legal separation?

In Texas, legal separation is not an option that is provided by the Court. Texas does not recognize legal separations and does not make any provisions regarding legal separation. However, Texas will recognize an agreement between spouses concerning the division of property, debt, and payment of spousal support while a suit for dissolution of marriage is pending.

  1. I was served with an Original Divorce Petition, now what?

The next step after being served is to file an answer with the court.  Failure to file an answer within the required time could lead to a default judgment being granted against you and your spouse getting everything.  Contact The Law Office of La’Donna Harlan as soon as you are served, for a free 15- minute consultation as to your rights!

Estate Planning

  1. If I am not rich, how can estate planning help me?

Being wealthy has nothing to do with whether or not one should plan for when that time comes. Estate planning can help get your wishes across to not only the Court but also to your relatives. Estate planning can limit the rift between good family members when this time of bereavement comes.

  1. What is the “big deal” if I die without a will?

The significance of dying without a will in Texas means that Texas state laws of descent and distribution will determine who receives your property. Your wishes will not be taken into account. The Will allows the Decedent to alter the above Laws of Descent and Distribution to the Decedent’s preferences.

  1. What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a document that allows one to grant legal rights to another person at the direction of what is known as the principle. A principle is the person granting the rights and the person that is granted the rights is known as an attorney in fact. There are two types of Power of Attorney. The first is a healthcare power of attorney. This only allows the attorney- in- fact to make medical decisions on your behalf. The healthcare power of attorney can be limited in scope and duration by only being effective upon incapacitation. As for a Durable Power of Attorney, this is the second type of Power of Attorney.  This power of attorney is broader in scope and can grant the attorney- in- fact to handle a myriad of rights.  One can make the powers granted by the Power of Attorney as broad or as narrow as one wants.  Please call the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan for a free 15-minute consultation to discuss in more detail the benefits of granting a Power of Attorney.

  1. When should one update their estate planning documents?

One should update their estate planning documents when a significant life event is triggered. Some of these significant life events could include: Marriage, Adopting a Child, Birth of a Child, Death of Spouse, Divorce, If assets should change, etc. Call the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan for a free 15-minute consultation to discuss in more detail the importance of updating your estate planning documents.

  1. I’m concerned that my family will contest my will. What if anything can I do to prevent this from occurring?

Many families face challenges in times of bereavement. Sometimes these challenges can cause a rift to tear amongst family members. However, there are several things that one can do to limit this tear which include having a properly executed will or even having a conversation with your family members to inform them of your decisions while you are still living.

If you need some assistance with estate planning or you have any questions that were not answered above, contact The Law Office of La’Donna Harlan, an experienced legal team, for a free 15- minute consultation.

Civil Law

  1. How long does a civil suit take?

A civil suit is not a quick process. The length of time of a civil suit depends on a case by case basis. At the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan we take the time to carefully prepare each case and to investigate the essential facts in order to win your case. However, we will handle the case as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  1. How do I know if I can file a civil suit?

One of the best ways to determine if you have a problem that can be solved by a civil suit is to contact an attorney. To determine if you should file a civil suit give the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan a ring for a free 15- minute consultation to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced Attorney!

  1. What will a civil suit cost me?

When filing a civil law suit the price will vary because it will depend on the specific facts of your case, since not all civil suits are the exact same. Some cases are taken on a contingency basis. Contingency basis means that the attorney won’t collect any fees unless they win your case. Other civil cases may be based on the attorney’s hourly rate.

  1. Is a civil suit the only method I have for settling my dispute?

No, there are other methods that may be utilized to aid in settling your dispute. Some of the methods may include mediation, informal settlement agreements, or arbitration. To find out what method is best for your dispute, call the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan for a free 15- minute consultation.

  1. What kind of civil law cases does the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan handle?

Some of the civil case that our office handles include breach of contract disputes, child custody disputes, property damage, personal injury, tort claims. To find a great attorney to handle your case, give the Law Office of La’Donna Harlan  a call for a free 15- minute consultation!