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Knowledgeable and reasonable advocacy for your family law matter

Welcome to the Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC

At the Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC, we advocate strongly for our clients by taking a reasonable approach in resolving a variety of family law-related matters, such as divorce, child custody, child support, protective orders, and situations in which Child Protective Services is involved with your family. The focus is always advocating our client’s position, while trying to reach agreements whenever possible. This is accomplished by maintaining a reasonable position, thoroughly investigating and researching relevant facts and legal standards, and utilizing the mediation process and/or the Collaborative Law process to reach final agreements. Unfortunately sometimes agreements simply cannot be reached. In these circumstances, the Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC, offers knowledgeable and skilled courtroom advocacy to resolve your disputed issues.

The Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC also offers Limited Scope Representation (LSR) to its clients. While it is always advisable to have legal representation during the pendency of your family law matter, sometimes it is simply cost-prohibited. Additionally, certain matters and case objectives do not require an attorney from start to finish. We are committed to working with clients to help provide them with legal representation that they need and can feasibly afford.

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Melissa A. CookAttorney at Law

In 2012, after several years in the public interest sector, Melissa A. Cook ventured into private family law practice and recently formed the Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC. As a former mental health provider, Melissa developed clinical skills in complex family dynamics, mental illness, substance abuse, along with abuse and neglect issues. Melissa’s expertise in these areas prove invaluable to the clients she represents in family law matters. Regarded as efficient, competent, and well-organized by colleagues and peers, Melissa’s clients are put at ease with her by their side as they embark on their family law matter.

FAQs

Collaborative Law is a process in which the parties contractually agree that they will not go to court. While this may at first sound limiting, the actual result is that the parties and the lawyers are not tempted to threaten to “go to court if you don’t do what I want,” and they draw on all their creativity to develop their common interests, goals and options. The fundamental basis for collaborative law is “interest-based negotiation” vs. “position-based negotiation,” which is the basis of the litigation system. Collaborative law is private. You will not have to air your "dirty laundry" in a courtroom. The Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC, is trained in Collaborative Law and can discuss this process with you to determine if your family law matter can proceed in this manner. For more information on the Collaborative Law process, visit: www.collablawtexas.com.

Mediation is a confidential process used to resolve conflicts in an amicable manner. An impartial mediator, typically a lawyer, directs the process and facilitates the communication between the parties in an effort to explore solutions and obtain a mutually satisfactory agreement. Agreements reached in mediation are memorialized in a Mediated Settlement Agreement, which is filed with the court and is irrevocable. Mediation can be an invaluable tool in settling your family law matter.

Limited Scope Representation (LSR) is the concept of providing only specified legal services to a client, rather than handling all aspects of a client’s case. This form of legal practice is also referred to as “unbundled legal services” or “unbundling.” For example, in a divorce case, an attorney might agree only to draft documents, or to act only as a consultant, leaving the client responsible for all other aspects of the case. LSR is practiced by attorneys across the country and used in a variety of practice areas. It is one solution to the growing number of pro se litigants. Clients who cannot afford full representation may be able to afford specific services.

“Joint Custody” is a term commonly used by parents; however, the legal term in Texas is called Conservatorship. It is presumed to be in children’s best interest for their parents to be named Joint Managing Conservators, which determines what rights and duties will be assigned to the parents and how decisions for the children will be made. Separate from Conservatorship, issues of visitation (possession and access) also needs to be addressed in a final order. Joint Managing Conservatorship does not necessarily mean the children will spend equal time with each parent, although it can. Visitation (possession and access) is separate and apart from Conservatorship, as well as, Child Support. Contact the Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, PLLC to get more information on the best solution for you and your children.

If both names are on the mortgage or other bills, you both continue to be responsible for the debt, regardless of who is actually living in the house. Unless the mortgage holder agrees to remove your name, you will not be able to remove your name from the mortgage. In that event, one option is to sell the house and pay off the mortgage.

Practice Areas

Child Support

Texas has set guidelines for determining the amount of child support that should be paid. Several factors are used to calculate the exact amount to be paid, such as:

  • The income of the parties
  • Work-related child care costs
  • Health insurance costs
  • Pre-existing child support obligations

The court may also consider other factors in setting child support such as unusual needs of the child, or the ability of the parent to pay more or less. Whether you are seeking child support or are required to pay it, your case can benefit from the advice and counsel of a skilled lawyer.

Child Custody

There are different arrangements that can be made for your children if you are going through a child custody case or attempting to negotiate a custody/visitation or parenting time agreement. An agreement between the parents regarding custody can result in a less time-consuming and costly case. All concerns can be voiced and an agreement may be reached through this process.

Visitation guidelines can be established to the satisfaction of both parents. In the event that no agreement can be reached, a judge will make the final decision for you. As can be expected, the best interests of the child are the main concern in any custody case. An experienced and professional divorce attorney may make the difference between success and failure in your case.

Divorce

A divorce can be one of the most difficult and life-changing experiences of your life. Even the most amicable situations can result in unexpected conflicts with regard to property and matters pertaining to your children. During a divorce, it is always in your best interests to seek guidance and counsel from a skilled divorce lawyer.

The Law Office of Melissa A. Cook provides experienced legal representation to those seeking a divorce. In my legal practice, I am ready and able to assist with even the most complex cases. I can help with all matters pertaining to your divorce, whether contested or uncontested. This includes the following:

  • Property division
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Military divorce

Uncontested Divorce

The court encourages spouses seeking a divorce to work out their own agreements regarding asset distribution and other matters pertaining to the marriage. This is called an uncontested divorce and usually requires the assistance of a skilled divorce attorney with considerable experience in divorce cases. Once an agreement is worked out, it is signed by both spouses and submitted to the court for approval and inclusion in the final settlement.

Marital property is considered any assets acquired during the marriage, unless a spouse can prove otherwise. Under Texas law marital property is divided equitably. Property division even in an uncontested divorce can become extremely complex if a lot of assets are involved, or there is disagreement over items classified as marital or separate property. A competent and thorough attorney can ensure nothing is overlooked and the assets are distributed fairly.

Child Protective Services

In Texas, Child Protective Services (CPS) may be informed regarding concerns about the welfare of a child. This can include reports of child abuse or neglect, domestic abuse, a parent's drug addiction or other legal matters. If you are involved in a CPS investigation, it is in your best interests to have a strong lawyer on your side. The Law Office of Melissa A. Cook, based in Austin, provides strong representation to clients throughout the state for a wide range of family law concerns.

Domestic Partnerships

Although same-sex marriage is not legal in Texas, many legal situations can arise between same-sex couples that need resolution. In these circumstances, it is important to have representation from an experienced lawyer who is sensitive to your legal needs.