Social media isn't always your 'friend' during break-ups

Divorce in the Digital Age

Image courtesy of McCurley Orsinger

Technology has changed the way most of us do business, communicate with friends and family, and conduct our social lives. It’s also changed the face of divorce.

Divorcing couples face two kinds of digital peril: high-tech sleuthing and social media — both of which are now easier than ever to access, use and misuse.

Spy vs. Spy
“Lots of people think that because the technology is available to spy on their husband or wife that they should spy on them,” says Mike McCurley, name partner in the Dallas family law boutique McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing, L.L.P. “Trouble is, many of those little gadgets you can buy online are flat-out illegal to use in the state of Texas.”

​“Bright, educated professionals can become like scorned teenagers during a divorce,” says McCurley Orsinger name partner Keith Nelson.

McCurley notes that not all spying is illegal, but the difference between the permissible use of a monitoring device and an illegal invasion of privacy is a fine line that is being redefined by the courts on a regular basis.

Is it okay to read a spouse’s emails? Can one spouse install a program that records keystrokes on a shared computer? Can you install hidden cameras in the living room? What about the bedroom? What about GPS tracking devices on cars?

In each of those cases, says McCurley Orsinger name partner Keith Nelson, it may be illegal to use those devices, or it may be perfectly legal. It all depends on the particular circumstances.

“That’s why if a client comes to me with information he or she may have obtained in a questionable manner, we confirm that it was legally obtained before we use it as evidence,” he says. “My best recommendation is to talk to your lawyer before you do any high-tech snooping on your spouse.

“The last thing you want is an invasion of privacy lawsuit or, worse, criminal charges at the same time you’re dealing with divorce.”

Think Twice Before That Status Update
Even more common than amateur spies, however, are indiscreet users of social media. Family lawyers have a love-hate relationship with websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They love it when their client’s ex uses poor judgment and drops a smoking gun in their laps, but they hate it when their own clients perform that service for their opponents.

“Bright, educated professionals can become like scorned teenagers during a divorce,” says McCurley Orsinger name partner Scott Downing. “I’ve seen Facebook posts that all but admit to infidelity and Instagram photos of deadbeat dads standing next to piles of cash they just won at the casino.

“Good judgment sometimes goes out the window during divorce.”

Mary Jo McCurley, Mike’s law partner and wife of 30 years, advises divorcing spouses to stop using their social media sites altogether during divorce and to change their privacy settings to disable others from being able to “tag” them at events and in photos.

“Nobody needs a photo of them at a party while they’re fighting for custody of their children,” she says. “It might not make a difference to the judge, but you truly never know. Why risk it?”

The Upside of Technology in Divorce
Technology may offer plenty of downsides to divorcing couples, but as we all know, there can be benefits as well. Skype and FaceTime can help non-custodial parents maintain their ties with their children between visits by making “face-to-face” visits part of their nightly routine. Facebook and other networking sites can also help fractured families stay in touch long after the divorce is final.

But the key is good judgment and discretion, Mike McCurley says.

“Most parents tell their kids not to post anything to social media they don’t want their grandmothers to see,” he says. “I tell my clients not to post anything you don’t want seen by the judge or your ex’s lawyer. They’re much, much scarier than Grandma.”

Image courtesy of McCurley Orsinger

Thinking about divorce? Educate yourself first

Divorce Education

If someone is in the market for a divorce lawyer, chances are they have bigger things on their mind than doing a full background check on the lawyer they’re considering hiring. At McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing, we believe that the best relationships are built on honesty and communication, so in the interest of full disclosure, here are eight things most divorce lawyers won’t tell their clients (but we will):

1. Family law isn’t a hobby.
Lots of lawyers advertise that they handle divorces. And bankruptcies. And write wills. And defend DWIs. And anything else that requires a law degree. If you’re getting a divorce, hire a lawyer who just does divorce. They will be more efficient, proficient and cost-effective.

2. You’re more financially complex than you think you are (so you need a divorce lawyer with money smarts).
These days, just about everybody has investments, a mortgage and some debt. Ensuring that those assets and liabilities are handled equitably requires a lawyer with more than basic math skills. Make sure the lawyer you hire can read a spreadsheet as well as they can argue in court.

3. Life after divorce isn’t always financially rosy.
For many divorcees, divorce means living on less money. That can be difficult, but for many people, it’s an acceptable trade-off. However, a skillful divorce lawyer can help mitigate that by securing an equitable share of the marital assets and so you can start the next chapter of your life in the black.

4. There are no guarantees.
Any lawyer who promises you a particular outcome — whether it’s a particular division of the assets, custody or some other result — is skating on thin ice, ethically and legally. We can do our best to achieve a successful outcome, but just like a doctor can’t promise you’ll be cured, no lawyer can or should promise a particular result.

5. Consider hiring a therapist.
Divorce is unquestionably a tough time for all involved. Although a good lawyer can also be a good sounding board, if you find yourself spending more time with her talking about your feelings than your legal issues, it’s time to enlist the aid of a qualified therapist. Most experienced lawyers can refer you to a good one.

6. There is no such thing as a “discount divorce.”
When we see ads for divorce lawyers who claim to complete a divorce for a ridiculously low sum of money, we just shake our heads and sigh. Either the lawyer is doing a bait and switch or is doing poor work. Even a relatively simple divorce needs to be handled with care. That doesn’t have to break the bank, but it’s definitely going to cost more than a week’s worth of groceries.

7. Beware the “franchise office” approach to family law.
Some big-name law firms claim to have an array of offices in the DFW area, giving clients the illusion that they have top-drawer family lawyers as close as their neighborhood coffee house. Unfortunately, those offices are only minimally staffed, and their clients miss out on the teamwork and collaboration that clients in the “home office” get. The collective expertise of seasoned family lawyers is an invaluable asset that shouldn’t be underestimated.

8. Not every divorce requires a lawyer.
It’s true. Where there are no conflicts, no children, no shared assets or debts, and no issues of continuing financial support, it’s feasible that a divorcing couple could handle their case on their own. Granted, that’s an exceedingly rare scenario, but if that describes your situation, you may not need to hire a lawyer.

If you’re about to hire a divorce lawyer, take the time to interview him or her and make sure you’re hiring someone who has both your best interests at heart and the skills to handle your case exceptionally well. Your lawyer is going to be your advocate during a difficult time, so it’s not a choice to be taken lightly.


For more information about the experienced attorneys at McCurley Orsinger, visit the firm’s website.

Image courtesy of McCurley Orsinger

What's unique about divorce in Dallas?

Dallas Divorce Advice

Divorce among the rich and famous, contentious custody fights between high-profile parents, palimony disputes involving same-sex couples, even international custody cases — we’ve all read the headlines and followed the stories. For more than 40 years, the lawyers of Dallas’ McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing have handled a wide array of trailblazing family law cases in Dallas and across the country.

Famously protective of their clients’ privacy, attorneys Mike McCurley and Scott Downing discreetly shared with us some of their insights on divorce in Big D.

“Dallas is still a land of opportunity”

The system is better here. “We have some of the best divorce judges in the country, and I practice divorce law all over the United States,” says McCurley. “Unlike most cities, Dallas has specialized family law courts, which makes all the difference in the world in the quality, education and knowledge of a judge.”

Downing agrees. “Dallas judges are used to dealing with divorce every day of the week,” he says. “In most other cities, the last thing a judge wants to deal with is divorce. The Dallas family law judges typically come from a family law background and have a lot of experience in these cases. As a lawyer, a lot of what you advise your client depends on what court you’re in, so it’s important to choose an attorney who knows these judges’ likes and dislikes.”

Dallas’ can-do spirit also makes a difference, McCurley says. “Dallas is still a land of opportunity, which includes economic opportunity, the availability of therapeutic care for children and the opportunity for remarriage. So there’s a sense of optimism in Dallas, even when facing something like divorce.”

What really matters?

Putting children first: “The one thing that Dallas lawyers come together on is making sure that children are taken care of,” McCurley says. “That is also demanded by our judiciary. Over the years, it has evolved into an atmosphere where actions harmful to children are not only inappropriate, but they are also unacceptable.”

It’s not about revenge: “Divorce is absolutely as nasty and contentious as you see on TV, sometimes even worse,” Downing says. “I’ve had wives fighting over sports memorabilia because they know it means a lot to their husbands, and I’ve had husbands argue that a piece of jewelry he bought for his wife was really an investment, not a gift. But you have to pick your battles. It doesn’t make sense to spend $30,000 fighting over a $5,000 asset.”

Are all divorce lawyers the same?

Choose your lawyer wisely. “If you hire a lawyer who only practices one of the methods of divorce — be it collaborative law, mediation, arbitration or traditional divorce — they’re going to fit your case into that method, whether it should be or not,” McCurley says. “That’s not to say that any of those methods are bad. They’re not. They can be very useful.

“But divorce is a serious situation. It impacts your children for the rest of their lives. Not necessarily negatively, but have no doubt, it impacts them. Economically, it is the single biggest financial transaction most people ever make. If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s pick your lawyer carefully. Don’t hire an assembly-line lawyer.”


For more information about the experienced attorneys at McCurley Orsinger, visit the firm’s website.

Image courtesy of McCurley Orsinger

Well-known Dallas divorce lawyers dispel myths about gender, power and custody

Family Law Facts

Dallas has a style all its own, and Dallas divorce is no different. Our city’s family law courts are some of the finest in the nation, but there nevertheless remain some myths and misconceptions about Dallas divorce.

We polled the family law attorneys at McCurley Orsinger McCurley Nelson & Downing, L.L.P., to see what they think are some of the more persistent misconceptions about Dallas divorce. Here’s what they said:

1. Women are not treated fairly.
“It’s 2014. Thankfully we don’t see that anymore.”

2. Only the high wage earner is going to have justice.
“In our experience, the courts go to great lengths to be fair to both parties, regardless of earnings history — or capacity.”

3. Having political power affects justice.
“Political prominence or economic power is not going to get you anything.”

4. There’s a quick fix.
“Each case needs to be considered and a specific strategy developed.”

5. Fathers can’t get custody.
“Not true. Men who want custody now have an equal chance of getting it.”

6. A demanding career means you won’t get custody.
“The courts have long been accustomed to parents with hard-charging jobs and recognize that it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t also great parents.”

7. All divorce lawyers are the same.
“They’re not — not by a long shot.”

Every McCurley Orsinger partner is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, which means they must comply with a higher standard of continuing education and specialization than non-board certified attorneys.

For more information about the experienced attorneys at McCurley Orsinger, visit the firm’s website.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Here's the 411 on how to take DART to the State Fair of Texas


The countdown is on to the State Fair of Texas, taking place September 29-October 22, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is here with transportation tips.

You can take DART and enjoy an air-conditioned ide without having to find parking or battling traffic and get dropped off at one of two gates on the fairgrounds.

Green Line
To get to the Fair, ride DART’s Green Line to Fair Park Station, located on Parry Avenue at the entrance to the fairgrounds, or to MLK, Jr. Station, located south of R.B. Cullum Boulevard and convenient to the Gate 6 entrance and the Cotton Bowl Stadium.

To get to the Green Line:

  • Southbound Red, Blue, and Orange Line passengers – transfer to the Green Line at Pearl/Arts District Station.
  • Northbound Red and Blue Line passengers – transfer to the Green Line at Akard Station.
  • Eastbound Orange Line passengers – transfer to the Green Line at Bachman Station.

Extra Green Line trains will run between Victory Station and Lawnview Station Monday-Friday 9 am-3 pm, and Saturday-Sunday from 9 am-6 pm. During those hours, trains on that portion of the Green Line will run approximately every 10 minutes.

Every day during the fair’s 24-day run, all Orange Line trains will offer extended service to Parker Road Station.

All rail lines will operate on a 20-minute frequency until 10 pm daily.

Customers using the Denton County Transportation Authority should check DCTA.net for departure and arrival times to connect at Trinity Mills Station to DART's Green Line.

Trinity Railway Express (TRE)
Trinity Railway Express (TRE) will operate on all four Sundays during the fair on a Saturday schedule.

TRE passengers can transfer to the Green Line at Victory Station. Look for trains saying, "Fair Park," "Buckner," or "Lawnview." Details are at TrinityRailwayExpress.org/StateFair.

DART tickets
A Local Day Pass is $6, and is good for DART Rail, local buses, and riding the TRE between DFW Airport/CentrePort Station and EBJ/Union Station. Tarrant and Denton County customers need a Regional Day Pass for $12. Details are available at DART.org/StateFair or by calling DART Customer Service at 214-979-1111.

Contactless payments
DART offers four contactless options for fast, safe, and convenient purchase of tickets.

1. GoPass app: Download the latest version of the app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Just be sure to activate your DART pass before you board.

2. GoPass Tap card: Available at hundreds of participating retailers, GoPass Tap is the reloadable transit card that automatically gives you the best fare every time you ride. Simply tap your card to a reader on a DART rail platform or bus prior to boarding, and your fare is deducted automatically. (Note: GoPass Tap cards are valid for local fares only. GoPass Tap cards are not valid for travel on TEXRail, DCTA, or Trinity Metro.)

3. Credit or debit card: Buy your DART pass with any contactless credit or debit card. Just tap your contactless card to a reader on a DART rail platform or bus prior to boarding.

4. Mobile device: Using your preferred mobile payment app – such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay – tap your mobile device to a reader on a DART rail platform or bus to buy your pass.

Save on fair admission with DART GoPass
Use the promo code provided in the DART GoPass app to receive $5 off fair admission Monday-Friday, or $7 on Saturdays and Sundays. Enter the code 23DART when purchasing your fair admission on the State Fair of Texas website.

Service changes
Fair days are always busy days on DART rail and buses. Please visit DART.org/statefair to view the special DART Rail schedules.

DART Alerts
DART makes it easier to keep up with transit information with My DART Updates. Register to receive important updates that make for a better riding experience. Subscribe at DART.org/email.

Two football games
Ride DART to the State Fair Classic between the Grambling State Tigers and Prairie View A&M Panthers on September 30. The Allstate Red River Rivalry game between The University of Texas Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma Sooners is on October 7.

The 8 can't-miss galas and parties of fall for Dallas young professionals

Not your grandma's galas

Dallas young professionals will be working hard and playing hard for their favorite causes this fall. Organizations all over the city - from arts groups and museums to health-focused charities - are working hard to cultivate a new generation of big-hearted patrons and philanthropists. And they're doing so with epic parties and high-octane, black-tie balls. Here are the eight must-attend events of the season for Dallas YPs. For a longer list of Dallas galas this fall, go here.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala After-Party, September 30
If the full $1,250 DSO gala evening is a stretch, there’s a popular option for young professionals that includes just the concert and after-party. This year's Gala Concert stars maestro Fabio Luisi and the DSO with pianist Emanuel Ax playing Chopin and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard singing selections from the opera Carmen. Afterwards, a “Midnight in Paris”-themed party will rev up in the Meyerson lobby, with live music by Q The Band. Guests can expect cocktails and bites while dancing the night away; tickets to the concert and after-party start at $140. Find out more about the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Young Professionals group on their Facebook page.

Dallas Opera Crescendo Opening Night Celebration, October 13
The Dallas Opera’s Crescendo networking and social group helps to make opera fun and relevant for a whole new generation of patrons (ages 21-45). Members can enjoy pre-show mixers before performances, and get significant discounts to each show. This fall, members also will receive a special invitation to an Opening Night Celebration to welcome Dallas Opera’s 2023-24 season. Crescendo Memberships are $60 for an individual and $120 for two, available here.

African American Museum, Dallas' Disco Gala, October 21
The African American Museum's Young Professionals Council just relaunched, and now it's time for YPs to get their groove on with museum patrons at the Disco Gala and Auction. The 35th annual gala celebrates the museum's 30th anniversary since opening in its building in Fair Park and supports its many programs and exhibitions. The gala will take place at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel and will include a reception, seated dinner, awards, and dancing the night away to The Dennis Edwards Temptation Revue. Attire is cocktail - or "divine disco." Tickets, $200, are available here.

AT&T Performing Arts Center Turn Up the Lights, October 21
The AT&T Performing Arts Center Auxiliary Board hosts its fourth annual Turn Up The Lights fundraiser, meant to be an exclusive event for Dallas' new wave of arts patrons, ages 25-49, invested in supporting the Center's mission as a cultural hub. An alternative to the Center's higher-priced Bravo! Gala in November, this ticket starts at just $50 and promises an evening filled with live music, dance, food, and drinks. The multi-level event will unfold across different levels of the Wyly Theatre, starting outdoors on the Brierley Esplanade. Performances will be given by Clover the Violinist, DJ Endolena, Dr. Gorilla, Aurora Bleu, and The Manhattan Band. The night will include food, raffles, and a speakeasy presented by Wild Turkey. Tickets to the 21+ event are here.

BubblyQ, October 26
Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the Young Texans Against Cancer's champagne-infused fundraiser at Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton remains one of the most popular fall fundraisers on the Dallas YP scene. In addition to bites from top local restaurants selected by chef Dean Fearing (Eataly, El Carlos Elegante, Monarch, Meridian, Salum, and more) there’ll be cocktails by Parliament, an epic silent auction, beats by Jaxon Taylor, and a rockin’ after-party. All proceeds support local cancer initiatives. Tickets are $200 or $50 just for the after-party, available here.

Dallas Autumn Ball, November 3
Hard to believe this high-energy, black-tie dance party is 10 years old. Established in 2013, the be-seen gala of fall welcomes young professionals to Hotel ZaZa for a fun night benefiting local education-focused nonprofits. The special 10th anniversary edition will include a VIP pre-event dinner and exclusive glam portraits, dancing to the Ice House Band, a casino room, and more. This year’s proceeds benefit Philanthropy Kids. Tickets are $175 or $250 for VIP, available here.

Junior League Auction Party, November 4
Themed “Leagueapalooza,” this year’s Junior League of Dallas party heads to House of Blues for a night of silent auctions, live music, dancing, food and drinks, and more surprises - all in a festival atmosphere. (Be sure to wear your best "music festival chic.") Auction Party benefits the Junior League of Dallas Community Service Fund. Tickets are $125 or $250 for the full VIP experience, which starts an hour early; available here.

Millennial Gala, November 11
The 2023 Dallas Millennial Gala moves to an exciting new location: the new JW Marriott Hotel in the Dallas Arts District. The black-tie ball that touts itself as a “celebratory charity event for changemakers that support STEM education, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship for underserved students” will recognize and celebrate eight changemakers in business and philanthropy. Theme: “The Art of Change.” Attendees can expect drinks and bites, dancing to live music and DJ, a fashion show, and much more. Proceeds will benefit Big Thought and Junior Achievement; tickets ($50-$160 for earlybird through October 1) are here.

Dallas Millennial Gala
Photo courtesy of Millennial Clubs

Dallas Millennial Gala moves to an exciting new location this year.

New H-E-B stores in DFW top this week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.

1. H-E-B continues Dallas expansion with 3 new supermarkets in the suburbs. Texas supermarket chain H-E-B continues its Dallas-Fort Worth expansion, with three new stores in the works. The retailer is opening stores in Melissa, Prosper, and Rockwall. This comes just as the chain opens a new store in Allen.

2. Country's largest hot springs pool complex coming to Grandscape in The Colony. The newest attraction headed to Grandscape in The Colony is a wellness spa-amusement park: WorldSprings, a nine-acre outdoor mineral springs experience, will debut in spring 2024.

3. Award-winning Mexican restaurant hits the jackpot at new location in Denton. A DFW restaurant that's earned national acclaim has opened in Denton: El Rincón del Maiz, previously of Garland, is now located at 1431 E. McKinney St. in Denton where it's winning over locals with its Tex-Mex classics and vegan dishes.

4. New burger joint in McKinney with chef toppers and full bar is a sizzler. McKinney has a new burger joint that is already lighting up the Collin County foodie scene. Called Loyo Burger, it's part of the Local Yocal empire, and is newly opened in downtown McKinney at 216 W. Virginia St. #102.

5. Pickleball-restaurant with chef-level food paddles into Farmers Branch. A new pickleball concept is paddling into Farmers Branch: Called At Fault, it's a pickleball-restaurant facility, opening its first DFW location at 2330 Jett St., in spring 2024.