About Teresa J. Waldrop
While not a native Houstonian, I got here just as soon as I could. I moved to Houston from San Antonio in January 1996. San Antonio is home, inasmuch as it is where I went to middle school, high school and law school.
I am a 1987 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where I received a degree in Political Science. I received my Juris Doctrate in 1991 from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio. While in law school I had the unique experience of being selected by Justice Oscar Mauzy to serve as his law student intern for a semester at the Texas Supreme Court. As a result, I spent my final law school semester living in Austin, and attending classes at the University of Texas School of Law.
Upon graduation and passing the bar, I went to work as an associate with a San Antonio general plaintiffs-oriented civil litigation firm, where I remained for 4 years. In 1996, I went to work as an associate in a Houston law firm handling both civil litigation and complex divorce cases. I ended the civil litigation part of my career as an associate with a Houston defense-oriented civil litigation firm at the close of 2000, to focus on divorce litigation.
Looking back after all these years, I can say, without a doubt, my decision to open my own shop to focus on divorce litigation, the practice of family law, and my clients, was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
When I passed the Texas bar exam in 1991, I swore I would never take another test. After years of resisting, and despite 18 years of litigation experience under my belt, in October 2009, I succumbed, sat for and passed the family law board certification examination in Austin.
Outside the office, I enjoy several book clubs, a weekly Looking at Art class I’ve taken since 2001, patio gardening, and raising Mary Catherine, the American pit bull mix I adopted from the BARC animal shelter.
Why I Do What I Do
When I tell people I’m a divorce lawyer, the usual response I get is something like “I could never do what you do”, “how can you do that?”, “people fighting over pots and pans would drive me nuts”. Sometimes that latter response does hit close to home, but by and large, I love my job. I love what I do. Yes, I’m really saying this: I love being a divorce lawyer!
Here’s why. In my prior legal life, I practiced civil litigation, first plaintiffs-oriented and then defense-oriented. I enjoyed that too. The close to ten year law firm experience was my foundation. It taught me the nuts and bolts of how to practice law. It forced me to learn and work with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and the Texas Rules of Evidence. And, I got really good at it. The frequent-flyer miles and elite travel status earned from traveling around the country taking depositions wasn’t bad either, and sometimes it was a lot of fun. Like the time I was upgraded to first class and the law firm partner I did all the traveling for had to sit in coach, or the time I finished heated depositions and went whale-watching with opposing counsel. But, those cases, the catastrophic injury cases, at the end of my civil litigation career, went on for years, and years, and then some.
My divorce cases are done in 8-12 months. While some divorce cases do take longer (contested child custody cases or jury trials, for example), for the most part, I get the satisfaction of starting a case and seeing it through to completion in a short period of time. That’s relatively speaking, of course. I find the satisfaction of helping my client navigate to the other side of the morass very rewarding. Another reason I like the work is because I get to satisfy my need to practice on both sides of the docket. By that I mean, sometimes I represent what in civil litigation would be the equivalent of a Plaintiff, and other times the Defendant. The parties are called Petitioner and Respondent in Texas divorce cases.
Lastly, I like what I do because it permits me to practice before some of the most powerful courts in the nation. These are courts that have the right to take your children away, or significantly restrict visitation. They award custody of children. They can grant or deny a desired adoption. These are courts that impact parties’ livelihoods by awarding or denying child and spousal support. These are courts that divide your property, and in Texas, can determine its characterization to be separate or community.
- Supreme Court of Texas
- U.S. District Court, Eastern and Western Districts of Texas
- American Bar Association, Member
- American Bar Foundation, Fellow
- The Burta Rhoads Raborn Family Law American Inn of Court, Barrister
- Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow
- State Bar of Texas, Member
- Houston Bar Association Member
- Association of Women Attorneys, Past President
- Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Texas and Houston Bar Association