Best Judge When Your Cheap Divorce Gets Expensive

Judge Dennise Garcia

Some divorces just ain't gonna be settled easily. The husband is controlling, the wife too angry. One spouse wants out, and the other spouse says, "Not so fast." For these folks there is only one option—a full court press with all the high-priced legal fees and court costs that go with it. Ouch! Some of that big ticket-lick can be mitigated if the parties are fortunate enough to appear before Family Court Judge Dennise Garcia of the 303rd District Court. Judge Garcia has a gift for controlling confrontational lawyers, warring parties and emotional witnesses without being abusive or condescending. Although she was one of the first Democrats to break the Republican stranglehold on the courthouse, she is anything but partisan from the bench. She understands the economics of divorce cases, while sorting through the emotional merde that often envelopes many family law situations. There are seven Dallas County Family Court judges, some better than others, and cases get assigned on a random basis. So if you get crosswise with your soon-to-be ex, keep your fingers crossed for landing before Judge Garcia.

So you think it's crazy to hire a guide to show you how to go old-fashioned jug fishing for catfish? Who are you kidding? Take it from us—you need a scout for this sort of outing. The first time anyway. These guys do guided jug fishing—an old-timey method of setting out lots of hooks—on lakes all over the area. They even make their own juglines and stink bait. Forget about reaching them by telephone, however. Drop in and visit or click on jugfishing.net. They'll hook you up.

If your parenting sensibilities don't skew toward the avoidance of the hurried-child syndrome, and you are more concerned with imbuing your child with the fashion sense it takes to make it through high school, then you will have no problems shopping at Kid Biz, where the fashion-forward clothes make the kid. This family-owned and -operated kid clothing store has trendy threads, accessories and gift ideas for parents who want their kids to dress like them. And the owners offer the same personal service and customer care that they have since the store's genesis in 1989. Kid Biz actually caters to the Nickelodeon crowd, boys and girls from infants through prepubescence. Adjoining Kid Biz is the co-owned The Biz, which offers the same fashion sensibility to an older crowd of hipsters—from tweeners to teens. No matter your parenting skills, clothes are a necessity, and these are some of the finest necessities around for kids of all ages.

Courthouse folklore has it that when legendary Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade was asked whom he would hire if he ever got in trouble, Wade would say without hesitating, "Why, that'd be George Milner." Well, George is still trying cases, but it's his son George Milner III who has become something of a legend defending DWI cases. Young George is always prepared, knows the law cold and has a solid feel for the way a judge is going to rule (comes with being a courthouse fixture). Plus he is a lawyer's lawyer who is willing to volunteer his time on the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association strike force to help any lawyer in the state who gets crosswise with an aggressive prosecutor. Yep, he's the best. Case closed.

There comes a time when your lawyer, to whom you have paid a hefty retainer, stops returning your calls. Or forgets to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations has run out. Or seems to be spending an inordinate amount of time on that "big, big case" in Las Vegas. You may need to seek representation against your legal representative. Consult with Randy Johnston of Johnston Tobey, fearless when it comes to suing unethical members of his own profession. If Johnston passes on taking your case, you can bet it's not worth filing. This guitar-strumming, motorcycling litigator, whose straight hair was once so long he agreed to cut it off to raise money for legal services to the poor, is smart, hard-working and known to tilt at legal windmills. He also sues accountants, stockbrokers and others who run afoul of their ethics. He also quotes Woody Guthrie on his Web site: "As through this world I ramble, I see lots of funny men. Some will rob you with a six-gun. And some with a fountain pen."

Creations by fashion designer and stylist Lindsay Weatherread include custom-made pieces, from evening gowns and sportswear to theater costumes and wedding dresses. She's done wardrobe design for music videos, commercials and local and national film projects, bringing the same freeform artistry to her retail collection, which can be ordered online or purchased at LFT, the Lifestyle Fashion Terminal in Victory Park. Weatherread's textured garments are made with organic materials and eco-friendly dyes. Nice way to stay conscious of the environment and in touch with the elements of style.

UPS Store

One mail store may seem a lot like the next: You take in your gorilla suit, slap it on the counter and say, "Cheapest rate to Kenosha!" But it does help to deal with an owner-operated store like this one, where most of the staff is long-term and very, very patient. They try to know and remember people from the neighborhood, so they might even guess why you won't need the King Kong get-up any more. "Getting married, eh?" The stories they could tell. But they won't. Your naughty postcards, Valentines and mash notes are safe with them.

Circa 2000

It's an iffy proposition—crowning a new men's clothing store as the Best of Dallas, particularly when it's in Plano, particularly when it's not that new and particularly when there remain such sterling contenders as the upscale Pockets Menswear and the Uptown Daniel Taylor Clothier Inc., and the up and out there H.D.'s Clothing Co. But Circa 2000 is no pretender to the throne—it's the real deal with its formal and business and casual and sporty attire. It offers trendy European styling that cuts against the conservative grain of its Plano clientele. And yet it appeals to fiscal conservatives, charging prices that seem more reasonable (though still no bargain) than its competition.

Galleria

With their new-found sensitivity toward sexism, Republicans might react with outrage over the following observation: There are fewer men's shoe stores than women's because men wear fewer shoes than women. There, we said it. Make of it what you will, Sarah Palin. And with Larry's Shoes shuttering so many stores, the pickings are even slimmer these days. So we again resort to our dependable standby, Nordstrom at the Galleria, whose founders began as a shoe store in 1901 before transforming themselves into a department store, but have never lost their commitment to the foot. With more than 50 traditional and fashion-forward brands to choose from, with a selection that includes the big, the small, the narrow and the wide, and with seasonal sales that are worth waiting for, Nordstrom has the kind of selection that would appeal even to those men who want to defy any sexist stereotype.

There's no point making salad out of your lawn with a dull mower blade. Take that blade off and take it to Casey's, where they will sharpen it while you wait for about $7.50. Be sure to ask how to put it back on (don't ask us how we learned this lesson the hard way). Better yet, take the whole lawnmower to them and let them mess with it. Then take it home, crosshatch the grass and sit back to admire your work.

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