Sunday, November 22, 2015

Parent Seeking Relocation to Another State With Child

If you are a divorced or divorcing parent who is under the authority of a court and wish to relocate with your child, you may find that you are facing more than you bargained for.

Prior to accepting that new job in another state (or before considering a move outside your child's school district), you should:
  1. Read your divorce decree or other court orders about visitation and custody to see if there are restrictions about moving. Some decrees require the child to live in a certain county or school district. 
  2. Your court orders may require that you go to mediation before taking any action to relocate with your child.
  3. If you are unable to reach an agreement with your ex-spouse about your proposed move, you may decide to file a petition with the court to change the court orders. 
  4. The court will always look at the best interests of the child, rather than the desires or interests of the parents. 
  5. The court will generally assume that it is best for the child to have both parents involved regularly, rather than sporadically.
Although it is true that modern technology gives children and parents the ability to stay in touch more frequently, a judge may still deny a parent permission to move away with the child. Stability is very important to children, and the upheaval of leaving friends, neighborhood and school can be difficult, especially for a child who has already been through a divorce. 

However,  each situation is different. Some common reasons for a parent to seek a move with his/her child include a) inability to find employment in the current location b) necessity of relocation for current job posting or training c) service in the military d) helping to care for aging grandparents or other family responsibility e) health reasons.

A family law attorney can review your situation with you in a legal consultation and will explain what you can expect if you choose to file a petition to modify your decree in order to relocate.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Financial Fraud in a Marriage

Financial fraud in a marriage can occur in various ways.  Usually, but not always, the violating spouse has more power and/or earning capacity than the other spouse.

Ways in which financial fraud can occur:

1. Fraudulent spouse spends money on extramarital relationships or on other family members without the innocent spouse's knowledge or consent.
2. Fraudulent spouse applies for credit in innocent spouse's name without consent, increasing debt or commits some other type of forgery to gain control over assets.
3. Fraudulent spouse gambles away or gives away money.
4. Fraudulent spouse has hidden money, accounts, assets, stock options, or bonuses that s/he does not tell innocent spouse about (even when information is sought during a divorce).
5. Property is transferred to others or is "co-owned" with other persons in order to avoid disclosure.

Very often the innocent spouse feels financially powerless in some fashion, although he or she may be educated, intelligent, and may have his or her own source of income.   The fraudulent spouse's goal is to keep his/her earnings and assets separate and secret, sometimes even risking violation of a court order.

In some cases, financial experts must be hired to thoroughly analyze the financial picture. In other cases (such as forgery) criminal charges may need to be filed.

The innocent spouse who is considering a divorce  and suspects financial fraud is encouraged to get as much information as possible (as long as it is physically safe to do so) prior to filing for divorce. Many smartphone cameras take quick and clear photos of documents.   It is important to disclose the suspicion of fraud to the divorce attorney at the initial consult so that all possible steps can be taken early on to protect the innocent spouse's rights.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Monday, November 9, 2015

Avoid Lawsuits for your Company- Don't Promise More Than You Can Give!

It is good Risk Management Strategy to make sure that your promises and representations to your customers/clients/patients are truthful, honest and free of unreasonable promises.

Promising more than you can deliver is tempting. You may want to make that sale or cement that relationship. Don't do so at the risk of future litigation. Defending a lawsuit or administrative claim eats into your profits!

Business owners can also get into trouble because of a desire to help the customer. Service providers especially can be tempted to put their own assets and well-being at risk in order to help a client solve a problem. But remember, the issues that brought the customer to you existed long before you came onto the scene.  Don't let your desire to solve a problem that someone else created be your downfall.  Look at the situation with realistic eyes, and help your customer do the same.

Here are some strategies to keep you out of trouble (and out of court). Some of these tips are taken straight from the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, a law that protects consumers:

  1. Don't promise that your goods or services are of a standard or quality that they are not. 
  2. Don't guarantee results when you have no control over the situation. This is especially important in a service industry. 
  3. If you guarantee satisfaction with the final product, be ready to stand behind that guarantee. 
  4. Make sure that you can afford to stand behind any guarantees for refund that you make. 
  5. Make sure that your sales team and other employees and representatives are not making promises that they should not be making. 
  6. Be honest about the endorsements and affiliations that your product or company has. 
  7. Be honest about the origin of the goods you sell. 
  8. Don't disparage your competitor's goods or services in an attempt to gain an advantage. 
  9. Don't advertise something as being on special or on sale when it is not, when you don't intend to follow through with the promise, or when you don't have enough to satisfy a reasonable demand. 
  10. Don't make false or misleading statements about the durability of your product.
  11. Don't have 'hidden charges" in your transactions
  12. Don't advertise a "going out of business sale" unless you are really going.
Following these tips can help keep your business on track and can help you develop a reputation for honesty and trustworthiness. 
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Monday, November 2, 2015

Here come the Holidays... Review your Visitation Orders!!

WELL... I say it every year and I'm going to say it again! It is time to review your visitation orders and think about your holiday schedule!

A lot of conflict can be prevented by reviewing your plans in advance.   Make sure that your court orders really say what you think they say.

From mid-October through January 2nd, the calendar is chock full of celebrations, holidays, parties, religious observances, days off, family traditions, get-togethers and other events.

Planning ahead prevents misunderstandings, additional stress, hurt feelings, and disappointed children.

Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Check your court orders or mediated agreement 
  2. Calendar the times that you have visitation.
  3. Ask your children to sit down with you and tell you about any events that they have heard about. 
  4. Check your child's school calendar, your extended family schedule, and your church/temple/mosque events. 
  5. Communicate with your ex (if possible) to find out what else may be planned. 
  6. Put definite events and tentative events on a big calendar in different color print. 
  7. Don't request "last minute' changes from with your ex if at all possible. 
End of the year is usually not "stress-free", but you can help it be a little less stressful by planning ahead. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Powers of Attorney for Specific Events

Did you know that you can give power of attorney to someone you trust for a specific event or to cover a specific time? 

Well, you can!

The most common use of a specific power of attorney involves real estate closings.   A seller of a property who is leaving the area may not wish to return to the area simply for the purpose of signing the final paperwork.   In fact, returning for that one event often does not make good sense financially. In this case, the seller is able to give a power of attorney to his/her agent. The agent can be a trusted friend, family member, lawyer, or other professional and will attend the closing for the seller.

A power of attorney document may also be specific in other ways.  For instance, if you travel often for business you may wish to give power of attorney to your trusted friend solely for the purpose of paying your utilities/cable, or communicating with those companies if there is a problem.  There are many other uses for a power of attorney document in personal life and in the business setting. 

The power of attorney document can also have a specific term.   Most expire within a year or two. However, there are some situations in which it makes sense for the document to continue indefinitely (until it is revoked or the grantor (person who is signing it) dies.  They can also be written to take effect only if the principal (the person signing it) becomes disabled. 

This is a very flexible document that can be tailored to fit your specific needs.  So, if you have a situation where you need someone to "stand in your shoes" for you, consider getting a power of attorney.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I'm too Young to have a will.... aren't I?

Most people in their twenties do not consider getting a will to be high on their list of priorities.   That is understandable.  However, there are many reasons why you should consider having a will.  Here are the most important ones:

  • You have a child (whether the child lives with you or not)
  • You have any assets (even a bank account, car, or personal items)
  • You have debts and they could be negotiated (naming an "Executor" in your will means that this person may get court authority to negotiate with creditors and preserve assets for family)
  • You want someone other than your family to inherit from you (Been living with your significant other for years with no "legal" status to your relationship? He or she may get nothing and have to fight your biological family for what you purchased together)
  • You don't want your money to go to the state's Unclaimed Property Division because no one has legal authority to get it.
  • Your situation may change (sure, you may have more debts than assets now, but what if that changes in a few years?)
  • You have rights in any part of a business or joint venture (even a side-business with assets and customers)
  • You've worked hard to get where you are and want to have the ability to make your wishes known. 
You may assume that if you were to die, that your assets would automatically go to certain people. But, it may not be that easy. Having a will allows a judge to appoint your Executor to gather the assets and debts.  There is a court order and the banks and creditors have to respect and follow it, which means that they need to release information and funds when properly requested to do so. 

If you have debts, and debts > assets, it is true that your loved ones may decide not to probate your will, and may just let things alone. But, not always.  

A consultation with a wills attorney can give you the information that you need to decide how to deal with your own particular situation. 

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
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Monday, October 12, 2015

Now that You are Ready to Sign your Will ....

Once you have visited with your attorney, given careful consideration to the contents of your Last Will and Testament, and filled out and returned any forms that your attorney has requested, your will is drafted and ready for your review.

This post is a guide for our clients at Kalish Law Office.  If you have another firm drafting your will, the steps and procedures may differ.  However, all firms will want to be certain of two things before you sign your will   1) that your will accurately follows your wishes; and  2) that you understand what is in your will.

In our firm, we meet with the client(s) in a consultation appointment.   Occasionally, a client will know exactly what he or she wants and will have no questions at all for the attorney.  However, that is pretty rare. Most people have at least a few questions, even if they have a current will that they are updating.

At the consultation, the client and the attorney ask each other questions and share information to be certain that everyone has the same goals.  The client will be given a fill-in-the-blank form to take home.  This form assists the attorney in drafting the document and guides the client through the decision making process.

After the client has completed the forms and returned them and communicated further with the attorney to clarify issues and desires, the documents are drafted.

At this point, we have our clients review the draft completely.  We answer any questions the client has and share any further advice that we have for the client to consider.   We make sure everything is clear and accurate.  We ask the client to confirm the spelling of names of the people or charities named in the Will.  If the client requires and additional appointment, phone conference or explanation, we provide it.

After all changes have been made, questions are answered and the client is happy with the documents "as is", we print the final copy and schedule an appointment for the client to sign.  A notary and witnesses will be provided.   The client walks into the office ready to sign and is provided with the originals and a copy of the signed documents, once they are complete.

Our procedure was created to save valuable time for the client, attorney, notary and witnesses. It also helps ensure that the client has the encouragement to ask questions and  prevents a client from signing a document that s/he is not comfortable with or s/he has not reviewed.   Our goal is to provide accurate documents, provide good customer service to our clients, and help make the process easier!

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
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