Friday, May 5, 2017

Zika in Texas

Every now and then we take a break from our usual legal oriented posts to share some information of local interest that may help the public.

It is getting warmer in Texas, and fast.

Zika virus is a concern to Texans.  Although we have not had many issues with this virus, it is important to stay informed and to help stop the spread.   You can read "What Texans Need to Know About the Zika Virus" from Texas A& AgriLife Extension by clicking here. 

Zika is transmitted from the bite of an infected mosquito.  Therefore there are a few things that you can do to help keep yourself safe from Zika. The first is to control your environment to discourage mosquito breeding.   Since they like to breed in standing water, get rid of bacteria-laden water that is standing in old tires, flower pots, bird baths and other containers.   If you must keep standing water around (in a pet dish or birdbath for instance), clean the container often and change the water (pet water should be completely changed daily for the health of the pets as well).

Next, you need to keep yourself safe from bites.  Wearing appropriate clothing (loosely fitting, light colored) and appropriate spray to keep from getting bit will help keep you safe. Try not to go outside or in the woods at times when mosquitoes are most active.

Be careful when you travel to other countries or areas that do have more problems with the Zika virus.  And, when you return, be extra careful not to get bit for at least a week. This is because 80% of people who have Zika don't have symptoms.  If you introduce the virus to your community after your trip the chances of the virus spreading increase dramatically. Most people do not know this about Zika. has more information, including tallies of reported cases by county, advisories for pregnant women and travelers, and much more.

Stay safe! Don't Get Bit! Don't Give Zika a Biting Chance!

Family Law, Business Law, Real Estate Law, Probate
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Texting While Driving Bans Moving Forward in Texas

April, 2017 - The Texas House has passed a bill that would prohibit texting while driving statewide. These bans already exist in several Texas counties, but there is not a statewide ban in effect---yet.  

Many Texas cities already have a ban on using a handheld device while driving. Among these are at least two cities which are local to our law firm: Conroe and Magnolia. A more complete list of the cities with bans can be found on the Texas Department of Transportation site. 

Also, keep in mind that some laws prohibit "texting", but other laws prohibit using "handheld devices".  So, even if you are looking at your GPS, or checking to see who just called you, you may be in violation.  Check out this link from the National Conference of State Legislatures for more information on specific state laws.  And remember, even if there is not a statewide ban on certain behavior, a county or a city ordinance may prohibit it. 

In addition, there are laws that relate to underage drivers using cell phones while driving, such as "drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using wireless communication devices," and "drivers with learner's permits are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in the first six months of driving."  (Texas Department of Transportation website)

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, one in five crashes involves driver inattention.

Family Law, Business Law, Real Estate Law, Probate
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Adult Adoptions & Why They Matter So Much

When you think of an adoption, if you are like most people, you probably think of an adult adopting a child. But if you have been adopted as an adult, or know someone who has, you have a more inclusive view. 

Here is why more people are opting for adult adoption!

When divorce increased in the U.S. in the 1970's, the structure and definition of "family" began to change.  As more blended families came into being, children had more than two parents.

Additionally, there were parents who were not divorced, but were single parents by choice or by situation.

A stepparent raising a child may desire to become that child's legal parent but for various reasons, an adoption did not happen when the child was young.

Here are some situations in which adult adoptions may be sought:

  1.  The "child" (I'll say "adoptee" from now on) had a biological parent who would not agree to the stepparent adoption when the adoptee was a minor;
  2. The biological parent perhaps would agree, but may have been hurt;
  3. The biological parent was not safe and was not a good influence and contacting him/her for permission to adopt would have put the child at risk;
  4. The family realized later in life that they wanted to make the parent-child relationship a legal one as well as an emotional one;
  5. An adult who is adopted does not need a biological parent's permission, therefore the process is simpler and less expensive. 
An adult adoption is a happy situation for the family because it recognizes the love and affection that have existed for years.   We are proud to have been a part of many adult adoptions over the years! 

Please see Laura Kalish's "Guide to Adult Adoption" on AVVO. 

Family Lawyers in The Woodlands, Texas
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
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Monday, April 10, 2017

A Background Check is Required for an Adult Name Change

An adult who wants to legally change his or her name in Texas will find that a background check is necessary. Fingerprints must be provided and they will be run through state and federal databases in order to receive a criminal background check.  

The petition for name change will be filed in a Texas court. Once the case number is assigned, the fingerprints can be submitted. The results of the background check will need to be transmitted to the court with the case number so that the results can be united with the case file for the judge to see.

There is also certain information which must be included in the petition for name change. This includes Driver's license numbers for the past 10 years, whether the person has been convicted of a felony, must register as a sex offender, has been charged with an offense above a Class C misdemeanor, and other such information.

You cannot just run your own background check privately. It will need to be done through official channels, such as through Texas DPS, the FBI or a local police station.  Check with your attorney or with local authorities if you are not sure where to go in your area.

All of these requirements are in place in order to prevent name changes that are requested for improper reasons, or are sought in order to cover up criminal activities such as defrauding creditors, evading sex offender registrations, or fleeing the law for some other reason.  Some common and permissible reasons that adults seek a name change are: to have their last name match the rest of their family members, as part of an adult adoption, or for professional reasons.

It is common for an adult name change to occur in a divorce, without the person having to file a separate lawsuit.  So, if you are about to divorce and think you may want to change your name, the time to do so is in the final divorce decree. Otherwise, you will have to file a new suit later on.

Family Lawyers in The Woodlands, Texas
"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference." For Over Thirty Years.
Se habla español