Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Divorce that Crosses International Borders

Everyone knows that divorce is difficult and complicated. Legal difficulties and complications can be compounded when the divorce crosses international borders.

Cases in which this may occur are ones in which the couple is getting a divorce in the United States but;

  1. Property owned by one or both spouses is located in a different country-

Just because a judge in the United States signs a divorce decree that divides foreign property, that doesn’t mean that the foreign country will respect and enforce that decree, especially if the foreign country has not signed treaties with the United States.

It isn’t just about U.S. law anymore! International law and the law of the foreign country must be consulted. If the foreign country is a Muslim country, that law will have to be considered as well.

It would be a terrible if you were to find out that you have property awarded to you but can never collect or own it, and the foreign authorities refuse to help!

Before you agree to a split of property that includes foreign property, make sure that the agreement is able to be enforced! Your international divorce attorney can consult with an attorney in the foreign country before the property separation is finalized.

 

  1. One or both spouses and/or their child are citizens of another country or have dual citizenship or one or both spouses works, lives, or visits another country and will want to take the children along-

When working out visitation, custody and travel arrangements, it is important for the divorcing couple to know the laws in the foreign country which relate to child custody and visitation. It is also important to be aware of the restrictions the U.S. Department of State and U.S.C.I.S. may place upon minor children traveling when both parents are not with them. In addition, if a child is not a U.S. citizen, it is important to be sure that s/he has all paperwork in place that allows him/her to leave the country and come back without a negative effect on immigration status.

Some sensational (and sad) cases have made international news in the past 10 years – cases of children being caught in the middle of custody and visitation fights in which there is a conflict of laws.

It would be very terrible to send your child to visit another country and find out that the authorities would not enforce his/her return to you.

 

  1. Collection of Child Support, Spousal Support or other money due to you-

Again, just because a United States judge signs an order, it doesn’t mean that it will be considered valid everywhere in the world. And, even if it is valid, collecting money when you or your ex-spouse lives in different countries may cost more than the money that you are trying to collect!

Your international divorce attorney can help by making sure that you are realistic about what to expect and consult with the right professionals in the foreign country at the proper time.

Summary: In ALL divorce cases it is important to share important information with your divorce attorney, but it is ESPECIALLY important in international divorce to be sure that your attorney is aware of the important details. If you have a trusted attorney in the other country with whom you are familiar, give your U.S. attorney his/her contact information and allow them to talk with each other when necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

A firm that is used to handling international divorce will be familiar with these issues and with consulting with foreign attorneys to look out for their client’s interests.

Kalish Law Office: International Divorce Attorneys  The Woodlands Texas

 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What to Do if You are SUED!

Video blog containing practical advice from The Woodlands Texas business and family law attorney Laura Kalish on "What to do if you are sued."

Kalish Law Office: The Woodlands, Texas. Since 1984

How to Make the Most of Your Legal Consultation

Here is a video about how to get the most from your time with the attorney while you are at your initial legal consultation.   

By Laura Kalish, attorney at Kalish Law Office in The Woodlands, Texas.

 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Senior Citizens are Targets of These Scams

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Anyone, of any age, can be the victim of a scam.   The scams take various forms, but the goal is the same- to steal something that rightfully belongs to you!  It may be your identity, cash, your credit card information, or whatever the scammer can use to make some undeserved income for him/herself.

Seniors are especially vulnerable, and scammers know this.  According to caregiverstress.com there are 6 common scams that specifically target senior citizens. If you are a senior citizen (or have a friend or loved one who is), you should be aware of these.  Please pass the information on!

1.       Telemarketing via internet, phone and mail that seeks information or a password, often in the guise of “updating your account”, “updating our contact information”, “verifying what we have”.  The scammer will usually have a few pieces of information, and will seek more.

2.       Fake Charities-  These “charities” may give a very small amount or zero to the intended recipient.  They often do not have the proper organization or non-profit status.

3.       Sweepstakes:  If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Don’t put ANY checks or money orders in your bank account!  The scammers then have your account information and the checks bounce.  They may even ask you for money (for instance, you deposit a check for $ 5,000 to your account and “pay only a $ 250 processing fee!”.   Then the check bounces and you have lost $250 plus bank fees!).

4.       Health Care Fraud:  Scammers will use your insurance card or identity information to get treatment for themselves or others.  Don’t give out confidential information to ANYONE you don’t know and be sure to shred medical documents – treat them with the same care as the most sensitive of your financial documents.

5.       Identity Theft:    The scammer will often ask for information from you to “update your account”. Identity theft can also happen by putting financial information on an improperly secured website, leaving it lying around, giving it to someone you shouldn’t trust, or not shredding financial documents.

6.       Financial Exploitation:   Some financial counselors are not reputable and have their own best interests in mind, not what is good for the senior that they are advising.

ADDITIONAL TIPS:

It is always a good idea to have a shredder available to shred private documents.  

If you have written a check or given credit card information and it later occurs to you that you may have been a victim of a scam, don’t wait! You can call your bank or credit card company IMMEDIATELY to stop payment!  You should always notify your bank or credit card company of any scam that took your money, even if it is a very small amount!  Don’t let the scammer keep getting away with it and don’t assume that the scammer will not come back to your account for a second helping!

If you are the victim of a scam, you may need to consider filing charges, contacting the attorney general or other government agency, or retaining a lawyer to help you.   If you have been scammed by a company or individual that is known to you, you may have legal options to attempt recovery of what you have lost. Contact a business attorney or consumer law attorney to get a consult and get more information.  

Kalish Law Office: The Woodlands, Texas

Family, Business and Consumer Law

"Passionate, Professional and Personal. We Make the Difference. Since 1984."

Monday, August 13, 2012

WHY do you Have to Have a Home Study in Texas Adoptions?

If you live in Texas and are adopting a minor child, you will most likely need to have a home study prepared, and also submit to a current criminal background check.  This is true for both domestic (United States) and foreign (or international) adoptions.  Home studies used to be called "social studies" and are sometimes commonly referred to that way when speaking about them.

The professional social worker who will be performing the home study will speak and visit directly with you outside your attorney's office. He or she must be licensed by the State of Texas and must meet certain requirements in order to perform these types of studies. The judge must approve this particular person and will sign a court order stating that he or she will be performing the study in the case.

The social worker will ask you (and your spouse, if you are married) in depth questions about your family, marital and health history and will also visit your home.  You should be prepared to discuss your financial situation, your debts, and your assets.  You will be asked about any criminal history that you might have.

The social worker will prepare a report based upon his/her findings. The report will be filed with the court, and you will also receive a copy.  

Having a home study performed is a legal requirement, and is for the safety of the child.  Most people are nervous when going through a home study for the first time. You do not have to be perfect, no one is!  However, you should be cooperative and prepared.  Have documents and facts ready about the items listed above.  Since it will be up to you and the social worker to set the time of the interviews, you should keep your attorney informed about when the interviews are scheduled and completed.

It is also likely that the court will appoint an ad litem attorney to represent the child (although in some limited circumstances there may be a waiver of this requirement). The ad litem is an attorney and the ad litem's client is the child and no one else. The ad litem attorney will make a recommendation to the court about whether he or she believes that the proposed adoption is in the best interests of the child.

Home studies are not required in the case of an adult adoption.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What NOT to Choose When Looking for an Attorney

There are many variables to consider when choosing an attorney.   Here is a list of qualities that you should NOT look for in an attorney:

1.  The attorney promises results-  “We are definitely going to win this case!”;  “I promise you that you will get custody!”;  “I guarantee that you’ll be happy with the results I get for you”.    

 2,  The a ttorney is a very poor listener.If the attorney doesn’t let you tell your story, always interrupts and you are unable to get a word in edgewise it will be difficult for the lawyer to prepare your case properly because he or she may not have all the important facts. (this is different from setting limits with you and your time together, which is necessary).

3.      3. The attorney is overly negative about the legal process or other professionals. “Having an ad litem is a requirement but  a total waste of time”; “Mediation never works in these cases”; “Opposing counsel doesn’t know what he is doing”.

4.       4. The attorney lets you get away with too much.   Believe it or not, an attorney who maintains a reasonable amount of control over you actually helps you.  That type of attorney can prevent you from violating court orders, help you behave properly in depositions and in court, and get you back on track if you get overly angry or emotional during the case. Your attorney should be strong enough to take you to task if you are rude (to his/her law office staff, court personnel or other professionals), and should attempt to reign you in if you are harming your case by being overly rude or aggressive to the opposing party or attorney.