Monday, April 28, 2014

How Your Attorney's Paralegal Can Help You

Your attorney's paralegal can help you in a variety of ways.  Learning how to effectively work with the law firm's paralegal can help your case.    The paralegal is not there to be a barrier between you and your attorney, s/he is there as an important part of a professional team to help get the job done right!

What a paralegal can do to help you:
  1. Explain the day-to-day workings of the legal process to you;
  2. Help  you understand and organize the information that you are giving to your attorney;
  3. Help you understand and answer discovery in your case;
  4. Help you understand what types of issues are true emergencies - if and when your attorney should be immediately paged, the police should be notified, for instance;
  5. Tell you when you should come in for a face-to-face meeting with your attorney;
  6. Type and prepare documents and pleadings under the direction of your attorney;
  7. Help manage the scheduling and day-to-day aspects of the case under the direction of your attorney;
  8. Save you "attorney time" and therefore save you money (the hourly rate charged by law firms for the work that a paralegal or other staff member does on your file is generally less that the attorney's hourly rate).
Appropriate questions to ask a paralegal:
  1. How long do cases like mine usually take? 
  2. What is the next step in my case?
  3. I have information for the attorney to see. Should I email him/her directly, give it to you, or make an appointment to come in?
  4. I don't understand some information that I received from your office.
  5. Can you tell me more about what to expect at mediation?
  6. Has the court scheduled a hearing yet?
Some things that a paralegal cannot do:
  1. Give legal advice;
  2. "Run" the case instead of the lawyer;
  3. Go to court for you;
  4. Represent himself/herself to be a lawyer;
  5. Reveal client's confidential information.
A paralegal can help you. It is a good idea to get to know the paralegal working on your case as doing so can save you time and money.

"Passionate, Professional & Personal. We Make the Difference."
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary in 2014!  A big THANK YOU you to our clients & the community for making this possible! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

How Anger Can Affect Your Case

If you are involved in a divorce, business case or other legal problem, you'll want to do everything that you can to have the best possible outcome. Choosing a good attorney is important, as is communicating with your lawyer and keeping your facts and evidence organized. But one factor that many people underestimate is the damage that unresolved (or unrestrained) anger can do to their case.

Even if anger is completely justified, it can create trouble. Here is a list of the mischief that uncontrolled anger can cause:  
  1. prevent you from making calm, rational decisions in your case;
  2. cause you to refuse to consider all possible outcomes of your situation - both good and bad;
  3. harm and upset the innocent people around you (your children, coworkers, employees);
  4. cause you to do a poor job in a deposition or on the stand;
  5. create a "weak spot" that the other side may exploit;
  6. make you physically ill.
Here are some constructive ways to deal with your anger:
  1. talking to a mental health professional and taking medication if warranted;
  2. talking to a personal friend or spiritual leader;
  3. reading books, magazines or articles on the issue;
  4. attending anger management or support groups when warranted;
  5. getting help from reputable online communities;
  6. using mediation or other relaxation techniques.
  7. being honest with your lawyer about your anger and how it may affect the situation.
Ken Blanchard, an author, speaker and business leader says, "Take a look at yourself and how you deal with anger. Do you strike out or take a minute to think about it before you respond?"  That is excellent advice. Making that second nature will assist you in getting through a challenging legal situation. 

Since 1984! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Increasing or Decreasing the Child Support Amount

Changing circumstances may create a need for a change in the monthly child support amount.

Some common reasons for this to happen:

  1. Change in financial circumstances - less money.  The Obligor (Payor) may lose his/her job, be laid off, of have some type of pay reduction, so that s/he may seek a change in child support.
  2. Change in financial circumstances -more money.  The Obligor may make more money that s/he was making at the time the order was entered.  The Obligee (receiver of the money) may decide to go back to court to seek a higher amount of child support if they have reason to believe that the Obligor is now making more money that before.  (The Payor who wishes to pay a higher amount voluntarily due to more favorable financial circumstances is certainly allowed to do so without having to have a court order.)  
  3. Change in the Child's Circumstances - The child may have additional needs that were not addressed in the original calculation of child support funds. These needs are usually medical needs or educational ones.    For instance, a "new" diagnosis of a disability which requires specialized treatment and training may be a reason for a parent to seek a higher amount of child support from the paying parent.  
  4. A Change in Visitation or Access - A significant change in the amount of time that the child spends with a parent may cause one of the parties to seek a change in the amount of child support to be paid.  For instance, if Obligor now has the child living with him/her all or most of the time then it would be reasonable to ask for a decrease in payment, or even seek child support from the prior Obligee. 
Before a case is filed for a change in child support, you should:
  1. Read your existing court order to see what it says now;
  2. Read your existing court order to see if you are obligated to take any steps prior to filing a suit (mediation, for instance);
  3. Make sure that the change you want is reasonable under the Texas law -contact a child support attorney for assistance with this.  A family law attorney may also be able to help work out an agreement with the other party, rather than having a fight in court. 
When deciding a child support case the judge will use the Texas child support calculations from the Texas Family Code and will examine the facts and circumstances of the case to determine the best interests of the child. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

When to Update Your Will

We always tell people to consider updating their will if one of the “major players” dies, becomes incapacitated or estranged.  In other words, if a named beneficiary (someone who is inheriting), an executor (person who will manage the distribution of the estate) or a trustee (person who you have named to manage a trust) cannot do whatever it is you anticipated them doing (whether it is inheriting property or managing the distribution of your estate), then you need to look at the will and figure out how things will work without that person’s involvement.  Then  you can decide if your will needs to be updated.

Since probate law varies by state, if you move to another state you should execute a new will there.

If you add a child to your family and your will does not provide for that event, you should update your will.  

You also may wish to add make specific provisions for your grandchildren.

If you become aware of a change in state or federal law that may affect your estate, contact an attorney to see if you need an update. 

If you have a significant change in your financial status, you should re-evaluate and update your will.

Wills - Trusts - Powers of Attorney - Estate Planning - Probate Law
Since 1984
We are Celebrating our 30th Anniversary in 2014!