Monday, August 25, 2014

Divorce is Hard on Pets - Don't Forget About Them

Divorce is hard on everyone, especially pets.  Here are some things to consider if you are divorcing and have one or more pets:

  1. Pets can suffer greatly (and silently) when family life is upset.  They can't tell you what's wrong so be aware of any changes in behavior.  Talk to your vet when indicated. 
  2. Keep pets safe. Animal cruelty is illegal, period. Threatening or hurting a pet is a form of family violence.  Make a police report or seek a restraining order if violence to a pet happens or is threatened. Ask for help in keeping your pet safe temporarily if necessary.  (Additional local information: Friends of Montgomery County Texas Animal Shelters, Montgomery County Crime Stoppers on Animal Abuse, Montgomery County Women's Center).
  3. Give thought to your pet's future. Your pet trusts you and you have a responsibility.  Who is going to get the pet in the divorce? Will there be visitation or sharing of expenses during and after the divorce? (some people do choose to "share" the pet after divorce- ask your attorney about this option).
  4. Costs of pet care should be figured into your financial picture. When you tally up your monthly expenses for your attorney and for the family law judge, make sure pet care (including medical and grooming) are included.   
  5. You can't just walk away. Divorce can be stressful and scary.  Taking the time to be sure that an innocent animal is taken care of is the right thing to do.  Make sure that you are honest with yourself and others about what is right for the pet and your family. Once everything is over, make sure that the party who has the pet also has the pet's medical records, favorite toys, bed, feeding schedule, and anything else that will help make the transition go more smoothly. Your pet may go through a "mourning" period while getting used to a new situation. 
A final word.... Every year many innocent pets lose their homes and security due to divorce.   In a few cases, it may be done to protect them from family violence but in most cases financial problems, emotional issues, stress, moving, and work schedules are to blame.   If you absolutely must find another home for a pet because there is no other option, choose very wisely.   You can: 
find a no-kill shelter, an animal rescue group (Citizens for Animal Protection, Operation Pets Alive) a Breed specific rescue group (they usually take mixed breeds too).   All shelters and groups are not alike, beware and be thoroughly informed. Most shelters and volunteers are severely understaffed and overworked. There is no guarantee that your pet will be adopted, or that your pet will not have to stay in a crowed, stressful situation.

A pet is a family member.  Children (and adults) can be traumatized by the loss of a pet but can be helped emotionally by the continued presence of a loving pet.  Don't underestimate what your pet does for you. 

"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, August 18, 2014

Five Excellent Resources for Small Business

Whether you are thinking of starting a business in Texas or you already have one, here are five excellent resources that are available online to help you find information.

Of course, none of them are a substitute for the advice of a business attorney for your particular situation, but these resources can guide you and give you a wealth of information.

Five Excellent Resources for Texas Businesses: (If you are in another state, your state probably has resources similar to these on the web.)

  1. Small Business Administration.   Staring a business, choosing a location, laws and regulations, taxes, licenses and much more. 
  2. Texas Workforce Commission for Businesses and Employers Information about recruiting,  hiring, training, unemployment tax, employment law.
  3. The Texas Secretary of State Corporations Division : About start-up, choosing an business structure, name availability, trademarks and assumed name.
  4. The Texas Attorney General Consumer Protection : Consumer protection, scam warnings, protecting against cyber crime.
  5. Texas Wide Open for Business ; Starting and growing a business, choosing Texas, incentives and resources. From the Office of the Governor. 
When it is time to consult a lawyer. A lawyer can help with your start-up,  growth, risk management, asset protection, as well as helping you manage any legal problems you might have. 

Many small business owners choose to have a consult with a  business attorney solely in order to choose an attorney to work with in the future should the need arise.  

Attorney Bob Kalish

"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, August 11, 2014

Ten Things to Consider Before Starting Your Own Business

1.     Can I go it alone & if not, what legal arrangements might I need?  If you are not going to be a one-person operation, will you need a partner? An equal partner?  How will you decide how work/finances are divided? If hiring employees, are you familiar with the laws about hiring, firing, overtime and other workplace issues? 
2.     Where will my work come from and will my plan get me in trouble? Don't just assume that you can take your customers with you if you leave your present job. Are you under any type of non-solicitation agreement from a current or former employer?  What advertising restrictions, if any, govern your field? 
3.     Do I need a business entity to be formed? Whether you need to stay a sole proprietorship or set up a formal LLC or other business entity deserves some consideration. A business attorney can consult with you and go over all the benefits of each choice. 
4.     What are the Federal tax requirements? If you've always been an employee, you'll need to become familiar with a whole new set of laws.  You'll also need to discuss tax considerations when you decide whether or not to set up as an LLC or other entity. 
5.     What are the state requirements? You'll need to become familiar with the Texas Workforce Commission, state laws, tax liabilities and reporting requirements for your business, as well as any licensing laws and industry requirements (such as TABC licensing for serving alcohol). 
6.     What are the local requirements? Do you need a local license for what you do? How about a building permit for renovations or an alarm permit for your security system? Do you need to file an assumed name certificate in your own (and possibly other) counties?
7.     What are the industry requirements? Depending on your past experience, you may have this one all figured out. But if you are stepping into a new territory, there may be some things you haven't even considered.   If you are a licensed professional, don't forget to review rules and regulations published by your licensing board. 
8.     How can I manage my risk?  This may include having contracts drawn up to use with your suppliers or customers, creating a safety program for your workers, and making sure you have an emergency plan written out. 
9.     How can I keep up with the management requirements? You must be organized if you are going to be successful in your business.   What tasks can you do, which tasks can you delegate, and which tasks can you hire out? 

10.  Where can I get support?   Having a business attorney you can trust, an accountant or bookkeeper on your side, and other business people to ask for advice can be a tremendous time and money-saver. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ten Things to Do to De-Escalate a Conflict

The battle lines are drawn and despite best intentions, neither party seems to be able to refrain from digging in stubbornly.    One thing leads to another and before you know it, communication has deteriorated or broken down altogether.

Sound familiar?  If not, it should!  We ALL have been there at one time or another. Many times the issue eventually resolves on its own, or the situation changes. But sometimes things go from bad to worse and there are BIG stakes involved such as the division of a business or a home, or issues related to minor children.

Here are some practical tips (I'm not saying they are easy, just practical!) to help de-escalate a conflict that is threatening to get out of hand.

  1. Try to look at the big picture.   In the heat of battle, EVERYTHING feels important. But, how important is this one issue?   If you can let it go or back off, consider doing so.
  2. Pick your battles.   If you have to battle, make sure it is over something important enough to spend your energy on.  You may have the misfortune of having to deal with someone that makes everything a major battle. If so, you are going to have to stand your ground but just make sure it is on the important stuff. 
  3. Try to see the other person's point of view (This is the hardest one!).  Think to yourself, "If I give the other person the benefit of the doubt, what might s/he be thinking and feeling?   What point is s/he really trying to make with all these fireworks?
  4. Stop and count to 10 slowly. This is something we tell our kids when they are small. Why?  Because it works. 
  5. Walk away or hang up the phone.   You don't always have to engage.  Leave the other person ranting without your participation and they will eventually run out of steam. 
  6. Get a second opinion & emotional support.   Not sure if you are being reasonable?  Talk it out with a trusted friend. Ask the friend to be honest and to feel free to help you see if you are missing something. You can also talk with a therapist or religious leader.
  7. Take the High Road. Disrespecting the other person is like throwing fuel on a fire.  Watch your language, attitude and facial expressions.  Be determined to act with respect towards the other person, even if you believe they don't deserve it. 
  8. Get legal support.  If you think this is headed for a legal showdown, have a legal consult so that you know what to expect.  This is especially important in three situations: a:) business partnership b) family law situation c) neighbor dispute.  These three things hit you where you live, literally.  
  9. Get someone to mediate the dispute.   Mediation can involve a court-sanctioned process or a more informal process or can simply involve two people who agree to have a third, impartial party help them work things out.  
  10. Protect Yourself. It is very common to feel that you have to fight harder and longer if you are afraid and feel cornered. If you take precautions to protect yourself and your rights you will have an easier time feeling that you are coming from a position of strength and won't waste energy worrying about being ambushed.  (always take precautions for your personal safety and the safety of your family & pets). 

"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!