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Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which cancer cells are found in the sac lining the chest, the lining of the abdominal cavity or the lining around the heart. According to the National Cancer Institute, “[m]ost people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles.”

Although millions of Americans have been exposed to some amount of asbestos since the 1940’s, there are particular fields where there is an increased risk of exposure. Particular fields where workers have increased exposure to mesothelioma causing asbestos include: asbestos miners, shipyard workers, workers in the heating and constructions fields and the producers of other asbestos related products.

If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma as a result of Asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to monetary compensation.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, please click here for a form that you can fill out for review by our attorneys. The form will be reviewed by an attorney pursuant to the site terms and conditions. There is no cost or obligation for this free service.

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Accidents generally happen very quickly; they can be confusing and traumatic events. The combination of confusion, adrenaline, and fear produced by an accident can make it difficult to accurately recall the collision immediately after it happens, as time passes it only becomes more difficult to precisely remember it. As soon as is possible after the accident, you should begin to take notes; fill out a notebook or journal dedicated solely to information regarding your accident and the aftermath.

The most important things to record shortly after an accident are details regarding the accident itself. You should write down things like where you were headed to, direction of travel, speed, and locations and movements of other vehicles; it doesn’t hurt to draw diagrams or add pictures you may have taken. Notes should also be taken regarding weather conditions, road conditions, time of day, and anything you noticed about the traffic around you, particularly the other vehicle(s) involved in your accident.

It is also a good idea to record things that you remember from right after the accident. Write down the names of anyone in the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident along with their contact information and insurance information, vehicle description, license plate numbers, descriptions of damage to all involved vehicles, any injuries mentioned, the names and contact information of any witnesses or passersby who stop to help, and anything that you remember anyone saying about the collision. Don’t be afraid to take pictures of the scene of the accident, including the road itself, damage to vehicles, injuries, or anything else that you think may have been a factor in the accident or was affected by the accident.

If were injured, be sure to write down everything you can about your injury. Describe the injury, keep track of activities that aggravate the injury, record pain levels, and write down any work or social events which are missed as a result of your injury and/or follow up care associated with it. Record information pertaining to any contact you have with doctors and insurance companies. If you suffer any financial losses due to medical expense, vehicle repair, lost work, or anything else resulting from the accident, write down your loses and keep receipts when possible.

Proper documentation can make a dramatic difference in the result of your personal injury lawsuit. By taking the simple steps of recording recollections of the accident, ongoing injuries and losses, and contact with anyone regarding the accident, you can help build a strong case for yourself. If you’ve been injured, contact an attorney today to discuss your legal rights; an attorney may be able to help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

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Almost everyone has a cell phone. Anywhere you go you are apt to see someone using one, whether they are sitting, walking, or even driving. It doesn’t matter if they are used for business purposes or for personal use, cell phones have added levels of convenience and accessibility which are hard to fully appreciate. But for all the positive aspects of having a cell phone, there are definitely drawbacks as well, being a distraction while driving is one of them.

Cell phone distraction has been a factor in untold numbers of automobile accidents. In fact, cell phone distraction has become such a problem that most states now have some form of restriction on the use of cell phones while driving. For instance, some states require that a hands free device be used if talking while driving, others (including Wisconsin http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/motorist/behaviors/distractions/) ban texting while driving, some ban usage by bus drivers and beginning drivers. In some jurisdictions, violating cell phone restrictions is an actionable offense; police officers may pull drivers over if they see a violation.

Recently, the effect of cell phone usage on automobile accidents has been litigated in the court room. In some instances, drivers have been found to be negligent by being distracted by their phones. Taking hands off the wheel and eyes off the road to find the phone, answer the phone, type, or otherwise use a cell phone are all forms of distraction. Even using a hands free device to carry on a conversation and becoming distracted by talking may be enough to show negligence. If cell phone use was a factor in an automobile accident, the owner(s) of the phone and the purpose of the phone usage come into play. For instance, parents may open themselves to liability if they provide a cell phone to their children; businesses may open themselves to liability if they provide cell phones to their employees or if their employees were using a cell phone for business purposes.

If you were involved in an automobile accident and you suspect that cell phone use may have been a factor, contact an attorney today. An attorney may be able to help establish the negligence of the other parties by conducting research, conducting interviews, and accessing cell phone records. Depending on the circumstances, an attorney’s research may even turn up additional liable parties such as employers, allowing you to receive the compensation you deserve.
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Think of all the semis on America’s roadways at any given time. Each year, semi drivers log countless hours, hauling all manner of cargo from coast to coast. Given the sheer volume of semi road-time, semi driver error is unavoidable; unfortunately, this driver error often results in injury. Driver error is a broad term which covers many things: a semi driver who speeds, drives for too long, is under the influence of alcohol or legal or illicit drugs, or otherwise drives unsafely would be considered to have committed driver error. If this driver injures someone, the semi driver, the owner of the semi, and/or the employer of the driver may be liable for the injuries which the driver caused.

Driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of accidents involving semi drivers. Drivers who are fatigued can suffer from delayed reaction times, poor judgment, and general inattentiveness; fatigued drivers often zone out, sometimes actually falling asleep. In fact, driver fatigue is such a problem that there are Federal hours of service rules which mandate that drivers must have a certain number of hours of downtime and may only work for a certain number of hours a day and drive for a certain number of hours a day. Drivers are required to keep logbooks which record their hours of service and can be examined to ensure that drivers are complying with hours of service laws. Regrettably, many drivers give into temptation and purposefully fill out their log books incorrectly or keep two sets of log books- one reflecting their actual hours of service and a false one which makes it look like they are operating legally.

Semi drivers’ use of drugs and alcohol are strictly regulated; trucking companies must give new drivers initial drug tests and administer random drug tests from periodically thereafter. Semi drivers are generally not allowed to have any controlled substance in their system, unless that substance was prescribed by a doctor and can be shown not to affect the driver’s ability to safely perform his or her job. Drivers may, of course, consume alcohol, but they may not have any alcohol in their system while on the job and may not imbibe any alcohol within a certain number of hours before starting work. Even if a driver had a celebratory drink a few hours before he or she is scheduled to drive and did not consume enough alcohol to affect his or her performance, that driver must still wait the requisite number of hours before performing his or her duties.

Driver error happens for many reasons, and often results in accidents which cause injuries. If a person is injured in an accident involving a semi, there is a good chance that the semi driver committed some form of driver error, intentionally or not. However, that injured person may face a difficult task in proving that the semi driver acted in error. Even a well intentioned semi driver may not readily admit that he or she acted in error for fear of keeping his or her job and/or facing legal action. A knowledgeable attorney can help injured individuals prove driver error by scouring medical and test records for anomalies and/or the presence of banned substances and examining documents such as receipts, bills of lading, and trip tickets for evidence of hours of service violation.

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The sooner you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, the sooner you can take steps to protect your rights and get the fair compensation you deserve. Our call answering service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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Suffering an injury can be a frightening thing. Not only does a person who has been injured have to worry about the injury itself and any possible side effects and lifestyle changes, he or she must also worry about things like lost wages, medical bills, and receiving fair compensation for his or her injury. For those without knowledge of insurance companies and the legal system, trying to figure out how much their injuries are worth on their own can be nearly impossible; occasionally, even experienced professionals sometimes have difficulty arriving at anything more accurate than a “ball park” figure. Determining just how much an injury may be worth may seem like a daunting task, but the more information a person has, the easier it becomes.

In many cases, someone who is injured receives his or her injuries from someone else who was at fault. If the person who was at fault has insurance, than the injured person will have a “claim” with that insurance company. There are certain parts of a claim which insurance companies must generally pay, such as demonstrable: disability, damaged property, income lost due to injury or treatment of injury, medical care and expenses related to medical care. There are also less monetarily quantifiable things which insurance companies pay out for, such as missed family events, social gatherings, and other missed experiences, as well as emotional issues like anxiety, depression, or stress related to or stemming from the injury.

To determine a general dollar amount to begin negotiations, insurance companies use what are known as “damage formulas”. Each insurance company has their own damage formula, but certain aspects of these formulas are the same, no matter the insurer. Generally, a damage formula will start with medical expenses to arrive at a base number. The insurance company will take this base medical number and will multiply it. For minor injuries the base number will be multiplied by a low number, while higher numbers are used for more severe injuries. For instance, if a person incurs $20,000 in medical expenses and suffers no long term lingering injury, the insurance company may use a multiplier of 1.5, arriving at $30,000. Any additional loses, such as income lost due to the injury are added to this number to determine a damages total.

It is important to remember that any percentage of fault attributed to the injured person may reduce the damages total by a corresponding percentage. For instance if a person is determined to have a damages total of $40,000, but is 50% at fault, his or her damages total may be reduced by 50% to $20,000. Keep in mind, that the damages total is only a starting point at which negotiations begin; each injury, medical scenario, and negotiating process is unique and when all is said and done an injured person may receive an amount which is very close to the damages total or which may differ from the damages total by thousands of dollars. If you’ve been injured, contact an attorney today to learn more about claims practices and your legal rights.

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The sooner you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, the sooner you can take steps to protect your rights and get the fair compensation you deserve. Our call answering service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation. We have offices in Eau Claire and Hudson, Wisconsin, as well as Woodbury, Minnesota.

Russell has received recognition as a Top 40 Litigation Lawyers Under 40 in Wisconsin and Top 40 Litigation Lawyers Under 40 in Minnesota.
Membership is limited to less than 2% of all licensed lawyers nationwide.
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Motorcycle riders should always wear helmets, no matter what. Countless studies have conclusively shown that motorcycle helmets increase the safety of the riders who wear them.  In some cases, serious injury and/or death could have been avoided by the rider wearing a helmet. Aside from the safety aspects to consider, there are legal and financial aspects to consider as well. Depending on the laws of the jurisdiction in which you ride and the injuries you sustain, your compensation for your injuries may be reduced because of your failure to wear a helmet.

Motorcycle helmet laws vary by state. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website (http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/vehicle/motorcycle/gear.htm), all motorcycle operators and/or passengers under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. Motorcycle operators with an instruction permit are also required to wear a helmet, along with any passengers. Unless you fall into certain categories such as the ones listed above, it is a possibility that an adult operating a motorcycle in Wisconsin may not be required by state law to wear a helmet.

If a motorcycle rider is involved in an accident and receives head or neck injuries, the question of whether the rider took the precaution of wearing a suitable helmet will be examined. If the accident takes place in a jurisdiction which requires riders to wear helmets, the injured rider may have an extremely difficult time receiving compensation for any head and/or neck injuries and may have to show that the injuries would have occurred regardless of the helmet. Even if helmets are not required for the rider, he or she may still have a difficult time trying to receive compensation for head and/or neck injuries, because the safety benefits of wearing a helmet are so well known.

No matter where you live or ride, regardless of helmet laws, you should always ride safely and wear a helmet. Motorcyclists should always abide by state and local traffic laws and keep a lookout for other vehicles and pedestrians. If you suffer an injury, contact a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal rights and options.

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The sooner you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, the sooner you can take steps to protect your rights and get the fair compensation you deserve. Our call answering service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation. We have offices in Eau Claire and Hudson, Wisconsin, as well as Woodbury, Minnesota.
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Chances are you’re a safe cyclist; you know and follow traffic laws, you keep your bike well maintained, wear a helmet, and utilize a combination of reflective materials, bright colors, and lights to maximize your visibility. Even with all of your precautions and safety measures, it is still possible to be involved in an accident with a motor vehicle.

In a bicycle/car accident, liability must be determined just as in regular car on car accidents. In most cases, bicycles are classified as vehicles; as such, they must follow all applicable traffic laws, including driving on the right side of the road, yielding right of ways and making complete stops at stop signs. Intersections can be especially hazardous to cyclists. Right of ways must of course be properly yielded, but unfortunately cyclists are not always seen by motorists. An inattentive or distracted driver can easily turn in front of a cyclist, cutting them off or turn into the cyclist, directly striking them.

In the event of a collision, cyclists should be sure to get a good look at the other vehicle, including license plate numbers; some motorists fail to stop for cyclist or pedestrian accidents If the motorist does stop, get his or her name, contact information, and insurance information. Contact law enforcement as soon as possible and ask any potential witnesses for statements and contact information.

If you were involved in a bicycle accident, don’t let the insurance companies, motorists, or law enforcement make you feel like you were in the wrong. An attorney can help you analyze the situation surrounding your accident and the traffic laws which would apply. If you have been injured a bicycle accident, contact an attorney today.

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The sooner you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, the sooner you can take steps to protect your rights and get the fair compensation you deserve. Our call answering service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation. We have offices in Eau Claire and Hudson, Wisconsin, as well as Woodbury, Minnesota.

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Car accidents can be devastating, when a semi is involved, it gets even worse. Because fully loaded semis have so much mass, they are difficult to bring to a stop; if they hit something they also transfer much more energy than regular cars do in an accident, delivering massive amounts of damage. Most semi drivers are well trained and safe individuals, but even the safest driver can do little if he or she suffers equipment failure such as malfunctioning brakes or bad tires. Every motorist has a duty to maintain his or her vehicle and keep it safe to use, protecting the driver and other motorists. Semi and trucking companies carry an even higher burden to ensure the safety of their vehicles; when they fail to do so there are consequences.

Witnessing a semi’s tire fail is a frightening thing. Sometimes tires fail in an explosive manner, violently blowing out; other times the entire tire may become detached from the semi and be sent careening along the roadway. Regardless of nature, a tire failure endangers the semi driver and anyone nearby. Some failures result from a combination of normal wear and tear and a lack of inspection/maintenance. Tires’ lug nuts should be checked and tightened on a regular basis; some trucking companies now use brightly colored indicators which semi drivers and mechanics can look at to easily determine whether a lug nut has started to come lose. Under proper observation, tires which show signs of advanced wear should be removed from service. In some cases tires are defective from the beginning; for a number of reasons, some tires are deemed to be defective by the manufacturer and are recalled. Trucking companies should regularly check with the Department of Transportation to ensure that none of their semis’ tires have been recalled.

Another common factor in semi accidents is the brake system. Brake systems in semis can fail for a variety of reasons. Like tires, brakes are sometimes determined to be defective and are recalled by their manufacturers. Other times, brakes are improperly installed, adjusted, maintained, and/or inspected. Brakes are subjected to tremendous wear and stresses and parts of the brake system can easily become worn, come loose or otherwise start to develop problems. Brakes going failing on their own is bad enough, but some trucking companies have even been known to adjust their truck’s brakes to have less stopping power or unhook the truck’s brakes completely, relying on the trailer’s brakes in an effort to save money on maintenance.

Accidents involving semis can become complicated very quickly, just determining liability between drivers, owners, and equipment manufacturers can be quite a task. Further, trucking companies must meet special Federal standards and should inspect and maintain their equipment, including tires and brakes, regularly. If trucking companies fail to conduct regular inspections and maintenance or if they know of dangerous equipment and fail to act they may be subject to fines and/or punitive damages. Contact an attorney today to help you protect your rights and receive the compensation you deserve.

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Whether it is something as mundane as picking up groceries, or something exciting like meeting friends for dinner, people go in and out of buildings all day, every day. Unfortunately, and sometimes through no fault of their own, some of these people are injured by slipping and falling. Sometimes the owner of a property or an employee of a business is responsible for the conditions of the premises that caused the fall, in these cases that owner or business may be found to be responsible, and therefore liable for the person’s injuries.

It is important to keep in mind that the injured person’s own fault in his or her slip and fall will also be evaluated throughout any lawsuit stemming from a slip and fall injury. Defendants and insurance companies will review the circumstances and look for carelessness on the part of the injured person. They will also examine whether that person had a valid reason to be where the injury occurred, when the injury occurred. Questions will also be asked regarding whether there were any warnings to the hazard or whether the person should have noticed any dangerous conditions and thus avoided injury.

In order for a building owner or business employee to be found liable for another persons’ slip and fall injury, certain circumstances must exist. If the property owner or business employee caused the dangerous condition or if they knew of the dangerous condition, but failed to correct it, establishing liability is usually fairly straightforward. The liability of the property owner or business may also be established using a “should have known” standard. Things become somewhat murkier when trying to prove that the property owner or business did not actually know, but should have reasonably known of the dangerous condition.

If you and your attorney attempt to prove that the property owner or business should have known of the dangerous condition, several factors dealing with the injury, the dangerous condition, the building, the area in which the injury occurred, and the routine of those in charge of maintaining the building will be examined. Questions will be asked regarding the nature of the dangerous condition: was it a wet/slippery spot, was it a bulged or torn carpet, how long had that dangerous condition existed? Questions will also be asked regarding the operations of the building: is there adequate and functional lighting, could there or should there have been barriers or other warnings, is there a regular cleaning/maintenance schedule, and if so, was it followed?

If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries. If a business or a building owner knew or should have known of a dangerous condition, but did not make a reasonable attempt to fix the situation and you were injured, don’t let their insurance companies make you believe that your injury was your fault. Contact an attorney today to ensure that your questions are answered and your rights are protected.

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The sooner you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, the sooner you can take steps to protect your rights and get the fair compensation you deserve. Our call answering service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation. We have offices in Eau Claire and Hudson, Wisconsin, as well as Woodbury, Minnesota.

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Unless you or someone you know has worked in the trucking industry, there are many things about semi regulation and liability that you may not be aware of. Semi drivers and the companies that employ them are subject to more regulation and oversight than drivers of most other automobiles. The rules which govern the trucking industry can sometimes shed light on and clarify issues which may arise after an accident, such as causes which contributed to the accident and possible liability.

The United States Department of Transportation contains a division known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA); the FMCSA is tasked with promoting safety in the trucking industry, it does so in part by compiling and analyzing data and conducting research and technology. The FMCSA also helps set and enforce various rules and regulations which govern the trucking industry. If an accident involves a violation of FMCSA regulations, the violation may help determine liability and in some cases may allow for increased recovery.

Determining who is liable for injuries incurred in a semi accident can be complicated; depending on the circumstances, the semi driver, the semi owner, the person who loaded the semi trailer, manufacturers of the semi and the semi’s parts and equipment, and/or individuals who leased the semi may all be liable. In the past, determining liability was even more confusing; trucking companies would often lease their semis from others, while at the same time paying independent contractors to drive the leased vehicle. The trucking company would label the truck as if it were their own, but in the event of an accident they would attempt to avoid liability by declaring that the drivers were not employees and that the trucks were not owned by the trucking company. Federal regulations have done away with this type of practice; trucking companies are now generally responsible for any semi bearing their signage or information.

In the event of a collision with a semi, an injured party may have a stronger case if he or she can conclusively point out what caused the accident. Semi accidents require a different type of investigation than standard automobile accident scenes; in addition to standard reports and investigations by local police agencies, if a semi is involved in a crash, a certified motor carrier safety inspector must investigate the accident and complete a report which is separate from that of the responding law enforcement agency. These reports can be invaluable in establishing a quality claim. In addition to these investigative reports, many semis now carry black boxes similar to those found in aircraft. These black boxes record data and can include information such as, speed, direction, brake application, and time of travel.

A majority of accidents involving semis are caused by driver errors, such as inattentive driving or speeding, or equipment failure, such as tire blowout or defective brakes; but determining which factors apply to a specific accident can be challenging. An attorney can help you make sense of all the data collected after an accident, help gather reports from different government agencies, and help get access to black box information before it is erased and lost forever. After a collision, having some basic information can help answer some of your questions and get you started in the right direction, but if you are involved in an accident with a semi you would be best served by contacting an experience attorney as soon as possible.

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The sooner you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, the sooner you can take steps to protect your rights and get the fair compensation you deserve. Our call answering service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation. We have offices in Eau Claire and Hudson, Wisconsin, as well as Woodbury, Minnesota.

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Losing a loved one is never easy. Even when a loved one’s passing is “expected” from old age or a long illness, it is hard to say goodbye. The sudden death of a loved one is even more tragic and difficult to contemplate, especially when someone else is responsible for the death. “Wrongful Death” characterizes a type of lawsuit which is filed when a person is killed by the wrongdoing of another person. A wrongful death suit may be based on another person’s intentional wrongdoing or on another person’s negligence. Certain people can sue for wrongful death in an attempt to be compensated for things like medical and funeral expenses, income and benefits that the deceased would have otherwise continued to earn, and lost time with their loved one.

Only certain people are able to file a wrongful death suit. Some rules vary by state, but pretty much no matter where you live, parents of unmarried children, natural and adopted children, and spouses are able to file suit. In some cases, parents are able to sue for the wrongful death of unborn children. Some jurisdictions also allow other relatives such as siblings and grandchildren to sue for wrongful death. Some states allow fiancées and domestic partners to sue, while others allow anyone who was financially supported or cared for by the deceased to file suit.

If you are an individual who is able to file a wrongful death suit, you must determine who to sue. Sometimes, the identity of the person at fault is clear and obvious, such as when another driver is responsible for a motor vehicle accident or when someone creates a dangerous condition at a workplace. Other times, fault may be less obvious and may be found in the events leading up to the death. If a drunk driver was responsible for a fatal car accident, he or she would be liable; depending on the jurisdiction, anyone who provided alcohol to the drunk driver and/or the owner(s) of any tavern at which the driver became impaired may also be liable. Under certain circumstances, other people such as builders and engineers of dangerous structures and/or roadways and automakers who distribute unsafe vehicles may be found to be liable for a wrongful death. It must be noted that certain parties who would otherwise be liable are sometimes immune from liability. In some cases, it is impossible to successfully sue protected drug manufacturers, government employees, government agencies, medical device companies, and others.

People filing a wrongful death suit will try to recover a sum of money to help compensate them for the loss of their loved one. This sum of money is arrived at by considering purely monetary aspects such as lost earnings, lost value of goods and services, loss of child care, lost benefits, loss of transportation, medical and funeral expenses, loss of inheritance, and attorney’s fees. Non-monetary aspects such as loss of things including: household help, consortium, companionship, society, care, protection, nurturing, love, and advice are also considered, along with the general mental anguish experienced by the loved ones left behind. If the actions of the person at fault for the death are especially outrageous, extra punitive damages are sought to punish the person for his or her unreasonable behavior.

Because complicated governing laws and factual circumstances must always be evaluated to determine who may file suit, and will continue to be evaluated throughout the legal proceedings, it is advisable to contact an attorney to assist with your lawsuit.

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The sooner you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, the sooner you can take steps to protect your rights and get the fair compensation you deserve. Our call answering service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation. We have offices in Eau Claire and Hudson, Wisconsin, as well as Woodbury, Minnesota.

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You’ve been injured; now comes the challenge of figuring out what happens next. There are many things to consider in the aftermath of an injury, some of which may determine whether or not you will be compensated for your injury, and if so, how much your recovery will be. Whether or not to hire an attorney, whether or not you have a valid claim, relevant time limits, insurance coverage, the cause of the injury, and the identity of the person responsible for it are all factors that must be considered.

One of the first, and most important things to consider is whether or not to hire an attorney. Even if you believe that you would like to proceed without an attorney, it would be a good idea to at least meet with one for a consultation to get general information and the attorney’s initial thoughts on your case. If you do choose to hire an attorney, he or she will help you navigate through the legal process while working on your behalf. Most personal injury claims are handled on a contingency basis; this means that you do not pay any money up front, instead your attorney will keep a percentage of whatever amount of money he or she is able to obtain for you. Attorneys who are familiar with personal injury law can help you avoid costly mistakes such as missing out on a case because of a statute of limitations.

Statutes of limitations are basically time limits; depending on the specific limitation, you will have a certain amount of time from the date on which you were injured to file a claim against the party who injured you. The statute of limitations relevant to you can depend on how you were injured, where you were injured, and who was responsible for your injury. For instance, if a person slips and falls, suffering an injury at a public retail store, he or she may have up to three years to file his or her claim; however if that person suffered a similar slip and fall at a government building, he or she may have as little as one hundred twenty days in which to file suit. If too much time lapses between your injury and your filing of a lawsuit, you may be unable to successfully collect against the people responsible for your injuries and their insurance companies.

Insurance coverage is something that most people do not spend much time considering until the moment that they need it. If you’ve been injured, the types of insurance coverage that you and the person who injured you are covered under become very important. The homeowners, automobile, or commercial business insurance policy of the person who injured you may have to compensate you for your injuries. Obviously, you are more likely to recover if another person was responsible for your injuries, but some types of insurance, including your own healthcare insurance may be required to compensate you for medical expenses and injury even if you were at fault for your injuries.

How and where you were injured are significant aspects in determining your legal rights. For instance, if you have been injured at work, worker’s compensation insurance may be involved in your claim, no matter who is at fault for your injury. If you were injured at a store or other commercial site because of an unsafe condition, the owners of the building and their commercial insurance may be involved in your claim, but you may have to prove that the owners knew of the unsafe condition. If you were involved in an automobile accident, traffic laws and the circumstances surrounding the accident will be very important in determining fault and liability, which will in turn, determine which driver’s automobile insurance will pay. If someone injured you on purpose, his or her insurance may not cover his or her intentional act, meaning you would only be able to sue the responsible person directly. The rules and insurance coverage regarding dog bites, firearm injuries, injuries caused by government employees, injuries taking place on government property, dangerous and unsafe products, recreational injuries, and many other types of injuries are all different, and each must be handled in the proper manner or you may lose out on an otherwise valid claim.

Even if you have a valid claim, it may be difficult to determine how much your claim is worth by yourself. An attorney who is experienced with personal injuries and the associated negotiating processes can help you determine how your medical expenses, income loss, and damages (things like pain and suffering) will be computed and analyzed by insurance representatives. After you and your attorney have reached an estimate of what your claim may be worth, your attorney will attempt to settle your claim with the other parties and their insurance companies. If a satisfactory settlement offer is not made or accepted by the other parties, your attorney may recommend that you file a lawsuit.

Once a lawsuit has been filed, your attorney will be able to gather additional information through a legal process known as discovery. Discovery is a powerful tool, with which your attorney will be able to strengthen your case; but, discovery is a double edged sword, the other parties will use discovery to shed light on your claim and help evaluate whether or not they should settle. Most cases do settle before going to trial, some on the very eve of trial, but a settlement is not always guaranteed. If settlement is not reached, your attorney will plead your case in a court of law, working to get you the compensation you deserve.

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The sooner you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, the sooner you can take steps to protect your rights and get the fair compensation you deserve. Our call answering service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation. We have offices in Eau Claire and Hudson, Wisconsin, as well as Woodbury, Minnesota.

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Even a minor automobile accident can be a very frightening and disorienting thing to experience; having loved ones in the vehicle with you can make the situation even worse. It is often very difficult to be level headed after a collision, but there are certain basic things which should be done immediately after an accident and additional things which should be done once your adrenaline drops and you are able to think clearly.

The first thing to do after you’ve been in an accident is to stop. Stopping is important for many reasons; most jurisdictions require that you provide your certain information to other drivers, provide what help you can to injured parties, and call for additional help if needed. You are also required to contact police if there is damage worth over a certain dollar amount; because vehicles and repairs are so expensive, the police should be contacted in almost every instance.

While you wait for the police to respond to the accident scene, it is a good idea to warn other motorists, especially at night. Hazard lights, traffic cones, flashlights, reflective materials, and road-flares can help you to draw attention to your accident and safeguard yourself and passersby. After the proper safeguards and precautions have been taken, it is important to get the other driver’s name, contact information, insurance information and provide yours. Chances are that most of the relevant information will appear in the police report, but it is a good idea to record the information yourself; if there is in an error in the report, your insurance company and/or attorney may face delays while trying to get correct information. Don’t forget that sometimes witnesses can make or break your case; look around for possible witnesses and try to gather contact information from anyone who may have seen the accident.

After an accident, an attorney should be contacted as soon as possible. An attorney will most likely be able to offer you a free consultation, at which the attorney will touch upon the basics of relevant laws and ask you questions about your accident, including whether or not you were injured in your accident. At your consultation, you will also have a chance to ask the attorney questions about how to proceed, it can be helpful to write down any questions you might have beforehand, so that you don’t forget any. A knowledgeable attorney can be a great asset if you’ve been injured; if you hire an attorney, he or she will work hard to protect your rights and get you the compensation which you deserve.

Contact Us
The sooner you talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, the sooner you can take steps to protect your rights and get the fair compensation you deserve. Our call answering service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation. We have offices in Eau Claire and Hudson, Wisconsin, as well as Woodbury, Minnesota.

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Bankruptcy is typically a highly emotional, stressful, and extremely complicated process. Although individuals can go through the process without hiring an attorney, doing so can be extremely risky. A bankruptcy attorney can help to protect your assets that could otherwise be at risk, help you to navigate the process without falling victim to the many potential pitfalls, defend you in the case of litigation, and ensure that your rights are recognized at all steps of the process.

Due to the nature of bankruptcy, it is extremely important – perhaps more so than in any other area of law – that you hire a bankruptcy attorney with whom you feel extremely comfortable. Even under normal circumstances, many people are loath to discuss their finances with anyone, including family and friends. When going through bankruptcy, though, you will need to inform your attorney about all of your assets and your full financial picture to ensure that he is able to protect you to the best of his ability. If you are any less than forthright in this regard, you are likely to lose a lot more than you should.

The bankruptcy attorneys at The Sexton Law Firm in Chula Vista have been through the bankruptcy process many times before. Our lawyers are not here to judge you. They fully understand that there are times when people lose control of their financial situation through no fault of their own, often due to the loss of a job, illness, or some other major event that is beyond their control. They understand that you would not be going through bankruptcy if you had another option, and that the process is the first step toward you being able to get back in control of your life with as many of your assets as possible.

In addition to being an emotionally charged process, bankruptcy can also be highly complicated. Failure to file the proper paperwork and account for all of your assets can lead to the forfeiture of assets that could otherwise be protected. One of the greatest advantages of hiring a bankruptcy attorney is having someone to help you file all of the necessary paperwork. This would include your bankruptcy petition, bankruptcy schedules, which include your assets and liabilities, executor contracts, and other documents relevant to your case, as well as a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy plan when applicable. Your bankruptcy attorney will also attend the creditor meeting with you, again ensuring that your rights are protected.

You don’t have to be alone during this difficult and intricate process. Your creditors have been through this before and are seeking to collect on the debts owed to them. They have been through the process countless times before and looking out for their interests, not yours. The bankruptcy attorneys at The Sexton Law Firm are ready and willing to protect both your rights and your assets on this first step toward taking back control of your financial life.
Give us a call today to learn more about how our bankruptcy attorneys can help you through this trying time.
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Business/Corporate Law
Corporate and Business Law Counsel At the law offices of Christopher Sammarone, provide small and midsized businesses with comprehensive, reliable and cost-effective legal advice and representation.
Christopher Sammarone has years of experience with business transactions, corporate law and civil litigation. His knowledge of the legal problems that businesses of all sizes face can help you manage risk, avoid liability and compete effectively in your market.
At the law offices of Christopher Sammarone we can help with access to capital markets, regulatory compli- ance, and keeping your organizational structure current with the changing needs of your shareholders, customers, and management.
We also use our extensive knowledge of business and corporate practices to help less experienced business people understand their options for taking full advantage of market opportunities. Whether your situation calls for the licensing of intellectual property, the amendment of your operating agreement, the drafting of a sales contract, or the development of a franchise, we can advise you of the risks and opportunities.
Whether you are interested in a startup business, need help with personnel policies, or just need documents reviewed prior to a real estate transaction, We can help.

Criminal Law
When faced with criminal charges, it’s important that you obtain the legal counsel of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Criminal charges can easily result in a number of life-changing penalties upon conviction. Furthermore, in any criminal case the prosecution is going to come after you aggressively. Prosecutors have extensive money and resources to build their case, and will stop at nothing to see you convicted of your charges. You need the law offices of Christopher Sammarone to protect your rights at all times, and aggres- sively defend you at each stage of your case. Your future depend on it!

Real Estate Transactions
If you need assistance with a real estate transaction or dispute, you are going to want a lawyer who under- stands both real estate law and the real estate industry — someone with the experience and insight to help you protect your investment and pursue a positive outcome. The law offices of Christopher Sammarone provide real estate services to clients throughout the Mahoning area.
Purchase and sale transactions Commercial development issues Real estate litigation.

Civil Litigation/Personal Injury
The law offices of Christopher Sammarone, provides legal services and representation on all matters of civil litigation for both plaintiffs and defendants. The term “civil litigation” encompasses a broad range of matters but essentially relates to any litigation where a party seeks money damages from another or a specific order from the court compelling the adverse party to take some action or to refrain from taking some action. To file a suit, the plaintiff must have a “cause of action” or a legal basis for his or her actions. Contact us to schedule a consultation, call us at 330.259.9055.

OVI
DUI, DWI, OVI, OMVI – In Ohio, they all mean the same thing. A person charged with DUI in Ohio faces a myriad of consequences and needs competent thorough legal representation. The Ohio OVI/DUI laws stipulate that first-time drunk driving offenders lose their driver’s license for up to three years, pay fines of up to $1,075 and spend a minimum of three days in jail or a residential driver’s intervention program. If convicted for DUI, you will have a criminal record, which could impact your ability to travel and find or keep a job. Need Help With Your DUI arrest? Then Contact The law offices of Christopher Sammarone.
DUI convictions carry certain mandatory minimum penalties depending on factors such as the number of prior convictions in the past 6 years and the past 20 years. Other factors include whether or not there was a breath, blood, or urine test and whether the test result is over the legal limit or what is known as a “high-tier” test. Learn more about Ohio’s DUI Penalties.
For most clients, their first concern is being able to drive again. When a person is charged with DUI and has refused a blood alcohol test, or has taken the test and tested over the legal limit, the right to operate a motor vehicle in Ohio is immediately suspended. Call us at 330.259.9055.

Domestic Relations
The law offices of Christopher Sammarone, provides legal services and representation on all matters for the following:
Divorce
Dissolution
Custody
Visitation, and
Domestic Violence
We will evaluate every shred of evidence in your case and fight tirelessly to minimize the negative consequences.
Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce), Dissolution of Domestic Partnership, Custody Parenting Time, Restraining Orders and Complex Asset Divorce
Given the consequences of a family law case, you not only need an experienced law attorney on your side, but you need an experienced litigator. We know family law and know the courtroom. We know what Mahoning County judges and other courts do in a case like yours, because we’ve tried many cases. Consequently, we know the likely outcomes of your situation if your family law case goes to trial in Mahoning County.
We will not hesitate to give you the straight truth about what an Ohio court would likely do in a case like yours. We do not advise you to take your case to trial just for the sake of additional attorney fees. We advise you of what we think the possible Mahoning County trial outcomes are and the estimated likelihood of each possible outcome. It is up to you to decide whether or not to take your case to trial.
Trials are best not left to prepare for at the last minute. Cases are best left to attorneys who are experts and trial experts.
When hiring a lawyer you need to feel confident that your lawyer is looking out for your interests and your interests alone. You need to know that attorney fees won’t be run up haphazardly. You need to know that the advice you are getting is based on what actually goes on in Ohio law courtrooms. Our approach to handling cases allows you to make informed decisions based on the collective wisdom of our trial lawyers.
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You can consult Chula Vista personal injury lawyers anytime you think that something is making you sick at work or that you are being made to work in an unsafe environment. Workers’ compensation is given to an employee who gets injured in the workplace and typically, employers provide such kind of insurance to benefit their employees to cover their medical bills and loss of earnings if they get involved in an accident while at work.

A Workplace Free From Personal Injury

A good work environment must always be safe to encourage you to be more productive as well as to prevent you from being subjected to personal injury. Your employer has the responsibility to make sure that no harm will come to you during your shift in the office, warehouse, or even outside—if you are doing field work or are in transit during work hours.

Some employers may even knowingly put you in harm’s way or may be negligent enough to cause you to get ill or injured while at work. When this happens, you should know that you are not only entitled to workers’ compensation but also to run after negligent or liable individuals, companies and employers for their hand in your accident or injuries as well.

Your employer must never subject you to unsafe environment, chemicals or make you do tasks that you have not trained for. Furthermore, all equipment and machineries must always be maintained and must be operated only by individuals with the proper attire and training. Your work area must be safe from other toxic substances such as asbestos, black molds, etc. and you should never be exposed to potentially harmful energies such as radiation.

Other things that can potentially injure you are defective products and equipment used at work and your injury lawyer can help determine if you can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of that product or equipment based on the injuries that you have sustained.

Why Hire Chula Vista Personal Injury Lawyers?

Chula Vista injury attorneys can determine if you will be entitled to get workers’ compensation and if you can reimburse for damages and suffering from others’ negligence or wrongdoing as well. State laws may vary slightly but you can be assured that you will be represented correctly by a local law firm that is an expert in injury cases.

Always remember that you should be provided with a safe working environment, and if you employer fails to do so and caused you to suffer injuries, make sure to exercise your right and consult with professionals.

After seeking proper medical attention, do not take too long to decide and give us a call so we can help you assess if you are entitled to workers’ compensation and if applicable, for pain and suffering and loss of ability to earn. We can also help you collect from a state fund by filing a civil lawsuit against an employer who does not provide employees with workers’ compensation insurance. The James Sexton Law Firm personal injury hotline is always available for anyone who needs assistance for these kinds of cases: (619) 739-4804.
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Why Seek the Help of a Reputable San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer

Pursuing compensation for a personal injury caused by others upon you or a loved one can be really overwhelming but hiring a San Diego personal injury lawyer will make things a lot easier. Here are some of the things that you can keep in mind when you are seeking a good lawyer to help you.

Your accident injury attorney will be able to assess if you really need legal help or not. Make sure to divulge every important detail about the events leading to the accident as well as your injuries. Furthermore, it takes time to fulfill all the requirements and processes in filing a complaint against another and it is important to show that you indeed suffered loss of earnings.

Make sure you go to the right personal injury law firm in Coronado by seeking out those that have excellent reputation and track record. You may also ask your relatives or friends for recommendations. Chances are that the name of the best accident injury attorney, James Sexton, will come up several times. Satisfied clients will always be happy to tell you about their good experience from a dependable law firm in Chula Vista area.

Before hiring a lawyer, checkout a law office personally or visit their website to look for testimonials and discuss with them how they plan to defend your case. We offer a free consultation at The Sexton Law Firm so we can meet and discuss the specifics and a general plan for your case – even before you hire us. Be cautious about firms who spend too much on advertisement and direct you to haphazardly-done websites. Either they need that much marketing to attract clients or they think phony-looking sites are good baits to unsuspecting clients. Choose someone to represent you based on solid research and not fluff.

We are near El Cajon and take on many personal injury cases there. The more prepared you are with evidence, the more we can help you! Always ready and prepare all medical bills, records and other documents that indicate that you have been treated for injuries. Also, insurance documents as well as police reports or written accounts of an eyewitness can greatly improve your chances of getting compensated.

If you have never been in an accident before and don’t know what to do, always take note of back and neck pain as well as sudden headaches and other symptoms that might be reasons for seeking medical attention. It is very important to do this first to ensure that your injuries are well-recorded by medical professionals.

A great San Diego personal injury lawyer should have a local office nearby and should be readily accessible. Look for one who will be available and will not entrust your case to an inexperienced associate.

Another way to ensure that you get a good lawyer in the Bonita, CA area is to look for a personal injury law firm who will educate you about the process as honestly as possible and will assist you step-by-step on what you need to do to fulfill your requirements in filing your complaint.

The James Sexton Law Firm is a reputable law firm in Chula Vista that specializes in personal injury cases. If you or one of your loved ones has experienced loss in capacity to earn for a period of time due to a particular accident that was caused by another, make that first step and visit one of their offices in Chula Vista.
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CRIMINAL:
Criminal Defense: When facing possible criminal conviction, you will find the most important decision you make is choosing an attorney. I have handled hundreds of criminal cases ranging from misdemeanors to felonies and offer a free consultation to sit down and discuss your charges. If you are out of the area or unable to come in for an appointment, call our office and set up a phone consultation.

Traffic Offenses/DWIs: A speeding ticket may seem like an insignificant offense but can have unexpected consequences on your driving record and insurance premiums. Before you simply pay off the ticket, contact our office to discuss your options in handling the citation. If you are out of town, contact our office and we can do everything from a free consultation to receiving payment by phone. By hiring an attorney, you save the time and hassle of appearing in court. More importantly, I can potentially reduce or eliminate the points on your license and increases in insurance on minor traffic violations. Speaking with an attorney following a driving while impaired (DWI) arrest can positively affect the outcome of your case. Do not attempt to represent yourself in court for a DWI when you can talk at no cost with an experienced attorney who can look into the best approach for the situation. Click here for the 10 Rules on Dealing with Police

Domestic Violence: North Carolina takes domestic violence charges seriously and it is crucial that you speak to an attorney before appearing in court to ensure that your case is handled properly. A conviction of domestic violence may result in a jail sentence and will cost you the right to possess any firearms. For members of the military, this element is important as there is no exception to the law. It is especially imperative for military service members to speak with an attorney as soon as possible because a domestic violence conviction will likely lead to a discharge from service.

Expungements: What many people may not know, even if you are found not guilty or have a criminal charge dismissed is that the charge itself remains on the individual’s criminal record forever. The only way to have the charge removed is through the expungement process. Contact our office for a free consultation to discuss if you are eligible for an expungement.

FAMILY LAW
Separation Agreements: In North Carolina, parties cannot file for a divorce until they have been separated for a minimum of one year. A separation agreement can be prepared at any time during the separation period to outline property division, child visitation, and spousal/child support. By having a separation agreement in place, couples have the security of knowing what to expect when divorced. Our office can execute a separation agreement for you and then incorporate it into the Uncontested Divorce once the year of separation has been reached.

Uncontested Divorce: An uncontested divorce can be obtained once the parties have been separated for a minimum of one year and have all issues such as property and child custody worked out amicably. Hiring an attorney for an uncontested divorce saves you the time and headache of appearing in court. As long as one party resides in the state for six months prior, we can obtain the divorce on your behalf without your appearance being necessary. If you have an existing separation agreement in place, we can incorporate the agreement into the divorce judgment or can prepare one for you if needed.

Uncontested Family Law: Although uncontested matters may seem painless, family law procedures can be confusing and frustrating when attempting to handle these situations alone. Contact our office to schedule a consultation to discuss how I can assist you with filing the appropriate actions to achieve desired results ranging in issues from adoptions to child support to divorces.

If your matter cannot be resolved in an uncontested manner, please contact attorney Ann D. Maready. Mrs. Maready exclusively handles contested domestic matters and is conveniently located in the same office.
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If you are facing overwhelming debt, you might be able to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy. At the Law Offices of Margaret L. Herdeck, P.C., we can help you decide if bankruptcy is the right option. From our Pueblo, Colorado, office, we will work with you to quickly resolve your debt.

With over 18 years of experience, attorney Margaret Herdeck will help you decide whether filing for bankruptcy is the answer to your financial crisis. Contact us to find out how we can help you.

The Benefits of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
When you file for bankruptcy, an order of relief (sometimes called an “automatic stay”) is put in place. After this order goes into effect, creditors will not be allowed to keep trying to collect what you owe them. For example, creditors cannot garnish your wages or repossess your car once there is an automatic stay in place.

Many of your debts, including debt from credit cards and medical bills, could be discharged. Once your debts have been discharged in a chapter 7 bankruptcy, creditors and collectors cannot continue to harass you to pay those debts.

You can get on with your life. Filing for chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy can be a quick process. Most of the time, we can guide you from the filing to a discharge in 120 days.

Not everyone is eligible to file for bankruptcy. An experienced lawyer can help you decide which debt relief options are best for you. Contact us to find out whether you should file for chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The Benefits of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Higher than average regular monthly incomes differing from state to state, mortgages which have fallen behind, non-exempt assets which you may wish to keep which would not be allowed in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, are just some of the factors which might require you to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debtor works out a plan to be approved by the bankruptcy court whereby he/she repays certain debts (e.g. mortgage arrears) over a three or five year period. Many times unsecured creditors receive nothing. The amount a debtor must pay into the plan each month depends, among other things, on monthly household income, monthly expenses allowed a household using IRS standards for the geographical area in question, and monthly secured debt obligations to be paid over the life of the plan.

Debts that Cannot Be Discharged
While many consumer debts can be discharged through chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are certain types of debt that you must pay, such as:

Child support
Spousal maintenance (alimony)
Student loans (unless you can prove that paying them would cause a hardship)
Certain taxes
If the majority of your debts are related to these issues, chapter 7 bankruptcy might not help you. In this case, you should consider alternative debt solutions such as credit counseling.

Call 719-544-2500 or e-mail us to discuss your financial situation. Come visit us during the week between 9:00am and 5:00pm.

Our office is located three blocks from the Pueblo County District Courthouse and one block away from the Parkview Hospital at 10th and Grand. For your convenience, we accept all major credit cards.

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HOW TO HIRE A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER

My practice is exclusively criminal defense. I speak to people everyday that are looking to hire an experienced, zealous criminal defense attorney. Generally, because of the nature of my practice, individuals who call me are in desperate or urgent situations and they are looking to hire someone who will do everything humanly possible to protect them or their family member.

So, if you are looking to hire a lawyer for representation on a case or on a pre-charge basis, how do you do it?

There are several things to look at. First, and this may seem obvious but it is surprising how many times people miss it, make sure that the lawyer you are talking with exclusively handles criminal cases. Just because some attorney handled your divorce or the closing on your house does not mean that lawyer is qualified to handle a criminal case. Look at it this way, if you needed heart surgery, would you hire a brain surgeon? Both are doctor’s right? Obviously you would not hire a brain surgeon and you would hire the best heart doctor you can find because when something important is on the line, it is critical that you hire a specialist. It is the same with Michigan criminal defense lawyers.

This part is also important. Not all criminal defense lawyers handle all criminal cases. Federal law, for example, is generally dramatically different from state law. Some criminal defense attorneys mostly handle misdemeanors and would not be qualified to handle a serious felony allegation. Make sure the lawyer you are interviewing handles the type of case that you are dealing with.

If you do not know a lawyer, check out some attorney groups focusing on criminal defense. An excellent resource is Avvo (a lawyer review website) where most of the experienced criminal defense attorneys in Michigan are rated based upon a complex algorithm that factors in experience, industry recognition, client reviews and attorney endorsements. Avvo lists areas of practice for attorneys and you will be able to quickly weed out the lawyers who handle civil cases in addition to criminal matters. A Google search is mandatory these days to further investigate any lawyer you are considering hiring.

Most criminal defense lawyers will offer free consultations and many will meet with clients 24-hours per day, 7 days per week when necessary. After you find a lawyer that you feel you can trust and who will fight for you, make an appointment and go visit the potential lawyer. You should never agree to hire a lawyer without meeting him or her in person first.

Should you find out the fee before you go to see the lawyer? That depends. Many lawyers will give you a range of potential fees if possible or tell you a minimum deposit that may be required before you make an appointment. Most experienced criminal defense attorneys will not quote a fee over the telephone. Be very suspicious of any lawyer who quotes their fees on the internet or over the telephone after a brief consultation. The fact is that every case is different and a lawyer who charges the same fees for all cases or types of cases is probably desperate or inexperienced. Consider for example, a felony violation of probation can be quite simple or highly complex. If the defendant is being violated because he was convicted of a new offense, the defense attorney’s job is damage control and sentence minimization. If on the other hand the defendant has 5 allegations and he claims that he is innocent of the violations, numerous witnesses may have to be called, experts may have to be consulted and hearings may need to be conducted. The second defendant’s case is much more complicated and will necessitate higher legal fees.

As a second example, consider a lawyer that has a pre-set charge of $2,500.00 per case for OWI (operating while intoxicated) First Offense. Client A was in an accident, had a blood/alcohol level of .16, admitted to police that he drank excessive quantities of alcohol and completely obliterated the sobriety tests. He does not want to fight his case and he just wants to go for the most lenient sentence possible. Client B was stopped for weaving within his lane, had a breath/alcohol level of .08 on a Datamaster that was not properly calibrated and the officer claims he failed field sobriety tests but the video doesn’t completely substantiate the officer’s observations. This client is going to need a suppression hearing, a Daubert (scientific admissibility) hearing, and a hearing on the admissibility of the field sobriety tests. The lawyer may be alright with Client A and he may even do a half-way decent job. Client B is in big trouble. The lawyer is just not going to take the time necessary to properly advocate for Client B because his representation in that case is going to be financial and time burdensome. Client B may find himself getting railroaded.

Also stay away from lawyers that promise really good results. Good results can happen, but even the best lawyers do not always get the results they want. The reality is there are three types of cases: cases easily won (acquittal), cases easily lost (conviction), and cases in the middle. Every client wants to think that their case can be easily won. That is not the case and most cases are in the middle. A common sales technique used by some attorneys is to promise certain results like no jail, dismissal or a reduction in charges. In Michigan, the Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit a lawyer from making these promises or guarantees. If the lawyer is willing to breach his or her ethical standards to try and get your case, that does not lend much credibility to the promise made to persuade you to hire him or her. If a lawyer makes a promise or guarantee, head for the door.

Cases in which the evidence is rather strong require a lawyer who is an excellent negotiator and who can be very persuasive with the judge at the time of sentencing. Some lawyers are better at negotiations than others
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Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy is typically a highly emotional, stressful, and extremely complicated process. Although individuals can go through the process without hiring an attorney, doing so can be extremely risky. A bankruptcy attorney can help to protect your assets that could otherwise be at risk, help you to navigate the process without falling victim to the many potential pitfalls, defend you in the case of litigation, and ensure that your rights are recognized at all steps of the process.
Due to the nature of bankruptcy, it is extremely important – perhaps more so than in any other area of law – that you hire a bankruptcy attorney with whom you feel extremely comfortable. Even under normal circumstances, many people are loath to discuss their finances with anyone, including family and friends. When going through bankruptcy, though, you will need to inform your attorney about all of your assets and your full financial picture to ensure that he is able to protect you to the best of his ability. If you are any less than forthright in this regard, you are likely to lose a lot more than you should.
The bankruptcy attorneys at The Sexton Law Firm in Chula Vista have been through the bankruptcy process many times before. Our lawyers are not here to judge you. They fully understand that there are times when people lose control of their financial situation through no fault of their own, often due to the loss of a job, illness, or some other major event that is beyond their control. They understand that you would not be going through bankruptcy if you had another option, and that the process is the first step toward you being able to get back in control of your life with as many of your assets as possible.
In addition to being an emotionally charged process, bankruptcy can also be highly complicated. Failure to file the proper paperwork and account for all of your assets can lead to the forfeiture of assets that could otherwise be protected. One of the greatest advantages of hiring a bankruptcy attorney is having someone to help you file all of the necessary paperwork. This would include your bankruptcy petition, bankruptcy schedules, which include your assets and liabilities, executor contracts, and other documents relevant to your case, as well as a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy plan when applicable. Your bankruptcy attorney will also attend the creditor meeting with you, again ensuring that your rights are protected.
You don’t have to be alone during this difficult and intricate process. Your creditors have been through this before and are seeking to collect on the debts owed to them. They have been through the process countless times before and looking out for their interests, not yours. The bankruptcy attorneys at The Sexton Law Firm are ready and willing to protect both your rights and your assets on this first step toward taking back control of your financial life.
Give us a call today to learn more about how our bankruptcy attorneys can help you through this trying time.
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Devastating Injury? Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
Personal injury attorneys know that motorcycle accidents usually result in devastating injuries. As the victim, you may face extended hospitalization, followed by months of painful rehabilitation. Even after you have recovered, you may be left with a permanent disability that affects your ability to earn a living and do the things you enjoy. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury in a motorcycle accident, you need to know your rights and options from an accident attorney from a personal injury law firm. After a motorcycle accident, it is imperative that you seek medical attention — even minor injuries should be looked at by a skilled physician. Your next step is to contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Our auto accident attorneys who focus on assisting auto accident victims have handled cases similar to yours and can provide you with an honest assessment regarding your chances of obtaining a settlement. Personal injury attorneys understand the value of dependability, trust, and going the extra mile when others are depending on you. We won’t let you down.
Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys
Based on statistics and our personal injury attorneys own experience with clients, it is safe to say that car drivers commonly cause crashes with motorcycles. Determining the cause of your motorcycle crash will require thorough investigation for your personal injury lawsuit. Common injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents include road rash, broken bones, spinal cord injuries and head injuries. Some form of negligence causes most motorcycle accidents. Below is a list of the most common causes of motorcycle collisions:
Tailgating: Tailgating any vehicle is dangerous, but tailgating a motorcycle can be deadly. Basic safety rules caution drivers to keep the length of two cars between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can explain to you that motorcyclists need just as much room as other vehicles — if not more.
Sideswipe: Being much smaller than other vehicles on the road, motorcycles can be difficult to spot, especially when a driver is changing lanes. If a motorcyclist is in a car’s blind spot, the driver may not detect the motorcycle until it is too late.
Speeding: Speeding on a motorcycle greatly increases your chances of a collision and catastrophic or fatal injury. To prevent injury to yourself and other motorists, obey traffic laws and signs and slow down. If you suffer injury due to the actions of a speeding or reckless driver, contact a motorcycle accident lawyer at our firm.
Following an accident, it is always in your best interest to contact our experienced personal injury law firm as soon as you can so our personal injury attorneys can guide you through the legal process. Accidents that involve personal injury law can quickly get complicated, so it’s important to make sure that you have someone in place to look after your best interests. However, in the meantime, you need to pay attention in those moments immediately following the accident, and take the necessary steps to ensure proper documentation, preserve evidence, and identify potential witnesses. Here are some important steps most personal injury attorneys advise you to take immediately following a motorcycle accident to preserve the integrity of your case.
Any motorcycle accident lawyer will tell you that the most important thing to do after a motorcycle accident is to get medical attention for yourself and anyone else involved. Even if nobody is severely injured, this will get the police there as soon as possible so that a proper report of the accident, the scene, and details of the crash can be recorded. When reporting your injuries, be thorough, and don’t brush off anything, as this documentation is critical. It’s also important that you not speak to anyone besides the police about the accident, and that you only provide the facts.
Steps Prior to Calling Personal Injury Attorneys
As soon as you can, it’s important to gather information from all parties involved for your own personal records, separate from that of the police. Be sure to write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all involved parties, as well as their insurance information. It’s also a good idea to get the make, model, year, license plate number, and VIN from the other vehicle.
One of the best things you can do to ensure a successful motorcycle accident claim is to take photographs at the scene, both of evidence of the accident and any injuries you or a passenger may have sustained. Be sure to take pictures of the motorcycle from several angles, noting the direction, time of day, weather, and any other pertinent details. It’s also recommended that you preserve the clothing you wore and any other remnants in case they are needed to support your case. Photographs will be extremely helpful to your accident injury lawyers when it comes time to file a claim.
Sustaining a motorcycle accident injury can cause stress, frustration and both physical and emotional pain. James Sexton and his personal injury attorneys have the experience and knowledge to assist you on your road to recovery that sets him apart from other personal injury law firms. If you cannot come to us, our personal injury attorneys will meet with you in your home or hospital to discuss your claim. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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The Solutions Law Center is one of the largest bankruptcy filers in San Diego County and helps countless individuals throughout Southern California obtain debt relief through Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as well as debt settlement and help with home mortgages and foreclosure issues.

Chapter 7
Consumers and businesses alike may file for Chapter 7. Chapter 7 is known as a “straight bankruptcy” because it involves the discharge of debts as opposed to a payment plan such as is found under Chapter 11 or Chapter 13. In Chapter 7, your non-exempt assets are sold, and the proceeds are used to pay off your creditors in priority order. Once the proceeds are disbursed, remaining debts are discharged by the Bankruptcy Court, giving you a clean slate and letting you start over debt-free. This liquidation process is not as bad as it sounds, since the law allows you to exempt many forms of property from sale. It is even possible to receive a discharge without selling any property at all, which is known as a “no-asset” bankruptcy.

A business in Chapter 7 usually ceases operations. For consumers, it is important to know that not all debts are dischargeable in Chapter 7, such as certain tax debts and student loans. Also, consumers must meet eligibility requirements, which may be established by passing a means test. Chapter 7 is usually most attractive to businesses needing to start over or people with large amounts of unsecured debt, such as medical debt or high credit card balances. We can help you determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7, and whether this option is the right one for you.

Chapter 11
Although Chapter 11 is used most often by businesses on the brink of insolvency, it may also be utilized by individuals with large amounts of debt beyond the Chapter 13 debt limits. A business in Chapter 11 continues to operate while it reorganizes and restructures and works out a plan to pay off its creditors over time.

Chapter 11 may also help a holder of investment property who owed more on the mortgage than the property is worth. Chapter 11 allows the debtor to “cram down” to amount owed on the mortgage to the value of underlying property securing the claim.

Chapter 13
Available to consumers only, Chapter 13 involves developing a “wage earner’s plan” through which current obligations are paid off over a three-year or five-year period. This process gets the bill collectors off your back and gives you the breathing room to work out a plan that allows you to keep going while paying a little each month toward becoming debt-free. Chapter 13 works well for people with a steady job and regular income that can stick to a plan and put a little aside each month to servicing their debt.

Another major attraction of Chapter 13 is its ability to help homeowners in default avoid foreclosure by catching up on missed payments through the Chapter 13 plan. Even homeowners not in default can benefit by having their second mortgage removed. This process is known as “lien stripping” and is available on primary residences or investment properties when the senior mortgage is already undersecured by the present value of the property, i.e. the homeowner is “upside-down” or “under water” on the first mortgage. The junior mortgage is treated as unsecured debt and discharged as part of the Chapter 13 wage earner’s plan.

Other Alternatives
Bankruptcy is not for everybody, and some people facing financial difficulties can benefit from other forms of debt relief. For instance, we may be able to negotiate a debt settlement with your creditors, whereby they agree to accept a lesser amount on the debt in exchange for a lump sum payment. If you are upside down on your home mortgage or behind in payments, we may be able to negotiate a loan modification or workout to keep you in your home with a mortgage that is reasonable. When it makes more sense to walk away, we can negotiate a mortgage buyout through a short sale, deed in lieu, or other means.

At The Solutions Law Center, we take the time to understand your unique financial situation. We develop a strategy and solution that best meets your needs and goals and advise you on your options. We can help you with the bankruptcy process from petition to discharge, or with any other form of debt relief. If you are overwhelmed with debt and don’t know where to turn, contact The Solutions Law Center for a free consultation and immediate assistance.
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The family law attorneys at The Solutions Law Center provide capable, caring, and effective representation to people in Los Angeles, San Diego, and all of Southern California who are going through a divorce and need a lawyer to make sure their rights and interests are protected in the areas of child custody and support, spousal support (alimony), the division of community property, and other important issues. We utilize our skills in negotiation and mediation to work out peaceable settlements wherever possible, and litigate matters in court only when necessary to protect our clients’ best interests.

Child Custody and Visitation
When a marriage has produced children, issues of custody and visitation are often the most important and vigorously contested issues in the divorce. Although the court usually orders some form of joint custody, the division of time is not always equal, and one parent is generally given primary custody. Sole custody may be awarded when the court deems it to be in the child’s best interests, depending upon the age and gender of the child, or if there is any history of child abuse or domestic violence involving one of the parents.

When custody is shared, the court will order a visitation plan the sets out the time each parent spends with the child, and the schedule that will be implemented. The court can order supervised visitation if it is in the child’s best interests, with supervision conducted by a professional agency, another adult, or the custodial parent.

Child Support
Both parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially. In most cases, this means that the court will order child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent with sole or primary custody. The monthly amount is calculated according to statutory guidelines based on income and other factors, but the judge has discretion to deviate from the guideline amount when circumstances warrant it.

Spousal Support
Spousal support is not ordered in every case, but it may be ordered to be paid to either the husband or the wife, either for a definite period of time, or for an indefinite period until the receiving spouse dies or remarries. The support amount is based upon a number of factors, such as the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, and the financial needs and abilities of each party.

Property Division
Since California is a community property state, each divorcing spouse owns a one-half interest in every piece of marital property, and the job of the judge is to divide the community property equally between the parties. It is very important, therefore, that every piece of property be properly characterized as separate or community property, and that it be properly valued. These determinations are not always easy, and the parties can disagree over the characterization and valuation of a particular asset, such as one spouse’s share in a business or interest in a pension plan.

Modifications
Custody and support orders are usually established for a definite time period or until the happening of some event or condition. In order to modify an existing court order, one must go to court and convince the judge that circumstances have changed enough to justify a modification of the order. For instance, a change in the income or expenses of one of the parents or the children may justify a change in child support, or the desire of the custodial parent to relocate out-of-state may require a change in the custody and visitation plan.

Effective Legal Representation is Key
In every issue in divorce mentioned above, the judge has discretion on how to rule based on the evidence and arguments presented by the parties and their attorneys. Capable, effective representation is the key to protecting your rights and achieving your goals in a divorce. Don’t give up important rights as part of your divorce, and don’t trust your divorce to just any attorney. Let The Solutions Law Center find the solution that is right for you. If you are contemplating a divorce or need assistance with another family law matter, contact The Solutions Law Center for a free consultation.
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Probate
What is Probate?
Probate is the process of transferring your assets to your heirs or to the beneficiaries named in your Will. Some assets, like those owned in joint tenancy with another person, your life insurance proceeds and your retirement benefits do not ordinarily go through probate.
What is the difference between an heir and a beneficiary?
An heir is the person who receives a part of your estate if you don’t have a Will. They have a biological relationship to you that the Washington legislature has decided means they should receive part of your estate, unless you have stated otherwise in your Will. A beneficiary is a person or charity named in your Will to receive a part of your estate.
How long does Probate take?
Unless it is a complicated situation, the probate should be completed about 6 months after your death.
Isn’t it better to avoid Probate?
In some situations, it makes sense to avoid probate, but in most situations, it isn’t worth the upfront costs and hassles. As part of the estate planning, we would discuss the advantages and disadvantages of avoiding probate.
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Domestic Partnership Agreements
What is a Domestic Partnership Agreement?
Basically, a domestic partnership agreement is a legally enforceable contract between two unmarried people that clarified the rights and obligations of each person to their jointly owned property.
Why might I want a Domestic Partnership Agreement?
If you are in a relationship with someone to whom you are not legally married, a domestic partnership agreement protects both of you and serves two main functions. First, if the two of you go your separate ways, the agreement provides you with a roadmap to follow in dividing your jointly owned property. The most valuable property is often your house and deciding what to do with it when you are emotionally stressed could be very messy without an agreement. Secondly, a domestic partnership agreement clarifies what each of you owns in case one or both of you die. If only one of you dies and leaves everything to the other person in a Will, this isn’t such a problem. However, if you both die together, the agreement clarifies, for your families, what each of you owns. This can avoid a very messy situation.
What is a Property Settlement?

A property settlement is a legally binding agreement that divides all of the property owned by both members of an unmarried couple. It will include the separate property of each person and also the jointly owned property of each person.
If my Partner and I split up do we need a Property Settlement?
Yes. Without a property settlement either of you could try to change the division of property. Part of my job in helping clients with property settlements is to make sure they have thought of everything and also to be sure they are aware of the tax implications.
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What is a Guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal proceeding during which the court finds someone to be unable to handle his or her own affairs (incapacitated) and appoints another person to take care of the incapacitated person. The two kinds of guardians are guardian of the estate and guardian of the person.
A guardian of the estate handles the incapacitated person’s financial affairs. A guardian of the person handles the incapacitated person’s healthcare decisions.
Who would need a Guardianship?
If someone is not taking care of their own affairs and causing damage to him or herself as a result, a guardian can be appointed. A guardianship is supposed to be the last resort and if there is any less restrictive alternative, like a durable power of attorney, the court will require that to be used before appointing a guardian.
Who can become a Guardian?
Basically, anyone who is over the age of 18, isn’t a criminal and if not of “unsound” mind can become a guardian. You don’t have to be a relative.
What is the process of becoming a Guardian?
You would petition the court of be appointed as guardian. The court would then appoint someone neutral (a guardian ad litem) to investigate whether or not the person needs a guardian and, if he or she does, whether or not you are a qualified person to act a guardian. The guardian ad litem files a report with the court with his or her recommendations.
If you know someone who you think needs a guardian but you don’t want to act as the guardian yourself, you can petition the court to investigate whether or not a guardian is needed, and if the court determines that a guardian is in the best interests of the incapacitated person, the court will appoint an appropriate guardian.
How long does it take to become a Guardian?
It typically takes about 60 days.
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What is a Trust?
A trust is a legal entity that owns property, usually for the benefit of a person called a beneficiary, and is controlled by a person called a trustee. The trustee holds that assets in the name of the trust and makes distributions to the beneficiary according to the terms of the trust agreement.
A trust can be “revocable” and “irrevocable”. A revocable trust can be changed or terminated by the person setting it up. An irrevocable trust generally cannot be changed after it is set up.
Why might I want a Revocable Living Trust?
A revocable living trust is a type of trust you can set up and put everything you own into during your lifetime. Contrary to what some advertisements lead you to believe, it does not save estate taxes. The main advantage for a revocable living trust is to avoid probate. In states like California and New York where probate is very expensive, this can save a lot of money. Washington has one of the simplest probate systems in the country so if avoiding probate is the only reason, setting up a revocable living trust probably doesn’t make sense. The cost of setting the trust up and getting all of your assets into the trust can be as much or more as going through probate. You are paying for it in sooner rather than later.
There may, however, be other good reasons for setting up a revocable living trust. By going through probate, your biological relatives have the opportunity to contest your Will. Even if there is no legitimate basis for the contest, they can tie up your estate and try to force a payment from your estate in exchange for them withdrawing the will contest.
Also, if you have unusual assets, like a business, where you want a continuity of management, in the event you become incapacitated and after your death, a revocable living trust can make sense.
Why might I want an Irrevocable Trust?
The primary reason to set up an irrevocable trust while you are alive is to save taxes. It can be a good way to make gifts to children or grandchildren and make sure the amount of the gift is not taxed to you at your death. You also may want an irrevocable trust in your Will to take care of your Partner or children after your death.
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Assisted Reproduction Agreements
An assisted reproduction agreement is a legally enforceable contract between a sperm donor and a recipient outlining the rights and responsibilities of each party if a child is born as the result of an attempted artificial insemination. It is common for the agreement to state that the donor has no legal rights or responsibilities related to the child and address visitation rights, naming rights, and custodial rights in the event the recipient were to die before the child is a minor.
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Adoptions
The adoptive parent(s) need to petition the Court to have the adoption legalized. If an adoption agency placed the child with the adoptive parents they will have taken care of some of the legal requirements but an attorney is still needed to draft the legal documents to finalize the adoption.
A step-parent adoption is when the parent has a new spouse or partner who is seeking to become the legal parent of the child. This can be done whether the parents are married or not and also whether the parents are a heterosexual couple or a same-sex couple.
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Survivors of abuse are normally left with low self-esteem and little self-confidence. Both of which seriously impact their ability to make decisions or take specific actions to move forward in their lives. Searching for new employment becomes a monumental challenge. Without help, many victims find themselves in demeaning and sometimes violent situations. Once you are a victim of abuse you can only begin a new life with nonviolent surroundings. Finding jobs with adequate wages that are documented as safe places can be challenging. Many communities have come together for just this reason and created organizations to guide people to the best available jobs.

Those Who Know

Abuse comes in many fashions but every form is damaging to the victim. Sexual, physical and mental maltreatment all leave deep scars embedded in the souls of the survivors. Even escaping the act doesn’t stop the rage and distrust created by it and all of this affects your chance of finding a great job. Those who actually succeeded at starting a new life realized the desperate need for expansive resources for job placement. These people formed groups to help victims find jobs, counselling and a new way of living. Having the knowledge that only comes from experience inspired them to become counsellors, police officers and victim advocates. Many victims run abuse shelters and maintain an endless list of safe places to live and work.

Seek And You Shall Find

There is a broad spotlight on domestic violence which is working diligently to reduce the number of disastrous ends associated with leaving the abuser or re-entering the work force. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides abuse shelters that include a huge database for housing, counselling and jobs to aid victims. Often times there are employment opportunities at the shelter itself or in an affiliated program. If you are a victim- even if you didn’t live at a shelter- go to one and ask how and where to find a safe job. Or call the national abuse hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) to find the help you need.

Often, people that escape this traumatic life never want to look back- understandably. But-it is so important to remember what you overcame. It’s necessary to stretch out a helping hand to those just finding the courage to take the same path you just walked. You may get strong enough to open a new non-profit organization to provide more jobs or more safe places to live.

The Effects on Employment

There are businesses that partner with groups fighting domestic violence. These companies are aware of the abusers ability to seek and find their spouses and offer the victims support and safety. They understand the increased absenteeism, the high costs of medical care and the reduction in productivity. Companies that have been educated in the after effects of abuse work with the victims to improve and overcome their feelings of guilt and shame. Some companies like Burger King have taken the lead, offering assistance with employment of victims of domestic abuse. Offering time off for counseling, encouraging them to express their fears to safety groups, and ensuring a source of financial gain all contribute to healing the injured soul.
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Explaining the legal foreclosure process:

There are many factors that go into the entire home foreclosure process in the state of Florida. The following explanation is meant to explain the legal aspect of how a foreclosure case proceeds, from start to finish. This explanation is not meant as the be all and end all of each and every case. Each person’s case and circumstances are very unique. There may be certain facts in your case that would lead to a valid defense in a court of law. I am available to offer you a free consultation to look at the unique facts of your case.

W. Scott Van Ness Esq.

If you are interested in an appointment, please give our firm a call at (941) 922-0828 or e-mail me at [email protected] and schedule a free consultation.

STEP 1: The creation of a relationship.

The first step in the legal process of a loan foreclosure is to establish that there is a right by someone (usually the bank) to require you to repay a certain sum of money. This is usually accomplished when you either purchase a home and borrow some money or borrow some money to refinance your home.

When you initially closed on your home (or refinanced the mortgage) you signed a bunch of papers. Two of these documents are what create the potential to eventually file a lawsuit against you. The first is the promissory note. This piece of paper represents an agreement where one person (or more than one person) borrows a certain sum of money and agrees to repay it over time to another person (or entity, usually the bank). The terms as to how and when the money is to be repaid, as well as any interest rates and other fees are included in this promissory note. The second piece of paper is the Mortgage. This piece of paper secures the promissory note against a piece of property. What this means is that if you fail to meet the agreement to repay as outlined in the promissory note, then you are agreeing that the lender (usually the bank) can take your property in at least partial repayment of the money you borrowed. Notice that I say “partial repayment.” If the property value has gone down, the value of the property may not be enough to repay the entire amount that you borrowed. If this happens the lender may have the right to collect the rest of the money from you after the sale of the home. Another thing that I will mention here is that there are many state and federal regulations that apply to certain people and certain companies governing when, where and how they are permitted to make loans. Failure to adhere to these regulations and laws may impair the right of that person or company (i.e. bank) to eventually be permitted to sue you in court to try and enforce the note or mortgage.

STEP 2: Default

The lender will not have a right to foreclose on your home unless there is a default under the terms of the note and/or mortgage. This usually means that you missed a payment; however, it could be triggered by a failure to meet any of the terms both you and the bank agreed to in the note and mortgage. Most notes and/or mortgages have provisions that mandate that the borrower maintain insurance on the property, pay all property taxes when they are due, not sell the property without paying off the lender, and in many instances to keep the property properly maintained.

Most foreclosure lawsuits are initiated due to a failure to make a payment on time. The process for when these payments are to be made, when they are late and when you may be in default are unique to each note and mortgage. Although many notes and mortgages contain similar language, your case will not be dictated by what “most” notes and mortgages say, but on what “your” note and mortgage says. STEP 3: Notices and Acceleration I will continue to state that each note and mortgage is unique. I can write here what most notes and mortgages do say, but yours may or may not say the same thing. It is important to read the terms of the note and mortgage that you signed and that you agreed to. These documents control what happens in your unique situation. I used to close loans for banks and mortgage companies. I spent over 6 years reading these documents and the requirements placed in them. I have been practicing law for over 18 years. I can read your individual note and mortgage and give you a legal opinion as to what they say.

Most (remember your loan is unique) loan documents require that the lender give you some kind of formal notice that you are in default on the loan and give you a certain amount of time (typically 30 days) to cure the default or to fix the problem. If you are able to cure the default (usually make up the missed payment) within the time given in the formal notice then the loan is no longer in default and there is no more problem.

In addition to the notice of default, most (again not all) loan documents provide that the lender has the right to call the entire outstanding balance of loan due once it is in default and the default has not been cured within the prescribed time. This is usually a requirement that must be done prior to having the right to bring a foreclosure lawsuit against you. If this has not been done properly the lender may not be allowed to bring the suit against you and you may be able to have the judge throw it out of court.

Step 4: You are properly served with a foreclosure lawsuit

Once all of the conditions have been satisfied that there is a proper loan, a default and that all other conditions have been met that are required under the loan documents, then the lender (bank) generally has the right to bring a foreclosure lawsuit against you. The bank usually hires an attorney prior to this point and you most likely have received some letter or letters from the attorney.

The lawsuit is filed in the circuit court in the county where the property is located. A duly authorized process server is then hired by the lender to properly serve you with the complaint and any attachments. I mention all of these items because there are many legal requirements that go into what must be included in the initial paperwork, how it is filed and how it is served on you. If all of these requirements are not met, then there may be various legal options that can be taken. HOWEVER, MANY OF THESE LEGAL OPTIONS AND/OR DEFENSES MAY BE WAIVED IF THE FIRST THING YOU DO IS NOT THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

Remember, at this point in time the bank has hired an attorney to represent them. Even though you may be talking with someone from the bank and may be attempting to negotiate a loan modification, may be in the process of trying to sell your home, or may be trying to reach some other agreement with the bank, none of those things changes what happens in the legal proceedings.

Step 5: You respond to the foreclosure lawsuit

Once you are properly served with the lawsuit you have 20 CALENDAR DAYS TO FILE A RESPONSE WITH THE COURT. I can not emphasize this enough. The response you make needs to be a legal response filed with the court. There are laws and rules of court that specifically state what happens next. Some of these rules and laws say that if you do not specifically raise certain defenses at the right time, you will not be permitted to raise them later.

Sending a letter to the judge stating that you have a hardship or that you are trying to sell your home generally do not rise to the level of a proper pleading. However, depending what you say in the letter the bank attorney may try to argue that you did file a response and waived certain defenses.

ONCE YOU ARE SERVED WITH A LAWSUIT, CALL ME (SCOTT VAN NESS AT (941) 922-0828 OR E-MAIL ME AT [email protected] TO SET UP YOUR FREE CONSULTATION SO I CAN HELP YOU.

STEP 6: THE COURT CASE

There are generally two ways a foreclosure lawsuit proceeds in court. Here in our area, as well as many areas in Florida and across the state, the courts have been swamped with foreclosures. They have been clogging up the courts for several years now. As a result, the various judicial circuits (as well as the states) have tried to come up with ways to deal with the volume of cases.

OPTION 1: YOU DON’T DO ANYTHING

If you choose not to file the appropriate paperwork with the court, then after the twenty days expires the bank can file a request to have the clerk file a default. This basically then means you are agreeing with everything they filed. The courts in this area have then set up a process known as the “rocket docket.” In order to speed up the system and clean out a back log of uncontested cases the judges set up a system where they set 200-300 cases for hearing and basically have the bank attorney come in with the paperwork and in a matter of a couple of hours they will enter the order that tells the clerk to sell your home. 30 days later your home will be auctioned and you will be out.

OPTION 2: YOU HIRE ME AND WE DEFEND THE CASE

Although each case is unique we can almost always find some mistake in the paperwork the bank filed. However, even if there is no mistake, if you file an answer or just deny the bank’s allegations, the case will now move through the normal court system. As you know the court system is very overworked right now. The case will now at least take a little while longer than the rocket docket course.

I often have clients ask me how long it will take. This is not an easy question to answer because it depends on several factors. Things like how aggressive the bank attorney is, what kind of mistakes we can find, how backed up the court system becomes. What I can tell you is it can range anywhere from several months to several years.

PROCESS: HEARINGS AND TRIAL

At some point in time the bank will try and file what is called a motion for summary judgment. If this is granted, then the home is usually sold within 30-60 days. If it is denied, then the case will proceed on to trial. Depending on how much discovery (exchange of documents, court motions, depositions, etc.) takes place the case could now take several months to get ready for trial.

If the bank has to go to trial they now have to prove that they own the promissory note and mortgage, that you signed them, that you are in default and that they have met all the legal requirements necessary to win the law suit they filed.

If the bank wins the case, the court will enter an order directing the clerk of court to sell the home. Once the home is sold there may be a determination that the sales price was or was not enough to cover how much you owed (plus attorney fees, costs, etc.). If there is not enough to cover what you owe, then in some circumstance the bank can get a judgment against you for the difference.

If there is a judgment against you for the difference (usually referred to as a deficiency judgment), then the bank can then use the court system to possibly force the sale of some of your other assets to pay what is owed to them. They may also be able to garnish your bank accounts.

DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU WITHOUT KNOWING YOUR OPTIONS. CALL ME TODAY, W. SCOTT VAN NESS, AT (941) 922-0828 OR E-MAIL ME AT [email protected] FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.

YOU CAN ALSO VISIT READ MORE INFORMATION ON MY BLOG AT WWW.CHRISTIANFORECLOSURE.BLOGSPOT.COM

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Family Legal Services in Missouri
What are some Divorce Terms?
Client- the person for whom the lawyer works
Custody- care of children
Contest- to argue
Annul- to cancel
Spouse- a husband or a wife
Dissolution- another name for divorce
Petition- a paper from the court asking for a divorce
File- to give a paper to the court
Summons- the order from the court that tells you to respond to the petition
Support- money paid to a wife, husband or for children
A divorce can take place if a court decides that a marriage cannot be saved. A judge without a jury decides the case. In Missouri, either the husband or the wife must have lived in the state for 90 days before the divorce can be filed.
What is Dissolution?
It is another name for divorce. It is a legal ending of the marriage, so that both spouses become single again. Neither spouse may marry within 40 days after the divorce because the court may change the decision. The wife’s lawyer may ask that her name be changed back to her maiden name. Learn More
Does Missouri Have a No-Fault Divorce Law?
Yes and no. Generally, one person doesn’t have to prove that the other one is at fault in order to get a divorce. But sometimes fault must be proven to help the court decide child custody, support or who gets property. Learn More
What is Annulment?
A decision by the court that the marriage was not legal from the beginning.
How is the Property Divided?
The judge thinks about: how to divide the property fairly; how much each spouse has helped to get the property; and what the spouse who has custody of the children will need to give them a good home.
The husband and wife may write an agreement on their support and the support and custody of the children, and an agreement about allowing the children to visit the other parent. The judge must approve this agreement.
What is Joint Custody?
It is a plan in which parents get court permission to share the decision-making responsibilities and sometimes also share the physical custody of the children. One parent will usually still have a duty to support the children. Learn More
What is Support/Maintenance?
Before the judge decides how much support is needed for either spouse, he will think about: how long the husband and wife have been married; the ages of the husband and wife; their health; their work and what they earn; and what money or property they have. (This was formerly known as alimony.) Learn More
If you or someone you know in Missouri is in need of Family Law Legal Services, please contact Family Lawyer Alan W. Cohen at (314)863-8800 or via the contact form in right column for prompt and considerate attention.

Disclaimer: The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. The information at this website is neither legal advice nor is it intended to be. Your use or access of the information on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please call to discuss your specific legal situation with an attorney.

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Divorce (Dissolution):
What is a “no-fault” divorce?
In Missouri, only “no-fault” divorce is available which means that the spouse suing for divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong. To file for a no-fault divorce, one spouse must simply state a reason recognized by the state. All states allow divorces regardless of who is at “fault”. In most states, it’s as easy as stating that the couple cannot get along (e.g., “incompatibility,” “irreconcilable differences,” or “irremediable breakdown of the marriage”). However, in several states the couple must live apart for a period of months or even years in order to obtain a no-fault divorce.
See the Fault/No-Fault filing options available in all 50 states

What is involved in starting the process for a divorce or dissolution?
The first step would be the filing of a properly executed petition with the appropriate court. The court must have what is called subject-matter jurisdiction that would entail satisfying the requirements of residency or domicile within the state and county dictated by the statute. This can be as little as six weeks or as long as three to six months. Without this threshold requirement being met the court would not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter and execute an order or decree of divorce, or dissolution, or like orders terminating the marital state.
What kind of documents will be needed to put together what the court will need to decide all of the issues involved?
List of Documents: Address book names, addresses and telephone numbers will help your lawyer prepare subpoenas for documents, depositions and court appearances. Don’t forget mystery numbers, i.e., those without names, or just initials. Identify them with the cross directory. Look for the following professionals and businesses: accountants—personal and business; bankers–personal and business, including trust officers; bookkeepers; computer consultants–they know how and where data is hidden; computer on-line services–obtain passwords to access information; computer message center and voice mail codes; financial planners; friends–those close enough to be trusted with money; insurance agents–including life, annuity, casualty, and key man insurance; lawyers; mailing services–such as Mail Boxes Etc.; mini-storage and office record storage; physicians; stock brokers; telephone answering services; telephone long distance companies; therapists; travel agents–personal and business; Federal and State Tax Returns for past years of the marriage with supporting documentation including all filed schedules for both individual and businesses involved. Relative to the tax returns, look for refunds and/or deficiencies. If you believe that the document produced is a forgery, have your lawyer insist that Form 4506 is signed by your spouse. The IRS will photocopy the actual return filed. Partnership tax returns (Form 1065) look for net operating loss adjustments. Gift and estate tax returns. Has your spouse made or received any gifts? Has s/he inherited any property? Business Records, Financial Statements and Credit Card Invoices are important. Personal Property includes: annuities, antiques, art work, automobiles, planes, boats, china and crystal, coins collectibles, frequent flyer miles, furniture/furnishings, furs, guns, jewelry, rugs, bills of sale (all property over $200). Also locate certificates of title for automobiles, boats, planes, trailers and heavy equipment. Homeowners Insurance scheduled property often states a value for insurance purposes and appraisals contain detailed descriptions of marital property. Note that appraised values may depend on the reason for the appraisal. For example, replacement value appraisals are often inflated while tax appraisals minimize value. Be sure you know the purpose for which the appraisal was prepared. Personal property also includes life insurance policies with information on beneficiaries, cash surrender value, loans against policies, other encumbrances against policies, e.g., using the policy as collateral for a loan. Banking information is also important including savings, checking, and credit union accounts. Note: If your spouse’s name is second on a joint account with a third party, interest income will be reported by that third party. Your spouse will not receive a 1099, and the account will not show on your income tax return. Look at monthly statements (look for payment or debit memo for safe-deposit box rental), passbooks, canceled checks and drafts (front and back) Note: make sure you photocopy the backs of checks, especially those made out to cash, to your spouse or to any unknown third party. Account numbers of secret accounts may appear along with the name of the depository bank. Also, check cashing card, check register, check stubs, cashier checks (carbon or photocopy), cash transactions, certificates of deposit, Children’s Uniform Gift to Minors Act bank records, Christmas club accounts, deposit slips, linked mutual fund and stock brokerage account, loan and credit applications, numbered accounts (often Swiss), passbooks (check to see if there is a loan against it), wire transfers and withdrawals. Look for any suspicious activities, such as repeated withdrawals of sums such as $505, suggesting conversion to travelers checks for $500 plus a 1 percent fee of $5.00. In addition there may be information on securities accounts; securities certificates; stocks and bonds; stock brokerage account statements; lists of securities; mutual fund statements; agreements relating to the account, such as, option trading, etc.; and applications to trade certain securities. Note that if your spouse is a sophisticated investor, he/she may have options or commodity trading ability. Stock brokerages require customers to fill out lengthy questionnaires before opening accounts for certain risky activities, such as options. These questionnaires are a good source of information regarding investment experience and objectives. IRA’s, Keogh’s and SEP-IRA’s Pension, Retirement and Survivor Benefits. Small Business Ownership Records are also important and any information you obtain is helpful in appraising the value of the business, including; buy-sell agreements, key-man, life, and property insurance, casualty insurance, leases, non-compete agreements, financial statements, balance sheet, shareholder equity investments, asset list and depreciation schedules, corporate redemption agreement to purchase stock rights of first refusal, major contracts, pension and profit sharing budgets, projections, marketing literature, loan applications. Employment Benefits: look for any sign that your spouse has deferred income, commissions, bonuses, royalties or has had salary converted into a non-cash benefit which would include the following: clothing allowance, company car, credit union statements, contracts of employment, employee benefits brochures, pension benefit statement, plan booklet, and amendments actuarial report on the pension plan, expense accounts, expense reimbursements, housing/relocation programs, in-kind compensation, meals, medical insurance, life insurance, loan programs, pay stubs (show certain benefits not part of taxable income), pension, profit sharing, stock purchase plan, travel and entertainment allowance. Litigation: If your spouse is suing, what’s the value of his or her lawsuit? If your spouse is being sued, do you have any exposure? Are there any prior divorce proceedings–will a first spouse’s right supersede yours? Court papers relating to pending matter(s) including statement of damages (to ascertain the value of the case. Look for Court records of final adjudication and Liens placed on assets. Loan Documents and Applications, Financial statements tend to show inflated asset values, income and net worth. Collection agency letters, home equity loans/lines of credit, mortgages/ home and business notes, passbook loans, and payment schedules. Look for recent payment of loans to family members, business associates, and friends. Also, look for accelerated payments; your spouse wants to show he has no money for you. Also, promissory notes both payable and receivable. Miscellaneous Income and Assets: royalties, severance pay, workers` compensation, annuities, rental income, prizes and awards, trust and estate income, capital gains, gift certificates, unemployment compensation, pension, veteran’s benefits, social security, lottery or gaming winnings, life insurance income or proceeds, notes payable to your spouse, partnership agreements etc. Basically, any document or information that can track money or property and its character should be obtained, preserved and turned over to your attorney.
Can a divorce action be stopped by one of the spouses?
A no-fault divorce can’t be stopped by a spouse because objecting to the other spouse’s petition for divorce is itself an irreconcilable difference that would justify the divorce. However, a spouse could potentially stop a fault divorce by either convincing the court that he/she was not at fault or by using any of the following defenses. 1. Condonation – implied approval of another’s activities by treating the person as though the offense were never committed. Example: if one spouse committed adultery and the other never objected to it, the offending spouse could say that the other spouse condoned the behavior. 2. Connivance – setting up a situation so that the other person commits a wrongdoing. Example: inviting the offending spouse’s lover over then leaving them alone together for an extended period of time would be considered conniving an adulterous behavior. 3. Provocation – inciting of another to do a certain act. Example: if one spouse sues for divorce on the grounds of cruelty, and it is later proven that he/she provoked the other into committing the act, the petition for divorce can stopped. 4. Collusion – secret agreement or cooperation between the spouses designed to deceive the judge. Example: a couple doesn’t want to wait through the separation period required to file a no-fault divorce, so one manufactures a “fault” with the other and files for a fault divorce.
How long does the process take to obtain a divorce or dissolution?
The time period involved is dependent upon the law of the state and could be as short as six weeks and can extend to six months depending upon the jurisdiction involved. If there are contested issues involved, it can be several years before the court may resolve all of the issues involved. The decree of divorce has full effect as soon as the judge signs it.
Does one have to go to court to obtain a divorce?
A court of law is the only way in which one can obtain a divorce decree, dissolution, legal separation, nullity, or other form of terminating a marriage. Each jurisdiction has established its own body of law by which this procedure is accomplished to give it full legal effect. The various states have enacted statutes that govern the procedures by which this is done. Other than the termination of the marital estate the court also has jurisdiction to resolve the other issues which are intertwined in the existing marriage which include but are not limited to, custody and visitation rights, division of property of the marital estate, spousal support, child support, restraining orders, etc.
Divorce and Bankruptcy:

Does my divorce decree protect me if my ex-spouse has filed for bankruptcy and she has listed me as a co-signer on a Schedule D?
If you are contractually bound with your ex-spouse on a debt, the creditor can require the entire payment of that debt from your share of the community property even though the divorce decree assigns the debt to your ex-spouse. Depending on the terms of your divorce decree, you may be able to have certain support obligations under it determined to be non-dischargeable by the bankruptcy court or in state court. If you find out that your ex-spouse has filed for bankruptcy, you should seek legal advice to find out your possible obligations.
My Ex Has Threatened To File Bankruptcy. What Effect Does Bankruptcy Have On Child Support?
Filing for bankruptcy protection does not allow your ex to discharge past due child support obligations. Any back payments owed for child support cannot be included as a debt and cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding.
However, the filing of a bankruptcy petition automatically stops collection activities on a support order. Since there are legal procedures that must be followed in order to lift the stay regarding the payments, it is crucial to retain an attorney who has expertise in bankruptcies.
If you or someone you know in Missouri is in need of Family Law Legal Services, please contact Family Lawyer Alan W. Cohen at (314)863-8800 or via the contact form in right column for prompt and considerate attention.

Discliamer: The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. The information at this website is neither legal advice nor is it intended to be. Your use or access of the information on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please call to discuss your specific legal situation with an attorney.

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Children Legal Frequently Asked Questions
Child Abuse:

How does a person report child abuse?
Every state has statutes regarding the steps that a mandatory reporter needs to take when reporting child abuse or neglect. Generally, a report would include the name and address of the child and either the parents or the person(s) responsible for the child, the age of the child, a description of the child’s injuries, and any other related information. There are also certain steps to take in order for the report to be shared with any relevant organizations such as social service and law enforcement agencies, as well as prosecutors` offices. Some states have special rules in cases that involve a child’s death or for a baby that has been exposed to drugs.
Is it legally required to report suspicion of child abuse?
Any person may report child abuse or neglect. An exception is any communication that is considered under law to be privileged, such as in an attorney-client relationship. Every state has statutes, which identify mandatory reporters of child abuse. All professionals who work with children are included. Doctors, nurses, hospital personnel, dentists, medical examiners, and coroners are mandatory reporters. Mental health professionals and social workers are as well. Additionally, school personnel, law enforcement officials, and childcare providers are mandatory reporters. In some states, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report it.
What is the law relating to child abuse, reporting requirements, etc.?
Recent legislative changes have focused upon the increasing prevalence in our society of child abuse. The definition of child abuse has been expanded, as have the child abuse reporting requirements, to ensure swift intervention on behalf of the child who is being abused or where abuse is reasonably expected. As a general rule, situations involving suspected child abuse are referred to and fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the juvenile court system in each jurisdiction. The court may exercise jurisdiction in situations involving suspected child abuse with the end result of the exercise of that jurisdiction being to have the child declared a ward of the court and thus subject to the decision-making power of the court pertinent to issues typically reserved to the legal and physical custodians. The ultimate goal of the court, assuming a basis for taking jurisdiction has been found, is to prevent the recurrence of the abuse, to eliminate the existence of abusive conditions in the home, and to provide a reunification of the family and the child in situations where that is possible. The court has sweeping power in this area to terminate parental rights, place children for adoption and/or place children outside of parental control and custody and into foster homes should the circumstances so require. The focus of the court is on the protection of the child, and there are significant jurisdictional protections for both the child and the parent in these circumstances. Court proceedings are generally conducted in two phases, the jurisdictional phase and the dispositional phase. The level of proof in the jurisdictional phase is a preponderance of the evidence. The burden of proof at the dispositional phase is more stringent. Clear and convincing evidence is required to remove the child from the parent or guardian’s physical custody and cannot be based upon speculation. Often the child will be placed back in the home under strict supervision by the appropriate social services agency of the jurisdiction. The parent may be subject to an order that the offending parent seek treatment, relocate out of the minor’s residence, or participate in restricted or monitored visitation only. If this is unrealistic, the court can order placement in a foster home pending termination of parental rights and placement of the child for adoption. Reporting requirements are covered in a number of state statutes to ensure early intervention.
What can happen to a person who fails to report child abuse?
Most states have enacted statutes, which specify the punishments for failing to report child abuse or neglect. These statutes apply to those people who knowingly and willfully fail to report. A person who should have known about the abuse can be punished for it. Typically the punishment can be a fine or imprisonment.
Child Support:

WHAT IS CHILD SUPPORT?
Child support is a payment by one parent (often the non-custodial parent) to the other parent for the support of their common child. (See Child Support and Visitation.) It is in the best interest of a child for both parents to be obligated to pay for the support of their child. An order for child support transfers the income/wealth from one parent to the other so that the combined incomes/wealth of both parents is available to use for the support of the child.
WHAT IS CHILD SUPPORT USED FOR?
Child support covers everything a child needs, and even more, during the growth and formative years. Keep the following in mind: A parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life; and Children should share in the standard of living of both parents. Thus, the amount of a child support award is more than a question of bare necessities. If the child has a wealthy parent, that child is entitled to, and therefore needs something more than the bare necessities of life. Where the supporting parent enjoys a lifestyle that far exceeds the custodial parent’s living standard, child support must to some degree reflect that more opulent lifestyle. This is so even though, as a practical matter, the child support payments will incidentally benefit others in the custodial household whom the payor parent has no obligation to support (e.g., custodial parent owed no spousal support, adult children, or children from custodial parent’s other relationships). Children should share in the standard of living of both parents. Child support may therefore appropriately improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children. Children are entitled to share in non-custodial parent’s elevated standard of living despite custodial parent’s substantially lower income. Awarding supported children a percentage of a non-custodial parent’s future bonuses ensures they will share in his standard of living.
WHO CAN BE ORDERED TO PAY IT?
A court can order either parent of a child to pay support to other parent. The court order for support is usually payable on a monthly basis. Many states now require that child support be paid by wage assignment (automatic deductions from the paycheck) whenever available, thus reducing the need for subsequent enforcement actions.
WHEN CAN A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER BE CHANGED OR MODIFIED?
An order for child support can be changed or modified any time there is a material change in circumstances from the time that the existing child support was issued. A material change in circumstances can take many forms. The change can be the result of changes in the parent’s financial situation – such as appreciable difference in the amount of income earned, loss of a job, a large inheritance, or a change in the amount of time spent with the child. The material change in circumstance can be the result of a new situation for the child – such as large medical expenses, need for special education, or other unexpected requirements. A child support payment could be modified by stipulation between the parents (as long as guideline support factors have been accounted for) or by a noticed court hearing.
HOW LONG MUST CHILD SUPPORT BE PAID?
The duration of this responsibility depends upon state law. All states require both parents to be financially responsible for their child during the child’s minority, generally through the child’s high school years. A few states have extended the time for financial responsibility beyond the minority of the child. Child support can be terminated in the event of the death of the child, if the child goes on active duty in the armed forces, or if the child becomes emancipated or self-supporting.
HOW IS THE AMOUNT OF CHILD SUPPORT DETERMINED?
Federal law now requires that the amount of a child support payment be set in accordance with a guideline. Having a guideline is believed to prevent widely different amounts of child support being ordered from courtroom to courtroom. Guidelines provide an objective basis for the determination of the amount of support to be paid. As a result, most states have established formulas that are used to determine the amount of the payment from one parent to the other.
WHAT OTHER ITEMS DO FORMULAS CONSIDER?
Time Spent With Child. Besides the respective net incomes of the parents, the amount of time each parent spends with the child is factored into the formula. Since a parent who spends more time with the child is most likely incurring greater expense in raising the child, the custodial parent (a term that is often used in association with the parent who has the physical custody and responsibility the majority of the time) is considered to spend more money on the child than the non-custodial parent (the parent without primary physical custody). Since the custodial parent spends more of his/her income on the child, the child support formula includes this factor in determining the amount of child support to be paid by one parent to the other. Number of Children. Along with the amount of time that a parent spends with a child, the number of children in common between the parents is often considered. The theory is that certain fixed expenses do not rise with the number of children for whom support must be provided, so the actual amount of support per child is lower given the greater number of children in common. Special Circumstances. In addition, special circumstances may require a greater amount of child support to be paid. Special circumstances, such as extraordinary medical expenses, special educational needs, travel expenses incurred for child visitation, uninsured catastrophic losses and the cost of basic living expenses for children from another relationship, can affect the amount of guideline child support that is to be paid. Since there are a number of factors that go into the formula to determine guideline child support, some states have approved computer programs designed specifically for determining the amount of child support. Use of a computer program to determine the amount of child support is a very objective method for determining child support. Proper analysis of all the factors can have dramatic effect upon the determination of the guideline child support amount.
WHAT INCOME ITEMS DO TYPICAL FORMULAS COVER?
The formula is based on the respective net incomes of the parents. Federal and state income taxes, Social Security and Medicare tax, health insurance, union dues and other mandatory expenses are subtracted from a parent’s gross income (that is, income from all sources including, but not limited to, wages and investments) to arrive at his/her net income.
AFTER A CHILD HAS BEEN RAISED, IS THE PARENT WHO RAISED THEM ABLE TO SUE FOR BACK CHILD SUPPORT?
This depends on the law in the state where the parents live. In some states, the parent who was to receive child support can collect support owed even after the children are adults. The parent who was supposed to pay child support cannot claim that the child support is too old to be collected, or that the other parent should have tried to collect sooner, except to the extent collection is barred by the statute of limitations.
What happens to allow the emancipation of a minor?
In order to become an emancipated minor, one of three circumstances must be present: the minor has entered into a valid marriage, is on active duty in the Armed Forces, or has received a declaration of emancipation. As such a minor can become emancipated either by requesting same from the court or by taking a direction in life (marriage or enlistment) that will result in emancipation. The effect of emancipation is that the minor is now, for all practical purposes, treated as an adult. This includes freedom from the right to support by the parents, the right of parents to control finances, freedom of the parents from vicarious liability for the minor’s torts. The emancipated minor can sue in their own name, consent to virtually every aspect of medical care, and in all other aspects control their life without first obtaining the consent of the parents. The procedure for emancipation is rather straightforward. A petition for emancipation is prepared and served upon the minor’s parents (or legal guardians), thus giving them notice of the minor’s desire to become emancipated. If the facts are adequately proven, the court will issue its declaration of emancipation, which becomes conclusive evidence that the minor is emancipated.
Learn More on:

Emancipation

Parenting Through Divorce and After

If you or someone you know in Missouri is in need of Family Law Legal Services, please contact Family Lawyer Alan W. Cohen at (314)863-8800 or via the contact form in right column for prompt and considerate attention.

Disclaimer: The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. The information at this website is neither legal advice nor is it intended to be. Your use or access of the information on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please call to discuss your specific legal situation with an attorney.

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Paternity, Custody & Child Support:
The law of paternity is relatively new and is unique. It is perhaps the most complex law in the family law area. Paternity is new because, up until less than forty years ago, Missouri, and most states placed the financial burden of raising a child born out of wedlock solely on the mother. But 40 years ago, children born outside of marriage were rare, and made up of less than five percent of all the children born in the United States nationwide, triggering the creation of a huge governmental bureaucracy whose sole purpose is to collect child support. Today, four in ten children are born out of wedlock.

The Birth Certificate. Missouri is one of many states that have adopted a confusing rule on the signing of the birth affidavit. If a man and a woman both sign an affidavit (for a child born after August 1997) stating that the man is the natural father and the affidavit is filed with the Department of Vital Statistics, the man is then the legal father of the child. What that means regarding his rights the child is unclear. If the man changes his mind, he has sixty days to file a document revoking his claim. If he doesn’t, he is required to file a special lawsuit to undo it, and he has an extremely limited time to do that. For children born before August 1997, either party could file a suit asking the court to determine whether the man was the father of the child (or not).

Child Support. A support obligation can come from a court order or from an order from the Family Support Division (FSD). FSD is the federally funded government bureaucracy that is to create and enforce support orders, as well as to collect, disburse and maintain records, of support payments. FSD has authority to create support orders if a man signed the birth affidavit, was married to the mother around the time of the birth of the child, or if FSD has a genetic test stating that the man is the natural father of the child. The method of determining the amount of the support obligation is the formula based on incomes and special expenses, the same as in divorce cases.

Custody. Only a court can grant or determine custody, visitation, or decision-making rights for a child. A parent should retain an experienced Family Law attorney experienced in paternity cases to obtain child custody rights. As with divorce cases, the court could grant sole physical or legal custody of a child, or could grant joint physical or legal custody of a child. A child support order from FSD is not a child custody order. An administrative child support order from FSD might say the child is in someone’s custody. That simply means the child is residing with the person. It does not mean the child is their custody.

Paternity testing: Only federally licensed laboratories can perform paternity testing. Generally, only a court can “force” persons to appear or produce a child for paternity testing. FSD may request persons appear for paternity testing, and, if FSD receives a positive result, then it may create a child support order. If a court orders paternity testing, and the alleged father does not appear, the court could enter a judgment finding that the man is the father of the child and establish the child’s paternity. When a court has established paternity in a court order, then generally a court cannot order paternity testing.
If you or someone you know in Missouri is in need of Family Law Legal Services, please contact Family Lawyer Alan W. Cohen at (314)863-8800 or via the contact form in right column for prompt and considerate attention.

Discliamer: The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. The information at this website is neither legal advice nor is it intended to be. Your use or access of the information on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please call to discuss your specific legal situation with an attorney.

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rational.
Nevertheless, the problem is this “fairer” system is so complex that it is beset with pitfalls and misunderstandings that might cause as many hardships as it attempts to prevent. Parents with child support orders need to understand the law in order to protect themselves.
Under Missouri law, before a child reaches the age of 18, he or she may emancipate himself or herself by marrying, joining the active duty military, or going out on his or her own and becoming self-supporting. The first three are self-explanatory. Emancipation by leaving what is known as being outside “parental control”, the last one on this list, is much more complex and will definitely require someone going to court to prove the emancipation.
When a child reaches the age of 18, the questions begin. On that date, is the child attending secondary school or actively working toward a General Education Development diploma (G.E.D.)? If the answer is yes, the child support continues. If the answer is no, then the rule is that, unless the child is not disabled, the child is emancipated and no longer entitled to support. If a parent receiving support wishes to claim that the child is disabled, that parent must go to court to prove it. If a child meets the requirements, the child may remain eligible for support until death.
If at age 18 the child is enrolled in secondary school or is actively working toward a G.E.D., the duty of support continues until they graduate (but no longer than the age of 21 if they do not). The duty of support continues as long as they are enrolled in secondary school or are actively working toward that degree.
Most children fit into the category of graduating from high school at age 18. If they graduate, the child has until October 1 of year of graduation to enroll full-time in “an institution of vocational or higher education.” This broad definition may include beauty school or an Ivy League School and everything in between. Full-time means at least twelve credit hours, unless the child is employed at least 20 hours a week, in which “full-time” means nine credit hours. If the child is physically unable to enroll full time, the court may extend the deadline until the child is physically able to do so.
At this point, it gets very tricky. First, once a child reaches the age of 18, federal law prohibits the college or university from disclosing their enrollment or grades to anyone else without the child’s written permission. Therefore, the law puts the burden on the child to communicate their enrollment information to his or her parents. Thus, absent the child communicating this information to his or her parents, the parents have no way of knowing whether the child is even enrolled in college, much less enrolled in twelve or more credit hours.
Second, the law requires that the child continue to achieve full-time credit each fall and winter semester in order to remain eligible for support. If the child continues to achieve twelve hours of credit each fall and winter semester, the child remains unemancipated until age 22, when, regardless, of his or her enrollment, all child support is terminated (unless the child is disabled). If the child fails or withdraws from a course and has less than the required amount, the child is emancipated and is no longer eligible for support. It does not matter whether the child is attending an Ivy League School or a community college. The law requires that a child earn a certain number of credit hours in each semester.
Third, regardless of whether the child continues to achieve full-time credit, the child has a legal duty to send to the parent paying support information about his or her grades and future enrollment. So at the beginning of the second semester (but not in the first semester of enrollment), the child must send an official copy of his or her grade report and an official copy of his or her enrollment for the upcoming semester. The recommended method of delivery is certified mail with a return receipt card showing attempted or completed delivery.
If the child does not comply with this requirement, the child is no longer eligible for support, but their noncompliance does not mean the child is emancipated. The child may be temporarily ineligible for support, but may regain their eligibility for future semesters upon full compliance with the statute by delivering all their grade reports and their upcoming schedule to his or her parents). Although this requirement puts the child squarely in conflict with his or her parents, the legislature had no other way of ensuring that the parent paying support knows his or her legal obligation.
This new obligation, one the legislature created in 1998, has itself created many practical problems. In many cases, the parent who is to receive support, and thus the child, is completely unaware of their legal obligation. Perhaps the child support order is many years old and they have not spoken to an attorney. Further, in many other cases, the parent paying support is unaware of the requirement, and continues to pay, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes through an order removing child support from his or her wages, without an understanding that they had a remedy.
Also, for the unfortunate few “voluntary” payers, it is difficult for them to get their money back once they have paid when the child failed to comply with the notice requirements. Many courts have decided it is unfair to “punish” the parent receiving support when each was equally ignorant of the child’s notice obligations. The problem with this method of thinking is that it punishes those who follow court orders, and rewards those who stop paying.
Under Missouri law, it is always the burden on the person receiving child support to notify the other parent of the child’s emancipation. In a court proceeding, however, it is always that burden on the parent paying support to prove that the child is legally emancipated, or is not eligible for support. The law requires that the parent receiving support return any monies received after date of emancipation. The court may add nine- percent interest on those overpayments.
In order to help the general public, some circuit courts have created simple forms such that persons can file motions to emancipate their children without the aid of an attorney. As with all cases, there is usually not a problem if the parties agree to the facts. If they don’t agree, then someone has to submit proof to the court through evidence. The problem is that the person trying to prove emancipation can’t come back and try it again and again once the court has heard the request and ruled on it. Therefore, it is always best to consult an attorney prior to taking any action to emancipate a child.
Missouri does not require the creation of forms for those seeking to have their child determined to be ineligible for failure to provide the required grade and enrollment information to the parent paying support. Therefore, that person should consult an attorney. In either case, if the parent paying support is paying through a wage withholding order, he or she must file a motion with the court to stop it. Again, it is advisable to consult an attorney before taking any action to ask the court to determine that the child is ineligible for support.
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Alan W. Cohen, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the Washington University School of Law, has been a licensed attorney for more than sixteen years and practices primarily in the area of family law.
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Alan W. Cohen, Attorney at Law
800 Bonhomme Ave., Suite 201
St. Louis, MO 63105
Phone: (314)863-8800 Fax: (314)863-5081
Email Address: [email protected]
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How can I be a good parent during and after a divorce?
A divorce doesn`t end your duty to be a good parent even if you do not have
custody of your children. You may feel hurt, and you may have many things to worry
about, but you need to help your children cope with the trauma and uncertainty of a
divorce.

Turning your children against their other parent is not the solution. If that happens,
everyone will suffer. Try to be helpful to your children and work to make your own
life and theirs happy and successful.

How can you make this happen? Here are a few tips.
Dealing With Your Former Spouse.
Divorce is not a pleasant experience and, for any of a number of reasons, you
may harbor a resentment of your ex-spouse. However, it is important to
remember that he or she like you is a parent. How you treat your former
spouse, and how he or she treats you, will have a dramatic effect on the well
being of the children you share.
With that in mind, here are 10 suggestions for dealing with disagreements
you and your former spouse may encounter:
1. Don`t fight. Stop and think about the reasons for the disagreement.
Try to understand the other person`s point of view. Make sure the
other person understands your point of view.
2. Don`t try to be (or expect anyone else to be) a mind reader.
Speak up. In a non-argumentative manner, tell your former spouse
your thoughts and opinions. Ask for explanations if you need them.
3. Be a good listener. Really hear what the other person is saying and
meaning. Ask questions that might clear up confusion.
4. Avoid tit-for-tat exchanges and yelling matches. You can`t really
win by being the loudest or batting the same old tired accusations
back and forth.
5. Don`t get personal. Stick to the issues and focus on the problem,
not the people. Name-calling, sarcasm and insults only make matters
worse.
6. Cool down before there`s a meltdown. Anger leads to violence.
Get control of your anger before you even try to address the problem.
7. Look at the problem from another point of view. Think about the
other person`s position. Try to imagine how he or she is feeling. You
might get some idea why the other person is not responding the way
you`d like.
Alan W. Cohen, Attorney at Law
800 Bonhomme Ave., Suite 201
St. Louis, MO 63105
Phone: (314)863-8800 Fax: (314)863-5081
Email Address: [email protected]
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8. Look for a new approach. Try to think and talk about the conflict in
a different way. Find some common ground between you and your exspouse.

9. Be reasonable. Don`t make demands which can`t possibly be met.
Look for ways to compromise, so that each person gives a little in
search of a solution.
10. Aim for solutions that make everyone feel like a winner. Instead
of being determined to win, be concerned with reaching a decision that
is best for your children.
Visitation Tips
Visiting with the other parent must be ongoing if the children are going to
love and respect both parents.
A court will usually decide that the parent who does not have custody of the
children may take them to his or her home, or away from their home
overnight.
If the father has a new girlfriend, or the mother has a new boyfriend, it is
better not to take the children to the friend`s home. Remember, this is a time
of adjustment not only for you but also for your children. Visitation is meant
to be a time for the parent and children to be together and enjoy each other.
Visiting with the parent`s friend may make the children feel that the parent
does not have time for them.
If a parent can`t come for the children on the day that was agreed upon, he
or she should tell the other parent and the children as soon as possible. Not
telling them may hurt their feelings.
Some divorced parents think that visits are not important. This is not true.
Even if the parents can`t get along, visitation is important. The children need
both parents if they are to grow up in a normal way.
Should the visiting parent plan to take the children to an exciting place? That
is not as important as just being with the child.
As a parent, you shouldn’t use the visit as a way to check on the other
parent. Don`t ask the children questions about the other parent. This can
hurt them by forcing them to take sides.
The two parents should also agree on a common set of rules for their
children. If they do not, it will be confusing to the children.
Finally, if the children have problems with the visits, both parents should find
ways to address the problems.
Alan W. Cohen, Attorney at Law
800 Bonhomme Ave., Suite 201
St. Louis, MO 63105
Phone: (314)863-8800 Fax: (314)863-5081
Email Address: [email protected]
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Some Things to Remember
o Give your children and yourself some time to get over the pain of the
divorce. Help your children to remember the good times the family had
before the divorce. Help them understand that the divorce is not their
fault; that it does not mean one or both of the parents don`t love
them anymore; and that the family has simply been restructured.
o If you feel angry with your former spouse, do not show those feelings
to your children. Don`t say bad things about the other parent; your
children need to love and respect both parents. Don`t force your
children to choose sides.
o Try not to disrupt your children`s lives any more than necessary,
especially right after the divorce. For example, if your children can
stay in the same school and play with the same children for a while,
they will do better.
o Tell your children about any changes that do become necessary. Stick
to the visitation schedule but be flexible in allowing necessary
modifications. Visitation is more important than most childhood
activities and must take priority over baseball/soccer.
o Let your children know that they can talk about the divorce. They will
be hurt if they feel that they cannot talk about it or think about it.
o Realize that, as your children grow older, you may need to talk about
the divorce again in a different way. With your guidance, you may be
able to help them learn how to make a better marriage.
o Remember that, no matter how hurt you may be, your children are
also suffering. Be supportive and help them adjust to changing
circumstances. Together, you will all survive the experience and help
each other through this difficult time.

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