Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Think Twice Before Modifying Your Car

Most people are aware that many modifications to cars are illegal: a louder exhaust, different headlights, license plate covers, etc.  However, most people are also willing to risk that minor traffic ticket to have their car look a certain way.  There may be more serious consequences to those "minor" modifications. 

In the past, we have certainly advocated that you prevent all possible circumstances in which you would drive after drinking (if you haven't seen those posts, here's a good start for you:  More Than Just A DUI).  What we have not yet addressed is how some DUI arrests come about. 

Aside from some exceptions (such as DUI checkpoints), the police officer must have reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause (depending on the situation) to pull you over while you are driving.  They cannot randomly target you to pull you over to see if you have been drinking (again, there are some exceptions to this).  So here is how the scenario plays out: you decided you wanted a modified exhaust for your car and this exhaust happens to be an illegal modification.  A few weeks, months, etc. later you go to happy hour with co-workers after a long day and have a couple beers.  You've paced yourself and feel fine to drive so you get in your car to drive home. 

Let's stop here for a moment for a brief note.  You should realize you may FEEL fine to drive and may not actually be fine to drive.  Most people do not get into a car after happy hour thinking they should not be driving and decide to drive anyways. 

Now, back to our scenario.  You are driving home and are not swerving or showing any other signs that you are intoxicated or have had a couple of drinks.  You don't go through a checkpoint.  You do, however, pass a police officer, who happens to suspect that your exhaust is an illegal modification to your car.  That police officer then pulls you over to ticket you for your illegal exhaust (this is the minor ticket you decided was worth risking for having your car the way you like).  During this minor traffic stop, the police officer notices a smell of alcohol on your breath.  From here, it all of the sudden turns from a minor traffic stop to a DUI investigation in which you may be subjected to field sobriety tests, breathalyzers and potentially arrested for a DUI. 

The point of this post is to bring awareness to you that minor modifications to vehicles may have more long term, serious consequences that you should seriously consider before making those modifications.  Our bigger message, however, is to continue to raise awareness to you and the community that having a couple of drinks and then driving is a bad idea all around. 

If you have any questions about this post, have been charged with a minor traffic offense or a DUI and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3 Things to Know Before You Meet with a Divorce Attorney

Many of my clients come to me and are nervous about meeting with me, a divorce attorney.  This tends to come from not being sure what to expect from meeting with a divorce attorney.  As I've said before, it is important you at least meet with a divorce attorney very early on in the process (or better yet, BEFORE you begin the process).  Find out more about that, here

If you are considering divorce, here's a few things to know before you meet with an attorney and what to expect from that meeting.  Keep in mind, however, each attorney operates slightly differently and each case is unique so you're initial meeting may vary to some degree.

1.  Be ready to tell your story.
When I first meet with a potential client, it is important that I gather as much information as possible.  Don't worry about having every detail down pat but do go into the meeting knowing the basics of how you came into the marriage and how the marriage has changed, what has caused you to consider divorce, etc.

2.  Bring some questions.
We, attorneys as a whole, want to be helpful.  Bring some questions that you have to your initial meeting. Make a list of questions you have about the process, the attorney and your specific situation.  We will typically do our best to answer your questions that you bring to us.  However, you should know that each divorce case is different, unique and in some way complicated.  As a result of that, some of the answers to your questions may not be clear at the initial meeting; the attorney may need to research the law or may need some additional information from you before being able to provide you a complete answer.

3.  Remember confidentiality. 
Some people are nervous about meeting with an attorney because they are providing that attorney very personal, intimate information about their lives.  Remember that your meeting with the attorney, even if you decide not to retain that attorney, is confidential and cannot be shared with anyone else at any time.  Also remember that divorce attorneys handle a lot of divorce cases.  We are in the business of protecting you, not judging you.  After considering these things, if you still do not feel comfortable being honest and providing that information to an attorney, that attorney may not be the right fit for you.  

At the conclusion of your initial consultation, the decision rests in your hands.  If you do not feel comfortable or for any reason are hesitant about retaining that attorney, you are under no obligation to hire them.  Even if you are comfortable and feel positively about the meeting, you may still want to meet with other attorneys to determine which attorney is the best fit. 

If you are contemplating divorce or are currently involved in a divorce or custody case and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What To Do With Your Will

Having a will is a great thing, as I'm sure you've noticed from my previous posts.  However, getting that will drafted and signed is only half the battle.  Here's a few tips for what to do now that you have your will in hand.

1.  Find a safe place to keep it.
Take some time to think about your lifestyle and your family members' lifestyles and determine the best place to store your original will.  One place a lot of people think of but should probably NOT use is a safe deposit box.  If your family members are unable to access your safe deposit box without you, they will not be able to obtain the will if you pass away (same goes for your advanced medical directive and power of attorney).  You probably want to keep it somewhere safe, such as a an actual safe and want to keep in mind that it should be durable.  One potentially good option is to store it in a fireproof safe. 

2.  Make sure your family members know how to find it. 
Once you've determined where to store your will, you want to make sure your family members and/or anyone named in the will know how to access it.  If it is in a fire proof safe, does someone have the code to unlock the safe?  Do they know exactly where you store your fire proof safe?  Your will might not do you any good if no one can find it when it's time to use it. 

3. Give copies to all your family members.
It is often a good idea to give each family member or person who is named in the will a copy of your will.  This may come in handy should your will become lost or accidentally destroyed in the future.  In addition, it will make your wishes and desires less of a shock when the time comes to execute those wishes and desires. 

4.  Talk to your family members about your wishes.
It is usually a good idea to have a conversation with your loved ones about the wishes that you put in your will.  It may give you the opportunity to clear up any vague wishes and make sure your family is on the same page.  While the will gives your wishes and desires enforceability, it creates a calmer, more peaceful time for your family if they already know and understand exactly how you want things to happen. 

A will is a great tool to have for yourself and your family members.  However, taking the above listed actions ensures that your wishes are more understood and heightens the possibility that everything will happen smoothly and exactly as you wish. 

If you would like a consultation on a will or other estate planning documents, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

5 Things To Do After A Loved One Passes Away

In the weeks and months following the death of a loved one, you may be overwhelmed with what to do next.  It is difficult to deal with your emotions and the legal processes that need to be completed. Here's a list of a few things you may need to be taking care of after a loved one passes away. 

1.  Obtain the death certificate. 
You will need to obtain the death certificate for your loved one and most likely, you will need more than one.  The following people may require a death certificate: the court (where your loved one's property will be distributed through probate), the banks (for any joint bank accounts and/or safe deposit boxes), stock companies with whom your loved one held stock, etc.  While you can order additional death certificates in the future, it's a good idea to try to figure out about how many you will need and order them all at once. 

2.  Schedule an appointment with a probate and/or estate planning attorney. 
You will want to sit down with your attorney to go over the details of how your loved one's property is going to be distributed.  You should do this regardless of whether you will be the person administering the estate because you want to ensure your property rights will be protected as well.  An attorney will give you a basic idea of what the legal process will look like for you as the property is distributed over the coming months or years.

3.  Schedule an appointment with the probate court.
The first step to distributing property is to schedule an appointment with the probate court.  You will need to bring the original will, the death certificate and a check (for an amount the court will specify).  When you schedule your appointment, make sure you ask what all the court requires you to bring to the meeting so that you do not have to schedule a second meeting.

4.  Get organized. 
Going through probate, if you are administering the estate (i.e., making the distributions), you will need to have very detailed records of all property owned by your loved one, any property earned after your loved one's passing and any property distributed after your loved one's passing.  The sooner you get all of the property organized and have a method to maintain your records, the better off you will be in the long run.  This is something you may want to talk with your attorney about while you are doing #2 above. 

5.  Revisit your will, advanced medical directive and power of attorney.
When a close loved one passes away, it may affect your current estate plan.  If that person was designated as your power of attorney, you may want to have a new power of attorney drawn up so that it remains valid and in effect.  It may also effect your will and how your property is distributed, or more importantly, who will be taking care of your children should something happen to you.  

There is obviously much more that will likely need to be done; however, by doing these 5 things you should be headed in the right direction to obtain some closure and honor your loved one's wishes.  

If you have recently had a love one pass away and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

3 Things You Should Consider Including in Your Property Settlement Agreement

Hopefully during your divorce proceedings you and your soon to be ex-spouse will be able to come to an agreement on all aspects of the divorce: property distribution, child custody, support, etc.  If you are, then you (or hopefully, your attorney) will be drafting your property settlement agreement (also called a separation agreement).  Here are three things you should consider including in your agreement. 

1. Neither parent is to have overnight guests of the opposite sex while the child is in their care.
While this may sound unreasonable, it protects your children in a lot of ways.  The court may order this but if you are in the process of settling your divorce case this is something you and your soon to be ex-spouse should consider adding to your agreement. 

2. Neither parent is to consume alcohol or illegal drugs while the child is in their care. 
This may sound obvious but it is important to put in your agreement if you think there may be an issue with this.  You can add a similar provision that has whatever language you want - if you agree that it is okay to have a beer or glass of wine while the child is in your care, maybe you limit the language to illegal drugs.  Either way, this is a good idea to consider putting in your agreement.

3. Neither parent is to disparage the other in front of the children.
We all know everyone needs to vent every now and then and there is no problem with that.  There may be a problem, however, if it is done in front of the children.  Saying negative comments about the other parent when the children can hear can cause long term consequences and is generally not a good idea.  

These are important for a couple of reasons.  First, it opens the lines of communication to ensure you and your soon to be ex-spouse are actually on the same page and agree with how things will work from here on out.  Second, if one of those issues becomes a problem in the future, you now have a way to enforce those concepts through your agreement, rather than being forced to go to the court to modify the terms of the custody or visitation of your child, if applicable.  Even if you think these concepts are a given and you and your soon to be ex-spouse are definitely on the same page, if it is not in your agreement, it may not be enforceable in the future. 

If you are thinking about a divorce or going through a divorce and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.

Monday, September 29, 2014

5 Ways An Attorney Can Help You During Divorce

Many people hire attorneys to help them navigate the divorce process but do you really know what all an attorney can do for you?  These are 5 things that attorneys do as a regular part of their job that you may or may not know about.  

1.Draft the legal documents.
In a divorce, there are many documents that need to be drafted which may be invalid if not properly drafted.  These include but are not limited to: Complaint for Divorce, Property Settlement Agreement, Depositions/Affidavits, Final Decree of Divorce.  An attorney will know and research exactly how to draft these documents to protect you in the future.

2. Provide legal advice.
Aside from the documents that must be filed, an attorney gives you legal advice.  This means the attorney will tell you whether or not a property settlement agreement is a good idea and if it's an offer you should consider accepting.  An attorney can provide advice on how to work out an appropriate visitation schedule for your children or how to handle a sudden change in that schedule (i.e., your ex-spouse did not bring the children home when he/she should have).

3. Negotiate. 
An attorney knows the tactics and strategies for negotiating a settlement agreement with your spouse.  Not being personally involved in the case, the attorney is not clouded by the extensive emotions that come into a divorce and can effectively negotiate on your behalf.

4. Direct you to other professionals.
An attorney should be able to provide you with the resources you need to make it through your divorce.  He/she should be able to give you references for a therapist or financial advisor should you need or want one. 

5. Explain the outcome.
If you do end up in court with a judge determining the outcome of your divorce, your attorney can explain to you what the judge has ruled, what your obligations are and what you should expect moving forward and, if applicable, how to change that ruling in the future (i.e, appeal, motion to reconsider, etc.).  

An attorney can do many things for you during your divorce process and these are only a few of the ways an attorney can help you.  If you are unsure of where to turn for help during your divorce, it doesn't hurt to call your attorney and see if they can help you.  If you are going through a divorce and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kardashian v. Jenner - What are "Irreconcilable Differences"?

It's been all over the news this week.  Kris Jenner (formerly and also known as Kris Kardashian) files for divorce from Bruce Jenner, citing "irreconcilable differences".  I love when the media uses quotations of legal terms.  Sometimes it can make a case sound much more interesting.  Sometimes people want to read because they want to figure out what that term means.  So what are "irreconcilable differences"? 

Before we get to that term, let's get down to the basic concept of divorce.  There are two basic ways to get a divorce: on a fault ground or on a no-fault ground. 

Fault Grounds 
If you are obtaining a divorce on fault grounds it means one party did something legally wrong during the marriage and as a result of that act, the marriage fell apart.  These can include adultery, desertion, cruelty, etc.  This means on person is to blame for the marriage ending and can have consequences for that person (i.e., that person to blame may not be allowed to be awarded alimony).

No Fault Grounds
If you are obtaining a divorce on no-fault grounds, it means the marriage simply fell apart and neither party is to blame for that.  This can mean the parties grew apart, had different ideas of what marriage should be like, fell out of love, etc.  So what do we call all of those things?  We call them "irreconcilable differences".  Basically, the parties disagree on something important to the marriage and they are never going to be able to agree. 

So, essentially, "irreconcilable differences", while it may sound interesting and intriguing in the news, simply means the parties no longer want to be married and are moving on with their lives. 

If you are thinking about a divorce or going through a divorce and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.