Thursday, November 29, 2012

Consequences of failing to pay child support

Virginia takes matters involving children very seriously.  If you fail to pay child support, you may be found in contempt of court. By statute, there are some serious consequences you may face if you fail to pay child support as ordered.  First, your driver's license may be suspended (remember there may be costs associated with reinstating your license).  Along with your driver's license, other licenses you hold, such as a business license, may be suspended as well.  Further, you may be required to post the equivalent of a bond in the amount of child support owed.  Your wages may be garnished through an income deduction order.  Finally, you may be imprisoned for a period of up to twelve months or until you comply and pay the ordered child support.

There may be remedies available to you if you are unable to pay the amount of child support ordered.  These consequences are serious and you should speak with an attorney prior to deciding not to pay child support. Remember, this money is paid to support your children. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dealing with the holidays as a divorced parent

The holidays are a difficult time for most parents who are divorced.  Both parents want to spend time with their children on the holidays and likely, someone is going to be disappointed.  Keep in mind this holiday season, it's about your children.  Focus on the happiness and well being of your children when determining a holiday schedule and remember, it's okay to be creative.

Some parents decide to split each holiday, the children with mom in the morning and with dad in the afternoon.  Some parents split the holidays annually, the children with mom this year and the children with dad next year.  If both parents are amicable, sometimes, the parents spend the holiday together with their children.  Whatever you decide, put your kids first.  Focus on your children's needs and what type of schedule will work best for them.  If the children do not get to see a parent on a holiday, ensure that the child is able to talk on the phone (or even better, skype) with the other parent.

The key to making the holidays a happy time of year is focusing on what will be best for your children.  Work together with the other parent and ensure the children's needs are met before worrying about your wants and desires. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

DUI v. Refusal

Most people know it is against the law to refuse a breath or blood test when you are arrested for a DUI.  Do you know the differences between being convicted of a DUI v. a refusal?

A first DUI offense is a Class 1 Misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of $250 to $2500 (mandatory $250 fine) and up to 12 months in jail.  There are also stricter punishments for elevated levels of BAC.  Further, you lose your license for 1 year.  As of July 1, 2012 in order to get a restricted license, you MUST have ignition interlock installed in your car.  Finally, you must attend VASAP. 

A first refusal is a non-criminal violation and is a civil penalty.  There may or may not be a fine attached with the refusal.  Your license will be suspended for a year, without the possibility of a restricted license. 

A DUI and a refusal and their respective consequences are extremely different.  Keep in mind that by refusing a blood or breath test, it does not guarantee that you will not be convicted of a DUI as well.  Finally, if you are convicted of both DUI and refusal, your license suspensions (1 year for each) run consecutively, not concurrently. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

What NOT to do during a divorce

Here are some key things NOT to do when going through a divorce:
  • Talk negative about your spouse in front of your children
  • Curse at your spouse
  • Use physical violence towards anyone
  • Begin a new romantic relationship
  • Spend all of the money you and your spouse may have (including selling any property)
  • Keep your children away from your spouse (in most circumstances)
This list is only some examples of how not to behave and is not fully inclusive.

It may be difficult for you to refrain from the doing the above mentioned things.  However, doing such things can have serious consequences for you and the outcome of your divorce proceedings.  Before doing any of these things, consult with an attorney to determine if they may be appropriate.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Is marijuana really legal in Colorado and Washington now?

As I'm sure all of you know, Colorado and Washington voted and passed a law to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.  What does this really mean, though?

It is still not legal to use marijuana in the United States.  Although it may now be legal under state law, the use of marijuana is still illegal under federal law.  This means while you are not violating state law, you could still be arrested, charged and convicted for the use of marijuana under federal law. 

To sum up, although the citizens of two states have voted and decided that the use of marijuana is no longer against state law, it is still illegal throughout the country under federal law.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why you should get out and vote!

Your right to vote is your most basic right in this country.  Beyond that, it is your most important right.  Every other right that you have, constitutionally or otherwise, is built on your right to vote.  By staying involved politically and exercising your right to vote, you help preserve American citizens fundamental rights.  If you are wondering what rights I may be referring to, for a few examples take a look at my previous post regarding knowing and exercising your rights.

Preserve your rights and the rights of all American citizens.  Make your voice heard.  Educate yourself and get out there and vote!

Monday, November 5, 2012

What should you do when you get a speeding ticket?

This question comes up frequently and while there is no answer for every case, there are some things you should take into consideration.

How much is your ticket for? While you may get your fine reduced, you probably will have to pay court costs, the amount of which may vary.  You may also have to take off work or find child care expenses, which will add to the total cost of your speeding ticket.  There is also the factor of the time and possibly inconvenience of having to go to court. These factors may balance out or some may weigh heavier for certain people.

This question is a personal decision and each person should consider all of the costs and time associated with both options and possibly consult with an attorney prior to making their decision.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Would you consent to your car being searched?

Do you know your rights?  You should, after my previous post.  However, did you know you waive certain rights when you consent to actions by the police?  For example, if you consent to police searching your car, you may not be able to latter claim they did not have probable cause.

Many people believe they should consent to whatever the police ask them.  They think if they say no, it makes them look suspicious.  It is your RIGHT to refuse consent and force the police to prove they have the proper authority to carry out their actions.  Whether or not you consent to any actions by the police is a serious decision and should not be taken lightly.

You should not assume you will be better off by consenting to any searches.  Your best decision will be to inform the officer you would like to speak with an attorney prior to consenting to anything.

Power of Attorney

Have you appointed someone to be your power of attorney?  Do you know what that means?  It means you have authorized someone to act on your behalf, typically with financial decisions.  It means that if you became incapacitated, you already have someone in place who would handle your finances.

Do you know what happens if you become incapacitated and you do not have a Power of Attorney in place?  It typically, though not always, will result in your family having to go through the legal system and appoint someone to act as your guardian and/or conservator.  This process is expensive and emotionally draining on your family, who is already going through a tough time. 

A Power of Attorney is an important legal document to have in place.  It will save you and your family money, time and stress should anything ever happen to you.  I urge each and every one of you to have a Power of Attorney drafted and let your loved ones know where that document is kept.