The Truth About Divorce

There are roughly 2,300,000 people living in Texas today who are divorced. When the population of Texas is around 29 million, that’s a fairly large percentage of people in the state who have experience with divorce. All of those people did not have easy, “you sign here, I’ll sign here” divorces, either. A large number of those divorces were likely tense, upsetting, and lengthy, and most of them required outside involvement, either from a lawyer or a mediator or both.

Divorce lawyers work either exclusively or primarily with divorce cases. A lot of the time, divorce lawyers are also general “family law” lawyers who also take adoption, custody, and alimony cases. In Texas, there are over 90,000 active lawyers, many of whom practice family law. It only makes sense that we would have so many lawyers when our population is the second-highest in the country (and higher than many other countries’). I mean, really, when you think about it, Texas is huge. Our population is only a few million less than Canada’s, and about six times bigger than Ireland’s. The point being, we need a lot of lawyers.

We may outshine others in terms of population, but Texas isn’t special when it comes to divorce statistics. In fact, we’re pretty much aligned with the national average, which means that a little less than half of the people who get married in Texas will also get divorced. That depressing statistic is often overlooked by people who are getting engaged. After all, everyone thinks they’re the exception to the rule. However, divorce lawyers can tell you that divorce is something that could happen to anyone. Failing to effectively communicate with each other, losing interest after the honeymoon period, and infidelity are all problems that can ruin a marriage. 

In particularly nasty divorce cases, it is often necessary for each spouse to hire a lawyer to represent their needs in court. As Karen Alexander Law states on their website, despite the circumstances of the case, everyone needs an “aggressive advocate who will fight for (their) rights and (their) future.” The truth is that divorce is tough. Even the most civil of divorces are hard to get through, and a lot of people feel frustrated, confused, and alone during their divorces. While a divorce lawyer isn’t exactly a shoulder to cry on, they are someone trying to help. A divorce lawyer will end up understanding their client’s divorce, and who they are as a person, better than many people ever will. 

While it is sad that so many marriages will be bookended by a wedding and a divorce, it’s good for people who are going through a divorce to know that they’re not alone – not by a long shot.

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Frugal Fun Summer 101

As the temperature outside goes up, so does our electric bill. Most of us tend to crank up the air conditioning in an attempt to beat the Texas heat. This almost always leads to us paying steep bills as a consequence.

Some people swear by not using the A/C during the day while they’re at work. But, if you’re elderly or have certain health issues, this isn’t recommended. If you’re looking to save some extra money to account for the higher electric bill, check out these tips on staying frugal during the warm summer months:

  • Have a staycation.

The vacation’s more affordable cousin, having a staycation can help save money on travel costs, and can even help you learn more about your town! Check out local museums, many of them might have reduced prices over the summer.

  • Carpool to work.

If you’re driving to work every day, a gas bill can add up quickly. Riding with your coworkers can help shoulder some of the burdens. Chipping in a few bucks a week will save you money in the long run if you’re not using your car as often. Not only will you save on gas, but your car will also experience less wear-and-tear.

  • Eat at home.

This is a well-known tip for saving money year-round, but it becomes more fun over the summer. Invite your family and neighbors over for a cookout! The weather is perfect for cookouts this time of year. Everyone can bring their own dish and it’s still going to be cheaper than going out to dinner. A plus is that you’re creating valuable memories for years to come. It doesn’t get much better than hamburgers and potato salad on a nice summer evening.

  • Try walking more often.

This may not work for everyone, but some people can walk to and from work instead of driving. If you leave before it gets too hot and come home after the sun sets, you’ll be avoiding the majority of the heat. You’re also getting in some good exercise! One thing to be aware of is drivers.

Pedestrians are vulnerable to receiving serious injuries if hit by a car. Portner Bond, PLLC, has experience dealing with those types of situations. If you do end up getting hit while on a walk, contact a lawyer who can help you assess the damage. A negligent driver won’t receive nearly as severe injuries as the pedestrian that they hit, so why should they walk away scot-free? Make sure you have a lawyer on hand who can help you receive compensation for any medical bills or potentially lost wages.

  • Update your summer budget.

It’s a common kiss of death to forget to account for increasing air conditioning costs. Something as simple as budgeting for this change ahead of time can save you a lot of money in the long run. Give yourself a bit of a cushion at the start of the summer and you’ll find yourself less stressed when the bill comes in the mail.

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Steps to Take After a DUI Charge

Recently, I have noticed that there is a new slogan used in television commercials to dissuade people from driving drunk. That slogan is “Drink, drive, go to jail,” and I was wondering how severe the consequences of getting a DUI really are. I decided to do some research on the subject and came across the website for Horst Law, which had some helpful information on the subject. Apparently, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 48 hours in jail, your license is suspended for a full year, and the costs for a first offense financially is up to $5,000. There was more good information about what to do if you’re facing a DUI charge, so I decided to keep reading.

The website said that you absolutely need a lawyer if you are going to have a good chance to fight charges in court. In order to fight the charges, the defendant needs to prove why they deserve to have the charges dropped, which can happen for a variety of different reasons that I had never considered. For one, the police might not have conducted a proper stop or might not have collected the correct evidence. The police might not even have had an acceptable reason to pull you over in the first place. If the police made any of these mistakes, it is possible to have the charges reduced or dropped, regardless of the other facts of the case. However, the average person does not know about these mistakes or the many others that could have been made by the police. Also, saying the police person made a mistake and proving it are two entirely different things. Defendants that simply stake their word against the word of a police officer tend to lose their cases.

Additionally, if a defendant were to get charged with a DUI because they chose to represent themselves instead of seeking a lawyer, they will have significant expenses and consequences in the present and the future. They might need to find a new job, but having a DUI can make it harder to find a new job as well. There are also personal implications when explaining the situation to close friends and family. It’s important to have a lawyer that has experience in handling these cases instead of trying to learn enough to handle the case yourself because of the potential consequences that come with being convicted.

In regards to DUI specifically, I learned from the website that the tests that police do to determine if you were driving drunk can be unfair toward certain people. These tests are subjective and if you are asked to take one, the police person often already assumes that you are intoxicated. If they already think that, then they are likely to see indications of intoxication that aren’t actually there. During the sobriety tests, officers look for things like smooth eye movement and the ability to balance, but there are many things other than intoxication that can keep people from having balance or smooth eye movement. Nerves related to the high stakes sobriety test can affect these abilities, not to mention a variety of health conditions. A person should not be held responsible for DUI if they have a health condition preventing them from succeeding in a field sobriety test. I learned that it’s best to refuse these tests when they are requested even if you are not at all intoxicated.

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All the Ways Your Work Can Harm You, And What You Should Do

We’re living in a moment where people are finally starting to question whether their jobs are wholly good for them. Individuals have been speaking up about bad treatment from their work, and it’s likely these stories are only become more common and expand into new areas. The truth is, many of us have stories about a toxic environment of some sort, in which we or someone we knew were taken advantage of.

Before getting into just how our work can harm us, I want to say upfront that not every workplace is toxic. Many jobs come with caring managers who try hard to avoid any of the following issues. Many businesses do their utmost to keep their employees safe and make sure they are treated fairly and justly. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t do these things, and many managers aren’t interested in their employees except as tools they can take advantage of. The more we become aware of these bad businesses and bad managers, and how they are taking advantage of us, the better.

So, without further preface, here are some of the ways businesses have been harming individuals, according to one of Austin’s major employment lawyers, the Melton Law Firm.

  • Wrongful termination: This involves someone getting fired not because of performance but for illegal reasons.
  • Discrimination: No business has the right to discriminate against you because of your gender, race, religion, or other characteristics.
  • Sexual harassment: The big issue in the news lately, and surely one of the most widespread employment issues around the country.
  • Overtime and wage issues: If you aren’t getting paid for your work, you aren’t being treated fairly, and you are entitled to recovering those wages.
  • Hostile work environment: A bit of a catchall that covers a lot of ways a business can make you and other employees uncomfortable.
  • Civil rights: Sometimes related to discrimination, this is when your business isn’t treating you as an equal because of a personal characteristic.
  • Retaliation: Are you being mistreated as revenge for something you said or did? That’s illegal.
  • Whistleblowers: Often the reason you’re experiencing retaliation is related to whistleblowing. Whistleblowers are protected by the law.
  • Equal pay: Not getting paid the same as others of the same skill level and experience? That’s not right either.
  • Personal injury: If you’ve been hurt at work, you have the right to workers’ compensation. Anyone keeping you from getting that compensation is denying you your rights.

The good news about all of the above categories laid out by Melton Law is that they’re all illegal. That means we all have a way to end the unfair and toxic practices we are experiencing.

The best way to make these issues go away in our society in general is to speak up, press our cases, and pursue legal means when necessary. The more businesses realize they can’t get away with their bad behavior anymore, the better we will all be, no matter where we work.

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Thoughts on sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is in the news right now because of the allegations (and the consequences of those allegations) concerning Harvey Weinstein.

According to numerous women, including some as famous as Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, Weinstein has been harassing women in the movie business for decades with impunity.

With that story in mind, I think it’s important now to take a moment to remember how prevalent sexual harassment is, even in industries that purport to be progressive in such matters and to highlight just how crucial it is that people take sexual harassment in the workplace seriously.

What I mean by “seriously” is that when people come forward (and it isn’t always women, Terry Crews has also come forward alleging assault from another Hollywood producer), they are believed and serious, public investigations take place.

In the case of Weinstein, allegations had been made for decades against the man, but because of his power in the industry, and in wider circles of power beyond that (including sway with the news media and in politics), those allegations were hushed up. The number of victims surely multiplied exponentially due to the choices of many along the way to refuse to hear the cries of victims and to refuse to seriously investigate the claims.

A second, larger issue that doesn’t focus just on individuals within those situations but on all of us, is the fact we as a society continue to shrug at sexual harassment until it reaches grotesque levels. While we don’t live in the Mad Men era in which executives harass every woman in the office, we as a society simply expect women to deal with sexual pressure in the workplace and to get over it. One of the reasons women don’t come forward more often is because they worry not just that they won’t be believed but that they have nothing to complain about.

“You should feel flattered,” is a common response.

This, by the way, in some ways, goes double for men, who are meant to always be pleased by any sexual attention, no matter how inappropriate.

We all, individually and as a culture, need to learn to take sexual harassment seriously and to accept that it is a problem. No one is entitled to put any kind of sexual pressure upon you, and when it happens, there need to be consequences, no matter how important the person doing the harassing is.

The fact Weinstein has finally been exposed is a promising sign, but there is much work yet to do. Educate yourself on what your options are if you’ve been harassed. If you do not find a sympathetic voice within your company, consider legal help. Lawyers know the law, and they know how to strengthen your case so it sticks, even if the company doesn’t want to hear it.

Otherwise, we can all try to be more vigilant, to watch out for each other. And, of course, when stories come forward, we have to be strong enough to believe and stand by those who are risking much to expose those who are harming them and others.

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