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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

HB 93 Will Take Us Back to the Bad Old Days

Posted on May 10th, 2017 by The Red Headed Lawyer

Back in 1970, Texas became one of the first states to offer couples a less confrontational, less expensive way to end a failed marriage. It was known as “No Fault” Divorce, and many at the time believed it would be a disastrous social experiment with American families. However, there is evidence now suggesting that rather than encouraging divorce, the long term effect of this option has been to make divorces less frequent.

During the 1970s and into the early 1980s, divorce rates did rise as each state eventually passed legislation to offer some kind of no fault option. In economic terms, you could say there was pent-up demand that was suddenly being satisfied by the change in laws.

One common measure of divorce rates is the number of divorces per 1,000 people. From about 4.6 per 1,000 in 1970, divorces in the US rose throughout the decade, peaking in 1981 at about 6.9 per thousand. Since then, the numbers have steadily declined, dropping to 4.0 per 1,000 in 2000 and just 3.2 today. Here in Texas, we are fortunate to have a divorce rate below the national average at 2.7 per 1,000.

Clearly, this is one of those rare occurrences where it’s good to be below average!

Texas House Bill 93 (and a companion bill that lengthens the waiting period from 60 to 180 days) would undo years of progress on dealing with divorces in the state and bring us back to the bad old days. If this Bill becomes law, couples whose marriages have failed will no longer be able to claim the no-fault option of “insupportability” – basically another way of saying irreconcilable differences. Instead, they will need to file using one or more of the fault-based grounds – adultery, abandonment, cruelty, felony conviction, living apart for three years or confinement to a mental hospital.

In my opinion, this Bill would be a disaster for Texas couples. They are already going through one life’s most stressful events. Now, they will be forced to adopt a confrontational approach and air their dirty laundry in public. Kids will be forced to take sides with all the long-term hurt and emotional baggage such conflict would sow.

And what about the parents? Should they be penalized for admitting that they are no longer compatible? Currently, it is estimated that as many as 90% of divorces in Texas are filed on no-fault grounds. Eliminating this option will make divorces much more expensive as one party will have to prove malfeasance as described above. This could entail the hiring of private investigators, expert witnesses, and the like. These proceedings will also take much more time to complete, which will also run up the bills.

But it’s not just about money. For women (and men) who are in abusive relationships, a no-fault divorce can be the only way out. After years in such a destructive relationship, the abused party will likely be very reluctant and afraid to report the partner to authorities, which would be required in an at-fault divorce. There is more data supporting current law – since no fault divorces became common, studies show female suicide has dropped 8 – 15%, domestic murder is down 10%, and domestic violence (for male and females) has fallen as much as 30%. Also, given the inevitable rise in costs that would ensue, would divorce become an option only for the wealthy?

There are many groups that support this change in law, but I can tell that as an attorney, I do not support it. Kids will suffer, parents and their families will suffer, and what if people lose their jobs and careers? How would this development help the lives of those involved?

If you have any questions on this or any other family law matter, please feel free to contact us here at the Essex Law Firm.

What to do if you are a Victim of Spousal Abuse

Posted on October 26th, 2015 by The Red Headed Lawyer

what-to-do-if-you-are-a-victim-of-spousal-abuse

If you are in a relationship with an abusive partner, you might feel trapped, helpless or have no idea where to turn. Knowing what steps to take to move forward in your life is extremely important for your wellbeing.

Report the Abuse

First and foremost, call 911 or your local police department to report the domestic abuse and file charges against your abuser. It’s important to keep a record of the abuse, so write down the report number from the police report, to save with your documentation.

According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.” (Source: http://www.ncadv.org/)

Understanding that you are not alone in your situation and you’ve done nothing to cause the abuse will help you move forward in bettering your situation.

Seek Medical Help

Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries. (Source: http://www.ncadv.org/).

Domestic violence leaves scars that can take several years to heal. While it’s important to seek medical attention for any immediate needs, it’s also necessary to seek professional help and counseling to aide you in the process of moving on.

Create a Safe Plan

Planning ahead is essential to keeping yourself and your family safe. Have a list of places you can go, perhaps a family member’s home or close friend’s house, when you are forced to leave your home. When creating your plan, consider where you will go, where your children will go, what to bring with you and how you will get there.

For an idea of what type of things to plan for, download this domestic violence personalized safety plan from NCDSV.org.

Think of Your Family

Domestic violence impacts your entire family and it’s important to find the support and provide guidance to your children involved in domestic violence.

According to www.safehorizon.com, “Children exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including becoming sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches, and being more tired and lethargic.”

Be sure to remember your children’s needs throughout the entire transition and make arrangements to keep them healthy, both mentally and physically.

File a Protective Order

By filing a protective order you can ensure your safety and your family’s safety. Under a protective order, the abuser is prohibited from assault, direct communication, visiting place of resident or place of work.

If you or someone you know is suffering from spousal abuse, do not hesitate to reach out for help. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for free to speak with a trained advocate and get the support you need. If you are in the Houston area, there are shelters and resources available to you through the Family Violence Unit and the Houston Bar Association.

Study Finds That Children Of Divorce Are More Likely To Smoke

Posted on March 15th, 2013 by The Red Headed Lawyer

Journal Abstract posted on University of Toronto

A new study has shown a connection with children of divorced parents, and a tendency to smoke, as compared to their peers.

This University of Toronto study, published online this month in the journal Public Health, shows that men who experienced parental divorce before they turned 18 had 48-per-cent higher odds of ever smoking 100 or more cigarettes than men whose parents did not divorce. Women from divorced families were also at risk, with 39-per-cent higher odds of smoking in comparison to women from intact families.

They have yet to find a direct link between the two, but they have some theories.

From this study, researchers cannot determine why parental divorce is linked to smoking initiation. However, co-author Joanne Filippelli, a University of Toronto doctoral student, suggests it is possible that “children upset by their parents’ divorce may use smoking as a coping mechanism to regulate emotions and stress. Some research suggests this calming effect may be particularly attractive to those who have suffered early adversities.”

When considering a divorce, be sure to keep the physical and mental health of your children in mind.