Keeping Two Happy Homes – Helpful Apps For Separate Households

April 30, 2014

 

With the abundance of applications for smartphones, it only makes sense to utilize some apps to make parenting from two households easier.  Generally, parents who manage themselves well, end up having fewer problems with their children.  Here are a few apps that are helpful for parenting from two different homes:

Our Family Wizard

This application corresponds with the company website, and it was designed for parents who share custody.  You can use this app to share messages, expenses, and updates.  The app includes a calendar, message board, expense log, and journal.  Through this tool, the parents don’t have to use the children as intermediary, which usually makes everyone uncomfortable.

Divorce Log

With this tool, you can keep track of child support payments and visitation times.  The app provides an easy way to record these instances into a calendar that may come in handy if the other parent is not following a court order. You can also configure the app so that it forwards entries to another party, such as your attorney, or guardian ad litem.

Two Happy Homes

This is another application for two parents who are co-parenting their children.  It includes a shared calendar with a notebook, a finance center for expenses, and a shared location for important documents.  It also has a tab for contacts, in which parents can share phone numbers for grandparents, aunts, cousins, etc who may be spending time with the children.

Artkive

This app states that it is “the clutter free way to save an enjoy your child’s artwork.”  When your child gives you a piece of art he or she made, you can simply snap a photo with your phone and store it.  The tool also allows you to make a book or other keepsake with the artwork you have archived.  Of course, this app is not only for separate households – it’s for any family who wants to keep their child’s art in a digitized format.

Co-parenting can be difficult, but various apps will allow parents to communicate effortlessly.  Additionally, having communication in writing is beneficial in case a disagreement arises.  Using an app or another shared tool will allow parents to keep the friction to a minimum.  If you are parenting in two homes, you should think about using one.

 
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Do-It-Yourself Divorce: Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

April 28, 2014

 

There is an old British saying that goes “penny wise, pound foolish.”  It refers to someone who goes to great lengths to save a little money (pennies), but ends up paying much more (pounds) later on.

There are some services that advocate a do-it-yourself divorce so you can save money.  However, like the British saying, a do-it-yourself divorce is not a good idea, and can end up costing you more than you ever imagined.

Divorce is a serious life-changing event that has implications on you, your spouse, and your children. Attempting to resolve intricate issues by a “fill in the blank” form just makes you foolish.  Of course, this coming from an attorney sounds self-serving.  But let me explain it in another way.

For example, if you become painfully sick, you have two options.  You could go directly to the pharmacy and try to find some over the counter medicine for your symptoms.  Or you could go to a doctor to be assessed and diagnosed and given a professional opinion on how to treat it.  Sometimes, even something that seems like it could be simple could be a grave disease.  Isn’t it best to find out for sure and to get the best advice?

Here is another example – buying the least expensive clothes isn’t always the smartest idea.  Digging through that pile of discount shirts may save you some money today.  But having to replace your shirts every season ends up costing you more than if you had bought quality shirts in the first place.

Even if your divorce case is not contested and (in your view) not complicated, then it shouldn’t be that expensive for an attorney to handle it for you and do things the right way. If you attempt to get divorced by a do-it-yourself form, and problems arise later, there is a good chance that an attorney will not be able to fix it.  The few pennies you try to save could end up costing you more down the road.  Just be smart and think about the future consequences.  You don’t want to walk around with holes in your shirts.

 
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Watch Your Language – Man Fined for Profane Message

April 26, 2014

 

In Virginia, you better watch your language.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reported that James Berry was fined $250.00 for a profane message he left for Attorney General Mark Herring.  The message contained some threatening language and Capitol Police said it was an “obscene, vulgar message.”  Berry was calling to protest support of same sex marriage, in response to the brief the Attorney General filed earlier this month.

Due to the message, Berry was originally charged under Virginia Code 18.2-427, which makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to use profanity over “public airways or by other methods.”  The charge was later reduced to the crime of “curse and abuse” under Virginia Code 18.2-416, which makes it illegal to “curse or abuse” another person (a Class 3 misdemeanor).

So next time you are trying to get off the phone with a sales person, or having a fight with your significant other, don’t swear.  You could be fined for it.

 
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We Can Work It Out – Separation and Settlement Agreements

April 23, 2014

 

When two parties separate, they should consider negotiating a separation and property settlement agreement so they can avoid going through a trial.  If the parties can work it out, the end result will be an agreement that outlines the terms of settlement.  Before you sign a final separation and settlement agreement, consider these points:

1 – The authors of the separation and settlement agreement can be as creative as they want.  You and your attorney can come up with creative solutions to your specific circumstances.  Don’t let an attorney or your spouse tell you that there is only one way for a favorable outcome.  For example, if you have a piece of art with sentimental value to both of you, you can come up with ways to share it.  If there is a vacation property that you want to keep, split the winter breaks or summer breaks so you both can enjoy it.

2 – A separation and settlement agreement is a private contract signed by you and your spouse.  Therefore you are bound by this contract.  It is important that you don’t sign anything without having it reviewed by a family law attorney licensed in your state.   A court will not set aside an agreement just because you decide later you don’t like the terms of the agreement.

3 – Custody, visitation, and child support are always subject to change, so don’t give away financial assets to gain custody.  For example, if you give away assets and get custody of your children, your spouse can still file a motion to modify custody in the future to try to get custody of your children.  In other words, if you give up everything to obtain custody, you may still lose custody in the future.

4 – Details are important and add clarity.  Make sure you have specific times and dates by which things will be completed.  Also include times and dates for visitation and drop offs for children.  Vagueness can create misunderstandings and land you back in court for clarification.

5 – You can have a partial agreement.  Remember that you don’t have to resolve all issues related to your divorce.  If you don’t come to a full agreement of all the issues, you can sign an agreement for some of the issues.  Some parties only agree to the financial terms, but cannot agree about custody.  This is perfectly acceptable.  Even a partial agreement will save time and money.

Entering a separation and settlement agreement can be a very cost effective way to resolve the issues arising from your marriage, but you want to ensure that it is well drafted and protects your interests.  Khadilkar Law has experience in drafting separation and settlement agreements and can help you avoid the pitfalls.  Contact us for a consultation.

 
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Don’t Mess With Your Ex – Revenge Porn Bill Takes Effect in July

April 21, 2014

 

Breaking up is hard to do.  But when you add revenge porn to the situation, things can get cruel.  Revenge porn is generally defined as the dissemination of sexually explicit images of an ex-lover without their permission.  Obviously, these images and videos can be emotionally harmful and have devastating effects on a person’s reputation.  These days, images can spread like wildfire through social media, photo sharing, and messaging apps.

Legislation has passed in Virginia to make revenge porn a crime.  Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the bill in March, and the law takes effect in July.  The bill makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to “maliciously” distribute a nude or sexual photograph of another person with intent to “coerce, harass, or intimidate” without a license.  It’s important to note that the bill targets the individual posters and not the websites that serve as hosts.  Many revenge porn websites are federally protected under the Communications Decency Act, Section 230, which prohibits websites from being liable for actions of third parties.

New Jersey and California were the first states to criminalize revenge porn, and many other states have proposed similar legislation.  Though most people sympathize with the victims of revenge porn, some feel that laws banning revenge porn may be unconstitutional under the First Amendment.   Forbes Magazine recently wrote an article asserting that revenge porn laws are not unconstitutional.

The reality is that revenge porn is becoming very common, and so states are acting to protect the victims and their right to privacy.  So the bottom line is don’t mess with your ex – it could land you in jail.

 
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Same Sex Marriage Across State Lines

April 17, 2014

 

Last June, the Supreme Court struck down a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ruled that in states where same sex marriage is legal, the same sex couples are entitled to receive the same federal health, tax, and Social Security benefits as heterosexual couples receive.  However, the Supreme Court stopped short of declaring that same sex couples have the right to marry.

Therefore, same sex couples have the right to marry in some states, but same sex marriage is illegal in others.  Currently, same sex couples can marry in 17 states and the District of Columbia.  A large majority of states have a constitutional ban on same sex marriage, and four states have allowed civil unions and domestic partnerships.

The imbalance occurs when a same sex couple crosses state lines.  For example, if a same sex couple gets married in Iowa (where it is legal), and then moves to Nebraska (where it is illegal), what happens to their union?  Nebraska won’t recognize their marriage as valid, and so the couple will not receive the same protections as heterosexual married couples.

Is this fair? The debate has continued this year on these questions.  Several judges have struck down state bans against same sex marriage, including the one in Virginia.  The Virginia opinion compared the ban on same sex marriage to the ban against interracial marriage that was struck down in 1967.   The decision has been appealed, but the Virginia Attorney General has filed a brief supporting same sex marriage.

Additionally, addressing the issue of fairness, some judges have ruled that states must recognize out of state same sex marriage.  Just this week, a federal judge ordered that Ohio must recognize the marriage of same sex couples performed in other states.  Earlier in February, a federal judge ordered that Kentucky must recognize the marriages of same sex couples performed out of state.  In March, a federal judge ordered that Tennessee must recognize same sex marriages of couples who wed in other states.  These state decisions and appeals are forging a steady path to the Supreme Court over the national battle over same sex marriage.

Once the issue reaches the Supreme Court again, the justices will have to consider the inequity of same sex marriage across state lines.  Until then, same sex couples are forced to stay in states where same sex marriage is legal if they want the same marriage protections and benefits as everyone else.

 
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Google Glass While Driving

April 15, 2014

 

Google is selling Google Glass for today only to the entire American public.  This raises the question – how does Google Glass affect driving laws?

In the District of Columbia, handheld cell phone use and texting is banned while driving under the Distracted Driving Safety Act.  D.C. also prohibits all cell phone use by new or teenage drivers.

In Virginia, it is illegal to text or email while driving under the Virginia Code.  Teen drivers are prohibited from using cell phones entirely.  A driver may also be charged with failure to pay full time and attention in Fairfax County for using a cell phone if he or she swerves or brakes inappropriately due to cell phone use.

So while there are no direct laws prohibiting driving with Google Glass in D.C. or Virginia, the state could argue that it falls under failure to pay full time and attention or distracted driving.

Several states are already considering bills that would restrict or completely prohibit using Google Glass while driving, including West Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, and Wyoming.  We will have to see if Virginia and D.C. follow suit.

 

 
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Categories of Domestic Violence for CPOs

April 13, 2014

 

In the District of Columbia, the D.C. Code divides domestic violence into three categories for purposes of obtaining a civil protective order (CPO).  Generally, domestic violence is when someone in one of the categories commits or threatens to commit a crime against you.  The three categories are interpersonal violence, intimate partner violence, and intrafamily violence.

Interpersonal violence – a criminal act committed by someone who you share a home with (i.e. a roommate), or someone who is or was in an intimate relationship with the same person that you are/were in an intimate relationship with (i.e. you are dating Alex, and Alex’s ex-wife assaults you).

Intimate partner violence – a criminal act committed by someone who you are or were married to, in a domestic partnership with, dating, or with whom you had a sexual relationship.

Intrafamily violence – a criminal act committed by someone who you are related by blood, adoption, legal custody, marriage, domestic partnership, or with whom you have a child in common.

These are the three categories of domestic violence for CPO petitions in the District of Columbia.  Keep in mind that if you are the victim of stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse, you can also file for a CPO even if you do not fall into one of the three above-mentioned categories.

There are no fees to file a civil protective order in D.C. Superior Court.  If you need assistance in filing or pursuing a CPO, contact Khadilkar Law for a consultation.

 
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Before Filing For Divorce

April 7, 2014

 

Before filing for divorce, you should make an effort to get your ducks in a row.  Just as with any major life decision, it’s best to take your time and know where you stand.  Before filing, you should try to do the following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this is a good start, it is not a complete list of the things you need to know for a divorce.  If you are contemplating divorce, contact Khadilkar Law for a consultation.  We can provide you with guidance and empathy in this emotional time.

 

 
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Basics of Premarital Agreements

April 4, 2014

 

I’m sending you elsewhere today!

I wrote a guest post today for Alvi Aggarwal’s blog Estateography, where she blogs about wills, trusts, and estates issues.  Find my post on the basics of premarital agreements here.

 
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