Honest Answers From Your South Carolina Lawyer
When you’re faced with a major life event, you’re filled with questions and uncertainty. Get the straight answers you’re looking for from a South Carolina attorney.
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I got hurt bad on the job. The doctor says I can go back with restrictions. Do I have to go back to work if I’m worried I can’t do my job?
Yes, you must go back if your employer has work you can do within your restrictions. If you refuse to return to work at a job the doctor indicates you’re able to perform, you can be denied workers’ compensation benefits.
Few things inspire more anxiety for hurt workers than returning to work. Many are so anxious to get back to work it drives them crazy when the doctor won’t let them, or gives them restrictions their job can’t accommodate. And other folks worry they’re being released too early, that the work could worsen their condition, or that they just can’t do the job anymore. And returning to work after an injury can be a little awkward and even intimidating, even if it’s not your fault and you’re doing all you can to get back.
We’ve found information eases fears, so here’s some basics on how getting back to work goes.
The Doctor’s Work Restrictions Protect You
Here’s some important terms you might encounter:
Your doctor may allow you to do this type work while he’s still treating you. It means you’ve got restrictions keeping you from doing your normal work. So if you work in a warehouse but can’t lift due to a shoulder injury, light duty might mean you answer phones or sweep the floors. Hopefully, you’ll return to your prior job once you reach maximum medical improvement. If your employer has no light duty, you remain on temporary total disability, getting a weekly check.
When the doctor releases you, he gives these as your lifelong limitations from the injury. Once you have them, you should report to work to see if your employer has a job that can accommodate them. If so, congrats! You dodged a bullet by not having to look for a new job.
Some people aren’t so lucky. You may have a grave, complicated injury with lifelong consequences. You may count as totally disabled under workers’ compensation law, a term that doesn’t mean what you may think. If you don’t already have one, you need an experienced lawyer to get you the most permanent disability benefits possible to help protect your financial security.
What If I Try to Work But Just Can’t Do It?
If you give work an honest try, but can’t do it, be honest about it. Report it to your supervisor. You may need more treatment, and you should ask to go back to the doctor for a reevaluation. For income, hurt employees who try working but can’t make it 15 days ordinarily qualify automatically for temporary total disability benefits.
The Cure for Legal Worries Is Professional Help
If you’re worried about going back to work or anything else related to your workers’ comp case, stop and take action. Email us your questions so we can answer them and start giving you guidance. Let us help give you peace of mind and get you the maximum available benefits you can obtain in your one-time chance to do right by yourself after a work injury.
How can a defective, out-of-repair, or dangerous road cause a wreck?
Poor road conditions—like potholes, bumps, rutted or broken pavement, and unsafe roadside drop-offs—can cause tragic, even fatal car accidents in many ways.
Here are just a few examples of how dangerous road conditions can forever change the lives of innocent motorists:
- Improperly graded roads allow water to pool, creating dangerous hydroplaning.
- Overly steep drop-offs on the roadside can cause lethal rollovers where the "luckiest" result can be paralysis.
- Highway ruts where the pavement is scraped or worn off can cause a driver to lose control even at a safe speed and barrel off the side of the road into a tree.
- Inadequate warning signs—or no warning signs at all—can fail to alert the driver about road hazards. This applies just as much to temporary hazards like construction as it does to permanent dangers like bumps in the road. Think of the looming disaster posed if you are driving at highway speed when you hit an unmarked bump, or if you drive straight into a construction zone without any warning at all.
- Traffic lights where the timing is off are surprisingly dangerous. These may not give enough time for motorists to get through an intersection safely.
- Insufficient pedestrian signs or lights—or none at all—don’t give pedestrians enough time to cross an intersection safely, or fail to warn approaching motorists to look out for them.
- Insufficient guardrails or median barriers fail to prevent deadly crossover crashes. Instead, a car skids across the median and can’t stop before slamming headfirst into oncoming traffic.
Poor road conditions and improper signs are a deadly peril that can leave innocent motorists and passengers grievously hurt…or worse. If you think the condition of a road contributed to your car accident, an experienced injury lawyer who knows how to research the accident history of the road and gather the necessary experts to prove your case is exactly what you need.
Feel free to start a live chat with us right where you are to apply to be one of our clients. If we accept your case, rest assured you’ll get the care you need. We’ll do all we can to gather the proper evidence to help get your medical bills paid and get you the best possible financial settlement for a crash that should have been prevented by authorities- and anyone else who contributed to your harm.
Do I have to prove my injury case beyond a reasonable doubt, like a criminal case?
No. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard of proof required for the government to convict you of a crime. In an injury case, you need only prove it’s more likely than not the wrongdoer caused the accident and your injuries, harms, and losses. This is true no matter what type of case you have—a trucking accident, car wreck, slip or trip and fall, medical malpractice, or workers’ compensation.
Here’s a few more points so you can amaze your friends with your knowledge—and be informed about your case:
- Legal terms. The legal system calls the amount of evidence to prove your accident case the “burden of proof.” The lower amount required for you is called the “preponderance of the evidence.”
- The reason why less evidence is needed for accident claims. Our country was founded on freedom. In our view, that’s why the legal system requires more proof from the government to take freedom away from a criminal defendant than it does for an innocent injury victim to be compensated by a careless person, driver, or company.
- Exceptions. That’s what the law is famous for, right? There are a few times when injury cases ask for a different standard of proof. Punitive damages, which basically punish for reckless conduct, must be proven by clear and convincing evidence—more than preponderance but less than beyond a reasonable doubt. Proving your need for future medical care requires medical testimony it’s “reasonably certain,” which can include possibilities of less than 50%.
- It’s still no picnic. You’ve still got to prove your injuries to tight-fisted insurance companies (who hate paying even if you deserve it) or to skeptical jurors. And you’ve got to be very careful about medical proof. Improper medical testimony can lose your right to compensation.
The best way to protect yourself is hire a proven professional who earns a living gathering this evidence and presenting it convincingly, so you don’t worry about being shortchanged. If you’ve got questions about your case, start a live chat to see what we can do to answer them.
What are the Miranda rights and what do the rights read before arrest mean?
The purpose of the rights read before suspects are arrested, called the Miranda rights for the United States Supreme Court decision requiring them, is simple. Police must fully advise a suspect of his right to silence and make sure it’s honored.
So here are the rights and what they are telling you, in my experience:
You have the right to remain silent.
Dwell on this. Is the Supreme Court trying to tell you something? The Miranda rights are also called warnings. Bad things can happen when you ignore a warning.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
If the police suspect you, assume they want to convict you. If they want to convict you, assume they will stop at nothing to do it. And it’s not just what you say that will be used against you. So will things you don’t say or interpretations of how you acted:
- “He never really strongly denied our charges.”
- “He seemed evasive answering our questions.”
Ever left a conversation wishing you’d added something? What if you get nervous and leave the meeting wishing you’d told them you were at your grandma’s the night of the restaurant break-in you just got grilled about?
You have the right to a lawyer during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before questioning, if you want.
Roll this one around your brain. What’s the Supreme Court telling you here? Not only do you have the right to a professional to help you in this situation, but the police have to cater one for you if you have no money. THINK ABOUT IT:
You have a right to something and you can get it for free. It sure seems like you ought to take it.
You have the right to stop answering questions at any time and refuse to answer any more.
Don’t overlook this one. While the police want you to forget it, it tells you who controls the interview: you.
Don’t Let Social Pressure Push You to Give Up Your Rights
Let’s face it: police questioning is downright scary, even if the police aren’t trying to frighten you. But sometimes they use intimidating or clever tactics to squeeze statements from suspects. They can even twist what you say into a meaning you never intended.
Police have a job to do: to point the finger at someone. If they want to meet with you, assume you’re the one they want to point at. We know it’s really, really hard to face down the police and refuse to talk when they so desperately want you to say something.
You need a professional whose job is protecting you and your rights.
Are You Innocent? That Might Not Be Enough to Protect You
Don’t put the police in position to make a mistake.
If police “just want to ask you a few questions,” you need to call a qualified criminal defense attorney to ask him a few questions first. Because what happens in that interview room can’t be undone, and if it goes badly for you, the consequences can last a lifetime. Call us at (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 right now to grab hold of your rights and use them before it’s too late.
I failed to remain silent when questioned and admitted my involvement in a crime. The officer told me I had a right to remain silent, but he also said that if I cooperated and helped him, he would help me. Now they are telling me that I need to plead guilty. Is there any hope?
Yes. But first, let’s remember no competent criminal defense attorney would give blanket advice to every person out there faced with every possible situation to simply remain silent. Whether you have made a statement or not, if you are faced with a criminal investigation, you should contact an attorney immediately as to the best way to handle your situation. Each case is different and this is not intended as advice on your case.
When our firm is hired to represent someone in a criminal matter, we do not promise results, but we do promise to explore every avenue as allowed by the rules of the court and the law to obtain the best result that we can under the circumstances.
Breaking Your Silence Usually Helps the Prosecution
Most criminal defense attorneys recognize that if every criminal defendant exercised his right to remain silent, the number of convictions obtained by law enforcement and the solicitor’s office would decrease dramatically. Remember, you do not have to prove you are innocent, but rather the state must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you don’t make a statement (after invoking your right to silence) or testify in your trial, the judge tells the jury they can’t even use that against you—they are not to consider it. This is why our firm has previously expressed said that testifying in your own defense is overrated.
But What If You Have Already Made a Statement?
When we take on a criminal case where a statement has been made, we look towards the following possibilities:
- Corpus delicti: This is Latin for “body of the crime.” It represents the legal principle that before a person can be tried for a crime, it must be proven that a crime has actually been committed. For our purposes today, we’ll focus on one conclusion of this rule: it should require more than a defendant’s out-of-court confession to prove the defendant’s guilt. In other words, if the only way to prove the crime was committed was by the defendant’s out-of-court statement or confession, the person should be found not guilty. So when we have a case where a statement has been given we check to see if there is any other evidence to support a conviction. If not, we may be able to get the case thrown out.
- Questioning violates certain rights: Before the police can question you about a crime to use in your prosecution, they are required to inform you of certain rights. You have the right to remain silent. Law enforcement has to inform you of this right before they interrogate you. If they fail to inform you of this, then it may be possible to have your statement suppressed, or excluded from the trial. Likewise, law enforcement has to inform you of your right to an attorney. If you ask for an attorney and are questioned anyway, it may be possible to have your statement suppressed. What we are really talking about is your statement being voluntary while aware of your rights, so if you are coerced or forced or otherwise tricked into giving a statement, action may be able to be taken to keep your statement out.
Sometimes you can’t talk your way out of getting charged
Many criminal suspects think that they can talk their way out of their situation by making a statement to police. This usually does not work. Sometimes you can’t talk your way out of things. The police may have already decided to charge you prior to ever talking to you. In these cases anything you say will simply be used against you. Even if innocent, some statements can be taken out of context; or, an innocent inconsistency may be used to suggest you are lying.
Sometimes a statement has been made and we just have to deal with it
When a statement has been made and we are unable to keep the statement out of court, we explore other possibilities to best address your statement in trial. For instance, it may make sense to admit the statement is true but that it doesn’t show the whole picture—and we can explain it in a way that minimizes the damage to your position. If a plea results we look at how the statement can be in included when we try to persuade the Court for a lenient sentence in mitigation, if that is the best avenue.
Again, each case is different. We would not tell a person never to speak to the police, just as we would not tell a person definitely to speak to the police without knowing the circumstances and facts of the particular situation. There are unique cases where we allow suspect or defendants to speak to law enforcement.
If you are charged with a crime—whether you have given a statement or not—or if you are under suspicion of and being investigated for criminal activity, act fast and contact a lawyer at once. If you would like the assistance of the attorneys at Holland & Usry, PA, please contact us at 864-582-0416 or toll free at 877-230-1841 for your free, confidential consultation.
Who can I talk to about my criminal charges?
You can talk to your criminal defense lawyer and anyone he allows. That’s it. Consider everyone else a potential witness for the prosecution, who wants to convict you. The entire state or federal government, with its awesome power and unlimited resources, stands against you. Your freedom and reputation are on the line. Don’t gamble with them.
Don’t Talk To Strangers…And Everyone Is a Stranger Until Your Lawyer Says Otherwise
I’ll say it again: don’t talk to anyone without your lawyer’s consent. This includes the obvious and not-so-obvious:
- The police. This may seem no-brainer, but folks charged with crimes do crazy, desperate things. You’re not talking your way out of this alone. You don’t have to like it, but you need to accept it. Is your brother-in-law a cop? Then he’s off limits until your case is resolved.
- Victim. This is the state’s chief witness! Contacting him in any form could get you rearrested. Threatening him is a separate criminal offense and evidence of your guilt of the original crime. If the victim was willing to give you a break, he never would have called the police in the first place. Let your lawyer handle the victim.
- Friends. They come and go. Don’t be victimized by one who goes, or talks too much to the wrong people. How can you tell if your friends will do this? You can’t. So don’t discuss your case with them.
- Strangers. We recently reported a high profile case where a young man got his bail revoked and thrown in jail because he talked to the wrong stranger on a train—a reporter who leaked the possible bail violation. Don’t talk to strangers. For you, everyone’s a stranger.
Don’t Ever Do This
There are two forms of communication to NEVER, EVER USE without your lawyer’s advice:
- Social media. If you saw someone charged with a crime call a press conference to protest her innocence, you’d likely think she was a little crazy. Social media’s no different. It’s a broadcast. Worse, it’s in writing. It could be taken the wrong way. Assume the state will find it, because the prosecutor probably will. Think your Facebook page is private? Not when it gets printed out and passed around or forwarded. I’ve used Twitter feeds to devastatingly cross-examine so-called victims. You can expect the state to do the same to you. For more info on this topic, read what I told the media about social media and court cases.
- Emails. Did you know one of the things that REALLY got the Duke lacrosse case going against the team was a player’s tasteless email that was really just a movie quote
The problem with social media is that it’s in writing, so it never goes away. And once it’s out, whoever gets it can take it to whomever they want—you lose total control of your audience. The last thing most people accused of crime need is an audience. It’s another way of talking to strangers, which you don’t do when you’re charged with a crime. While your case is pending, just stay away from the online world completely.
Always Do This
If you are charged with a crime or being investigated for one, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. You need someone who knows how the law and the system works so they can help make it work for you. This system is way beyond you, and you need someone who understands how it works, to make it work for you.
Yes, there are exceptions. Just don’t risk guessing about them without a full discussion and guidance from a criminal defense attorney you trust, because he knows what he’s doing.
If you are even being investigated, call us immediately for a free meeting to talk about how we can help you. If you’re already charged, you should do the same so we can help you get your back off the wall. The number is at the top of this page. Use it.
Is it expensive to hire a workers’ compensation attorney?
No. Workers’ compensation attorneys get paid by a “contingency fee.” This fee is a portion of your financial settlement. In addition to that, you also reimburse the lawyer from the settlement for any costs expended to help your case.
This fee arrangement helps you because your lawyer should be driven to get the best settlement possible—the more you get, the more he earns. Plus there’s no upfront retainer fees, which you might be unable to afford from losing work due to your injuries.
To give you a better idea how this works, we’ll break it down a little more.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney Fees
The law caps attorney fees at a maximum of one-third of your monetary settlement. Before anyone gets paid from it, your lawyer must submit a form signed by both of you showing payments from the settlement—his fee, the reimbursed costs, and the amount you get.
No one gets paid until the commission approves the fees and costs by order. This protects workers from dishonest lawyers who charge too much.
Typical Workers’ Compensation Case Costs
Your lawyer pays these costs upfront to help your case. At Holland & Usry, we work to minimize these expenses—without hurting your case—to help you get the most money possible.
Typical case expenses include:
- Fees for evidence. For a small fee, we get a copy of the Commission file, which can contain important basic information like the first report of injury showing how your employer reported the accident. It might also contain other forms filed by your employer that supply other useful nuggets about your case, including your “comp rate,” the amount you get paid if you’re out of work on temporary total disability.
- Fees charged by providers for medical records. We can’t fully evaluate your case without knowing what your doctors say. We especially need information from your medical caregivers that will help use evaluate your impairment rating.
- Fees charged by your doctor to meet with him. Sometimes we meet with your doctor to discuss your case, especially to be sure he relates the injury to work, to discuss impairment ratings, and evaluate whether you need future medical care. This isn’t a bribe—it makes up for the time he loses with patients to meet with us.
These costs are usually a few hundred bucks or less. But if your case is contested, we may have additional costs, due to:
- Filing fees. The Commission charges a fee to request a hearing.
- Depositions. This is out-of-court sworn testimony where the insurance company lawyer asks you all about your background, injury, and the impact it had on your life at work and home. We may also take depositions, if absolutely necessary. Again we're working to minimize your costs to maximize your settlement to you.
- Experts. Only rare cases require them. Examples include second opinions and, in some severe injury cases, a vocational evaluation expert. We might employ a vocational evaluator if we’re trying to prove you eligible for maximum benefits of permanent and total disability or wage loss. The evaluator can tell us whether you can work again and, if so, the limits of your ability to earn wages. Because experts can make costs skyrocket, we use them only when absolutely necessary.
- Mediation. This is rare. It's only required in certain cases, including permanent and total disability cases. In mediation, the parties hire another lawyer with no interest in the outcome and experience in comp cases to help them settle it.
Contested case costs can run into the low thousands.
The Good News—All The Legal Work Costs You Nothing Up Front
If you’ve been hurt at work, you have nothing to lose by meeting with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. And by hiring one, you might have more to gain than you thought. Start a live chat with us right now to schedule a free meeting to see what we can do to help your case.
How much is my accident injury case worth?
It depends. This is a question that we get from clients in the majority of our personal injury cases, whether it’s an auto accident, 18-wheeler crash, slip and fall, nursing home injury, medical malpractice, or even a death case, which is valued differently from an injury case.
The truth is, injury cases are about people, and because all people are different, all cases are different—each case depends on its own facts and circumstances. There are so many factors that must be considered, the most important of which we list later. But first, let’s talk about when we start looking at what your injury case is worth.
Don’t Jump The Gun
Early on in a personal injury case, it is the most difficult to tell what a good settlement amount will be, for two critical reasons:
- Ongoing medical treatment. You may not be done with all medical treatment. Thus we do not know the full extent of your bills, and more importantly, we don’t know whether you have any permanent injuries for which we can seek compensation.
- Insurance coverage. Often, at the start of a personal injury case—especially auto accident cases—we are unaware of what insurance coverage is available. (One of the great tragedies we see for car crash victims is when there is not enough insurance to cover their loss…which is why we encourage you to get the most important auto insurance available to you .)
From that point, we begin our investigation into the specifics of your case. Those details are what will really allow us to put a dollar figure on the losses you have suffered. So along the way, we begin to develop evidence that will enable us to get you the most compensation possible in your settlement or verdict.
Seven Factors in Valuing Most Personal Injury Cases
In almost every case, we look at seven details in order to assign a proper value to your total injuries. Again, this is just how we initially approach the average case; what we discover along the way will suggest other areas to explore.
Those seven key factors:
1.Evidence of fault, including any fault on your part, which can reduce your settlement…or sometimes prevent any recovery at all.
2.The extent of your injuries. The worse the injury, the greater the potential settlement value. That’s why we look with a keen eye at whether any injuries you suffer can be permanent, or even cause permanent conditions later. It’s a vital reason why you’ve got to be honest with your doctor and why we need your doctor as an integral part of your case.
3.Whether you’ll need future medical care.
4.The amount of medical bills—and not just the amount your health insurance pays.
5.Whether the at fault party was reckless or breaking the law at the time you were injured, which could lead to punitive damages. And yes, if the evidence is presented the right way, you can get a settlement taking punitive damages into account.
6.The income or wages you lost as a result of your injuries. This generally requires a doctor’s excuse. It’s not just a measure of the financial impact of your injuries. Most of our clients are hardworking people determined to fulfill their responsibilities, so being forced out of work also displays how badly they got hurt.
7.Possibly the biggest part of your case that’s also hardest to prove—human loss. You’ve probably heard it described as “pain and suffering,” or “noneconomic damages.” We prefer to call it human loss because this aspect of compensation makes up for the loss to you as a person. Human loss contains its own set of factors that can be as unique to your case as you are a person, because that’s what your case is about—you.
It bears repeating: this list of seven factors is not meant to be exhaustive. These are some of the basic things we look for when evaluating your case.
It May Be Harder Than It Looks, So Let Us Make It Easy On You
Does it sound exhausting to compile all this evidence, especially the technical medical stuff? It is, for most folks. For us, it’s another good day’s work. And we know the work’s got to be done right, because seriously injured folks face skeptical juries who’ve seen too many TV commercials with actors flashing big smiles saying they got hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for his injury case.
We know that’s misleading. In reality, being severely injured or suffering the death of a loved one is nothing to smile about. We take it seriously, to deliver your legal care with same determination and devotion you expect from medical caregivers. That’s why we go to great lengths to understand you, your injuries, and the effect they have on your life, then, now, and going forward.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of somebody else, do not go at it alone. The stakes are high. There are so many factors and variables to be weighed, and the system is complicated. If you need a lawyer, please contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry, PA, at (864) 582-0416 or toll-free at (888) 230-1841 for your free, confidential consultation.
I got pulled over for a minor traffic violation, but the police kept asking me stuff until I let them search my car for drugs. Can they do that?
Maybe. But it’s a big maybe that can be the difference between possibly getting your charges dismissed, instead of your being convicted for the evidence they found in the search, like drugs or weapons.
Searches after traffic stops can result when police keep questioning you about things unrelated to the stop, which can end up in police searching the car to find evidence of crime. Sometimes people even agree to have their cars searched in this situation. We call this “extending the traffic stop.”
The real question is, what gives police the right to do that? And what happens if they violate your right against it? Let’s take a look at what you need to know.
Limits on the Police’s Authority at a Traffic Stop
To paraphrase Yogi Berra, a traffic stop is over when it’s over. In a routine traffic stop, the officer can:
- Request your license and registration,
- Run a check of your driving and criminal records, and
- Issue a ticket.
That’s it. Once he tells you you’re getting a ticket, the stop is over and you should be free to go.
Keeping you at the scene after that to ask you more questions is illegal unless the officer has reasonable suspicion of a serious crime. Note the exception. The officer can keep you for questioning unrelated to the stop for reasonable suspicion of another crime. The legal system struggles with a clear definition of “reasonable suspicion.” Basically, it means reasons, supported by facts, that he suspects you of another crime.
But what if he has no facts and keeps questioning you anyway until you finally give in and let him search?
The Consequences of Unjustifiably Extending a Stop
It’s a game-changer: The entire search is void, even if you consented to it. All evidence of any crime is thrown out, including any statement you made—even if you confessed.
The Stakes Are High and the Law Is Complex
Our state Supreme Court describes extending a traffic stop as undetectable by ordinary folks like you. You’re no legal technician, so you don’t know whether you’re free to leave or not, especially faced with a man with a badge and a gun. And the law is very complex.
You need a trained criminal defense attorney experienced in drug defense. No one wants to let somebody caught “red handed” go. You need a sharp criminal defense lawyer who can spot the facts because he knows the law, and who is able to present your side of the story convincingly to a skeptical prosecutor and possibly a judge. And the stakes couldn’t be higher for you. A successful argument here could be the difference between the stain of conviction—and even prison time—or thanking your lucky stars and moving on with life after a dismissal or a plea deal you can live with.
Send us an email from where you are now so we can schedule a free meeting to start building your defense.
I am a pretty smart person who normally handles my own affairs, and I don’t see why my divorce should be any different. After all, I know what I think is fair. Should I try to save some money by not getting a lawyer and negotiating my own marital settlement agreement?
The answer is almost certainly not. I have seen many people regret the day they represented themselves in a divorce, particularly when there is an attorney on the other side. Often, these are educated people. Sometimes, they run successful businesses that they created from the ground up. And many times, they end up with agreements approved by the family court that are unfair to them or not practical in their application, or both.
The following are some of the reasons why you should get an attorney:
- Some portions of agreements are final (unless very special circumstances exist), such as equitable division and a waiver of alimony.
- Some things, like child-related issues and support obligations, can’t be changed unless there is a change in circumstance. So if you later realize you don’t like it or it’s unfair, you can’t necessarily change it.
- Ambiguous terms and obligations can leave you paying more than you anticipated.
- There are certain tax consequences of which you should be aware.
Family law may seem straightforward, but it is the details that are often difficult. Many lawyers who don’t practice in family law are surprised to learn how complicated it can sometimes be. If some lawyers find it difficult, and they are trained to practice law, that should tell non-lawyers to pause before deciding to represent themselves.
Consider the following examples…
- The person who agrees to receive a certain amount of alimony on a monthly basis. This person believes it is enough to meet his monthly needs, until he realizes that it is taxable. But there has been no change of circumstances, so he is likely stuck.
- The person who agrees to pay certain monthly obligations, such as continuing health insurance, instead of a set alimony payment. What happens over the years if this health insurance premium increases, going from $300 to $600 a month? Can the spouse who was ordered to pay it, get it changed? Maybe it is a change in circumstance, but was it an anticipated change? And doesn’t the spouse who is covered now have different circumstances too? It is unclear.
- The person who takes his share of the marital estate in a 401(k) without considering that, to get the cash portion of it, he will be penalized and taxed. Again, equitable division is almost always final.
- The person who agrees to college support. One of the most well-intentioned unrepresented pitfalls in the family court is the provision that simply says: Father (or mother) will pay college expenses. What happens when the child elects to go to an expensive private school at the other parent’s insistence—the one who’s not paying—and no effort is made to obtain grants or scholarships? What happens when the child loses the Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence (LIFE) scholarship because he is not interested in doing well in school and isn’t invested in his education? The child suffers no financial consequences when he makes all Cs or Ds, and the parent who agrees to pay college expenses is probably stuck footing the bill. Not only is a lot of money wasted, but the child graduates college (if he graduates) viewing the world as a place where he is rewarded for no reason and effort is unnecessary.
The above are examples of how not having a lawyer can come back to haunt you. Getting divorced is serious business, and you should have a lawyer who is well versed in handling these sorts of issues. If you are facing a divorce or a Decree of Separate Maintenance and would like to discuss it, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry, PA at 864.582.0416 or toll free at 888.230.1841 for your confidential consultation.