Prenuptial Agreements

According to Texas law, a prenuptial agreement is an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage. This means that two people make a contract that will be enforced in the event of a divorce or death. The right of a child to support may not be adversely effected by a prenuptial agreement.

The content of a prenuptial agreement may include how property will be divided:

  • on separation before the divorce is final,
  • after the divorce itself,
  • upon death,
  • if one of the parties remarries after the divorce,
  • if one of the spouses becomes disabled after the divorce or during the marriage, and
  • what happens if a child is produced or not produced as a result of the marriage and much more.

Prenuptial agreements have many sensitive legal issues involved that online forms simply have no capacity to discover, analyze and provide. It is important that a skilled attorney be employed to create a prenup that meets your needs and will hold up in a Texas court.

Steering Clear of Collisions

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More and more cars are on the roads each day...but there are many ways to avoid accidents.

If you want to stay safe on the roadway, here’s a hot tip from MSN.com: avoid driving near or around sporty, high-performance vehicles like the Scion tC, Chevrolet Cobalt SS, the Honda Civic Si and the Subaru Impreza WRX. These cars and others like them probably belong to drivers who lack “maturity and good judgment.”

According to statistics compiled by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), the Scion tC and cars like it typically appeal to young people, who are themselves “most likely to be involved in a crash.” The HLDI bases its findings on “a monthly flow of claims data from 30 insurance companies that represent about 80% of privately owned and insured vehicles.”

Each vehicle model receives a ranking “that is relative to the average for all vehicles.” On its most current list, the Scion tC has 65% more insurance claims than other vehicles. The figures for Chevrolet Cobalt SS the Honda Civic Si and the Subaru Impreza WRX are, respectively, 61%, 59% and 54%.

The HLDI creates its list based upon claims alone. However, MSN.com reports that “several factors can put a car high on the list, including the vehicle’s performance characteristics, the age and experience level of the typical driver, and where and how the vehicle is usually operated.”

Vehicle color also seems to play a role in collision statistics. Research by the Monash University Accident Research Center (MUARC) in Australia found that “vehicles painted black or 12% more likely to be involved in a crash than vehicles painted white” and that” silver cars were in 10% more accidents than my cars.” Environmental factors such as low light and visibility were cited as probable reasons for these results.

So the next time you’re out driving, it may well be to your advantage to not only watch out for what other cars are doing, but also stay aware of vehicle models and colors—every little bit helps to avoid dangerous and costly accidents.

The Probate Process: What You Need to Know

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Your home and material possessions can be at stake during the probate process. Call The Barrera Law Firm for expert assistance.
The probate process is not well understood by many but can have real effects on those that stand to inherit an estate at the time of a loved one’s death. If you do not plan your estate correctly, your loved ones, such as your dependents and spouse, could be put in a financially constricting situation at the time of your death. Not all estates are subject to the probate process. Living trusts, for example, can be created in order to avoid this process. Knowing about probate and how it can effect your surviving family members at the time of your death is an important part of being able to understand what you need to do in terms of planning your estate.

What is a probate and when is it necessary?

Probate is defined as the court-supervised administration of an estate. It is generally required for those whose estate has a fair market value of more than $100,000. Not included in the estate valued for probate is property that is being transferred to a spouse, trusts, or life insurance or retirement accounts for which there are beneficiaries, defined as those under contractual benefits. Probates are not dependent on whether or not a person created a will.

How long do probate proceedings typically take?

There is no easy answer to this question. The amount of time probate takes depends on the complexities of your estate. Typically, probate takes at least six months to complete, and that is under the best of circumstances. This is because the probate process includes required notices to be served, court hearing to occur and representatives to be appointed. In addition, a minimum of four months is required by law for creditors to present their claims against the estate.

What property is subject to probate proceedings?

The property that is subject to probate proceedings depends on how it is titled, the nature and value of the property and whether or not there is a surviving spouse. Only property for which a person held the title at the time of their death can be subjected to probate. Some people choose to create a living trust in order to put their property into. They then pass the title of their property onto the trust, which is not subject to probate. A good lawyer familiar with probate law, can advise you on the best way to plan your estate to avoid costly and time consuming probate proceedings.

Do inheritors receive income from the estate before the completion of probate proceedings?

While beneficiaries must wait until probate proceedings are complete before receiving the full and legal title to their inheritance, it is possible for them to receive a regular allowance before the proceedings are complete. In many cases, the surviving family members are in need of money from the estate in order to cover their daily expenses as well as expenses associated with the passing of their loved one. A lawyer can assist in petitioning the court for consent for payments for spouses and dependents before probate proceedings are complete.

Criminal Record Expungement

The Barrera Law Firm serves the entire Rio Grande Valley and offers criminal record expungement in Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen and beyond. Criminal record expungement is the sealing of criminal records, clearing criminal records so that records of arrest or prosecution that you may have will not be available to prospective employers, loan officers, apartment managers, college admission personnel or other officials.

It is an important service so that you can effectively move on with your life.

Deferred adjudication, which is pleading guilty to an offense, but having the court defer the plea of guilt for a period of months or years as long as the person complies with the conditions of the court will not necessarily protect you in this case. The guilty plea is never entered and they do not have a conviction on their record, however, there is a record of arrest and prosecution.

So do not let chance or a past mistake or even an error with the justice system allow the remainder of your life to be disrupted. Contact us for a free consultation on criminal record expungement.

Protecting Your Assets In a Divorce

Let’s face it: ending a marriage is never easy. But if divorce occurs after 20 to 25 years or more, the aftermath can be especially severe, especially where your finances are concerned.

For starters, get a good lawyer. While this may be an obvious point, Fox Business.com recommends that you not “waste cash venting to your attorney.” Stick to the facts of the case and “think with your wallet, not your heart.” If you have differences with your soon-to-be ex, “look for alternative ways to resolve their differences such as mediation, to negotiate the division of your assets” and let your lawyer fight or what legally belongs to you.

The next thing to do is create a realistic budget for yourself as a single person before the divorce becomes final. The one challenge many recent divorced individuals face is learning how to effectively manage their finances. If you will be receiving a settlement, you’ll need to do some careful planning as well, particularly if you receive cash. You may find it helpful to seek the assistance of a financial adviser.

If you and your spouse owed money as a couple, you’ll also need to prepare for merged debt. Some of the repayment responsibility will fall to you even if you didn’t make the purchases. It’s possible, though, that the court will award you a greater share of you and your former spouse’s total assets. In the case of secured debts, however, “the debt follows the asset—you get the house you get the mortgage.”

Where real estate is concerned, should you be the one to keep the family home, be sure that you can “afford the mortgage and other property costs.” It would also be smart to “get an appraisal and conduct a title search right away.” Your spouse could have used the house as collateral on a loan. The last thing you need is a piece of property that has a lien on it—especially one you didn’t know anything about.

Some people who go through a divorce shut down emotionally and isolate themselves from others. This behavior is unwise: if you have adult children or other relatives who are close to you and can offer you emotional and/or economic support, you may want to consider accepting their assistance. Besides which it is far better to “talk about the challenges you have, what you would like to change, what’s working and ways to improve” than live in denial.

Walking away from a multi-decade marriage commitment takes courage and a willingness to embrace radical change. With the right legal and professional assistance, you can restart your life on the secure footing you’ll need to succeed on your own.

Divorce: Why You Need Good Representation

When a marriage has reached a point where the only solution to problems are separation, its time to talk about divorce. When you are married, it is often the case that finances become intertwined. A divorce is the process of legally separating a couple’s finances in a way that is, hopefully, fair to both parties. While in a perfect world people would be able to do this simply between themselves, without the assistance of a lawyer and judge, most of the time the emotions that are a natural part of divorce prevent this from being a possibility. A good family lawyer, specializing in divorce, is a critical part of obtaining a fair settlement from a divorce proceeding.

  1. Calm and clear guidance. A good divorce lawyer will give you calm and clear guidance during your divorce. While your emotional state may prompt you to irrational and hasty decisions, the lawyer, who is emotionally neutral, will be able to guide you to make more productive choices.
  2. They know the way the system works. Going through a divorce is a complex task. There are many laws, statutes, and protocols that must be followed. While this may be your first divorce, it is one of many for a good divorce lawyer. This experience with divorces and having good divorce representation at your side will help you to navigate the waters of the divorce system and steer you clear to the other side with as little trouble as possible.
  3. Better chance of child custody going your way. When a divorce involves children, things can get even trickier. Choose your divorce lawyer very carefully if you will be fighting for custody of your children. Make sure that the lawyer you choose has had good success in the past with child custody suits.
  4. Will act as a mediator between you and your spouse. While you and your spouse may have trouble talking rationally about how to divide up your common estate items, a lawyer has no emotional ties to either of you and can act as a neutral mediator between you and your husband. For this reason, you want to make sure the divorce representation you choose is someone you feel comfortable with and who has a history of getting his clients fair divorce settlement.
  5. Why would you want anything less than great legal representation? A divorce can be one of the most challenging, and life changing, events in your life. Depending on how your divorce is settled, you could end up with, or without, your property, children and financial security. Why wouldn’t you want the best possible divorce representation to guide you during this difficult time? Choosing the least expensive divorce lawyer could end up costing you way more than you bargained for in the end, so do your research and make sure you choose a good one.

Having the best divorce representation possible is vital to getting a fair divorce settlement. With the right lawyer at your side, your divorce will proceed much more smoothly and result in a much quicker, and more amiable, split with your soon to be ex-spouse.

First Step of Preparing Your Criminal Defense: Meeting With Your Lawyer

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Accused of a crime? Be sure you understand your rights, and be prepared. Call The Barrera Law Firm.
Preparing to go to trail in Harlingen, McAllen, Brownsville, or anywhere for that matter, to defend yourself in a criminal defense case is nothing short of nerve racking. You will be fighting for your freedom, and this is a battle that no one wants to lose. Without a good criminal defense lawyer, you could end up getting the book thrown at you, getting slapped with high fines and jail time. Your first meeting with your criminal defense lawyer will set the stage for your defense strategy. Being prepared for that meeting will get your case off to a great start by giving your lawyer a better chance at building a good defense strategy.

  1. Be prepared to answer some questions. Your lawyer is going to need all of the details about what happened. You may want to sit down a few days before your meeting and write down all of the details you remember about what happened to you before, during, and after your arrest. Your lawyer is going to ask you to remember the names and details of all the people involved in your case, their role, what they know and what you think they might know. You will also want to recount all the details you can remember about your arrest. If the arresting officers made mistakes and you can remember them, it may be important to your case.
  2. Have your own questions to ask. You will also want to prepare some questions of your own for your criminal defense lawyer. Ask how long they have been working in criminal defense, if they have had cases similar to your own, and what the outcome was. Ask their opinion on the outcome of your own case, including the best and worse case scenarios. Find out how much their services are going to cost and how they accept payment. Knowing up front all of the details will ensure that there are no surprises later on down the road.
  3. Bring documents and evidence with you. Bring all of the documents associated with your case to the meeting with your criminal defense lawyer. This includes items you feel could be used as evidence, such as letters, photos, emails or other documents. Bring your arrest records, and any paperwork you were given by the police. Your lawyer will be better prepared to build a winning defense strategy for your case if they have all of the evidence needed to back it up.
  4. Listen to your lawyer’s advice. Your lawyer will have some advice for you at the end of the meeting. They may tell you where to go and where to avoid, who to speak with and who to not speak with. Pay attention to their advice and even write it down. Your criminal defense lawyer is familiar with the system and knows what it will take to win your case. Going against their advice could end up costing you in the end if it causes your case to end in a guilty verdict.

Steps to Simplifying a Divorce

Divorce is never going to be easy, no matter what you do. Despite your best efforts, it is an emotionally trying time that is made more complicated by finances and, if you have children, custody proceedings. While there is nothing you can do to take the pain away from divorce, there are steps you can take to cut down on its complexity:

    1. Find a good lawyer. This may seem like a no brainer, but it has to be said. If you choose to take the first rock-bottom priced lawyer you can find, then chances are you will be getting what you paid for. Look for a family law lawyer that has a good track record with divorces in the courtroom. Do some research, both online and by asking the advice of friends and family, especially those that have recently gone through a divorce. While a divorce lawyer is not cheap, choosing the right one is essential if you want to simplify your divorce, and subsequently your life. A good lawyer will take over your case and help you to avoid making poor decisions that could result in the divorce taking too long, or not ending in a way that is fair to your needs.
    2. Give your spouse back their possessions. Make your divorce easier by not having to decide who gets every single little thing. When your spouse moves out, give him or her back those items that are rightfully theirs. Try to divide up as much of the items in your house as is possible to avoid having to spend long hours debating who gets what. You have to decide what is worth fighting for. If it’s a family heirloom you have sentimental ties to, that’s one thing. But if you find yourself battling over a TV you can easily repurchase in the future, just let it go. It’s not worth the headache.
    3. Get your finances in order. When you sit down to talk to your lawyer, be prepared by giving them a full portfolio of your assets and debts, especially those that you hold jointly with your soon to be ex-spouse. You want to make sure that you are not stuck with debt in your name that should be shared with your ex. Having your finances in order will assist your lawyer in being able to create a plan of action for your divorce. The quicker they are able to figure out a settlement, the sooner you will be able to move on with your life.
    4. Be prepared to give. In the end, fighting over every little detail of a divorce will only prolong the agony. Look over your shared assets and decide what is important to you and what you are willing to give up. Going to the bargaining table with the intent of being able to give up a few possessions in order to make the proceedings simpler is sure to save time and heartache. Remember, possessions are just things, and can always be replaced. Your time, happiness and emotional stability are much more valuable in the long run.

Making a Strong Criminal Defense Strategy

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Help justice fall in your favor. Call The Barrera Law Firm for a free consultation.
Ending up on the wrong end of the law, whether you are guilty of an actual crime or not, is no laughing matter. It is a serious situation that deserves a your utmost attention. Building a strong criminal defense strategy is important as it is all that stands between you and your freedom and heavy fines. Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your defense strategy as you want to give yourself plenty of time to prepare so your defense will go smoothly when you finally have your day in court.

  1. Choose your criminal defense team wisely. Always research at least three criminal defense lawyers before you decide on one. Choose one that has had experience with your specific type of situation. You may want to ask friends and family if they have had any experience with criminal defense lawyers. If you know of anyone who has had a case like yours and won, make sure you give their lawyer a try. A criminal defense team that is familiar with your type of case will better your chances of getting a verdict that falls in your favor.
  2. Discuss your defense options. Talk to your lawyer about your defense options. There are generally three versions of events that defendants of criminal defense cases have. The three options are a confession, in which you admit your guilt, a complete denial, in which you deny your part in the crime, and an admit and explain story, in which you admit to part of the story but not all of it.
  3. Disclose any and all details of your case to your criminal defense team. It is important to give your criminal defense team all of the details concerning your story. They need to know if there is any chance of surprise evidence or witnesses coming forward for the prosecutor. When your lawyer knows the whole story, they can prepare your defense around it.
  4. Decide on a strategy and then stick with your story. Once you and your criminal defense team have decided on a defense strategy, you will need to come up with a solid story. Practice your story day and night. Go over every detail until you know it by heart. Its easy to get scared and confused once you get up on the witness stand to be interrogated by the prosecutor. Having your side of the story completely planned and ready to go will help take the edge off so you wont’ appear so nervous to the jury when you are in the hot seat.
  5. Look professional when you show up in court. When you show up in court, make sure you look your best. For men, you should wear either a suit or at least a button down shirt and slacks. Try to cover, or minimize, tattoos and jewelry. Women should look professional as well, in either a pants suit or dress. Looking your best for court shows that you are serious. Since this will be the first impression the jury has of you, make sure it is a good one as they will be deciding your fate.

50 Ways to Leave Your VIOLENT Lover; PROTECTIVE ORDERS IN TEXAS

illustration of Restraining Orders title on Legal DocumentsDomestic violence is a serious matter. It is not forgivable. It is not something that gets better with time. It is something that must be addressed so the violent person can be handled or removed from the family unit.

While Paul Simon’s song, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, may be about less serious matters, domestic violence is much more serious.

In Texas, Protective Orders are a key tool to accomplishing immediate relief from a violent family member or domestic partner.  The law looks to two major factors:

1) Whether Family Violence occurred; and

2) Whether Family Violence is likely to occur in the future.

A private Texas attorney may draft the application, assist in the preparation of the evidence and affidavits, and the presentation of evidence to get a Protective Order from a judge.

The reasons why Protective Orders are VERY IMPORTANT is that it restricts a person from coming within so many feet, coming to a residence, calling, texting or showing up to work places or schools. This is important because police often have to wait until a crime has been committed before arresting a person, but with a protective order, they may be arrested for simply violating the order itself, for example, driving past your house.

There are 50 ways to leave your lover if they commit Domestic Violence and The Barrera Law Firm, PC can help you.  But first and always, seek emergency police assistance in the event you are in danger and call the law firm after that.

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