Monday, October 31, 2011

Every Marriage Comes with Challenges

Earlier this month, I published a blog post about the unique issues that are often at play when celebrities go through a divorce. There are public relations and privacy considerations that are not usually part of the discussion when two people who aren't in the national spotlight decide to end their marriage. But, I also mentioned that, at the core of this life-changing event, the emotions that are experienced are the same whether or not your split is broadcast on the cover of every tabloid magazine.

Today brings the news of yet another celebrity divorce. Reality star Kim Kardashian filed papers to end her marriage to NBA player Kris Humphries, citing irreconcilable differences. While celebrities seem to carry a reputation for marriages that don't last particularly long, this one reached its breaking point after only 72 days. So, we need to remember that it's not only high-profile divorces that have their own special set of circumstances, but the marriages themselves have challenges from the moment that the couple says, "I do."

Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian entered into a union that was destined to be documented for public consumption, and they certainly aren't the first to make their marriage an affair for broadcast viewing. Gossip columnists speculated for months that Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey had a marriage that was destined to fail once they decided to put their first year together on TV. Others have wondered if Kate and Jon Gosselin would still be married with their brood of eight kids if the trappings of celebrity hadn't taken over their lives.

Without a doubt, the fishbowl in which celebrities live adds stress to a marriage. But, so does the pressure to pay a stack of monthly bills, raising children, aging parents who require time and energy, and an endless list of other issues that every couple across America must face at some point. Marriage takes work no matter what.

If you have put the work into your marriage and you see no way that it can last, the family law attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. We can guide you through the sensitive and difficult issues that comes with the splitting of a family. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Holidays Can Be Tough for Those Separated from Grandkids

Even though it's only October, the reality is the holiday season is right around the corner. Just check out any department store or watch the ads on TV and you will see that retailers can't wait for you to start your Christmas shopping! In addition to standing in long lines at Walmart the day after Thanksgiving and eating excessive amounts of pie, the time of Thanksgiving through New Years is also marked by time with family. People travel great distances to see their grandchildren open their presents. That look of joy is something no Papa or Granny wants to miss. But when there is divorce or other complicating factors in a family, grandparents may be left without those moments.

When parents of a young child decide to separate, what rights do grandparents have if their son or daughter doesn't have custody? It is not often the top priority of a mother to keep a strong relationship with her former in-laws, especially if she eventually remarries.

What if your son normally sees his daughter every other weekend but he has just left for a year deployment on the other side of the world? Will you have to go that long without seeing your grandbaby?

Or, what if your son is the father of a child with whom, sadly, he desires no relationship. Do you have any rights to develop your new connection with a grandchild you truly want to love and support?

To be honest, grandparents can face a lot of challenges when seeking time with their grandchildren. The courts are going to take the opinion of the custodial parent as to what is in the best interest of the child quite seriously. You cannot assume that shared DNA gives you the right to visitation with your son or daughter's children. But, that certainly doesn't mean you shouldn't try, and the right legal representation goes a long way in getting you the result you desire.

At Bertolino LLP, we have experienced family law attorneys who can work with grandparents to get them time with the precious children in their lives. We will help you demonstrate the important role you play in your grandchildren's development and sense of comfort and how valuable you are to their overall support system. We will fight to get you that time and that relationship that you desire. If you are a grandparent who is struggling to obtain rights to your grandkids, contact us today. We can help.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Neighbors of Texas Man Receive Nude Photos of Him from Former Lover


It appears that a sequel to Fatal Attraction could be filmed right here in Texas. As if there weren't already enough reasons never to cheat on your spouse, the threat of having ill-advised nude photos you had taken with your lover come back to haunt you can be added to that list.

A woman who apparently had an affair with a married Pasadena man decided to get back at him by mailing naked photographs for which he appears to have posed willingly at some point to his wife and neighbors. And, she added to the shocking delivery by writing vulgar suggestions on the back of each photo. When contacted by authorities, the man in the photos, who (not surprisingly) wishes to remain anonymous, admitted that he was the subject of his former lover's photographic creations.

In addition to using the postal service to get back at the man for ending their affair, she also called his employer with accusations that resulted in him getting fired.

The woman committed no crime in sending the naked pictures, so there will be no charges filed in the incident. The man, who has reconciled with his wife, has said that he may sue his ex-girlfriend for what she has done.

News reports indicate that the woman has agreed to stop sending the naked pictures in her collection. However, if her intrusive behavior had continued, or particularly if it had become threatening, the man may have had grounds to file a restraining order protecting his family from unwanted communication from her. And, while it is great that the spouses were able to work through the damage that is done to a marriage when one person engages in an affair, there are instances in which the relationship cannot recover and a divorce is sought.

The family law attorneys at Bertolino LLP are available to protect your family or help it come through to the other side of a painful transition. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio and let's see how we can help.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Military Families Struggle with Readjustment on Home Front

President Barack Obama announced last week that all American forces currently deployed to Iraq will be home by the end of the year. This news was roundly welcomed by families across the United States who worry about their soldiers serving overseas every day. Here in Texas, our military bases are home to thousands of parents, spouses, and children of our armed forces who are ready to welcome their loved ones back to the Lone Star State with open arms. They all deserve the hero's welcome they they undoubtedly will receive.

Psychologists in the military are more educated and trained than ever about the difficulties that are men and women in uniform face when they return from deployment. After spending months or even more than a year in the middle of a warzone, the transition back to family life and the comforts of home is not often an easy one. Unfortunately, the prolonged separation and then the emotions of returning home can put intense strain on a marriage. While the rate of divorce is in line with the general population, it has been rising within military families over the past several years. And, women in the military have a divorce rate that is more than double of their male counterparts!

While we certainly do not want to see any marriage end in divorce, sometimes this difficult decision must be made. For the members of our military, we know that this often comes with special considerations such as how to care for the children during deployments, moving to a new base, service benefits, and more. The family law attorneys at Bertolino LLP have experiencing working with our men and women in uniform through this trying process. We are ready to help you with the sensitive and highly personal decisions that must be made. If you are in the military and you are facing a divorce, please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today for help.



Friday, October 21, 2011

Teen Charged with Animal Cruelty Ordered Out of Home

You never really know what is going on inside people's homes. We're often taken by surprise when we learn the seemingly ideal couple down the street is getting a divorce or the star athlete gets kicked out of school. Each family situation is unique and deserves to be treated as much. There is no solution that is going to fit every home.

For instance, there is the sad story of a juvenile in San Antonio who was ordered by a judge to be removed from his house today. The fifteen-year-old boy is serving probation on a cruelty to animals charge after setting fire to a neighborhood cat that eventually had to be euthanized despite the best efforts of veterinarians.

The defense attorney had argued for the boy to remain in the custody of his father, who is a recovering heroin addict, but State District Court Judge Carmen Kelsey decided that the boy needed a more stable environment. This is a case in which the law intervened and separated members of a family for the benefit of the child. I certainly hope that this young man who is showing dangerous signs of violence is able to get the help he needs in his new surroundings.

Family law attorneys are in the middle of such difficult dilemmas every day. With whom should a child live? What is the best arrangement in terms of vacations and proximity to schools and shared time with extended family members? And, at one point is one home so dangerous, or at the very least not nurturing, that a compelled change is warranted?

If you are struggling with the family dynamics inside your home and you believe your children may be heading for a negative outcome as a result, then please contact an experienced family law attorney at Bertolino LLP. We can walk with you through your legal options and help you move forward with a concrete plan for your family.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Elderly Also Need Family Law

What do you think of when you hear the term "family law"? For many people, the phrase actually brings to mind the breaking up of a family with the process of divorce. For others, maybe the legal process of adoption or paternity issues are what they associate with this type of legal practice. And, yes, those are all important circumstances that family law attorneys handle on a regular basis. There is also the growing litigation, though, surrounding elder care.

With people in our country living longer than ever before, there is an increasing need for caregivers who will be ready to provide possible 24/7 attention to our parents and grandparents in the last years of their lives. Unfortunately, how this care will be provided often becomes a source of contention among family members. Will one son or daughter be primarily responsible for in-home care? If not, where will the matriarch of the family go and who will pay for it? Is it going to be necessary for someone to take over as legal guardian or assume power of attorney?

These difficult questions can be made easier with an experienced family law attorney involved in the conversation. At Bertolino LLP, we are ready to negotiate the details of elder care with the sensitivity and attention to relational attachments that is required in such instances. If you are facing the likelihood of caring for a parent or other family member who is no longer able to live independently and there is not total agreement on how this transition will occur, please contact our offices in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio and let's discuss your situation.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Celebrity Couples Face the Same Pain in Divorce

It seems like not a week goes by without another high-profile celebrity divorce making headlines in tabloid magazines, on entertainment television shows, and even the nightly news. Right now, the rumors are swirling about the state of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore's marriage, without any direct statement even being made by either participant in the union. Over the summer, everyone was wondering about what happened to the relationship between Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony. When you stand in the grocery line next week, I'm sure another troubled couple will be gracing the covers on the racks along the checkout.

Sometimes we all need to stop for a minute and realize that these famous men and women are dealing with the same grief and frustration as the husband and wife who live down the street from us and are going through divorce in anonymity. They are facing the reality of splitting holidays with their children, moving out of their homes, and coping with the loss of the dream they had for their families. And, it is often difficult for them to cry or seek solace from a friend without the world taking notice.

In Texas, we have our share of celebrities who have been through this difficult transition in life, from professional athletes to successful businessmen to musicians and many others. At Bertolino LLP, we have family law attorneys who specialize in the added discretion that is needed during a celebrity divorce. You can expect a commitment to privacy and confidentiality when you walk into one of our offices. If you are a well-known Texan and you find yourself going through the difficult reality of a separation or divorce, please contact us and give us the opportunity to help you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Houston Hand Surgeon Back in Family Court Last Week

A high profile divorce case in Texas was back in the spotlight this week past week when hand surgeon Michael Brown appeared in court at the Harris County Family Law Center. He was attempting to end an protective order put in place by his fourth wife, Rachel Brown, and this effort is only piece of a complicated divorce situation.

Mr. Brown is well-known across the state for his Brown Hand Center that boasts locations across the country, at which he specializes in helping those who are struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome, and the television commercials that went with it. This fact, coupled with his previous plea of no contest for assaulting his third wife and the loss of his medical license in 2006 for cocaine use, had made his most recent divorce a media sensation.

Brown was arrested last year for allegedly pinning his wife's arm behind her back and throwing vases and his humanitarian award at her. Since that time and the awarding of the protective order, he has not permitted any contact with Rachel or their children, who had appeared with him in a "family man" commercial for his hand center. Both the fight to remove the protective order and the divorce proceedings are still pending, but he was found not guilty of the domestic abuse charges last month.

Divorces are always difficult and when emotions are high, they can also be dangerous. It is sad whenever a relationship between spouses become violent, particularly when children witness the fighting. At Bertolino LLP, we have experienced attorneys who are ready to handle the sensitive issues that often come into play as a marriage comes to an end. We will work with you to make sure that the settlement you reach is the best for you and any children who are involved, and be your advocate if you need protection from threats or actual violence.

Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio if you find yourself in need of a family law attorney to help you through a difficult transition in your life.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

San Antonio Man Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charges


We are all rightfully disturbed when we read or see a story about a child being harmed in any way. These most innocent members of our society deserve a sense of love and safety from their families and the most possible protection that can be afforded to them by our government and its officials. While we are all entitled to equal protection under the law, we know that some extra care is needed for those who are least able to defend themselves. In San Antonio, one man who harmed children has been brought to justice and admitted to his crimes.

Matthew Phillip Lehr pleaded guilty today after the FBI found more than 100,000 images of child pornography on his computer. Lehr worked as a security guard at a local hotel and resort and took advantage of their wireless network to access the photographs. He has been charged with accessing networks in order to obtain child pornography and he faces up to twenty years in prison if convicted.

Upon his arrest in July, Lehr also admitted to performing a sex act on a 14-year-old, but he has not been charged for that crime.

While the origin of the photographs seized in this particular case is not known, the sad truth is that there is sometimes a family member or another trusted adult who is either a willing participant in the activity or negligent in making sure a child is protected from such a horrible violation. In these instances, the law can work to protect the children from those in their lives who are harming them.

If you have any questions about the protections that kids have under both Texas and federal law, or need to discuss a concern you have about a child in your life, please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio. We have family law attorneys ready to help make sure that all children in our state are in safe and loving homes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Houston Woman Charged with Stalking Ex-Boyfriend

Break ups can be difficult. Countless songs have been written about love gone wrong and you can find shelves in your local book store dedicated to helping people through the end of a relationship. The famous adage "time heals all wounds" holds true in most instances, but there are some people who struggle to move past the grief. One woman in Houston is now facing charges for how she handled the loss of a boyfriend.

Toni Jo Silvey has been charged with felony stalking for calling her ex-boyfriend 1001 times over the span of three months, including 146 times in one 24-hour period. She also sent him 712 emails over the same period of time and even created a blog to detail their relationship and the actions she was taking against him. That's not all. She also apparently hacked into his email account and posted communication between the man, Peter Main, and another woman and shattered his windows with a sword.

At this time, Silvey remains in a Harris County Jail with her bail set at $25,000. This comes after multiple warnings from authorities that she could be arrested for her behavior, which she chose to ignore.

While Ms. Silvey's behavior was certainly destructive and she deserves to face consequences for the choices she has made, there are other instances in which the end of a relationship can place a person in serious physical danger. Scorned lovers can become violent and a protective order may be needed. If you have broken off a relationship and are now facing threats, please contact a family law attorney at Bertolino LLP and let us help you get the protection you need and deserve.