Online Divorce Services Are Gaining Popularity

Have you been thinking about getting a divorce? If so, with minimal research, you’ve probably encountered numerous advertisements and articles about online divorce in Texas. This is not by chance. “Online divorce Texas” and “online divorce in Texas for free” are popular search terms because spouses considering divorce are often looking for a simple, inexpensive, or low-stress option to help deal with this high-stress situation. While the prospect of an inexpensive marriage dissolution might seem like a ray of sunshine in the midst of a storm, cutting corners on legal representation with a do-it-yourself divorce can actually cost you significantly more than hiring solid legal counsel in the first place.

Not the Time for DIY

Divorce is a process that manages to affect almost everyone you love and everything you have worked hard to obtain: your children, finances, home, and more. All of your family and possessions must go through the divorce process with you. As such, you will want to make sure that an online divorce in Texas or any approach to divorce you take is the best decisions for yourself, your family and your future. In most cases, that means hiring an experienced divorce attorney who you can trust to help protect your interests and well-being through this difficult time.

While the popularity of do-it-yourself projects has been on the rise in recent years, such undertakings are best suited for remodeling a room or building a piece of furniture. Attempting to go through a divorce, one of life’s most consequential and taxing events, as an online divorce in Texas is likely to result in confusion, frustration, and dissatisfaction – and that is if you are lucky. In less fortunate scenarios, you could end up dealing with errant court orders that do not address financial support, property division, child custody, and other major issues as intended.

Once court orders have been entered, making changes to them can be difficult. Modifications to orders typically require the filing of a new suit, which can carry a monetary cost equal to that of a divorce, if not more. And the additional time and effort required to litigate a new matter guarantee the cost will be more than financial, which is why it is so important to ensure quality legal representation during initial divorce proceedings.

Can Vs. Should

Although Texas spouses have the ability to file their own divorce paperwork and represent themselves in family court, doing so is often ill-advised. As the saying goes: Just because something can be done does not mean that it should. It’s unlikely that any path to an online divorce in Texas for free will yield the best results for you and your family.

If you are looking for true peace of mind and the best possible result to your divorce, consider hiring a reputable family attorney who can guide you through the divorce process, answer your questions and concerns, and get things done correctly the first time. The experienced team at Ramos Law would be happy to help you navigate the divorce process. Call today to schedule a consultation.

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           Once a court order is in place concerning possession and access, parties and their children tend to acclimate to the new schedule without too many problems.  However, if the possessory parent (the parent who does not have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the children) has an obstacle when regularly exercising possession, problems can arise. 

            First, it is important to understand that the possessory parent is not required to exercise each and every period of possession awarded to them in the order.  In fact, every order will contain a provision that orders the parties to notify the other parent when they are unable to exercise a period of possession.  

            Second, just because one parent notifies the other parent that they cannot exercise a period of possession, the other parent is not obligated to arrange their schedule to accommodate whatever portion of the period of possession can be exercised. 

            Most of the time, an inability to exercise possession and access is not going to be a problem as parents tend to fall into one of two categories: 1) a parent who exercises nearly every period of possession barring some medical emergency or natural disaster or 2) a parent who never exercises at all.  In these cases, there is a level of predictability for the parents and the children. 

            However, in the rare cases where a parent’s exercise of periods of possession is not as predictable, such as their work schedule is exceedingly difficult to predict, or subject to change, lack of predictability can become a problem for both parents. 

            Enforcement is likely to be a concern for both parents. 

Parents do not want to just sit at home and wait for a parent that may or may not show up.  However, not being at home for the designated periods of possession may make them vulnerable to an enforcement action, which can include fines, attorney’s fees, and even jail.

            Possessory parents who have an everchanging schedule cannot enforce their periods of possession unless they can guarantee that they are where they are supposed to be at when they are supposed to be under the order.  If they have a consistent issue with not being able to be there at the ordered time and place, there only solution may be to file a modification of the underlying order.

            Having open communication with the other parent can help alleviate these problems.  Establishing a consistent method of communication can be helpful.  Our clients have had used a variety of co-parenting apps, such as ourfamilywizard.com, to have a designated method of communication between them and the other parent.   Let the other parent know as soon as an issue arises and what your suggestion would be.  Be considerate of the other parent’s plans when asking for a change in schedule.  Figuring out a method that works for both parents can avoid future litigation.

          Before you even speak to an attorney, it may be helpful to know what court has jurisdiction over your divorce.  Knowing how the Judge in your case is likely to rule and what their pet peeves are can be incredibly beneficial to the presentation of your case so it is important to speak to an attorney who practices often in the jurisdiction in which you will ultimately file your case.  Read this article before you start reaching out to attorneys to make sure you are scheduling a consultation with an attorney who is going to be knowledgeable in your jurisdiction.

                                                              

           The general rule for jurisdiction in a Texas divorce is that at least one spouse must have been a domiciliary of Texas for the preceding 6 month period and a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90 day period.  This means that if the filing spouse is not a resident of Texas, a suit for divorce can still be maintained in Texas if he other spouse has been a domiciliary of Texas for the preceding 6 month period.  Generally, a person has been domiciled in Texas if they have resided in the state with the intent to make Texas his or her “fixed abode”.   The court will consider many factors in determining a person’s “fixed abode” including where a person spends most of their time, where they receive mail, what address is used to file a tax return, where does a person register their vehicle, whether they have a Texas drivers license, and where a person is registered to vote.  A number of factors are considered in determining whether one intends to make a residence a fixed abode so if you are not sure if you or your spouse has been domiciled in Texas for the requisite period of time, it is best to talk to an attorney. 

 

           There are several exceptions to the general rule outlined in the paragraph above for members of the armed forces.  First, time that a spouse spends in the armed forced outside of Texas is still considered residence in the State of Texas and in the county in which they lived.  If you are not sure whether your spouse was previously domiciled in Texas, look at his or her Military Paystub (LES) and see what it lists as their home state.  This will be a strong indicator that they are a domiciliary of Texas.  Second, a spouse is stationed in Texas can meet the jurisdictional requirements despite the fact that they may not intend to make Texas their permanent residence as long as they have been stationed in Texas for the preceding 6 month period and in the filing county for the preceding 90 day period.  These exceptions provide some jurisdictional flexibility for members of the armed forces and their spouses.

Every order that requires one party (Obligor) to pay child support to another party (Obligee) will outline how the Oblligor is to make payments.  It will say the following:

Payment – IT IS ORDERED that all payments shall be made through the state disbursement unit at Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit, P.O. Box 659791, San Antonio, Texas 78265-9791, and thereafter promptly remitted to OBLIGEE for the support of the child.

As parties go through the process of a divorce, parentage action, or modification, they often soon learn, that it can take some time for the wage withholding orders to take effect.  As such a transition period often stretches the financial situation of both parties, the delay in receipt of child support can be a concern. Sometimes OBLIGORs take it upon themselves, to pay or give the child support directly to the OBLIGEE in an effort to make things smoother, to not be counted late, or to make sure that the parent with primary custody has the funds necessary to provide for the children. However, every order that obligates one party to pay child support will include the following provision:

No Credit for Informal Payments-IT IS ORDERED that the child support as prescribed in this decree shall be exclusively discharged in the manner ordered and that any direct payments made by OBLIGOR  to OBLIGEE or any expenditures incurred by OBLIGOR during OBLIGOR’s periods of possession of or access to the child, as prescribed in this decree, for food, clothing, gifts, travel, shelter, or entertainment are deemed in addition to and not in lieu of the support ordered in this decree.

So, by doing what the OBLIGOR thinks is the “right” thing- i.e. paying the OBLIGEE directly, the OBLIGOR has put him or herself in danger of not receiving credit for the child support paid directly to the OBLIGEE.  By the time money starts coming out of their checks, the State Disbursement Unit will have the OBLIGOR already in arrears in their records. In order to get proper credit for the payments that were made directly, the OBLIGOR now has to rely on the OBLIGEE to execute an affidavit acknowledging that he or she has received the child support that was not paid through the Disbursement Unit and to send it with the proper information to the proper location.  Additionally, the OBLIGOR then has to rely on the Office of the Attorney General to properly credit the account in a timely manner. While all of this is happening, the Office of the Attorney General has the ability to take a number of actions to collect what in the eyes of the State is unpaid child support, including, but not limited to, the garnishing of your tax refund or placing a lien on property you may own.

There are steps that you and your attorney can take to protect or assist you during the transition phase and the time between the reaching of an agreement and the effect of a wage-withholding order.  However, unless you have previously discussed these options with your attorney and are satisfied that adequate protections are in place, send your payment directly to the state disbursement unit at Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit, P.O. Box 659791, San Antonio, Texas 78265-9791.

For more information, or to discuss what possible options would apply in your specific case, please consult an attorney to discuss the issue.  Also, the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas has a very informative site that can be helpful and which also contains the forms mentioned in this blog. (https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/welcome-to-the-child-support-division) (https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/parents-and-guardians)>

The truth is that there are various ways that an order can be crafted to protect the children and still allow them to have an ongoing relationship with their parent that is struggling with alcohol issues, depending on the severity of the issues.  The solution is normally a combination of protections during periods of possession, testing and/or treatment requirements, and injunctions that depend upon the specific facts of the case.

The court can require or the parties can agree that the struggling parent submit to an alcohol assessment.  Other possible requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. rehabilitation, inpatient and/or outpatient;
  2. breathalyzer testing, before, during, and/or after periods of possession;
  3. ignition interlock and breathalyzer devices; and/or
  4. attending AA meetings

It is important to remember, however, that the options available will depend on the facts of each case, as the court will not require breathalyzer devices unless there is a proven concern.

As far as periods of possession go, the highest level of protection would be supervised possession and access.  Period of possession can be supervised by whatever party the parents can agree to and/or a court-approved visitation program.  It is important to remember that the parties would have to agree to the supervision or the party requesting that the periods of possession be supervised would have to have enough evidence to convince the court that the safety and well-being of the child require that periods of possession be supervised.  If the problem is not so severe to require all possession and access be supervised, periods of possession could also be limited in time or frequency until the parent completes treatment.  Typically, such a possession order will step up to less restrictive periods or possession in phases and into a standard possession either over time or upon completion of different portions of treatment (Ex: Step One- Supervised possession for a few hours every other weekend, Step Two- Unsupervised possession for a few hours every other weekend, Step Three- one overnight every other weekend, Step Four – standard possession order).

Injunctions are additional protections that could be added to the order that require the struggling parent to abstain from alcohol during possession and for a certain period before and after periods of possession.  Additionally, if appropriate, the court could prohibit the struggling parent from transporting the child in a car.

Finally, a provision can be included that in the event of a relapse by the struggling parent, that parent begins again at Step One of the possession schedule to avoid the necessity of having to return to court every time there is a relapse in the future.

For more information, or to discuss what possible options would apply in your specific case, please consult an attorney to discuss the issue.

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Very few people seeking a divorce want to see the process drag out longer than necessary. Divorces can be difficult and expensive. If you’re seeking a divorce, you likely don’t want to spend a lot of time and money in the process either. But the answer to how long a divorce takes in Texas will depend on a number of factors. An experienced divorce attorney can typically help you estimate the timeframe during your initial consultation.

What to Expect

Truth be told, there is no such thing as a quick divorce in Texas. Texas requires a minimum 60-day waiting period between filing for divorce and issuing the final divorce decree. The court cannot have a hearing until 60 days after the complaint is filed. This is considered a “cool off” period, and it gives the spouses time to think and decide if they really want a divorce. In cases where domestic violence is involved, the court may waive the 60-day waiting period.

Once the two parties are ready to move forward, the court will be able to schedule a hearing to take place sometime in the future, and how long the divorce takes in a Texas court depends upon the numerous and varied legal complexities involved in the case. Most couples find it takes longer than two months to officially dissolve the marriage.

Uncontested Divorces

The 60-day period begins to run from the time the Original Petition for Divorce is actually filed with the court. If the divorce is “uncontested”, meaning the parties agree to all divorce terms, then the divorce may be finalized any time after the 60-day waiting period. Usually, these divorces are much more efficient. Sometimes, the divorcing couple decides upon the terms of their divorce before filing, while other couples reach their agreement soon after. In these situations, the divorce may be finalized almost immediately following the 60-day waiting period.

Contested Divorces

A contested divorce will usually take much longer to resolve and require more legal fees. How long an uncontested divorce in Texas takes often depends upon how much information each party needs to gather from the other. Each side will have time to conduct discovery, which is a time when your attorney may demand that your spouse produce certain financial evidence like bank statements or credit card bills. Your attorney should do all they can to determine what you’re entitled to in the divorce agreement, and they should negotiate with your spouse or their attorney to get you a good settlement before facing trial. However, if you cannot reach an agreement the case may go to trial.

Many divorce cases do not end up in a trial, but if they do, they can take several days or even weeks to resolve. At trial, a judge will hear testimony and review evidence about the divorce. At the end of the trial, the judge will issue an order with the terms by which the divorcing couple must comply.

If you have questions about how long your divorce in a Texas court will take, contact Ramos Law Group today for a consultation.

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If you’re considering handling your own divorce paperwork and proceedings, you’re not alone. There are many couples who start the divorce process without representation from an attorney. While this practice is legal, it can be dangerous when people believe in several common myths about divorce before trying to start a do-it-yourself divorce in Texas.

The feasibility of getting a divorce without an attorney can change considerably depending on the details of your marriage, and the type of divorce you will need. This is generally only possible during an uncontested divorce, when both parties agree on every detail, including about how community property will be split. If there are any disagreements, however, you’re in for a contested divorce and should seek representation immediately.

Finding the right Information

You may have friends and family members who have been through a divorce, and may feel like you have a good idea of the process, but every state has their own laws and regulations concerning the requirements for issuing a final divorce decree. These laws can change over time due to new legislation and court rulings affecting Texas divorce. Do-it-yourself attempts at divorce may seem like a money saving move in the short-term, but you stand to lose more in the long-run if you have the wrong information.

If you go into your do-it-yourself divorce in Texas with the wrong information, you may make decisions that could hurt your case. That’s why it’s crucial to seek advice from an experienced divorce lawyer as your first move toward a divorce, or as soon as you are notified of your spouse’s divorce intentions. Your divorce lawyer can tell you the truth about how divorce works and debunk many of the myths surrounding it. Here are the top 10 myths about do-it-yourself divorce in Texas.

1. Divorce can be denied. In Texas, you do not have to prove fault in order to have the court grant the divorce. Therefore, even if you don’t want the divorce and your spouse does, the judge will still grant the divorce. Once all the financial, custody, and visitation issues have been resolved at settlement or trial, a divorce will be granted.

2. If you commit adultery, you’ll lose everything. Some people mistakenly believe they cannot have a do-it-yourself divorce in Texas because adultery is involved. Just because someone has been unfaithful during the marriage doesn’t mean that they’ll lose their home, kids, assets, and rights during the divorce. This can still be used as an argument by the other spouse to try to gain more of community property acquired during the marriage, but this argument is not usually seen as a large factor determining the division of property. If the person who has been unfaithful wastes community assets during the course of committing adultery, that factor will likely be taken into consideration during a property division.

3. Mothers are always awarded custody of children. In the past, there was a legal bias in favor of mothers, but the law has evolved so that both fathers and mothers can have the primary right of possession. The court makes decisions about custody and visitation that are in the best interests of the child. If you’re a concerned father, we recommend speaking to an experienced divorce lawyer for men.

4. You can avoid paying child support. Child support payments in Texas are established by law. Unfortunately, some people have the mistaken impression that they can avoid paying child support in Texas divorce through a do-it-yourself divorce. If you have a minor child and you are not the custodial parent, you will have to pay child support. If you fail to comply with a child support order, both your spouse and the state of Texas can take steps to enforce those orders.

5. I can deny visitation to my ex if they don’t pay the child support we agreed upon. Access to the children and parenting time are not related to the payment of child support. There is a process for enforcing child support obligations, but threatening or denying a parent visitation is not one of them. Initiating a do-it-yourself divorce in Texas does not mean you can decide to withhold visitation from your spouse.

6. Only Women get maintenance payments. Decisions about spousal support, just like custody decisions, are no longer are based on gender. Women may be ordered to pay alimony following a divorce if they earn more than their husbands. Decisions about spousal support are based on the economic realities of the respective spouses regardless of their gender. Do-it-yourself divorces in Texas are no different. If you are considering a divorce and expect child support or alimony to be a contested issue, it’s important to schedule a consultation with a competent attorney to protect your rights.

7. Children get to decide who they live with. If a child has reached the age of 12 and has expressed a preference as to which parent they would like to live with, a judge may decide to take that fact into consideration in the determination as to custody. The judge is not required to follow a child’s choice and will make their custody decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child during your Texas divorce. Do-it-yourself divorces are no different in this regard.

8. Divorce always leads to battles. Divorce can often be full of hostility, blame, and finger-pointing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Do-it-yourself divorces in Texas have the best results when all parties agree, but this is not an effective means of de-escalating the divorce process. Other methods such as collaborative divorce, mediation, and negotiation are all options if you are trying to keep the divorce from becoming highly contested. If you tell your attorney that you would rather focus on resolving conflicts as opposed to starting or escalating them, the attorney can help make your divorce a process of negotiation and agreement rather than argument.

9. Equitable distribution results in equal division. Property in Texas is divided based on what is just and right in light of the circumstances. Property can be and often is divided in an unequal manner based on the many factors that go into a judge’s decisions about property division. Whether that property is divided 50/50 is not one of them.

10. You must have a lawyer. You have a right to represent yourself in your own do-it-yourself divorce in Texas, but it is not always the best option. You could make errors that harm you in the future. Once the judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce, there is nothing about the property division that can be changed. You may also make mistakes regarding your children and child support that could be difficult to change later.

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce in Texas, contact the offices of Ramos Law Group for a consultation. We’re here to help. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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There may be a time when you need to get copies or verification of your divorce records. For example, you may need to show them to an employer or a state organization so that you can give cause for a name change. You may need to show them to a governmental entity so that you can receive some type of assistance. Furthermore, you may need your Texas divorce records so that you take some steps to move on with your new life. Divorce records in Texas are public, so anyone can access them by following a few simple steps. These steps are the same regardless of whether you want to access public divorce records in Texas from your home or in person at the clerk’s office.

What You’ll Need Before Starting

  • In order to access a Texas public divorce records, you’ll first need to gather some important information:
  • The full name of the party/ person you’re searching for
  • The date and place of divorce
  • The relationship with the person
  • The type of order
  • The reason for wanting the information

Obtain a Certified Copy at the District Clerk’s Office

Parties to the divorce (the divorcing couple) may obtain certified copies of their divorce decree from the District Clerk’s office. Since certified copies of divorce decrees are only available in person, you will need to visit the district clerk in the county or district where the divorce was filed.

Obtain a Verification Letter from the Texas Vital Statistics Unit Website

If you’re seeking verification of your divorce, but you don’t need a certified copy of the final decree, you can visit the Texas Vital Statistics Unit for a divorce verification letter. You may request a divorce verification letter online or by mail from the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. Divorce verification letters are different from certified copies of the final divorce decree, and they’re not a substitute for providing a final divorce decree when one is needed for legal purposes.

Verification for divorce decrees is available for divorces that have been filed since 1968. The website for the Texas Vital Statistics Unit contains an index of public divorce records in Texas by year, and you can search these records on the website. These records may be purchased or downloaded for free from the website.

Try an Online Search

Although requesting information by mail is fairly easy, it usually takes much longer to obtain your divorce records by mail as opposed to by online. In today’s world, it’s extremely easy to find a lot of publicly accessible information online. A quick search for “public divorce records in Texas” via popular search engines will reveal websites where you can access Texas public divorce records. Some of these websites may require registration or a fee to access some public records. Even some ancestry research websites provide access to public divorce records in Texas.

If you have questions, or if you’re considering divorce, call Ramos Law Group today. We’re here to help.

Under the Texas Family Code, there are certain circumstances where grandparents can file a suit requesting the court to grant them possession of or access to their biological grandchildren. However, there are certain statutory requirements that the grandparent must prove before the Court can award possession and access to grandparents in Texas.

First, the grandparent(s) must prove that at least one of the child’s biological or adoptive parents has NOT had their parental rights terminated. If both parents have had their parental rights terminated, the grandparents will not be able to get possession of or access to the child without first proving that it will be in the child’s best interest that possession and access be awarded.

Second, the grandparent(s) must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the children’s physical health or emotional well-being would be significantly impaired if the grandparent(s) were not allowed to exercise possession of or access to the children. In Texas, parents are presumed to be able to act in the best interest of their children. As such, the grandparents must rebut that presumption by showing that there would be a significant impairment to the children’s physical health or emotional well-being. This is a fairly high burden – one that will not be met simply by showing evidence that the grandchildren love their grandparents and they would be sorely missed if they were not allowed to see their grandparents. A significant impairment has been found in situations where the grandparents have established a continuous relationship with the grandchildren and assumed certain parental responsibilities – i.e. taking the child to their doctor’s appointments.

Third, the grandparents must prove that they have been wholly denied possession of or access to the grandchildren by the parent. Just because the grandparents aren’t seeing the grandchildren as much as they would like does not mean that they have been wholly denied possession or access. Remember, the court presumes that parents can act in their children’s best interest. As such, parents are also presumed to be able to determine appropriate visitation for the grandparents without having the Court order a specific schedule.

Fourth, the grandparents must be able to prove that they are a parent of one of the children’s parents and that one of the following is true about that parent of the children:

  1. The children’s parent has been incarcerated for at least 3 months before the petition was filed;
  2. The children’s parent had been judicially declared incompetent;
  3. The children’s parent is dead; or
  4. The children’s parent does not have actual court-ordered possession of or access to the children.

There is no standard schedule that the court must order if a grandparent is awarded possession of or access to the grandchildren, but the court will typically order some weekend and holiday periods of possession for a grandparent who meets all of the above criteria.

It is important to keep in mind that the requirements listed above are only for grandparents seeking possession of or access to their grandchildren. The Texas Family Code details a different set of requirements when grandparents are seeking custody of their grandchildren.

Divorce is a difficult and painful process for almost any couple experiencing the end of a marriage partnership. Making decisions about property division and custody arrangements can be extremely stressful and emotionally-charged for the parties involved. Divorce becomes even more complicated when one party becomes pregnant before the divorce is finalized. Couples who are considering getting a divorce in Texas while pregnant will face some additional steps throughout the divorce process due to the pregnancy.

Waiting Period

Texas requires almost all couples to wait sixty days before finalizing a divorce, regardless of whether or not one of the spouses is pregnant. A divorce in Texas while a spouse is pregnant is unlikely to be finalized until after the baby is born. Courts in Texas typically wait to finalize the divorce until after the birth of the baby so that orders regarding the child can be included in the final divorce decree. (One of the few exceptions to this rule is in the case of domestic violence.) Therefore, if the pregnancy is already a few months along, the waiting period shouldn’t take much longer than the two months already required by Texas law. Even if the divorce is contested, it’s unlikely the pregnancy would delay the process since contested divorces often take longer than the length of a pregnancy.

Paternity Issues

Divorces in Texas involving a pregnant spouse become more complex when the paternity of the unborn child is in question. In this case, the husband will need to file documents with the court denying paternity of the baby. If the biological father will not agree to sign an acknowledgment of paternity, the court will need to order the biological father to take a paternity test. If the paternity test verifies the identity of the biological father, the divorcing husband will need to file for the court to adjudicate parentage so that the court can name the father in the final divorce decree.

 

Child Support

Husbands who are unable to prove they are not the biological father of their wife’s unborn child will still be subject to paying child support since the court views children born during the marriage as being the husband’s children. A husband who strongly believes he is not the father of his wife’s baby can petition the court to order a paternity test. This process may be necessary once the baby is born to determine who the father is.

Although getting a divorce in Texas while pregnant adds an additional layer of complication to the divorce process, it is possible to navigate this complex territory by finding a good Texas divorce attorney. Working with the right legal experts will provide you with the knowledge and guidance you desperately need during one of the most difficult times of your life. If you’re facing a divorce and you need trusted, expert legal guidance, contact Ramos Law Group today to schedule a consultation.

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