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I’m Glad I Was Forced to Take a Paternity Test

This isn’t the article I thought I’d be writing. I was sure I’d be writing one about how glad I was to be in the clear, to be free of the fear I’d fathered a child. I was confident until a month ago that I was still a free man, free of all my responsibilities, free to go wherever I wanted, to do whatever I wanted, to be whoever I wanted.

That was what the article would have been, a joyous claim of my freedom once I was vindicated after taking a paternity test required by my ex-girlfriend. I just couldn’t imagine this kid she had had was mine. After all, our relationship was brief—only a few weeks—and we were careful, for the most part. Perhaps a few mistakes were made, but it was very few. I was her rebound relationship, and I just assumed it must be the other guy (who she’s on bad terms with, unlike me (our breakup was amicable)), and that’s why she wanted to press this responsibility on me.

I thought that’s what I’d be writing. Instead, I’m writing that I’m a father, and I’m also writing that I couldn’t be more thrilled! I never thought that’d be the case. For those who don’t know, a paternity test is a DNA test to see if you match with a child that you aren’t sure is yours. I took the test willingly enough, confident it would exonerate me of any responsibility, so you can imagine my first reaction when I heard otherwise.

Shock isn’t a strong enough word to describe it.

But after that, once I started thinking, and once I got to see the little guy up close, I saw how silly I’d been to assume the kid wasn’t mine. He’s got my nose, after all. And he’s got my smile too, though he doesn’t really know how to smile yet.

My ex- has been very good about the whole thing, I have to say. She was patient with my denials and understanding when I started to come back around.

There’s still tons to sort out now. There are custody issues and child support, and all kinds of things I never imagined I’d be dealing with, but even with those new responsibilities, I just can’t help but feel thrilled by the whole thing. Suddenly, that free life I had feels really empty and meaningless. What was I going to do with all that freedom but sit around and feel good about having options? I have fewer options now, true, but I’ve got more to look forward to every weekend. For now, that’s when I get to visit the little guy most often.

I know this isn’t the most common story in the world when there’s a paternity test involved. I always assumed the results would look more like one of those talk shows where everyone gets into fistfights. I didn’t think they could lead to so much positivity. Shows what I knew, right?

Oak Wilt and Caring for Your Trees

If you have ever visited East Texas, you will find that it does not quite fit the traditional Texas stereotype of open fields and ranches. Quite the contrary, East Texas is extremely forested and is famous for its huge, towering oak trees. Oaks are strong, hardy trees that can provide decades of shade, and their trunks make for excellent firewood. Unfortunately, these mighty trees are disappearing at an alarming rate due to a fungal disease called oak wilt.

According to texasoakwilt.org, a website specifically focused on educating the public about this deadly disease, oak wilt is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum. This fungus disrupts the tree’s ability to pull water from the soil and eventually causes its death. Red oaks, such as the Spanish Oak and Water Oak which are common in Texas, are particularly susceptible to the disease. The fungus is spread primarily through insects that feed on tree sap. The fungal mats that form give off a fruity aroma that the insects are attracted to, and they then spread the fungal spores to other trees. The fungus can also be spread through the roots of the trees, so if one tree in a cluster is infected, it is likely that the surrounding trees will be affected as well. Humans are also responsible for the spread of oak wilt by moving the infected wood to other locations, which is why learning to identify the disease is so important. Unfortunately, there is no perfect cure for the disease. Although antifungals can be used on trees to curb the effects of the disease and extend their lives, this is only a short term solution. Efforts aimed at eradicating this disease focus on prevention and the removal of infected trees. If an infected tree is in the immediate vicinity of others, some healthy-looking trees may also be removed if their roots are too close together or interconnected.

As a homeowner in Texas, there is a strong probability that you have an oak tree somewhere on your property. Even past central Texas and into the hill country, large oak trees are commonly placed on properties to provide shade. If you suspect your trees might be afflicted with oak blight, or if you have already lost one, then the first step will be to call Austin tree care professionals who can advise you on how to prevent the further spread of the disease. Without treating the fungus, more and more trees will continue to die.

The beautiful oak trees in Texas are in serious danger, and everyone should know about oak wilt and how to prevent its spread. Pruning your oak trees can make them vulnerable to insects that carry the diseases, so make sure to only prune in the winter time, or else cover the wounds with paint to protect your trees. If you a tree on your property dies due to oak wilt, take great that the firewood is transported safely so that other trees are not affected. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Dusts in Hazardous Workplaces

No matter where you work, you are not entirely safe from accidents, injuries, and illnesses. But it can be argued that some workplaces are more dangerous compared to others, like how manufacturing plants present more risk for lung and skin problems compared to office buildings, due to the increased chance of dust exposure.

Here are just some of the different kinds of hazardous dusts and particulates. The presence of these will depend on the industry, materials used, and techniques practiced:

  • Agriculture and Farming – Those in the agricultural and farming sectors may be exposed to organic dusts, such as those from animal wastes and crops, and other dusts that may result from processes like harvesting, planting, and weeding.
  • Carpentry – Carpenters are particularly vulnerable to wood dusts, especially on carpentry processes such as cutting, sanding, and scraping.
  • Construction – Construction workers may be exposed to asbestos, especially in renovating and demolishing old buildings that have utilized the material. Dusts from cement should also not be overlooked.
  • Manufacturing – Manufacturing plant workers are exposed to a variety of particles, including metal cuttings, oil mists, and welding fumes.
  • Mining and Quarrying – Workers in these industries are at risk of mineral dusts, such as those from coal and silica. They are particularly vulnerable to these dusts during extraction and processing.
  • Textile – Those in textile processing are also vulnerable to dusts, such as those from cotton, leather, and wool.

There are certain solutions to minimize the risk of dust exposure. For instance, RoboVent has ventilation systems that effectively filter dusts in manufacturing plants. Solutions can also be as simple as wearing the appropriate gear to avoid direct exposure and maintaining the premises to avoid dust buildup. The key is for the employer and employee to acknowledge that the risk of dust exposure is real and it needs an immediate solution.

Not giving particular importance to clean air in the workplace may result into a variety of illnesses, depending on the industry. These illnesses often involve internal complications, such as respiratory problems and even cancers.

The Worst Drunk Driving Accidents

The Worst Drunk Driving Accidents

Drinking and driving never go together. If they do, an accident may occur. Driving requires physical and mental functions, but these functions can be impaired because of alcohol. Physically, the driver will have limited coordination between his eyes and hands, which are essential body parts in safe driving. He may lose control of the vehicle, swerve into oncoming traffic, weave through a different lane, or veer off the road.

He will also have trouble in comprehending traffic signals and lights, potentially leading to right-of-way accidents, and in judging the positions and distances of other vehicles and pedestrians, which may result into devastating collisions.

The worst drunk driving accidents occur because of someone else’s fault, like when someone else has been careless, reckless, or negligent. The only positive thing about this is the fact that the victims can get compensation for the damages, such as for the medical bills and other injury-related expenses.

According to the website of Ravid & Associates, P.C., drunk driving accident victims have three avenues to seek compensation for their injuries. These are:

  • Driving under the influence – action against the drunk driver
  • Dram shop – action against the bar or restaurant owner serving alcohol to the intoxicated person
  • Social host liability – action against a private party or individual furnishing alcohol to the intoxicated person

Negligence is a major factor in these avenues. Drunk drivers may lose control and crash into your vehicle. Bars who fail to limit their customer’s alcohol intake may indirectly cause accidents. The same can be said to individuals who recklessly supply alcohol to you.

Even though the law will hear the voices of the victims, it is important for the victims to make the effort of avoiding drunk driving accidents as well. They should limit their drinking, or better, avoid drinking altogether. If you are planning on drinking, do not even consider driving. Use other modes of transportation or designate a driver that will take you home, instead of risking yourself and the others around you.

You don’t want to get involve in drunk driving accidents, where you can sustain serious traumatic injuries if the collisions are forceful enough. On the worst cases, the victims even end up dead.

Common Issues with Overtime

Common Issues with Overtime

You have sacrificed a lot of things for your job. Maybe you have sacrificed too much, such as your health, family and friends, and extra time for recreation. The last thing you want is to not get the fruits of this sacrifice – overtime pay.

There are several reasons why you don’t get the overtime pay you rightfully deserve. Whatever those reasons are, they leave you with more work and stress, less pay, time, and respect.

One of the most common arguments employers bring up to avoid paying for overtime is that the employee claiming overtime pay is salaried. Though it is true that there are employees who are not eligible to overtime pay, such as executives, most employees have the right to be paid when working overtime.

Another employment issue arises when you are ineligible to overtime pay but have suddenly become eligible, maybe because of an elevation in employment status. Your employer may not pay you your rightfully deserved extra pay because you are misclassified. But this is on the management, and recovering unpaid overtime is possible.

Employers will really do everything they can to prevent extra operation costs from overtime pays and maximize productivity. This ensures that they are bringing more money in and less money out. They may try operations and management tricks to get around overtime payments.

These employers may give their workers off-the-clock tasks. They may call for meetings, ask employees to clean safety equipment, or worse, they may even assign paper works to be done at home. Since these tasks can technically be out of working hours, the employers are basically getting free work from their employees. Even simple tasks, such as traveling into job sites with no computed pay, can serve as loopholes that employers can exploit.

There are more blatant techniques to avoid paying for overtime. Employers may require overtime to be approved before they make it official. This becomes a problem when no manager or supervisor is there to approve the overtime, yet the overtime is necessary because of deadlines and productivity issues.

The key to fight unpaid overtime is knowing your rights and being aware of the techniques that employers can do to get work from you without you getting paid, such as those mentioned above.

Basic Steps in Starting a Business

Basic Steps in Starting a Business

You may have a brilliant idea right now that you think will be beneficial for society, such as a product or a service. In fact, it may be so brilliant that you want to put it on business immediately. But starting a business can be very complicated, especially if you do not know anything about the legal matters. Below are the basic steps of starting a business so you can have an idea of the structure of business formation.

Write a business plan

Often, business plans are not the first things that come to mind when it comes to starting a business. Individuals tend to just be too passionate and dive into the product or service. But having a sound business plan can lay the foundations of your company. State your objectives, how you are going to accomplish them, how you are going to manage operations, and how you are going to make everything profitable.

Determine the right business structure

You also must determine the best kind of business structure that will most benefit your company. Is it going to be a limited liability company, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation? According to the website of these Cedar Rapids business attorneys, every business structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, such as in the aspects of taxation, management, and ownership.

Name and register your business

Choose the appropriate name for your company and its products and services. The name should not just be for show, because it should also be related to the essence of your offers and the philosophy behind them. Once you have decided on the name, register it to the appropriate state government, get a tax identification number, and tackle other legal issues like workers’ compensation, insurance, business license, and permits.

Execute your business plan

As a business-oriented person, the legal part may have been boring for you, but now that the legal processes have been accomplished, there are no more obstacles that are preventing your business from going live. If possible, make your business plan more complex, such as adding details about budgets, marketing strategies, sales projections, and anything else that can help you accomplish the objectives you have stated in your simple business plan.

Why You Should Get a Prenuptial Agreement

Why You Should Get a Prenuptial Agreement

When you get married, you always think that the relationship will last a lifetime, but sadly, not all marriages do. Many couples divorce, separating their assets and liabilities. One way to protect your assets, liabilities, and interests is to get a prenuptial agreement.

A prenuptial agreement is a document to establish rules for the marriage and procedures for possible future matters. According to the website of the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield, prenuptial agreements often address issues such as the division of assets, visitation rights to children, custody of children, and alimony.

It protects your separate properties

Courts and state laws are often the ones who divide the properties of divorcing couples, and there are instances where you may feel like you are getting the short end of the stick. If you get a prenuptial agreement, you can clearly state which properties are non-marital, so you may get a hold of these properties upon divorce.

It ensures that your children from another marriage will get something

If a divorce has been filed and you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, your spouse may get most of the assets, leaving your children from another marriage with nothing. To make sure that these children will get what they rightfully deserve, you may want to state their inheritance in a prenuptial agreement. This is also a good way to secure their future and financial stability.

It protects you from unwarranted debts

Your spouse may have accumulated some debt even before your marriage, and creditors may take your assets and properties if your spouse fails to give the money back. By having a prenuptial agreement, you can avoid unnecessary financial strains such as this, by agreeing on the rule that your partner’s accumulated debt is his or her responsibility.

It reduces conflict

Divorces can be very emotional, especially if the couples involved are separating because of crucial disagreements. If these couples have prenuptial agreements, the legal processes concerning divorce may be significantly easier to accomplish because of the established rules in the documents. This can also save the couples emotionally, as they part ways in peace.

Nursing Home Negligence

When you put your loved one in a nursing home, you expect them to be treated with dignity. But do you know that there are lawyers out there who specialize in nursing home negligence? It just means that nursing home negligence is an issue serious enough for legal professionals to build a career around it.

According to the website of these Georgetown personal injury attorneys, there are legal actions that can be pursued by nursing home negligence victims.

But what exactly is nursing home negligence? A nursing home should have the proper medical facilities to ensure that its patients are receiving adequate medical care. It should also have a competent nursing home staff that will not be abusive or negligent.

Abusive Behaviors
Nursing home abuse may come in many forms, such as physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological. Physical abuse is the incidental use of force toward a patient. If your loved one has unexplained wounds and torn clothing, be wary, as he or she may be experiencing abuse.

It may be overwhelming to believe, but sexual abuse does happen in the nursing home. Patients may sustain injuries in the reproductive, pelvic, and anal areas, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Emotional and psychological abuse focus more on the self-worth of a patient, such as the destruction of his or her self-confidence. But there are also instances where the other forms of abuse result into emotional and psychological problems, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social withdrawal.

Negligent Behaviors
Nursing home staff can be negligent on its ways, resulting into injuries, complications, and other health problems. Many negligent behaviors involve hygiene, dehydration, and malnutrition. In the aspect of hygiene, nursing home personnel may fail to change the clothes of their patients, brush their teeth, or comb their hair.

In the aspect of dehydration and malnutrition, nursing home personnel may be too negligent or incompetent to track the hydration and nutrition needs of the patient, resulting into skin problems and other health issues.

Saving Your Self from a Possible DWI Conviction

DWI or driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired, which refers to driving while impaired by the effects of alcohol or drugs (illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs), is a serious crime. In all U.S. states, to specifically address the very old problem of intoxicated driving, the U.S. Congress lowered the national illegal limit for impaired driving to 0.08%; the year was 2000. Prior to this, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level limit was 0.15% (since 1938).

To further reduce drunk or drugged driving incidences, some authoritative bodies have been empowered to still lower BAC limits, as well as impose more severe penalties on offenders. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), for instance, has mandated a 0.04% BAC limit for commercial vehicle drivers, such as those driving a truck, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set a zero tolerance level for those below the age of 21.

Many states have also become stricter in enforcing anti-drunk driving laws, setting up of more sobriety check points and becoming more observant of signs of drunk driving. Police officers also have the authority to stop a driver suspected of being impaired and require him/her to undergo some tests, like standing on one leg, walking on a straight line, or submitting to a breathalyzer test.

Professional-grade breathalyzer devices, such as those used by law enforcers for roadside alcohol testing, are acknowledged as highly accurate and sensitive. However, there are important factors that enforcers need to consider when using these devices on suspected drunk drivers:

These breathalyzers require periodic calibration in order to maintain accurate reading; failure to calibrate these regularly can affect BAC analysis.

Breathalyzers can definitely measure alcohol which is present in alcoholic drinks; however, it will also give measurable BAC readings if one consumes food cooked in alcohol, or uses substances that contain small amounts of alcohol, like toothache medicines and mouthwash.

Acetone, which cab be detected in the breath of those on high protein diets and those with diabetes, and other compounds that have a molecular structure similar to alcohol, may result to BAC readings. Besides these, adhesives, plastics, varnish, paint fumes, and cleaning chemicals with rubbing alcohol, can also produce false BAC results.

Impairment, which is the effect of alcohol and the real root of danger for both the impaired driver and all others on the road, is the major reason why drinking and driving is strictly prohibited under federal and state laws. But, while this may be a totally acceptable reason for apprehending and charging offenders, one main issue that has led to so many legal concerns is the overzealousness of some enforcers which has, in a number of instances, resulted to the unreasonable arrest of many individuals.

A driving while intoxicated conviction can be life-altering, often resulting in license suspension, substantial fines, probation, prison time and serious personal and professional consequences that can be exceedingly difficult to overcome. To save your future from getting ruined due to a minor mistake (on your part), it might be essential to seek the services of a highly-competent lawyer for your defense.

The Benefits Offered Under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Law

Divorce, loss of job, reduction in income, a natural calamity, an unexpected health problem that necessitates continuous costly medical treatment, and so forth, are just few of the possible reasons why people suddenly become incapable of paying their mortgage, car loan and other debts. But the more payments missed the higher the amount of their debts become, until these reach an amount that is already quite impossible to still settle. It is normal for anyone with a huge debt to go through a nerve-racking experience; add to this the hounding and harassment of creditors and/or debt-collectors to force a debtor to pay what he/she owes. In 2010, an estimated 1.53 million Americans, who owed creditors huge amounts, but were no longer able to pay, filed bankruptcy in various U.S. federal bankruptcy courts. Bankruptcy is a legal procedure which allows a debtor to declare inability to make further payments to settle his/her debts. It has been allowed under the law to save people from overwhelming debts to give them a fresh start in their financial lives. There are many chapters in the Bankruptcy law, each designed to address the specific and unique financial situation a person is in. One specific chapter is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, also known as Liquidation Bankruptcy. Taking from its name, Chapter 7 requires a debtor to surrender to a court-appointed trustee his/her “non-exempt” assets and properties for liquidation. One task of the trustee is to sell these properties in order to raise the amount needed in paying off aborrower’s creditors. Payment will only be on debts that are non-dischargeable; these include, but are not limited to:

  • Unlisted debts and creditors;
  • Most student loans, unless paying these would cause “undue hardship” to the borrower and/or his or her dependents;
  • Federal, state, and local taxes which are no more than three years old from the time these first became due;
  • Court fees;
  • Government-imposed penalties, fines, and restitution;
  • Child support and alimony or spousal support; and,
  • Debts resulting from wrongful death or personal injury damages if these are consequences of DUI.

Dischargeable debts, on the other hand, include personal loans, credit card loans, medical bills, past utility bills, etc.; the debtor is freed from these debts by the court. For non-exempt assets and properties, these include:

  • Motor vehicles, jewelry and tools used by the debtor in his or her trade or profession – but only up to a certain value;
  • Reasonably necessary household furnishings and goods, and clothing;
  • Household appliances;
  • Pensions, unemployment compensation, social security benefits and a certain percentage of the borrower’s still unpaid but earned wages; and,
  • Compensation for personal injury.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the quickest way for a debtor to gain relief from his/her debts and begin the process of rebuilding his/her credit. Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers the near-total liquidation of all debts that an individual may hold, giving those who pursue this option the ability to start their financial life anew. However, not everyone may qualify for this chapter due to the conditions set in 2005 by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. To understand more about this Chapter, as well as find out if this is the right bankruptcy chapter to file, consulting with a highly-competent bankruptcy lawyer may be a good decision.