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Larson Law Office PLLC
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Top 7 Legal Mistakes Businesses Make

The continued profitability of a successful business can be put at risk if a business owner fails to anticipate the following key legal issues that often arise. Business people need to be prepared on the front side for these challenges. Otherwise the results of legal mistakes businesses make can be costly.

1. Not Having Agreements with Employees.  Businesses often have trade secrets or confidential information such as customer lists.  This information needs to be protected from employees who may go to work for a competitor or open a competing business.  Non-disclosure, non-competition (non-competes), confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements can be valuable tools to a business.  

2. Lack of a Corporate Structure.  Owners of businesses often expose their personal assets to business liability by failing to incorporate their businesses.  (I am not talking about merely having a DBA).  Having the correct business entity for your business purposes and needs is critically important to protect personal assets.  Also, failing to follow certain corporate formalities, such as not commingling personal assets and business assets can expose your personal assets.

3.  Lack of an Owners’ Agreement.  When there are multiple owners of a business, life changes in the lives of owners will occur that will affect the business. These include divorce, death, parting of ways between owners that result in the need for a buy-out and many others.  Unless the owners have an agreement in place before these transitions occur, it is often very difficult and sometimes impossible for owners to reach agreement without the matter resulting in litigation.
 
4. Not Using Written Contracts.  Relying on oral agreements is typically a bad idea for many reasons.  As time passes, memories fade, expectations change and the potential for disagreement increases.  It is much better to address all issues directly and in writing at the beginning so that all parties are clear as to what is expected on all performance issues.

5.  Using Incorrect Contracts.  Just as important as using a written contract is using the right contract.  Standardized contracts should be carefully tailored to the needs and issues in the specific engagement.
   
6.  Not Understanding the Contract.  The business owner should understand every provision of the contract before entering into the agreement. There are times when a business must sign a contract to get an account, or job and the other side will not negotiate the terms of the contract.  However, Even if a business owner is not practically able to negotiate the terms of the contract with the other party, the business owner needs to understand each provision of the contract.

7.  Miscalculating the Time, Risk and Cost of Litigation. Lawsuits also frequently involve much more time than owners initially expect - time that would otherwise be spent on growing the business.  Litigation can also be much more unpredictable and expensive than most business owners anticipate at the beginning of a case.  

For more information on protecting your business from these and other legal mistakes businesses make, call your business attorneys in Houston, Erik Larson or Diana Larson, at 713.221.9088. 

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Top 7 Legal Mistakes Businesses Make

The continued profitability of a successful business can be put at risk if a business owner fails to anticipate the following key legal issues that often arise. Business people need to be prepared on the front side for these challenges. Otherwise the results of legal mistakes businesses make can be costly.

1. Not Having Agreements with Employees.  Businesses often have trade secrets or confidential information such as customer lists.  This information needs to be protected from employees who may go to work for a competitor or open a competing business.  Non-disclosure, non-competition (non-competes), confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements can be valuable tools to a business.  

2. Lack of a Corporate Structure.  Owners of businesses often expose their personal assets to business liability by failing to incorporate their businesses.  (I am not talking about merely having a DBA).  Having the correct business entity for your business purposes and needs is critically important to protect personal assets.  Also, failing to follow certain corporate formalities, such as not commingling personal assets and business assets can expose your personal assets.

3.  Lack of an Owners’ Agreement.  When there are multiple owners of a business, life changes in the lives of owners will occur that will affect the business. These include divorce, death, parting of ways between owners that result in the need for a buy-out and many others.  Unless the owners have an agreement in place before these transitions occur, it is often very difficult and sometimes impossible for owners to reach agreement without the matter resulting in litigation.
 
4. Not Using Written Contracts.  Relying on oral agreements is typically a bad idea for many reasons.  As time passes, memories fade, expectations change and the potential for disagreement increases.  It is much better to address all issues directly and in writing at the beginning so that all parties are clear as to what is expected on all performance issues.

5.  Using Incorrect Contracts.  Just as important as using a written contract is using the right contract.  Standardized contracts should be carefully tailored to the needs and issues in the specific engagement.
   
6.  Not Understanding the Contract.  The business owner should understand every provision of the contract before entering into the agreement. There are times when a business must sign a contract to get an account, or job and the other side will not negotiate the terms of the contract.  However, Even if a business owner is not practically able to negotiate the terms of the contract with the other party, the business owner needs to understand each provision of the contract.

7.  Miscalculating the Time, Risk and Cost of Litigation. Lawsuits also frequently involve much more time than owners initially expect - time that would otherwise be spent on growing the business.  Litigation can also be much more unpredictable and expensive than most business owners anticipate at the beginning of a case.  

For more information on protecting your business from these and other legal mistakes businesses make, call your business attorneys in Houston, Erik Larson or Diana Larson, at 713.221.9088. 

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How to Protect Children in Divorce

There are several ways to help protect children in divorce cases from being negatively affected. A divorce will certainly affect a child in concrete ways, such as the child needing to adjust to one parent no longer living in the family home. However, much of the trauma, disruption and even guilt that children often feel during and after a Houston divorce are avoidable, or can at least be minimized, if both parents take concrete steps to truly put the children’s emotional best interest first. Unfortunately, even though most Texas parents truly want to protect children in divorce, the emotionality of the divorce for a parent often spills over into that parent’s relationship with the children in negative ways. However, there are concrete ways to lessen the impact of divorce on children to help them transition more smoothly.

To read more, visit our blog at www.thelarsonlawoffice.com

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How to Establish Paternity in Texas?

There are several ways in which a man can become a father of a child and establish paternity in Texas.  First, a man can be presumed to be the father under the Texas Family Code.  This presumption is created if a man is married to the child’s mother and the child is born either during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated.  This presumption of paternity in Texas can be attacked by a suit to establish parentage or the filing of a valid denial of fatherhood and an acknowledgement of paternity (AOP) by another person.  

A man can also become a father in Texas if he files an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP).  The AOP must be signed by both the child’s mother and father and filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS).  

To read more about paternity in Texas, see the full article on our blog.

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Waiting Periods in Texas Divorce

A frequently asked question by Houstonians about their divorce is “How long do I have to wait to get divorced?”  Often, there is a second, follow-up question “How long do I have to wait to re-marry after my divorce is final?”
 
Waiting Periods to Obtain a Divorce

If one of the spouses has been a Texas resident for at least six months and has been a resident of the county in which that spouse currently lives for at least 90 days, that person is eligible to file for divorce in a Texas family court.  It is not necessary that both spouses meet this residency requirement – only one spouse needs to do so.
  
The Texas Family Code does not require that the marriage took place in Texas in order to file for a Houston divorce.  So, if a couple was married in Louisiana and one spouse has lived in Harris County for the past few years, they could obtain a divorce in Texas.   
Once the residency requirements are met, the shortest time period to get divorced in Texas is 60 days from the date the petition for divorced is filed.  Generally, to get a final decree of divorce entered on the 61st day after filing the petition, the parties are in agreement on all property and child custody issues and have signed an agreed divorce decree that is presented to the court.  The 60 day rule does not apply to actions for annulment or in cases where the marriage is declared void.  Rather, this 60 day period is a “cooling off” period for spouses to fully consider whether to dissolve their marriage.

Waiting Period to Remarry

Even after the divorce decree has been signed, the parties are not immediately free to marry another person.  The Texas Family Code provides that neither spouse in a divorce can remarry a third party (anyone other than their former spouse involved in the recent divorce) until 31 days after the divorce decree was signed.  

However, the former spouses can remarry each other at any time – and while this does not occur frequently, it does happen more often than one might think!
 
Family law courts in Houston and throughout Texas have the ability to waive the 31 day waiting requirement to remarry so long as “good cause” is shown.  An example is a situation where the divorced spouse assumed that the divorce process would not last as long as it did and did not build in enough time between the divorce and the wedding date.  In these circumstances, the divorced spouse and his bride-to-be may have spent non-refundable money on a venue for the wedding, catering, etc.  In situations like this, the court has discretion to waive the 31 day waiting period to accommodate the remarriage.  

To read more visit our blog.

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Cost of a Divorce Lawyer in Houston

Each divorce case shares some issues in common.  However, it is important to keep in mind that just as every divorce case is different, the ultimate cost of a divorce lawyer in Houston will vary case by case as well.  The amount in legal fees that a divorce will ultimately cost differs with each case because each divorce has unique elements and issues that need to be handled and these issues affect the number of attorney hours that are required to bring the case to a conclusion. 

Factors in Cost of a Divorce Lawyer in Houston

There are many factors and circumstances that determine how much obtaining a Texas divorce will cost, including:

To read more about factors in the cost of divorce, please visit our blog.

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Erik Larson and Diana Larson
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