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Trouble Finding A Job? Could Your Pennsylvania Criminal Record Be To Blame?

Posted by on Aug 7, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Trouble Finding A Job? Could Your Pennsylvania Criminal Record Be To Blame?

Since the Great Recession, many employers have enjoyed the opportunity to choose among multiple eager, qualified candidates for all open positions. Although unemployment rates have improved, some employers are still being choosy, and if you have a criminal conviction in your past — even a minor misdemeanor or juvenile offense — you could find yourself repeatedly being passed over for employment opportunities. Fortunately, there are some provisions in Pennsylvania law that can allow you to have a criminal conviction sealed from an official background check or expunged. Read on to learn more about the situations in which your criminal convictions could be sealed or even permanently removed from your record, as well as how pending changes in Pennsylvania law could help make this process available to even more citizens. When can your criminal records be sealed from employers’ view?  Whenever a conviction is entered against you — for anything from a traffic ticket to a major felony — this conviction is cross-referenced against your personal data. This means that your Social Security number, legal name, and any aliases are all tied to this conviction, and someone with access to public court records can find this information quickly. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor as a juvenile, once you reach adulthood you can have your criminal records sealed to all but law enforcement. This ensures you’ll have a clean background check for employment purposes, although you’ll still likely be required to answer “yes” if asked verbally or in writing whether you’ve ever been convicted of a criminal offense. If you’re arrested for another crime at a later point, your previous conviction will be available to law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney and may be used to give you a longer sentence. If you were convicted of a “summary offense” as an adult (a traffic infraction or minor misdemeanor that didn’t involve a jury trial), you may be able to have this offense expunged rather than sealed. The guidelines for the types of crimes that may be expunged can vary — but as long as your summary offense conviction didn’t involve firearm use or possession, physical violence toward humans or animals, or impersonation of law enforcement, it likely qualifies for expungement.  The advantages of expungement are twofold. Because the criminal conviction is not just sealed, but outright dismissed, you can honestly answer “no” when asked by a potential employer whether you’ve been convicted of a crime. And if you’re arrested and charged with criminal conduct in the future, your expunged conviction won’t be available to be used to increase your potential sentence. What proposed laws will change the expungement process?  A bill was recently introduced that could expand the availability of expungement to even more types of crimes. This bill would allow those convicted of second- or third-degree misdemeanors to apply for and receive expungement. Current law allows for the expungement of these types of crimes only if the person applying is over age 70 or was younger than 25 at the time the crime was committed.  If you were arrested for a felony, but were never convicted, you may also be able to have this arrest expunged from your record under the new law. Although an arrest in itself doesn’t necessarily imply guilt (especially if the case was dismissed), this...

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Should You Seek Disability or Workers Comp for Your Injuries?

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Should You Seek Disability or Workers Comp for Your Injuries?

If you’ve suffered an injury that has left you unable to work, you may be investigating the various options that will provide you with temporary income. And if your injury took place at work, you may be debating whether you should seek workers compensation or accept short-term disability from your employer—or whether you can do both. Read on to learn more about the benefits and potential drawbacks of either possible path, as well as some situations when filing a personal injury lawsuit may be your best option. Can you receive short term disability and workers comp at the same time? Short term and long term disability benefits are a type of insurance often offered by employers as a perk, in addition to discounted group health and dental insurance. In other cases, you may be able to purchase this coverage privately on the open market. Generally, short-term disability insurance will pay you about two thirds of your regular salary for about six months after you become disabled or begin missing work. After these benefits expire, you may be able to transition to long-term disability insurance benefits or apply for and begin receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Workers compensation is another type of insurance that is paid by your employer and available specifically to those injured on the job or while acting at the direction of their employer. Unlike short- and long-term disability benefits, which pay only a percentage of your pre-injury salary, workers compensation covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs associated with your workplace injury. There’s often no set expiration for workers comp benefits as long as you’re still undergoing treatment for injuries directly related to your workplace accident. In most cases, if you file for and begin receiving workers comp benefits, your claim for short term disability benefits will be denied. When you’re receiving short- or long-term disability benefits, you won’t be permitted to receive income from any other source. This means that if you were injured at work and have incurred out of pocket medical expenses, you’re usually better off filing for workers comp benefits rather than disability benefits, as more of your expenses (including lost wages) will be covered by this insurance plan. However, if you were injured off the job, your short term disability plan should still cover the injury. When should you file a personal injury lawsuit instead? Although many workplace injuries are purely accidents, some result from an employer’s clearly negligent or irresponsible behavior. If your workers comp claim isn’t enough to cover your injuries, or if you believe your employer is continuing to put other employees in danger, you may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit. You should be able to file a lawsuit even if you’ve already accepted workers comp or short- or long-term disability payments (although if you receive a court judgment, your disability benefits may cease). Not only will a personal injury lawsuit potentially allow you to recover additional funds to be used for your care and treatment, it can provide enough of a disincentive that your employer may be prompted to change procedures (or fire employees) to ensure a similar situation doesn’t happen again. Although filing a personal injury lawsuit against an employer for whom you still work may feel awkward, there are no legal...

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4 Ways To Cure Post-Divorce Depression & Move On With Your Life

Posted by on Jul 2, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Ways To Cure Post-Divorce Depression & Move On With Your Life

Depression is a normal response to tragic life events. Ending a marriage is ending a chapter of your life that you thought would last forever. It’s normal to feel depressed during and after your divorce. If you feel like you are sucked deep into a post-divorce depression, you need to find ways to ease the pain. Here are some things that you can do to try and climb out of your depression. 1. Write a goodbye letter You certainly don’t need to actually send the goodbye letter to your ex-spouse, but writing it may help you get out all of the pent up feelings that are bringing you down. In your letter start my reminiscing on some of the good times you shared together. You married your ex-spouse for a reason, and you should celebrate the happy times that you shared together. Next, start talking about when you first realized things were going wrong, or maybe your regret of not noticing at all. You can talk about what he or she could’ve done differently, what you could’ve done differently, and anything else that is weighing on your mind. Finally, write a conclusion with the terms that you have come to about your divorce, and say goodbye the way that you want. You may find that the letter is liberating and it can help lay the path for you to move on to your new life. 2. Start a dream board Go to a local store and buy a corkboard for your wall. You can hang it in your bedroom or home office to have a little privacy from guests. Start thinking about what you want out of life. Maybe you want a new job. Find pictures of some dream jobs, or maybe just write the job title down. Pin the pictures or words on your corkboard with a tack. If you want a different vehicle, a trip to Europe, or anything else out of life, put it on your board. Being able to see what you want to achieve every time you walk into the room will motivate you. Everything that you want to work toward will be in your view and you can feel a renewed purpose in life. 3. Go on a retreat Going on a retreat can do a lot for your mood. You will get to go to a relaxing resort with likeminded people and focus on restoring your own mental health. You don’t have to belong to a church or organization to go on a retreat. You can find many online that are open to the public and focus on certain goals. Specific retreats include weight loss, creativity, yoga, spiritual wellness, and more. You might go home realizing what you really want out of life and make some lifelong friends along the way. 4. Divorce support group If you find yourself lacking support from family and friends, find a divorce support group in your area. It might seem scary to go talk about your life in front of people that you don’t know, but you would be surprised how refreshing it can be. People at a support group are going through the same thing that you are going through. They can understand your circumstances on a deeper level than your friends who have never...

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5 Factors In Determining Video Game Injury Cases

Posted by on Jun 12, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Factors In Determining Video Game Injury Cases

Video games are supposed to be fun entertainment options that transport players into a variety of different worlds. Sometimes the fun can be taken too far when a game causes a serious injury to a player. There are a lot of circumstances that go into a video game injury case. When you hire personal injury lawyers, they will break down several aspects of the case to determine who is exactly to blame and how the injury could have been prevented. If you’ve been injured while playing video games, consider the follow five factors to determine if you have a potential case. Manufacturing Defects Months and years are put into the design elements of video game consoles and controllers. Whether it’s a design or manufacturing problem, there are multiple injuries that may occur. For example, if the controller is poorly designed, an injury could result in permanent hand damage. Sometimes the problem is not an overall design, but with the specific version that you purchased. It could have been poorly inspected or put together, resulting in problems. For example, if the battery contacts are misaligned, the controller could overheat and burn directly into your hands while you play. Not only does this damage affect your ability to play video games, but it can expand over into aspects like working and seeking employment. When this is the case, your lawyer has more grounds to move ahead with a lawsuit. Game Designs The games that you play may have design elements that cause injuries. One of the biggest cases of this are video games that feature a lot of quick animations and flashing screens. This type of design has caused seizures and resulted in numerous personal injury cases. If the game does not have a proper warning prior to playing, then the company who created it may be held responsible for the injuries caused by the seizure. Not only can a seizure cause you to pass out, but you may hit something like a coffee table and sustain further injury. Even if your injury is not as severe as a seizure, improper game design could cause dizziness and confusion. The results of this could lead to an injury. Player Error Before any case moves forward, a lawyer must determine how much of the injury was caused by a player error. For example, if you are playing an active video game and not wearing proper controller supports, a lawyer will not likely move forward with a case because you ignored safety precautions. If a company does not provide these safety guidelines, then a lawyer may look into that case further. The same type of player error may occur for injuries that occur after playing games for extended periods of time. If you play video games for hours on end without a break, then you are putting health and safety risks on yourself. During a consultation, a lawyer will go over these factors and explain them clearly to you. Video Game Services Playing video games is not limited to your own home. Whether it’s an arcade or video game truck, injuries could occur at these locations, too. For example, if you are at a video game truck party and get injured, the truck owner is likely liable for your injuries. If an interactive arcade...

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3 Tips For Preserving Evidence After A Slip And Fall

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Tips For Preserving Evidence After A Slip And Fall

Slip and fall hazards are everywhere. Stairs, potholes, wet floors, forgotten debris, and other hazards can be tough to anticipate ahead of time. That’s probably why a million people suffer slips, trips, and falls every year. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 20% to 30% of those people will suffer injuries ranging from bruises to traumatic brain injuries. Some of these injuries can require extensive – and expensive – medical treatments. Not all slip and fall accidents are actionable in court, but it’s a good idea to know how to gather and preserve evidence when you experience a slip and fall accident, just in case you want to try to pursue compensation for your injuries later in court. Here are a few tips for gathering and preserving evidence after a slip and fall. Take Pictures Pictures are critical evidence in slip and fall cases – perhaps even more critical than in other personal injury cases, like car accidents. After all, even after the accident scene is cleaned up, it’s possible to look at damage to the cars and skid marks on the road to figure out how a car accident happened. But once you leave the scene of a slip and fall accident, if the wet substance you slipped on is dried up, the obstacle is removed, or the broken step or pothole is repaired, there will be no evidence left to explain how your fall happened. A cell phone camera is perfect for taking pictures at a slip and fall scene. If you’re one of the rare people who doesn’t own a cell phone with a camera, ask a witness at the scene to take a picture and send it to you by email. Make sure they have your contact information. Research shows over 90% of Americans own cell phones, so the odds are good that someone at the scene of your accident will have one. File a Police Report Many people simply don’t think of calling the police for a slip and fall accident. While it’s second nature to stay put and dial the police when your car is wrecked and blocking traffic, slip and fall victims tend to try to get up and leave if they possibly can – most likely because a slip and fall accident can feel embarrassing. When slip and fall victims are not capable of getting up and leaving, emergency medical services are usually summoned, but police are often still not called. The truth is that any accident can and should be reported to the police. A police report can provide powerful documentation in a court case. Usually, the report will include a description of the scene and the accident, a list of witnesses and their contact information, and possibly more photographs. Also, don’t be too quick to hurry away from the scene even if you don’t believe you’re hurt. Some injuries take time to show up, and it’s a good idea to have a medical assessment after a fall, especially if you hit your head. Resist the urge to quickly leave the scene out of embarrassment. A fall can happen to anyone and is nothing to be ashamed of. Making sure any injuries are treated as soon as possible is more important than saving face. Document and Save Any Damaged...

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Understanding Dog Attacks And Filing A Personal Injury

Posted by on Apr 30, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Dog attacks are extremely common across the USA, with over 1,000 Americans needing treatment each day. As such, it is important you understand how to treat the problem and what is required if you plan to submit a claim for your injury. Medical Treatment Following a Dog Attack If you are attacked and bitten by a dog, it’s imperative that you seek medical treatment right away. While dog bites themselves may not be lethal, the infections that can occur as a result can be particularly dangerous. As such, your first action should be to wash the exposed wound under warm water in order to rid the area of germs and bacteria. Additionally, try to remove any hair or dirt that the dog has left. Once you have cleaned the wound and prepared the area, you should seek medical advice. The extent of the injury doesn’t matter when it comes to dog bites – even the most negligible of bite marks can become severely infected if left untreated. If your doctor deems your bite to be severe, they will treat the area and prescribe you with a course of antibiotics to rid your body of infection. Preparing to Make a Claim If you are attacked by a dog that isn’t your own, you will be permitted to submit a claim for damages against the dog’s owner. With that said, making a successful claim isn’t as easy as filling out a form; rather, there are steps you must take in order to ensure your claim has a high chance of winning in court. Report the Incident to the Police The first thing you should do after treating the wound is report the attack to your local police station. It’s important that you do this immediately following an attack, rather than explaining the situation in hindsight. If your case goes to court, the judge will check to make sure the claim was made within a reasonable time span from when the attack occurs. While the length of this time varies widely between cases, getting your claim in immediately will leave the courts with no excuse when they come to assess your case. Gather as Much Evidence as Possible With dog attacks, photographs are your best form of evidence. Taking photographs of the exposed wound will show the court the full extent of your injury and will back up your version of events. If there were any witnesses present, ask them to give a witness statement to the police. In many cases, victims of dog attacks forget that witnesses can be of good use and fail to ask for contact details following the incident. However, it’s extremely beneficial to your claim if you can have one or two outsiders to back up your story and explain to the courts exactly what happened. Understand What You Can Claim With any form of personal injury, claims are typically categorised as general or special claims: General claims cover your injury, the cost for medical care and any costs incurred to treat your injury that the court deems reasonable. Special claims cover the impact of the incident on your finances. Specifically, these claims cover any loss of earnings you suffered and any additional travel costs incurred due to injury. Getting the Legal Help You Need With any...

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Can You Sue The Credit Bureaus For Damaged Credit?

Posted by on Apr 7, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Your credit score is an important aspect of your financial health and can have a direct impact on the monetary and employment opportunities available to you. That’s why it’s critical to regularly monitor your credit report for mistakes and get them fixed right away. Unfortunately, sometimes credit bureaus do not adhere to their legal obligations to fix reporting errors, causing consumers untold angst and losses. However, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has provisions that allow consumers to sue reporting agencies for violations of the law. Here’s what you need to know about getting compensated for your losses. Recoverable Damages Under the FCRA, you can either pursue actual damages or statutory damages. If you choose to go after actual damages, you must prove you sustained losses and those losses were the direct result of the agency’s action or inaction. For example, if you were charged a higher interest rate on a home loan because the credit agency failed to fix a mistake on your report, you can request to be compensated for that. Statutory damages, on the other, do not require you to prove you were harmed. However, you can only collect between $100 and $1,000 per violation. So even if you weren’t turned down for credit or otherwise harmed by the credit agency’s actions, you can still recover money based on the violation itself. You may also recover actual damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs if you can prove the agency acted negligently in its failure to adhere to the law. For example, an Oregon woman was awarded over $18 million against Equifax because of the company’s failure to correct erroneous information on her credit report. According to available information, representatives of the company informed the woman that some of her information had been mixed up with another consumer’s. Additionally, she claims she was told she had to contact the creditors directly to get the mistakes fixed. However, it is the responsibility of the credit reporting agency to ensure the information they have on file is accurate. Credit agencies are required by the FCRA to launch investigations into reported errors and remove any information it is unable to verify or has been proven to be incorrect. The failure of credit reporting agencies to follow rules such as this may form the basis for a personal injury lawsuit and allow consumers to collect compensation for willful and negligent actions. Lastly, if the company’s actions are particularly egregious, the court may also award punitive damages as a way of punishing the agency for failing to comply with the law. Out of the $18 million the Oregon woman was awarded, only $180,000 of it was for actual damages. The rest were punitive damages levied against credit agency by the jury. Prior to Filing a Lawsuit Before you can file a lawsuit against the credit reporting agency, you must attempt to go through the standard dispute channels to get the problem fixed. Failure to do so could cause you to be charged with filing a frivolous lawsuit and made to pay the agency’s legal fees. Additionally, going through the dispute channels can often clarify who’s at fault for the incorrect information. If the creditor is purposely furnishing the credit agency false information, then you’ll have to go after the creditor for damages....

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3 Factors Lawyers Consider During Car Accident Compensation Cases

Posted by on Mar 24, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

After suffering injury in a car accident, you may immediately contact the other party’s insurance company in an attempt to receive fair compensation. Unless your case is extremely straightforward, it is not likely the insurance company will provide a settlement that covers your pain and suffering, property damage, medical bills and time off work. Once you exhaust your attempts to win a fair compensation package on your own, you may need to work with a personal injury lawyer to resolve the case. Your personal injury lawyer will weigh the details of your case during the initial consultation period to identify your chances of scoring a positive outcome in court. Although lawyers cannot guarantee a specific payout, most will use the three following factors to identify the chances of winning a fair compensation package. Fault Assignment In order to demand payment from the responsible party, court officials want to know exactly who caused the accident and how. Your lawyer must recreate the accident details for the court to demonstrate that you did not cause the accident in any way. Court officials will review the case and assign a fault percentage to each party. In most states, if you carry any responsibility for the accident, your total payout may be reduced by that percentage. Unfortunately, in a handful of states, the contributory negligence rule prevents drivers deemed partially responsible for the accident from collecting a settlement at all. To prepare you for this process, your lawyer will walk you through the expected fault assignment and local laws concerning payouts before your case hits the courtroom. Mental Anguish If you look closely at the other party’s insurance policy documents, you may notice that the coverage amounts specifically address bodily injury. The term bodily injury directly refers to your physical being, not your mental state. If you suffer intense fear or high stress levels from mental trauma stemming from the accident, the insurance settlement may not cover medical care or lost wages for that condition. Prior diagnoses of depression or panic disorders could further complicate your accident settlement claim. Lawyers may be able to push the insurance company to provide a fair settlement, however, by presenting similar compensation rulings from the court system in that jurisdiction. Policy Limits Drivers only need to carry the lowest liability limit required by law to legally drive on public roadways. If you are hit by a driver carrying low liability limits, your medical bills, property damage, lost wages and other costs may far exceed those given amounts. Unfortunately, insurance companies will not pay out anything beyond the listed limit. Instead, your lawyer must file a civil claim against the responsible party in an effort to win the full compensation amount. Insurance representatives may push you to settle within the given limit by stating that is all you are bound to receive. Upon winning the case, and collecting the maximum policy amount from the insurance company, your lawyer can put a lien on the policyholder’s home or business for future payment of the remaining amount. In Conclusion: Measuring The Impact Your lawyer may wish to try working with the insurance company for a fair settlement before taking the case to court. Your lawyer will provide a figure to the insurance company representing the financial toll caused by the...

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Stay Away From Lawsuits With These Winter Driving Safety Tips

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The winter months are extremely dangerous for drivers. There are an average of 467 fatalities every year just from driving on snowy and icy roads. Even if you have automobile insurance, you can find yourself in a lawsuit if you swerve off the road and damage someone’s vehicle or property. Practice these winter driving safety tips before you end up injured or being sued for auto accident damages. Check your tire pressure regularly Your tire pressure drops about 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees the that the weather drops. If you haven’t checked your tires since the summer, they could be dangerously low. Many people believe that lowering your tire pressure is an effective way to drive on ice, so they don’t bother to fill them back up. While having lower pressure will give your tire better contact, it’s not a safe strategy. When your tires are low, the sidewalls of the tires get too hot. This can cause your tires to roll right off the rim while you’re driving. That’s a dangerous enough problem any other time of year. On the snow, other drivers are much more like to slide into each other when your tires go flying. During the winter, check your tire pressure every couple days to ensure that you have the recommended amount. If you want better contact, the safest thing to do is get better tires. Don’t slam on your brakes If you’re about to hit something, it’s natural to slam on your brakes so you can stop as quickly as possible. When the roads are clear and dry, that works pretty well. The rough concrete stops your vehicle from moving quickly. When you are on the slippery road and ice, slamming on your breaks turns your tires into ice skates. The most effective way to stop quickly is to hit the brakes, let off, hit them again, and keep performing this braking cadence until you stop. It sounds like it will take longer and it’s scary when you’re close to slamming into someone, but you will stop much faster than if you hit your brakes and hope for the best. When you let off the brakes and hit them again, it allows your tires to gain traction with the road again, thus keeping your tires from becoming skates. Be prepared for emergencies Part of driving on snow is making sure that you’re prepared if something happens. Not all accidents happen while you’re in your vehicle. If you break down, drive off the road, or have any other emergency, you need to keep yourself safe. Here are some items that you should keep in your vehicle during the winter months. Tow rope Reflective vest Snow boots (if you aren’t wearing any) Spare tire Hazard triangle Fire extinguisher Emergency road flares Blanket Water Keep your eyes out for black ice Black ice is one of the most dangerous issues during the winter. This is where a thin sheet of completely transparent ice is covering the road. People often mistake black ice for puddles of melted ice and snow. Some people don’t notice it at all. A major problem is that when people come across black ice, they often think the road is clear. This causes them to let their guard down and driver faster and...

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Does Gender Reassignment Invalidate A Marriage?

Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Although social support for GLBT individuals has grown significantly in recent years, legal support continues to lag behind the times. In particular, transgender individuals often face legal hurdles that are further complicated by how the state and federal government views their gender identities. One such complication is the risk that gender reassignment may result in their marriages being invalidated by the courts. Here’s more information about this legal quagmire and what you can do to protect yourself. How the Law Deals with Gender Reassignment During Marriage Marriage is regulated by each state, so naturally the laws and court decisions that affect the rights of transgendered individuals are all over the place. However, judges have consistently ruled that even if someone changes his or her gender during marriage, the union will remain valid if it was considered so when the couple obtained their license. For instance, the Indiana appeals court overturned a lower-court judge’s ruling that a transgender woman’s transition from male to female invalidated the marriage, making the couple ineligible for a traditional divorce. The circuit judge believed the person’s assumption of a female gender identity reclassified her marriage to another woman as a same-sex union. Using Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriages at the time as a basis, the judge ruled the marriage retroactively invalid. However, the judges at the appeals court reversed the decision, stating the couple had met the legal requirements when they got married since the transgender individual was a man when the two came together as husband and wife. The fact that the person underwent gender reassignment surgery afterwards did not change the legality of their relationship. The couple’s marriage was valid under Indiana law and, thus, eligible for a lawful divorce and the benefits that entailed. Every court presented with similar circumstances has made the same ruling: gender reassignment does not void (retroactively or otherwise) a marriage that was valid at the time the couple came together. Unfortunately, this is a sword that can cut both ways. Some courts have voided the marriages of transgender people who underwent reassignment prior to marriage because the court did not recognize the person’s new gender and the marriage ran afoul of the state’s ban on same-sex unions. For example, in 1999, a Texas appeals court ruled the marriage between a transgender woman and her husband to be void based on the ideology that gender is fixed at birth. Despite the fact the woman was a post-transition female, the court considered her to be legally male and rendered her marriage to her husband illegal. Though times have changed since then, this latter situation continues to be in issue in Texas and other states. A modern-day example involves a transgender woman fighting to be recognized as her husband’s widow. Despite the fact the laws in Texas allowed the woman to get a marriage license by showing a court order related to her gender reassignment, her mother-in-law filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the marriage using a combination of the Texas constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and the 1999 court decision that states people legally remain the gender they are assigned at birth regardless of any reassignment done at a later date. The case is still pending. Protecting Your Family Though the majority of states don’t have laws that specifically...

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