>> Tiffany Bittner: Hello and welcome to “LawCall.” We have the answers to your legal questions. Here’s what’s coming up in our caller segment. We are going to talk about love and the law. Do you want to spend more time with your kids? Is your ex maybe behind on your child support? How can you get caught up on the payments? We’re going to take your questions tonight. Of course we are live here on law call. The number is 855-529-1955. Plus, you have insurance but what about the other guy? We are going to talk about uninsured motorists and how to protect yourself. Later, when a marriage ends; unfortunately, divorce begins, but the final pages of your love story doesn’t have to play out in the courtroom. We are going to explain what a divorce mediation is about and if it’s a right fit for you. So join us for all that and more later on in the show. First we will spend a few minutes and pay our respects. It’s with heavy hearts that we are mourning the loss of a friend of the show as well as a dear friend of yours, Kirby.
>> Kirby Farris: Absolutely. My dear friend and law partner, Redding Pitt, passed away this week. We could spend the whole show talking about this man’s life and what he did in service for the state of Alabama, both as U.S. Attorney and later as head of the Alabama Democratic Party. But I just wanted to take a moment to talk about the 15 years he devoted to our law firm as Ken’s and my law partner. He performed an outstanding job for our clients and the people we represent and he will be sorely missed by many people.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Of course you’re seeing information there. His memorial service is at Canterbury United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, his family is asking that you make a contribution to the Firehouse Shelter of Birmingham. Tonight, Ken Riley is talking about uninsured motorists and how to protect yourself from them.
>> Ken Riley: Is uninsured motorist coverage worth getting? Uninsured motorist coverage isn’t required in Alabama, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting it. It is an auto insurance option which will cover you and your passengers for injuries and property damage sustained from an accident caused by a driver without insurance. If you have an accident with someone who has only minimal insurance or no policy at all, you are in big trouble. Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you from uninsured and underinsured drivers. Here’s your sidebar advice: If you don’t already have uninsured motorist coverage as part of your auto policy, ask your insurance carrier about upgrading. It might be the best decision you ever made. If you have a question, send it along to lawcalltv.com. I’m Ken Riley of the Farris, Riley & Pitt law firm.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We hope you have had a good Valentine’s Day weekend. Not to put the rain on your parade, but we are talking about love and law, and some of that isn’t the best of news that you want to talk about. However, if you do have a question, we would like for you to call in and speak with the attorneys who are ready to point you in the direction that would best suit your situation. Go ahead, Kirby, and talk about who you brought on to help answer our viewer’s questions.
>> Kirby Farris: This isn’t in our practice area, so let me tell you about Deampher Pharris. She clerked for Houston Brown for two and a half years where she did an outstanding job and absorbed so much. She became a fantastic lawyer, in her own right, and we are thrilled to have her with us tonight.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Welcome to the show.
>> Deampher Pharris: Thank you for having me.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Have you had a good weekend so far?
>> Deampher Pharris: So far, yes.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Your sweet husband is with you tonight, so that’s a plus. He’s willing to stay up with you.
>> Deampher Pharris: He is.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Tell the folks watching a little bit about your practice.
>> Deampher Pharris: Well, my practice is a general practice firm which is the Pharris Law Firm located here in the Birmingham area. I handle cases such as family law, divorce cases, ideal law, probate and some civil forfeiture cases, as well.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Alright. We have a couple of callers that want to talk to you so we are going to begin with Terry who is calling from Birmingham tonight. Hey Terry.
>> Caller (Terry): Hey, good evening. How are you doing?
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hey there
>> Kirby Farris: Doing fine.
>> Caller (Terry): My question, are you ready?
>> Tiffany Bittner: Yes.
>> Kirby Farris: Yes, sir.
>> Caller (Terry): Back last year in January of 2015. I was working as a contractor and fell off of a roof. After the incident, I did have to have major surgery and it took me several months, about 4 to 5, to receive my disability. I have children that are over the age of 18, well actually, they are in their 20s and 30s. What do I do about back child support being that I draw disability which is very limited? And would I go to jail for the back child support because I only draw a limited amount of money for disability?
>> Kirby Farris: That’s a tough situation.
>> Deampher Pharris: Yes, that is. That’s a great question. And can I ask you something, Terry? Are the benefits you receive SSI benefits or Social Security benefits?
>> Caller (Terry): I want to say SSI. It is 700 which is low, low, but I don’t know what to do as far as the back time because I have very little money to live on.
>> Deampher Pharris: In your instance, Terry, I would suggest that you contact a lawyer to be able to help you with that situation. A lot of the time when there is what is called arrears child support payments, you still owe those payments and it can be difficult to find out what kind of system that you need to go through whether it is in family court or if you are divorced and have a divorce decree how to take care of that. So I would suggest that you contact a lawyer to help you with that situation.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Fair enough. Angela is our next caller from Anniston tonight. Hey Angela.
>> Caller (Angela): Hey
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hey. What’s going on?
>> Caller (Angela): Well, my question is, I have filed for child support like four years ago through the Department of Human Resources and they won’t help me. You know, it’s like we went to court a couple of times and they won’t do anything to the father. He has never paid child support; in the past four years, I may have received $1000 total. It’s like the state allows him to be a deadbeat. His mother gives him what he needs, so he has no incentive to work. And I can’t get a court date. So my question is – is there an attorney who will take this case? Because I cannot afford one, obviously. Is there an attorney that will take my case and only require payment if they win because he owes over $2000 in back child support. Is there a law firm that will help people that cannot afford an attorney?
>> Deampher Pharris: In that situation, Angela, I would suggest that you call the Birmingham Bar Association. They have a great list of volunteer lawyers that could help you with your situation. So if you contact the Birmingham Bar, like I said, they have a great list of lawyers that do volunteer work that could help you with your situation.
>> Kirby Farris: And the law doesn’t allow lawyers to work on a contingency fee when it comes to back child support, do they?
>> Deampher Pharris: Correct
>> Kirby Farris: I thought that was the case.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We need to take a break. Love and the law, that’s our topic tonight. Give us a call. We will be right back.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Well, you may be familiar with mediation in legal battles, but how exactly does it work? Tuscaloosa attorney Bob Prince explains in legal brief.
>> Bob Prince: Mediation can be used to solve a variety of cases without a trial. Mediators are getting a lot more calls in recent years about divorces. In many cases, the parties are much happier coming to a mutual agreement rather than letting an unattached third partly like a judge decide what becomes of their assets and arrangement with their children. But there are some things to keep in mind. Mediation isn’t necessarily a magic solution. It is strictly voluntary. The mediator doesn’t have binding authority and if the mediation isn’t successful, the case can still be tried in a court of law. Mediation fees are normally billed on an hourly basis, although some mediators may set a flat fee for services. The total cost will depend on how long it takes the parties to come to an agreement. Still, for many people, mediation has turned an uncomfortable legal dispute into an outcome that everyone can live with. That’s your legal brief for tonight. I’m Tuscaloosa attorney Bob Prince. Back to you guys.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Well, we are discussing love and the law. So basically it’s family issues and domestic issues. If you have a question, give us a call. We’re going to move on. We have Jeff in Starrett tonight. Hey Jeff.
>> Caller (Jeff): Hey, I had a question.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Sure.
>> Caller (Jeff): I’m actually married, but we have been separated for two years. We don’t share any assets or children. We both agree that if I pay for the divorce, she will sign and I will sign, but every attorney that I have talked to wants $1000 to $1200. It’s a non-contested divorce and I want to know if there is a cheaper way.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay. Is there another option for him?
>> Deampher Pharris: Well, most likely you can – it kind of piggybacks on this previous question. You can contact the Birmingham Bar to ask about divorces. They may have an attorney that would deal with divorces or a voluntary legal program that could offer their service for free or suggest a less expensive alternative.
>> Kirby Farris: We have seen advertisements for divorces a lot less than that. Is that something people ought to be leery about? What are the circumstances surrounding those?
>> Deampher Pharris: Well, each attorney sets his or her fee, so in that particular situation, you would definitely have to contact that particular attorney to see exactly what his or her fee is. Attorneys typically charge around that area, $1000 – $1500, for an uncontested divorce.
>> Kirby Farris: And there are filing fees that you have to pay.
>> Deampher Pharris: Yes. Most of the fees are for filing and other documentation that has to be filed.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Okay, Sharon is our next caller in Birmingham tonight. Hey Sharon, welcome to LawCall.
>> Kirby Farris: Hey, Sharon.
>> Caller (Sharon): Hey. I want to ask – my question is, I am in contempt of court with my child’s father. He is supposed to be making a payment each month, but hasn’t made one since September or August. I have tried calling family court, but haven’t received an answer and nobody answers their phones. So how do I go about doing it?
>> Deampher Pharris: What I would suggest that you do, Sharon, is you say that you are already in contempt of court. That means that there was a petition, like a rule that was filed with the court and that is basically holding the father of the child in contempt for not paying child support. In this instance, if you do not have an attorney, I would suggest that you do get one so that the attorney can help you out with this process because this legal battle can get tricky when the father is not willing to abide by the order.
>> Tiffany Bittner: David is our next caller in Anniston tonight. Hey David, welcome in.
>> Caller (David): Hey.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hey there.
>> Caller (David): How are you doing?
>> Kirby Farris: Good, man. What’s your question tonight?
>> Caller (David): My question is, I just recently had my parental rights signed over to my ex-wife. The agreement being that I was to no longer may anymore child support, including what was in arrears, in exchange for giving up my parental rights. Now what happened was all of my taxes went to the Department of Human Resources and to arrears event though it was her decision that she didn’t want anything else. What do I need to do about that? Do I need to go to DHR with the paperwork or what?
>> Deampher Pharris: In that situation, yes. Because DHR is now involved in that situation, so I would suggest that you do contact them. Show DHR your paperwork and the agreement.
>> Tiffany Bittner: On that note, we need to take another break in the show. When we come back, more love and the law questions for you, so give us a call.
>> Tiffany Bittner: If you would like to talk to Bob Prince from Tuscaloosa, his number is 1‑800‑536‑11105 or visit him at princelaw.net. Here at the table is Kirby Farris from Farris, Riley & Pitt in Birmingham. Call him at 205.324.1212 or visit their website – www.deliveringjustice.com. And Kirby, you guys focus on personal injury. Maybe we have some folks tuning in for the first time tonight, so if you will, tell our viewers more about your practice and what you guys wonk on.
>> Kirby Farris: I would be happy to. When you need a lawyer, you need to sit down with the attorneys that you’re considering and find out what they do. Because law has many different facets to it these days. Our law firm does personal injury work which means that if you’ve been in an automobile or trucking accident, medical malpractice, forms of wrongful death – we handle all of those kinds of claims. In addition, our law firm handles fraud cases, or what the las calls tort cases. I would encourage anybody that is having a problem, to interview lawyers and ask them questions, find out what they do, what they’ve done in the past and whether they’ve litigated a case like yours before. These are important questions. Our law firm exclusively does personal injury work.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We hope you’ll get in touch with them if that is the kind of attorney you need. Our next caller is from Gadsden tonight. Hello there.
>> Caller (William): Hello
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hi.
>> Kirby Farris: How are you?
>> Tiffany Bittner: This is William. Hey William.
>> Caller (William): Hey.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Let us have it. What’s going on?
>> Caller (William): I have a situation with my son and his girlfriend. They have two kids together and my son takes total care of the children with some help from us. The girlfriend is in and out of their lives a lot. She’s been gone five months and now she showed up again. We were wondering if there was something that could be done or that we could do; his name is not on the birth certificate, but he is the father. We were wondering if he could get full custody of the kids or if the grandparents could. That’s my question.
>> Deampher Pharris: okay. William, in that situation, I don’t know if your son has been adjudicated through the court to be the actual father of the children, but if he has, then he can petition the court for custody in this situation. What he would do is just go to the family court and petition the court for custody of his children. Now, since the mother is in and out of their lives, he can actually use that as an actual claim in his petition for custody. So most likely the mother, if the court grants him full custody, will have some visitation rights and most likely will be ordered to pay child support.
>> Tiffany Bittner: When you say adjudicated, explain what that means.
>> Deampher Pharris: Adjudication means you go to court and let the court decide. In this instance with family court, decide whether or not he is the father. That can be done through paternity tests. A lot of the time a lot of fathers will actually put their name on the birth certificate and then later will say hmmm…I don’t think I am the actual father. So then they will go to the court and have a paternity test. If they are deemed the father, then they will be put on most child support.
>> Kirby Farris: When you are in front of a judge and you’re arguing for support or for custody, what is it that the judge is measuring? What does the judge want to hear and what does he or she want to see? How does the judge decide who is to get custody of the child?
>> Deampher Pharris: In that situation, as far as petitioning the court for custody, the judge is looking at what is in the best interest of the child or the children in that situation. Both parents go into court on equal footing. So what they are looking at, as far as the court is concerned, is the age of the child or the children, the relationship between the child and the parents, and also the home environment. Now the judge sometimes uses the preference of the child as a factor. But that is just one factor.
>> Kirby Farris: Sounds like William would have a pretty good argument given those factors.
>> Deampher Pharris: Yes, yes he does.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Let’s hear from C.J. in Cullman tonight. Hey C.J.
>> Caller (C.J.): Hello.
>> Kirby Farris: Hey, C.J.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hi. You’re on live. Go ahead.
>> Caller (C.J.): My question is, I have a little girl by a young lady and she has refused me visitation even though I pay child support. What can I do about that?
>> Kirby Farris: I didn’t hear it.
>> Tiffany Bittner: He has a child and the mother of the child is refusing him visitation. So he is trying to see how he can go about seeing the child.
>> Deampher Pharris: That is a great question and I get that question a lot. In that situation if there is a court order that is from the family court or from divorce court, if you were ever married to this young lady, then what you would need to do is petition the court. That is hold the mother of the child in contempt for not following the court order and allowing you visitation with your child.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Let’s see if we can squeeze in Tina in Blountsville tonight. Hey Tina, go ahead.
>> Caller (Tina): I’m trying to get visitation or I am supposed to have visitation with my kids. I’m not getting visitation and one of the courts doesn’t belong to the – my husband that I am divorced from. It belongs to my deceased husband.
>> Tiffany Bittner: She was cutting in and out. I couldn’t hear some of it.
>> Deampher Pharris: I did not hear it.
>> Kirby Farris: We have just a few seconds left, but I think that is basically the same question. She would have to go to the court and petition for custody.
>> Deampher Pharris: In that situation, yes.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Thank you guys for calling. We appreciate it. We hope to see you here next Sunday night for another edition of “LawCall” at 10:30. Have a great week.