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Old DWI may come back to haunt you

Richard M.  Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center

Richard M. Alderman
Interim Dean of the Law Center

Q. I applied for a job and was turned down because of an almost 20 year old DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction. Is this legal? How long can the DWI count against me?
A. The DWI probably will always show up if someone conducts a background check. It does not disappear after some period of time. Assuming you have not had similar problems since the conviction, most employers will not pay much attention to a 20-year-old DWI. There is no law, however, preventing them from choosing not to hire you because of a very old DWI. All I can suggest is that you speak with the employer and fully explain your situation.
Q. I have not been able to pay my car note. The debt has been turned over to a collection agency. The collection agency is now threatening to sue me for the full amount I owe. I told them to come and get the car, but they refused. Do they have to take the car back when I don’t pay?
A. A lender is not required to repossess a car if you do not pay. The lender or collection agency usually has the “right” to repossess, but no obligation to take the car, even if you offer to return it. For example, if the cost of repossession is greater than the value of the car, the lender usually will not take the car. As a general rule, the creditor will repossess a car only when repossession will have some economic benefit.
I also should point out that even if the collector took your car car, you still might owe money. After the car is repossessed, it will be sold and the proceeds will be applied to the amount of your debt. If the car is not sold for enough to cover the debt, you still owe the balance. It may be that you should be glad they do not take your car.
Q. I have five brothers and sisters. Some of us are on better terms with our father than others. Our mother passed away last year and left everything to our father. I have been told that if my dad dies, the law requires my father’s estate be divided equally between all the children. Is this true?
A. If your father dies without a will, his estate will be divided equally between all of his children. With a will, however, your father has the right to dispose of his property any way he wants. For example, he can leave all of his property to his children in unequal shares, or can leave some of the children all the property and others none. In fact, the law does not require he leave any of his property to his children. The bottom line is that under Texas law, a person has the right to leave property to whomever he or she wants. The important thing is to have a will clearly spelling out how you want your property distributed after your death.
Q. How is child support computed? Does the court look at things like overtime pay, and “extra” income? My soon to be ex says that only regular income is included.
A. Child support is computed from all “net resources.” This basically includes any income received from any source. It includes overtime pay, and any other income from any source, including things like rent, interest, dividends and even gifts and prizes. The amount is reduced, however, by any taxes or social security that is paid.
Once the court determines the amount of net resources, state guidelines recommend the amount to be paid for child support. For one child, the amount is 20%, and 5% is added for each additional child.

Do you want to know more about your legal rights? Check out my website, www.peopleslawyer.net

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