Know your rights

Q. I received an item in the mail that I did not order. I called the company and they told me I either had to return it at my expense or pay for it if I kept it. It doesn’t seem fair that a company can force me to spend money to return something I don’t want and did not order.

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Q. Am I entitled to a paid leave when I have a child? My employer has told me any leave will be without pay.

A. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you may be entitled to up to 12 weeks leave, depending on the size of the company and how long you have worked there. The law, however, does not require that the leave be with pay. All you may be legally entitled to is an unpaid leave.

 

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Q. I rent a small house. I have made all my payments on time; my lease has one more year until it ends. My landlord told me the house was being foreclosed this month and I will have to move. This doesn’t seem fair. How soon do I have to leave?

A. A foreclosure terminates your relationship with your landlord pursuant to the laws of the state of Texas. This means that your lease is terminated at the time of foreclosure. (The only exception is Section 8 leases, which may remain in force.)

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Q. I was married about 10 years ago. Shortly after we married, my spouse left me. I have not seen or heard from him in almost eight years. Two years ago, I fell in love with a wonderful man who asked me to marry him. I said yes, and we had a simple ceremony. Am I now married to both men? Does my second wedding invalidate my first? I never told my husband that I was married before.

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Q. My stepdad recently died. He was the only father I knew for more than 40 years. He did not have a will. Do I inherit any of his property?

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Q. A credit card company sued me and has a judgment against me. Now it has garnished my bank account, and all the money in the account has been taken. I thought there was no garnishment in Texas?

A. With the exception of obligations for child support and student loans, Texas law prohibits wage garnishment. In other words, a creditor who sues for a credit card debt cannot garnish your wages through your employer. Creditors, however, can garnish a bank checking or savings account.

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Q. I would like to know who owns the apartment complex where I live. The property manager says it is none of my business. How can I get the name and address of the owner?

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With this ring ...

Q. I am separated and in the process of getting a divorce. I have been living with a man as his common law wife for almost two years. Is there anything special I need to do to have our marriage recognized?

A. As I have said many times before, the legal affect of a common law marriage is no different than any other marriage. To have a common law marriage you must agree to be married, live together as married and hold yourself out as married. Once you meet the requirements to establish a common law marriage, you are married. There is no need to do anything else.

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flooded car

Q. My friend is trying to sell his flooded vehicle. The buyer offered around $16,000, which is about the right price if it was not flooded. The event of flooding has yet to make it to AutoCheck, which is why the price is near what it is worth in very good condition. What are the repercussions of selling this vehicle and not saying it was in a flood?

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Richard Alderman

Q. My daughter-in-law received a ticket last year for lack of auto insurance and paid the $250 fine. She thought it was paid in full, but recently she received another bill for $250. When she asked about this bill, she was told that she has to pay the $250 “surcharge” for three years. Is this true? Please explain the lack of insurance fine and its duration.

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