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Debra Joan Cheatham Reece
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Debra Reece’s Answers

574 total


  • Is there anyway I can get a divorce even though I don't have any money?

    I need a divorce badly and my current husband is the only one with a job so I don't have any money and if I try to leave him there will be a fight I need out but I'm scared he will try to take my daughters.

    Debra’s Answer

    You make no mention of abuse or violence -- just that you need a divorce badly and you think he will fight you and try to take your daughters. If there is abuse or violence, then as the other attorneys have said, you can talk to legal aid or the local women's shelter, who would help you. If, however, you just don't want to be married to him anymore, the fact that you don't have money does not mean that legal aid will help you. First, in Arkansas, we are a "fault" state and you have to have grounds for divorce (unlike most states, where "irreconcilable differences" is enough, and divorce is "no fault"). If you are being abused, then you have grounds. There are several other grounds as well.

    You should talk to an attorney. If there is violence, call a shelter and get you and your children out. If there is not violence, save enough grocery money to spend a half-hour consultation with a family-law attorney to find out what your rights and obligations would be.

    Much luck in your situation.

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  • Preparing to move dad (6mo.)to assisted living. Need Medicaid and sell his house. How should we handle proceeds and protect him?

    MY DAD IS 78 YRS OLD AND LIVES ALONE. MY SISTER AND HER SPOUSE HAVE POWER OF ATTY OVER HIS $. WE ALL WANT TO MOVE HIM TO AN ASSISTED LIVING PLACE AND SIGN HIM UP FOR MEDICAID. WE WOULD HAVE TO SELL HIS HOUSE AND A VERY SMALL BUSINESS IN ORDER FOR...

    Debra’s Answer

    We are not allowed to solicit business for ourselves here on AVVO, but we are allowed to refer people to other attorneys who are good. May I recommend Raymon Harvey in Little Rock? He is an excellent elder care attorney. A good friend and colleague in similar circumstances as yours needed good advice and I recommended Mr. Harvey. He and his mother were extremely pleased. Mr. Harvey helped them figure out how to handle everything, and he was very kind while doing so. There may be no way to save his home, but Mr. Harvey can give you good advice.

    Best wishes for you during this very difficult time.

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  • Can I get joint custody?

    I have a soon to be 2 year old little girl. I'm in the military and will be stationed in Texas for 3 years. I asked for a week each month for her to be at my home and the mother refuses. She told me I can have her every other weekend and that she ...

    Debra’s Answer

    Both the other attorneys gave you excellent answers. I just wanted to add that you do not make clear whether there has been a previous custody decision by a court, or if you and the mother have yet to go to court. If there was already a custody decision and the mother received sole custody or is the primary physical custodian, then the only way to change that is for you to show a material change in the child's circumstances (not YOUR circumstances), and you are not likely to prevail on that. Additionally, judges will rarely award joint custody if the parents do not live in the same city, because the child needs stability rather than being bounced back and forth, especially between two states. Not to mention that joint custody would be completely unworkable when the child is old enough to attend a Pre-K or Kindergarten program. The legislature recently changed the law to favor joint custody, but that is really in cases where the parents are willing to work together, and that does not sound like your situation.

    If there has never been a previous custody decision, you need to file paperwork with the court. As others said, contact a good family-law attorney in the jurisdiction where the child lives. It's always good to have an attorney who knows the judge and gets along with him/her, and regular practices in their court, especially in family law cases, where the decisions of the judges are very discretionary. Remember that the court will always look at the "Best interests of the child" in making custody/visitation decisions (if custody has not previously been decided). So you will have to be able to show the judge why it is in the child's best interests for her to be with you.

    Good luck.

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  • How do you get someone out of the house you just bought?

    I just purchased a house from my boyfriend's mother and step-dad. The house is legally in my name and the final paperwork was processed August 6, 2015. We made a verbal agreement that they would be out by August 24 and they are no where near leavi...

    Debra’s Answer

    As Mr. Spears said, it will involve filing a lawsuit. You should contact a real estate attorney who can assist you in filing the complaint. Once they are served with the summons, they will hopefully take it seriously and get out.

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  • Can I sue the church I am a member of for not allowing me to preach because of my sex offender status. Not employed there

    I just recently became a preacher 8 months ago. I wasrecently told aafter delivering multiple sermons that I was not longer allowed to preach there because of my criminal record as a sex offender. I have not committed any crimes since I got saved ...

    Debra’s Answer

    I assume you are asking if you can be successful in a discrimination suit, rather than whether you can sue. The answer is no. In order to win a discrimination suit, you have to be a member of a protected class. Sex offenders are in no way a protected class. So you wouldn't be able to sue anyone on the basis of your sex offender status. But particularly, as pointed out by another attorney, you will not be successful suing a church. Whom the church allows to preach is all wrapped up in their basic tenets of faith, and that concerns the "freedom of religion" part of the constitution. No preacher can force a church to allow them to preach. If you were employed there, they wouldn't have to let you preach. In fact, even if you were employed there, they could fire you based on your sex offender status, and you would have no constitutional claim against them (again, because sex offenders are not members of a protected class, like race or gender).

    I'm sorry. I know that's not the answer you were looking for. Congratulations on your salvation and your calling to preach. I hope you will be able to find a venue in which you can share your faith and your conversion.

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  • What steps do u take in exposing co sheriff, prosecutor and judge, believed to be obtaining search warrants w\o probable cause?

    When the local sheriff dept suspects drug activity at a particular residence, seems all they need is one statement from someone and it doesn't matter if they are a drug felon who is trying to get out of their charges and not credible, they put in ...

    Debra’s Answer

    There is a built in "step" to "expose" warrants that are not issued with probable cause. It's called a suppression hearing. However, just because you personally believe the informant is unreliable, that doesn't make him unreliable under the law. Unfortunately, judges often rubber-stamp prosecutors' and cops' requests for search warrants. That's just how it is, and whether the supporting affidavit was reliable is an issue for a suppression hearing.

    As for the fee and the plea offer, a fee of $3500 for a felony drug or paraphernalia case is an excellent fee (I know several good attorneys who wouldn't touch that case for under $10,000), and the defense attorney is not responsible for the offer the prosecutor makes. Prosecutors don't even have to make offers. If you don't want to take the deal, you go to trial. Those are your choices. You have a right to a trial. You don't have a right to a deal.

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  • How do I collect retirement from an ex employer

    I left an employer in January and I have been unable to get him to issue my retirement check. It is a fund he contributed to on our behalf

    Debra’s Answer

    As stated, you should consult with an experienced employment-law attorney and take all your paperwork with you. If your retirement is not vested, you may not be entitled to anything. Even if it is, if you are not retirement age, you may not be entitled to anything until and unless you reach a certain age. Without knowing the exact terms of your retirement benefit, there is no way to advise you.

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  • Do I need a criminal attorney?

    Got a criminal summons for "shoplifting" $.39 worth of candy that I stuck in my pocket (because I kept dropping them) while picking up several other items at convenience store and forgot to pay for them. Offered to go pay when officer investigated...

    Debra’s Answer

    You should understand that a lawyer's time is worth the same hourly rate whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. As others have said, $1500 is a small price to pay if a lawyer can help keep this off your record. Many companies will not hire you with a theft of property conviction, regardless of the circumstances. So bite the bullet and hire counsel. Do not just pay the fine without at least trying to let a lawyer negotiate a deal for you.

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  • Can I move out of my house at 16?

    My home life is quit terrible and I've wanted to move out since I was 11 or 12. There is verbal and drug abuse at my house and I want to get out of there without being put in foster care. I have a job and I have a place to stay already. I just wan...

    Debra’s Answer

    No, you cannot move out. If your parents are willing to sign guardianship papers, that would be one thing. Or these people you speak of could file a petition for guardianship. But if you move in there without a court order and without your parents' permission, they could be charged with custodial interference.

    There are ways to do this legally if you can get your parents on board. Talk with a family law attorney in your area. Many of them will do a free consultation to find out your options.

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  • My 19 year old son is been envisaged for having sex with a 14 year old girl who told us she was 17

    he hasn't been charged yet and they wont tells us why this has been brought up now its been 6 months since they dated what do I need to do now

    Debra’s Answer

    They can bring it up any time. The age of consent in Arkansas is 16. Sexual contact with someone younger than that by someone more than three years older is a crime and there is no statute of limitations on sex crimes in Arkansas any more. As Mr. Dowden said, do not talk and tell your son not to talk. If the police want him to come in for a "friendly chat to tell his side," he should decline. If he is charged, hire a criminal defense attorney immediately with experience in sex crimes.

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