Address: 500 Court Square, Ste. 300 Charlottesville, VA 22902 View Map
Phone: 434-951-7200
Email: pmay@michiehamlett.com
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About Us

MichieHamlett has been helping clients for over 65 years.  The firm focuses on family, wills and trusts, real estate, business, and personal injury law.  The attorneys are experienced, approachable, and responsive.   Visit  www.michiehamlett.com to learn more.

 

 

 

MichieHamlett FAQ

Q: Do I need to hire an attorney if I want to get a divorce?
A:
Yes

Q: What does custody mean?
A:
There are two definitions for custody – legal and physical. Most courts award joint legal custody, which means the parents engage in joint decision making regarding important matters involving their children. Physical custody addresses where the child will be spending each day with either parent.

Q: What is sole custody?
A:
Sole custody is frequently awarded. If awarded, it may allow one parent to have sole decision-making authority. In the context of physical custody, it is very rarely seen except in cases involving the termination of parental rights. Generally speaking, all parents will have some kind of physical custody (visitation) schedule.

Q: How much can I expect to be paid in child support?
A:
It depends on each parent’s gross monthly income. Other factors taken into consideration include the cost of health insurance for the children, the cost of day care, and the number of overnights the child spends with each parent. The state of Virginia has statutory guidelines that dictate the amount of child support after all these factors are considered.

Q: How much can I expect to be paid in spousal support?
A:
The award of spousal support (alimony) at the time of the divorce remains discretionary. The judge will consider the requesting spouse’s needs as compared to the ability of the other spouse to pay the support.

Family Safety Questions

What are the latest guidelines for children and car seats?

All children under age 13 are advised to ride in the back seat.  Children from 40 to 80 pounds and up to 100 pounds need to use a booster seat correctly in the back seat on each car ride. Toddlers older than age 1 and weighing more than 20 pounds can use a forward-facing car seat, again in the back seat, every time the toddler rides in the car.  Infants from birth to at least age 1 and 20 lbs. need to use a rear-facing car seat properly placed in the back seat of the vehicle each time a baby rides.  Since your baby is weighed every time you visit your pediatrician or family doctor, keeping track of your baby’s weight will help you select and use the right car seat for your baby’s height and weight.

 A child is too big for a booster seat when their shoulders are above the top slots, the tops of the ears are above the back of the seat or the weight limit is exceeded. Then you will need to graduate the child to a taller car seat or booster seat.  Many children will outgrow the harness of a forward-facing car seat at age 4 or 5.

How should an infant lie for sleeping?

In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending that all healthy infants be placed on their backs to sleep for naps or at night.  Surveys have confirmed that the practice does help protect infants during sleep. 


Is breast milk or formula better for your baby?

More than two decades of research have established that breast milk is perfectly suited to nourish infants and protect them from illness. Breast-fed infants have lower rates of hospital admissions, ear infections, diarrhea, rashes, allergies, and other medical problems than bottle-fed babies.  Human milk meets the nutrient needs of infants.

Health experts say increased breast-feeding rates would save consumers money, spent both on infant formula and in health-care dollars. It could save lives as well.

Although breast-feeding is still the best nourishment for infants, infant formula is a close enough second that babies not only survive but thrive.

 
Helmet Safety

Wearing a helmet can save your life or prevent serious injury.   

When should you wear a helmet?

  • Riding a bicycle
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Ice Skating
  • Contact sports
  • Skateboarding
  • Horseback riding
  • Riding ATVs
  • Mountain biking
  • Riding Motorcycles

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What kind of helmet should parents buy?

Be sure buy a helmet that is designed for the specific sport – don’t wear a bicycle helmet to go horseback riding.  Be sure to buy a new helmet, not a used helmet.

Remember - Wearing a helmet can save a life or prevent serious injury.  Be sure the helmet meets the requirements of the American National Standards Institute,

www. ansi.org. Perhaps most importantly, be sure that the helmet is properly fitted to the child, including fastening it when worn.

 

Kids and Cars Safety Tips

Summer will soon be over and drivers need to take extra caution.  What should they do?

  • Stop for school buses that are loading and unloading students.
  • Obey all school zone speed limits and crossing guards.
  • Watch for school buses stopping at railroad tracks.
  • Be on the lookout for children darting out into the street.
  • Check your rearview mirror and look for children prior to backing out of your driveway.
  • If you're driving children to school - or anywhere - make sure that everyone buckles up. It saves lives.

What else can parents do to keep their kids safe?

Parents can teach their children to be safe by following these tips:

  • Walk on sidewalks where available
  • Look both ways
  • Walk against the flow of traffic
  • Cross at the intersection or where crossing guards are stationed
  • Children under the age of 10 should be supervised while crossing roadways

 

As soon as school starts, there will be lots of school buses on the road.  What can drivers do to remain safe around school buses?

Motorists should learn bus safety lights:

  • Yellow indicates the bus is preparing to stop
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arm indicate that the bus has stopped.  Children are loading or unloading at this time.  Motorists must stop at least 20 feet behind the rear of the bus.  Vehicles must stay stopped until the lights are off and the stop arm is retracted.

Slow down and watch for children at intersections and in neighborhoods

Obey school zone speed limits and all traffic signals


What else can you tell us about kids and car safety?

  • Always have a system in place so you don’t leave a child in a car in hot weather – such as put your briefcase or purse in the back seat so you have to look in the back to get it
  • Know where your vehicle’s blind spots are – in front, behind, and on the sides – be sure to look everywhere before backing up
  • Don’t ever leave a child in a running car, even for a “second”

Electrical Fire Safety

Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 310 Americans each year, and injure 1,100 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures, but many more are caused by incorrectly installed wiring and overloaded circuits and extension cords.

There are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from electrical fires.

What are the most dangerous months for electrical fires?

December and January are the most dangerous months for electrical fires.  Fire deaths are highest in winter months, which call for more indoor activities and increases in lighting, heating and appliance use.  The bedroom is the leading area of fire origin for residential building electrical fires.  However, electrical fires that begin in the living room, family room or den areas result in the most deaths.

What causes these electrical fires?

  • Most electrical distribution fires result from problems with "fixed wiring" such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring.  Problems with cords (such as extension and appliance cords), plugs, receptacles and switches also cause many home electrical fires.
  • Light fixtures and lamps/light bulbs are also leading causes of electrical fires.
  • Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electrical cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.

What can moms do to keep their homes safe?

 

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
  • Frayed wires can cause fires.  Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Buy electrical products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
  • Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet.  Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Use safety closures to "child-proof" electrical outlets.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely; never overload extension cords or wall sockets.
  • Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.

Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire.  And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.


What about fireplaces in homes?  What can be done to ensure safety?

More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes.  Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels.

Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year.  Often, these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes.  All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.

Keep Fireplaces and Wood Stoves Clean

  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations and flammable materials.
  • Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.  This ensures that the fire receives enough air to allow complete combustion and keeps creosote from building up in the chimney.
  • Close glass doors when the fire is out to keep air from the chimney opening from getting into the room.  Most glass fireplace doors have a metal mesh screen which should be closed when the glass doors are open.  This mesh screen helps keep embers from getting out of the fireplace area.
  • Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces that do not have glass doors.
  • Install stovepipe thermometers to help monitor flue temperatures.
  • Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces.  Otherwise, you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
  • Use fire resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.

What materials are safe to burn in my fireplace?

  • Never Use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Use only seasoned hardwood.  Soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup.
  • Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, trash or debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
  • When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended.  Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Soak hot ashes in water and place them in a metal container outside your home.

Protect the Outside of Your Home

  • Stack firewood outdoors at least 30 feet away from your home.
  • Keep the roof clear of leaves, pine needles and other debris.
  • Cover the chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester.
  • Remove branches hanging above the chimney, flues or vents.

Protect the Inside of Your Home

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Consider installing the new long life smoke alarms.
  • Provide proper venting systems for all heating equipment.
  • Extend all vent pipes at least three feet above the roof.


Are there other safety tips to add?

  • Keep burning fireplaces covered with a screen.
  • Never leave candles burning when you are not in the room.
  • Keep electrical cords for Christmas trees well out of the reach of children.

ATV Safety

I know lots of young people like to ride ATVs.  What kind of ATV safety tips can you give us?

ATVs

  1. Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, goggles, long sleeves, long pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
  2. Never ride on paved roads except to cross when done safely and permitted by law - another vehicle could hit you. ATVs are designed to be operated off-highway.
  3. Never ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  4. Never carry a passenger on a single-rider ATV, and no more than one passenger on an ATV specifically designed for two people.
  5. Ride an ATV that's right for your age.
  6. Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys.
  7. Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
  8. Take a hands-on ATV RiderCourseSM and the free online E-Course. Visit ATVsafety.org or call 800.887.2887.

 

What should Motocross or Dirt Bike riders wear?

A helmet is what protects your most valuable asset, so be sure to get a quality helmet that fits properly and wear it with it properly secured every time you ride.

Goggles

Neck brace – having a quality neck brace is something that is just about as important as a helmet

Chest/Back Protector- these can help dissipate the energy generated in a crash and help protect internal organs and other body parts from impact damage

Drinking system – a hydration system is a must if riding off-road, as a drinking system can carry fluids that are easily consumable when riding and critical for survival

Can you share some tips on safety and dirt bikes? 

Some dirt bike safety tips that will keep you relatively safe:

One of the number one dirt bike safety tips that is also the easiest to remember is to never ride alone, especially if you are riding off-road type of disciplines.  Additionally, don’t ride “over your head.” And “dress for the crash, not the ride.”