Stevens Firm -December 2018

What Matters Most

THE Stevens Firm, P.A. Family Law Center

349 E. Main Street, Suite 200, Spartanburg, SC 29302 • • (864) 598-9172 December 2018

Caitlin – Legal Assistant “One of my favorite Christmas traditions is when Carter, my son, and I serve meals with Mobile Meals to all the families around the area the weekend before Christmas. I believe it truly humbles him and makes him more thankful for what he is going to experience in the days ahead, and I am looking forward to adding Tinsley, my daughter, to our trip this year.” Emily – Receptionist “My favorite thing about the holidays is carrying on the tradition of making my grandma’s famous, super delicious, cranberry-apple bake with my brother on Christmas Eve. It’s a reminder that she’s always with us.” Rebecca – Legal Assistant “My favorite holiday memory is after dinner on Christmas Eve, my whole family — I have 5 siblings — would pile into our van, drive around town looking at lights, and listen to my dad sing Christmas songs at the top of his lungs. Once we returned, we would have hot chocolate and open all the presents from Santa, who visited while we were looking at lights.” Ben – Senior Partner “I enjoy cooking, so preparing a big meal for my family is one of my favorite parts of the holidays.” Jenny – Senior Partner “One of my favorite childhood holiday memories is the times we would go to the 11 p.m. Christmas Eve service at our family’s church in downtown Charleston. It was a beautiful, candlelit service full of traditional Christmas songs and scripture. When it was over at midnight, we’d all walk out holding candles, and it was Christmas morning!” Mackenzie – Attorney “My favorite Christmas tradition is baking cookies and making chocolate-covered pretzels with my family while listening to Christmas music.” Jonathan – Attorney “Christmas traditions that I will always cherish are the Italian traditions passed on by my mother and her family: gifts of oranges, candy coins, and nuts, as well as a big dinner on Christmas Eve.” Grace – File Clerk/Runner “My favorite tradition with my family is a goofy one. We watch the SpongeBob Christmas special together on Christmas Eve. I was obsessed with SpongeBob when I was younger, so naturally, I made us all watch the Christmas special when it came out, and the tradition just stuck.”

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

It’s so hard to believe that 2018 is almost over. December is upon us, and the crisp chill in the air has everyone thinking about the winter holidays. It’s been a busy year for us at The Stevens Firm. We’ve added several new staff members to our team. (Be on the lookout for profiles about them in future issues!) We started this newsletter to keep our clients, friends, family, and other professionals in our community engaged and informed about what’s going on with us and all the latest news affecting families. Here are a few updates as we close out the year. Ben was recently recognized with three awards for all of his hard work in 2017–18 as a Vice President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He’s looking forward to continuing this work as we begin 2019, as well as expanding his international family law practice. Jenny has been busy handling several complex Guardian ad Litem cases in family court and has enjoyed getting to know all of the children involved in those cases. She’s always amazed at the resiliency of children, who almost always find something to be positive and grateful for, no matter their circumstances. She’s also been preparing to expand her practice to include estate planning services for families. Look for more details on this in early 2019! Around our office, our team members decorated for the holidays, and we’re all counting down the days until Santa’s visit. To help you get in the holiday spirit, we’re sharing our favorite things about the holidays with all of you.

What are your favorite holiday traditions and memories? Feel free to connect with us on social media, and share them with us. We’d love to hear from our readers!

–Ben and Jenny Stevens

Reminder About Our Firm’s Communication Policy Our promise to you is that while we are working on your case, we don’t take inbound phone calls, faxes, or emails. Our senior partner, Ben Stevens, takes no unscheduled inbound phone calls, as we have found this makes him much more productive and enables him to focus on getting your case resolved faster. You can always call our office at (864) 598-9172 and schedule an in-person or phone appointment with any of our attorneys, usually within 24–48 hours. We believe this approach is much better than the endless game of phone tag played by most businesses today. Email is also an efficient way to communicate with us, but please be advised that emails are not

typically checked more than twice per day. If you need something quickly, don’t email — call our office and speak with one of our assistants, who will be happy to help you. Disclaimer: This publication is intended to educate the general public about family law issues. It is not intended to be legal advice. Every case is different. The information in this newsletter may be freely copied and distributed so long as the newsletter is copied in its entirety and proper credit is attributed to “The Stevens Firm, P.A. — Family Law Center (”

1 (864) 598-9172

A Member of the Family

Health Coverage for Furry Companions

The close bond that humans form with their pets can be mystifying to those who proclaim they are not “pet people.” A dog given a spot on the bed or a cat given specialty food might seem extravagant to some, but a glance back in

an asset to the health care of that pet and have a significant impact on the bill that results from an emergency visit,” Maixner says. As with human health insurance, pet health insurance

policies vary. A higher deductible usually means paying a lower monthly rate. You can find plans that cover accidents and illnesses, and some plans even cover routine care, like vaccines.

time shows that this close companionship developed long ago. Ancient Egyptians were sometimes mummified with their feline or canine companions, and when given the choice between losing a battle or harming cats, Egyptians chose a loss to their Persian adversaries rather than attacking soldiers who’d strategically strapped felines to their bodies. A special relationship developed between humans and their animals during the process of domestication, and pets earned their proverbial place at the table. For some pet parents, this close bond makes insurance coverage for their fur babies a no-

In an assessment of policies, Consumer Reports found that for a relatively healthy pet, most policies actually cost more than they would ultimately pay out. However, they also found that for a pet that develops a serious illness or condition, many pet insurance policies will indeed pay out more than what they cost.

Talk with your vet to see if there are any conditions your pet is prone to. Consumer Reports also recommends reading all the fine print when looking at plans to make sure you understand what will be covered. For many people, pet insurance offers peace of mind that

brainer. Some employers are even offering it as an employment benefit. When it comes to caring for our

their companion will be protected. As Herb Weisbaum, consumer advisor for NBC News, says, “If you buy pet insurance and don’t use it, consider yourself lucky.”

furry companions, veterinarian Jean Maixner points out that having pet insurance can keep families from having to make a gut-wrenching decision when a pet gets sick or hurt. “If you get the right policy, it can be


What Our Clients Are Saying “I highly recommend Ben Stevens for divorce and family law. He is very professional, knowledgeable, compassionate, and smart. He is a very good listener and was extremely calming for me during my divorce process. He was always available when I needed to meet with him or talk to him on the phone. I have needed him a couple of times after my divorce as well, and he was again very helpful.” – Lauren “Jenny Stevens is an excellent lawyer who treats clients with patience, care, understanding, and utmost professionalism — an even better person, and I wholeheartedly recommend her for future services.” – R. Aggarwal “Jonathan Lounsberry was professional yet personable and put me at ease from our first contact when I found myself involved in divorce proceedings. During times of self-doubt, irrationality, and difficult emotions, he was the steady, objective, rational voice of reason. I always felt my best interests were his concern at all times. We laughed, I cried, and we problem solved together, which was the key component. It was a collaborative effort between both of us.” – Liz


Buttery Roasted Chestnuts Ingredients Whether or not you have an open fire, you can easily roast some chestnuts using this simple, delicious recipe.

• 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste • Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• 2 pounds fresh chestnuts, unpeeled • 2–3 sprigs rosemary • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

The Danger of DIY Divorces


1. Heat oven to 450 F. 2. Place a large sheet of foil on a rimmed baking sheet. 3. On a large, flat workspace, place chestnuts flat side down. Using a sharp knife, carve an X on the rounded side of each chestnut. 4. In a large bowl of hot water, soak chestnuts for 1 minute. 5. Pat dry and transfer to a medium bowl. Add rosemary, butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Toss to coat and transfer to baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer. Gather the edges of the foil together, leaving an opening at the top.

Know When to Seek Help

In our technology-driven society, people have many options when it comes to solving problems. Can’t remember an actor’s name from your favorite Christmas movie? Google it. Can’t pinpoint the missing ingredient in a chocolate chip cookie recipe? Google it. Trying to refurbish the coffee table your mom gave you? You guessed it. In its formative years, the internet was dubbed the “information superhighway” because it contained an inordinate amount of data, but some recent trends have demonstrated that you can’t trust everything you read online. Those of us in the legal field have noticed a shift toward DIY divorces. With legal services being advertised across the internet, many frustrated and often vulnerable couples have opted to use them under the guise of saving money and making the process easier. However, these services tend to cause more harm than help. Here are two of the biggest dangers Unfortunately though, these initial savings can cost you thousands of dollars down the road. You see, the upfront retainer fee pays for your attorney to provide you with the necessary documents required for a divorce in their state, along with a clear and detailed instruction packet. Without this information, filing for divorce is virtually impossible due to the complicated tasks involved with dividing assets. If you hire an attorney, they will likely hire a financial expert to help you in the valuation process. This way, paying more cash upfront will save you money in the end. 2. Varied Custody Issues These services also try to sell clients a child custody and support agreement, which is dangerous because these stock forms don’t allow for variances in a specific case — especially those that involve children. There is no single document that can cover all the unique needs of you and your children. Experienced attorneys will take the time to get to know your case in order to draft an agreement that suits your specific needs. If you have questions about the divorce process or are seeking representation, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (864) 598-9172 to schedule an initial consultation. associated with DIY divorces. 1. Wasted Money These online services are initially inviting since their costs are lower. For example, they don’t require clients to pay an upfront retainer fee.

6. Roast until peels curl up, about 30–45 minutes. 7. Transfer to a platter and serve while hot or warm.

take a break

3 (864) 598-9172

THE Stevens Firm, P.A. Family Law Center


349 E. Main Street, Suite 200 Spartanburg, SC 29302

PAGE 1 Hear About Our Favorite Aspects of the Holidays PAGE 2

A Look at Health Insurance for Pets Testimonials PAGE 3 Buttery Roasted Chestnuts The Dangers of DIY Divorces PAGE 4 What Do My Symptoms Mean?

4 Winter Illnesses You’d Rather Avoid

Know What to Look For Before They Attack

Achoo! That’s the last noise you want to hear this winter. Cold weather brings a slew of sicknesses, so be vigilant to treat these common illnesses, or better yet, avoid them altogether. The Common Cold Although there is no cure, a cold is easier to treat than other illnesses. If you or a loved one has a runny nose, low-grade fever, headache, cough, nasal congestion, or sore throat, the common cold has most likely taken hold. With the help of rest and perhaps some cold medicine, like cough drops and decongestants, the cold will come and go in about a week. Bronchiolitis Bronchiolitis appears most commonly in children less than a year old and is caused by other viruses. Of the many symptoms — nasal congestion, low-grade fevers, and coughing — wheezing is the one you should be most concerned about. If your child is having difficulty breathing and is dehydrated, they may have caught a more serious strain of the virus. Most children will recover with at-home rest, but some may need to be hospitalized for more severe symptoms. Influenza The flu is known for causing high fever, muscle aches and pains, nausea, and other symptoms similar to a cold. Often, the fever will last for around five days, but it can be shortened with the aid of antiviral medications. However, these medications are recommended only for

children who face serious complications or hospitalization from the flu. If you want to avoid catching this, your best bet is to receive the annual flu vaccine. Strep Throat A sore throat, headache, stomach ache, vomiting, and high fever are signs of strep. This infection is treated with antibiotics and should be addressed soon after the first symptoms appear to prevent further complications. Children with strep throat should stay away from school and other activities until they’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours. Everyone knows that getting sick is no fun and is best avoided at all costs. However, it happens to everyone eventually. Catching a virus or infection in its early stages can help you shake the sickness much faster.


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