Law and Daily Life - FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Law & Daily Life - The FindLaw Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog


Unless a grandparent has secured a court order granting them visitation, a parent is under no legal obligation to allow a grandparent to see their grandchild. In fact, barring a court order, a parent has the constitutional right to say no. If a court order has been granted, a parent will need to file a petition with the family court to modify or revoke a grandparent visitation order to stop the visitation. This matter can be more complicated if separated parents have differing views regarding whether the other's grandparents should be allowed visitation.

Every grandparent visitation case will depend on the specific facts and state law. In many states, grandparent visitation is only permitted if parents divorce, or one or both parents die. However, in most states, courts will consider grandparent visitation even if both parents are alive, married, and generally good parents. Like all family court matters involving children, a judge is going to make a determination of what is in the best interest of the child.

Unfortunately, on occasion, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) just gets it wrong. Sometimes they deport US citizens and others that shouldn't be deported. This tends to occur as a result of overburdened immigration court judges and court staff, in combination with ICE's documentation failures, and the lack of attorney representation for defendants.

Fortunately, when an individual is wrongfully deported, they can eventually be readmitted, though it usually takes some work, even for citizens, to prove the deportation was wrongful. Additionally, a person who has been wrongfully deported may have a civil rights claim against the government as a result of the deportation.

Divorce may be hailed as a blessing by some, and a curse by others, but all will agree that divorces are costly. For couples that accumulated significant assets, and/or were high wage earners, divorces can be even costlier. Frequently, however, if one or both of the soon-to-be former spouses had significant assets going into a marriage, there will be a prenuptial agreement that explains who gets what in the event of a divorce.

For couples that built up fortunes together, dividing the assets can often be contentious and confusing. Below you’ll find three legal tips to help individuals going through high asset divorces.

Last week, Congress cleared the way for states to start drug testing people applying for unemployment benefits. A new measure, expected to be enacted by President Trump, would repeal Obama administration guidance from the Department of Labor which limited the kinds of unemployment benefits for which states could drug test applicants.

So what was the old rule? And how will the new rules work?

Thanks to the advances in technology, it’s easy for a noncustodial parent and a child to keep in touch. With these technological advances, courts have begun awarding virtual visitation, particularly when parents live too far apart to make regular visitation practical. However, sometimes, a parent may not want their child’s other parent contacting the child at all. Courts are generally very reluctant to put such an order in place barring abuse, neglect, or some other extenuating circumstance.

Unless a court order authorizes such action, one parent can’t block another parent with custodial rights from contacting their own child. Otherwise, the blocked parent will have legal recourse through the family courts. Courts are typically agreeable to creating phone schedules or policies when there are disputes about excessive phone, video call, or text message contact that a noncustodial parent is making, or if one parent has been denied access.

Child custody cases are among the most sensitive legal issues that courts must handle. While most frequently child custody matters involve a set of separated parents arguing over who should have physical or legal custody, sometimes individuals other than the parents are involved. However, unless there are extenuating circumstances rendering a child’s parent(s) unable to maintain custody, non-parents will rarely be awarded any level of custody over parents (grandparents may be an exception in some states).

Generally, when handling child custody matters, courts are tasked with deciding what is in the best interest of a child who may be caught in the middle of a divorce, or separated parents, or dealing with having their parent(s) incarcerated, hospitalized, or worse, die. Frequently, rather than allow a child to be placed into a state’s foster care system, relatives or close friends can petition to be awarded temporary custody, as well as permanent custody.

Recently, reports have been popping up that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have been making arrests inside state courthouses in California, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas. Although ICE claims that courthouse arrests are a last resort, the increased frequency with which they have been made recently belies this position. While there are rather compelling public policy reasons why this shouldn't be happening, it is, and state court judges unfortunately cannot do much about it.

While judges have more control over what happens inside their actual courtroom, the courthouse, meaning the lobby, hallways, cafeteria, entryway, and other public parts of a courthouse, are fair game for ICE officers to make arrests. In response to the increased efforts, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, the honorable Tani Cantil-Sakauye, sent a letter to the recently appointed US Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting that ICE not use the state's courthouses as bait to enforce immigration laws, as it impacts public safety and the administration of justice. As of yet, there has been no official response from the AG.

A new law passed in South Dakota last week has been drawing quite a bit of controversy among civil rights groups. Under the guise of protecting civil rights, the law actually protects private, religious adoption agencies from liability for discrimination if they refuse to adopt to LGBT individuals and couples, or potentially even parents that don't share the agency's, or even each other's, beliefs.

The subject of whether or not private religious organizations should be permitted to discriminate based upon genuinely held beliefs is a hot button topic as the religious organizations assert that denying them the right to discriminate is in itself discrimination. While this conundrum can tease even the most analytical brains, there's more to the controversy over this new South Dakota law.

A new chatbot, a computer programmed to mimic conversation with users, is hoping to help refugees by providing free legal assistance. No, the chatbot is not a walking, talking, humanoid-type lawyer-robot, it is simply a program that runs through Facebook Messenger.

The chatbot's creator, who's still too young to legally drink in the United States, saw significant success with the initial rollout of his chatbot, named Donotpay, which has provided free legal help to users in London and New York City to fight their parking tickets. Surprisingly, the chatbot's record of winning parking tickets is 64 percent -- a whopping 160,000 out of 250,000 cases were won! Riding the tide of that success, the young creator spent the last six months working on building immigration law help for refugees seeking asylum into the chatbot.

When the White House issued a revised executive order on immigration from Muslim-majority countries, we wondered whether President Trump's new travel ban would suffer the same fate as his old one, which was blocked by a unanimous federal appeals court. Now we have our answer, mere hours before the ban was set to go into effect.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the travel ban and pulled no punches in his opinion, saying, "Any reasonable, objective observer would conclude ... that the stated secular purpose of the Executive Order is, at the very least, 'secondary to a religious objective' of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims."