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

March 2014 Archives

Is It Legal to Crop a Dog's Ears?

For many pet owners, "cropping" or surgically snipping a dog's ears can be a big decision.

Opponents of the practice argue that it's unnecessary and inhumane, but is cropping a dog's ears illegal?

Filing Taxes Late: What Are the Penalties?

Just like not being tardy for the party, taxpayers shouldn't be filing their taxes late because latecomers are subject to penalties.

These penalties are monetary and fall under either the "failure to file" or "failure to pay" category, or both, the IRS says.

Here's what you need to know about late filing and payment penalties:

Top 5 Legal Tips for Your Bachelorette Party

Many a bride-to-be, celebrating her final days as a single lady, want to let loose at a bachelorette party. Whether it's a low-key dinner with friends, a pub crawl, or something a bit more -- how shall we put it? -- memorable, you want everyone to be having a good time.

But before you head out to drink colorful shooters out of test tubes with your bridesmaids, make a vow to remember these five legal tips:

Texas Abortion Law Upheld by Fed. Appeals Court

A federal appellate court has upheld Texas' recently enacted abortion laws, including requirements for abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision overturns a lower court's ruling which found that the Texas law was unconstitutional because it placed an "undue burden" on a woman's right to legally terminate a pregnancy.

What does this ruling mean for women in Texas and nationwide?

9/11 Crash Site Undervalued in Eminent Domain Case

The 9/11 crash site of United Flight 93 is actually worth nearly $1 million more than the federal government paid for it, according to a court ruling in an eminent domain case.

A federal district judge ruled Wednesday that the site of the downed flight near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, originally valued at $610,000, was actually worth more than $1.5 million, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The federal government scooped up the land from its owner in 2009 under eminent domain, with plans to create a national memorial at the site. But both the original owner and the feds disputed how much it was worth.

Facebook Password Lawsuit: School Settles for $70K

A Minnesota school has agreed to fork over $70,000 for demanding a sixth-grader reveal her Facebook password.

Riley Stratton, now 15, painfully remembers when Minnewaska school officials cornered her over a Facebook post and threatened her with suspension, reports the Star Tribune. The confrontation ended with Stratton relinquishing her password, but thanks to the ACLU's intervention, its ultimate end was the school cutting a check.

What were the legal reasons behind the school's Facebook password settlement?

Top 10 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting

A divorce or separation can be tough on kids, but a good co-parenting plan can help you and your children maintain a sense of normalcy.

That's probably one reason why actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, singer Chris Martin, announced they plan to "consciously uncouple and co-parent" as they work through their separation, Reuters reports.

If you're also considering a co-parenting arrangement, here are 10 tips to make it work for everyone:

How to Get an Obamacare Deadline Extension

An Obamacare deadline extension is coming to the rescue of Americans who say they won't be able to enroll in health plans via the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline.

The extension, announced Tuesday, is an attempt to prepare for a last-minute surge of people trying to sign up before the deadline. That sudden spike could leave some people unable to get through the system.

Here's what you need to know about who's eligible for an Obamacare deadline extension and how to claim it:

IRS: Bitcoin Is Property for Tax Purposes

The IRS has news for Bitcoin holders: The virtual currency isn't considered currency for tax purposes -- it's property.

The Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday that since Bitcoins and other virtual currencies have no legal tender status in any jurisdiction, they cannot be classified as "currency," reports Reuters. Instead, the IRS explained that Bitcoins can be treated like taxable property.

With Tax Day looming, how will Bitcoin holders need to report their virtual riches?

Who Qualifies for an H-1B Visa?

If you're interested in filing paperwork for an H-1B visa -- a temporary work permit the U.S. government issues to highly skilled foreign workers -- make sure to submit your paperwork sooner rather than later. The application season begins April 1.

But before all else, you need to get familiar with the process and find out whether you qualify for an H-1B visa.

Here are five basic requirements to apply for an H-1B visa:

Legal How-To: Getting a Tax Filing Extension

For most individuals filing taxes, April 15 is the deadline. However, if you're a procrastinor -- or if you were unable to file your taxes by the deadline for other reasons -- the IRS may give you an extension.

If you're running late, here's how to get a tax filing extension, along with a few words of caution:

What Is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?

What is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? It's at the center of two Obamacare-related U.S. Supreme Court cases scheduled for oral argument Tuesday.

While the First Amendment guarantees persons the free exercise of religion, there are other legal protections for religious rights -- including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has been the subject of recent court cases.

So what exactly is the RFRA?

What Are 'Ag Gag' Laws?

So-called "ag gag" laws have allowed some states to muzzle animal rights activists, barring them from taking pictures or videos at livestock facilities.

But many of these laws are being challenged in court. In the latest challenge, the American Civil Liberties Union is fighting back against Idaho's "ag gag" law, citing illegal constraints on First Amendment rights, Reuters reports.

So what are "ag gag" laws?

Mich. Gay Marriages Begin After Judge's Ruling

Michigan's gay marriage ban was struck down Friday afternoon by a federal judge, who ruled that the prohibition on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Just 15 hours later, same-sex couples in Michigan began tying the knot.

U.S. District Court Judge Bernard A. Friedman ruled that the Michigan Marriage Amendment -- which denied recognition of gay marriages performed in- and out-of-state -- violated the constitutional right to equal protection of the laws, reports The Associated Press.

Though Michigan's attorney general requested an emergency stay, at least three county clerks' offices said they planned to issue marriage licenses to gay couples today; in fact, the state's first same-sex marriage took place just after 8 a.m. in Ingham County, the Detroit Free Press reports.

5 Legal Issues Single Parents Commonly Face

March 21st is National Single Parents' Day, an observance that began over 30 years ago with a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan.

While raising a child isn't easy, dealing with legal issues as a single parent can make your life even more challenging. But even though you can deal with many of legal issues on your own, you don't always have to go it alone.

Here are five legal issues that single parents commonly face, and some resources that can help:

Anita Hill Documentary Opens Today: Where Is She Now?

"Anita," a new documentary directed by Academy Award-winner Freida Mock, traverses the story of Anita Hill.

As you may recall, Anita Hill was a little-known law professor who took the nation by storm in 1991 when she alleged that then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her.

In 2010, with the 20th anniversary of the hearings approaching, she agreed to the documentary, deciding it was time "to revisit this, and for people to understand who I am," according to The New York Times.

5 Legal 'Spring Cleaning' Tips That Can Pay Off

Rejoice! The first day of spring is finally here. Besides tidying up your home or office, you may also want to consider some legal "spring cleaning" tasks as well.

As seasons change and time moves on, so will your legal needs -- especially when it comes to updating your important legal documents.

With that in mind, here are five legal spring cleaning tips that can potentially pay off:

What to Do If Ex-Spouse Won't Pay Support?

If your ex-spouse won't pay child or spousal support, what can you do?

There are many reasons people fall behind on support payments. It's possible that the paying spouse is financially unable to make the payments because he or she lost a job or experienced a reduction in income due to illness or injury. It's also possible the paying spouse simply doesn't want to make the payments, perhaps out of spite.

Either way, the ultimate question is the same: If an ex-spouse won't (or can't) pay spousal or child support, what are your options? While each case is unique, here are three possible courses of action to consider:

Legal How-To: Getting Married in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a popular wedding destination. But despite pop culture depicting Sin City as the place to go for quickie marriages, there are still a few legal requirements that must be met before your Vegas wedding dream becomes a reality.

Here’s a general legal overview of how to get married in Las Vegas:

Are Workers Entitled to Paid Sick Time Off?

Workers everywhere scramble to remember their sick time off policies whenever they catch a cold, but many are not entitled to paid sick leave.

Unless you live in specific states or cities with mandatory paid sick leave laws, there are no laws that require your private employer to pay for your time at home with the flu.

Why is that?

Reminder: Obamacare Deadline Is March 31

The deadline to avoid Obamacare penalties by enrolling in a health plan is March 31, and it is fast approaching.

Despite early issues with the HealthCare.gov website, the federal government expects most citizens to be signed up with some form of minimum Obamacare-compliant health coverage or face a tax penalty for 2014. The Washington Post reports that many states are asking the federal government for an extension of that deadline.

What should you do to meet the Obamacare deadline?

How Does a Lawsuit Become a Class Action?

From claims of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs to allegations of falsely advertised products, we often hear about class action lawsuits in the news.

A class action lawsuit is one that is brought against a defendant by one individual, or a few individuals, on behalf of a larger class of people who suffered the same or similar injuries from the defendant's product or action.

But before a lawsuit becomes a class action, there are legal procedures that must be followed. Here is a general overview:

Top 10 Legal Tips for Spring Breakers

Spring Break is almost upon us, and for some it may have already sprung. Whether it's fun in the sun, partying on the slopes, or just a much needed spring cleaning, everyone could use a little spring time off.

But while you're maxin' and/or relaxin' on your Spring Break, don't forget these 10 legal tips:

For Good Samaritan Day, 5 Legal Tips for Do-Gooders

Today marks Good Samaritan Day, a day that celebrates compassion and kindness. But before you pay it forward, make sure you're in the legal clear.

As odd as it may sound, there are certain situations in which lending a helping hand can potentially land you in legal trouble.

Here are five legal tips all do-gooders should keep in mind:

Does Your Divorce Settlement Cover College Tuition?

College tuition may comprise a large chunk of your divorce settlement, but it shouldn't be unexpected.

It was a bit of a surprise for one New Jersey father who was ordered to pay half of his daughter's Cornell Law School tuition -- a whopping $112,500.

What settlement language should divorcing spouses focus on when considering future tuition obligations?

Legal How-To: Becoming a Guardian

Legal guardians can be appointed to take care of children and incapacitated adults. So how does one become a legal guardian?

Becoming a legal guardian requires a court order. Once the guardianship relationship is established, the guardian will be legally responsible for the care and supervision of minors or adults who are unable to care for themselves.

Here are the basic steps toward becoming a guardian:

Supreme Ct. Lets 'I Heart Boobies' Ruling Stand

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the student free-speech case about a school's ban on "I Heart Boobies" cancer awareness bracelets, Reuters reports.

That means the August 2013 decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with the students who wanted to don the bracelets, remains intact.

It's a major victory for the students in the Easton Area School District in Pennsylvania.

Getty Makes 35M Images Free for Bloggers' Use

Getty Images is now allowing bloggers to use 35 million of its images for free as long as they're used for non-commercial purposes.

Despite Getty placing a watermark on all its online images, Getty executives are aware that people have been copying and pasting copyrighted pictures without permission. So they've created a new system that allows select Getty images to be embedded on websites, with the proper attributions prominently displayed, Forbes reports.

What do bloggers need to know about using Getty's free images?

Spring Break in Mexico: 5 Legal Tips to Know

According to the U.S. State Department, 100,000 American teenagers and young adults travel to Mexico for Spring Break every year.

While the vast majority of them enjoy their Mexico vacations without a hitch, the State Department cautions that "several may die, hundreds will be arrested, and still more will make mistakes that could affect them for the rest of their lives," Examiner.com reports.

Here are five legal tips for spring breakers in Mexico:

Daylight Saving: Time for It to End?

Is it time for Daylight Saving Time to end? That's the feeling of many of DST's opponents who are pushing for state laws that seek to sunset the decades-long practice.

Here are some considerations for those wondering about the end of Daylight Saving Time:

5 Legal Issues for Women: Where to Turn for Help

To commemorate International Women's Day, let's discuss the myriad legal issues women face and the resources that are available at their fingertips.

Despite significant gains in gender equality over the past century, women are still victims of harassment, assault, and discrimination in the workplace and at home.

Here are five legal issues women grapple with and where they can turn for help:

Mass. 'Upskirt Photo' Ban Signed Into Law

A Massachusetts "upskirting" photo ban has been signed into law.

Lawmakers passed the bill Thursday, in response to a ruling by the state's highest court that said a law aimed at criminalizing voyeurism did not apply to the taking of secret photos up a woman's skirt, CNN reports.

Why did the court rule in favor of the upskirt photographer, and how will the new law address the issue?

Facebook Posts New Rules for Gun Sales

Facebook is cracking down on posts for illegal gun sales, and other social media outlets may soon follow suit.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it would step up its enforcement efforts regarding gun sales on its social network -- especially when the seller is trying to evade the law.

What are Facebook's new rules for gun sales?

5 Common Legal Problems With Subleasing

Subleasing might be a good option if you need to move before your lease is up, but a few legal problems can potentially arise.

Subleasing, or subletting, allows the current tenant to lease the property to another person, rather than having the subtenant lease directly with the landlord.

But as the original tenant, you need to be careful. Here are five legal problems that commonly occur in subleasing situations:

Is It Legal to Sign a Contract With a Minor?

Adults who enter into contracts with minors may be wondering if it's legal to do so.

In general, minors don't have the legal capacity to enter into a contract unless a court approves the contract or a state's statute allows it.

So when are contracts between minors and adults enforceable in court?

Legal How-To: Stopping Telemarketers

Do you know how to stop telemarketers from calling you? Adding your name to the National Do Not Call Registry is a simple and reasonably effective way to stop (or at the very least, significantly reduce) those pesky telemarketer phone calls.

There are also a couple of other ways to prevent telemarketer calls.

Here's an overview of how to get on the National Do Not Call registry and other ways to stop telemarketers:

Supreme Court Calendar: 5 Cases to Watch in March

The U.S. Supreme Court's calendar for March includes seven days of oral argument, but there are a few calendared cases that deserve a bit more of your attention.

Here are five appeals that are being closely watched:

What Is Fair Use? Consider These 4 Factors

The legal doctrine of fair use allows you to use copyrighted material for certain purposes without permission from the copyright owner.

Stated otherwise, fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement. If your use of copyrighted material qualifies as fair use, it would not be considered illegal infringement.

To be considered fair use, your copying must be limited and serve a "transformative" purpose.

Why Aren't Cameras Allowed Inside the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court has never allowed its proceedings to be recorded, but a rogue video that surfaced on YouTube this week offered rare, if shaky, moving images of the High Court at work.

The video, posted Wednesday, captures a portion of October's oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC, which dealt with campaign contribution limits. The recording includes the moment when a protester disrupts proceedings, announcing that "corporations are not people."

The protest has been linked to the group 99Rise, which opposes the protections afforded to corporations as the result of Supreme Court cases like Citizens United, reports The New York Times.

But the incident is also brings attention to the question: Why aren't recordings allowed inside the Supreme Court chamber?