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

May 2014 Archives

8 Cool Legal Tips for Summer Beachgoers

Summer is on, and for many Americans that means heading to the beach. The next few months may dissolve much like a Corona ad, with a cold drink sweating in your hand and the surf gently lapping against the shore.

But don't run out the door with your flip-flops just yet. All beach bums will want to check out these eight great legal tips for staying safe this summer:

Top 5 Legal Tips for Your Bachelor Party

Even if you don't wake up with a tiger in your bathroom, a bachelor party hangover can easily include lingering legal problems if you're not careful.

Whether it's a wild night on the town with your bros or a laid-back gathering in your backyard, here are our top five legal tips for making sure that you don't bring extra baggage into your marriage courtesy of a botched bachelor party:

    Who Has the Highest Minimum Wage?

    Minimum wage has been getting maximum attention.

    According to Reuters, a group of Chicago city officials have proposed raising the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour, joining a laundry list of cities, states, and even the Federal government in taking a fresh look at their respective minimum wages.

    Where can you pull down the highest minimum wage?

    Is It Legal to Brew Your Own Beer?

    Though making moonshine can still get you arrested in many states, as of last year brewing your own beer is legal in all 50 states.

    Alabama and Mississippi were the last two states to lift their prohibition on homebrewed beer, but finally relented after years of lobbying, reports Business Insider.

    But before you set to work on brewing up your own king of beers to rule your home castle, there are a few things to keep in mind.

    5 Ways You Can Get Kicked Off a Plane

    It can be stressful enough getting to the airport on time, making it through security, getting to your gate, and boarding.

    But imagine finally getting aboard your flight only to get kicked off, like "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" star Benzino earlier this week. Ugh.

    Unfortunately, there are all sorts of ways you can get kicked off a commercial airliner. Here are five of the more notable ones we've seen.

    What Can Landlords Do About Medical Marijuana?

    Medical marijuana is gaining legal ground in many states, but do landlords have to accept tenants who are constantly "medicated?"

    Medical marijuana is still illegal under federal law, which may give landlords reason to ban all marijuana use in their properties, even with a prescription.

    So what can landlords do about medical marijuana?

    Can Secret Service Arrest You for Protesting the President?

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that the Secret Service is immune to a lawsuit charging them with unfairly discriminating against anti-presidential protesters. But this case brings up another interesting question: Can the Secret Service arrest you for protesting the President?

    Despite your First Amendment rights, recent cases seem to say yes.

    Legal How-To: Fighting a Restraining Order

    Having to fight a restraining order is no walk in the park, but with the right legal preparation, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

    It can also be infuriating. But you can fight a restraining order without having to lose your cool. Follow these simple legal steps for how to fight a restraining order.

    Facebook Makes Privacy Update: 3 Changes Not to Miss

    Following years of constant criticism for its purported privacy problems, Facebook has made a second group of changes to its privacy settings in less than a month.

    In April, Facebook announced several privacy-related changes to its heavily criticized system of apps. The latest changes to be announced are focused on individual user profiles and are an attempt to combat a widely held view that the company has a habit of sacrificing user privacy for potential profit.

    What are the new changes and how do they affect what you share on Facebook?

    Nat'l Missing Children's Day: Facts, Tips Every Adult Should Know

    Today is National Missing Children's Day, a day that not only celebrates the hope that missing children will return, but also acts as a reminder of the many cases that sadly remain unsolved.

    Being aware of the issue, and knowing what to do if a child goes missing, are two ways you can help.

    Here are some facts and tips about missing children that every adult should know:

    Read Like a Lawyer: 10 Legal (and Non-Legal) Books for Summer

    Summer is a great time to relax by the pool or beach and take in a great book, and we have some lawyer-approved books for you to check out.

    You could sip a margarita and explore the inequities in our criminal justice system, or drown out your screaming kids with a good ole bit o' fiction.

    Prepare to read like a lawyer, and start with one of these 10 books:

    How Did Memorial Day Become a Holiday?

    Memorial Day has been celebrated for more than 100 years now, recognizing the losses felt during our nation's wars.

    But how exactly did Memorial Day become an official federal holiday?

    CPS Investigations: 3 Reasons to Call a Lawyer Right Away

    No parent ever plans on being investigated by Child Protective Services for possible child abuse or neglect.

    But as shown by the recently reported CPS investigation of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, you never know when social workers will come knocking on your door. The CPS probe was reportedly launched after an anonymous tip: Apparently, someone didn't like seeing a photo of 13-year-old Willow Smith in bed with a shirtless 20-year-old actor that was posted on (and quickly removed from) social media.

    If you're the subject of a CPS investigation, do you need to hire a lawyer? Here are three reasons why "lawyering up" may pay off for you:

    Traveling for Memorial Day? 5 Legal Tips for the Road

    Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer season and BBQ season, not to mention the travel season.

    AAA projects that 36 million Americans will trek at least 50 miles away from their homes this Memorial Day weekend, ready to shake off the cold-weather blues of a rough winter. That means there will be 1.5 percent more people on the roads than last year.

    As you prepare for your Memorial Day weekend road trip, don't forget these five legal tips:

    Legal How-To: Taking Your Wife's Last Name

    For husbands, taking your wife’s last name may be non-traditional, but it can also be legally difficult.

    Case in point: a Florida man who was accused of fraud for adopting his wife’s last name, though the state’s DMV later apologized and allowed him to obtain a new driver’s license.

    Could a similar predicament happen to you? Possibly. Here’s what you need to know about taking your wife’s last name:

    Top 5 Legal Tips for Waiters, Waitresses

    You may or may know that today is National Waiters and Waitresses Day.

    Either way, if you're planning on dining out, today might be a good day to throw a couple extra percentage points onto your usual tip (assuming you do tip). To do our part, we've put together a few tips of our own -- legal tips, naturally.

    Don't wait... check out our Top 5 legal tips for waiters and waitresses:

    Pa. Gay Marriage Ban Held Unconstitutional: 5 Things to Know

    Pennsylvania's gay marriage ban has been struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge who wrote that "it is time to discard [same-sex marriage bans] into the ash heap of history."

    Judge John E. Jones III ruled Tuesday in a case filed by gay Pennsylvania couples in July, forcing the state to recognize gay marriage. According to USA Today, this ruling makes Pennsylvania "the last Northeast state to allow same-sex marriages."

    But the debate over legal status of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania may not be over just yet. Here are five things to keep in mind about today's gay marriage ruling:

    What Is a Durable Power of Attorney? (Part II)

    You know what a durable power of attorney is, and the potential advantages of having one if you're ever incapacitated. (If not, check out Part I of our two-part series.)

    So now that you're familiar with some of the basics, what else do you need to know?

    Today we cover the whens and hows: When a durable power attorney starts, when it stops, and how to best go about getting one drafted.

    Oregon's Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down, Effective Immediately

    A federal judge struck down Oregon's gay marriage ban Monday, stating it was unconstitutional.

    U.S. District Judge Michael McShane issued a four-page order striking down Oregon's prohibition on gay marriage, which took effect immediately after it was filed. The Associated Press reports that couples lined up at the Multnomah County Building in Portland in anticipation of the ruling, waiting to officially tie the knot.

    Does this mean gay Oregonians are free to marry?

    What Is a Durable Power of Attorney? (Part I)

    Like its name suggests, a durable power of attorney can be a powerful long-term legal tool for managing your healthcare and finances during an emergency or other unexpected situation.

    But what exactly can a durable power of attorney be used for, and how does it work? Today in Part I, we'll cover the "whats":

    Is It Legal to 'Unlock' Your Cell Phone?

    Unlocking a cell phone can be a big deal when switching between wireless carriers, and many mobile users may be wondering if unlocking is even legal.

    There have been various changes in "unlocking" laws in the last five years, but it's still technically illegal to unlock your phone in many cases. Here's why:

    Brown v. Bd. of Education: 6 Things Every American Should Know

    Today marks the 60th anniversary of a court decision that changed American history: Brown v. Board of Education.

    The landmark decision put an end to the doctrine of "separate but equal" in education and the legal segregation of public schools. It also paved the way for 1964's Civil Rights Act and remains a much-discussed decision, as well as the most popular U.S. Supreme Court case on FindLaw.com.

    So why are we still talking about it, 60 years later? Here are six things every American should know about Brown v. Board of Education:

    The Legal History of Armed Forces Day

    Saturday is Armed Forces Day, which celebrates all branches of America's military in one federally sainted day.

    But it wasn't always that way. Here's a brief legal history of how Armed Forces Day came to be:

    Top 10 Legal Tips for Nat'l Bike to Work Day

    Today is National Bike to Work Day -- a great way to both cut down on your carbon footprint and get some exercise by biking to work.

    However, there are a few laws to keep in mind anytime you hit the road on a bike. Here are our Top 10 legal tips for National Bike to Work Day -- and pretty much any other day of the year:

    5 Things to Know About the FCC's Net Neutrality Vote

    FCC regulators have proposed new net neutrality rules after a vote Thursday, possibly opening the door to an Internet with content-dependent speeds.

    The debate over net neutrality is not new, but the FCC's proposed rules have undergone many recent changes.

    Here are five things you need to know about the FCC's net neutrality vote:

    IRS Case Offers Joint Tax Return Lessons for Divorcing Couples

    Divorcing couples may be a bit in the dark about how to deal with joint tax returns, and a little knowledge can go a long way.

    That certainly was the case with Jason Alan Bruce and his ex-wife: Miscommunication over filing a joint federal tax return for their final year of marriage had both former spouses claiming their children as dependents on separate returns -- and got Jason summoned to Tax Court.

    What lessons can you learn from this divorcing couple's IRS mix-up?

    Do You Have Privacy Rights in an Elevator?

    Lots of private moments happen in elevators, but are they legally "private" at all?

    Jay-Z and Solange Knowles may be interested in this question after TMZ posted security footage apparently depicting the two in an elevator brawl, reports People. The footage set Twitter on fire.

    So what privacy rights, if any, do you have in an elevator?

    What Is a Conservatorship? 5 Basic Questions

    With conservatorships in the news, you might be wondering: What exactly is a conservatorship? And why should you care?

    Whether used to make health-care decisions for an aging parent or to take over the finances of an incapacitated relative, conservatorships can be a powerful legal tool.

    So when is a conservatorship appropriate? To help you learn more, here are five basic questions and answers about conservatorships:

    5 Reasons a Law Firm Won't Take Your Case

    Want a big law firm to take your case, but disappointed that they won't?

    Don't feel bad, even the rich and powerful seem to have trouble getting law firms to represent them sometimes.

    So why isn't any lawyer or law firm you reach out to interested in your lawsuit? Here are five potential reasons why they won't take your case:

    Legal How-To: Using Facebook as Evidence

    Facebook can often be a powerful way to discover the truth. Whether it's incriminating evidence in divorce proceedings or video of a grisly murder, Facebook profiles can be a well of inadvertently candid information.

    But how can you harness this potential fact-finding power for your legal case? There are a few simple steps you can take to use Facebook posts and messages as evidence:

    Gay Marriages Begin in Ark. as State Requests Stay

    Gay marriage took a giant step in Arkansas over the weekend, with hundreds of same-sex couples flocking to Little Rock to get married after a controversial court ruling.

    Pulaski County Judge Chris Piazza ruled Friday that Arkansas' ban on gay marriage violated same-sex couples' equal protection under the law, reports Reuters. Pulaski County is the state's most populous and includes Little Rock, the state's capital.

    Can gays now freely marry in Arkansas?

    What Legal Documents Do Children Need to Travel?

    Children and even infants often need legal documents in order to travel. But what papers or IDs are required?

    The answer depends on where you’re going, and perhaps even which mode of transportation you choose.

    Here’s a general overview of what documents are required for children to travel:

    5 Tips to Protect Yourself When Using Craigslist

    Craigslist is an amazing do-it-yourself tool for everything from selling your car to renting a house. Unfortunately, Craigslist users must also stay alert to protect themselves from criminals and lowlifes who run a variety of clever scams on the website.

    As our blogs have explained, Craigslist scams have included unscrupulous buyers using counterfeit checks and even a brazen tenant allegedly selling someone else's home online.

    Whether you're buying or selling, there are some easy steps to take to help protect yourself from becoming the victim of a Craigslist scam. Here are five tips to consider:

    Snapchat Privacy Settlement: What Users Need to Know

    Snapchat settled with the FTC on Thursday over privacy complaints and allegations of misleading advertising.

    The app that has touted its video and picture messages as "ephemeral" now has to eat those words. As Ars Technica reports, it's possible to save "snaps" both inside and outside the app, contrary to Snapchat's claims that user messages and images would "disappear forever."

    So what should Snapchat users know about this settlement?

    Mother's Day Officially Turns 100: A Legal Timeline

    Our nation is officially recognizing Mother's Day for the 100th time this year, and it has been a long and interesting century.

    Why do we celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May? And who came up with this idea anyway?

    Check out our legal timeline of how Mother's Day came to be in America:

    Searching for Your Birth Mother? 3 Legal Rights You Should Know

    Adopted and searching for your birth mother? Saturday is National Birth Mother's Day, and it is a great time to reflect on the woman who gave you or your baby life.

    But before you go looking for your birth mother, here are three legal rights you should know:

    Military Spouses Day: 5 Legal Issues Facing Military Families

    Friday is Military Spouse Appreciation Day, created to honor the spouses of Americans who serve in the armed forces, many of whom are servicemembers themselves.

    While military spouses may have more training than the average civilian, many face legal issues that are unique to military families.

    So as we salute military spouses for their contributions and their sacrifices, here are five legal issues they may encounter and a few resources that can help:

    When Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination?

    When you've been fired, your first impulse may be to try to figure out some way to sue your employer for wrongful termination.

    But not every firing is illegal. Here's a basic rundown of when you can potentially sue for wrongful termination:

    Legal How-To: Getting Sole Custody of Your Kids

    Getting sole custody of your kids may take some work, but it certainly isn't impossible. What does a parent need to do in order to obtain sole custody?

    All things being equal, courts may prefer to grant shared custody to both parents. But things aren't always equal or ideal, especially when it comes to the best interests of your children.

    Every case is unique, but consider these steps when figuring out how to retain sole custody of your kids:

    Starting a Summer Job? 5 Legal Tips That Can Pay Off

    Are your summer plans less about pool parties and more about paychecks? For many high school and college students a summer job is essential, not just for the extra spending money but for the work experience and references it may provide.

    According to The Washington Post, the teen employment rate has remained near an all-time low even as the overall economy has improved. This means that finding and keeping a summer job these days takes more than just a solid resume and a warm smile (although those certainly help).

    Here are five legal tips to help summer job seekers become summer job-keepers:

    Supreme Ct.'s City Council Prayer Ruling: 5 Things to Know

    The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld opening prayers at town council meetings, siding with a long tradition of government ceremonial prayer.

    In Greece v. Galloway, the High Court had to decide whether the city of Greece, New York's practice of beginning sessions with Christian sectarian prayer was constitutional. In a 5-4 split, the Court sided with the town of Greece, finding that the prayer practice did not violate the First Amendment, USA Today reports.

    What should you take away from this Supreme Court prayer case?

    FCC on Net Neutrality: What New Rules Could Mean for You

    Following a federal court ruling earlier this year, the FCC is once again proposing newly revised rules on net neutrality. How might the proposed rules affect you?

    Back in January, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FCC does not have the authority to prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from selectively slowing down or blocking Web traffic. The Internet had been "neutral" before this ruling, meaning ISPs could not slow traffic down based on content. Now they can.

    What could the loss of net neutrality mean to you? Potentially, a lot. Here are three major concerns:

    For 'Star Wars' Day, May the Legal Force Be With You

    Today is unofficially "Star Wars" Day -- as in, "May the Fourth be with you." (Get it?)

    While many fans will mark the day with a clever social media post, we're reminded of how the company behind "Star Wars" has famously used The Force -- of the law -- to try to protect its trademarks in court (with mixed results, as Motherboard has pointed out). Meantime, a search of FindLaw's archives reveals a few other "Star Wars"-related legal tales as well.

    So for "Star Wars" Day, here are three such legal episodes from not so long ago, in a galaxy pretty close...

    5 Things Every American Should Know About Freedom of the Press

    May 3 is World Press Freedom Day, recognized by the United Nations as a day to celebrate the "fundamental principles of press freedom" -- a freedom that many Americans often take for granted.

    What exactly does "freedom of the press" mean in the United States? To help answer that question, here are five things every American should know:

    Betting on a Horse Race? Know These 5 Legal Facts

    Want to play the ponies at the Kentucky Derby or at a racetrack closer to home? If so, knowing some general horse-betting laws can pay off.

    Betting on horses is one of America's oldest forms of gambling. But before you sip your mint julep and place your bet, check out these five legal facts about betting on horse races:

    Facebook's New Privacy Features: What You Need to Know

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced three long-overdue measures this week that will soon allow users to control how much privacy they give up when they use apps.

    Here's a summary of these new Facebook privacy measures, which are set to be rolled out over the next few weeks and months:

    May 1 Is 'Law Day USA' (No, We Didn't Make This Up)

    May 1 is "Law Day, U.S.A." Believe it or not, this is an actual federally recognized tribute that's been around for decades.

    As many presidents have done before, President Barack Obama today proclaimed May 1 to be Law Day, in recognition of the "institutions that uphold the rule of law in America."

    Still not convinced? Here's some more proof that Law Day is legit:

    After Divorce, Who Pays for College? 3 Tips for Parents

    Divorce can be excruciating for parents, and deciding who pays what for college can be a major battle.

    But don't let college tuition become your divorce Waterloo. Keep these three tips in mind when deciding who pays for college after a divorce: