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

November 2014 Archives

10 Laws You Should Know If You're in Virginia

Virginia is for lovers. But it's also for students, parents, thrillseekers, risk-takers, and entrepreneurs. No matter which one of those hats you decide to wear in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you'll need to know the laws of the realm.

While in the Old Dominion, be sure to know these 10 laws:

What to Do If Your Flight Is Canceled

It's the five words that no holiday traveler wants to hear: your flight has been cancelled.

Unfortunately, cancelled flights are a reality for thousands of holiday travelers every year. According to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, nearly 3% of flights by major carriers were cancelled during the 2013 winter holiday travel season.

So what should you do if your flight is among those that are bound to be cancelled this holiday season? Here are a few tips:

5 New Laws to Be Thankful For

When making your mental list of the things you're thankful for this Thanksgiving, laws might not necessarily be among the first things that come to mind.

But 2014 saw the passage or implementation of a veritable cornucopia of significant laws which may be worthy of appreciation -- or at the very least notable for their importance. From laws affecting marriage equality, to others impacting marijuana enjoyment, 2014 provided a number of changes to state and local laws across the country.

What new laws are people around the U.S. likely to be thankful for in 2014? Here are five:

Are You Liable For Workers Who Are Injured on Your Property?

There are a number of kinds of service professionals you can invite on to your property to do work: landscapers, roofers, exterminators, etc. But what happens when those workers are injured on your property?

Property owners do have certain responsibilities towards those who are allowed on their land, but this does not give workers freedom to be negligent or reckless.

So when is a property owner liable for workers injured on his or her property?

Ark. and Miss. Gay Marriage Bans Struck Down

Gay marriage bans in Arkansas and Mississippi were struck down as unconstitutional in separate federal courts late Tuesday.

Within hours of each other, Judges Kristine Baker in Little Rock, Arkansas and Carlton Reeves in Jackson, Mississippi ruled that their respective state's ban on same-sex marriage violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law. Reuters reports that as of Tuesday, there are 35 states where gay marriage is legal, but these rulings may bump up that number.

What should Americans know about the gay marriage rulings in Arkansas and Mississippi?

Legal How-To: Build a Fence Around Your Property

A fence around your property can serve a range of purposes: marking your property line, keeping trespassers out, and/or providing privacy for your family.

However, a fence can also be the source of a potential dispute with your neighbors. With that in mind, making sure that your fence does not violate property laws or local restrictions can help prevent potential legal problems down the road.

How do you go about making sure your fence is in compliance with the law? Here's what you can do:

5 Thanksgiving Foods and Gifts You Can't Travel With

Thanksgiving travel means air travel for many Americans, and air travel means abiding by the somewhat opaque rules set up by the TSA.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) still requires that many items must either be shipped or placed in checked baggage in order to make it to your final holiday destination. This leaves many Turkey Day travelers wondering: Can I bring my special pie/gravy/sauce/turkey in my carry on?

Your experience may vary, but here are five Thanksgiving foods and gifts the TSA may not let you on board with:

Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'S'

Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

Say what? That may have been your reaction the first time you tried to decipher a legal document, state code section, or correspondence making use of legalese, the specialized language used by lawyers, judges, lawmakers, and others in the legal field.

Each week, our series Legalese From A to Z takes on some of the more important bits of legalese, one letter of the alphabet at a time. This week, we take on five legal terms that start with the letter "S":

10 Laws You Should Know If You're in New Jersey

Though the fourth smallest state by size, New Jersey is the most densely populated state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This is due in no small part to the state's proximity to New York City, Philadelphia, and several other major U.S. metropolitan areas.

But whether you count yourself as a lifelong New Jerseyan, are just visiting, or are passing through from one of New Jersey's neighboring states, you should familiarize yourself with the nuances of New Jersey state law.

Here are 10 laws that you should know if you're in New Jersey:

Obama's Executive Order on Immigration: 5 Things You Should Know

President Obama has announced that he will take executive action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

This executive order, announced in the president's speech to the nation Thursday night, will not grant amnesty or any sort of permanent legal status to those illegal immigrants covered by the action. But as NPR reports, it may prevent up to 5 million immigrants from being deported.

Here are five things that immigrants and their families should know about President Obama's executive immigration order:

5 Potential Ways to Keep Divorce Costs Down

Divorce can be stressful enough without worrying about mounting legal costs.

But as Susan Steinbrecher wrote for Inc., you might be able to complete your divorce by paying less than $100. Cooperating with your spouse and choosing non-adversarial legal options, among other tactics, can potentially keep your divorce costs minimal.

Here are five ways you may be able to lower the costs of your divorce:

Can You Bring Alcohol on a Plane?

As millions of Americans prepare to travel by air during the upcoming holiday season, long lines and delayed flights are poised to grate on travelers' nerves.

But travelers who may be hoping to offset their holiday stress by packing a bottle of their favorite libation in their luggage should be aware of the TSA's rules regarding transporting special items such as alcohol.

Can you bring your own alcohol on a plane?

Is It Legal to 'Murder Out' (aka Black-Out) Your Car?

The murdered-out look is certainly nothing new. Car heads have been blacking out their rides for years.

And for just as long, drivers of blacked-out cars have been getting attention from law enforcement. The latest driver to draw the ire of police is "Keeping up With Kardashians" cast member and pseudo-Kardashian sister Kylie Jenner. According to TMZ, Jenner was pulled over by Los Angeles police and cited for the black covers on her murdered-out Range Rover earlier this week.

What do car owners need to know about the legality of blacking-out their cars?

5 Things You Can't Bring on a Plane

2014's holiday travel season is expected to get off to a big start during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

More than 24 million passengers will travel on U.S. airlines during the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period from November 21 through December 2, reports CBS News. Unfortunately, for some of these travelers, their holiday travel plans may be interrupted due to what's in their luggage. Attempting to bring prohibited items on a plane may result in delayed travel, fines, and in some cases arrest, such as the San Francisco man recently arrested for attempting to bring three pounds of marijuana on his flight.

What are some of the items on the no-fly list? Here are five things you can't bring on a plane:

Is It Illegal to Drive Without Snow Tires, Snow Chains?

Snow is a dangerous reality of many roads and highways across America, and snow tires and snow chains are a good way to avoid a potential accident.

But whether it's a good idea or not to equip your vehicle with these traction devices, it's quite another thing to say they're required by law. And if they're required, what exactly is the penalty for not using them?

Winter driving laws vary across the states, but here's a general overview of when it's illegal to drive without snow chains or snow tires:

Legal How-To: Getting Your Landlord to Fix the Heat

Nothing ruins a festive holiday season like an ice-cold apartment with no working heater. While there's not a whole lot that the law requires from your landlord as far as amenities are concerned, adequate heating during cold weather is one of them.

Getting your landlord to fix the heat might be as simple as asking him or her, but just in case, here's a quick legal guide:

Signing Up for Obamacare for 2015? 3 Things You Should Know

Americans have now lived through almost a year of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), but barring any changes to the law or major court decisions, it has many more years to come.

On Saturday, open enrollment began for Americans to make their healthcare selections on the insurance exchanges, and for many, there will be little that changed from last year.

However, there are still three things all Americans should know if they're signing up for Obamacare coverage for 2015:

Can Your Employer Require Proof for Sick Days?

Most people have a good idea of when they may be too sick to go to work. But can an employer ask for proof?

Whether your employer offers you paid sick leave (which will soon be required by law in some states) or your sick leave is unpaid, an employer will typically take an employee's word for it that he or she is sick.

In some cases, however, a supervisor may request a doctor's note or other form of documentation to justify a sick day. Is that allowed? Here's what you need to know:

Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'R'

Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

Res judicata. Reciprocal negative easement. Rule against perpetuities. What do these terms have in common, beyond being words you most likely haven't heard in casual conversation lately? They're are all examples of legalese, the specialized language of law used by lawyers, judges and those in the legal field.

Each week, as part of our continuing series Legalese From A to Z, we work through some of the important bits of legalese, letter by letter. In this week's Legalese from A to Z , we take on five (more) legal terms that start with the letter "R":

  • Rape shield law. A rape shield law prevents or limits the use of an alleged rape victim's prior sexual history as evidence during a trial. For example, Nevada's rape shield law prohibits the introduction of "previous sexual conduct of the victim of the crime to challenge the victim's credibility as a witness" in a criminal sexual assault or statutory rape trial, unless the victim opens the door by testifying about her sexual conduct first.

10 Laws You Should Know If You're in North Carolina

North Carolina has been host to colonists, pirates, rebels, and tobacco farmers, so you may guess that the state also has a rich legal history.

You may only be visiting North Carolina for some good BBQ or planning to put down roots in Raleigh-Durham, but either way, you need to know the laws of the land.

While in the Tar Heel State, be sure to know these 10 laws:

3 Priceless Lessons From Harold Hamm's $1B Divorce Settlement

Although not the most expensive divorce of all time, the nearly $1 billion divorce settlement recently announced between oilman Harold Hamm and his ex-wife Sue Ann Hamm is set to lighten Harold's wallet a bit.

But beyond the headline-grabbing dollar amount of the Hamms' divorce settlement, the resolution offers an opportunity for married couples (as well as those who aren't yet married, but plan to be someday) to take a closer look at the laws governing the division of assets following a divorce.

What lessons can be learned from the Hamms' billion-dollar divorce? Here are three:

5 Estate Planning Reminders: Pets, Guns, Collections, and More

You may have a handle on the big things in your estate plan like real estate, bank accounts, and guardians for your children. But there are a few things you may not have considered.

For example: Do you know who will take care of your pets when you've passed on? And what about custody of assets almost as precious as your pets, like your guns and prized collections? Who will take care of them?

We won't let you forget these five things you need to include in your estate plan:

Legal for an HOA to Restrict Holiday Decorations?

For many homeowners, November means it's time to start putting up holiday decorations both inside and outside their homes.

But owners of houses or condos that are members of a homeowners association might want to think twice before decking the outside of their hall with boughs of holly. HOA rules may limit, or in some circumstances prohibit certain kinds of holiday decorations.

Is it legal for an HOA to limit a member's ability to decorate his or her home for the holidays?

S.C. Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

South Carolina's gay marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional today by a federal judge.

The ruling was stayed until November 20 to allow South Carolina a chance to appeal, but that seems unlikely given a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in late July which ruled for gay marriage in Virginia. Both Virginia and South Carolina are governed by the laws of the 4th Circuit, so it may be a short time before same-sex couples are marrying in South Carolina.

But until then, what should you know about this South Carolina gay marriage decision?

N.Y. Longshoreman's Lawsuit: Male Boss Sexually Harassed Me

A New York longshoreman's lawsuit claims he was sexually harassed by his male supervisor, and was later fired after complaining about a hostile work environment.

Michael Sabella, 48, once worked at the Red Hook pier in Brooklyn. He testified before a federal jury on Monday that he was groped and digitally penetrated by his male machine boss, and that management and his union failed to do anything about it, reports the New York Daily News.

What can employees learn from Sabella's harrowing tale of alleged harassment?

Legal How-To: Modifying Holiday Child-Custody Plans Out of Court

With Thanksgiving and other holidays on the horizon, last-minute requests to change your child custody agreement are likely to bubble to the surface.

And since the courts aren't likely to be an available or speedy venue to modify your existing custody agreement, you and your ex need a good way to accommodate Thanksgiving plans (and other holiday plans) outside of court.

Just in time for the holidays, here are a few potential ways to modify Thanksgiving and holiday custody plans without going before a judge:

Oilman Harold Hamm Finalizes $1B Divorce Settlement

You can't put a price tag on peace of mind. But for billionaire oilman Harold Hamm, settling his divorce with ex-wife Sue Ann Hamm didn't come cheap.

A court filing released Monday shows that Hamm will pay his former wife nearly $1 billion, reports Forbes. Despite the huge payout, Hamm was actually relieved at the outcome of the divorce proceedings, calling it "a fair and equitable outcome to the case" in an email to Forbes.

Why was Hamm so upbeat at being ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to his former spouse?

Supreme Court to Hear Obamacare Subsidy Challenge

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear a challenge to Obamacare's healthcare subsidies.

It's been three years since the nation's High Court had a chance to test the constitutional mettle of the Affordable Care Act, and some suspect the healthcare law has some political enemies on the bench. Fortune reports that at least four justices must've voted to hear King v. Burwell, and notes it isn't a coincidence that four justices also voted to strike down Obamacare three years ago.

What should Americans know about this Supreme Court Obamacare challenge?

1 in 3 Americans Invent, but Few Pursue Patents: FindLaw Survey

One in three Americans are sitting on a patentable idea, but very few of them have actually applied for a patent.

According to a recent FindLaw.com survey, 32 percent of Americans have an idea that they would deem patent-worthy, but only 10 percent of home inventors have even taken the first step toward obtaining a patent for an invention.

What else does this survey reveal about American desire to innovate and invent, and how can patents help?

Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'Q'

Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

Query: What is legalese? If you answered "the language used by lawyers, judges, bloggers, and others who work in the in the legal profession," you've likely been following along with our weekly series Legalese From A to Z.

Each week, we're taking a quick look at quality bits of legalese such as query (definition: a formally phrased question). In this week's Legalese from A to Z, we take on five legal terms that begin with the letter "Q":

  • Quantum meruit. In disputes over compensation for services or goods provided without a contractual agreement, quantum meruit is a legal doctrine that acts as an implied contract, allowing recovery by a plaintiff for the reasonable value of those goods or services.

10 Laws You Should Know If You're in Michigan

Michigan was the birthplace of many of America's industrial and manufacturing dreams, and it grew up with its own set of laws.

Whether you're in Detroit living out your "8 Mile" fantasy or visiting one of the Wolverine State's many dairy farms, you need to know what's permitted by state law.

So even if you're a member of the Michigan militia, pay attention to these 10 laws you should know:

Gay Marriage Update: Kan., Mo., and 6th Circuit

Gay marriage bans in Kansas and Missouri were struck down by federal and state courts, respectively, this week. However, a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld bans on gay marriage in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan.

On Wednesday, CNN reports that a St. Louis circuit judge struck down Missouri's prohibition on same-sex marriage, ordering officials to issue marriage licenses to gay couples seeking to get married. In neighboring Kansas, Reuters reports that a federal judge ruled Tuesday that the state's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, giving the state one week to file an appeal.

What do these gay marriage rulings mean for residents of Kansas, Missouri, and the four states within the 6th Circuit?

5 Potential Ways to Get an Annulment

For married couples who may be considering a divorce, another potential legal option is to seek an annulment. But not every couple is eligible.

Like a divorce, an annulment dissolves a marriage. However, unlike a divorce -- in which a marriage is still recognized as having been previously valid -- when a marriage is annulled it is treated as if it never happened. Annulment is sometimes sought for religious reasons, but may also be requested for entirely personal reasons too.

What legal grounds must a person show to get his or her marriage annulled? Here are five potential ways to pursue an annulment:

Voters OK Minimum Wage Hikes in 4 States, 2 Calif. Cities

The dust has settled from Election Day 2014, and voters in four states have supported ballot measures to raise the minimum wage.

Voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota voted to raise the minimum wage in their respective states, reports The New York Times. The trend also continued in two California cities, San Francisco and Oakland, whose voters approved plans to raise the minimum wage by 2015.

Here's what you need to know about these minimum wage increases:

Legal How-To: Requesting an Accommodation at Work

Whether on account of a disability or religious practice, employees who require a modification or adjustment to their job duties have the right to request that an employer make a reasonable accommodation.

Under federal employment discrimination laws, an employer may be required to agree to reasonable accommodations that do not create an undue hardship or expense for the employer. These accommodations may include modifying schedules, providing new or modified equipment, adjusting employee policies, or making exceptions to company dress codes.

How can an employee request a workplace accommodation? Here's a general overview:

School 'Ebola Ban' Lawsuit Settled; 3rd Grader Returns to Class

A father has settled a lawsuit with his daughter's Connecticut school district after she was barred from attending class over fears she may have contracted Ebola.

Stephen Opayemi and his 7-year-old daughter had attended a wedding in Nigeria and returned to find that her school, Meadowside Elementary in MIlford, wouldn't let her rejoin her class for another 21 days. Opayemi filed suit in federal court in Connecticut, hoping a judge would order the school to let his daughter return. On Thursday, the parties settled, allowing the young girl to return to school on Friday, reports the Connecticut Post.

What was the legal thrust of Opayemi's suit over this school Ebola policy, and what happens now that he's settled?

4 Tips After Teen Wins $4M Lotto on Her Birthday

There are certainly worse birthday gifts than scratch-off lottery tickets, especially when one of those tickets ends up being a $4 million prize-winner.

Deisi Ocampo of Chicago received a pair of lottery tickets as a gift from her father on her 19th birthday, reports WMAQ-TV. She didn't have a chance to scratch them off until the next day, but when she did, she discovered that she was the winner of a $4 million prize.

Now that Ocampo -- a college student who works at a clothing store and lives with her parents -- has a little more money in the bank, what can she do to help make sure she makes the most of her newfound wealth? Here are four tips she may want to consider:

Supreme Court Calendar: 10 Cases to Watch in November

The U.S. Supreme Court has been as busy as nine incredibly well educated beavers this year, and November should prove to be an interesting month for the High Court.

There are issues of gun control, homeland security, and even home loans to contend with. So here are 10 Supreme Court cases you should really pay attention to in November:

Legalese From A to Z: 5 Legal Terms Beginning With 'P'

Legalese From A to Z - FindLaw

For those who don't spend every day speaking, reading, and writing it, legalese -- the specialized language of lawyers, judges, and those in the legal field -- can seem hard to decipher.

But we're here to help. Each week, our series Legalese From A to Z breaks down some interesting (not to mention useful) legal words or phrases, working through the alphabet letter by letter. This week, we're taking a closer look at five legal terms that start with the letter "P":

  • P.O.D account. P.O.D. is short for payable on death, a type of account that is payable to a designated beneficiary upon the account holder's death. It is one of the few ways to transfer the property of a person who has died outside of the probate process.

10 Laws You Should Know If You're in Georgia

Georgia is home to Turner Field, Coca-Cola, and boiled peanuts. But the Empire State of the South also boasts a unique set of laws that governs everyday life in the state.

So whether you're settling down in Marietta or posting up in a penthouse suite next to your famous neighbor T.I., you need to at least get a handle on these 10 Georgia laws: