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

August 2016 Archives

Once you've settled the big spousal support questions concerning how much you'll be paid and how long the payments will last, you may wonder if those payments can be applied to all the time you spent trying to figure it out in the first place. A battle over divorce, custody, or paternity can take weeks, months, or even years. So, can spousal support be applied to all of that time?

State law can vary on the issue, and how to get retroactive spousal support can also change depending on where you live. Here's what you need to know.

There are few topics more politically polarizing at the moment than charter schools. One side of the argument claims that bad teachers have too much job security and we need to run public schools more like private businesses. The other contends public schools are underfunded, teachers are underpaid, and the solution is not diverting public funds to schools lacking public oversight.

No matter which side of the fence you're on, there is little debate that the quality of charter schools varies greatly, and some have been used as schemes to pocket millions in government funds. So what if this happens at a charter school in which your child is enrolled? Or a charter school made unfulfilled educational promises? Do you have any legal recourse? Here's a look.

Just as U.S. citizenship can be granted, it can also be revoked. The process, called denaturalization, only applies to naturalized citizens, as natural-born U.S. citizens cannot have their citizenship revoked against their will. Denaturalization can be a frightening experience, as former citizens who have been denaturalized can be subject to deportation.

So why can a person be denaturalized? And how does the denaturalization process work?

There are all kinds of child custody issues that could arise during the school year. What if one parent is moving out of state? Maybe a previous custody agreement is being modified, going from one parent having full custody to sharing custody. And if each parent lives in a different school district, how do you determine which school the child goes to? Maybe the child needs to transfer to a school out of either parent’s district.

Child custody issues can be complicated even before taking school into account. So here’s what you need to know about changing a child custody arrangement during the school year.

Is It Divorce Season Yet?

Love comes and goes, and it’s easy to think that relationships end when the people in them decide to go their separate ways. But researchers seem to have stumbled upon a seasonal schedule to breakups.

A new report based on 15 years of divorce data noted two seasonal spikes in divorce rates and found “they consistently peaked in March and August, the periods following winter and summer holidays.” Are people escaping their marriages along with the winter doldrums every spring? Are they dreading another year of in-laws during Thanksgiving and Christmas? Here’s a closer look at the study.

Perhaps the only thing worse than thinking your spouse might be stepping out on you is knowing your spouse is stepping out on you. Still, some suspicious spouses have gone to extreme lengths to catch their significant others cheating, and we’re not talking about just hiring a private detective to snoop around.

With advancements in camera technology and internet monitoring software, there are more ways than ever to spy on your spouse. But are they all legal?

Whether you vandalized a bathroom in a foreign country and got charged with falsifying a police report or you actually did get robbed abroad, one of the first places you'll turn to for help is the U.S. Embassy. Embassy officials can help with everything from lost or stolen travel documents to hooking you up with a local lawyer.

So if you get into some trouble overseas, here's how the U.S. Embassy can help.

Canadians are friendly, and that's not just a stereotype. But that also doesn't mean that their borders are any less secure than our own. There are strict requirements for identification to cross the Canadian border as well as stringent controls on what you can bring into and out of the country.

So whether you're headed for work or a weekend getaway, by boat, car, train, or plane, here's what you need to know about crossing the Canadian border:

Stories of local Zika transmission in Florida came as disheartening news, especially for those who are pregnant or thinking about having children in the near future. While many people infected by Zika won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms like a fever or rash, the effects can be catastrophic for pregnant mothers. Passed from mother to child, Zika can cause microcephaly and other birth defects.

Given the dangers Zika poses to unborn children, it’s bound to have an effect on all aspects of pregnancy and fertility, including egg donation and surrogacy contracts. Here’s a look at what you need to know about Zika and surrogacy:

Sorting out Medicare coverage can be confusing enough, especially if your treatment is moving from a hospital to a nursing home. And it turns out it can get pretty expensive as well. Many patients were shocked to learn that they were never formally admitted into the hospital in the first place, and therefore a federal law allowed Medicare to deny coverage for their nursing home stay.

Hopefully, however, a new law will clear all that up. A bill passed last year -- that went into effect this weekend -- requires hospitals to notify patients about the costs they may incur if they stay more than 24 hours without being formally admitted.

Everyone who wants to start a family should have equal access to medical care and technology needed to get pregnant. But some outdated — or bigoted — state laws deny lesbians who want to give birth equal access to fertility treatments. Take New Jersey’s law, for example, which denies health insurance coverage for fertility treatments unless a woman can show she had unprotected heterosexual sex and still couldn’t get pregnant.

That poses an obvious problem for lesbians, especially those in committed relationships. Which is why two New Jersey lesbian couples are suing the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, claiming the mandate discriminates based on sexual orientation.

Balancing the rights of children in school can be difficult. On the one hand, they don't forfeit all of their constitutional rights just by walking onto school grounds. On the other hand, schools have an interest in maintaining a safe educational environment for all students. So where does forcing a 12-year-old student to take off his underwear and bend over in front of the vice-principal, a school resource officer, and three classmates fall on that scale?

Too far, ruled the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court is allowing the boy's lawsuit against the school district and assistant principal to proceed, despite the school arguing that it couldn't be held liable for strip searching students in public.

The Permanent Resident Card or green card process can seem overwhelming -- the qualification, the documentation, and, of course, the forms you'll need to fill out. One of those forms is the G-325A, Biographic Information form, which seeks background information on the applicant like family names and former residences and places of employment.

While much of the G-325A is self-explanatory, there can be sections and questions that are daunting or just confusing. Here's what you need to know about filling out a form G-325A.

Amicable divorces, though they do exist, may be the exception rather than the rule, especially when issues like alimony and spousal support are in play. Separating couples rarely agree on the amount one spouse owes another, and where there are disputes regarding responsibilities, disputes regarding payment soon follow.

Whether you're trying to collect from your ex or trying to adjust the amount you owe, you could go back to the court that issued the spousal support order in the first place. Or, if you've moved, you can go a court where you now live. But if you don't want to go back to court, do you have other options?

Just about every teenager dreams of the day they can live on their own, yet few understand the emotional or legal process of making that dream a reality. While most courts consider you an adult when you turn 18, you can get that legal recognition when you're younger -- but it can involve a lot more paperwork than many teens expect.

Here are three things you need to know about becoming an emancipated minor.

Look, we all know politics can be a nasty game, and in today's heated political climate, candidates will go to great lengths to win an election. They will apparently stoop to some of the lowest lows, as well.

Long-serving Tennessee state representative Curry Todd was caught -- on video -- stealing his opponent's campaign signs from someone else's property. And in a move that might restore your faith in politics, it was that same opponent in the primary, Mark Lovell, who posted Todd's bail.

Referred to as the 'Netflix tax,' Pennsylvania will soon start charging a sales tax on digital downloads and online streaming services. The six percent tax will apply to video, music, and app subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and Apple Music.

So is binge watching about to bust your budget? Probably not, and here's why:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has the unenviable task of patrolling over 7,500 miles of territory between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It is responsible for everything from monitoring import and export of goods, to preventing drug smuggling. The agency also has an enormous role in enforcing immigration laws.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates more than 500 million people cross American borders every year, each one coming in contact with border patrol in some fashion. So here are five things you need to know about U.S. Border Patrol.

On the 50th anniversary of one of the deadliest campus shootings in U.S. history, which incidentally happened at the state's premier university, a Texas law went into effect allowing students to carry guns into classrooms. Not everyone was pleased with the new legislation, however, least of all professors at the University of Texas. Three of them sued the school and the state, asking for the law to be overturned or to be allowed to ban guns in their classrooms.

Those professors were in court yesterday, arguing that permitted firearms in class would chill the free speech rights of both students and teachers. So how will those rights be balanced with the right to bear arms of others?

What sounds at first like a sign of our changing times and how parents need to deal with the latest technology was instead a brutal throwback to a day and age when parents had free rein to physically punish their children. After seeing racy photos of her teenage child on social media, a Georgia mother took to Facebook to shame her daughter, live streaming her reaction. But the vicious beating that followed has left many who saw it wondering if law enforcement will step in.

So what are the limits on public shaming, and is it ever OK to broadcast yourself hitting your child?

Representing yourself in court is already a bad idea. And we're pretty sure referring to yourself as 'an idiot' and 'incompetent,' all while demanding the court pay you $1 million for your legal service, probably doesn't help matters. But that's the sovereign citizen movement for you.

Wait, what the heck is a sovereign citizen?

It sounded like such a good idea at the time, right? The thought of owning your own little piece of paradise seemed so reasonable. But now you're realizing that owning a timeshare is less of a dream and more of a nightmare, and you're wondering if there's any way out.

A timeshare contract can seem iron-clad at first glance, but there may be legal ways to terminate your timeshare obligations.

Parents aren't the only ones headed on vacation or to visit family in other countries. And they're not the only ones who need a passport to do so. So you may need to get a passport for your minor child in order to travel internationally.

But can you get a passport for an infant? What documents do you need for a passport? And do both parents need to consent? Here's what you need to know about getting a passport for your child.