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

November 2017 Archives

The holidays are generally a time when families come together. But for separated or divorced parents, the holidays can make it feel like everything is falling apart. Child custody issues can arise at any time, but with travel and other family members involved, the holidays can make those issues even more difficult to deal with.

So here are five legal tips for dealing with child custody issues during the holidays, from our archives:

We often look to our parents as our models for child rearing. When we have children of our own, we look back on our own upbringing and often think, "Well I turned out alright -- my parents did a good job." So we take parenting advice from our parents.

The only problem with that is that times change, as do laws. Back in the day, parents often used a little whiskey or rum to quiet their crying babies, car seats for children were optional, and even doctors didn't seem to mind if pregnant women smoked. Most of that wouldn't fly these days, but some other advice we got from our parents might be downright illegal now. Here's a look:

Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. Between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas morning, Americans will spend millions, if not billions on holiday shopping. And between the in-store crowds and online fraud, Americans are set to lose a lot of money as well.

So here are three of our best tips for keeping holiday shopping safe, from our archives:

We get it: there's no easy way to start talking about estate planning. And who wants to spoil the holidays with morbid talk about what's going to happen after a family member dies? None of that sounds appealing.

Then again, when else are you going to do it? The holidays are one of the few times you can get most of the family together, and maybe the holiday spirit will make everyone a little more patient, understanding, and generous. (Well, we can dream, right?) So here are a few pointers if you're delving into the estate planning discussion this holiday season.

There is certainly an interest in being able to anonymously review products and services online: reviewers may feel more safe to be honest in their reviews, without fear of retaliation from companies or other users. Then again, anonymity can allow some reviewers to go too far, thinking there will be no consequences for the things they say online.

In a recent case in California, an appeals court attempted to balance those interests, ruling that companies hosting online reviews have a right to shield the identity of anonymous posters, but posters sued for defamation can lose their anonymity.

The mixed messages continue coming from the White House on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, this time with DACA recipients getting some good news. Although the Trump administration already announced plans to end DACA protections next year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is giving a second chance to immigrants whose renewal applications were rejected for missing the deadline.

If yours was one of those, you may resubmit the renewal request.

Child custody disputes can be some of the most hard-fought legal battles in the courts. And in the fog of war, a lot of misconceptions can spread. To be fair, the one constant throughout all child custody determinations is that courts or arbitrators will make their decisions based on the child's best interests. After that, custody will depend on a variety of factors, each of which may be unique to your case.

Even with all the misinformation out there, some child custody myths are more common than others, so here's an effort to clear those up:

Top 5 Student Loan Debt Tips

Student loan debt in America is exploding, growing by an estimated $2,726.27 every second and totaling over $1.38 trillion dollars (as of this morning). Not only are students being buried in debt, parents are now, too.

And with so many shady debt servicing companies and for-profit colleges out there, it's more difficult to repay that debt and separate fact from fiction while doing it. So here are some of our best legal tips for dealing with student loan debt, from our archives.

A Duke University professor made waves last week when it was revealed that the syllabus for one of her courses included the warning: "Anyone who is on the staff of The Chronicle is not permitted to take this class." Members of the campus newspaper were rightfully miffed at the supposed ban, which, in the end, turned out to be a poorly worded attempt to stress confidentiality in the courses content.

But it does raise an interesting legal question about a professor's or a school's ability to ban certain students from specific courses. Is every class open to every student?

Given the glut of lawyer jokes out there, and the common impression of lawyers (even the pejoratives attorneys seem to happily embrace), the thought of lawyers requiring niceties or, no kidding, a whole day dedicated to being nice to them, seems laughable. Lawyers want our money, not our compliments, right?

But behind that professional veneer, lawyers are people, too, and like the rest of us they have relationships they enjoy and those they don't. So can that enjoyment affect the quality of their work? The Huffington Post thinks so, positing that the relationship you have with your lawyer can affect your divorce case, which might be a really good reason to be nice to your divorce lawyer.

'I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba,' President Donald Trump declared in June, announcing yet another rollback or rescission of Obama-era policies. And those new rules went into effect this week, banning Americans from doing business with 180 listed entities with ties to the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services, including over 80 hotels, stores, marinas, tourist agencies, and industries owned by the government or its subsidiaries.

So you may want to hold off packing your bags for a Havana getaway -- while U.S. citizens are prohibited from traveling to or doing business in Cuba entirely, there are some additional restrictions you should know about.

In order to present a case, attorneys need evidence. That evidence may take the form of witness testimony, documents, or physical evidence, and that evidence must be presented in court. But not all evidence is easily obtainable or voluntarily makes its way into court. And for those instances, courts have subpoena power.

A subpoena is a court order to produce documents or testify in court or other legal proceeding, and, as evidenced by its Latin translation "under penalty," those who defy valid subpoenas risk civil or criminal penalties. So is there any way to avoid complying with a subpoena?

Call it a popular tax break you didn't know you might lose, or a divorce penalty, but the new tax bill could include some bad news for those paying alimony. The GOP plan released last week contains a slew of changes to the tax code, many that might not make the headlines, but that still make a big difference to a lot of people's finances.

One of those proposed changes would be removing spousal support or alimony as a deductible expense. What does that mean for divorced couples? Here's a look.

When word got out that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had three U.S. passports to his name when he was indicted on federal money laundering, false statement, and conspiracy against the United States charges, the first question that popped up for most people was: Just how many U.S. passports can one person have?

The short answer is one. The long answer involves some exceptions that allow a person to hold multiple U.S. passports, and it's not clear which, if any, applied in Manafort's case.

For divorced parents, the holidays can be an especially difficult. On top of all the heightened emotions surrounding family gatherings, there are the possible legal complexities when it comes to custody and visitation during the holidays.

And if there are any disagreements or changes regarding a visitation schedule, the holidays can get even harder. So while an attorney may not always be necessary when planning a holiday visitation schedule there are some times when you need one, and many more when you might want one.

There's an app for everything these days. And the worries of artificial intelligence replacing attorneys have been around for years. But are we finally seeing an end to the human divorce lawyer?

The makers of DoNotPay, a bot famous for fixing parking tickets for free, recently released 1,000 new bots into the wild, assisting people with transactional legal forms. And their next target? Your divorce.