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

July 2012 Archives

A Colorado man brought a handgun to a movie theater, triggering panic and an evacuation Sunday night. James Mapes' gun was visible in a holster around his waist, and he claims it was for self-protection, Denver's KDVR-TV reports.

But police in suburban Thornton, Colo., arrested Mapes, 48, on suspicion of possessing a dangerous weapon -- a municipal law in Thornton, The Denver Post reports. Mapes' gun was confiscated, and he was released with a summons to appear in court.

Mapes told The Post he's held a concealed weapons permit since 2003. So how might that affect his charges?

Black Wedding Banned by Miss. Baptist Church

First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs in Mississippi has come under fire for its refusal to marry a black couple.

Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson had planned to marry in the church where they are both members of the congregation. Te'Andrea has been part of the church community for over a year. But the couple's planned nuptials ruffled some feathers in the predominantly white church.

When church members told Rev. Stan Weatherford that they didn't want a black couple married in the church, he gave in to their demands to keep the peace.

That plan backfired and the church is now being criticized for its actions.

5 Legal Tasks to Do When You Move

Guest post by Jennifer K. Halford, Esq.

The Internet is full of checklists and resources to use if you are planning to move. There are packing timelines. There are lists of packing supplies. There are even directions on how to pack boxes.

But moving is much more than purging and organizing your personal affects. There are legal tasks you need to take care of too.

Here are 5 legal tasks to complete when you move:

Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Right for You?

If you're facing overwhelming debt, you may be considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a solid option for many, as it can give you a "fresh start," erasing the obligation to repay and giving you a chance to get on with your life.

However, just because you can eliminate your debt with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, doesn't necessarily mean it's the best option for you. You may also want to look into an alternative like Chapter 13. 

Let's look at when Chapter 7 may be right for you and when it may not be.

Vegas Wedding Wagon Will Marry You for Only $99

Las Vegas weddings just got easier with the introduction of the Wedding Wagon. No longer will starry-eyed lovers have to take a cab to the nearest Elvis chapel. Now the wedding can come to them.

The masterminds behind this idea, Andy Gonzalez and James Cass, realized something was missing in the Vegas wedding market so they filled the gap. They became ordained online through American Marriage Ministries although their service is largely non-denominational, according to the pair.

The marriage service includes a minister, an altar, floral arrangements, and a 10-minute curbside ceremony, all for only $99.

Quick and easy it may be, but the wedding wagon is also 100% binding.

Chick-fil-A's Gay Marriage Fight Hits Boston, Chicago

The Chick-fil-A gay marriage story is the story that just won't die. The mayors of Boston and Chicago have now chimed in saying that Chick-fil-As are no longer welcome in their respective cities.

Earlier this month, the president of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, made several very public statements against gay marriage. Cathy said that gay marriage went against the bible and proponents of gay marriage were inviting God's judgment, reports The Associated Press.

Chick-fil-A is famously built on Christian principles (they close on Sundays), so the president's comments were not all that surprising.

However, not unexpectedly, Cathy's comments sparked off a firestorm and gay marriage advocates sought bans of the popular chicken sandwich fast food chain. And now it has become a political issue.

How to get emancipated isn’t just something that rebellious teenagers want to know. Parents and guardians also often have questions about the emancipation of minors and how it affects their legal obligations. That said, many an American teen has probably asked “Is it legal to move out at 17 (or 16 or even 15)?”

Here are some general guidelines about how to get emancipated, what it means, and what’s not considered the emancipation of a minor:

Emancipation Requirements

  • Statutory age. Each state has a statute that dictates how old a child must be in order to get emancipated. For most states, the statutory age is 16, but it could be as young as 14.

Law Firm's Sexual Harassment Suit Big News in CA

Ellen Pao is suing venture firm Kleiner Perkins for sexual harassment and gender bias in a case that is generating a lot of buzz in Silicon Valley.

Pao has worked for Kleiner Perkins since 2005 as a junior partner in the Silicon Valley office. In her claim, she alleges that the company did nothing when she suffered sexual harassment from a coworker with whom she had previously had a romantic relationship. Her complaint also alleges that women are not given the same opportunities for advancement as men, according to Huffington Post.

Kleiner Perkins was attempting to keep this suit out of court by forcing Pao into arbitration. Judge Harold Kahn issued a decision on that issue Friday.

Looks like the case will stay public for now.

Divorce Lawyers Target the Untrusting Men Niche

So you're a man going through a divorce and you need a divorce lawyer.

You may have noticed an increasing trend of divorce lawyers that market themselves specifically for husbands. You may be wondering if this is a gimmick or if there's really something there that can help you.

Depending upon your situation, such niche specialty lawyers may actually be just what you're looking for, reports The Wall Street Journal.

CO Gun Sales Spike After Aurora Theater Shooting

After a mass shooting that killed a dozen and injured more than 50, you might think people would shy away from guns. Think again.

In the wake of the movie theater shootings, Colorado gun sales have gone through the roof. The biggest jump in background checks came the same day as the shooting.
It seems to be a common American reaction after violent massacres.

So Colorado residents have decided to fight fire with fire - and background checks are the first step in the process.

3 Steps to Avoid Summer Camp Sex Assaults

As we're fully in the midst of summer, parents are sending their kids off to summer camp, swim lessons, and football camp.

But instead of a time of innocence and fun, these summer camps are now more frequently associated with child sex assault and crime.

Still, you can't shelter your children forever, and you will eventually have to let them out into the world. If you send your children off to camp, these following three tips can help ensure that another Jerry Sandusky does not abuse your children, reports The Baltimore Sun.

CA Parents Use 'Trigger Law' Take Over Failing School

California's 'parent trigger' law saw its first success on Friday in Adelanto, north of Los Angeles. Superior Court Judge Steve Malone ruled that the district must accept a petition from parents.

The parent trigger law went into effect in 2010 to allow parents to force changes in underperforming schools. If parents can collect a 50% majority on petitions to the school board, their proposed changes must be put into effect.

Desert Trails Elementary School parents collected the required signatures but the district rejected their petition on the basis that some parents rescinded their signatures.

But the district is no longer calling the shots, according to Malone.

Car modifications, if illegal, can get you unwanted attention from law enforcement. They can give police a valid excuse to pull you over, and vehicle owners can face citations and fines.

Which illegal car modifications seem to rev up the most trouble?

Laws differ in each state, but here are five types of car modifications that generally seem to cross the line:

Voter ID Laws Play Out in Court

The fight against voter ID laws is heating up all over the country as the nation gears up for the November election.

Some of those laws have been found unconstitutional, such as the ones in Wisconsin, Texas, and South Carolina, although those cases will likely be appealed before November. In other states, such as Pennsylvania, the battle still rages on.

This election season, a majority of states will have some kind of voter ID requirement for citizens going to the polls.

Of the 33 states that have an ID requirement, six states require a photo ID to vote but are flexible as to type. An additional five require a specific type of photo ID. Pennsylvania is one of them.

That means it's not enough to have an ID. Potential voters must have the 'right' ID.

Are You Eligible for FMLA Leave?

There's a tall tale among many employees that if they get sick or simply want time off work, they can automatically receive an FMLA leave of absence.

In almost every office, there are rumors that someone was able to receive months off work for any reason like stress or just needing a vacation simply by saying F-M-L-A.

However, the reality is that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is not an automatic route to time off. In fact, to the contrary, it's extremely difficult to be eligible for FMLA leave.

Have a Happy, Healthy... Divorce?

Unless your name is Kim Kardashian, divorce can have a significant impact on your life--both emotionally and financially.

Often times it seems as though society focuses on the financial aspect without ever addressing the emotional. But studies have shown that dealing with your feelings will make your post-divorce life easier.

What if it could also make your divorce less costly? It can, because it paves the way for a collaborative divorce.

NY Texting While Driving Tickets Soar

Texting while driving has been illegal in New York since July 2011 and the state is seeing some significant data on the law's effectiveness.

Over 20,000 tickets were issued in the last year for using a handheld device while driving according to Insurance Journal. Fewer than 5,000 tickets for the same offense were issued the year before the law went into effect.

The increased number of tickets sends a strong message to drivers New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told the public.

Texting while driving was illegal in New York before this law passed but the way the law is phrased makes it easier for police officers to issue a ticket.

Zuckerberg's Mortgage Rate is Now 1.05%

Perhaps more astonishing than Mark Zuckerberg refinancing a 1.05% home mortgage rate is the fact that the 40th richest man in the world needed a mortgage at all.

After all, why would someone worth over $15 billion need to borrow money to pay off a $7 million home?

Well, if you can borrow money at 1.05%, you're basically borrowing money for free, reports Bloomberg.

So Zuckerberg would be dumb not to.

New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Pregnant

Congrats to Marissa Mayer! Not only is she the new CEO of Yahoo but she is also pregnant with her first child.

Mayer and her husband Zack Bogue are welcoming their baby in October which means that she will be taking some maternity leave later this year. That wouldn't be big news except that Mayer is the CEO of a publicly traded Fortune 500 company. Her maternity leave will be a first in the business world, according to TechCrunch.

With all the controversy about women in top business roles, it's nice to see a woman with an amazing career who is also able to have a family without her employer getting twitchy.

Get a Ticket for Your License Plate Frames and Covers?

A license plate frame is a good way to brag to total strangers about what college you went to. A license plate cover is a good way to protect your auto registration stickers from getting stolen.

But if you don't read up on the laws in your state, these products may also be a good way to get a ticket.

That's because license plate frames and covers may be illegal in your state for obscuring the plates. This would be true even if your neighborhood store sells the popular products.

Congressional Women Staffers Paid Less Than Men

Female Congressional staffers earn significantly less pay than their male counterparts, a new National Journal survey reveals.

The House Republican female staffers had it worst, making only 84 cents for every dollar their male colleagues made, reports Politico. Senate Republicans fared slightly better making 86 cents to every dollar a male counterpart made. Female House Democrats had it best, though still earning less than their male colleagues at 97 cents to the dollar.

It's ironic to think that it was the Republicans who pushed so hard to strike down the Paycheck Fairness Act last month, which sought to close the gender wage gap.

How to Get Your Security Deposit From a Landlord

When you move into an apartment, you're probably going to be asked to put down a security deposit.

The security deposit amount is oftentimes the same as one month's rent and the landlord will hold onto it until your lease ends.

Ideally, when you move out, you'll get your full security deposit back. Practically speaking, you'll probably only get a fraction of your deposit back. So how do you get your security deposit back after renting?

Moving & Child Custody: 3 Important Questions

Divorce can be tough on children. But moving after you've finally worked out a child custody schedule can be even worse.

Deciding to uproot yourself and/or your children is difficult. However, that's not your only consideration. Following a divorce, many things you used to take for granted can become more cumbersome.

Moving away is one such example. So if you're sharing custody with an ex-spouse, there are three questions you need to consider before packing up.

Can tattoos affect green card applications? Apparently yes, as the State Department is increasingly denying inked immigrants' efforts to get green cards and become legal U.S. residents, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Certain tattoos are linked to organized crime groups, mainly in Latin American countries. That can give rise to possible affiliation with those groups, and can justify a green-card denial based on national-security grounds, The Journal reports.

The State Department denied 82 visas in 2010, citing a "reason to believe" the applicants were tied to organized crime. That's up from just two denials in 2006, according to The Journal.

But is a tattoo a valid reason to deny a green card application?

Las Vegas police killed one chimpanzee and captured another after the animals escaped from a home in a residential neighborhood. The chimps' caretakers could face legal consequences.

The animals likely escaped from a home where a domestic dispute was reported Thursday morning, police told the Las Vegas Sun. About the same time, someone called 911 to report a pair of chimpanzees on the loose nearby. No humans were hurt.

Witnesses say the chimps appeared fearful and in distress before police took them down. So why might the animals' owners be in trouble?

Scranton Mayor Slashes Cop Pay to $7.25 Per Hour

All Scranton city workers -- including cops and firefighters -- will be paid minimum wage effective immediately.

The small Pennsylvania town is facing bankruptcy. Unsure how to meet the next payroll, Scranton mayor Chris Doherty took the initiative and slashed wages despite a court order not to.

All 398 city employees are now paid $7.25 per hour. Unions representing the workers have filed a lawsuit against the mayor and the city, reports Yahoo! So how did the city get into this mess?

The term “default” gets thrown around a lot in divorce cases, but what does it mean? There are actually two answers, depending on the context in which the term “default” is used.

When a party fails to respond to a divorce petition within the time proscribed by law, the party is “in default.” This can also happen if a party fails to show up for a court hearing.

The other kind of default is a “default judgment” — generally, the last step in finalizing an uncontested divorce. The process for obtaining a default judgment varies by state, but here are some general guidelines:

'Safe Porn' Condom Measure Now on Nov. Ballot

Voters in Los Angeles County will have their say on porn condom usage in the upcoming November ballot.

It's hard to believe that the average person cares about this issue. Yet the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was able to secure enough votes to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Proponents for porn condom usage says that it will protect porn stars from AIDS, reports the Los Angeles Times. Opponents of the measure say let porn stars choose to practice safe sex or not.

Sperm Donor Lawsuit Filed by Lesbian

A California woman is suing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for "unconstitutional" sperm donor policies.

The woman is in a same-sex relationship and wants to conceive a child with her female partner. The woman has a male friend who she wants to use as a sperm donor.

However, FDA regulations prevent her from artificially inseminating herself with her friend's sperm. Instead, she is being forced to use an expensive intermediary like a sperm bank. The woman is now suing claiming that the FDA is too involved in her personal business.

New to Gun Ownership? Know the Law

You've just purchased a new firearm and depending on your state, you've sat out any mandatory waiting period required by law between purchase and gun ownership.

At this point, you're the lawful owner of a gun (assuming you bought it legally and got a permit if your state requires it, right?). But that doesn't mean you can necessarily start using it right away. State laws on guns are strict and violating those laws could mean a hefty fine or some jail time.

Before you take it out for a test drive, check these tips to ensure that you don't run afoul of the law when you're enjoying recreational shooting.

Denise Rich Dumps Citizenship to Save on Taxes

Denise Rich is using an unusual strategy to save money - she renounced her U.S. citizenship.

Rich, a Massachusetts-born songwriter and socialite, recently appeared under her maiden name 'Denise Eisenberg' in a quarterly report of Americans who gave up their citizenship.

She has Austrian citizenship through her father, according to Reuters. Her partner Peter Cervinka is also Austrian and her daughters both live in London. She plans to live primarily in London while maintaining Austrian citizenship to "be closer to her family" in a statement made to the press.

She'll also be saving a lot of money in taxes by leaving her U.S. passport behind.

5 Reasons Why You Need a Trust

Lawyers always talk about why you need a will -- the document ensures that your wishes are met upon death. But wills still leave a lot to be desired. There's probate, taxes and a whole host of other financial issues that can arise.

Enter the living trust. Trusts allow you to access and manage your assets while you're alive, and then transfer that power to a trustee at death. Your heirs still get your property.

The two documents seem sort of similar, so you may be asking, "Why do I need a trust?" Here's why:

How to Get Your Landlord to Make Repairs

Leaky faucet keeping you up all night? Your shower goes from freezing cold to scalding hot one second to the next? You need to wear a parka inside your apartment to keep warm?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions and have had no luck in getting your landlord to act, you'll want to keep reading these tips on how to get your landlord to make apartment repairs.

The first thing you should do is raise the problem with your landlord. Whether you want to drop by the management office in person or write a letter to the landlord, you should let them know what the condition is and what you want them to do.

Waiting to Hire a Divorce Attorney Could Cost You

If you know you're headed towards divorce, it's time to get up and hire a divorce attorney. This is true even if you haven't yet filed divorce papers or separated from your spouse. Why?

It's called "conflicting out." If your soon-to-be ex is sneaky or vindictive, he can make it very difficult for you to find a divorce attorney that fits your needs.

And even if your ex is as nice as can be, he can still inadvertently prevent you from retaining the best counsel in your area.

5 Ways to Get a Green Card Through Work

With Independence Day this week, what better way to celebrate than with a post on how to get into this great country.

Along with entering the country as an immediate family member, one of the most common ways to get a green card is through work.

However, if you're not fortunate enough to be educated, have a demanded skill set, and a job offer waiting, gaining permanent residency through this route can be difficult. Here are five ways that someone can get a green card through work.

Who Gets What When Breaking Up?

So, you and your significant other are breaking up. You're not married, so there will be no divorce lawyers involved. There are no kids, either. Things should be simple, but they're not.

He wants the car and you want it, too. And what about the big screen TV? Technically, you both paid for it.

Who gets the property when breaking up?

Are Landlords Liable for Power Outages?

Almost half of the United States is suffering from extreme heat, and millions of people are experiencing power outages.

For tenants in apartments without power, they have the option of suffering through the heat in their units or going out and spending time at a place where there is air conditioning like an indoor mall or a friend's house.

But tenants who have no choice but to remain home may be wondering if they have any recourse for their suffering in the dark. Particularly, tenants may be wondering if they can sue their landlords for the power outage.

Unemployment Benefits After Losing a Job

With the economy still not fully recovered, many individuals find themselves laid off and not working.

But just because you lost your job, this does not mean you'll lose your source of income.

In fact, many employees may qualify for unemployment benefits that can help them through the rough patch before getting back on their feet.

Immigrant, 102, Finally Becomes U.S. Citizen

There's no age limit on citizenship but most immigrants who get sworn in were born in the last century. That's not true for Joaquin Arciago Guzman who became a United States citizen Wednesday at the age of 102.

The Philippines-born took the Oath of Allegiance in downtown Los Angeles and became part of a small group of immigrants who become citizens as centenarians. Only 27 people over the age of 100 have become citizens in the last 50 years, reports The Washington Post.

It took Guzman years to apply for citizenship although he has been eligible for years.