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

July 2015 Archives

If your permanent resident status is based on a marriage, and that marriage is falling apart, you may be worried about your green card. Getting a divorce can be an emotionally and legally scary prospect, especially if you're worried about being deported.

While you may not lose your green card due to a divorce, you may have to file some extra paperwork.

I'm not sure what Michael Cohen charges per hour, but Donald Trump is surely overpaying him, at least for his opinion on criminal law. On Monday the special counsel for The Trump Organization responded to questions regarding Trump's alleged rape of his then-wife Ivana Trump, saying, "You cannot rape your spouse. And there's very clear case law."

Cohen couldn't be more wrong. Marital rape is illegal in every state. Although some state rape laws treat marital rape differently.

Following the death of a relative, the last thing anyone wants is a fight over the assets of the deceased. Everyone, including those in the court system, want the process to go as smoothly as possible.

With all of these good intentions, how do we still get into bitter disputes over inheritance? How can these disputes be avoided?

It's my property, right? Wait, does the property end before or after the sidewalk? Or in the middle? And if the sidewalk is on my property, do I still need a permit? After all, I heard you can get sued if your sidewalk is a safety hazard, so shouldn't I just fix this ASAP?

Not so fast. Like many construction projects, big and small, you may need a permit to fix your sidewalk.

The technological innovations in video recording and streaming have made home surveillance and security simpler and more secret. But can you take in-home surveillance too far?

Between nanny cams and monitoring your vacation or Airbnb rental, there are legitimate reasons for wanting to have a surveillance camera in your guest room. But there also may be legal issues with recording someone without their knowledge.

Welcome to the new FindLaw series, "If I Find," where we'll discuss the rule of finders keepers as it applies to different topics. We hope you'll check back regularly!

What's that black sludge puddling up in your back yard? ... Oil?

Congratulations, you're rich! Or, are you? Finding oil on your property may feel like striking liquid gold and winning the jackpot. However, it may not be a sure fact that you'll make any money off of it. Be careful, because it may not even belongs to you.

If you find oil in your back yard, is it yours?

The new home you found was perfect, so you made an offer. But if you find out the house isn't so perfect, are you stuck with it?

Well, that all depends. Not the most exciting answer, I know, so let's take a look at some of the factors determining whether you can back out on an offer to buy a house.

Do you have solar panels at your home? If be, be careful of possible damage to your solar panels caused by the environment. Also, you should be alert for damage to your home caused by defective solar panels.

If your solar panels are damaged or defective, does your insurance cover your losses?

For many couples, unfortunately, bankruptcy and divorce go hand in hand.

The statistics are quite discouraging and telling. Nearly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Of those, 22 percent of divorces are caused by money issues or disagreements about how to spend money.

If you and your spouse are contemplating bankruptcy and divorce, should you file for one before the other? Does it matter?

For a country that prides itself as being on the cutting edge of hot dog pizza, fried cheesecake, and Dorito-shelled taco technology, there are a surprising number of foods banned in the U.S. Some foods are illegal due to health concerns, some due to environmental hazards, and others because the main ingredient is an endangered species.

So what deliciousness are you missing out on?

With summer in full swing, the hot weather may have you tempted to put in a swimming pool.

Before you dive into constructing one, there may be one pesky issue you'll have to take care of first -- a permit.

Do you need a permit to build a swimming pool?

Buying a house is a big deal. Beyond the financial investment, there are quite a few legal implications, not to mention the emotional attachment to a new home. No one wants to end up on the other side of home ownership, wishing they had known something else before they got started.

Here are five things to know when buying a home, from incentives and inspections to insurance and the institutions that regulate home ownership. bills itself as a matchmaker for married people looking to have an affair. So, the general public probably won't feel much sympathy for the 37 million users whose personal information was stolen in a hack last week.

While releasing the names of attempted or accomplished adulterers would be personally damaging to those involved, could there be legal repercussions for the cheating site's users as well?

Chances are, you've driven over a bridge at least once or twice in your life. Have you ever thought about the idea of it collapsing and plunging your car down 50, 70, 100 feet?

Recently, a bridge on I-10 connecting California and Arizona collapsed due to heavy rain and erosion. Luckily, nobody died. One car and its driver did crash because of the collapse, but the driver survived with some injuries. The main impact of the bridge collapse is the millions of dollars it will cost to repair the collapsed section, and millions more lost as traffic on the busy highway must be re-routed.

When a bridge collapses, who is liable for damages?

There were 2.2 million American in jail or in prison in 2013. That's a lot of people. It's not surprising that the effects of incarceration would be felt by the children of the parents locked up behind bars.

According to a 2010 Pew study, 2.7 million children had at least one incarcerated parent. These children often suffer adverse health and educational effects of having a parent in jail.

Read the third line from the bottom ... C, F, D, T.

Did you pass the vision test when you got your driver's license? Do you have 20/20 vision? If you need prescription glasses or contact lenses, you probably have a restricted driver's license. But unless you wear your glasses everywhere you go, you may forget to wear your glasses every once in a while.

Can you get a ticket if you drive without your glasses?

The recent hack of the Office of Personnel Management exposed the personal information of some 21.5 million people. That's almost 15 percent of the country. So understandably, it may take some time to notify all those people.

Could you be one of them? Here's what the OPM does, and why they may have your personal information.

Can I Sue for Being Overworked?

You’re lucky if you work 40 hours per week.

Many other employees work 50, 60, or even 70 hours per week. Constantly working too many hours can have serious negative impact on your health, your state of mind, and even your social life. Are you overworking yourself because you need extra money? Or, is your employer overworking you because the business doesn’t want to hire another employee?

Can you sue for being overworked?

Raising kids is hard. Anybody who becomes a parent thinking that it will be easy, probably shouldn't be allowed to be a parent in the first place.

Raising an adopted child can be especially challenging. Often, these children have been abused and traumatized before they are adopted. Many have psychological issues that require extra resources and care. However, many adopted parents excitedly bring home a child from Africa or Asia thinking that they'll just live happily ever after. /p>

When things get rough, and the children act up, some parents are quick to dump the adopted kids on another family through a process called re-homing. Is re-homing legal?

The accumulated student loan debt for all Americans is nearly $1.3 trillion, and rising by the second. And these aren't just people seeking advanced degrees like law and medicine -- some 40 million Americans have some student debt.

For many of those who owe money for their education, making payments on those loans is difficult, if not impossible. So what can you do if you can't pay your student loans?

When you're 30, you can't wait until the day you can retire and spend your days sipping Pina Coladas on a white sand beach. When you finally retire at 65 or 67, suddenly you miss going to work every day. Either you're restless or didn't save up enough for retirement, and now you want to return to work in retirement.

Here are the best cities, according to US News, for working after retirement:

When checking into a hospital, legal concerns are often the last things on your mind. But as it turns out, there are quite a few legal questions you should be aware of if you’re checking into a hospital.

Here’s what you need to know:

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Now that the initial excitement and adrenaline has worn off, you probably have a lot of questions.

Many mothers like to wait until after the first trimester to tell friends and family about a pregnancy. But, what about your employer? Do you have to notify your employer about your pregnancy, and when?

While we recommend that you have an attorney help you with legal filings, we do recognize that there are times when you may be able to complete some legal forms yourself.

For most motions, complaints, and pleadings, you no longer have to write it out on pleading papers. Most courts have created forms that are easy to fill out. The hard part is finding where to get those forms and making sure that they're the most current forms available.

Here is a list of resources where you can find the forms you need for your legal case.

National Park Drug Laws

We go to national parks to commune with nature, but if your communion includes more than sacramental wafers and wine, you may want to leave it at home.

Park rangers are cracking down on drugs in national parks, especially Yosemite National Park, whose visitors are four times as likely to be arrested for drug possession.

Welcome to the new FindLaw series, "If I Find," where we'll discuss the rule of finders keepers as it applies to different topics. We hope you'll check back regularly!

If you've ever lost a cell phone, raise your hand. I know I have. If you find a lost cell phone, give it back!

Finding a lost cell phone, especially a shiny new iPhone, can seem like hitting a jackpot. Even if you don't need it, you could probably sell it for a lot of money (unless the phone has a new smartphone kill switch).

However, can you legally keep it?

Divorce and custody issues are never easy, and things can get even harder if kids refuse to obey a custody order. So what can you do if children refuse to see one of their parents, as ordered by the court?

You can have a judge send them to juvenile detention, apparently. That's the answer a Michigan family court judge came up with, as she sent three siblings to juvie for refusing to see their father

South Carolina lowered the Confederate battle flag that had flown outside its State House this morning and moved it to a Civil War museum nearby. The law calling for the flag's removal progressed quickly through the state legislature and was signed by the governor yesterday.

While many had called for the controversial flag's removal since it began flying on capitol grounds over 50 years ago, debate intensified following the racially-motivated killing of nine black parishioners in a historically black church last month.

As the vaccine debate seems to have hit a fever pitch in the past couple years, it's actually been an ongoing national conversation since the 70's and 80's. In fact, there was so much litigation surrounding claims of vaccine injuries back then that Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) in 1986.

The goal of the NCVIA was to limit the liability for vaccine injury cases by restricting the types of claims that could be brought and the time in which they could be brought. Two years later, a trust fund was created to compensate vaccine-related injuries or deaths from covered vaccines. So how does the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) work?

Child custody is a sensitive topic for all parents. With emotions and pressures high, it’s easy to get flustered and overwhelmed at the idea of a child custody mediation meeting.

So, here are five tips to help you prepare for child custody mediation.

This year, Disneyland is going all out for its Diamond celebration.

While Disney was busy making kids' dreams come true for the past 60 years, it was also spending much of that time defending itself against one lawsuit after another. In honor of Disney's Diamond celebration, here is a roundup of the best, funniest, and saddest lawsuits against Disneyland:

Of all the things parents worry about when their kids take out the family car, civil liability is pretty far down the list. We just want our kids to come home safe.

But if your child gets into an accident with the family car, who’s responsible for the damage or injuries? And does it matter if they were out joyriding or driving with your permission? Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s an entire legal concept dedicated to just this scenario.

As we noted yesterday, lawyers have long been associated with sharks. From Herman Melville to CBS, referring to attorneys as sharks has a long and storied tradition.

In honor of shark week, let's take a look at how you can figure out if your lawyer is a shark:

Sanctuary. What does that mean to you?

For many undocumented immigrants, sanctuary means being able to go to work or school or just the DMV without the constant fear of being reported to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported.

However, does living in a sanctuary city mean an undocumented immigrant will never be deported? How does a sanctuary city protect immigrants?

It's Shark Week both on the Discovery Channel, and here at FindLaw! While many of will never see a shark in the sea, some of us will have to deal with a different kind of shark: loan sharks.

Get a $500 loan fast! No collateral required! These offers sound great, especially if you need money quickly. However, these nice lenders do not tell you how much you'll be paying them later on. A loan shark offers small loans at ridiculously high interest rate that are almost impossible to pay back.

Loan sharking is illegal, but many people still fall victim to the lenders' predatory tactics.

With the Fourth of July coming up, many police forces are warning drivers about DUIs and DUI checkpoints. However, this weekend, be careful. You could get ticketed for drinking alcohol without ever getting into a car.

Depending on where you are when you take a swig of beer, you could be violating open container laws.

If a prospective tenant asks, "Do you accept Section 8?" how do you respond? Can you say no, or must you always say yes?

Some landlords like having Section 8 tenants because it's a guaranteed source of on-time rental income. However, others are wary of having to deal with Section 8 bureaucracy and would like to avoid it altogether.

Do landlords have a choice, or do they have to accept a Section 8 tenant?

How to Modify a Loan Agreement

Are your loans getting too hard to pay? In certain instances, you can take advantage of the fact that loan agreements aren't set in stone.

If you're in trouble and are unable to pay your loans, you may want to request a loan modification. Banks and the government offer many loan modification programs that can help you. For example, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), created in 2009, allows eligible homeowners to reduce their mortgage payments to 31 percent of their pre-tax monthly income.

Sounds great, but how do you get a loan modification? Here are some steps to help guide you through the process: