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

August 2015 Archives

Ever since the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868, the U.S. Constitution has guaranteed the citizenship of any person born in the United States. But in the past few weeks, Republican presidential candidates have been calling for an end to birthright citizenship.

How could a new president change the Constitution on citizenship? Or can states simply decide citizenship matters for themselves?

The current refugee crisis in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe has left many wondering how to help. Syrian refugees especially have been fleeing their homeland and making dangerous treks to Italy, Greece, and beyond.

Many efforts to help have been focused on adopting Syrian children, and while some adoption agencies have urged prospective parents to slow down, a lot of people want to go through with adopting a refugee child. If you are one of them, here are a few tips on how and where to start:

Even the most reasonable landlords and the most responsible tenants have the occasional dispute. Fortunately, the vast majority of these disputes never need to see the inside of a courtroom.

For a minority of these cases, however, you may need to sue a property management company in order to enforce your rights as a tenant. So here are a few things to keep in mind if and when you do:

As it has has been said, everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end. But even if your marriage is ending, there are ways to make sure your divorce isn't unnecessarily traumatic.

Taking the right steps for your children, your business, your taxes, and especially yourself can prepare you for a divorce and make the divorce process a more positive experience, both financially and emotionally.

3 Tips for Hiring Movers

Whether you're getting kicked out of your parents' place, movin' on up to the East Side, or you finally found the home of your dreams, you've got to figure out how to get all your old stuff into your new living space. That's where moving companies come in.

But you can't trust just anyone with your most treasured belongings, so how do you choose the movers? Here are three tips to get you started:

Maybe you were swayed by the swaying palms or a free round of golf. Or the idea that owning a piece of paradise would mean you'd visit more often. Either way, you're on the hook for a timeshare and now you're wondering how to get out of it. (Clearly, you didn't heed our advice about not buying a summer timeshare.)

The contract might seem iron-clad, but you may have a few options if you want to back out of a timeshare:

A divorce can be an emotionally and legally confusing time. Among the myriad documents and legal requirements for divorce, updating your will may fall through the cracks. Which is OK, as long as you're OK with your soon-to-be-ex inheriting all of your property.

Most divorcees aren't OK with that, which is why it's probably a good idea to disinherit your spouse. But it may not be so easy -- here are the ins and outs of disinheriting a spouse (or ex-spouse).

Like a lot of legal phrases, "common law marriage" gets tossed around quite a bit, but with little understanding of what it actually means. You just live with someone for a while, right? Maybe help them assemble some IKEA furniture?

As easy as that sounds, some people might be a little worried about winding up in a marriage they didn't intend. So here's how to avoid a common law marriage.

Emotional abuse may be harder to identify than physical abuse, but that doesn’t make it any less harmful. Whether in the context of marriage, family, or even strangers, emotional abuse can leave lasting psychological and sometimes physical effects.

Fortunately, there are laws that can protect victims and prosecute perpetrators of emotional abuse. Here are some of those laws that you can, and sometimes must, use to protect yourself and others.

Civil rights icon Julian Bond passed away at the age of 75 on August 15. Bond was an accomplished politician and professor, but above all he was a social activist, becoming one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in his 20s and continuing to fight for equal rights into his 70s.

One of Bond's most enduring legacies is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a legal nonprofit that has been fighting hate groups, racism, and inequality since its founding in 1971.

Whether you want to hand out flyers promoting your favorite political platform or your latest business venture, you may be wondering if you need to get a permit first. (Or you may be wondering if the person hassling you with a flyer needed or got a permit to do so.) After all, there are all sorts of ordinances regulating posting ads and flyers on poles and street signs, so wouldn't the same be true of handing out coupons and leaflets?

In classic legal fashion, the answer, as always, is: it depends. There are some circumstances, and some cities, that will require a permit to hand out flyers.

It's back-to-school time and that means back to the teachers we love. On the whole, teachers are hard-working, gracious, patient, and inspiring leaders doing double the work for half the pay and mentoring whole generations of students.

Every now and then, though, you run into a bad apple. And while these nightmare teachers may not spoil the whole bunch, they can spoil your day or year.

The idea seems easy enough: You love to teach yoga and you know some folks who want to practice with you. You may not have the money for a studio space, but it's nice outside, so why not just take your class to the park?

Unfortunately, it may not be that easy. If the yoga session is free, then you probably don't have to worry. However, if you're charging clients for the yoga session, you may need a permit to teach yoga in a public park.

Many of those looking to adopt are also looking beyond our borders for adoptive children. And while an international adoption can be as loving, fulfilling, and rewarding as one from within the United States, there may be additional financial and legal hurdles involved.

Here are five legal tips to aid in your international adoption:

Getting a loan -- for school, a car, or a home -- isn't easy. (At least, it's not as easy as it was ten years ago.) The credit checks, the interest rates, and the possible down payment can make getting a loan next to impossible.

And not everyone can get a loan on their own without family members or friends to cosign. A cosigner is the lender's insurance policy in case the primary borrower can't repay the debt. But once a person has cosigned a loan, is there any way for them to get released?

Perhaps the biggest arena in the vaccination debate has been schools, and whether they're allowed to require children to be vaccinated before attending. The argument over vaccines may seem new, but the Supreme Court, all the way back in 1905, ruled that states and school districts can make vaccination compulsory for school attendance.

With the first day of school around the corner, here's what parents need to know about the vaccine rule, any exceptions, and potential liability for not vaccinating their children.

Kids may not be excited about going to back to school and parents may not be too thrilled about the legal issues they might face with school starting.

But if you're proactive in addressing some potential educational and safety concerns, it could be smoother sailing into the school year for everyone.

Maybe you got into a fender bender abroad. Maybe you blogged about a foreign national and they're not happy with what you wrote. Maybe an ex is filing for divorce from another country.

Whatever the case may be, it is possible to be sued in a foreign country. So what does that mean for you?

Being in debt can be a scary place -- especially when a creditor starts taking a piece of your paycheck. In some cases, creditors could be taking so much you can no longer afford to pay other bills, sending you deeper into debt.

It turns out you may have some options if you need to end or alter wage garnishment, including filing for an exemption or getting the debt vacated entirely.

As medical technology has advanced, we have been faced with moral, ethical, and preferential questions regarding life-sustaining treatment. Often, these questions remain unanswered during a person's life, leading to tragic arguments over a person's medical treatment.

There are several legal documents available to try and plan ahead for medical treatment, like living wills and durable powers of attorney. A physician order for life-sustaining treatment, or POLST, also tries to set out a patient's wishes regarding medical treatment should he or she become incapacitated, but also differs from other advance directives.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling that gave same-sex couples the right to get married, many county court clerks have refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing their anti-gay religious beliefs. In response, same-sex couples and in some instances the American Civil Liberties Union have filed lawsuits trying to force clerks to issue marriage licenses, regardless.

Who is right? While most of these cases are pending, let's take a look at the conflicting Constitutional protections.