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

September 2016 Archives

When spouses separate, the world does not stop moving forward, despite the emotional turmoil. Everyday expenses still pile up. A joint debt, or obligation, remains a joint debt, for which the creditor can pursue either of you individually or jointly. The same way that a creditor can go after a co-signor of a loan, joint debts are payable and enforceable against both spouses even after the marriage ends, unless the debts are settled as part of the divorce or renegotiated with the creditor.

All too often, in the time between separating and divorcing, spouses will ruin each other’s credit because joint debts fall by the wayside. When parties cannot agree on how to divide their property and assets, a court will need to get involved, which can make the process take significantly longer. When a home mortgage or debts relating to children are involved, the shared finances and joint obligations become something that the separated parties need to discuss as early as possible.

The hearts of nursing home bureaucrats are going to be breaking all over the country come November 28, 2016. That's the day the new regulation goes into effect preventing nursing homes from requiring new residents to sign agreements that contain arbitration clauses in order to move in, unless they're willing to forego receiving Federal government monies.

Arbitration clauses in nursing home admissions contracts have been so widely used that finding a nursing home without one would be harder than finding an heirloom tomato in Camden, New Jersey. This change in the law is great for the elderly moving into a nursing home after November 28. 2016. The law is not being applied retroactively.

When parents divorce, often the most contentious issue concerns the right to raise the children. Courts will generally look to what is in the best interest of the child. Usually, a court will not want to exclude one parent from custody unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as allegations of abuse, drug or alcohol abuse, or other factors that create an unfit environment to raise a child.

When divorced parents decide to share custody of the children, there are a few different approaches. Joint custody of a child typically involves both parents sharing legal custody (the decision making authority) as well as physical custody (having the child live under their roof). But what's the difference between joint custody and split custody?

Sometimes, a landlord and tenant will get along great. And even if they're not best friends, some landlords and tenants can go years or even decades without any conflict whatsoever. Unfortunately, that's not true for every landlord-tenant relationship. And the worst disputes can often end up in housing court.

More often than not, a landlord will come to court with a lawyer. But the same isn't always true for renters and that can have a big impact on the outcome of the legal dispute. A study from the New York City Bar showed that tenants without legal representation were 77 percent more likely to be evicted than those with a lawyer. Perhaps that's why NYC is considering providing lawyers to low-income residents facing eviction. Here's a look at the proposed law and how it might affect tenant rights.

Obtaining disability benefits can be a confusing process. Whether a person needs a lawyer to file for disability benefits really depends on the person, their individual circumstances, and their ability to complete the mountain of paperwork within the allotted time frames.

While getting the process started is simple enough to do without an attorney, once a claim is denied, strict deadlines are triggered and an appeal must be filed in a timely fashion. If you are concerned that meeting the deadline to file an appeal may be difficult, hiring an attorney before filing your initial claim might be the right choice for you. Also, you may simply want to get your paperwork professionally reviewed to insure it's completed correctly.

Divorce is one of the hardest legal events anyone will ever face. When you divorce, you face losses that are not just emotional, but financial and legal as well. This blog series will help answer some basic questions you might have about divorce.

After the child custody and support issues are sorted out, one of the biggest questions divorcing couples need to answer is who gets what after the split. Some things, like the family car, you might love to keep; other things, like your spouse's debt, you want no part of. So how do couples -- or courts -- divide property during a divorce?

Here are five of the biggest marital property questions, and where you can go for answers.

In the wake of Ahmad Khan Rahami's arrest as the main suspect in a series of bombings in New York and New Jersey last week, CNN asked the question: "Does bombing suspect deserve due process?" Donald Trump lamented the fact that Rahami received medical treatment after he shot during his arrest and may have access to a lawyer. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he hopes President Barack Obama will declare Rahami an enemy combatant so he could be placed in military custody and interrogated without a lawyer or Miranda warnings.

Fortunately for Rahami, and the rest of us United States citizens, our due process rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, and not conditional on whether or not you "deserve" them, how guilty you look, or what crime you are charged with.

A minor generally cannot become emancipated from just one parent unless there is only one parent, such as when one of the minor's parents has died, or has terminated their parental rights. Emancipation of a minor terminates all parental custodial rights, which in turn makes that minor an adult for legal purposes.

While we've all heard the stories of young celebrities that sought emancipation from their parents, it is important to note that there are many reasons why celebrities, as minors, would choose to petition for emancipation. Drew Barrymore, at 15, sought emancipation to become an adult in order to avoid child labor laws so that she could better pursue her acting career. On the other hand, Macaulay Culkin and Corey Feldman both sought emancipation after learning of their parents' financial mismanagement of their earnings.

Once you've made the decision to get out of your marriage, your next question might be how long it will take to get it all over with. We're sure you don't need to be told that doing it right is better than doing it fast, but we also know that prolonging an already emotionally-charged situation doesn't do anyone any favors. So how quickly can you get a divorce?

Every ending marriage is unique, but there are some common factors that can expedite or delay your divorce.

Workplaces are becoming more accommodating, especially when it comes to fashion. Every day seems like casual Friday in Silicon Valley. And many companies pride themselves on not only allowing but encouraging their employees to express themselves freely in their fashion choices.

But what about more conservative employers? And what about company grooming policies, like bans on dreadlocks, which appear to have a racial motivation? Can banning dreadlocks constitute racial discrimination?

Divorce is one of the hardest legal events anyone will ever face. When you divorce, you face losses that are not just emotional, but financial and legal as well. This blog series will help answer some basic questions you might have about divorce.

You know one thing -- your marriage is coming to an end. After that, there's a seemingly endless list of questions and precious few answers. And most of those unanswered questions center on the paperwork and procedure involved with filing for divorce.

While every divorce is unique and will present its own set of questions, there are some answers that will apply to most divorce cases. Here are three of the biggest divorce procedure questions, and a few answers as well.

No matter what the circumstances leading up to a divorce, it's common to wonder: Who gets what? And, especially, who gets the family car?

While this seems like it would be a simple question, the answer could depend on a variety of factors, like who bought the car, when they bought it, and even what state you live in. Here's a look at some state divorce laws, and how they might impact who gets the car after a divorce.

Divorce is one of the hardest legal events anyone will ever face. When you divorce, you face losses that are not just emotional, but financial and legal as well. This blog series will help answer some basic questions you might have about divorce.

It's not a great place to be -- knowing your marriage is probably coming to an end, but just not sure how it will happen. Do you go ahead and file for divorce? Wait for your spouse to? Does it even matter?

Legally speaking, there is little reason to outrace your soon-to-be-ex to the courthouse. But, as with many things in life, there may be reasons to take charge of the divorce process by filing first.

Just because your ex missed a child support payment doesn't mean the obligation goes away. Like any financial obligation, the amount you're owed will accumulate and your ex will still be responsible for making back child support payments. But for how long? Child support generally runs until a child turns 18, but if your ex missed payments during that time, can you still collect back child support after that?

Here's what you need to know.

Whether it's the job of your dreams or just something to pay the bills, getting a job offer is a great feeling. You've done all the hard work of finding the position, applying, and interviewing, so saying yes should be the easy part, right?

Well, not always. There are still quite a few things to consider before you shake your new boss's hand or sign an employment contract. Here are three of those things you need to think about before you accept a job offer.

Divorce is one of the hardest legal events anyone will ever face. When you divorce, you face losses that are not just emotional, but financial and legal as well. This blog series will help answer some basic questions you might have about divorce.

Every marriage is unique, and every divorce can present its own set of emotional and legal challenges. But every now and then couples are faced with some especially demanding or downright odd circumstances, many of which aren't easy to deal with. For instance, what if your spouse lives in another country? Or behind bars?

Here are five of the strangest divorce scenarios, along with some advice on handling them, from our archives:

It ain't easy being a teen. And it sure ain't easy raising one, especially in this day and age. Between camera phones, social media, and access to automobiles, it feels like there are more ways for teenagers to get into trouble than ever before.

So how do you keep your teenager out of harm's way? And which laws might land them in trouble? Here's a look at five laws parents should know about, from our archives.

When a US Citizen or permanent resident seeks to help an immediate family member to immigrate to the US, there is quite a bit of paperwork required. The first form that needs to be completed is the USCIS Form I-130. This form must be completed for each individual family member that wants to immigrate.

US Immigration law is confusing and filled with multiple forms that must be correctly filled out. The USCIS Form I-130 should be used for the following relatives of US citizens and permanent residents:

Can I Serve Divorce Papers Myself?

Divorce is one of the hardest legal events anyone will ever face. When you divorce, you face losses that are not just emotional, but financial and legal as well. This blog series will help answer some basic questions you might have about divorce.

When you file divorce papers, the court clerk stamps all the copies, keeps a few, and gives one back to you with a stamped summons, and maybe a stack of other informational documents. Then what? Then, you actually need to have the papers served on your soon-to-be ex. This process is called service of process. But can you serve the papers yourself?

Generally, when you serve initial court papers, you are not the person actually delivering the papers. Almost every state has professional process servers who, for a fee, will deliver your documents and sign a proof of service form. While some states offer alternative methods of service apart from personal delivery, personal delivery is the best method to ensure receipt cannot be disputed.

We all have our retirement dreams. Some couples dream about retiring early, rich, and in a tropical location, while others just want an RV and a ticket to ride. When couples start planning for retirement, the big question is always whether their goal is actually achievable? This isn't just a financial question, but also a question of pragmatism.

After you have settled on the basic idea, you need to figure out the who, what, when, where, and most importantly, the how.

For the most part, divorce courts don't treat cheating spouses like they used to. With the rise of no-fault divorce options, whether one spouse had an extramarital affair generally doesn't come into play in divorce cases.

But what about when children are involved? Could courts and judges take adultery into account when making child custody decisions?

When most parents send their children off to school, they want them to get a good education and be safe. The same is true for parents of transgender students, only they are also concerned with how their children's rights will be protected on school grounds.

The Department of Education sought to clarify this issue when it released guidance for public schools, ordering them to treat a student's gender identity as their sex and prohibiting them from discriminating against any student based on the basis of sex or gender identity. But while some thought this settled the matter of transgender bathroom access in schools, subsequent lawsuits and judicial orders have muddied the waters, and now it might be up to the Supreme Court to step in and decide things once and for all.

Short answer: Yes. Especially if you live in Washington, DC.

Renters across the country, even in states that provide for legal recreational or medicinal use of marijuana, can be evicted because of the drug. However, in places were marijuana is legal for recreational usage and medical usage, it requires more than a simple "no illegal activity" clause in your lease. Even where pot is legal, if you are selling it, growing it, processing it, and smoking it indoors or in the common areas, you can potentially get evicted.

However, in Washington, DC, just a little bit of marijuana can lead to a nuisance abatement letter to your landlord, which can lead to an eviction. When your landlord receives a nuisance abatement letter, they are under threat of property seizure and you can bet your last month's rent on the fact that your landlord will want you out fast.

Top 10 Divorce Questions

Divorce is never easy, emotionally or legally. From court filings, fees, and paperwork, to even bigger questions about child custody, alimony, and property division, there is a seemingly endless amount of decisions to be made.

As hard as these questions can be, there are answers. Here are ten of the biggest questions people have regarding divorce and where you can find the answers, from our archives:

While it comes as no surprise to recent immigrants, the United States has rather strict immigration laws. For undocumented immigrants, also called "illegal immigrants" or "illegal aliens," the legal system can be scary.

Below are five important facts about US immigration laws relating to undocumented immigrants.

Divorce is one of the hardest legal events anyone will ever face. When you divorce, you face losses that are not just emotional, but financial and legal as well. This blog series will help answer some basic questions you might have about divorce.

Just like your marriage, a divorce is an official legal proceeding, necessitating some filing of documents with a court. But does that mean you need to appear before a judge? And will there be a trial, or witnesses, or evidence?

All relationships are unique, so your divorce will be unique to your circumstances. But here are some factors that may decide whether you need to go to court to get a divorce.

The short answer to this question is a resounding: Maybe? Most states allow a party paying or receiving spousal support (or alimony) to ask the court for a modification based upon changed circumstances. Going back to school is certainly a changed circumstance. But whether or not spousal support will be changed is addressed on a case by case basis, with the court relying on whether it would be reasonable to do so.

The purpose of spousal support is to allow a spouse to maintain the same standard of living they became accustomed to during the marriage for a reasonable period of time and/or until the spouse can become self-sufficient. That reasonable period of time, in California, for example, is half the duration of the marriage, give or take a few units of measurement depending on individualized considerations such as education, earning capacity and child custody.

If a school or teacher suspects your child is being abused or neglected at home, state laws generally require that the teacher or school administrator report the suspected abuse to authorities. It is a requirement of their jobs to spot the signs of abuse or neglect, and make the report.

If your child has bruises all over their body and doesn’t explain that the bruises are from football camp, for example, then the teacher will likely be required by law to report their suspicions.