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

December 2017 Archives

President Donald Trump entered office having made some big campaign promises regarding immigration reform. And the administration's repeated efforts to make those promises a reality have met with mixed results from legislators and courts. Given all the back-and-forth, it's been a busy year on the immigration front.

Here are the major immigration stories from 2017:

If 2017 has taught us anything, it's that sexual harassment and even sexual assault in the workplace is rampant, across almost every industry and at almost every level of employment. Sadly, many instances of workplace harassment go unreported, meaning the problem is even more pervasive than we might have even thought.

There are many reasons for not reporting sexual harassment, from embarrassment to fear of retaliation, and some victims may not even realize that the behavior they experienced constitutes harassment. So here are three of the most common mistakes when it comes to responding to workplace sexual harassment, and how to avoid them:

Putting physical assets like a car or a house into your will or estate plan is relatively simple. Adding financial assets like stocks and savings accounts can be a little more complicated. But what about cryptocurrencies like bitcoin?

Now that bitcoin is legal tender and its value is skyrocketing, more and more people will be owners of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, meaning those assets will need to find their way into a will or estate plan. Here are five of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to bitcoin and estate planning, along with some answers.

When people debate abortion laws, the reason for the abortion often underlies many of the arguments. Among other assertions, pro-life proponents oppose abortion on religious grounds or argue that women shouldn't be able to end a life because they regret getting pregnant. Pro-choice advocates contend rape victims shouldn't be forced to bear the children of their rapists and bemoan any government intrusion into a woman's ability to end a woman's pregnancy.

But when it comes to legislatures and courts, the specific reasons for an abortion are, for the most part, left aside. And abortion restrictions are based more on the when and how rather than the why. But Ohio is one state trying to bring a woman's reason for an abortion into play. The state just banned abortions based on fetal diagnoses of Down syndrome.

When relationships get frayed, tempers can flare. And we can do and say some things that we regret. But when the things we regret become part of our criminal record, is there any way to get it off?

Some convictions can be expunged from your criminal record. Is domestic violence one of them?

With hackers, malware, and identity theft (not to mention all the hot political takes on social media) the internet can be a scary place. And it can be scarier for some than for others.

WIRED released its Guide to Digital Security last week, a list of ways to improve your online security depending on your levels of risk. Using your smartphone to shop? You'll need good password protection and be careful about giving too much information to too many retailers. A public figure with a public social media presence? You might need some two-step verification systems. And for the rest of us that fall somewhere in between, here are five great tips for online security.

In the wake of more and more mass shootings, the House of Representatives passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, a bill that would require each state to recognize concealed carry permits issued in other states.

Proponents of the new law claim it would reduce confusion caused by conflicting state laws on gun ownership and ease travel for gun owners. Opponents say that states with strict gun control laws would be forced to follow much looser firearm restrictions passed by other states. So how would concealed carry reciprocity actually work?

Selling a house isn't just difficult emotionally. It can also be legally complicated, with putting the property on the market and negotiating and finalizing the sale. And in any complicated process, certain things can fall through the cracks.

So here's a legal checklist for selling your home, so nothing gets left behind.

Is Net Neutrality Really Dead?

As you've probably heard by now, the FCC this week voted to overturn Obama-era regulations, referred to as net neutrality, that prohibited internet service providers from either throttling content to certain customers or creating fast lanes for certain companies. There's little doubt that the repeal of net neutrality will alter the internet as we know it, but is it a done deal?

Maybe not.

If you're still seeing people on social media telling you to contact your congressperson, there might be a good reason for that. And there may be some lawsuits in the works as well.

Litigation can be time-consuming and expensive. And when it comes to divorce, those are two things you probably want to avoid. So how can divorcing couples avoid the lengthy court calendar and extensive filing fees?

One option is divorce mediation, where both parties sit down with an independent mediator in a less formal setting, as opposed to appearing before a judge in a courtroom. But even if you determine that mediation is right for you (and your spouse agrees), how do you figure out which mediator is right for your divorce? Here are a few tips:

Many parents think that child support ends when a child turns 18 or graduates high school. And most of those parents would be right. But a few of them may be shocked to learn that they are also on the hook for post-secondary child support, also known as "college tuition."

Certain states allow courts to award post-secondary or post-minority support beyond the age of majority (18 in most states). So how are these awards determined?

Should I Hire a Forensic Accountant for My Divorce?

If you're involved in high asset divorce, you may have a hard time understanding exactly what's at stake, financially speaking. That's why you may need to hire someone qualified in this exact area. Even if you already have an experienced divorce attorney, you may consider hiring a forensic accountant to make sure your assets are accounted for and protected.

Forensic accountants who are experienced in divorce proceedings are typically hired either directly by a party to the divorce, or by an attorney representing one spouse. An accountant provides a financial analysis to assist with the divorce process, particularly in marriages where one or both spouses hold significant assets. They are typically a Certified Public Accountant, with specialized skill sets unique to the profession, including conducting investigations that extend beyond the typical alimony and child support calculations that are conducted by a divorce attorney.

It's been over two years since the Supreme Court recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry, yet some state officials have been dragging their feet recognizing the inherent rights that follow the right to marry. Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore famously ordered state probate judges to cease issuing marriage certificates for same-sex couples. (Moore was suspended from the court and ultimately resigned.) Other states were slow to recognize child custody and visitation rights of same-sex parents.

In Arkansas, birth certificates have become an issue for children of same-sex couples. Here's a look at what this issue is all about.

We all know to call 911 in an emergency. But some of us may be hard of hearing or speech impaired, and some emergencies don't allow for a safe phone call conversation with police dispatchers. So this week, Los Angeles County rolled out its "Text-to-911" service, giving Burbank, Glendale, Long Beach, and Los Angeles residents the ability to text 911 in the case of an emergency.

But texting 911 is not meant to entirely replace calling 911 as the primary contact for emergency services, and there are some caveats to texting 911. Here's what you need to know.

In recent years, many, if not all states have proposed drug testing applicants for and recipients of public assistance programs. Despite recent evidence that welfare applicants test positive for drugs at a rate far below the national average (and that the cost of drug screening welfare recipients far outweighs the savings of denying welfare access to drug users), legislation requiring some form of drug testing for public assistance recipients proliferates.

The legality of this legislation may depend on the assistance program involved and the screening required. Here's a look.

As we warned three years ago, the IRS considers Bitcoin and other digital currencies to be property for taxation purposes. Meaning buyers, sellers, and traders of virtual currencies may need to pay real taxes on those transactions.

If you haven't been reporting those gains or losses on tour tax returns, you might be in for a rude awakening come April. The IRS just gained access to information on over 10,000 users of Coinbase, a digital currency exchange.

A spouse's emotional abuse can be psychologically and physically damaging, and may be the reason you're seeking a divorce. But will a judge look less favorably on your abuser if your divorce goes to court?

Perhaps not when deciding how to split the marital assets. Thanks to the concept of "no-fault" divorce, now available in all 50 states, that allows either spouse to pursue a divorce for any reason, it doesn't much matter who's at fault in the split.

But some states still allow you to file a "fault" divorce, in which emotional abuse may play a role. And evidence of emotional abuse can have an effect on child custody decisions. Here's how emotional abuse can factor into your divorce case: