Reasons to Delay Divorce ‘Till After the Holidays

166286138When you’ve decided to get a divorce, sometimes it seems as though you can’t stand to be married to your partner for one more minute. While this is a natural sentiment, unless you’re in an abusive situation, you may want to wait to divorce until after the holidays.

Reasons Not to File Yet

If the winter holidays are fast approaching, here are some reasons to delay signing those divorce papers until after the New Year:

  1. Avoid the Holiday Frenzy

The holidays are often a time of heightened emotions, even for those who have had relatively happy and healthy childhoods. The holidays are a time to reflect, to consider what the past year as entailed and to make plans for the future. However, despite all this peaceful reflecting, it is also a time of long lines, stressed out friends and family and the pressure of getting just the right presents and preparing just the right food. Unless you and your spouse are going through an incredibly civil divorce with no children, no assets and no resentment, divorcing during the holidays will most likely only compound the stress factor.

  1. Give the Children a Calm Holiday

Especially if you and your spouse have been married with children for a while, you may not want to disrupt their lives right before the holidays. You most likely have traditions in place that the children are used to each year. Making changes to this tradition right before it occurs can create tension and upset. See if you can make an agreement with your spouse to focus on the children for a couple weeks and then move on with your separate lives at the start of the new year.

  1. Simplify Your Taxes

Tax season can be a mess after a divorce, especially if the divorce happened near the end of the preceding year. While it may seem trite to let the New Year ring in before legally changing your filing status, it can save you a major headache down the road.

  1. Resist Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Since holidays are stressful in and of themselves, if you divorce during the holidays, you may find yourself coping in unhealthy ways. You might overspend on presents as a way to numb any emotions, or you might find yourself overeating or buying things you don’t need. January 1st naturally provides a renewed sense of calm and focus, and it can be a better time to make a major life change.

  1. Bonuses

If you rely on your spouse’s income and are legally owed half of what your spouse earns at the divorce, you may want to wait until after your spouse has received the end of the year bonus before legally divorcing.

Ultimately, only you know what is right for you and your family, but these considerations can help you make a confident choice.

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Your Rights as a Renter

84517039If you rent a home or apartment you have certain legal protections you should know about. Landlords and real estate companies have codes of conduct they must follow and if they violate your rights you can take them to court to seek justice.

Anti-Discrimination Laws in Housing: A Rundown

As a citizen you have a fundamental right to find a place to live. If you were there first, have the financial resources to afford a particular home or apartment and no glitches on your credit record the unit you want should be yours.

To guarantee equal access, federal law currently prohibits rental discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Disability (mental or physical)
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Family status (with or without children)
  • Age

Open discrimination is clearly illegal. However, landlords aren’t allowed to skirt the law through more subtle forms of preferential treatment, either.

For example, they can’t charge different rents for similar units, evaluate anyone’s application more thoroughly than any others, require bigger deposits from some potential renters or favor or discourage any demographic groups from applying in their advertising. They also can’t lie about the availability of an apartment, harass you after you move in or evict you for non-payment of rent without a warning period that gives you a chance to make good your debt.

Here are a few more basic legal rights you are guaranteed as a renter:

  1. The right to know why your application was rejected (if it was). As long as you submit a request in writing they will have to provide an explanation—unless the rejection was based on an official credit report.
  2. The right to due process (warning notices, a chance to make late payments, notices of court action, etc.) if you are facing eviction.
  3. The right to live in a place that is suitable for habitation. If the unit you plan to reside in is physically damaged in a way that affects your safety, or is infested with mice, rats or insects, the landlord has a responsibility to clean it up or fix it up before you move in (at no extra cost to you).
  4. The right to protect your privacy. This means they, their representatives or any service technicians they hire cannot enter your home or apartment without prior notice and/or your permission.

Exceptions to the Rules

Government anti-discrimination rules are extensive but they are not universal. You may face some legally allowed restrictions if you apply to live in:

  • Senior citizen housing.
  • Owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer rental units.
  • Single-family homes that are not handled by a real estate broker.
  • Housing provided by religious or non-profit organizations for members or employees.
  • Section 8 housing.

Landlords can adopt ‘no pet’ policies if they choose. However, they are not allowed to enforce these restrictions if the animals in question are seeing-eye dogs or provide other important services for people with mental or physical disabilities.

Unfortunately there is no general law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But so far 22 states have passed laws outlawing the former type of discrimination and 19 of these also prohibit the latter. In addition, if you apply to live in federally-funded housing this type of discrimination is strictly forbidden.

Know Your Rights and Demand the Respect You Deserve

The best way to protect your rights is to know about them ahead of time, so you will be prepared to lodge a protest the minute they are violated. While it usually doesn’t go that far, the courts and the legal system are there to help you if an unscrupulous landlord or rental agency discriminates against you in any way, shape or form.

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What is a Restraining Order or Protection Order?

493074197To file a request for a restraining order you must contact the district attorney’s office in your city or county. You can make your appeal directly if you prefer but you can also hire a criminal defense to file the necessary papers for you.

Before the restraining order can be issued you will have to provide evidence to support your claims. However, a sworn statement from the victim is usually sufficient to convince a judge to issue a temporary restraining order, which goes into effect immediately. After the accused person has been notified a courtroom hearing will be held to determine if the temporary restraining order should be upgraded to something more substantial.

During this hearing you will be asked to offer more substantial evidence to back up your claims of harassment or victimization. Acceptable forms of proof could include police statements, medical records, corroborating eyewitness or ear-witness testimony, video or audio recordings, evidence of damage to private property or written threats in the form of emails, text messages, social media posts or handwritten letters.

In order to have the restraining order extended you won’t have to prove “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” as would be required in a conventional criminal case. The standard used here is called “the preponderance of the evidence,” which means you will have to persuade the judge that your allegations of abuse are more likely to be true than false.

If the judge finds in your favor the status of the restraining order will change from temporary to permanent. Despite the name a permanent order usually expires after a certain period of time, most likely from two to 10 years. However, should you have a change of heart you can have the restraining order lifted at any time.

Making the Law Work for You

There is of course no guarantee that a person subject to a restraining order will obey it. But once it has been issued, in either temporary or permanent form, it is the duty of the police to see that it is enforced. If the perpetrator violates the order you can have him or her arrested. Charges will be filed, a trial will be held and if your tormentor is found guilty a prison term may be the final result.

A restraining order is not a perfect solution. But if you have been victimized by a toxic person a restraining order can help restore your sense of security and give you at least some peace of mind.

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How to Behave in a Courtroom

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When you are a defendant or plaintiff in a courtroom proceeding, you shouldn’t expect to prevail based on the truth alone.

No matter how convinced you are of the righteousness of your cause judges and juries won’t automatically give you the benefit of the doubt. If you want them to take you seriously you must prove your case and establish yourself as a reliable, trustworthy and dependable person.

Six Principles of Conduct

Fairly or unfairly, your conduct in the courtroom can play a decisive role in the final resolution of your case.

Here are a few important principles of proper courtroom behavior you should always try to observe …

  1. Dress for success

Comfort and personal expression don’t matter but the impression you make on the judge and jury does. Suits, dress shirts and pants for men and a business suit or other type of workplace-appropriate outfit for women are good choices. Be sure to wear dress shoes, not sneakers or sandals.

  1. Follow instructions to the letter

Do what bailiffs, court attendants and judges tell you to do. Go where they tell you to go and don’t assume a combative or non-cooperative attitude. If you don’t understand an instruction ask a court official about it politely and thank them for their response.

  1. Speak only when you’re supposed too

Don’t interrupt judges or lawyers—not even your own—and don’t speak to family or friends sitting in the gallery. Cell phones are forbidden in courtrooms so don’t even think about using one, even if court isn’t officially in session.

  1. Watch your body language

Body language that expresses excessive or negative emotion, such as eye rolling, hand waving, crossed arms, finger pointing or wild gesturing should be avoided. Listen intently when others are testifying, or conversing with the judge, and remain calm and under control when your turn comes to speak.

  1. Speak clearly and politely

If you are required to speak to the court, stand up, address the judge as “your honor” and don’t shout, mumble or whisper. Never show impatience if the judge or opposing attorney interrupts you to ask for clarification. Maintain eye contact with judges, attorneys or jury members as appropriate, and when you finish speaking say ‘thank you’ and return to your seat promptly.

  1. Answer questions directly, honestly and respectfully – but don’t let yourself be rushed

When testifying keep your answers brief and to-the-point. Resist the temptation to embellish your statements or accent them by gesturing or raising your voice. If you find a particular question combative or hostile don’t respond aggressively or react with defensiveness. Take your time to gather your thoughts before responding and never let the opposing counsel bait you or rush you into answering too quickly.

Respect the Court and the Court will Respect You

A composed, careful, dignified manner lets the judge, jury and court officers know you take the proceedings seriously. Demonstrate respect and you will gain it in return, and if the facts truly are on your side your chances of winning your case will be significantly enhanced.

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Property Rights And Trespassing

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Did you know that occupying on private land protected by Property rights is considered a trespass? The law will find you guilty and can send you away for a couple of months or pay some hefty fee you’ll probably regret. So to avoid such a debacle, here are some facts about property rights and trespassing you should know about:

What Constitutes a Trespass?

If you physically cross the boundary into someone else’s property, that’s a trespass. Property intrusion will either be on the land itself, above the surface or below the surface as well. So if you dig your way past someone’s property boundary or fly a plan or drone above the ground, you have already trespassed.

Intentional or Unintentional?

Intentional trespassing is when a person willingly crosses the boundary to someone’s property. It doesn’t matter whether the individual didn’t have the intention or clue they are trespassing; such an act warrants the property owner to seek action against the intruder. On the other hand, there is unintentional trespassing, which is when the intruder accidentally enters the property when it wasn’t their intention to. Such an act will be considered malicious only if it causes any harm to the property owner or anything confined within the said property.

Entering without Permission

The property owner may license an individual to enter the land when they please. However, the land owner has the right to revoke that license/permission after which it will be considered a trespass if the individual continues to occupy the land. Where the land owner does not withdraw the license, a trespass will be recorded when the individual stays in the land after expiry of their license. If the individual exceeds the agreement stated on the license, it is considered a trespass as well.

Entering without Privilege

This is a law that grants an individual, say the police, right to enter the property without the owner’s consent. This is usually to curb a nuisance or perceived harm within the property to retrieve someone else’s property on the land or to perform any duty mandated by the law.

This is generally the scope that entails Property Rights and Trespassing. Follow us at The Judge’s Chamber: Law Blog for more tips on legal rights.

What You Need To Know About Slip And Fall Injury Lawsuits

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The term “slip and fall” refers to incidents where a person literally slips or falls on someone Else’s property. If the person is injured then this falls under a “premises liability” case and the property owner may be held legally responsible for that person’s injury.

Several Dangerous conditions such as torn carpets, wet floors, changes to flooring, poor lighting and narrow stairs may cause a person to slip, fall and become seriously injured. The same rules apply to someone that falls outside as a result of a cracked sidewalk or falls down a flight of stairs. There is one common denominator that separates a strong case from a weak one and that is the fact that the plaintiff must sustain an injury in order to be compensated.

There is no set way of determining who is responsible for your injuries if you slip and fall. The case is based on 2 important factors. The first is whether the owner of the property took precautions to make the environment safe and secondly, the court will look at whether you were reckless or careless in practicing precaution before you were injured. You must be able to prove that a dangerous condition brought about your injury and in order for the owner to be held liable, you must prove that the owner was aware of this hazardous condition and chose to do noting about it. The dangerous condition must pose an unreasonable risk to the plaintiff and they must be able to prove that they were not aware of the condition. So it must be something that people would not ordinarily look out for. The onus is also on the victim to prove that the owner of that the hazardous condition existed for such a lengthy period of time that the owner should have corrected it prior to the injury happening.

In some cases, with slip and fall injury lawsuits the court may find that the injury was caused by carelessness and lack of precaution on the plaintiffs side. In this case, the plaintiff has failed to bring adequate evidence to light in order for the court to find the owner guilty of negligence and premises liability.

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The Basics Of Wrongful Termination Claims

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Have you been recently laid off? Did you know you could receive compensation if your feel you were wrongfully fired? Here are the basics for wrongful termination claims you didn’t know about.

What Constitute Wrongful Termination Claims?

You are liable for a claim if the manner of your firing violate any anti-discriminatory laws of the state. You can also be compensated if you were laid off through a sexually harassing ploy, if the employer went against contract agreements or when the employer violates labor laws inclusive of the collective bargaining laws. Lastly, you are liable to be compensated if you were laid off because of laying a complaint against your employer.

Post-firing Tips That Help

Even after being laid off, never act out of anger and say or act negatively towards your employee. Find a suitable lawyer experienced in employee rights and seek their advice on the matter; they can also be your representative. Enquire from your employee the real reasons behind your termination and if possible the specific person who made the decision to lay you off.

Additionally, enquire for your personal employee file and try negotiating a severance package with your employer. If they agree on the severance package, make sure they put it in writing. Then take back any company property in your procession before fully engaging the lawyer to act on your behalf. In all dealings, do not allow yourself to be intimidated by the lawyer.

Tips for a Negotiation

Once you have the lawyer on your side, it’s time to discuss the procedure for your severance package. Ensure you remain calm during the entire negotiation process after termination. With your lawyer, think over the offer your employer offers and see if it truly benefits you; never just automatically access an offer you haven’t brainstormed with a legal expert. It will also be a plus if you convince your employer to keep you on medical coverage, as you receive your severance pay, at least until your next job.

By negotiating your wrongful termination claims, you can get a good severance package out of it. This works better compared to planning malicious moves against the employer and the company.  If you haven’t been temporarily terminated, an employee rights lawyer can help negotiate re-employment for you.

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Can You Sue For Death Or Injury Of Your Pets?

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There are many people out there that are animal lovers and want to know if they sue for death or injury to their pets. If your pet in injured or dies, you can get monetary compensation. However, this can only happen if you file a criminal charge for cruelty to animals and the perpetrator is caught and convicted. The court may then decide to grant compensation for economic loss a part of the punishment. You may also receive compensation if you file a civil lawsuit. This should be done with the help of a lawyer. You may also file a lawsuit in small claims court. These courts are designed to be user friendly and less complicated, so you can file a lawsuit without a lawyer.

Can You Sue For Death or Injury of Your Pets

One of the things you should bare in mind is that even if you win, you should not expect much money as the courts usually limit the payout to the cost of replacing or getting another pet. Most lawyers are not keen on taking on these cases for this reason. So because of the low payout, you may end up spending more on lawyers fees than you are able to recover from the case, if you decide to hire a lawyer.

If you can prove that the actions of the guilty party were malicious and intentional, you can sue for punitive damages. In many states, companion animals are recognized as having sentimental value and they understand that these animals cannot simply be replaced. This is why the court may also grant compensation for emotional distress. If you can prove that the death of your pet was intentional, then you have a criminal case to file. However, if it was merely an accident, you need to file a civil lawsuit or take your case to small claims court. In most cases it is best to simply represent yourself in small claims court as the compensation you are likely to receive is not huge and you want to avoid unnecessary and costly lawyers fees.

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What Are The Legal Rights Of Children?

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Although children are not granted full legal rights as those of an adult, they still have their own rights. These rights may change from one state to another but they are still existent. Upon birth, a child gains some inherent rights legally and these continue growing by the day. Therefore, before you act contrary to these rights, you need to understand what are the legal rights of children?

The first one is the right to grow up in a safe environment. This means that you should not expose your child to potentially dangerous environments. If the government for any reason believes that your child is not safe, they will be taken away from you. Children also have a right to obtain good nutrition as well as an education. Health care is a legal right for any child and this should not be denied for any reason.

With regards to the government, the child has a right to obtain legal protection. If a child commits a crime, due process needs to be followed by the authorities. Therefore a notice must be given and a subsequent hearing occurs before the child is stripped off any of their basic rights. A child has a right to express themselves and form an opinion on different issues. However, this right is of a limited nature and can be restricted by a person in authority. It is also good to note that a right to freely express oneself is acquired as one grows up and understands the differences between right and wrong.

Labor laws dictate that a teenager may work for a salary. However, the age at which he or she can begin doing this differs across states. Care should be taken when asking children to work as this may amount to child labor depending in the age of the child and the laws of the state. A child of a specific age may also get emancipated from their parents. This however is subjective since the judge has to determine whether the child has the ability to make decisions that will benefit them, whether the child has a meaningful source of income to cater for their needs and many other factors.

There are other many more rights that a child has depending on their age. As a parent or guardian, it is essential to understand these in order to avoid a contravention that may get you in trouble. It is your duty to protect the child and ensure their rights are practiced if need be.

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What Is A Legal Right?

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During the First World War, a young Yale law professor tried to unearth what judges meant when they were talking about legal rights. His conclusion was that legal rights were the benefits bequeathed upon one legal person against another by legal rules. The first party has the legal advantage, which is known as a right, while the other stands at a corresponding legal disadvantage. Two parties are always thus involved.

What Is A Legal Right?

Not everyone agrees with this opinion. The perspective can also get complicated. However, most law judges eventually refer to this opinion when dissecting legal rights. It’s worth noting that only a legal person has the capability of having a legal right. This is why legal personhood is our main focus.

The professor came up with 4 correlating pairs of benefits and disadvantages, which include legal rights of four kinds.

Liberties

A liberty allows one to do whatever they please, though they’ve no right to get respect for their liberty. This is a permission devoid of protection which correlates with the ‘no-right.’ This means that one doesn’t have a claim on what another person can or cannot do. The relationship between a ‘no-right’ and a liberty is illustrated by the analogy that though one is at liberty to look over their neighbor’s fence, they (the neighbor) isn’t obliged to stand there to be looked.

Claims

A claim stresses the need for respect, thus placing a correlating ‘duty’ upon a person to act, or not to act, in some manner towards the plaintiff. If two people sign a contract in which one party agrees to sell their house for an agreed sum and the other agrees to pay, then they have a claim for the house. The first party is obligated to give the other custody of the said property.

A ‘power’ affects the rights of the person who’s likely to be affected. The power to sue is arguably the most significant power which exists.

Immunities

Lastly, an ‘immunity’ legally discharges one person from being interfered with by a different party. Claims inform people what they aren’t allowed to do while immunities define what people are forbidden from doing by the law. One person can’t enslave another because this is prohibited. Immunities such as freedom from torture and enslavement are the most fundamental human rights. And it’s such legal rights that we argue that they also apply to some nonhuman animals.

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