The Legal Insider

April 2013

Same Sex Divorce Today

As we all wait for the Supreme Court to make the decision on same sex marriage, you may ask yourself “What about same sex divorce?” Unsurprisingly, same sex divorce can be as confusing as marriage. Couples who are married in New York are nothing more than acquaintances in Texas. So what the heck are the laws now?

Same-sex marriage is permitted in Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, Iowa, New York, Vermont, Washington D.C., and Connecticut. This means that in all of these states, you can get married and divorced just like any other hetero couple. However, other states are much more confusing.

New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, Colorado, Nevada, and California recognize out of state marriages as equal to in-state civil-unions. The dissolution of a civil union depends greatly on your state, so it’s best to consult a lawyer or check out our law library article. There are also states that only recognize same sex marriage for divorce purposes: Wyoming and Arizona. I think their state mottos should be something like: “where marriages go out to pasture.” I digress.

How will the Supreme Court ultimately rule on gay marriage? My crystal ball is out of service, so it's anyone's guess. But whichever way they decide, it will also have a lasting effect on heterosexual divorce rights.


Bullying Guide for Adults and Kids

Bullying is one of the most predominant forms of abuse nowadays. You probably remember getting teased for those atrocious cornrows or wild sneakers as a kid. Adolescents can be merciless beasts. Don’t believe me? Check out the story of Audrie Pott. Social media takes bullying to a whole new level.

Unfortunately, sometimes adults aren’t much better than kids when it comes to bullying. The U.S. Government Anti-Bullying Website encourages kids (and adults) to intervene immediately, separate the parties involved, and make sure everyone is safe. But then you may ask: what does the law see as bullying?

Bullying is legally defined as any intentional aggressive behavior that is meant to threaten, frighten, or injure another party (student, coworker, etc.). Some common sitcom examples of bullying can be seen by Googling: “Urkel raps about gun control” and “Happy Days bully.” You’ll see the usual suspects: a bully loitering in a certain area to intimidate, using aggression to steal lunch money, forcing another student to do your homework, beating people up. And for adults?

Workplace bullying can take many forms and should be reported to an HR representative (and possibly your lawyer, too) immediately. Teasing, threatening, using a superior position to threaten, and taking advantage of a person’s fear of reporting misconduct are all common types of workplace bullying. So who is held responsible?

In most cases it can be everyone: the bully (child or adult), the legal guardian of the bully (the parents or, in some cases, the boss), and the institution, such as the school or company that allowed the situation to persist despite prior knowledge of bullying. Criminal charges like theft or assault can include fines or even time in jail or a juvenile detention facility. The “bully” may also face a civil lawsuit if the victim was seriously injured or had property taken from them.


DUI/DWI Civil Lawsuits

DUI/DWI injury accidents are responsible for roughly one-third of last year’s traffic fatalities. It’s likely you know someone who has been affected by a drunk driver’s poor decision. Punitive damages (aka exemplary damages) are awarded in many states in the case of a DUI/DWI injury. Punative damages often allow the injured person to recover a much higher amount than just their compensatory damages.

Even if your insurance pays for the auto repair bills or medical expenses, you may have to pay for long term injury care and loss of work. Some victims recoup some of their lost income and medical costs by filing a civil lawsuit. Below are the 2 most common DUI/DWI related civil lawsuits:

Negligence—This is a common civil claim. Negligence in the case of a DUI/DWI injury accident means that the driver violated his duty to be a reasonable sober driver. Damages for negligence are based on your loss or injury.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit—There is a time limit when these lawsuits must be filed – usually it's within 2 years of the event. There are 4 major factors to wrongful death lawsuits: the victim’s death was caused by the defendant, the defendant was strictly liable for the victim’s death, there are surviving beneficiaries or dependants, and the death has caused monetary damages to the survivors.


How to Stop an Online Stalker

We’re learning more and more about how social media can end up hurting people. You may be aware of the practice of “Facebook Stalking” people. If you’re unfamiliar, Facebook Stalking is the practice of checking people’s social media pages…all of them. Like a creepy crawler, you spelunk through all of the pictures, updates and wall posts until there is no more to see.

In most cases, Facebook stalking continues for days, weeks, or even months. You love seeing photos of that redneck couple who got married in high school. Maybe you just like to watch from afar as your ex-best friend dramatically gains weight.

But more and more, these profiles can often result in unwanted attention. So what do you do if your Facebook Stalker becomes a REAL stalker?

  1. Use distance to protect yourself. Like Mama always told me: “wear shoes you can run in.”
  2. Record the incidents. Make sure you take notes of any messages, letters, lurking, or attempts to contact you and give them to a trusted friend or keep them in a safety deposit box.
  3. Be clear about your romantic/social rejection. Make sure you say in the clearest terms that you do not want that person to contact you for any reason ever.
  4. Contact a Lawyer. Lawyers can help you decide the best course of action. In many cases it can be as simple as a court ordered restraining order. There are a number of different types of restraining orders available.
  5. Avoid being stalked on social media. There are lots of tutorials and options for this strategy. Here’s the wikihow.
  6. Change your contact information.

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