The Legal Insider

June 2010

Divorce: Untying Your Knot with Tiger Woods

Celebrities have never been considered a beacon of morality, so it's no surprise divorce seems to be as rampant among the stars as drug addictions. Last month it was Tiger Woods and his wife Elin; but Sandra Bullock and Jesse James have even more recently called it quits due to infidelity.

All the sordid details will be penned in Star Magazine and speculated over by shows like TMZ, but they never tell us anything useful about the legal process of divorce after a spouse has cheated. Many of us base our perceptions of how divorce works through film and print media with only loose understandings of how child or spousal support amounts are actually formulated.

Before you file for divorce, states require you to be a resident – how long it takes you to become a resident depends on the state. Divorces are typically filed with the Family Division of your local court and are characteristically split in two categories:

  • No Fault Divorces are offered by most states, which means that there is no proof or declaration of fault needed to get a divorce. Select states require you declare incompatibility, whereas others require a specified period of separation to take place before they will grant a no fault divorce.
  • Fault Divorces require you to cite a reason for splitting up, like brutality, infidelity, abandonment, incarceration, or an inability to consummate the marriage.

Spousal and Child Support are payments made from one spouse to another during or after a separation. Courts use different factors and formulas to calculate support claims, so it's best to consult a local family lawyer who specializes in divorce and support cases.

Generally, there are 3 kinds of Spousal Support or Alimony:

  • Rehabilitative alimony lasts for a specified period of time, but can be modified or extended to cover education and work skill costs.
  • Lump sum support payments are an upfront cost that is normally derived from the total amount of future monthly payments. In divorce cases like our friend Tiger Woods, a spouse such as Elin could get upwards of $750 million.
  • Permanent alimony is spousal support paid indefinitely; however, you shouldn't expect payments for life. You must petition your family court for any changes to a permanent alimony ruling.

For more information on divorce, child support, and alimony, please visit the Family Law section of the LegalMatch Legal Forums. As always, if you're ready to consult with a pre-screened family lawyer you can post your case today on LegalMatch.


Lemon Laws: The Perfect Garnish for Your Fishy Car

Buying a car is a process that is notoriously wrought with crooked sales employees and shaky products. Many states have adopted a "buyer beware" policy which places the burden of repairs on the buyer of a car. If you bought a new car that is continuously breaking down despite your best efforts to repair it, you may have a "Lemon."

Approximately 1% of all new cars are considered lemons because of some design flaw, assembly error, or malfunctioning part. All states have enacted some form of "Lemon Law" that holds manufacturers accountable for rotten cars. For your automobile to be considered a lemon it must meet 2 major qualifications:

  • A substantial defect must occur within a specified time period or length of use.
  • The defect must continue despite reasonable attempts to remedy it.

A substantial defect means that the problem impairs the car's use, safety, or value. One example would be the Toyota Prius recall because of defective brakes. In certain cases, defects like bad smells and paint flaking can be symptomatic of larger issues at hand. Buyers normally have about 2 years or 24,000 miles to report a lemon.

State Courts' views on what constitutes a reasonable attempt to repair varies. Attempting to repair the problem involves making a trip to an auto repair shop or dealership. It's important to keep receipts and documentation as evidence. Serious safety defects like steering or brakes only take one attempt while others may require you to make multiple trips. Cars that take over 30 days to repair normally meet the state designation of a lemon. Consult with a local lawyer to find out more about Lemon Laws in your state as well as other defective product lawsuits.


Keeping Danger at Arm's Length With a Restraining Order

Restraining orders are court orders that forbid an individual from contacting another individual and if violated can mean criminal penalties. There are countless reasons for petitioning a court for a restraining order. The most common reasons involve domestic violence, stalking, or abuse, but given the correct circumstances anyone, male or female, is eligible to get a restraining order.

There are 3 types of restraining orders: temporary restraining orders (TRO) – which can then become permanent restraining orders, civil harassment orders, and dependant adult or elder abuse orders.

Temporary restraining orders are reserved for people who have been threatened, stalked, or abused by someone close to them, like a relative or ex-husband, ex-wife, or significant other. These TROs can later become permanent restraining orders lasting for years if needed. Civil harassment restraining orders are used against people with whom you may not have a personal relationship with, like a roommate, neighbor, or stranger. Dependent adult and elder abuse restraining orders are reserved for adults or elders who have been abused or threatened, like in cases of nursing home abuse or malpractice.

Threats, violence, and other injurious activity are grounds for restraining orders. Living in fear is unreasonable and the harmful actions of others can destroy your personal and professional life. If you are being threatened or wish to petition for a restraining order contact a lawyer today who can advise you on your options—you may also be eligible for monetary compensation as a result of any personal injuries you suffered.


Medical Marijuana Laws in Your State

Some of the most popular articles in the LegalMatch Law Library focus on drug laws and more specifically, marijuana laws. It can be tough to determine what is legal because of the abundance of bad information out there. Furthermore, medical marijuana dispensaries are popping up every day, but news stories never give us the official word - only that it may be legalized or decriminalized some day, or it is in some places. But what does all that mean for the average Joe?

The safest thing you can do to avoid a criminal drug charge is to avoid controlled substances altogether. If you do not have a prescription from a doctor or violate the provisions of your state's marijuana laws, you may face criminal charges and serious jail time. There are only a select few states that have "decriminalized" medical marijuana but it is still considered a controlled substance like other prescription drugs.

All Federal laws still consider marijuana to be as illegal as methamphetamine or cocaine, although the sentences are normally much less severe. States in which medical marijuana is legal include: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. For more information on medical marijuana laws, check your state and local laws. If you have been charged with possession, distribution, or any other criminal drug charge contact a pre-screened criminal lawyer today.

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