This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

China’s New National Security Law

Developments in China’s national security regulation, and contrasts the position with that existing in Australia and the USA as of 29 July 2015.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, have approved the National Security Law of the People’s Republic of China, effective as of 1 July, 2015. The concept of national security is of extreme importance, especially due to the interconnectivity of contemporary society and the ability of each country and their economy and security to be linked to events across the globe, therefore impacting on every individual worldwide.

The national security law is divided into seven chapters that include the following:

(a) the guiding principles;
(b) the definition of national security;
(c) the functions and responsibilities of the National People’s Congress and the various branches of the government;
(d) the key elements of the national security regime such as intelligence collection, risk assessment, conducting national security reviews, and responding to states of emergency;
(e) the mechanisms for allocating resources to national security work;
(f) the obligations of citizens and corporations in assisting the government in protecting national security; and
(g) the supplementary provisions.

The National Security Law encompasses a broad concept of national security in comparison to its more conventional 1993 national security law prior to the enactment of the current National Security Law, which was designed mainly to defend China against espionage activities. The new National Security Law covers matters in relation to politics, the military, the economy, finance, culture, technology, territorial sovereignty, cyber-security, ideology, religion, as well as matters extending beyond the borders of China to include the polar regions, the international seabed, outer space and cyber-space.

In particular, Article 2 of the National Security Law provides the definition of national security to refer to the relative absence of international or domestic threats to the state’s power to govern, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, the welfare of the people, sustainable economic and social development, and other major national interests, and the ability to ensure a continued state of security. However, the following articles provide for the discussion of politics, the military, the economy, finance, culture, technology and territorial sovereignty, therefore broadening National Security Law’s definition of national security beyond the conventional and narrower concept of merely national defense.

Due to the National Security Law’s broad scope of application, there is concern amongst the business community in relation to the additional restrictions and scrutiny on business activities in China on national security grounds, especially in terms of the National Security Law’s involvement in economic development, which may have serious implications if in addition to the existing laws and regulations, commercial activities and investments are also regulated under the broad and unclear perspective of national security. Although such broad provisions contained in the National Security Law will be further clarified through implementing regulations, the National Security Law is still extensive on implications but lacking in specifics, therefore causing uncertainty in terms of practical application and impact.

Foreign investment

One of the main concerns relates to foreign investment and the additional restrictions and scrutiny placed on foreign activities in China. Specifically, Article 59 of the National Security Law provides the State will establish national security review and oversight management systems and mechanisms, conduct national security review of foreign commercial investment, special items and technologies, internet information technology products and services, projects involving national security matters, and other major matters and activities that impact or may impact on national security. While this requirement is not particularly new because the Chinese government already conducts national security reviews in various areas and investments under existing laws and regulations, foreign companies are mainly concerned of any new national security review regimes in relation to foreign investment and IT products and services which may be introduced via the National Security Law.

Prior to the enactment of the National Security Law, the national security review requirements on mergers and acquisitions involving acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors was imposed through the Circular on Establishing the Security Review System for Mergers and Acquisitions of Enterprises within China Involving Foreign Investors, whereas any greenfield non-M&A establishments involving foreign investors were left alone with no applicable national security review requirements. However, the Tentative Measures for National Security Review of Foreign Investments in Free Trade Zones enacted earlier in 2015 did a pilot run of a national security regime in China’s free trade zones, which were Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian, and involved the application of the regime to mergers and acquisitions transactions as well as other foreign investments, including greenfield investments.

Due to the enactment of the National Security Law, it may be expected that the full regime required currently only for the free trade zones will be implemented nationwide, therefore widening the reach of the authorities to enforce and further scrutinise foreign investment. Also, the consequence of having such a broad definition for the concept of national security may potentially indicate the legislature’s intent on expanding the National Security Law’s scope of application to additional sectors, along with the current listed 57 industry sectors. Therefore, foreign investors will now have to be careful to ensure the requirements of the national security regime are followed.

Furthermore, Article 59 provides for the national security review of Internet information technology products and services, the scope and procedures of which are not defined in the National Security Law. Therefore, this provision has the potential to go beyond any mergers and acquisitions plans, greenfield investments or specific investment plans. This provision has the potential to cause significant entry barriers for international suppliers of IT products and services into the Chinese market, and along with the draft Anti-Terrorism or draft Cyber-Security Law; the Chinese government have many avenues through which they can scrutinise foreign products and services.

Foreign Investment Law

China already has laws regulating foreign investment, therefore the National Security Law will be complementing the draft People’s Republic of China Foreign Investment Law, which was released on 19 January 2015 by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) for public opinion. Foreign investment is particularly important to an economy, and it is essential in providing the capital to assist the creation of productive enterprises, therefore China’s attempt to finally revamp the legal regime in relation to foreign investment illustrates their acknowledgement of foreign investment to the growth and sustainability of China’s economy.

The draft Foreign Investment Law is extensive, and provides for the following:

(a) the definition of foreign investors and foreign investments;
(b) the regulation of foreign invested projects and associating entry permits;
(c) the procedures for national security review of foreign invested projects;
(d) the creation of an information reporting system for foreign investment;
(e) the promotion and protection of foreign investment and coordination and handling of complaints in relation to foreign investment; and
(f) the liability for any breaches.

The definition of foreign investors is broad, as it is not limited to foreign nationals or foreign incorporated entities, but includes enterprises incorporated in China which are controlled by foreign investors, therefore extending the Foreign Investment Law’s reach in regulating foreign investment. Also, the definition of foreign investment goes beyond the traditional methods of foreign investment activities, as in addition to greenfield projects, foreign invested entities, the acquisition of shares, the Foreign Investment Law also covers the holding of certain rights and interests over assets owned by, or voting rights, in a domestic enterprise. Specifically, foreign investment refers to any of the following investment activities conducted, directly or indirectly, by foreign investors:
(a) establishing domestic enterprises, which are enterprises incorporated in China in accordance with Chinese laws, which can either be enterprises with foreign investment, or wholly domestic owned;
(b) acquiring shares, equity interests, certain rights and interests over assets, voting rights or other similar interests and rights in a domestic enterprise;
(c) financing, with a term of one year or more in any domestic enterprises in which one or more foreign investors hold an interest or right described in the point above;
(d) obtaining the concession rights to explore or develop natural resources in China, or obtaining concession rights to construct or operate infrastructure facilities in China;
(e) acquiring land use rights, ownership of buildings and other real property rights in China; and
(f) controlling or holding interests or rights in any domestic enterprise through contract, trust or other arrangement.

Therefore, the concept of foreign investment is relatively broad under the Foreign Investment Law, which gives room for the government to regulate over an increasing number of activities in China.

The existing national security review regime will be integrated into the Foreign Investment Law where MOFCOM will review foreign investor(s) applications for an entry permit. MOFCOM or its provincial counterparts will consider a proposed foreign invested project requiring an entry permit in relation to the implications such a project may have on national security, and if necessary, MOFCOM may suspend the entry permit review and require the foreign investor(s) to submit an application for national security review. In this process, the State Council will set up an Inter-ministry joint meeting for national security review, which is jointly set up by MOFCOM and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and in the two-step review approach, the general review will decide whether the proposed foreign investment is likely to jeopardise national security, and if so, the special review will examine in details and decide whether the proposed foreign investment will or may jeopardise national security.

The position in Australia

The Australian government is extremely open to foreign investment as it assists in building Australia’s economy and enhances the wellbeing of Australians by supporting economic growth and prosperity, as well as create jobs, encourage innovation and promote competition.

Australia’s foreign investment framework is implemented through the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 (Cth) and the Australian government’s foreign investment policy, which clarifies several aspects of the legislation and imposes additional obligations which do not have the force of law but with which overseas investors are expected to comply. Under the Act, the Treasurer reviews investment proposals on a case-by-case basis to make a decision as to whether the proposals are contrary or supportive of Australia’s national interest. The Treasurer relies on advice from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), who works with applicants to ensure Australia’s national interest is protected; therefore, maximising investment flows while protecting Australia’s interests.

Australia’s foreign investment rules regulate investment proposals by foreign persons, who are generally:

(1) an individual who is not ordinarily a resident in Australia; and
(2) a corporation where a foreign person (including associates) holds 15% or more of the issued shares, units or voting power or where several foreign persons (including associates) hold 40% or more of the issued shares, units or voting power.

Under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975, the Treasurer has the power to review and block the following proposals by foreign persons:

(a) most acquisitions of interests in Australian urban land;
(b) any acquisition of a substantial interest, which is where a foreign acquirer and its associates would hold or control 15% or more of the issued shares or units or voting power, in an Australian corporation, or an increase in a substantial interest, where the value of the assets of that corporation exceeds $248 million;
(c) any acquisition of an aggregate substantial interest, which is where a group of unrelated foreign acquirers and their associates would, after the acquisition, hold or control 40% or more of the issued shares or units or voting power, in an Australian corporation where the value of the assets of that corporation exceeds $248 million;
(d) any acquisition of an Australian business where the assets are valued at more than $248 million;
(e) any acquisition of control of an Australian corporation where the assets of the corporation are valued at more than $248 million;
(f) any acquisition of a substantial or aggregate substantial interest in an offshore corporation which has gross assets valued at more than $248 million, where the assets of that corporation that are comprised of Australian land, Australian mineral rights or shares in an Australian corporation constitute 50% or more of the total assets of that corporation; or
(g) any acquisition of a substantial or aggregate substantial interest in an offshore corporation, where the assets of that corporation that are comprised of Australian land, Australian mineral rights or shares in an Australian corporation constitute less than 50% of the assets of that corporation, but those Australian assets are valued at more than $248 million.

Furthermore, there are separate legislation providing additional requirements for foreign investments, including requirements such as:

(a) foreign investment in the banking sector must be consistent with the Banking Act 1959, the Financial Sector (Shareholdings) Act 1998 and banking policy;
(b) total foreign investment in Australian international airlines is limited to 49 per cent;
(c) the Airports Act 1996 limits foreign ownership of airport offered for sale by the Commonwealth to 49 per cent, with a 5 per cent airline ownership limit and cross ownership limits between Sydney airport and Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth airports;
(d) the Shipping Registration Act 1981 requires a ship to be majority Australian-owned if it is to be registered in Australia; and
(e) aggregate foreign ownership of Telstra is limited to 35 per cent of the privatised equity and individual foreign investors are only allowed to own up to 5 per cent.

The national interest of Australia is one of the important considerations when considering a proposal, therefore each proposal undergoes an examination to determine if the proposal is contrary to Australia’s national interest, and while the term ‘national interest’ is not defined under the relevant legislation, the national interest criteria includes:

(a) the impact of the proposal on national security;
(b) the impact of the proposal on competition;
(c) the impact of the proposal on other Australian government policies including tax and the environment;
(d) the impact of the proposal on the economy and the community; and
(e) where the investor is a foreign government investor, the character of the investor, and in particular, whether it operates on a transparent commercial basis, is subject to adequate and transparent regulation and supervision and adopts good corporate governance practices.

Under the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975, the Treasurer has 30 days to consider an application and make a decision. However, the Treasurer may extend this period by up to a further 90 days by publishing an interim order, which is issued under circumstances where a proposal is complicated or if insufficient information has been provided.

The position in the United States of America

The United States, as the largest foreign direct investor globally and the largest recipient of foreign direct investment, has always sought to find a balance between embracing an open market and regulating over national security simultaneously. Therefore, because of the US’s spread of economic activity across national borders, the US has important economic, political, and social interests at stake in the development of international policies regarding direct investment, as well as ensuring their laws on foreign investment in relation to national security are of the highest quality.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), the inter-agency committee of the US Government responsible for reviewing national security implications of foreign investments in US companies or operations, was established in 1975 and operates under the discretion of the President and is chaired by the secretary of the Treasury. The CFIUS includes the heads of many departments, including the justice, homeland security, commerce, defense, state, and energy departments, as well as the US trade representative and the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Initially, the authority of the President to suspend or prohibit certain transactions was initially provided by section 721 of the Defense Production Act of 1950 by a 1988 amendment known as the Exon-Florio amendment. However, the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007 (FINSA) substantially revised section 721 to provide for national security reviews of foreign investments. The FINSA maintains the narrow scope of CFIUS’s review process by focusing solely on genuine national security concerns and not broader policy concerns posed by mergers, acquisitions, and takeovers that could result in foreign control of a US business, and follows CFIUS’s efficient timeline by requiring CFIUS to conclude a review in 30 days and an investigation, if needed, in a subsequent 45 days.

In relation to an investigation, the CFIUS can conduct an investigation of the effects of a transaction on the national security of the US, and take any necessary actions in connection with the transaction to protect the national security of the US. This applies in cases where a review of a transaction results in a determination that:

(a) the transaction threatens to impair the national security of the US and that threat has not been mitigated during or prior to the review of a transaction;
(b) the transaction is a foreign government-controlled transaction; or
(c) the transaction would result in control of any critical infrastructure of or within the US by or on behalf of any foreign person, if the Committee determines that the transaction could impair national security, and that such impairment to national security has not been mitigated by assurance provided or renewed with the approval of the Committee; or
(d) the lead agency recommends, and the Committee concurs, that an investigation be undertaken.

With regards to national security, the President or the President’s designee may, taking into account the requirements of national security, consider, amongst other things:

(a) domestic production needed for projected national defense requirements;
(b) the capability and capacity of domestic industries to meet national defense requirements, including the availability of human resources, products, technology, materials, and other supplies and services;
(c) the control of domestic industries and commercial activity by foreign citizens as it affects the capability and capacity of the US to meet the requirements of national security;
(d) the potential effects of the proposed or pending transaction on sales of military goods, equipment, or technology to any country identified by the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense as posing a potential regional military threat to the interests of the US;
(e) the potential effects of the proposed or pending transaction on US international technological leadership in areas affecting US national security;
(f) the potential national security-related effects on US critical infrastructure, including major energy assets;
(g) the potential national security-related effects on US critical technologies;
(h) the long-term projection of US requirements for sources of energy and other critical resources and materials; and
(i) such other factors as the President or the Committee may determine to be appropriate, generally or in connection with a specific review or investigation.

If CFIUS finds the transaction does not present any national security risks or relevant provisions of the law provide adequate and appropriate authority to address the risks, CFIUS will advise the parties in writing that CFIUS has concluded all action under section 721 with respect to the transaction. However, if CFIUS finds a transaction presents national security risks and relevant provisions of the law do not provide adequate authority to address the risks, CFIUS may enter into an agreement with, or impose conditions on, parties to mitigate such risks or may refer the case to the President for action, in which case the President has 15 days to act.

Conclusion

Today, many countries have legislation and regulations in relation to foreign investments in order to ensure the protection and security of a country’s economy and national security. While most countries regulate over foreign investment and national security within a narrow scope of national defense only, China’s National Security Law has expanded national security concerns from the main area of national defence into a wide range of geopolitical, cultural, and economic issues, and is controversial due to the potential for abuse of power. Foreign companies in China will have to deal with further uncertainty when conducting business operations as a consequence of China’s attempt to handle security-related matters with a national law that seeks to keep pace with the challenges presented by issues such as globalisation and information technology.

Understanding Assault Law

If you have been accused or arrested for assault, it is important that you understand what assault is under federal or state law and that you get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Wikipedia defines assault as: “An assault is carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm. It is both a crime and a tort and, therefore, may result in either criminal and/or civil liability. Generally, the common law definition is the same in criminal and tort law.”

You can actually be prosecuted criminally as well as being sued for civil damages so you want to seek counsel sooner rather than later. The law is designed to discourage people from aggressively attacking another person whether physical contact is actually made or not. Actual physical contact is not required for a completed assault. An assault can occur if someone attempts to strike someone with the present ability to carry out the assault. A good example of an assault without a touching would be if one pointed a gun at another. It is clear that the person would be afraid because people are always afraid when threatened by someone pointing a gun at them.

In criminal cases, assaults may be prosecuted anywhere from simple assaults charged as misdemeanors to attempted murder with different allegations and/or sentencing enhancements. The prosecution can charge assaults in many different ways depending on the circumstances. For example, if a weapon were used, the assault may be enhanced by use of a weapon allegation and corresponding sentencing enhancements as well as making the crime a violent felony, for future sentencing enhancement purposes.

In many states, criminal codes treat assault as a misdemeanor that can be handled with fines or possibly a year in jail. If the assault charge is found to involve physical injury, that raises the stakes to aggravated assault. The charge may then become a felony and can result in sentences of 10-20 years in prison depending on the facts and the criminal history of the accused. This can also increase the size of civil awards substantially.

Understanding the elements of a criminal charge of assault requires an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will examine the facts of the case and compare them to the elements of the statute charged and render you an opinion as to whether the prosecution can prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt; because if the state fails to prove any one element of the charge, you are entitled to an acquittal. This would be difficult for a non-attorney to understand.

The legal elements of assault also may vary from state to state. In general, assaults are general intent crimes. In some situations, for example, if a defendant puts intent at issue by claiming that the assaultive behavior was an accident or was a misunderstanding, the prosecutor must then prove intent by using the accused person’s prior bad acts, regardless of whether or not any charges were filed on the
prior occasion. While, in some cases, assaultive intent may seem hard to prove, you do not want to be out there on your own. Your criminal defense attorney is your best source of information and defense against these charges.

If you end up before a jury by pleading not guilty, how your defense case is presented in court will make the difference in an acquittal or being found guilty. If the circumstances of the assault charge are disputed, you may have a jury trial. In any case, you need an experienced and well respected criminal defense attorney on your side.

Another serious and life- long consequence of an assault conviction is deportation for permanent lawful residents or those who have no legal right to be in the United States. Generally, any crime of violence that has as an element “the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another (Title 18 United States Code § 16) where the term imposed is at least one year, whether or not any or all of that term is stayed or suspended at time of sentencing” constitutes an “aggravated felony” under Federal Immigration law. Certain offenses defined as misdemeanors under State Law may be considered “Aggravated Felonies” under Federal Law. Any conviction of a non-citizen for an “aggravated felony” as defined under Title 8 United States Code § 1101(a) (43) will result in removal/deportation, exclusion and denial of naturalization. For example, if a non-citizen who has lived here his entire life and has a family in the United States, is convicted of a misdemeanor assault and receives a probationary term of three years, he may be facing deportation as an additional consequence of the assault conviction.

Roseline D. Feral has 28 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney. She has tried more than one hundred jury trials, both in Federal and State courts. She has the experience and professional reputation to help you defend yourself against a charge of assault. To obtain her help, call her at 619-232-1010 for a thirty minute free consultation.

Get more legal information here: www.piolettilaw.com/

Reasons to Hire a Family Law Attorney

Family law attorneys specialize in a variety of cases, including cases that involve divorce, child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support and guardianships. There are many reasons to hire a family law attorney and many benefits that can be reaped when retaining the services of a legal professional.

Familiarity with Cases If you receive paperwork regarding a family law matter or you initiate a proceeding regarding a family matter, you are likely a novice who has never dealt with the issues at hand previously in your life. Even if you have contested the matter on a previous occasion, your familiarity with the family court system is likely limited. Family lawyers are familiar with all aspects that pertain to cases and will know how to handle paperwork that you receive.

Procedural Issues Family attorneys are aware of various civil procedures that can affect your case. Each state has its own set of rules pertaining to how a party can be properly served with papers pertaining to family law cases. Attorneys are also aware of jurisdictional restraints and will comply with these restraints so that your case is not immediately thrown out. These matters are very important and can dictate whether a subsequent ruling is valid or not. If a party was not served properly or if the court does not have jurisdiction, the case must start all over and any decisions that were made in the interim will be overruled.

Knowledge Family lawyers make their living convincing judges and other parties of the merits of his clients’ cases. They are knowledgeable about all aspects pertaining to family law and the various elements that must be proven in each family law case. For example, a lawyer must prove that a change in custody is in a child’s best interest. This standard is determined based on numerous factors, including past physical violence, alcohol abuse or drug abuse, the child’s relationship with both parents, the amount of time that he has spent with both children and other factors. Most lay persons do not have this knowledge of the law and do not know which information may be relevant during court proceedings.

Stakes One of the most important reason to hire a family attorney is to protect your rights. The stakes of these type cases are often high, including children being removed from the home by a child protection services agency, losing custody to another parent, losing assets through a divorce or not being able to protect a family member who is not capable of caring for himself. When the stakes are so high, it is important to hire a professional who can handle these matters and advocate for your rights.

Likelihood of Success Hiring a family lawyer increases the likelihood that you will succeed in your case. Judges recognize when parents hire attorneys that they are serious about the family law matter and are willing to sacrifice financially in order to pursue a matter in which they believe. A party who does not have adequate counsel is less likely to be taken seriously.

Level Playing Field When one party has an attorney and the other party does not have his own legal representation, this can quickly cause an imbalance of power and bargaining power. The party with legal counsel will likely intimidate the other party and will have an advantage inside and outside of the courtroom.

Hiring a family law attorney increases the resources that you will have access to for your case. A family law attorney has access to paralegals, researchers and investigators who will help to prove the necessary elements of your claim and handle your case. Attorneys can use decisions from prior cases to help guide the court in making a decision that is advantageous for you. Attorneys will also help complete paperwork and comply with filing requirements.

A Guide to Retirement Home Activities

Need help making a decision about Assisted Living or Independent Living?

If you and your parents have decided it is time to move them into an assisted living facility it is very likely you’ve started doing your research. When selecting the right senior care it is very important that you investigate a number of different things. We all know the list of minimum important services assisted independent living locations offer such as housekeeping services, laundry services, and dining services. Bearing this in mind there is certainly so much more that can be given to the senior care residents to enhance their life and the enjoyment of their stay.

A senior living facility is there to look after the emotional well-being of their clients in addition to a senior’s medical needs. It is for this reason you should look for a facility that offers some incredible indoor and outdoor activities for each and every person in the senior home. The residents of the facility should have a say in the activities that are offered and there should be offerings for seniors at all levels of physical abilities.

A retirement facility will offer a variety of healthful and fun activities for their residents.

We would like to take the time to discuss some of the activities that independent living residents would appreciate on a daily basis. While there is a large list full of many exciting activities, it is by no means all-inclusive. These are just ideas to consider and things to look for when searching for the ideal facility in your area. We find that retirement facility residents enjoy variety, so an ever changing schedule based on the residents’ needs and wants is ideal. Of course, the facility should take care to keep the activities that are well received as well. The independent living facility should conduct ongoing assessments of the opinions of their residents to make sure that they are providing exactly what the seniors desire and eliminating some of the misses.

Remember, activities should be both indoor and outdoor because fresh air is important. More than likely, the more often residents spend time outdoors the happier and healthier they are. Getting the opportunity to move around and stay physically active is important to daily health. On top of getting out and about and moving some muscles on a daily basis, residents will have a chance to socialize when participating in regular activities. This also contributes to the emotional well-being of everyone in the retirement facility.

Mental, physical and emotional well-being should all be a priority at the facility you choose.

Very much in line with promoting the emotional well-being of assisted living residents, look for a facility that offers spiritual services and things like Bible study groups for those who would love to attend. You may find at some facilities that these activities wind up being the most popular. And sometimes residents love to just be able to kick back and enjoy themselves, which is why facilities should also offer things like karaoke night, billiards and bowling, bingo, as well as movie screenings with concessions. These are the kinds of activities you should expect to find at the best assisted and independent living facilities in the country, and some places will go the extra mile to make sure they offer things others would not even think of. Some of the additional activities you may find in your research are pet therapy, exercise classes, and even scheduled weekly trips to the local shopping malls or community events.

The decision process is difficult so information is the key.

We know going into a retirement home can be a very difficult process for both the senior and family members. Look for a facility that will do absolutely everything humanly possible to make sure the process is not only painless but extremely enjoyable. Visit every facility in your area without your senior loved one and decide on the top two or three facilities. Then bring your loved one to see them. Make your senior part of the process if possible and they will receive the decision better and more than likely have a smooth transition. All facilities should offer a free guided tour and give you the opportunity to meet their staff and taste their food. We know if you follow this advice the process should go smooth for you.

Family Law Attorney Chicago Dream World Vs Real World

The word Divorce conjures up an image of pain and anxiety in every one’s mind. The good thing is that today’s society no longer consider divorce to be a stigma and does not look down upon women who are single and divorced. If anyone is getting divorced it doesn’t look odd for divorce has become a way of life. It is not only the young couples who are just married who run the risk of divorcing, but even those who have been married for decades tend to divorce too.It has become common for us to see our relatives and friends who have been couples and married for over twenty years breaking up suddenly. It is when such a thing happens to someone close to you that you get affected and go into a thinking mode about the fragile human relationships and life .

Women have always risen above their self and putting themselves behind, they have looked at playing the perfect wife, the perfect mother and the home maker. With today’s generation, women believe in themselves, wish to pursue their dreams and make a mark in their chosen field of interest.Every girl grows up believing in the fairy tale weddings and wanting to meet a prince charming who will swipe her off her feet. But then once she is through with her college and takes up a job, her understanding of life begins to change. If her parents happen to divorce at this time, she is thrown into another world suddenly or her world comes crashing down. This does happen in real life and it happens to many.

Despite the realities, the girls still dream of Mr. Perfect and find a partner to get married to. The romance and the wedding bliss does manage to keep them going for a while and after sometime they fall into a normal routine life. It is then that the reality of life and relationships begins to emerge. Even if the man turns out to be the perfect man of her dreams, the fact of the matter is that she has evolved and her own ideas of perfect relationship are no longer relevant in the real world.

In many cases women manage to work hard and build a successful career for themselves, maintain a home and manage their family too. The day begins with playing multiple roles and attending to multiple tasks till the end of the day. Somewhere down the line the time comes when suddenly she finds that he husband has moved away from the relationship and when this reality strikes, he decides to leave home. He leaves the home and she is left wondering whatever happened and where did she fail?. She remembers all of the sacrifices that she made for his sake. She would have given up all that she has and move to another town to start a new life all over again, just because she wanted him to go ahead and start his new business in new town.But in reality, she has been a super woman all through. The actual fact is that the man has not been able to accept graciously the fact that his wife has been a super woman and an achiever. Somewhere along he would have started drifting away from the relationship but she would not have realised it. But then coming back to the present reality, the relationship is over. Even if the couple consider continuing with their marriage, it is pointless and will not survive for long.In such a situation is Divorce not warranted? Think for yourself.

How to Choose An individual’s Tungsten Engagement Rings

All that is definitely everlasting is usually shift. It goes for the purpose of weddings overly. Over the years people have went out of the classic bright wedding ceremony turn out to be even more ambitious utilizing their themes or templates. Wedding bridal ring is forgotten inside foray and one of your thoughts instantly rising in popularity could be the tungsten ring.This chemically ideal time period just for tungsten jewelry will be tungsten carbide considering they are manufactured from an ingredient who has the two tungsten and also h2o. Eliminate the h2o and along with the engagement ring is certainly not even more than a run-of-the-mill type of material without having the even more good taste which in turn is just not a product you choose.

Tungsten Rings

Tungsten carbide is among the most difficult materials in the world, next only to gem. The reality is stones should be found in that producing steps involved in this specific necklaces. Using a terrible afternoon, you may virtually sludge hammer apart at the wedding band without having stressing regarding denting this rock band. While you might n’t want everyone believing that you might have went marked chattering mad.A regular disbelief who adheres to the following the reality is that in case an important tungsten carbide diamond ring can get caught on the ring finger, you’ll want to suffer a loss of the two. Less than. That bridal ring is generally easily cleaned up and removed by just a health care professional. With no, your personal handy doesn’t have to be minimize as well as yanked from along the way.These are somewhat heavy because the product may be a significant combination. Despite the fact that they often a bit of becoming accustomed to, shipment be transporting a powerful hippo with your kids finger which means you should not discount these individuals down as of this time.

Cobalt Wedding Rings

Re-polishing is undoubtedly possibly not from the tungsten carbide thesaurus. Many people preserve the main gleam. I trapped myself going to express individuals years softly even so the issue is really because you shouldn’t time in any respect. Clearly, not really concerning visual appearance. What longevity can you become?Sparkling magical best talks about home furniture regarding tungsten carbide. Still, if you happen to need this added air flow about program and class, charcoal tungsten carbide companies are definitely the strategy to use. This differentiation between the raven charcoal group of musicians along with a beautiful gem into position might be above lovely. Incidents where curse in which precious stones look bigger on black this fabric. Nevertheless Let me leave that to be able to determine.

Tungsten Wedding Rings

Tungsten is definitely chemically inert consequently it isn’t going to interact with high sodium mineral water or even the sun’s rays. Put differently, there’s really no need to worry concerning rust. It is additionally hypo-allergenic which suggests anyone can use them, even especially those with very sensitive body. Nonetheless, be cautious about construct y carry cobalt. In truth, jog for the mountains if you found 1 because they purpose major pores and skin pain. Typically the safe substitute made use of by nearly all jewelers might be impeccable.It in contrast should not be resized. Still, quite a few jewelry retailers do offer your entire life make certain in order to change an individual’s call when needed. If you can’t guarantee how the dimensions of a person’s ring finger will not likely change as time passes, you need to locate one.The prevailing inconvenience wherever tungsten carbide wedding rings in order to is the fact they’re not smear free of cost. You will have to take it off every once in a at the same time to freshen up the application using a smooth fabric. That’s about that to perform to make it giving the impression of its brand new.

How to Make Petitions to the Pope

A private meeting with the pope is hard to get. But petitioning the pope is easy. It can be as simple as sending a letter to the Vatican. Someone at the Vatican reads all correspondence, and usually letters and petitions are acknowledged. To get action, though, you’ll likely need strength in numbers.

Petitioning the Pope

  1. Write the petition. Figure out what you want and write it clearly and concisely. A petition to the pope should usually begin with the salutation “Your Holiness” or “Most Holy Father.” From there, start with what you want the pope to do, and then give background information explaining the circumstances and why your petition is a good idea. Emphasize spiritual benefits for members of the Roman Catholic Church, if any.
  2. Get others to join the petition. The more people the Vatican hears from, the more likely Vatican officials are to take a petition seriously. The more seriously Vatican officials take a petition, the more likely the pope will hear about it for his consideration. If possible, get a local bishop or even a national bishops’ conference to support your petition. As an example, when Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter in 2000 proclaiming St. Thomas More the patron of statesmen and politicians, he cited a recent petition he had received from political leaders and bishops with ties to various cultural interests, which he took to be “a sign of the deep and widespread interest” in the request.
  3. Consider consulting an expert. If your petition is straightforward, like asking the pope to name a patron saint, then a letter may do. But if your petition is likely to be contentious, like asking the pope to keep a parish open that a local bishop has ordered closed, then it needs to be presented to the correct Vatican office in the correct form. For that, you’ll probably need a canon-law lawyer.
  4. Send the petition to the Vatican. The pope’s name on one line and Vatican City on another is enough to get a letter to the Vatican. But if your petition concerns a particular congregation of the Vatican government, you may want to send it directly to the bishop who heads it. Go to the Vatican’s website, vatican.va, to find out the various congregations and contact information for them. You can also send an email message to the pope at benedictxvi@vatican.va, but regular mail may make it more likely you will get a response.

What You Need To Know When Choosing A DUI Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with drinking under the influence you are going to need a good attorney by your side. If you have never been in trouble with the law before you may not know the first thing about choosing a DUI defense attorney. Well here are some tips to help you choose the best.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

Whether you are just a fraction over the limit of alcohol or you are a lot over the limit. If you have been caught drinking under the influence you are going to need representation. One of the first things that you should bear in mind is never be afraid to ask questions of any lawyer you are considering going with. There may be 101 questions going through your head and you shouldn’t worry that they may sound silly. A defense attorney will only be too willing to answer your questions and put your mind at rest.

Their Experience as A Defense Attorney

One of the first questions that you may want to ask any defense attorney that you are considering hiring is how long they have been practising. From here you will have an idea about how many years’ experience they have had.

Experience They Have In DUI Cases

Along with getting an idea as to how much experience they have you might also want to find out how much experience they have in dealing with DUI cases. Not all attorneys may specialise in DUI and you may not want to be the first case that they take on and “practice “on.

Find Out About Members Of The Team

Just because the person you speak to seems qualified in DUI don’t forget that more often than not there will be other members of the team working on the case. Therefore you might want to ask about other members who will be working on your case and make sure that they have experience in DUI cases too.

Be Totally Honest With the Attorney

One thing that you should always do is be totally honest with the attorney. If they are representing you trust is a big issue and you cannot start out by lying or withholding the truth from them. Also bear in mind that whatever you say to them should be safeguarded by attorney-client privileges.

Find Out Just How Much Representation Is Going To Cost

When taking on a DUI defense attorney you are going to want to know how much it is going to cost you. They should be able to give you an estimation and this estimation should include such as legal costs, experts, investigators and anything else related to your case.

Canon Law Requirements for Godparents

Canon law is the religious code that adherents of certain Christian faiths must abide by to be in good standing with their church. The canon laws of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have guidelines for choosing godparents for a child’s baptism.Godparents are part of the Christian sacrament of baptism.

General Guidelines

  • The parent or guardian of the child must choose the godparent. Catholic children may have only one godparent of each sex. A common practice in the Eastern Orthodox Church is for the parents’ bridesmaid and best man to be the godparents of a first-born child, although the parents are free to choose other godparents.

Personal Guidelines

  • For Catholics, godparents must be at least 16 years old. For Orthodox Christians, the godfather must be at least 15 and the godmother 13. A godparent may not be the child’s biological or adopted mother or father.

Religious Guidelines

  • For Catholics, the godparent must be a Catholic who has received the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist. In certain cases, a Catholic child’s family may receive permission to have an Eastern Orthodox godparent. Orthodox Christians must choose godparents who are baptized members of the Orthodox Church and who have a knowledge of the faith and the Church’s moral teachings. The godparents must also understand the meaning of baptism as defined by the Church and be in good standing in sacramental communion.

Other Guidelines

  • A Catholic godparent must not be guilty of breaking canon law. Those who have received a canonical penalty may not be godparents. Eastern Orthodox godparents may not be guilty of sins known to the community.

How to Write a Common Law Separation Agreement

Common-law marriage occurs when two people are living together and agree that they are married. Common-law marriage is only valid in nine states, including Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Montana and the District of Columbia. Common-law marriage is grandfathered in five additional states where marriages occurred before the common law legislation was enacted, including Georgia and Oklahoma. If you are separating from your common-law partner, you must complete a property settlement and separation agreement letter. This letter discusses custody and financial issues. Although you do not have to secure a lawyer, it is highly recommended.

Common law separations are handled in your district court.

Instructions

  1. Date your letter. Identify both parties and their role in the marriage. State that the letter is an agreement, that both parties are in agreement and that both parties signed the letter amicably.
  2. State when you were married and identify the city and county you were married. State that you are separating, that you will live separately and that everything is divided according to the terms of the agreement.
  3. Identify any children born from the union. State their full names, Social Security numbers and birth dates. Determine who receives custody or how it will be divided. Discuss all aspects of visitation, including weekends, holidays, school schedules and summers. Add any special conditions, such as no smoking around the children, no moving without prior written approval and 60-day notice, results of abuse and exact pick-up and drop-off times. Set a date where the agreement will be reviewed for changes.
  4. Explore child support. You should have already contacted the child support division in your state and received child support requirements. Simply restate them in the letter.
  5. State any agreed-upon spousal support. Identify the exact amount and when it will be paid. For instance, what day of the month will the support be paid? Tell the court when the support stops, whether it is a specific time frame or on a specific event, such as graduation or marriage to someone else.
  6. Provide a detailed description of all property shared by the couple, and identify who will receive what property. No law exists for automatic, equal division of property, so this must be spelled out in the letter. Both parties have legal claim to any property they brought into the relationship. Identify all real estate, furnishings, personal property and vehicles. Include information about who will keep the house and what exchanges will be made for the real estate property.
  7. List all debts and identify who is responsible for those debts. Personal debts will revert to individual parties, but debts incurred while the couple was together will have to be divided. Be detailed about how the debts will be divided.
  8. Discuss all insurance issues, including health, auto and life insurance. List who will be responsible for minor children’s health insurance. Identify who the insurance covers and how long the insurance will cover the insured party.
  9. Discuss retirement accounts, and identify what percentage each party is entitled to. List every retirement account and give detail on how they will be distributed.
  10. State that each person is free from the interference of the other party. List restrictions about residence locations, but restate any freedom about profession and associations. State that neither party can harass the other party in places of employment, residences, on the street or anywhere else.
  11. Submit a waiver signing over all interest in the property you are not receiving, and have the other party do the same. Sign and submit a waiver of interest in the estate after the assets have been divided, and have the other party do the same.
  12. Identify who is responsible to enforce the agreement. Typically this is the court. State what will happen if the agreement is violated, including who will pay legal fees.
  13. State that this agreement is binding, that it invalidates all other agreements and that everything is disclosed. Include a statement of understanding.
  14. Sign and date the letter, and have your spouse do the same. Have the notary for the county and state notarize the document and date it.

How A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Safeguard Your Rights During Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, which is commonly known as spousal mistreatment is a term used when one person who is in an intimate relationship or marriage, tries to dominate the other one. Admit it or not, spousal violence can happen to anybody. When your partner tries to control you either physically, emotionally or mentally, is the start of familial aggression. We get horrifying digits from all over the world about the cases of marital aggression.

There are various reasons that can be held responsible for familial aggression. Jealously, low self-esteem, difficulty in controlling anger are the common ones. However, some men live all their life thinking that they have the right to control women as they are not equal to men. All these circumstances, sometimes lead to male partner trying to control or dominate the female partner. This domination gives birth to emotional, mental, physical and sexual abuse. Alcohol and high drug usage are several other factors which can be held responsible for spousal brutality. People who rely on high consumption of alcohol or drugs are not able to control their violent impulses and hence, result in marital brutality.

If you are witnessing domestic violence in your home, then it is high time for you to stand up against the cruelty. If avoided for a long period of time, it could result in putting your health at risk. The easiest thing you could do is to contact a lawyer, who can help you end the cruelty. Sooner or later, you would have to realize that tolerating domestic violence is also a crime and you need to gather all your courage to stand up against the violence. Consequently, he/she can advise you the steps to be taken to guard your name, reputation, and life from the danger.

Domestic brutality is an unlawful act for which the abuser may get arrested or prosecuted. If necessary steps are not taken, when the cruelty happened for the first time, you will notice it increasing in both severity and frequency. The wisest thing you could do is to take the help of a practiced and skilled criminal defense attorney who can help you get a fair justice. An experienced lawyer is well-acquainted with the laws and ensures your rights are not violated in any form.

Trying to dominate your partner in a relationship is a criminal offense. If you are witnessing cruelty in your home, then get in touch with a criminal defense attorney. A hard-hitting legal representative will not only represent your case in the court, but will also fight for you to get a justice. As the law is complicated, therefore, you would always require someone who has complete legal information, learning and experience and can work for you to guard your rights. Before you give your case to anyone, invest a little time in knowing about the previous history and the reputation of the attorney. You may also ask your friends and family members for references who might have availed similar services.

Amethyst Johsnon shares how an experience criminal defense attorney can help you safeguard your rights during a domestic violence. She walks the entire process with you and ensures your rights do not get violated in any form.

How to File for Common Law Divorce in Texas

Common-law marriage makes a couple who live together and hold themselves out as married, married in the eyes of the law even if the couple never had a wedding or obtained a marriage license. Texas is one of the few remaining states that recognize common-law marriage. In Texas, a divorce can be required to end a common-law marriage.

Ending a common-law marriage in Texas may not require a formal divorce.

Instructions

  1. Determine whether you are in a common-law marriage. In Texas, there are two ways to enter into a common-law marriage: Filing a certificate with the court clerk stating that you are married under common law; or living together and holding yourselves out to the public as married. In the latter case, both parties must be 18 years of age, share an exclusive residence, hold themselves out as married and consider themselves married.
  2. Decide whether divorce is necessary. If you filed a certificate with the court, then divorce is required. If you entered into a common-law marriage incidentally (by living with someone and calling each other spouses), then divorce is not necessarily required under Texas law. However, if you have children or substantial property or assets with your common-law spouse, it is recommended that you file for divorce unless you can agree on the division and all obligations amicably.
  3. Hire an attorney if you do not wish to represent yourself. An attorney will be able to complete the appropriate forms, and negotiate a divorce settlement or custody agreement on your behalf. If necessary, a divorce attorney will go before the court and argue your side.
  4. Complete an Original Petition for Divorce and an Affidavit of Consent for your partner to sign stating he does not contest the divorce. Both forms are available online and directly from your local district court. There are several forms to choose from, depending on whether you have children and other factors. Fill in the questions on financial and custodial considerations. File the forms with your local district court and serve them on your partner. Attend court hearings to determine the appropriate division of your assets, and rights and obligations regarding children.
  5. Enter into a divorce agreement with your partner if you both do not wish to have the court decide the division of assets and the rights and obligations regarding children. If the agreement is not outlandish, the court will enter it as an order, making it enforceable in the future. This agreement may provide for alimony payments, child visitation, division of property and child support payments.

What States Honor Common-Law Marriages?

Only eight states and the District of Columbia unequivocally recognize common-law marriages. Others have laws that recognize some common-law marriages under special circumstances. In any state, the fact that a man and woman live together does not constitute a common-law marriage in and of itself. Couples must also “hold out” that they are married; they must be married in all respects but having taken out a marriage license and solemnized it with a ceremony. Generally, this means filing joint federal tax returns together, introducing themselves as husband and wife and using the same last name. States that recognize common-law marriages won’t let you end one without a legal divorce.

Cohabitation alone does not constitute a common-law marriage.
Common-Law StatesTexas, Alabama, Montana, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Rhode Island and South Carolina recognize and honor common law marriages. But in Texas, there’s a hitch: You have to register at your county courthouse as a common-law couple. Kansas doesn’t recognize common-law marriages if either spouse is younger than 18. None of these states have any time limit on how long you have to live together in order to be married by common law.

Texas.
“Grandfathered” StatesSome states honor common-law marriages that are grandfathered-in. In Georgia, if you began your common law marriage before January 1, 1997, the state will recognize it. In Idaho, the cutoff date is January 1, 1996. Pennsylvania honors common-law marriages entered into before January 1, 2005. In Oklahoma, it’s November 1, 1998, and in Ohio, it’s October 10, 1991.

Atlanta, Georgia.
Other ExceptionsNew Hampshire recognizes common-law marriage only after one of the spouses has died. In that event, for probate purposes, a common-law spouse would stand to inherit just as a “regular” spouse would. Utah, similar to Texas, will recognize a common-law marriage if it has been validated by a court order.

New Hampshire.
Constitutional LawThe United States Constitution mandates that every state must recognize marriages entered into in other states, whether or not that marriage conforms to its own state law. Therefore, all states theoretically honor common law marriages to some extent. For instance, New Jersey is not a common-law state; the District of Columbia is. If a common-law couple contracted their union in Washington, D.C., then moved to New Jersey, New Jersey would recognize that common-law marriage. The state would not, however, honor any common-law couple who had always lived in New Jersey.

Marriage license.

How to Become Catholic After a Divorce

The Catholic Church eagerly embraces new members into its organization, whether they are single, married or even if they are recovering from a dissolved marriage. In order to be baptized as a Catholic, a divorced person must pay heed to established church regulations. A divorcee is required to present an inquiry before a Catholic Church marriage tribunal, apply for an annulment and undergo a one-year formation process. These regulations are not imposed with the intention of humiliating prospective church members but rather to inform them of the value of the marriage sacrament.

"Roman Catholic Church", by Aleksander Dragnes

Instructions

  1. Submit a case for adjudication by a marriage tribunal of the Catholic Church. Each diocese of the worldwide Catholic Church provides the services of a Tribunal, manned by a staff of “trained priests, deacons, religious and lay persons” (see Reference 1). In its adherence to the canon law of the Church, a tribunal will examine evidence carefully before rendering a legally valid decision. The primary work of any investigation by this tribunal will be to determine whether a marriage that later resulted in divorce should receive a Declaration of Invalidity.
  2. Recognize the necessity of an annulment. The Catholic Church views divorce as a grave offense of natural law, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, who states unequivocally, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Luke 16:18). Thus, the church maintains firm regulations with regard to divorce and remarriage. The church presumes that any civil marriage that results in a divorce continues to remain a valid union. However, in certain cases, an “annulment” establishing a marriage’s invalidity may be granted to persons who are seeking to become Catholics following the dissolution of their marriage (see Reference 2). An annulment should be interpreted not as a decree of divorce but rather as a decree of invalidity.
  3. Apply for an annulment. Declarations of Invalidity may be dispensed for a variety of reasons, including misrepresentations made by a partner during a wedding ceremony (such as evidence of infidelity) or if neither member of a marriage was a Christian prior to taking vows. If you are applying for an annulment, you will want to seek the counsel of a priest, who will be able to provide more information about prerequisites for an annulment. This process will also require you to review and to sign paperwork. Ultimately, the burden of proof of the necessity for an annulment will rest on the person who is submitting this essential paperwork.
  4. Develop a positive relationship with Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church bases its doctrine on the teachings of Christ, and if you are interested in becoming a member of the church, you should develop an understanding of Christ’s teachings rather than simply receive counseling from leaders within the church. By focusing on aligning yourself with Biblical principles, you will become spiritually equipped to cope with the formation process of the Catholic Church.
  5. Undergo the formation process. Regardless of whether a person is divorced, married or single, she must undergo a gradual initiation process called “formation.” In order to learn how to observe the liturgical year of the Catholic Church, prospective Catholics are instructed to engage themselves in service to the church through prayer, training and personal growth. Following this extensive formation process, a person will be evaluated by members of the Church and may elect to receive a Catholic baptism.

Driving Under The Influence: Understanding The Concept

Drinking and driving is a serious offence in the US. If you are caught with a high blood alcohol concentration, you can face imprisonment and a fine. It is important to understand this law in order to be able to fight any charge against you.

Laws Related to Drinking and Driving

In Florida, if you are found with a blood alcohol concentration that is either 0.8% or above, it is considered to be illegal. This limit is considered to be the standard limit across the United States of America. However, the law is a little different for those who are driving commercial vehicles. For them, the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) has to be below 0.4%. The law is even less tolerant of individuals who are under the age of 21 and they must have a BAC of below 0.2%.

So in simple terms, how much alcohol does that amount to? The best possible solution is not drink at all if you are planning to drive. Even though there is no exact measure as to how much alcohol makes up the 0.8% limit, a lot of studies show that each drink you consume could increase the concentration in your blood by 0.5%. This means that if you have 2 drinks, you will probably be over the limit.

What Penalties Could you Face for Driving Under the Influence?

There are three forms of punishment that you are likely to face for a DUI conviction. These include a fine, imprisonment and community service. A combination of all three is usually given to those found guilty of this offence.

The fine can start at $500 for a first time conviction and go up to $2,000 for a fourth conviction. Imprisonment can be up to 6 months for the first conviction and up to 5 years for the fourth conviction. Community service can start at 50 hours and increase based on the number of convictions. The vehicle of the driver may also be impounded and the court could make it mandatory to pass a DUI test. The driver’s license will also be suspended.

As for those who are found guilty of this offence and are under the age of 21 years, there is a no tolerance policy and they will be subjected to punishments that are more severe than the prescribed penalties for those above the age of 21 years.

Why do you need an Attorney?

There are a number of reasons why you should hire a good DUI attorney if you are caught driving under the influence.

Firstly, it may be possible that you have wrongly been charged and your attorney may be able to drop the charges.

Secondly, for first time convictions, it is possible to plead for reckless driving instead so that your punishment is not as severe.

Thirdly, it is important to apply for a work permit and hardship license only within 10 days of the arrest. The attorney will inform you about all of the options available and get the best deal possible for you.

The Law Office of Philip Averbuck is a well-known criminal defense attorney office who fights all kinds of charges ranging from domestic violence to DUI. This law office believes in representing the accused to the best of their capacity and trying to get the case dismissed or the best possible deal for their client. Also check out our new page on Driving Under The Influence.

How to Use an Irrevocable Common Law Trust

A trust is a fiduciary relationship with respect to property where an individual known as a settler transfers property to a trustee who then holds that property for the benefit of a named beneficiary. An irrevocable trust is a type of trust where the terms cannot be amended or revised by the trustee or beneficiary. Irrevocable trusts are typically used as an estate planning tool to financially provide for other family members.

How to Make an Irrevocable Trust

  1. Create a list detailing all of your assets.
  2. Make a list of all the individuals, known as beneficiaries, that you would like to receive your property or financial support through the trust. Keep in mind, however, that irrevocable trusts cannot be amended or changed in most instances. Also make sure to think of individuals who you wish to exclude from staking a claim in your estate.
  3. Identify who you want to act as trustee.
  4. Fill out an irrevocable trust form or solicit the help of an attorney in creating an irrevocable trust. Irrevocable trust forms can be purchased from online venues such as legalzoom.com. Seek the assistance of an attorney or trust preparer if necessary.
  5. Engage in additional steps that may be needed to fund your trust, such as transferring property ownership or bank accounts to the trustee.
  6. Visit a notary to have all documents notarized and witnessed.

Does America Have to Follow International Laws?

Attorneys often experience a passionate client coming into their office and insisting that they have a case based on something they read about happening in another country. In other instances, people will invoke rights they believe they have under treaties or international agreements like the Geneva Convention. Thus, many wonder whether American courts must follow international laws?

Sadly, the question is a mix of politics and law, so a definitive answer is difficult to manage. Generally speaking, if the United States is the party to a legal action, it is supposed to be bound to the obligations to which it has agreed in treaties with other nations. For example, if the United States has an extradition agreement with another nation, it should be obligated to follow that treaty. That would mean having to turn over an individual accused of a crime that would also be a crime in the United States. For the most part, the US will abide by such agreements. But, there have been instances where the government has refused to turn someone over for trial for political reasons.

Similarly, the United States is fairly notorious around the world for only abiding by international agreements when it finds them convenient. For example, when the United States invaded Iraq despite a vote against such action by the United Nations Security Council. That vote should have precluded military action by the United States, but the US proceeded anyway, later seeking the support of several other nations to legitimize the move. Other examples have included conducting military actions on the sovereign soil of foreign nations during peacetime, engaging in espionage, and disregarding agreements regarding the environment.

However, contrary to what many believe, there is no actual international law. What is commonly referred to as international law is really just a conglomeration of treaties, precedents derived from international dealings, and contracts. There is no international body that truly enforces international agreements, except to the extent that the United Nations may authorize member states to use coercive or even military sanctions. Even then, some nations, such as those on the security council, have broad de facto immunity. Thus, many international laws only apply to these countries to the extent that they agree to be bound by them.

These issues can be even more frustrating for individuals trying to determine how to proceed in disputes against persons and entities from other countries. Questions can arise as to whether the laws of another country can be enforced in an American courtroom. While it may surprise many, the answer is actually yes, foreign laws can be enforced in American courts under some circumstances.

Most commonly, these cases deal with contractual disputes where parties agree to be bound by the laws of a foreign nation, but where the transaction occurs on American soil. In some cases, it can also happen when foreign governments engage in business in America with American citizens.

Generally speaking, the parties in such a case must ask the court to determine whether the foreign laws apply and if they do, whether they can be enforced in an American court. Foreign laws will only be enforced if they do not directly contradict the laws of the United States such that enforcement would create a domestic law violation. Thus, a contractual agreement that relies on aspects of sharia law to interpret its terms may be entirely valid, while a contract to enforce an agreement that amounts to human trafficking would not be.

These cases often become incredibly complicated, and often lead to appeals, regardless of the outcome, given the uncertainty involved in applying overlapping and possibly conflicting legal standards. Thus, it is critical to contact an attorney if dealing with this type of dispute. An attorney will be able to help a party navigate the difficult political and legal considerations involved with such disputes, and be best prepared to respond to subsequent attacks on the decision, whether on appeal or issues with enforcement. To find an attorney in your area that may be able to help you with such a dispute, visit HG.org and use the attorney search function.

Drug Paraphernalia Charges in Florida

Most people are aware of penalties that people face for possessing, selling, manufacturing, or delivering a controlled substance. However, many others are surprised to learn that Florida also criminalizes the possession, sale, manufacture, or delivery of certain types of paraphernalia.

Under Florida Statute § 893.145, drug paraphernalia is defined as being “all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, transporting, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing” a controlled substance into the human body. Examples of paraphernalia listed under the statute include, but are not limited to the following examples of items that may be used, intended for use, or designed for use in certain controlled substance activities:

Kits for manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, or preparing controlled substances or planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, or harvesting of any species of plant which is a controlled substance or from which a controlled substance can be derived.

Isomerization devices for increasing the potency of any species of plant which is a controlled substance or testing equipment for identifying, or in analyzing the strength, effectiveness, or purity of, illegal drugs.

Scales and balances for weighing or measuring illegal drugs.

Diluents and adulterants for cutting illegal drugs.

Separation gins and sifters for removing twigs and seeds from, or in otherwise cleaning or refining, cannabis.

Blenders, bowls, containers, spoons, and mixing devices for compounding controlled substances.

Capsules, balloons, envelopes, and other containers for packaging small quantities of illegal drugs or containers and other objects for storing, concealing, or transporting illegal drugs.

Hypodermic syringes, needles, and other objects for injecting illegal drugs into the human body.

Objects for ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing cannabis, cocaine, hashish, hashish oil, or nitrous oxide into the human body, such as bongs, roach clips, various pipes, or many other types of objects.

There are multiple crimes listed under Florida Statute § 893.147 that a person may be charged with relating to paraphernalia. These include:

Use or Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – It is a first-degree misdemeanor for any person to use or possess with intent to use paraphernalia.

Manufacture or Delivery of Drug Paraphernalia – It is a third-degree felony for any person to deliver, possess with intent to deliver, or manufacture with intent to deliver paraphernalia.

Delivery of Drug Paraphernalia to a Minor – It is a second-degree felony for any person 18 years of age or over to deliver paraphernalia he or she knows or reasonably should know will be used to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, or conceal an illegal drug, or inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the human body to a person under 18 years of age. It is a first-degree misdemeanor if the alleged offender sells or otherwise delivers hypodermic syringes, needles, or other objects which may be used, are intended for use, or are designed for use in injecting substances into the human body to any person under 18 years of age.

Transportation of Drug Paraphernalia – It is a third-degree felony for any person to use, possess with the intent to use, or manufacture with the intent to use paraphernalia, knowing or under circumstances in which one reasonably should know that it will be used to transport a controlled substance or illegal contraband.

Advertisement of Drug Paraphernalia – It is a first-degree misdemeanor for any person to place any advertisement in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publication, knowing or under circumstances where one reasonably should know that the purpose of the advertisement, in whole or in part, is to promote the sale of objects designed or intended for use as paraphernalia.

Retail Sale of Drug Paraphernalia – It is a first-degree misdemeanor for the first offense and a third-degree felony for a second or subsequent offense if any person knowingly and willfully sells or offers for sale at retail any paraphernalia, other than a pipe that is primarily made of briar, meerschaum, clay, or corn cob.

While drug paraphernalia charges can certainly have very serious consequences, alleged offenders usually have multiple defenses in these cases. In addition to questioning the grounds on which law enforcement may have seized the alleged paraphernalia, there are often questions about who actually possessed the alleged paraphernalia and whether the paraphernalia was actually used for an illegal drug as many times these types of equipment, products, and materials can have other lawful purposes.

Andrew Stine is a criminal defense attorney at the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A. in West Palm Beach. He aggressively defends clients against charges involving manufacture, delivery, transportation, advertisement, retail sale, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia as well as many other drug crimes. Stine is licensed in state and federal courts in Florida, and he represents clients throughout Palm Beach County, including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Greenacres, and more.

The Advantages of Living in a Retirement Facility

An assisted living facility will benefit the senior and the senior’s family.
Those individuals who have reached retirement years often enjoy a lot of independence, but they may also begin to have difficulty making sure that they are taking proper care of themselves. This is particularly the case as the years pass, and they may find that they are confined to their homes, unable to do anything many of the things for themselves that they used to do. This is not only depressing for the senior, it is also distressing for their family. In addition, health risks to the individual increase, particularly if they have problems with falling or if they are not taking their medication properly. A retirement facility, however, has many benefits that can help individuals live out their golden years in the comfort and with a greater level of independence.

What are some of the benefits of using one of these assisted living facilities?
The first thing to be understood is that there is a difference between an assisted living residence and a nursing home. Rather than being confined to a room, with very little independence, many of the assisted living facilities offer services with just the right level of support to give the senior resident some self-sufficiency. One of the most important benefits of this type of environment, for the senior, is security and safety. This is especially true for those with some degree of physical impairment where assistance is available to ensure the senior has all the independence that he or she is able to enjoy.

When your senior loved one lives in a retirement home, you can rest assured they are getting meals on a regular schedule.
Nutrition is often a concern for individuals who have entered this time of their life, many do not get the proper nutrition when they are living on their own. It can also be very difficult for seniors to be able to get out and shop for groceries that they need as well. In an assisted living residence, however, there is access to regularly scheduled nutritious meals. Restaurant style dining not only supports good nutrition but is an important aspect of socialization and creates a family atmosphere.

No need to worry about a messy room or dirty clothes when living in an independent living facility.
Housekeeping is often difficult for many seniors, but that problem is overcome when living at a retirement facility. The housekeeping is done for the resident. Friendly staff members regularly straighten and clean the residents’ rooms. A clean room, as I’m sure that you’re aware, is a healthy room, and it can really help to make a difference in the overall health of a senior when this cleaning is done on a regular basis. In addition, the housekeeping staff at the retirement facility will make sure that the residents are taken care of as far as laundry is concerned. On a regular basis, you can arrange for clothing and other laundry to be picked up in order to be cleaned and returned to your loved one conveniently.

More reasons to consider an assisted living facility for your parents or senior loved one.
Many seniors who have entered this stage of their life are unable to drive. The independent living facility gives your loved one access to the transportation that is necessary for you to make sure that they make their appointments as well as to get out shopping regularly. This transportation offers a considerable amount of freedom, and provides a solution for loved ones who are responsible for transporting the senior.

Finally, don’t overlook the health related care that is available through a retirement facility. Trained staff are available to provide assistance and medication. Of course, not everyone will need constant care when entering a retirement facility, but it’s nice to know that it is easily accessed.

Rules of Fasting for Catholics

The Roman Catholic Church has many traditions that date back for centuries. One of the oldest traditions is fasting, especially during the season of Lent. For hundreds of years, the Church has outlined strict fasting laws for Catholics to follow, not only during Lent, but also on every Friday of the year. Today, there are only two required days of fasting–Ash Wednesday and Good Friday–and Catholics are only required to abstain from eating meat on Fridays during Lent.

The Catholic season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and is completed on Easter Sunday.

Fasting Definition

  • According to AmericanCatholic.org, bishops of the United States Catholic Church have defined fasting as “partaking of only one full meal.” Under this definition, you can also eat a small amount of food at breakfast time and again at lunch (or in the evening, depending on when you choose to eat your full meal), however these other two eating periods combined cannot equal a full meal.

Abstaining Definition

  • Abstaining is different from fasting, but is also practiced during the month of Lent. Abstaining means that you must refrain from eating any meat whatsoever. You can eat animal products, such as eggs, milk and butter, but not meat itself. You are also allowed to eat juices made from meat, such as broth, gravy, consomme, seasonings or sauces.

Age Requirements

  • According to Catholic Canon Law (the rules governing the Church), you must begin abstaining on the required days at the age of 14, but you are not required to fast until age 18. Between the ages of 18 and 59, you must fast and abstain on the required days.

Required Days

  • According to the Canon Law, you are required to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, if you meet the age requirements. Each Friday during Lent, you are required to abstain, but not to fast.

Exceptions

  • There are exceptions to every rule, even the Catholic Canon Law. Catholics age 59 and older are not required to abstain or fast. You are also not required to fast if you have special health issues, such as diabetes, or if you are pregnant or nursing.

Why Was the English Common Law Important in the Development of the American Legal System?

The English Common Law, comprising customary rules that had been developed over the course of several centuries, forms the basis of many legal systems in the British Isles and in former British colonies, including the United States. While states like France, Germany and Italy rely on codified civil laws written in the Roman tradition, the unwritten common law became the basis for civil law in England and all other legal systems following English traditions.
The common law forms a vital part of the legal system, particularly in civil law.

History

  • The English Common Law can find its beginnings in the systems of unwritten customary law that were common among the Germanic tribes prior to their conversion to Christianity. In particular, English Common Law began with the customary laws of the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, all of whom had originated in modern Denmark and northern Germany, but invaded former province of Britannia following the Roman withdrawal from the island. These customary rules formed the basis of the English legal system, even after the Norman Invasion. As English criminal law began to take the form of written statutes, civil, procedural and administrative law continued to follow the ancient tradition of unwritten law inherited from the Germanic tribes. As England, and later Great Britain, colonized new lands, it exported this legal system to those places, along with its people.

American Common Law

  • Every one of the original 13 colonies that came to form the United States was organized under a legal system derived from that of their Britannic motherland. When the colonies declared independence, they nevertheless continued to follow in this tradition. As a result, English Common Law, as it had existed prior to the American Revolution, formed the basis for American civil, procedural and administrative law. However, since that time, the severance of American legal connections with England forced the development of a uniquely American Common Law.

Basic Characteristics

  • The common law is a law of precedent, building upon past decisions like the layers of an onion. These decisions tend to come in the form of judicial rulings, made where the statutory law has not otherwise provided. But even the very basis of the American judicial system, that questions of fact are decided by juries of free citizens, is itself inherited from the common law.

Legal Hierarchy in Federal Law

  • Within the context of United States federal law, there presently exists a hierarchy of laws that helps to cover every potentiality. At the top of the hierarchy is the Constitution — anything that contravenes it does not stand. Next are the statutory laws, the legal enactments of Congress, which are inferior to the Constitution but superior to common law. Finally, the common law, built upon centuries of judicial decisions, fills in for things not handled by the Constitution and statutes — but the common law is null whenever it disagrees with them where their provisions have relevance.

In State Law

  • Every state in the Union, with the sole exception of Louisiana (which operated under a civil code in the French tradition) has its own similar hierarchy of constitutions, statutes and common law. Due to the fact that the United States Constitution only delegates a finite number of powers to the federal government, these systems in the states tend to cover more cases than federal law. However, state laws of all types are inferior to federal law whenever Congress has exercised its constitutionally granted authority.

The Difference Between Criminal Law and Civil Law

There are two comprehensive categories of law used in the United States legal system: civil law and criminal law. Although separate types of cases, some crimes can be both a civil and criminal violation of law. Continue reading to learn the differences between civil and criminal law, as well as, examples of such cases.

Civil Law

Civil law is the area of the American legal system that manages disputes or wrong-doings between private parties. A common example of such cases involve injuries. If someone is wrongfully injured by another person demonstrating negligence or malicious intent, they can ask the courts to decide who is at-fault and if the negligent party should pay remuneration to the injured person. The same goes for family law and divorce cases, disagreements over property ownership, breach of contracts, wrongful terminations, and more.

Anyone found guilty of a civil crime or infraction will not be subjected to jail time, government fines, or capital punishment. Instead, most civil litigations end with a negligent party being order to compensate the injured party for their losses and any additional damages caused by the defendant’s negligence. Recompense is often times paid by the defendant’s insurance provider, but sometimes, they must pay out of pocket. If they have no money, assets, or insurance, an injured person may not receive any recompense, even if it is court-ordered.

As for burden of proof, civil cases and criminal cases differ greatly. In civil law, the plaintiff has the burden of proving their damages or the negligent act of the opposing party. Once the plaintiff party reveals their proof of negligence, the defendant also has a burden to disprove the plaintiff’s proof and convince the courts of their innocence. In a civil case, a plaintiff and a defendant must hire and pay for their own attorney, or choose to defend themselves. Only in criminal cases will the state offer a lawyer for free.

Criminal Law

In contrast to civil law, criminal law involves crimes against the state, government, or society in whole, rather than a private party or person. Criminal violations, like felonies and misdemeanors, are subjected to state and federal punishment; therefore, guilty person’s face jail time, governmental fines, and in extreme cases, the death penalty. Although a murder is a crime against a person, the crime itself goes against state and federal law, therefore making it a criminal case, rather than a civil one. These cases go to a jury trial where defendants are prosecuted by the state. In criminal litigation, defendants are allowed to appoint their own attorney, or have one appointed to them by the state if they cannot afford to pay for one themselves.

In criminal law, the burden of proof shifts to a more complex principle. First, it is always up to the state prosecutors to provide evidence in order to prove that a defendant is guilty. All people are innocent until proven guilty, so the defendant has no burden of proving their own innocence at all in a criminal case. There are a few exceptions to this rule, in the case of insanity claims and self-defense claims. The state has the responsibility of proving “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a defendant is guilty of the crime in question. There has to be virtually 100% certainty that a defendant is guilty for a jury to hand down a guilty verdict.

Call Lewis and Wilkins LLP at 317-636-7460 for Indianapolis personal injury claims and representation. Visit their website at http://www.lawyers-indiana.com for details about their practice areas and office locations. Call 317-636-7460 and schedule a free initial consultation today.

Episcopal Divorce Law

The Code of Canon Law of the Episcopal church governs divorce and remarriage of congregants. Under the current Code of Canon Law of the Episcopal church, divorce is not prohibited, although not encouraged. Following a divorce, there are certain requirements in order for a church member to remarry.

Principles of divorce law in the Episcopal church.

History

  • Episcopal divorce law dates back to the reign of King Henry VIII of England. In his attempts to end his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, King Henry broke from the Catholic Church and established a Christian church in England under his authority.

Considerations

  • Proof of a church annulment or civil divorce must be provided. The clergy member performing the marriage must remind the divorced person of his obligation to be concerned for the well-being of a former spouse and children. The bishop must consent to the remarriage.

Time Frame

  • There is no set waiting period from the civil divorce or church annulment to the date of a remarriage under Episcopal divorce law.

Benefits

  • Episcopal divorce law permits a congregant the ability to remain in communion with the church even upon a divorce and remarriage provided a lawful divorce occurs, a commitment is made to be concerned for the initial family and the bishop consents.

Famous Ties

  • Despite establishing the Church of England to divorce his first queen, divorce laws of his Church proved inadequate for King Henry VIII. Rather than divorce his second wife, Henry beheaded Anne Boleyn and his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

Government Procurement Fraud – Addressing Important Defenses

Government procurement fraud is an ongoing problem in the US. The Office of Inspector and the General, Small Business Administration (SBA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the DOJ have increased oversight on government contractors across the country. A substantial amount of government fraud cases surface in the SBA 8(a) Program or when contractors submit claims that are unsupported with the right documentation.

Procurement fraud schemes put small business owners and corporate executives in a position where harsh criminal and civil penalties can cause embarrassment, subjectivity to huge fines and prison time.

A Virginia man was sentenced to 16 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and major government fraud. He was also ordered to forfeit $1,065,103.90, representing his personal proceeds from the conspiracy.

US attorneys and the federal government have to prove certain elements to meet the burden of proof in a False Claims Act case. To support a case for fraud against the government, the agency has to prove the elements of the statute.

For example, under the False Claims Act, “[a]ny person who… knowingly presents” to the government “a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval” “is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000, plus 3 times the amount of damages which the Government sustains.” 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a).

“Knowingly” is defined as (1) “actual knowledge,” (2) acting “in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity” of information, or (3) acting “in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity” of information; no proof of specific intent to defraud is required.” Id. § 3729(b). The government must prove a violation of the False Claims Act by a preponderance of the evidence. Id. § 3731(c); Commercial Contractors, 154 F.3d at 1362.

Always support government contract claims with supporting documentation or truthful support.: The Court of Federal Claims typically finds that when you certify a claim, as required by 41 U.S.C. § 605(c)(1), that “the claim is made in good faith; that the supporting data are correct and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief; that the amount requested accurately reflects the contract adjustment for which the Contractor believes the Government is liable.”

Contract fraud cases under the False Claims Act are predicated under the simply statement of certification.
You must show proof of actions of good faith to avoid fraud.

Although a terrible position to be in, individuals and government contractors involved in white collar crimes have a few legal defenses they can use with the right criminal defense attorney can gather the relevant evidence.

For example, if you are defending a federal government contract fraud case, you have to show that the government has not met its burden of proof. By carefully assessing the evidence, a fraud defense attorney can seek to dismantle each of the above evidence.

Proactive measures to prevent government procurement fraud include developing proactive contractor ethics policies and train your staff. However, if litigation arises, developing a solid defense is essential.

For help in a government procurement fraud case, call the defense attorneys at Watson & Associates LLC. Call 1-866-601-5518.

New Child Car Seat Laws in New Jersey

The correct car seat for your child can be a lifesaver when installed and utilized accurately.

 

The proper use of child care seats is the most effective method to protect children in the event of a car accident. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that infant and child car seats reduce the risk of infant deaths by 71%, and 54% for toddlers ages one to four.

In order to keep children safe in the event of a car accident, modifications and recommendations to car seat laws are necessary to coincide with new car safety technology and related research findings. New Jersey recently amended its current child car seat laws with changes in effect starting September 1, 2015.

New Jersey’s most important update to the car seat law complies with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation that children remain in rear facing car seats until the age of two. Keeping the car seat rear facing for as long as possible significantly reduces the risk of small children being fatally injured in car accidents, according to the AAP.

South Jersey Car Accident Lawyers explain New Jersey Child Car Seat Law Amendments
Two year olds and under that weigh less than 30 pounds must be secured in a rear facing restraint system that has a five point harness

Four year olds and under that weigh less than 40 pounds must be restrained in a rear facing five point harness system until the child outgrows the manufacturer’s height and weight specifications OR a forward facing car seat that has a five point harness

Eight year olds and children under 57” tall must remain in a five point harness restraint system until they outgrow the manufacturer’s height and weight specifications.

Child car seats should always be placed in the middle of the vehicle’s back seat for the best possible protection. In the event that a car does not have a rear seat, the side passenger airbags must be disabled prior to placing a car seat in the front. Never place a rear facing car seat near an airbag; the force of the airbag deployment will harm a child.

The state of New Jersey addresses child safety in car accidents as a top concern; therefore, it is important for parents to determine the age and size appropriate seat for their child. In addition, correct installation and use is necessary in order to provide the best protection for a child. The New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic and Safety found that three out of four child car seats are not properly secured or restrained. Refer to the manufacturer’s height and weight specifications and installation instructions when purchasing a child car seat.

How Does Common-Law Marriage Work?

How Does Common-Law Marriage Work?

How a Common-Law Marriage Begins

  • A couple moves in together and share a home. They agree to marry, but there is no ceremony. They move in together and live together for an extended period doing all the same things that a husband and wife would do. They consummate the relationship. They share the bills. They may purchase a home. They may have children. It is clear that they have a romantic relationship. They publicly refer to each other as husband and wife. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, they must “agree that they are married, live together and hold themselves out as husband and wife.”

How the State Recognizes Common-Law Marriage

  • If the couple lives in a state that recognizes common law, after the amount of time dictated by the statute passes, the couple is treated as husband and wife by law. The amount of time they must be married before they are considered married by law varies from state to state. States that accept common-law marriages are Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, as well as Washington D.C. A handful of states recognize common-law marriage if a couple is together before a certain date, meaning new unions are not recognized. They are Georgia, Idaho, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. New Hampshire recognizes common-law marriages for reasons on inheritance only. According to U.S. federal law, if a couple has a common-law marriage in one state, they are considered married in all states.

Benefits and Restrictions on Common-Law Marriage

  • In states where common-law marriage is recognized, couples can file joint tax returns, have full visitation in hospitals and collect health and inheritance benefits. A couple who is considered married by common law must go through the same legal proceedings to separate as if they had actually been married. This law comes from the theory of common-law marriage as one of estoppel. This means that a couple cannot claim that they are married and then change their minds when they have a dispute.

California Common Law

California does not recognize common-law marriage. Many people incorrectly believe that if two partners live together for a certain length of time, their relationship constitutes a common-law marriage in California. On the contrary, there are only 12 states that recognize common-law marriage (as of 2010) and California is not one of them.

The state of California does not recognize "common law" marriage.

Where It’s Recognized

  • Twelve U.S. states recognize common-law marriage: Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire (but only for inheritance purposes), Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. The District of Columbia also recognizes common-law marriage.

Marriage Criteria

  • If you live in one of the states that recognize common-law marriage, you should know that such a marriage can exist only when: a heterosexual couple live in a state that recognizes it; they have lived together for a significant length of time (not defined by any state); the couple present themselves as a married couple, using the same last name, calling each other their spouse, and filing a joint tax return, for example; and the couple intend to be married.

Facts

  • Unless all four of the above statements are true, there isn’t a common-law marriage. Just like in a conventional marriage, when a common-law marriage exists, a couple must go through the same formal divorce process to end the marriage.

Expert Insight

  • Family Law Free Advice states that if a couple move from a state that recognizes common-law marriage to a state that doesn’t, the new state will usually recognize the marriage. That means that if a couple lived in Montana, where their common- law marriage was recognized, and they move to California, California will most likely recognize the couple as being married.

Warning

  • In the book “Living Together: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples,” it says that if you live in a state that recognizes common-law marriage and don’t wish to be married, it’s a good idea for both of you to sign a statement clearly stating your joint intent. If you use the same last name or share property, it’s important to do this; otherwise a common-law marriage may later be found to exist.

How to Protect and Save Assets that Remained in Crimea

As a result of the illegal annexation of the Crimea by the Russian Federation, many owners of the property and assets in the Crimea have gotten quite difficult issue: how to protect and save these assets?

Many Ukrainian companies and foreign owners have owned assets in Crimea. Because of the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation quite difficult issues about protecting or rescuing these assets appear.

One of the main obstacles for saving business assets is the fact that Ukraine has closed access to all state registries about the property in Crimea. According to this decision, in addition to positive moments (it helps to preserve the information in state registries about the property from illegal actions of third parties), there are negative moments, as a result of this action the notary (who makes real estate transactions according to Ukrainian law) cannot work with documents for property in Crimea. Ukraine blocked access to registers of property rights on real estate, individual acts, personal data of owners of real estate, information about enforcement proceedings, etc. This led, in fact, to “freeze” of all assets in Crimea. On the other side, Russian state registries have not started their work yet, and the legal nature of the information from these registries about the property in Crimea raises more questions than answers.

It is well known that the most valuable assets, first of all, are real estate, it is impossible to move it from Crimea to other territory. So we can offer the following list of actions to protect and save assets.

First of all, it should be understood that in this situation the main value acquire title establishing documents for the real estate on tangible media that will make possible justifying your right for some property. According to this you need to put in order all title establishing documents and other documents of title for the property in Crimea, including title establishing documents for land-property, and try to get any other documents using all methods (even semi legal). As it is not a secret that the search for and provision of documents in Crimea “retroactively” has become a kind of business for clerks. We should not forget that not only property documents can be useful but also the documents establishing other facts, such as documents about using of mineral resources, the exclusive rights of commercial structures, etc.

It is possible to initiate lawsuits with these documents for returning of material losses or return/refund business after the establishment of Ukrainian jurisdiction over Crimea. There are no reason to non-accept the title establishing documents for the property in Crimea issued by Ukrainian state institutions in the past. That is why such kinds of documents will be accepted by courts, including international courts. All these documents may be the evidence of guilt of Russia as a state which encroached on the property of third parties in Crimea and created the conditions for violations of the right for private property (which is guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1950 and Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention).

European Court of Human Rights (referred to as “ECHR”) believes that the defendant is always the state that actually holds an annexation, as in this case such state brings its jurisdiction in the occupied territories. There are some cases in ECHR with affairs of the state arbitrariness (look at case №20680/92 dated November 15, 1996 “Tsomtsos and others v Greece”, №19385/92 dated November 15, 1996 “Katikaridis and others v Greece”), denial of access to the property (look at case №15318/89 dated December 18, 1996 “Loizidou v Turkey”). The last case is very interesting due to the fact that the ECHR fully rejected arguments of the Turkish government that the political situation in Cyprus had justified a permanent denial of access of Greek Cypriots people to the property located on the territory controlled by Turkey. The ECHR stated that the establishment of actual barriers can be considered as a violation of the European Convention in the same way as a based on the law restriction which is very similar to the situation with Russian annexation of the Crimea.

However, if we consider the option of assets protection through the ECHR, the application to the international court have to be sent after the exhaustion of protecting rights and interests at the national courts, including the highest level. And the case “Loizidou v Turkey” can be very useful in this situation, because circumstances indicate that firstly we have to apply to national authorities of Russia as an aggressor-state. At the same time, we should not forget about the criterion of an effectiveness of national courts which the ECHR uses in considering of individual applications. According to this criterion, courts should be effective not only in theory but also in practice, i.e., available at the time of trial, they have to be able to satisfy the claim, and to have a reasonable prospect of a positive outcome.

There is the opinion that it is possible to apply a complaint directly to the ECHR, due to the fact of absence of effective remedies in Crimea for Ukrainian property and property rights. The position of the European Community concerning the evaluation of the actions of Russia is obvious. We can use the case of Catherine Rakhno like an example. It is about the abduction of her husband Eugene Rakhno in Crimea. The complaint was quickly transferred from the ECHR to governments of Ukraine and Russia for communication. We would like to note that the deadline for applying an individual application to the ECHR is only six months. Do not forget about it. Therefore, if you want to apply to the ECHR without decisions of national institutions, you should prepare substantiation (including some of the documents) that, to a certain point of time, there was no evidence of risk for property and rights for it, and these risks and threats have come just now.

We should also consider the protection of investments made in Crimea. Firstly, the investor who had invested in Crimea has to check whether the country of his/her residence or the country of his/her entity’s residence has a bilateral agreement with Russia on mutual protection of investments. For today, there are a lot of such agreements between Russia and other economically developed countries, including the United States of America, Netherlands, Japan, Austria, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Armenia. Moreover, many agreements require protection against direct and indirect investments. If yes, then this investor has an opportunity to protect their investments and property rights in Crimea through application to international arbitration. Unfortunately, Russia has signed but not ratified the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States, so it is impossible to use such legal instrument like the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID, Washington) for the protection of investments in Crimea.

Summing up, we can say that the issue of protection of assets and investments in Crimea is rather complicated and time-consuming. At the same time, foreign owners of assets and investments in Crimea can use more possibilities to protect their rights and interests, and so advise to take an advantage of such opportunities and to collect necessary documents and evidence for further legal protection in international court institutions.

How to Get a Common-Law Divorce

A common-law marriage can be dissolved by a court if common-law marriages are recognized in your state. If they are not, there are steps you can take to achieve the same results a divorce would offer.

Instructions

  1. Understand that in some states you can live together as a couple for a number of years and be considered legally married without ever having had a wedding ceremony.
  2. Know that if you are living with a partner and decide you want a “divorce,” you will need to first consult your state’s law to determine if common-law marriages are recognized by your state.
  3. File divorce papers if common-law marriages are recognized, you can file divorce papers, asking a court to dissolve your marriage, divide your property and determine custody, child support and alimony.
  4. Realize that if common-law marriage is not recognized in your state, or if it is and you would rather not go to court for a divorce, there are several options available to you that will help you end your relationship and tie up legal loose ends.
  5. See a mediator. A mediator can help you resolve all of the issues before you and set out your agreement in a binding contract. Mediation can solve all of your issues in one process.
  6. File papers in your local family court. If you have children with your partner, you will need to have a determination of custody, visitation and child support. You do not need to be married to have a court assist you with this.
  7. Try to divide your property on your own. Have each person take what he or she brought to the marriage and divide the rest in half or in any way that you both feel is fair. If you are unable to do so, you can file a small claims case for return of property and the court will divide up the property.
  8. Recognize that whoever is named as the debtor on any debts will be the person who is legally responsible for the amount owed. It may be possible to go to small claims court and prove that a promise was made by the other party to pay some or all of the debt.
  9. Find out if your state allows palimony suits. These are cases that seek alimony by unmarried partners. You should talk to an attorney experienced in this area.

What Is the Canon Law?

Canon law differs from what commonly is thought of as “law” in that it is not enacted by a civil (or governmental) authority. Rather, canon law is ecclesiastical law, a code of provisions developed by a church. Specifically, canon law governs three religions in the world today, each having its own code of canon law–the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion of Churches. Other Protestant churches have laws, rules and policies, but do not consider these strictures to be canon law in the strictest sense of the word.

What Is the Canon Law?

History

  • Canon law has its roots in the early Roman Catholic Church, initially being developed during the First Century A.D. at the Council of Jerusalem. The canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, having been used for nearly 2,000 years, is the oldest legal system to be found in the Western world. At the height of the Holy Roman Empire, canon law governed not only matters pertaining to the church but civil issues as well because the Catholic Church (in the person of the Pontiff) was both a religious and governmental authority.

Significance

  • The Codes of Canon Law of the three religions mentioned a moment ago govern the religious and to a significant degree the personal lives of the members to these churches. The Roman Catholic Church alone has more than 1 billion members worldwide. As a consequence, the individual Code of Canon Law of these churches theoretically has a significant impact on the lives of a large segment of the world’s population.

Function

  • Although the function of canon law has evolved over time, in today’s world canon law governs the organization of the church itself. Canon law sets forth the manner in which members of the church are to conduct themselves not only in their relationship and interaction with the church but in their personal and civic lives (to some degree) as well.

Effects

  • The ultimate effects of canon law have been profound. Not only does canon law remain a vital code pertaining the lives of hundreds of millions of Christians all over the globe, all Western legal systems ultimately can trace their origins to early canon law. This includes both civil and common law legal systems as they have developed throughout all of Europe and North America.

Misconceptions

  • There are two common misconceptions associated with canon law. First, many people wrongly assume that canon law largely is irrelevant today. What these individuals fail to understand that it is canon law is controlling the manner in which the largest group of Christians in the world worship and conduct their spiritual affairs. Second, other people believe that the heads of churches that adhere to canon law–specifically the Roman Catholic Pontiff–dictate all elements of canon law and are infallible when they make decisions in this regard. In fact, the last Pope to make a statement deemed to be infallible and an absolute matter of faith was Pius XII in 1950.

Criminal Charges – The Initial Process Involved

If you or your loved one is facing any sort of criminal charges, then it is high time you get to know about criminal charges, how to file a criminal charge and other important aspects in detail. It is necessary that everyone posses the knowledge and understanding about the process of criminal case from the start.

What is a criminal charge?

A criminal charge is nothing but accusation made by authorities authorized by the government over those who have committed any sort of crime punishable under law. It is a form of written accusation posted against someone for doing an act or refraining from doing something put-forth by law. A criminal charge would be initiated if someone files a criminal case against a person. It could be the police or the victim of the specific problem.

When a person faces arrest

The police have the authority to arrest somebody if they have any sort of suspicion that the concerned person has committed a crime. A criminal offense could be major or minor and the police have the right to arrest them to carry on with further investigation. If the police finds substantial reason that the concerned person could have committed the crime after the investigation then the police would initiate further action. The next step to this would be to get warrant to initiate search and arrest.

Filing of charge

Not all arrests would end up with a charge being filed against the person. The prosecutor would review each and everything in detail and comes to a conclusion if a charge should be filed or not. In case, the chances are high that a charge would be filed against you after the arrest, it serves best to seek the help of a criminal defense attorney for professional support. The attorney would deal with any legal issues and would talk to the prosecutor before the filing of charges. A charge document comprises of several important legal documents which includes information, complaint, citation, traffic ticket and indictment.

Filing of a complaint

Anybody who thinks they are victims of a criminal offense can file a complaint with the police department in their respective jurisdiction. In case, the police refuse to accept a specific complaint, the victim can proceed to take it to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor would then be taking a look at the complaint and would decide if a charge be filed or not. Once the charge is filed, the case is ready for the pretrial stage where it is decided if the case should go on trial.

Christian Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a written contract between an engaged couple in which both parties determine how to divide their possessions and savings in case of a divorce. While prenuptial agreements are increasingly popular in Europe and North America, Christian couples seeking a church wedding may find that such an agreement is frowned upon by their pastor and contravenes canon law in the Roman Catholic Church.

Prenuptual agreements may cause problems for Christians looking to marry.

Divorce

  • The growing popularity of prenuptial agreements are closely tied to rising divorce rates in Europe and North America. Statistics released by the National Center for Health Statistics suggest that 43 percent of all American marriages end in divorce, and Christians are no exception when it comes to the prevalence of failed unions. The Barna Report, published in 1999, remains the most extensive study on divorce rates among major Christian denominations in the United States. According to these statistics, 34 percent of all Christians who characterize themselves as being nondenominational are divorced, while the figure for Baptists reached 29 percent. Divorce rates among Catholics and Lutherans stands at 21 percent.

Biblical Teachings

  • The Bible does not provide explicit teachings on prenuptial agreements, as these did not exist in the days of the Hebrew Scriptures or in New Testament times. Prenuptial agreements are modern legal contracts and while all 50 states in the United States permit them, American politicians in the early 20th century viewed such arrangements in a negative light and felt that they endangered the sanctity of marriage.

    While the Bible may not offer teachings on prenuptials, marriage is widely presented as a permanent covenant that may only be broken by death. While Malachi 2:16 suggests that Hebrew society frowned upon divorce, Matthew 19:6 talks about married couples joined together by God and notes that they must “not separate.”

Prenuptials and Catholicism

  • While prenuptial agreements are not banned outright in the Roman Catholic Church, canon and civil law do not permit the existence of such marital contracts in every instance out of concern that this will undermine the marriage. The Church believes that marital vows are permanent, while prenuptial agreements formally recognize that they may be temporal and that the lawful division of assets between separated spouses may be necessary. Parish priests ask all engaged couples whether they have signed a prenuptial agreement during their first meeting. If such an agreement exists, the priest is required to obtain a copy of this document and must send it to the Catholic Department for Canon and Civil Law Services, where church officials determine if a Catholic wedding may proceed.

    After obtaining a copy of the prenuptial agreement, the priest advises the engaged couple that they must put their marriage plans on hold until they receive a positive response from the Church. If the prenuptial agreement is rejected, the engaged couple must formally terminate their contract before a Catholic wedding may take place.

Christian Widows

  • While the Catholic Church prohibits couples from marrying if their prenuptial agreement focuses on the division of assets following divorce, Church officials are more lenient when dealing with widows and widowers seeking to remarry. If the widow’s main reason for a prenuptial agreement is to ensure that children from a previous marriage are guaranteed their inheritance, church officials will not require the termination of the marital contract. As such, those seeking a Catholic marriage must ensure that their prenuptial agreement determines the division of assets in the case of death and not because of divorce. Catholic Canon law allows for prenuptials only if the document serves to protect a third party, such as children or elderly dependents.

Protestants

  • In contrast to the Catholic Church, Protestant denominations do not require engaged couples to disclose or rescind their prenuptial agreement. Yet mainstream Protestant churches do express concerns similar to those of Catholic priests that prenuptial agreements treat marriage as temporal. Conservative Christian organizations emphasize that a church marriage is a spiritual covenant rather than a legal contract. While contracts can be terminated and place limits on the responsibilities of both parties, a covenant is everlasting and all-encompassing. Canon law does not require Protestant pastors to turn to a higher church authority before performing a wedding for those with prenuptial agreements, but all ministers stress that marriage must be viewed as a permanent commitment.

How to Become a Canon Lawyer

Canon law is the coded law of the Roman Catholic Church. It has existed in some form since the early years of the church and was formally placed into code in the early 20th century. There is a fully formed court system that includes lawyers and judges. Most canon lawyers are priests, but some are lay people. Canon lawyers are a small group with few open positions that require significant specialized knowledge. The path to becoming one is challenging since only two schools in North America offer the required training.

The Vatican is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church

Instructions

  1. Obtain an advanced degree in theology. A master’s, at minimum, is required for the only canon law program in the United States, at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. If you do not have the proper background, you will be required to take its two-year, First Cycle program.
  2. Develop a thorough understanding of Latin. Many church documents are written in Latin so a proper understanding of the language is needed. Latin is part of the First Cycle at The Catholic University of America.
  3. Apply to the canon law program at The Catholic University of America or at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. They are the only two schools for canon law in North America. You could also attend a school in another country, or in Rome.
  4. Take the two-year J.C.L. licentiate program or three-year J.C.D. doctoral program. The J.C.L. lets you practice law in the court system and teach canon law at seminary. The J.C.D. allows you to practice law and teach in canon law programs.
  5. Take and pass the required written/oral exam at the end of the J.C.L. program. There is no bar exam and membership to a state or national bar association, or separate law degree, is not required.

About Common-Law Divorce

Most people are aware of the concept of common-law marriage. Under this scenario, two people who live together in a romantic partnership for many years are seen as married in the eyes of the law. While common-law marriage only applies to couples living in 11 of the 50 states, the union is recognized throughout the country as a legal marriage. Technically, there is no such thing as a common-law divorce, so couples considered married under common-law marriage statutes must dissolve their union through traditional divorce proceedings.
About Common-Law Divorce

History

  • While laws in the traditional sense are based on the work of legislators, common-law systems are based around the decisions made by judges and the court system. Using precedence as a determining factor, common laws are based on what has been accepted or regulated by the courts in the past. Common-law marriage goes back to the days when the America was a British colony, as common-law was traditionally used in England and throughout its colonies. Today, there are 11 states that still recognize common-law marriages. These include Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington, D.C.

Function

  • Common-law marriages vary dramatically from state to state. In some areas, couples who live together in an exclusive relationship for a period of time are considered married in the eyes of the law. This time period can range from 6 months to 3 years or more. This law is most applicable when it comes to the death of one partner or the dissolution of the union. At death, common-law marriages help protect the assets of the couple and the rights of the surviving spouse. When the couple decides to separate, common-law marriage helps protect both partners, and ensures all assets and childcare is divided appropriately.

Effects

  • Common-law marriage statutes in each of the 11 states that allow it have different requirements for this type of marriage. A couple who meets these requirements is considered legally married. If this couple moves to another state that is not one of the 11 common-law marriage states, they are still considered married. This is due the “Full Faith and Credit” principle, where laws of one jurisdiction are fully recognized in another. A couple living in an area that does not recognize common-law marriage could also briefly move to one that does, declare themselves married under that state’s law, then move back to their home state as common-law husband and wife.

Misconceptions

  • The most prevalent misconception regarding common-law divorce is that it works the same way as common-law marriage. That is, a couple who lives apart for a certain amount of time and has the intent to divorce will be considered divorced in the eyes of the law. This is false in every single state. Common-law divorce simply does not exist. Couples considered married by common-law marriage statutes must complete the traditional divorce filing process, including the division of property, alimony, child support and custody proceedings.

Considerations

  • With common-law divorce, as with any divorce, there are ways to make the process simpler and more affordable for both parties. First, try and divide property and other assets in a way that both partners can be satisfied with. This will eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming court cases. Second, work out a childcare arrangement before heading to the courts. Finally, consider using a mediator instead of going to a divorce court. A mediator can perform simple divorces quickly and effectively when most major decisions related to the union are not in conflict.

Employment law, Absence and Performance Management

Employment law is changing almost constantly. Some changes will have no bearing on your business, but many will, and it is the company’s responsibility to stay up to date rather than someone else’s responsibility to keep them up to date.

Not keeping your eyes on changes to employment law can have huge effects from litigation to a company totally failing should they not adhere to a newly introduced law of some kind or another. So how do you ensure you are totally up to date with changes that may occur?
On average, an individual’s sickness absence costs an employer £659 a year and is equivalent to 8.4 working days lost.

How absence costs a business:
Overtime to cover
Replacement temporary staff
Reduced / delayed production
Lower quality or levels of service
Customer dissatisfaction
Management time dealing with issues
Increased pressure on other employees
Low morale and general dissatisfaction
Deciding on action

Investigate the reasons for absence or lateness before deciding on any action. Is there a pattern or related problems – e.g. at home, at work place, with their health etc? Remember unauthorised absence is misconduct.

Managing short-term absence
Ensure the employee follows your company absence reporting procedures. Conduct ‘Return to work’ interviews for every absence, establish the reasons for the absence and any underlying causes. Agree an action plan, set a date for review and outline implications of failure to improve.

The importance of information
Keep accurate records of lateness and absence – it is about what you can prove, not what you think you know.

Legal requirements
It is potentially fair to dismiss someone for sickness absence. Case law distinguishes different approaches for short term ‘persistent intermittent’ sickness absence and long term sickness absence. However, beware of disability discrimination – an accusation of this is serious as potential damages at tribunal for discrimination are unlimited. Ensure that that your processes being applied equally, any disability is given due consideration and any religious requirements considered.

Seek expert advice from a specialized employment law consultant before dismissing an employee for sickness absence.

Why manage performance?
Because it makes financial sense! It can improve employee engagement, customer satisfaction, safety, and your business company reputation.

What if I don’t ?
It can lead to poor morale, demotivated employees, reduced productivity, increased absence and staff turnover, and possibly expensive legal consequences.

Examples of poor performance

Not adhering to Company standards, policies or procedures, inaccuracy and lack of attention to detail, poor attitude towards management and colleagues, missing deadlines, lack of commitment, motivation and initiative.

Possible Causes
Not being shown correct procedures, lack of proper training, not knowing what’s expected, working under unreasonable pressure, following someone else’s bad example, personal problems.
Conducting a Performance Review
Prepare for the meeting. Specifically state the areas where the performance does not meet the required standard. Establish the reasons – discuss, listen, ask for ideas to solve the problem. Identify the next steps, agree an action plan and a review date. Then monitor and support the employee’s progress.

Performance Management Skills
Performance management is easy to do badly – and done badly it can cause more damage to your business than if it is not done at all. Conversely, done well it can help transform a poorly performing workforce. If you’re at all unsure, ensure you do it well by obtaining professional advice and training.

The above is intended to provide information of general interest about employment law but does not give legal advice. Seek advice from qualified employment law specialists.

How to Get a Divorce From a Common Law Marriage in Colorado

Colorado recognizes common law marriage when a couple has been living together and holding themselves out to the public as married, even if they never had an official wedding or applied for a marriage license. Common law marriage in Colorado has the same legal effect as traditional marriage. Therefore, common law couples must get divorced in the same way as traditionally married couples.
Leaving a common law marriage requires getting a traditional divorce.

Instructions

  1. Determine whether you have been in a common law marriage. There is no hard and fast rule, but the three top elements in Colorado are cohabitation, mutual agreement to be married, and holding yourselves out to the public as being married. Other factors to be considered are how taxes are filed, bank accounts are kept, and whether the couple share a last name.
  2. Discuss with your partner issues such as child custody, support, and property division. If you are able to come to an agreed settlement, you will both save a lot of money in attorneys fees.
  3. Sign a divorce agreement with your partner if you can come to an agreement. Outline the obligations of the parties such as who will take care of the children and how property will be divided. If you are unable to come to an agreement with your partner, you will need to seek the court’s assistance in resolving property or child custody disputes.
  4. File for divorce with the local Colorado district court. If you fail to formally file for divorce from a common law marriage in Colorado, you will remain married, and any subsequent marriage will be void and in violation of bigamy laws. The court will set a hearing to determine how the divorce should be terminated and the details of property distribution. If there are children involved, there will likely be a separate hearing or series of hearings to determine custody. If the divorce is not amiable, then you will likely need to hire an attorney to help you through the process–especially the child custody issues.
  5. Attend all hearings set by the court related to your divorce. If you are unable to attend, move the court to reschedule. When attending the hearings, bring all documentation to show when the marriage began and why you are entitled to certain property rather than your spouse. If you owned property prior to the common law marriage, or inherited property individually during the marriage, bring documentation to show that you paid for maintenance of that property with your own separate earnings for the duration of the marriage. If possible, bring documentation to show that the property was not used for the benefit of the marriage.

What Is a Criminal Law?

Criminal law refers to a type of law that not only dictates a standard of expected behavior but also imposes sanctions or punishments if an individual fails to comply with that law. Criminal law is enforced by agents of the government.
What Is a Criminal Law?

History

  • The first code of law, which blended criminal and civil law into one canon of conduct, was developed by the ancient Sumerians. The Sumerians developed their code of law around 2100 B.C. The Code of Hammurabi is an example of an early code of law, one that combined criminal and civil law. Hammurabi was a Babylonian. It was not until the Normans invaded England that a separate code of criminal law was developed. From this early Norman code of criminal law, the criminal system and set of laws that exist in countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States is founded.

Function

  • The primary function of a criminal law is to control and regulate the conduct of people living in society, of people living in a community. The theory behind criminal law is that if morality alone is not enough to motivate people to comply with the mores of a society, imposing sanctions and penalties on people who violate specific provisions of the law will provide such a motivation. Unlike civil law, which involves the private imposition of sanctions for violation, the penalties for a violation of criminal law are imposed by the state.

Types

  • Criminal law can be divided into three general groups.
    First, there is felony criminal law. This is the most serious type of criminal law, focusing on the most significant type of crime. The penalties associated with committing a felony or breaking a criminal law classified as a felony, include prison time, large fines and, in some instances, a sentence of death.
    Second, a lesser type of criminal law is a misdemeanor. This involves a less serious crime but can still result in a jail sentence (usually less than a year) and fines.
    Finally, there is what is known as an infraction. This is a type of illegal conduct. However, some scholars do not classify it as a true crime. An example of an infraction is a ticket for a traffic infraction.

Effects

  • There are five intended effects of a criminal law. Retribution for the crime committed is one motivation of criminal law. A criminal law is also designed to provide deterrence. Third, a criminal law is intended to incapacitate a wrongdoer, to keep the person who is guilty of a crime segregated from the community to some degree for some period of time. Fourth, one of the effects associated with a criminal law is to allow a victim of crime to obtain an appropriate form of restitution. Finally, an effect of criminal law is to rehabilitate the wrongdoer with the goal that this person will not re-offend.

Theories

  • The theories that have developed around criminal justice generally and the application of criminal law specifically center on how the five intended effects should be balanced. For example, one of the theories is that society as a whole benefits if a criminal can be rehabilitated. Therefore, those individuals that espouse such a position believe the criminal justice system should focus on rehabilitation through the application of a criminal law. At the other extreme are those individuals who believe that the primary purpose of a criminal law should be retribution and punishment. In such an situation, the emphasis of a criminal law would be on sanctions and penalties.

Drug Recognition Experts

When a person is suspected of driving under the influence, law enforcement officers are tasked with determining the level of the driver’s intoxication. In many instances, a person could be asked to submit to a breath test if he or she is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. If a person is intoxicated by a controlled substance, an officer trained in detecting drug use could be required.

Drug Recognition Experts, or DREs, are police officers who have undergone extensive training to recognize drivers who are under the influence of drugs or narcotics. Rather than simply administering a chemical test of a person’s breath at a traffic stop, these officers must use other tactics to determine if the driver is under the influence of a drug.

The DRE program is used by law enforcement agencies throughout the country.There are a series of steps a person must complete before he or she can become a DRE.

One of the major aspects of DRE training is two weeks of classroom instruction. This allows the officer to study the seven drug categories, eye examinations and conducting the field sobriety tests. Officers also learn the examination of vital signs, case preparation, courtroom testimony and Curriculum Vitae preparation.

Officers then are required to take a written examination and pass with a score of 80 percent or higher. They also must complete 12 evaluations on drug-impaired subjects under the supervision of a trained DRE. The officers must identify a person under the influence of at least three of the seven drug categories and earn a minimum 75 percent toxicological corroboration rate.

For the final step, an officer must pass a knowledge examination and be approved by two DRE instructors. If the officer completes the requirements, he or she becomes “certified” by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, or the IACP.

The DRE evaluation involves a 12-step process that officers must administer if they suspect a person of driving under the influence of a drug or narcotic. The officer cannot make a conclusion based on one aspect of the steps, but on the overall process.

The 12-step process can include:

1. A breath alcohol test;
2. Interview of the arresting officer;
3. Medical evaluation to determine if the impairment is the result of a medical impairment;
4. Examination of the eyes, such as a horizontal gaze nystagmus;
5. Divided attention psychophysical tests, including the one-leg stand and finger-to-nose test;
6. Examination of vital signs, including pulse rates, blood pressure and temperature;
7. Dark room examination to estimate the suspect’s pupil size;
8. Examination of muscle tone;
9. Examination for injection sites;
10. Questioning the suspect and documenting his or her statements;
11. Documenting observations and opinions of the evaluator; and
12. Blood or urine tests to determine intoxication level.

Once the assessment is complete, the officer can make some sort of conclusion as to whether the driver is impaired by a controlled substance and, if so, what the substance would be. This determination then could be used in charging the person with a DUID or even as evidence in the case. Drivers still can fight these charges, and an experienced drugged driving attorney can help.

David Coolidge is a criminal defense lawyer and founder of Coolidge Law Firm in Raleigh, North Carolina. David represents clients facing criminal charges such as DWI, drugged driving, marijuana offenses, drug charges and more in the Research Triangle and surrounding communities. He has extensive knowledge of drunk and drugged driving cases, and he has taken several courses on field sobriety testing and DWI cases.

Defending a Professional License

Certain professions require a high level of skill and a degree of expertise to be able to perform the necessary duties. Because of this, several states demand these professionals obtain licenses to ensure the standards of service are met. Various entities are in charge of issuing and maintaining these professional licenses.

Most often people think of medical professionals like doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists when they think of licensed professionals. However, several other professions also require licenses, such as lawyers, accountants, real estate brokers and professional educators. Without these certifications, workers cannot practice their jobs.

The boards and agencies responsible for setting the standards of the industry also are in charge of the issuance and revocation of the licenses. This means the boards can impose disciplinary actions, conduct hearings and even suspend a person’s license, although there are ways to appeal these actions.

To obtain a professional license, a person first must prove he or she meets the requirements to earn the license, such as the educational attainment and references. Additionally, he or she must complete and pass a background check. If the application is denied, that action can be appealed.

Once a license is obtained, some professions require the person to maintain it. This could mean having to continue education classes, regularly attend seminars or various other requirements. If a person fails to meet them, he or she could face a disciplinary action.

Some professions also require a person to disclose if he or she is charged with a criminal offense or convicted of the crime. Simply being charged, or even failing to disclose the charge, could result in a disciplinary action. The licensee would have the right to appeal the action with the assistance of his or her attorney.

Disciplinary proceedings can occur as a result of a variety of scenarios. For instance, if a patient or another person who used the licensed professional for a service alleges he or she is incompetent or breached his or her ethical duties, the licensing board could investigate the situation.

In these instances, the licensing board could require the person appear at a hearing in which the board could impose sanctions on the individual’s license. This could include putting the person on probation, restricting the services he or she could offer and suspending or revoking the license completely.

If a board hearing is held, the licensee and his or her attorney have the right to appear. During most formal licensing board hearings, both sides will present their arguments. Evidence can be presented and witnesses can testify for both sides. The hearing operates similar to a civil hearing.

Once the hearing is complete, the board or agency will determine if any disciplinary actions should be taken against the person and if so what they should be. The board could have the license suspended, revoked or permanently taken away. Additionally, a person could be fined or reprimanded in other ways.

Fighting a disciplinary action, no matter how minor it may seem, is critical to licensed professionals. When a person is reprimanded, it becomes public. This means potential clients or patients could view the information. Working with an attorney to defend your professional license is important to your career.

Veronica Bayo Clifford is a criminal defense and immigration attorney at Clifford Law Group in Raleigh, North Carolina. Veronica and her husband Nicholas Clifford founded the firm to advocate on behalf of men, women and students facing various charges and assist them with administrative matters, including general license defense. Veronica also is skilled in handling immigration matters, including visas, employment and immigration and deportation.

How to Make a Person a Legal Godparent

Naming godparents is a Catholic tradition performed at a child’s baptism ceremony. To make one or two people your child’s legal godparents, you will have to do so under the rules of the church in your diocese and Catholic law. This law sets guidelines for the sacraments godparents must have taken, the minimum age the godparents can be and the oaths the godparents must take.

You can choose one godparent or two godparents of the opposite sex.

Instructions

  1. Write a list of possible godparents for your children. Family members and close friends who are also members of the church are eligible to become your child’s godparents.
  2. Check whether each person on your list meets the minimum requirements according to Catholic law. These requirements say that the godparents must be: one male, one female or one male and one female; practicing members of the Catholic faith; sufficiently well-connected to the family; willing to pray for the child regularly, set an example of Catholic living, give encouragement to the child to follow Christ; be at least 16 years of age.
  3. Choose one male, one female or one male and one female from your list who meets all requirements. Ask for their permission, then arrange that they be present to learn their roles during the baptism ceremonies.
  4. Practice the prayers and rituals that the godparents will perform at the baptism. A formal practice is usually arranged between the priest and whoever else is participating in the baptism ceremony.
  5. Hold the baptism with the godparents present. Sign the appropriate papers to officialize the baptism, provided by your priest.

International and Domestic Law

With globalization and recent reshaping of the global landscape the paradigm shifted, and the international law moved away from its classical definition of regulating relations between nations and extended well beyond regulation of ‘the conduct of states toward their own citizens’.

 

Playing a new role in domestic governance that is aimed at positive transformation and enhancement of capacity and effectiveness of domestic institutions, international law’s new role is bringing in new concerns and anxieties not to mention fear for some countries. This article aims to discuss and critically examine reasoning behind the ways in which international law plays a role in domestic governance according to the model proposed by Slaughter and Burke-White in their ‘The Future of International Law Is Domestic (or, The European Way of Law).

New ways, new concerns

Slaughter and Burke-White propose three ways in which international law plays or is starting to play a role in domestic governance: strengthening domestic institutions, backstopping domestic government and compelling action by national governments. In addition, they rightly outline potential dangers of using international law in affecting domestic politics such as ‘weakening local government actors by siphoning off both funds and personnel’ , undermining democratic processes and preventing domestic experimentation with alternative approaches, giving ‘national governments new license to undertake otherwise illegal or unjust policies’ , domestic institutions becoming sources of abuse for national governments.International and Domestic Law

Although the reasoning behind the ways in which international law is utilized in relation to domestic governance to provide effective response to newly arising global challenges ‘in pursuit of global objectives’ is clear and holds rationality and validity, it is yet a bit far from a comprehensive analysis of the potential consequences of implementing a ‘properly designed and structured legal rules and regulations to backstop domestic political and legal groups trying to comply with international obligations’.

Upon examining the proposed ways the question arises with regards to the future of international law, whether it will be domestic or a ‘Global State will emerge’ and what will be the nature and character of the newly emerged system. According to B.S. Chimni, ‘Slaughter believes that international law will essentially play a benign role bolstering democratic institutions and progressive practices, critics worry that international law turning domestic will mean that an imperialist global law will prevail’ . Therefore, Slaughter and Burke-White, in their reasoning neither fully appreciated nor met the challenge of answering the question. What will be the shape of domestic governance and national laws, how do the three ways proposed impact the nature of domestic law? That needs to be put in a wider perspective though a much deeper analysis.

Another factor which was briefly covered is the impact of the said ways on democracy. As J.H.H Weiler rightly states: ‘what is required is both a rethinking of the very building blocks of democracy to see how these may or may not be employed in an international system which is neither State nor Nation’ . Mechanisms developed to support backstopping of states with the good intention to support nations and help them comply with international obligations might lead to serious consequences in relation to democracy.

Another point of concern is related to those very organizations which aim to ‘support the states’ such as World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and their role in the mechanism proposed by Slaughter and Burke-White. As Held points out ‘decision making in leading IGOs…is often skewed to dominant geopolitical and geo-economic interests whose primary objective is to ensure flexible adjustment in and to the international economy’ . Thus, problems exist in relation to transparency of decision making procedures, development of agenda, accountability leading in turn to challenges associated with democracy on a global scale.

Although the proposed ways to develop and consolidate ‘regime of liberal international sovereignty’ might carry positive intent and, if properly designed and implemented serve good to developing nations, it is yet cannot be denied that major power and economic inequalities exist and the gap between poor and rich states is growing. Thus, the question arises whether the proposed by Slaughter and Burke-White ways will bring positive change or turn into weapon in the hands of the strong and would return the world to a transformed in shape and form colonization.

Conclusion

Slaughter and Burke-White’s strengthening domestic institutions, backstopping domestic government and compelling action by national governments might serve the purpose of achieving ‘good’ internationally, however, their reasoning fails to address important issues and/or consequences such as democracy, nature of global law, sovereignty, power inequality and potentiality of abuse. Ways developed to serve good purpose might turn into the ‘evil’ tool. There is much work to be done in order to assess democratic legitimacy of specific international arrangements; estimation should be performed of potential impact of specific international legal arrangements on domestic governance and democratic practice. Moreover, a thorough analysis should be performed on the ground of the actual behavior of international institutions and domestic interests.

[1] A Slaughter, W Burke-White, ‘The Future of International Law is Domestic (or, The European Way of Law)’ (2006) 47 Harvard International Law Journal 331

[1] ibid 347

[1] ibid 347

[1] ibid 328

[1] B S Chimni, ‘The Past, Present and Future of International Law: A Critical Third World Approach’ (2007) Vol. 8 Melbourne Journal of International Law 12

[1] Ibid 12

[1] J.H.H Weiler, ‘The Geology of International Law-Governance, Democracy and Legitimacy’ (Gulbenkian Foundation Conference on Globalism, Lisbon, 2003) p. 15-16

[1] D Held, ‘The Changing Structure of International Law: Sovereignty Transformed?’ accessed 25 March 2015 p.174

[1] ibid 169

What Did the Benefice System of the Medieval Church Provide?

The benefice system of the Medieval Period Roman Catholic Church was written into canon law. It originally involved gifts of land to priests as a reward or payment for providing spiritual services to parishioners.
The benefice land grant system was an important feature of the medieval church.

History

  • Originally the benefice was granted by a bishop or a lord to a priest occupying the land who performed stipulated duties attached to the parcel. Benefices were bestowed for life and provided for everyday expenses. Any extra revenue from the spiritualities was used for charitable donations or for good works.

Benefits

  • The benefice system allowed the early medieval Roman Catholic church to amass large land holdings contributed as a form of tithe by the faithful. Revenue from the benefice was often given to the Church, adding to its wealth. Income from performing the assigned ecclesiastical duties was often the only type of paying job available to medieval Church hierarchy members.

Abuses

  • Under canon law, pluralities, or more than one benefice, were forbidden. By special papal dispensation, this codicil was often skirted, allowing priests to get paid without performing their duties on multiple plots of land. Benefices were often conferred by royalty or feudal authorities for political considerations, leading to abuses of the system, which led in part to the Reformation.

Top Reasons to Seek a Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been harm inside an incident, you should think about submitting states obtain payment for that accidents. Injuries statements are around for anyone who is experiencing accidents, bodily or even psychological, due to the carelessness associated with other people. So that you can successfully gather payment for all kinds of harm or even accidents, it is recommended that you just use the service of a personal injury attorney.

Carelessness regulations enable any kind of target in order to signify on their own in the courtroom. Nevertheless, the process can become pricey as well as possibly mind-boggling. To start with, you need to begin the process promptly to avoid refusal due to law associated with limitations. A lot more, you will be required in order to show your own declare, which means you have to show just what the accused do incorrect. Sadly, since the complainant, the actual accused combined with the charged insurance carrier is actually towards a person. The insurance coverage supplier will see loopholes as well as differences within your scenario and offer you under feasible wishing that you will take.

Victims might document statements with regard to circumstances, for instance automobile mishaps, drop instances, faulty item instances, as well as manslaughter. Inside the work to collect with regard to damage, the actual target should show their own declare through not only accumulating proof, but in addition using a good attorney for injury. Using a good personal injury attorney is usually the initial kind of protection because they are educated concerning carelessness regulations as well as the insurance carrier knows the great end result.

When selecting an competent personal injury attorney, ensure that the actual prospect is correctly educated as well as certified. The actual injury lawyer is required to achieve a distinct segment accreditation plan that is certified with the American Bar Association. The actual attorney for injury must have handed a good itemized club evaluation following going to a professional legislation college. A good itemized mentality evaluation signifies the right attorney sticks in order to rigid requires associated with lawful integrity along with basic rules associated with carry out whenever reaching customers. Moral injuries attorneys devote on their own to guard their clients discernment and possess their utmost fascination with thoughts.

A powerful carelessness legislation lawyer is actually familiar along with accidents legislation. A skilled injury attorney may also be educated of each fine detail in the insurance coverage legislation, that’s crucial facing insurance firms. All through accidents instances, the insurance coverage supplier is utilized through the accused consequently they may try and betray you together with refuse or even decrease entitled payment. Because of this you have to use a personal injury attorney to guard you from additional carelessness.

The statements lawyer can do all the original and recurring suit your needs. The actual attorneys tend to be required to arrange as well as publish just about all lawful paperwork along with take good care of the research to file for with regard to as well as negotiate your own declare. The very first objective is always to negotiate pretty, the actual personal injury attorney would like to simply accept claim they can test inside the scenario associated with inadequate negotiation or even unjust termination.

There is no option for you personally within having an efficient injury attorney with regards to submitting negotiation statements. Keeping the actual assistance from the accidents attorney can lead to the faster plus much more considerable negotiation. Especially, in the event you appear, you may be subjected to substantial courtroom expenses as well as enormous insufficient income. The majority of individual statements attorneys concentrate on the backup charge foundation, that means they do not get paid out except if money is actually given.

Using an efficient attorney for injury is actually substantially beneficial. The actual assistance that you will obtain within the attorneys gives you the fulfillment and you will be in a position to focus on your own accidents. Personal Injury Attorney is extremely faithful and use lawful integrity facing his clients.

Robbery Charges and The Importance of Criminal Defense Law Firms

The crime of robbery is a felony in all U.S. states. A defendant may be charged with a first, second, or third-degree felony, depending on where the alleged incident took place and if a weapon was used. The general, accepted definition of the crime is when a person intentionally and unlawfully takes either money or property from another through the use of threat, assault, violence, or force. Citizens who are charged with it should contact criminal defense law firms immediately. Here’s why.

Types

Under most state laws, there are five distinct variations of the crime. The least serious charge involves sudden snatching, which is when a pickpocket or a purse snatcher steals money or property from another person’s body. If he does not use a weapon to do so, a defendant will typically be indicted on a third-degree felony. If convicted, a judge can impose any combination of the following in many states: up to $5,000 in fines, up to 5 years of probation, or up to 5 years in jail.

The other four types of robbery under U.S. state law include robbery with a deadly weapon, robbery with a firearm, home invasion robbery, and carjacking. All of them are first-degree felonies that involve minimum prison sentences and/or fines if convicted. A conviction for robbery with a deadly weapon, for example, may result in any combination of the following in many states: up to $10,000 in fines, up to 30 years of probation, or up to 30 years in prison.

Consequences

With the exception of homicide, robbery with any kind of weapon is one of the most serious offenses on the books. The weapon does not need to be used for violence or force for the charges to stick; simply possessing one during the crime is enough. When a firearm is used, a defendant may also be charged with an additional offense in some states. If convicted, a judge must impose a minimum mandatory prison sentence.

Regardless of the degree, the offense is serious business. A conviction will most likely result in prison time as well as crippling financial penalties. Not to mention the fact that it will remain on your record indefinitely, which may make it difficult to secure employment. Yes, some companies are willing to hire ex-cons, but they are far less forgiving when it comes to applicants who were convicted of a serious violation.

Get Legal Help!

If you or someone you know has been accused of robbery, time is of the essence. The State is busy building its case and will be ready when the court date comes. Preparing a proper defense for robbery also takes time. Criminal defense law firms must assemble qualified teams, review evidence, procedure, and interview witnesses.

Possible Defenses

Every case is different. But one truth remains constant — human beings aren’t perfect. Witnesses often make mistakes, and the wrong person can be falsely accused or misidentified. As such, an experienced attorney will always look for inconsistencies in witness statements and testimony. He may also be able to secure a lesser charge for certain defendants through the plea bargaining process.

Don’t gamble with your life. If you are facing a serious accusation, contact criminal defense law firms now.

How to Prove a Common-Law Marriage in Texas

You don’t need a marriage license or a wedding ceremony to be married in Texas: it’s one of the few states in which it is still possible to establish a legal common-law marriage. This is important in a number of situations, such as if one of you dies without a will, or if you separate and need to divide your property. In Texas, you must pass a three-pronged test to prove a common-law marriage.

Image of a husband and wife.

Covering the Basics

  • First, you must meet the basic legal requirements for married couples in Texas. A common-law marriage isn’t a means to create a union that would otherwise be illegal in the state. This means that the parties must be a man and a woman, and neither can be married to anyone else. You must not have had a divorce in the previous 30 days. The parties can’t be related to each other and must be at least 18.

Three-Pronged Test

  • To prove a common-law marriage in Texas, you must meet three requirements. First, you must mutually agree to be married. For example, a man can’t insist he’s your husband if you don’t consent. Second, you must tell other people you’re married. This can be done through several means, such as introducing your partner as your husband, signing an apartment lease as husband and wife, or filing a joint tax return or credit card application as spouses. Finally, you must live together in Texas as husband and wife. For example, if you told people in Louisiana that you were married, but never represented yourself as a married couple after you moved to Texas, you wouldn’t qualify for common-law marriage in Texas.

Making It Official

  • If you meet the requirements, your union will be considered a legal common-law marriage. You can formalize the common-law marriage in Texas by filing a declaration of marriage form with the Bureau of Vital Statistics at your county clerk’s office. Keep in mind that not all states will recognize the validity of your union. If you decide to move from Texas to another state, consult with an attorney or contact the new state’s county clerk to find out if your common-law marriage will be valid there.

Providing Proof

  • You may need to provide proof of your common law marriage in court if, for instance, you are getting divorced and need your property divided. If you have proof of all three elements — mutual consent to being married, living together in Texas as husband and wife, and telling other people you’re married — then the court will recognize your common-law marriage. Your own testimony or testimony of witnesses can help. Documentation that you’ve lived together in Texas is a form of proof, as is showing joint tax returns or credit cards you signed as spouses.

The Latest Development and Tax Issues of Islamic Bond Market in Hong Kong

Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing sectors in the international financial market. Given the strategic importance and influence of the Middle East investors, Islamic finance is increasingly in demand by investors wanting investment and financing products compliant with Islamic law (known as “Shariah”).

During recent years, a number of Asian countries such as Japan, Malaysia and Singapore have captured a large portion of Islamic finance activity in the region and have changed their tax law to cater for this. In order to maintain competitive edge as an international financial centre and to enhance investment flows between Mainland China and the Middle East, the Hong Kong government have already enforced some amended tax and stamp duty legislations to facilitate the Islamic bond (known as “Sukuk”) market development in Hong Kong.

What is Sukuk?

Sukuk are a form of Shariah-compliant financial product, which essentially replicate the financial profile of a bond, but without the receipt or payment of interest (known as “Riba”), which is forbidden under Shariah.

A company hoping to raise finance through Sukuk shall normally issue certificates to investors for cash and identify assets that are then ring-fenced in some way. Essentially, the concept of Sukuk is similar to the securitization of assets. It is a process in which assets are pooled together, repackaged as tradable certificates of investments and transferred to a special purpose vehicle (SPV). Then the SPV funds the purchase of assets by way of issuing Sukuk to investors. The investors shall be able to earn revenue produced from the underlying assets during the life of the Sukuk.

Sukuk have a defined period of investment and provide investors with a relatively foreseeable stream of income or return, which is similar to conventional bonds. Sukuk, however, are distinguished from conventional bonds in that they do not represent the beneficial ownership of a debt instrument but tangible assets. As such, the risk and liability of the underlying asset rather than the risk of insolvency of debtors will be borne by the Sukuk holders. Moreover, the performance or the operation and management of the underlying asset, which are not fixed ex-ante, shall determine the return of the Sukuk holders. Nevertheless, Sukuk can be structured in a number of different ways and usually involve complex structures and multiple transfers of underlying assets, which may also give rise to different levels of risk, predictability of returns, periods of investment, types of assets and liquidity, that is, the tradability in the secondary market.

Most of the Sukuk issued are the leasing type (known as “Ijarah Sukuk”). Under an Ijarah structure, assets such as buildings, land, machinery and property are sold to a SPV using funds raised from investors. Lease income are paid by the issuer to the SPV, which are passed to investors until maturity when the issuer repurchases the assets.

The latest development of Sukuk in Hong Kong

Hong Kong issued its first USD 1 billion inaugural five-year Sukuk in September last year which used the Ijarah structure that has underlying tangible assets of 100 percent in the issued amount. The second government Sukuk to raise USD 1.1 billion in May this year used a structure called the Wakalah, which has one-third of assets invested in selected units in an office building in Hong Kong, and two-third of the assets underpinned by Shariah-compliant commodities.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which handled the issue on behalf of the government, confirmed that the issue was popular and it received USD 2 billion in orders from 49 global institutional investors including central banks and sovereign funds among others. The orders were double its USD 1 billion issue size. The five-year bond was priced at 1.894 percent, which was lower than last year’s issue and was 35 basis points over 5-year US Treasuries. This new government Sukuk was listed on June 3 in the stock exchange of Hong Kong, Nasdaq Dubai and Bursa Malaysia. Buyers of the Sukuk included 42 percent from the Middle East, 43 percent from Asia and 15 percent from Europe. 23 percent of the bonds were sold to central banks or sovereign wealth funds while the rest to banks or fund managers.

The tax issues of Sukuk in Hong Kong

The key uncertainties arising from Sukuk transactions are that the arrangement itself operates in the form of equity finance but is in substance similar to debt finance. If the tax consequences of the constituent transactions are determined based on their legal form rather than their economic substance, simply applying the tax laws in the old days would undermine the economic purpose of the Sukuk transactions giving rise to the effective tax cost of the Sukuk transactions being largely higher than that of a conventional bond financing transaction.

To allow Sukuk to receive the same tax treatment, the Hong Kong government introduced legislative amendments to the Inland Revenue Ordinance and Stamp Duty Ordinance, thereby ensuring that Sukuk can enjoy the same treatment as traditional debt securities, which essentially involved an exemption from Profits Tax and Property Tax and a remission of Stamp Duty, achieving a level playing field for the development of Sukuk in Hong Kong.

Conclusion

The legal, taxation and regulatory frameworks in Hong Kong are readily available for supporting Sukuk issuance. The development pace of the Hong Kong Sukuk market will be market-driven, subject to a number of factors including the development of global Sukuk market, investor demand, funding cost, the availability of different fund-raising channels, etc.

As a mature financial centre, Hong Kong is well-positioned to develop as a Sukuk market. Hong Kong government has proved its commitment to provide the tax and regulatory framework to promote the industry. Hong Kong is already well-placed to provide a gateway for investors who are interested in Asia, particularly Mainland China, by structuring Shariah-compliant financial instruments with underlying Asian assets.

Broward County Drug Court Program

Drug courts and corresponding programs have become popular tools used throughout the country to aid drug offenders and help end the cycles of drug abuse and criminal activity. The programs generally serve as ways to rehabilitate a person, rather than simply punish the action through criminal proceedings.

Counties throughout Florida have been active in creating and using these systems, such as the Broward County Drug Court. The court is the third oldest drug court program in the nation, and for more than two decades it has worked alongside organizations to help rehabilitate thousands of offenders. This often has served as an alternative to jail or prison.

The Broward County Drug Court provides a network and a supportive system of rehabilitation that requires offenders to comply with supervision and treatment guidelines. The court works with Broward Sheriff’s Office, Department of Corrections, and the State Attorney’s Office to monitor and treat those in the program.

However, there are certain requirements a person must meet to be eligible to enter into the program. Some requirements include:

• The defendant must be at least 18 years old;
• He or she must have no prior felony convictions;
• He or she must be charged with a second or third degree felony as defined in Florida Statute Section 893.13;
• The charge must allege the purchase or possession of a controlled substance; and
• The charge does not allege he or she intended to sell or deliver a controlled substance.

In some instances, if a person is charged with a substance abuse charge, such as obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or possession of a prescription drug without a valid prescription, he or she also could be eligible for the program if the other requirements are met. This also could apply if a person is charged with solicitation to deliver a controlled substance or tampering with evidence involving a controlled substance.

When a person is arrested for a qualifying offense, he or she is screened immediately to determine if they could potentially be enrolled in the drug court. If a person is accepted, he or she would not waive his or her constitution rights, except the right to a speedy trial. Once in the program, the defendant would enter a plea of not guilty without having to admit any culpability.

Participants are enrolled in a multi-phase outpatient treatment program. The program consists of weekly or daily therapy, counseling and education sessions, in addition to frequent drug tests to ensure participants remain sober while enrolled in the program.

Participants also could be required to attend hearings before a judge, either bi-weekly or 30 days. A strict rehabilitation program entailing vocational, educational, family, medical and other support services also could be required for Broward County Drug Court participants.

If a participant successfully completes the program, he or she could have the charges against them dismissed. This means having a clean criminal record and avoiding the penalties associated with the charge, such as jail or prison time and other sanctions. Failing to comply with the rules of the program could result in facing the initial criminal charges.

Participation in drug court programs can be beneficial to those facing criminal charges in Broward County. Following the rules of the program and the necessary steps could mean avoiding a lifetime of consequences. A Fort Lauderdale drug defense attorney can review the facts of the case and help offenders determine their eligibility in the program.

Steven Bell has more than a decade of legal experience as a criminal defense lawyer. He is a founding partner at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, and the firm represents clients facing  drug charges, DUI, violent crimes, marijuana offenses and more in Broward County, Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County and surrounding areas.

Instructions for Filing a Common Law Lien

A common law lien is a legal recourse in some states in which the claimant places a lien on real or personal property of the owner, provided that the claim doesn’t fall under any of three categories: 1) statutory, 2) security interest or 3) judicial. A common law lien allows the lien holder to attach a claim to the property if the owner has failed to pay him for services rendered or work performed. In essence, the lien allows the claimant to pursue and collect on a debt.
Placing a lien on the owner's property is the first step to collecting a debt.

The Lien Holder

  1. File a statement of Intent to Record a Common Law Lien against the owner’s property with the county recorder in the county where the real or personal property is located. Your statement must include information on the property owner, the address and description of the property’s physical location and the amount of the debt you claim is owed. You must file within 60 days of the date you last performed work or provided service. The county official will send a copy of the Intent to Record to the property owner.
  2. Allow 30 days for a response from the property owner.
  3. File suit against the property owner within 30 days if he responds with a Request to Commence Suit. If you don’t file suit within 30 days, the lien becomes void.
  4. File a Certificate of Satisfaction if you and the property owner reach an agreement about settling the debt. The certificate releases the lien against the property. Record the certificate with the same county recorder where you filed the statement of Intent to Record a Common Law Lien.

The Property Owner

  1. Send the lien holder a Notice of Request to Commence Suit within 30 days if you wish to challenge the lien holder’s claim. Send the notice by registered mail or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address on the lien holder’s statement. The lien holder has 30 days to file suit. If you agree that you owe the lien holder a debt, then contact the lien holder to try to negotiate a settlement.
  2. File an affidavit of service with the county recorder to request the release of the common law lien after 30 days if the lien holder has not filed suit. Include on the affidavit the date the lien holder received the Notice of Request to Commence Suit.
  3. Write an additional statement that the lien holder has not filed suit and that the courts have not rendered an unsatisfied judgment. Attach a copy of the Notice of Request to Commence Suit and a copy of the certified mail return receipt indicating when you mailed the notice to the lien holder. Be sure to keep copies of the notice and the affidavit records.

Why Can’t You Wear Rosary Beads Around Your Neck?

You might have flipped on the television and noticed a fashion trend. A celebrity is making a public appearance with a rosary dangling around his or her neck but behaving in a way that does not quite match the purpose of the sacred object. While it is not uncommon to see the beads worn for show and glamor, such acts are discouraged by the Catholic Church. However, there are acceptable reasons to wear a rosary.

Rosary beads.

Church TeachingCatholic Church law does not ban the wearing of rosary beads for pious reasons and as a statement of faith. But sporting a rosary solely for secular purposes is considered inappropriate. The Church places a strong emphasis on praying and treating the rosary with reverence, faith and devotion to Jesus and the Virgin Mary. “Sacred objects, which are designated for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated reverently and are not to be employed for profane or inappropriate use even if they are owned by private persons,” according to the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law.

The Church places a strong emphasis on praying and treating the rosary with reverence.
HistorySaint Dominic popularized the rosary in the early 1200s as a tool against sin and heresy. Tradition holds that the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Dominic, giving him a beaded chain and instructing him to recite the rosary. However, Dominican theologian Fr. Ennio Staid has said that devotional prayers to Mary predated Saint Dominic but that the saint and the Dominicans were effective at promoting the rosary, according to the magazine “This Rock.”

Stained glass of the Virgin Mary.
Significance of the RosaryThe Catholic Church teaches that praying the rosary is praying the Gospel. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states that the rosary “opens ourselves to the mystery of God’s love by focusing our attention on the scriptures.” In 2002 Pope John Paul II wrote in a letter called “The Rosary of the Virgin Mary” that the rosary is at the heart of Christian life, offering a “familiar yet fruitful spiritual and educational opportunity for personal contemplation, the formation of the People of God, and the new evangelization.”

The Catholic Church teaches that praying the rosary is praying the Gospel.
PrayerPraying the rosary requires recitation and meditation. Catholics pray what are known as five “decades,” which consist of five different meditations about the lives of Jesus and Mary and 10 “Hail Mary” prayers. An “Our Father” separates each set of Hail Marys. A decade ends by praying the “Glory Be.” The beads are used to keep track of the prayers.

Prayer.
Fun FactThe late Father Patrick Peyton is known as “The Rosary Priest” because of his devotion to promoting family prayer, especially the rosary. His Family Theater Productions created radio and later television programs featuring Hollywood stars, including Bing Crosby, Jimmy Stewart and Loretta Young, to advocate prayer and morals. Father Peyton’s slogan, “The Family that Prays Together Stays Together” became the motto of his cause.

Family in prayer.

How to choose godparents for a Roman Catholic baptism

Selecting a godparent (or godparents – you may have either one godparent of either sex, or one male and one female godparent) for your child’s Roman Catholic baptism is not a trivial matter. In the Catholic Church, the godparent acts as the child’s sponsor, and is responsible for helping you raise your child in the faith, or even taking over the role of raising your child in the faith should you become incapacitated. The Catholic Church has a number of requirements that must be met in choosing a godparent, to ensure that the godparent is capable of fulfilling his or her role. This how-to will guide you through the process of picking a godparent for your child’s Roman Catholic baptism.

choose godparents for a Roman Catholic baptism

Instructions

  1. Check whether or not your prospective godparent is a Catholic. According to the Code of Canon Law, the godparent must be a Catholic. A non-Catholic godparent is acceptable only if you have a Catholic godparent as well.
  2. Check whether or not the prospective godparent has received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. According to the Code of Canon Law, the godparent must have received these sacraments of initiation, and must also be a practicing Catholic who lives the life of faith.
  3. Check whether or not your prospective godparent is over the age of 16. According to the CCL, only those sixteen years of age or older are eligible as baptismal sponsors.
  4. Check whether or not your prospective godparent is the mother or father of your child (this is an easy one to check!). According to the CCL, the mother or father of the child being baptized is not eligible to be a godparent as well.
  5. Check whether or not your prospective godparent is willing and able to take a Baptismal Prepraration class. Many parishes require both parents and godparents to take such a class in order to be prepared for and fully understand their role as baptismal sponsors.