Maternity Leave & Returning to Work Laws

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Maternity leave is that period of time where new mothers take time off after childbirth. The leave can last anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months. A mother must make provisions with her employer as to the expected time to return to work to avoid any work conflicts.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978

  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 demands that pregnant workers and other employees be treated with equality and dignity. Also pregnant mothers are entitled to leave and employers are forbidden to force mothers to take maternity leave. Under this law, the employer ought to make provisions for maternity leave; however it is up to him to decide whether the leave would be paid leave.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is the legislation which assures pregnant and returning mothers that they would be able to meet and function in their jobs after returning from maternity leave. This act is in force for individuals who have already accumulated a minimum of 20 weeks in a particular position and have worked at least a year in the service of the current employer. The company must also have a workforce numbering 50 workers or more. Stipulating an unpaid 12-week prenatal and postnatal leave, mothers in this law have rights to health insurance benefits targeted to new or pregnant mothers.

Maternity Protection Convention C-183

  • The International Labor Organization enacted the Maternity Protection Convention C-183 which outlines the rules and regulations governing expecting mothers at work. This legislation lays down that pregnant or breastfeeding mothers are due six weeks compulsory leave after childbirth, and a total of 14 weeks maximum leave. In this convention, where mothers have experienced serious repercussions or pregnancy complications, once the medical certificate has been forwarded, maternity leave ought to be extended.

State Laws

  • Each state has separate regulations dealing with maternity laws, maternity leave, and returning to work. For example, in Minnesota, new mothers are entitled to return to work and occupy their former positions before taking maternity leave. Also, the mother who has returned has rights to the same benefits and opportunities as before she initially left. In cases where the new child needs extra supervision, mothers can resume work on a part-time basis.

 How Does the Lemon Law Work?

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Why a Lemon Law?

  • The purpose of all consumer protections, such as the lemon law, is to create trust in the marketplace by eliminating gross fraud and unfair warranties. The existence of substandard merchandise is negative for consumers, who receive faulty goods, as well as for manufacturers, who often stake their reputation on the performance and reliability of their products. Lemon laws protect both sides by clearly defining what constitutes a lemon and how consumers can be compensated for faulty goods. The lemon laws are a specific subset of broader consumer protections that deal specifically with problem vehicles.

What is a Lemon?

  • Most people know a lemon when they have one–a new car that for some reason doesn’t perform the way it should and that no amount of repairs seem to correct. With all the cars that are manufactured, some are inevitably just bad and never meet expected standards. But legal definitions of a lemon are crucial for finding protection under the law. The federal lemon law listed in the Uniform Commercial Code provides consumers the right to a refund or replacement of a lemon, however, the definition is very vague. It says a lemon is “any new vehicle that has a substantial problem that isn’t fixed within a reasonable number of attempts, or that has had a certain number of days out of service.” Because the federal code doesn’t define exactly how long a car is “new,” or the number of days it must be out of service, most actions under the lemon law rely on state laws, which can vary widely. Most, however, use the amount of time since the purchase of the vehicle and its mileage, to determine “newness.”

Using the Lemon Law

  • Lemon laws put the burden on the seller to identify any condition of the vehicle that might impair its operation, safety or value, and if they do, a buyer accepts the vehicle “as is,” and exempts the seller from liability. But if the buyer was not accurately apprised in advance of the vehicle’s condition, the lemon laws describe the processes by which disputes can be resolved, usually by either bringing the vehicle in line with an express warranty, replacement, refund, or recourse to some other form of arbitration. A reputable dealer should compensate the buyer in one of these ways upon identification of a lemon, but if not, the buyer might be forced to pursue the cause in court. To set the process in motion, it’s crucial for the buyer of a car to keep thorough records of the vehicle’s problems and any attempts they make to repair or resolve the issue. This not only means copies of the warranty, owner’s manual, and service records, but also notes of any conversations with the dealership or mechanics, including dates and times. The more complete the paper trail detailing the situation, the more likely that lemon laws can be evoked to provide relief for the consumer. Other forms of vigilance, such as reading consumer news and reporting sites to learn if any other buyers have had similar problems, can help bring the appropriate pressure on the responsible parties. Enlisting the help of organizations such as the Better Business Bureau or a local consumer advocate can help raise the profile and effectiveness of a claim.

How to Get Free Family Law Help

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Family law issues are confusing and usually require the assistance of an attorney barred in the state where you reside. Lawyers are expensive and it is difficult for many people in need of legal help to afford a lawyer. Many programs are available to help serve low income people in need of family law help.

Instructions

  1. Define why you are seeking legal help and outline the family law issue you need addressed.
  2. Contact the law schools in your area. Many law schools operate free clinics that provide free family law advice and representation. Check to see if a local law school has a free family law clinic that can help you.
  3. Contact the local chapter of legal aid. The mission of legal aid is to provide representation for people who otherwise can not afford a lawyer. Qualification may vary but most legal aid represent folks who need help if their income is at or below the poverty line.
  4. Look for lawyers that run a pro bono program. Many large corporate lawyer firms run a pro bono program. These firms allow their lawyers to donate some of their time for free. Many large firms use pro bono programs to enable young attorneys to get client, negotiation and court room experience. Although the attorneys in the pro bono program may be young and relatively inexperienced, pro bono lawyers at large firms are likely to have top grades and prestigious law review experience from top law schools.
  5. Check the US Justice Department’s (DOJ) list of free legal service providers. The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge maintains a list of n attorneys, bar associations, and nonprofit organizations willing to provide free legal services to indigent individuals in immigration proceedings pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 1003.61. Many of the lawyers on the list help with family law matters as well as immigration concerns.
  6. Document your financial need. If you plan to use a legal aid lawyer, select a lawyer off the DOJ free providers list, participate in a free law clinic at a law school or take advantage of the pro bono program of a large law firm, then you will be asked to show that you meet the definition of financial need. Before requesting services from any of these programs, check to be sure you qualify and collect the documents needed to prove your qualification.
  7. Contact a local attorney who works on a contingency basis. Lawyers paid by contingency fee usually accept cases based on the quality of the case and without regard to the financial need of the client. Many lawyers do not charge for the first consultation visit. In the first visit, the lawyer will listen to your problems and evaluate your legal case. If the lawyer decides to represent you, the lawyer may take the case on a contingency basis rather than billing you on an hourly basis for legal work. In other words, if the lawyer takes your case on contingency, the lawyer will take a fee based on a percentage of the money awarded to you after a settlement or successful conclusion of litigation. Lawyers working on a contingency will not take your case if they think you are not likely to get an award of damages because the lawyer will not be paid unless you win your case. Family matters are not usually taken on contingency, but some are and a lawyer listening to your facts may be able to refer you to a lawyer that can help you with your family law question for free.

South Carolina’s Teen Labor Law

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Employers hiring minors — those under 18 — in South Carolina must adhere to the state’s child labor laws, which are similar to the regulations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Minors Under 14

Employers in South Carolina cannot hire anyone under 14, unless an exception applies. Exemptions include:

  • Under 14 working in the entertainment or performance arts business, such as acting or film production
  • Age 13 and 14 working nonhazardous farm jobs while school is out, with the parent’s written consent
  • Of any age working for a business that is fully owned and run by the parent
  • Of any age delivering newspapers

Tip

  • South Carolina law deems hiring a minor under 14 without qualifying for an exemption as oppressive labor.

Ages 14 and 15

Provided certain restrictions are met, minors age 14 and 15 can perform sales and clerical work. Jobs in retail, hospitality and petroleum service establishments may be acceptable, including:

  • Packaging orders and carrying them out for customers
  • Delivering food and beverages
  • Washing and polishing vehicles
  • Accepting payments from customers
  • Running errands and making deliveries via foot, public transportation or bicycle

Jobs that may not be acceptable:

  • Fixing automobiles
  • Storage or warehousing, such as at a cold storage or distribution facility
  • Food preparation
  • Lawnmower and golf cart operations
  • Use of hazardous equipment and tools, such as ladders and grinders

Approved hours of work:

  • During school days, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., up to three hours daily and 18 hours weekly
  • When school is out, such as during summer break, up to eight hours daily and 40 hours weekly

Teens 16 and 17

South Carolina does not impose limitations on scheduling or hours for minors age 16 and 17. An employer may schedule them to work as many hours as is needed daily or weekly to get the job done. They cannot, however, work in the following occupations, which are regarded as hazardous by federal law:

  • Roofing
  • Mining
  • Sawmilling
  • Meat processing or packaging
  • Electrical machine operation
  • Excavation
  • Tile and brick production
  • Motor vehicle operation
  • Exposure to dangerous substances, such as radioactive materials

Tip

  • Teens 18 and older can perform any job at any time.

Payment of Wages

Minors in South Carolina can be paid according to the federal youth minimum wage. As of May 2015, employers may pay workers younger than 20 $4.25 an hour during the first 90 calendar days of employment. Wages are due by the established regular payday.

Employer Responsibility

The FLSA and South Carolina law do not require minors to have work permits to get a job. Under South Carolina law, however, employers must obtain proof of the minor’s age, such a driver’s license or birth certificate, before hiring her. Employers must post a copy of the state’s child labor poster — which includes wage payment and health and safety regulations–in an area accessible to employees.

Tip

  • An employer that violates the state’s child labor laws for the first time is given a written warning and can be fined up to $1,000 by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Two or more offenses may result in a fine of up to $5,000 per violation. Anyone who misrepresents the age of a child, including parents and guardians, can face fines or imprisonment.

Federal Versus State Law

In cases where federal and South Carolina child labor laws differ, the law providing the most protection must be used. If the minor is not covered by federal law, state regulations may apply. For example, the FLSA does not cover self-employed youths age 14 or 15 who provide lawn mowing or yard work services to their neighbors. South Carolina, however, forbids all minors age 14 or 15 from engaging in work activities that involve the use of a lawn mower.

How to Apply for Legal Aid in a Child Custody Case

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There can be little worse or more frustrating for a parent than finding herself in a battle for custody with few financial resources with which to pay for professional help. Legal aid organizations are staffed with lawyers, paralegals and support personnel who handle certain types of cases free of charge — but you must qualify.

The Application Process

  • Applying for legal aid is typically as easy as a phone call or a visit to a legal aid office. The staff can provide you with whatever forms you need to complete. These forms can vary from agency to agency, depending on your state or even your county. In some states, such as Nebraska, you can access an application online at the agency’s website, but if you have questions, you can call instead. If you can’t find your local legal aid office on the Internet or listed in the phone book, try calling the referral office for your state’s bar association.

Case Restrictions

  • Calling the agency will give you an idea of whether your local legal aid organization handles child custody cases. The bad news is that not all do. Legal aid organizations are nonprofits and dependent on funding from various sources. This means that some offices must regretfully decline certain cases because they simply don’t have the resources or personnel to help everyone who needs them. West Virginia legal aid offices typically only handle custody cases if the other parent has an attorney, leaving you at a legal disadvantage, or if domestic violence is involved. Oregon offices may be able to help you with custody unless you’re also seeking a divorce, as divorce cases are limited to emergency situations only.

Income Requirements

  • Legal aid is only available to low-income individuals who simply don’t have the funds to access help in any other way. You’ll have to document your income — or lack of it — to qualify. You must typically earn less than 125 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of your size, but some states, such as Texas, stretch this to 200 percent for some cases and under certain circumstances. In Nebraska, qualifying also depends on the value of assets you own.

If You Don’t Qualify

  • If you don’t qualify because you can’t meet the income requirements, or if your local legal aid office doesn’t handle custody matters, ask the staff for a referral to an attorney who might work with you. In some areas, attorneys do pro bono work for free to catch the spillover cases that legal aid can’t take on for one reason or another. You might also be able to find an attorney who will charge you only for certain things, rather than requiring a large retainer to handle your entire case. He may draft paperwork for you without appearing in court, or review documents you’ve drawn up to make sure you’ve done completed them correctly. Even a single consultation with a lawyer can help you understand the custody laws in your particular state.

Legal Assistance for Child Custody

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If you need legal help in a battle for child custody, but don’t have the money to hire a lawyer, you might not know where to turn. However, all is not lost, as in certain situations, services are available if your finances are preventing you from hiring an attorney. Even if there is no one is available to represent you in court, legal assistance can help you learn how to fill out the necessary documents and represent yourself effectively.

Legal Aid

  • If you are low-income, a nonprofit legal aid organization might help you with your child custody case. You can contact your local legal services or legal aid society for help with your custody case. You can also ask the family court clerk for contact information for a local legal aid organization.

Pro Bono Work

  • The American Bar Association’s guidelines state that every lawyer should “aspire” to provide at least 50 annual hours of free legal services “pro bono publico,” or for the public good. That includes assisting legal aid services or other nonprofit organizations benefiting the poor. While the demand for such services always exceeds the supply of available attorneys, your local legal aid society can give you information about family law lawyers who might work with you pro bono. If you live near a law school, you may inquire about free legal clinics. If you aren’t aware of law schools in your area, ask for information in family court or the local bar association.

Prepaid Legal Services

  • Some companies and unions offer prepaid legal services for employees. You may contact a human resources representative in your company or union and find out whether you are covered by such a plan and what it offers. While such plans are often quite basic, you might receive discounts from participating lawyers or be entitled to a brief consultation and review of your paperwork.

Custody Mediation

  • You may also ask a family court representative about custody mediation. If you and your former partner can sit down and talk with a trained mediator about your child custody issues, it’s possible you could work something out that’s amenable to both of you. Before mediation begins, the mediator will interview both of you separately to determine whether she believes mediation is appropriate for your situation. Mediation is a mutual process; it’s only possible if you and your ex agree to it.

Do It Yourself

  • Even if a legal aid office doesn’t have the staffing or resources to actually represent you in court, it might have materials and tutorials available to help you through the child custody process. Some legal aid societies offer clinics on how to deal with certain issues including child custody. You can attend these clinics and ask questions of the lawyer conducting them. The attorney can tell you how to file for custody, as well as mistakes to avoid so you don’t inadvertently harm your case.

How to Study Family Law

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Whether you are a lawyer, law student, or have a personal family issue you are trying to resolve, there are a number of resources available to help answer your legal questions. Family law is a specialization of legal practice that focuses on the laws that relate to family interactions. Subcategories of family law include marriage, divorce, child custody, support, property and adoption. Each state has its own statutes and case law that govern the legalities of family interactions. Follow these guidelines to study family law issues that interest you.

Instructions

  1. Visit a local law library for resource materials. Law schools and most major metropolitan courthouses have extensive law libraries. Law firms that practice family law and in-house counsel for entities that handle family law issues also often have legal resources pertinent to their practice.
  2. Read your state’s family law statutes and legislation. The written statutes are often codified. For example, access the Texas Family Code to find laws pertaining to family issues in Texas.
  3. Study a treatise on family law for a broad understanding of family law issues. Law students refer to the treatises as hornbooks, which are single-volume books written primarily for law students. They are similar to encyclopedias in that they summarize the various aspects of that type of law. They are not state-specific, but will provide references and footnotes to cited cases. As hornbooks are on subjects typically covered by law-school courses, several are available for family law.
  4. Review legal study guides and BARBRI outlines for family law. Study guides generally explain the basic issues without providing detailed analysis. BARBRI outlines are general subject outlines for students preparing to take the Bar Exam.
  5. Volunteer or intern at a family legal aid center. Impoverished people seeking legal help for their problems present a multitude of issues to workers at legal-aid centers.
  6. Watch court proceedings in local family courts. Most judges have full dockets with a variety of legal issues before them, ranging from child-support hearings to divorce trials.

How to Get a Divorce in Barbados

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Marriage is a romantic institution. We base our lives around a relationship when we get married. The sad truth is that thing sometimes just don’t work out. Married people can end up doing hideous things to each other. When this is the case, getting a divorce is often the only option. The rules for divorce are different depending on the region you are in. Here are some tips on how to get a divorce in Barbados.

Instructions

  1. Find a lawyer. There are several law firms in Barbados that specialize in divorce law and can help you to get the best deal out of your divorce. Although you aren’t required to have a lawyer, getting one is a good first step towards your divorce.
  2. Settle the property. When getting a divorce in Barbados, one of the first issues that comes up is how to settle who will get the property, assuming that property is shared between the two people. The settlement is usually made to the benefit of both parties. If a child is involved, his needs will be heavily considered.
  3. Plan for the children. When getting a divorce in Barbados, the welfare of the children involved with the two parties is a priority. Custody, finances and child support is all decided at this time.
  4. Get your finances in order. The income of each party will be looked at in Barbados court, and the financial needs of each party will be discussed. Having these numbers in order will make the process go in a smooth fashion.
  5. Be in good health. The Barbados court will look at the health of each party and take this into account when dividing assets among the parties.

How Does the Defamation Law Work?

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What is defamation?

  • Defamation is a false statement that harms public image. Individuals, groups, businesses, products, services and countries can all be the victim of defamation. Defamation is generally split into two categories: slander, which are claims made in a non-fixed form, most commonly speech; and libel, which are claims made in a fixed form, such as printed words or pictures. Defamation can be penalized under the law in the United States. However, when applied to public figures, defamation is usually punishable only if it is made with hateful intent.

Defamation in the law

  • In the U.S., defamation is a civil wrong or tort rather than a criminal wrong. This means someone who defames another cannot go to jail for his comments, but he can be sued by the injured party. A successful defamation suit can result in large monetary compensation, but even if someone has been injured by defamation it is often easier to ignore it rather than sue. Bringing up a defamation lawsuit brings attention to the defamed party and what the nature of the defamation was. So by attempting to seek recompense, the defamed can further spread the injurious comments.

Proving defamation in court

  • Due to the extreme importance placed on First Amendment rights in the U.S., proving defamation in court is very difficult. Lawsuits usually favor the defendant. In order to prove defamation has taken place, one must prove that he has been injured by comments made, that the comments are false, that the claims were made publicly known, and that it is of public concern. There are many defenses a defendant can use to argue against wrongdoing. If the statement made is true in any way, it automatically is not defamation. If the statement is opinionated, it is sometimes dismissed in court as well. The defendant can also argue that the plaintiff already had a bad reputation and that any further defamation could not injure him. Still, certain statements are considered so inflammatory and uncalled for that they are almost always considered defamation. These include: allegations of martial impropriety, infection from a disease, moral crimes, and attacks upon a person’s livelihood or profession.

Labor Laws About Hostile Work Environments in South Carolina

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In addition to complying with federal laws that prohibit certain forms of employment harassment, South Carolina employers also must comply with the state’s laws on hostile work environments. A court can find that a hostile work environment existed if a reasonable person would not have been able to endure the harassing conduct. Failing to comply with anti-harassment laws can result in the employer being forced to cooperate in an investigation against it, as well as facing civil liability.

Legal Standard

South Carolina law prohibits harassment that is so severe or frequent that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment. This excludes simple teasing, offhand comments or isolated incidents that are not serious. The Fourth Circuit held in the 2011 case of Okoli v. City of Baltimore that some of the incidents of which the plaintiff alleged, in and of themselves, could have been actionable. These incidents included:

  • fondling
  • kissing
  • propositioning
  • describing sexual activities
  • asking intimate questions

Additionally, the harassment must be pervasive and long lasting. The harassment must be based on the plaintiff’s race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age or disability to be actionable. For sexual harassment claims based on a hostile work environment, plaintiffs have an actionable claim even if they are homosexual or bisexual. According to the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission, sexual harassment is not based on the victim and perpetrator being different sexes. Additionally, the commission has interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the same as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by finding that discrimination of transgender employees is unlawful discrimination because of sex.

The perpetrator may be the victim’s supervisor, another supervisor, a co-worker or someone outside the business such as a contractor or customer.

Governmental Agencies

The South Carolina state legislature has empowered its Human Affairs Commission to investigate claims regarding discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, age, sex, national origin or disability, including harassment claims on this basis. Affected employees complete the agency’s form to initiate the claims process. To file a federal complaint in the state of South Carolina, affected employees can contact the Greenville field office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This governmental entity is responsible for enforcing claims brought under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which South Carolina employers with 15 or more employees must comply with.

Employer Liability

If a supervisor’s harassment is found to result in a hostile work environment, the employer can only escape liability by showing that it attempted to correct the harassing behavior and the employee failed to take advantage of the corrective action that the employer provided. If someone other than a supervisor was responsible for the hostile environment, the employer is legally liable if it knew or should have known about the harassment but failed to take prompt corrective action.

If the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission finds that the employer illegally permitted a hostile work environment, it can be forced to hire, reinstate or upgrade affected employees and potentially remit back pay.

Florida Laws About Minors Working

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Minors working in Florida are protected by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Florida’s Child Labor Law. Generally, minors are limited in the hours they can work on a school day, with the amount they can work increasing during school breaks or with age.

Minors Don’t Need Work Permits

  • Unlike some states, Florida does not require minors to obtain work permits or work papers from their school or a government agency prior to beginning employment in the state. Employers are only required to maintain proof of an employee’s date of birth, if she is under 19.

Work Hours Restricted During School

  • Minors 15 or younger cannot work more than 15 hours per week or before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. the day before a school day. On school days, they can’t work more than three hours, unless they are enrolled in a career education program. If they are 16 or older, they can work between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. and up to eight hours per day. However, their workweek is limited to 30 hours, and they can’t work during school hours unless enrolled in a career education program.

Longer Hours Allowed During School Breaks

  • When school is not in session, minors 15 and younger can work between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., up to eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. There are no hour restrictions for minors 16 and up. However, all minors are prohibited from working more than six consecutive days in one week and must have a 30-minute break after working four consecutive hours.

State Labor Law Exempts Some Minors

  • Some minors are exempt from the limits placed on working hours, including those who are or were married, have graduated from high school or have a GED, or served in the military. Minors are also prohibited from working in certain occupations under state law, such as logging, mining and demolition. Minors may apply for a waiver of certain restrictions, either through their school or directly with the Department of Child Labor Compliance. Waivers are only granted on a case-by-case basis and when it serves the best interests of the child.

Violating Child’s Rights Can Result in Fines

  • If an employer violates the state’s child labor law, he can be fined up to $2,500 per violation. If found in violation of federal law, the penalty increases to up to $11,000 per violation.

How Does the Michigan Recycling Law Work?

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The Michigan Beverage Container Act or the Bottle Deposit Law was enacted to reduce waste and conserve resources. Consumers pay a deposit on every beverage container sold in the state of Michigan which can be refunded when returned to retailers.

Collecting Deposits

  • Consumers may return approved beverage containers to retailers which originally sold the products. Consumers are entitled to receive up to $25 per day from retailers in refunds. Retailers can choose whether or not to accept beverage containers for refunds over that amount.

Unclaimed Deposits

  • When consumers do not claim their deposit money for their recyclables, 75 percent of those unclaimed funds goes to the Cleanup and Redevelopment Trust Fund and 25 percent goes back to the retailers.

Fraud

  • Bringing out-of-state beverage containers into Michigan to collect a deposit when no deposit was originally paid in the state of Michigan is illegal and constitutes fraud.

Options for Disposal of Beverage Containers

  • Beverage containers cannot be thrown away according to Michigan law. Such containers can be redeemed for deposit or recycled in a bin or at a center.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/facts_7317987_michigan-recycling-law-work_.html

How Does Common-Law Marriage Work?

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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.

Legal Assistance for Child Custody Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_12339608_legal-assistance-child-custody.html

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If you need legal help in a battle for child custody, but don’t have the money to hire a lawyer, you might not know where to turn. However, all is not lost, as in certain situations, services are available if your finances are preventing you from hiring an attorney. Even if there is no one is available to represent you in court, legal assistance can help you learn how to fill out the necessary documents and represent yourself effectively.

Legal Aid

  • If you are low-income, a nonprofit legal aid organization might help you with your child custody case. You can contact your local legal services or legal aid society for help with your custody case. You can also ask the family court clerk for contact information for a local legal aid organization.

Pro Bono Work

  • The American Bar Association’s guidelines state that every lawyer should “aspire” to provide at least 50 annual hours of free legal services “pro bono publico,” or for the public good. That includes assisting legal aid services or other nonprofit organizations benefiting the poor. While the demand for such services always exceeds the supply of available attorneys, your local legal aid society can give you information about family law lawyers who might work with you pro bono. If you live near a law school, you may inquire about free legal clinics. If you aren’t aware of law schools in your area, ask for information in family court or the local bar association.

Prepaid Legal Services

  • Some companies and unions offer prepaid legal services for employees. You may contact a human resources representative in your company or union and find out whether you are covered by such a plan and what it offers. While such plans are often quite basic, you might receive discounts from participating lawyers or be entitled to a brief consultation and review of your paperwork.

Custody Mediation

  • You may also ask a family court representative about custody mediation. If you and your former partner can sit down and talk with a trained mediator about your child custody issues, it’s possible you could work something out that’s amenable to both of you. Before mediation begins, the mediator will interview both of you separately to determine whether she believes mediation is appropriate for your situation. Mediation is a mutual process; it’s only possible if you and your ex agree to it.

Do It Yourself

  • Even if a legal aid office doesn’t have the staffing or resources to actually represent you in court, it might have materials and tutorials available to help you through the child custody process. Some legal aid societies offer clinics on how to deal with certain issues including child custody. You can attend these clinics and ask questions of the lawyer conducting them. The attorney can tell you how to file for custody, as well as mistakes to avoid so you don’t inadvertently harm your case.

Legal Aid for Low Income Families in Lancaster, California

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For families and individuals with low incomes, the cost of legal representation is a major obstacle to obtaining justice. Legal aid societies are nonprofit corporations that receive private and public funding in order to provide legal representation to low-income individuals in a variety of areas of law, including family law, criminal law and immigration law. In order to serve low-income families in Lancaster, California, there are several legal aid societies located throughout Los Angeles County.

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

  • The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles provides legal representation for low-income families in Lancaster. The foundation represents low-income individuals in a variety of immigration cases, including naturalization and deportation proceedings. The foundation also represents victims of domestic violence, persons receiving federal housing assistance and persons who have had their government benefits terminated. The foundation also accept family law clients, including child custody cases, sexual assault cases and victims of child concealment.

Bet Tzedek

  • Bet Tzedek is a Jewish legal aid society that has provided free legal assistance to more than 10,000 low-income individuals from a variety of racial and religious backgrounds. Bet Tzedek accepts a variety of cases on behalf of low-income families, including landlord-tenant disputes, unlawful debt collection cases, government benefits cases, consumer fraud cases and elder abuse cases. Bet Tzedek does not accept criminal, immigration or divorce cases.

Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law

  • The Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law exclusively accepts family law cases on behalf of low-income individuals living in Los Angeles County, including in Lancaster. Through the Center’s pro per program, low-income individuals receive free assistance in preparing and filing court documents in a variety of family law cases, including petitions for divorce and child support. The Center also operates the Child Support Project, which provides free legal representation on behalf of children living below the poverty line who are not receiving regular child support payments.

Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County

  • This organization provides legal representation on a variety of legal issues for low-income individuals in Lancaster, including housing law, domestic violence cases, family law, immigration law, employment law and public benefits. The organization also operates the Health Consumer Center, a community think-tank devoted to increasing access to health care for low-income families. The organization also accepts cases pertaining to the violation of the civil rights on a pro bono basis.