Do You Need a Restraining Order?

do-you-need-a-restraining-orderA restraining order is a court order or injunction to do or cease doing particular acts. In practical terms, a restraining order is normally used in cases involving domestic violence, assault, stalking and harassment.

Within the United States, every individual state has some restraining order related to domestic violence cases. Most states have their own rules for restraining orders related to sexual assault and stalking.

Most restraining orders in California have an expiration date. This basically means that in the state of California, the day that your restraining order ends you are no longer protected legally.

If you continue to be concerned about your safety or the safety of your loved ones, you may file for renewal in your restraining order. A renewal of a restraining order can sometimes render the restraining order permanent.

Purpose of a Restraining Order

Normally a restraining order is used to put distance between someone being harassed and the person supposedly doing the harassing.

Thus, by court injunction, an abuser may be ordered to remain a certain distance from the school, home or workplace of the person who successfully filed the restraining order.

It is important to bear in mind that a restraining order is a civil order that does not result in dirtying up the criminal record of the supposed abuser.

Domestic Violence Victims

Victims of domestic violence frequently file restraining orders against their abusers. Domestic violence can include a whole range of actions, including: harassment, kidnapping, burglary, threats of violence, stalking, and assault.

If you have been subjected to any of these actions, you might be eligible to file for a restraining order against your abuser. A restraining order is a court injunction in which the judge will sign an order of protection that forces the abuser to comply with the law.

Consequences of a Restraining Order

A restraining order can prevent the abuser from contacting you or your family by phone or direct contact. Further, a restraining order could also force the abuser to leave a shared residence. A judge may decide to tell an abuser to leave even when the abuser owns the deed to the home.

If you are a parent and the victim of domestic violence, through a restraining order you may be awarded custody of minor children under your care. In addition, a restraining order can affect child support payments as well as visitation rights.

Depending on the state in which the restraining order is filed, the abuser may have to pay for things like utility bills, doctor’s appointments and even a loss of earnings related to the incident that brought about the restraining order.

In cases of extreme domestic violence, a judge could order the abuser seek treatment or order a police escort to come along with an abuser as he removes his personal possessions from the place of residence.

Signs that You Need a Restraining Order

Of course, it’s only natural to get a restraining order if you are the victim of domestic violence, assault, stalking or harassment. Sometimes, however, things aren’t as clear-cut.

The primary purpose of a restraining order is to keep the abused party safe from future harm. If you are concerned about the safety of yourself or your family members, it might be time to look into getting a restraining order.

Especially if the abuser has a long history of abuse, getting a restraining order and going through the right judicial channels and possibly police protection, could be the deciding factor in keeping you and your loved ones safe.

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

what-does-an-elder-law-attorney-doIf you are a person of an age that is considered “senior”, or if you care for or care about such a person, you know that there are many confusing issues that impact the lives of seniors. Having someone with knowledge and experience to help you deal with these issues can bring real peace of mind. Many of the problems that seniors deal with are related to health and medical care; some involve finances; some have to do with government programs; and some are purely legal in scope. For legal issues and, in fact, for many of the other problems as well, you may benefit from the services of an elder law attorney.

Elder law has been growing as a specialized field of practice over the last fifty years, since Medicare was first created in 1965. Elder law attorneys help clients navigate the many Federal, state and local laws, the numerous rules and regulations, and the various programs and institutions specific to older persons:

  • Healthcare decisions and advance directives
  • Medicaid, Medicare and Medigap options
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Nursing homes, assisted living and other care options
  • Elder housing issues, including reverse mortgages
  • Social Security, pension plans and other income
  • Guardianship and its alternatives
  • Age discrimination
  • Elder abuse and neglect

Of all these topics, those dealing with financial matters—from sources of retirement income to ways to pay for medical care—will have to be dealt with by most people, whether planning for their own senior years or caring for elderly loved ones.

Elder law attorneys help their clients in many ways. They provide guidance in understanding the legal aspects of making decisions regarding health care: What is informed consent? What is an advance health care directive and when does a person need one? What is a living will?

Elder law attorneys help their clients understand government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid: How can these programs help the client? How does one go about getting the most help out of them?

Attorneys specializing in elder law are able to represent their clients’ interests if any problems should arise regarding income from Social Security or pension plans.

The client can rely on an elder law attorney to be an advocate when there are problems regarding nursing home care, assisted living facilities, or other aspects of housing for the elderly.

Elder law attorneys are dedicated to helping seniors stay in control of their lives to the greatest extent possible as they enjoy more years of life.

When should you seek the services of an elder law attorney?

  • When you are planning for your own senior years and would like clarification about any aspect of retirement income, healthcare decisions, government programs, or senior legal issues.
  • When you are caring for a senior family member and problems arise that you just don’t feel capable of handling on your own.
  • When you need the help of an advocate to deal with issues such as age discrimination or elder abuse.

In short, you will benefit from the knowledge and experience of an elder law attorney whenever you have to deal with issues regarding the comfort and self-determination of the elderly. Living longer is a wonderful aspect of modern life, but with our modern longevity come problems that were not encountered by previous generations. Elder law attorneys are available to help.

Have You Been Ordered to Use an Ignition Interlock Device?

If you have been ordered to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your car because of a DUI, did you know that you can choose which device to have installed based on a number of options available, all approved by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)? You must beware, however, as the state does not regulate fees for installation and maintenance, which means companies that provide these services can charge anything they like.

This doesn’t mean you have no control. You can still make the best of a not-so-desirable situation. With a little research, you can make the choice that is right for you. Here are some of the fees to ask about when choosing an IID.

Ignition Interlock

Installation and Monitoring Fees. Depending on your location, fees for monitoring an ignition interlock device can vary. You can expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $200. These fees can include the cost for downloading software and updates. Having a luxury vehicle or a difficult installation can prolong the procedure and drive up fees even more.

Monthly Rental Fee. You do not own the IID, which means that you will have to pay anywhere between $50 and $100.

  • Often, companies that provide monthly fees will waive installation costs. You won’t know if you don’t ask.

You will need to calibrate your ignition interlock device periodically. This is important, as a device that is left to decalibrate could register false positives. In plain English, the device could think you are not fit to drive even though you had one drink three hours before you blew. California law requires that you do not go more than sixty days without calibrating. However, different manufacturers have different specifications, and may recommend a monthly calibration appointment. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize that six times a year is better than twelve times a year.

Violation Fee. IID manufacturers realize that some drivers who know that they are in violation may get a friend to blow into the device and start the car for them. They’ve safeguarded against this possibility by installing a random “running retest” function in the device. This means that the device will without warning ask you to blow into it while you are in the middle of driving, or else run the risk of shutting down. If you blow an unacceptable level, this constitutes a violation. Some manufactures will charge you for every violation. Some have a flat rate. Others have rates dependent on the time of violation–that is, whether they have to reset after hours.

Removal fee. They charged you for putting it in, they might charge you for taking it out too.

  • It is also important to remember that some devices are more sensitive than others. Ask the manufacturer if any other substance on the breath (e.g. mouthwash, breath mints, etc.) is capable of registering a false positive.

It’s no picnic having to drive around with an Ignition Interlock Device

The unexpected breakdown of your vehicle, an accident, or any other pitfall only makes matters more difficult. Nevertheless, understanding your right to choose the device that best suits your bank account can make all the difference in the world.

Can I Be Fired for What I Post on Facebook?

Facebook has quickly grown into more than just a social media website, in many ways it has become a way of life and a lifeline of sorts. With over a billion users, the site has seen its fair share of inappropriate comments, pictures and status updates. As more and more of our lives move online, many people are beginning to wonder if the line between the online world and our real lives have blurred. The simple answer is yes. According to a recent report about 33% of divorce proceedings include the word “Facebook” in them, and over 50% of companies admit to checking out the social media feeds of prospective hires before they extend a job offer. The buck doesn’t stop there, either. Many companies monitor Facebook feeds and they can and do utilize the material they see online to discipline or even fire current employees.

Facebook
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People Who Have Been Fired For Facebook Comments

Employees can terminate “at will” employees for a variety of reasons, and that includes what they post on Facebook. More than a few people have been asked to leave a company after disparaging remarks about the company or clients on Facebook. In fact, Virgin Airlines took disciplinary actions against 13 employees after they took part in a Facebook post that insulted passengers and suggested the airline had less-than-stellar safety standards.

An employee at a pizza joint was fired after posting about “cheap” customers who stayed passed closing and left a bad tip. Four employees were fired from a non-profit after a Facebook thread called out a fellow co-worker and criticized the clientele they served.

A teacher came under fire from her boss and was asked to resign after racy pictures of her appeared no her Facebook feed. The teacher, however, is appealing the decision and suing the school she worked for, claiming the pictures and her private Facebook page do not interfere with her ability to do her job.

Facebook Firings

Is Firing Over Facebook Legal? 

Many people assume that they are protected under the first amendment when they take to Facebook, but that is not the case. The first amendment protects the freedom of speech against government interference. So, you can say you think the government is doing a poor job at budgeting taxpayers money wherever and whenever you feel the urge, however, the private sector is a different story. Companies are completely within their rights to fire an employee they feel is poorly representing the company.

In the case of the non-profit incident calling out a co-worker, whether face-to-face or online is considered harassment. Whenever an online forum is used for the purpose of harassing another individual a person can be fired because of workplace harassment and safety regulations.

These are not the only reasons people are fired because of what they post on Facebook. Every private company has the right to fire an employee, any employee, they feel is reflecting poorly on the company, as it could be considered potentially disparaging to the company. Just like you could get fired for showing up late on a regular basis, or being rude to customers in the retail sector, you can be fired for making remarks with a similar tone on Facebook, or any other social media site for that matter.

While many “Facebook firings” are perfectly legal, there have been a slew of individuals who have fought their terminations. Several cases have gone before judges, many of those fired claiming that their private pages do not interfere with their job performances.

Can I Sue My Employer for Workplace Stress?

Each year thousands of lawsuits are brought against employers by their employees across the country. There are a plethora of laws currently on the books that aim at protecting employees from their employers, and give employees grounds for suit if the laws are violated. While many of these lawsuits never make the news, they happen each and everyday. For example, in 2013 Walmart was the defendant in 5,000 employee lawsuits, alone. That is about 17 lawsuits a day. The company currently employs about 1.3 million workers.

Can I Sue My Employer for Stress?

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So Can I Sue My Employer?

Employees can sue their employers for many reasons. While most people are aware they can sue over negligence, injury and sexual harassment, many people wonder “can I sue my employer for stress?” There isn’t exactly a simply answer to the question, the answer is actually yes, because, technically you can bring a suit against an employer for an injury that occurs during the working hours, but winning such lawsuits is another story all together.

Workplace Laws

Under federal and state laws employees are protected from undue stress, harassment and unsafe working environments. That means an employer must provide all employees with a workplace that is physically and emotionally safe. They must meet basic workplace standards, and must have a policy pertaining to harassment and other negative workplace cultures that could cause undue emotional stress for their employees. Additionally, workplace laws require that employers ensure harassment, both sexual and otherwise, is dealt with appropriately and swiftly. That is not to say that all employers follow the laws to the letter, but the laws due exist to protect employees.

Additionally, the Fair Employment and Housing Act protects individuals from harassment and unfair treatment based on their age (over the age of 40), race, religious beliefs, military and veteran status, martial status, gender, and sexual orientation. The FEHA makes it illegal for an employee to be singled out and treated inappropriately because of any of the above listed protected attributes. .

While there is no law that specifically states that an employer can not cause emotional distress, emotional stress would generally be considered an injury if it can be proven to be directly due to the workplace environment, or if an employee can prove they have been harassed or singled out as a member of a protected groups.

Lawsuit Requirements

In most lawsuits alleging the infliction of emotional stress, the plaintiff has attempted to prove the employer intentionally attempted to inflict emotional stress upon the victim. In all of such cases courts will require that the stress and resulting injury from the stress be severe. For example, an individual claiming emotional stress from their job would need to prove they have required medical intervention because of the stress or that a medical condition is directly attributed to the stress they suffered at the hands of the employer.

Workplace Stress
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Most courts will require the plaintiff to prove that the actions of their employer was intentional or reckless, that the conduct was extreme and outrageous, severe emotional distress was caused by an ongoing situation, and that the employer failed to fix the issue after a formal complain was filed within the company.

So, in short, yes, an employee can file suit against an employer for stress the have endured on the job, but winning can be an uphill battle. In most cases, emotional distress is an outcome of another violation of either FEHA or workplaces laws, not the sole reason an employment lawsuit is brought about.

What is the Purpose of an Estate Planning Attorney?

what-is-the-purpose-of-an-estate-planning-attorneyWhen you think of an estate planning attorney, your mind likely jumps to the drafting of a will. While it is true that estate planning attorneys draft wills, their responsibilities are much broader in scope. Aside from advising clients about how to plan the distribution of their assets, estate planning attorneys also offer advice to a decedent’s personal representatives and estate beneficiaries.  He’ll provide unique insight on how to properly resolve the decedent’s affairs. These matters are typically referred to as the probate process.

Wills and Trusts

When crafting a will for a client, an estate planning attorney will offer valuable advice regarding the tax ramifications of the client’s desired arrangements. Once the client considers the estate planning attorney’s advice, he will modify the disposition of his properties and assets in a more economically efficient manner. If a will is not written with the proper language, there is the possibility that the decedent’s assets will not be distributed as he instructed.

Each jurisdiction has unique rules about the disposition of property. These rules carry significant tax consequences for the client and his benefactors. The attorney must write wills with carefully crafted language that minimizes the amount of tax dollars  paid to the government, while maximizing the money that is to be distributed to the benefactors.

Along with writing wills, estate planning attorneys will also establish trusts on behalf of the client. Some trusts are straightforward while others are more complex. Many clients will benefit from a testamentary trust. This style of trust contains stipulations designed to release money to benefactors at a certain point in time for specifically identified purposes. For example, an estate planning attorney can establish a testamentary trust for a client who desires that her grandchild receives money that is to be used toward college expenses.  The release of this money is conditional on his successful completion of high school and his enrollment in college.

Managing the Probate Process

The probate process requires an estate planning attorney’s knowledge of complex inheritance and tax laws. Estate planning attorneys re-title assets to beneficiaries, coordinate the collection of life insurance, resolve income tax issues, identify and securing the decedent’s assets, determine the value of any properties owned by the decedent and calculate and pay the decedent’s remaining bills. He’ll also calculate and pay both gift and real estate taxes and offer advice regarding the sale of estate property.

Formalities

Aside from the rather complex issues listed above, estate planning attorneys also handle much more simple matters. He’ll be charged with filing documents required by the probate court and requesting court permission for various actions.  He’ll also manage client retirement accounts as well as the estate checking account.

Conflict Resolution

Oftentimes, disputes arise between beneficiaries and personal representatives of the decedent. The estate planning attorney is responsible to act as a mediator between the parties and settle the conflict to the satisfaction of both parties. These are delicate matters that require both the client and his beneficiaries to place a high level of trust in the estate planning attorney.

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