Contract Requirements for Domestic Partners

Today, a lot of same-sex couples are getting into long-term commitments. Such couples would do well to enter into a domestic partnership agreement to strengthen their relationship and bring about some clarity about the responsibilities of each partner. In many states, the rights of same sex couples are governed by contract law.

Entering into a partnership is also advantageous in that your partner would be entitled to a share in all your investments be it life insurance, disability claims, health benefits, or even pension funds.

A domestic-partnership agreement encompasses the following:

  •      Income sharing between the partners
  •     Clarity about bill payment
  •     Joint or individual ownership of property
  •     Outlining rights as well as financial responsibilities
  •     Settlement of debts and impending legal disputes

Signing a domestic partnership agreement in California is extremely beneficial for same sex couples who can now entitled to the same rights and privileges as straight couples. It only allows registered partners to purchase community property conveniently, but also makes them accountable to the social and financial needs of their partners.

Contract Essentials
Before signing the agreement, do be mindful of the following considerations:

  •     Ensure that your financial issues are not entangled with those of your partner
  •     Prepare a mechanism to undertake collective debt management.
  •     Protect your estate by ensuring that your partner waives his/her legal right to claim
  •     In case of partnership dissolution, there must be clarity of each partner’s responsibilities.
  •     Details of all debts and assets must be outlined
  •     Buy an insurance policy to protect the rights of your dependents rather than depending upon your partner.

You may want to consult a legal expert who specializes in California same sex laws to help you prepare the contract.

Does a Sperm Donor Owe Anything to The Child?

If a man donates sperm to a fertility clinic or sperm bank, should he be expected by law to support any child conceived through the use of his donation? Frequent donors could produce numerous offspring. Now there is a possibility they may be responsible for each one.

Men donate sperm anonymously. Women often use sperm donors because they feel there is less chance of the father demanding a paternity test and attempting to take the child. In most cases, both parties respect the others wishes to remain anonymous and the mothers retain sole custody of the child produced. It was not the donor’s intent to enter into a relationship with the mother of the child. No sexual act was committed with the intent of producing a child.

The recent case involving a lesbian couple who chose to use a sperm donor to produce a child has caused a heated debate in the legal community. In this case, the woman who got pregnant used a home insemination kit to inject the donor’s sperm. The man offered his services to the couple and it was agreed he would have no paternal rights to the child after its birth.

When the couple split up the mother of the child was forced to file for assistance to care for the child, raising the question of whether or not the sperm donor was legally responsible for his share of the child’s expenses. Because no medical facility or attorney was involved in the agreement or procedure that produced the pregnancy, the court has ruled the donor must pay both child support as well as other expenses associated with the child’s care.

The moral of the story is clear. Always make sure each agreement is legal and binding within the constraints of the laws of your state.

File Bankruptcy Immediately to Stop Wage Garnishment

Filing for bankruptcy immediately protects you from creditors, who may be making all efforts to take the little you have left. Section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code provides automatic protection against wage garnishment as well as all other types of collection activities, except for obligations geared to domestic support. Your employer cannot withhold your earnings if you file for bankruptcy in time.

The protection provided by the law is known as Automatic Stay. Although the protection is supposed to be automatic, it will take extra effort by a lawyer to stop wage garnishment. Stopping wage garnishment usually takes long because of bureaucratic tendencies. You have to involve the judgment creditor, human resource department, levying officer in the county sheriff office and sometimes a payroll administrator from your employer.

The judgment creditor cannot do much as he is just to request the sheriff to tell the employer to stop withholding earnings. Sometimes the sheriff’s office can take a number of days before communicating to the employer. In some counties, only one levying officer is charged with bankruptcy duties, which make work harder than if they were a team. These are some of the reasons why Automatic Stay protection is in most cases not automatic. In a perfect setting, the employer would not withhold even a single dollar in the next paycheck as soon as the order is served.

Some human resource departments may intentionally refuse to cooperate with the aim of driving suspension of wage garnishment. Bankruptcy lawyers will do their best to notify employers and sheriffs about bankruptcy filings as soon as the case is filed. The attorneys work extra hard to convince county personnel to concentrate on their clients’ cases so that no wages will be garnished. Working with expert bankruptcy attorneys often leads to good results.

Common Legal Mistakes Made During Divorce

There is no doubt that going through a divorce is not easy. It is a stressful situation to be in and many times this can distract the couple from making the right choices. However, this is not surprising considering the emotional, financial and practical issues that are part of the divorce proceeding. There are many couples that end up making some common legal-blunders that they could have avoided.

Agree to an early settlement
Many couples are hasty and agree to an early settlement without realizing the financial repercussions this can have. There is no doubt that you want to get out of your bad marriage, but you should not do it so quickly so as to lose your financial security. You should carefully make copies of all important financial documents, such as credit card statements, savings accounts-statements, tax forms, pension statements, mutual fund statements and anything else you may have.

Get deeper into debt
There is no doubt that divorce can be expensive, with you spending large sums of money on lawyer’s fees and setting up a new house. While it will be tough to make ends meet, you need ensure that you have a nest egg in place to settle your legal bills and court costs. Do not depend on your alimony or marital property share to settle your bills. You should be able to manage with the funds you have for legal proceedings.

Forgetting to change your will
If you are getting divorced and your spouse is named the beneficiary, ensure that you change your will and name a different beneficiary. If you die before the divorce is finalized, your spouse will receive all the assets and money as the legal beneficiary. Also, remember getting divorce does not revoke a will automatically so change your will the moment you start divorce proceedings.

Independent, Agency & International Adoption: The Difference

For families considering adoption, it can be difficult to decide upon the best route to begin the process. Understanding the differences between independent, agency, and international adoption will help you to decide which method is best for your particular situation.

Independent Adoption: An independent adoption is perhaps the most difficult because there are no intermediaries, like an agency. It can take longer for individuals to find mothers willing to adopt their children, and the consent of the biological mother or parents is given specifically to the adopting parents. It also requires more trust between the two families as there is no intermediary to more thoroughly review the histories. While an attorney is required in all adoption processes, in an independent adoption, the adopting family is likely to rely more heavily on the attorney’s experience and the family does have direct contact with the lawyer.

Agency Adoption: An agency adoption simplifies the process because the agency handles many of the more complicated aspects, such as finding a child or parents looking to give up their unborn baby. Unlike an independent adoption, the agency becomes the legal guardian once the birth parents give up their rights as the child’s caregivers. It is the agency’s responsibility to determine whether parents are fit to adopt a child, as well as overseeing the placement of child during the first six months or more.

International Adoption: An international adoption occurs when a family seeks to adopt a child from another country. This one is perhaps the most complex because it requires a special visa and other documentation for the child to enter the new family’s country. Adopting families must obey state and federal laws, as well as the laws of the country where the child is born.