Legal Separation or Divorce : Which Is The Better Option?


shutterstock_134380532There comes a point in time when married couples realize that there is no point continuing their relationship. When their marriage is in shambles, the first thing that comes to mind is divorce. But there is another possible option that they can consider and that is legal separation. These are two different legal issues that couples can resort to if they want to end their marriage. But which is the better option? Would you rather be legally separated or divorced?

Knowing The Difference

Before deciding on the better option, it is worth understanding the difference of the two. Legal separation is an agreement entered into by couples acknowledging that they are still married but not living together. It is a contract that defines handling of assets, liabilities, and other financial matters.

Divorce, on the other hand, dissolves the marriage. This means that they become single again and thus can marry again. The couple signs an agreement that lays down details on distribution of properties or assets, child custody, visitation, and support.

The Right Choice

Staying legally separated is a better option than divorce for a variety of reasons. It gives the couples time to decide if they really want to divorce or give their marriage one more try. By opting for legal separation, you are protecting yourself from desertion. If there is no agreement, the spouse could be charged for desertion or abandonment.

Second, legal separation gives the children of the married couple to prepare themselves emotionally for the change or adjust themselves to the new situation. Divorce can carry with it a social stigma which can carry over to the children. It is quite clear that the most affected when married couples decide to end the marriage are the children.

A third reason to choose legal separation over divorce is that a spouse can still enjoy the medical benefits of their spouse’s health care plan. If they are a spouse of a military personnel, legal separation is the best option if they want to enjoy the benefits provided by the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, provided that they stay married for a minimum of 10 years to enjoy the benefits accorded to members.

Ending a marriage is never an easy decision. There are many individuals who will be affected most specially children. So as much as possible, try and work out your differences and save the marriage for the sake of your children.

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How Safe is Your Talcum Powder?

shutterstock_398670208For the second time in just four months, giant pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson losses another lawsuit and ordered by the court to pay $55m to Gloria Ristesund, who developed ovarian cancer after years of using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder (the first lawsuit was in February wherein Johnson & Johnson was made to pay $72m to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer which she claimed she developed during the 35 years that she used the company’s talc-based baby powder).

Amidst Johnson & Johnson’s claim that cosmetic talc is safe, as proven through 30 years of studies by medical experts worldwide, the lawsuits allege that Johnson & Johnson knew about the dangers associated with using talcum powder, yet it covered up results of the studies that showed a link between its baby powder and ovarian cancer. Instead of including a warning on its product’s label, no information about the dangers of using talcum powder was said in order to increase sales.

Talc, the source of talcum powder, is a mineral that contains magnesium, oxygen and silicon. It is used in various cosmetic products due to it capability to keep the skin dry and prevent rashes. According to the American Cancer Society, a number of studies suggest that regular application of talcum powder in the genital area (or on condoms, diaphragms, or sanitary napkins) might cause cancer in the ovaries, especially if powder particles travel to the ovary.

While Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal this May ruling, if it succeeds, Johnson & Johnson will need to worry anew due to the 1,200 similar lawsuits that it will also have to face.

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Overcoming Debts the Legal Way

debtWhen in debt one’s self-esteem and enthusiasm in life can easily be overcome by worry and uncertainty. This, certainly, is the same situation that millions of honest and hard-working individuals, who have problems paying their debts due to loss of employment, sickness, disability or death in the family, are experiencing. Worrying, however, will never solve debt problems, but a legal solution will: Bankruptcy.

There are millions of individuals in the US who file personal bankruptcy every year. Filing of personal bankruptcy is a legal right stipulated under the Bankruptcy Code, which the US Congress passed in 1978. This law was passed to help individuals, families running a business and business firms find ways to pay their debts and so regain control of their finances. There are different chapters in the Bankruptcy code, each designed to address the specific needs and financial situation of debtors.

Besides providing affordable solutions to paying debts, filing of personal bankruptcy also offers a host of other benefits, like cessation of the harassing tactics employed by collection firms in order to make a debtor pay his or her debts and freedom from dischargeable debts. While it is true that a debtor may have to surrender some of his or her properties/assets which will have to be liquidated, there are specific properties which, under the law, he or she can rightfully keep.

Summing it up, when in debt, one can either continue wallowing in this situation or take steps in solving his or her problem through bankruptcy. The important thing that people should understand though is that bankruptcy is not a way to escape debts and debt payments; it is rather a way to pay one’s debts in the easiest, legal way possible.

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Detroit Woman Claims Stillbirth Due to Police

Pregnant WomanA suspect in a case of shoplifting, Shenika Parchman, has lost her appeal to charge Detroit police with a lawsuit. Detroit federal judge, Denise Page Hood, had dismissed the case back in January 2015.

In 2011, Parchman was arrested for shoplifting at a Meijer store, a popular hypermarket, while she had been nine months pregnant at the time. In the week that followed after her arrest, she gave birth to a stillborn son and since then, the suspect has claimed that it was the rough treatment of her by a Taylor-based police officer during her arrest that had led to the death of her child.

It was, however, her failure to provide evidentiary support of the claim – the fact that she could not name a particular officer during her deposition being one of the key points of her case – equated into the failure of her appeal to file a lawsuit against the Detroit-area police.

A report from the Associated Press states that the court has rejected her appeal on the grounds of there being “no reasonable juror” for her claim since Parchman could not properly identify the Detroit police officer in question or that she had been injured at all during her arrest.

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The Volkswagen emission fraud fiasco: How much does it cost?

vwemissionsGerman automaker giant Volkswagen is under fire after the U.S. Environment Protection Agency learned about how the car manufacturer installed software devices designed to defeat standard emission tests. The software is so sophisticatedly designed to detect if it is being tested that there is possibly no way the car maker could argue that the issue was just a ‘bug.’

But criticisms against Volkswagen are coming not only from regulatory boards in the U.S. and outside the country, but also from its customers. Consumers who own newer line of Volkswagen diesel units believe that they have purchased a car that’s both powerful and eco-friendly, only to find out that it is emitting oxides more than what the federal limit permits.

In a report by Tech Times, the scandal has caused the company to lose $1.83 billion in this year’s 3rd quarter. This is not surprising, given the fact the Volkswagen has not been in a scandal as large and as massive as this since its conception in 1936. Also, Volkswagen would now have to defend itself against lawsuits filed by people seeking for compensation because of a significant decrease in the car’s resale value.

Apart from the revenue loss and lawsuit costs, Volkswagen has announced it will recall 11 million diesel cars equipped with the software, which would cost them an estimated $7.4 billion. These enormous expenditures will be capped by Volkswagen’s promise to offer cash cards worth between $1,000 and $1,250 to those affected by the ongoing scandal.

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Armed police drones now legal in North Dakota

droneDrones are becoming more and more utilized in a variety of different fields. Businesses such as DHL and Amazon caught the attention of many by making use of these robotic apparatus to make deliveries. Media outlets have also been known for using drones to capture hard-to-reach shots for breaking news. Now, the lawmakers at North Dakota add to this growing list, being the first U.S. state to legalize the use of armed drones for law enforcement.

As NPR reports, the passing of the new law allows North Dakota law enforcement to make use of armed drones equipped only with “less than lethal” weapons such as rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, bean bag cannons, and Tasers. The law also requires the police to obtain a search warrant before these drones can be used.

Republican state Rep. Rick Becker was the main proponent of the original bill and is none too happy with how parts of the law had turned out, emphasizing his views that drones should not be weaponized. He had first introduced the bill to push for measures requiring police to obtain appropriate search warrants before making use of drones to survey areas for evidence. However, hurdles in the legislative process caused him to make certain compromises. He was quoted by the website Arstechnica, saying, “…the committee accepted amendments and I didn’t fight them because I wanted the bill to pass at least to require warrants.”

Despite these compromises, Rep. Becker sees the law’s passage as a decisive step away from concerns of privacy invasion. However, Arstechnica notes that he remains determined to introduce a new bill that will advocate for the “non-lethal” use of police drones.

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Can Copyright Claims Get Out of Style™: Is Taylor Swift in the Legal Right?

TSwiftThere are many posts making the rounds on various platforms on social media, claiming of the avarice from Taylor Swift and her legal team over the disputes regarding her copyrighted phrases. Some of the phrases that have been reportedly copyrighted are “This Sick Beat” (from the song “Shake It Off”), “Nice to meet you, where you been?” (from the song “Blank Space”), as well as “1989” – the title of the singer’s most recent album as well as it is her birth year.

In the website Etsy, where there are many people who make a small business through crafting (from fan-art prints to mugs printed with her likeness), there have been several users who have been approached in a demand to take down their wares with the singer’s copyrighted property. Majority of these people are fans of Swift and her work but the action from her legal team has sparked some backlash for her allegedly threatening to sue her own fans.
The question, however, remains. Is Taylor Swift in the right to threaten lawsuits on the grounds of copyright
infringement for this?

Copyright law is, unfortunately, quite difficult in any kind of legal battle. Swift’s battles are some of the earliest recorded claims of this kind of situation. However, with the rise of illegal downloading, many artists are attempting to make sure that they make the most out of their pieces due to the competitive industry. Though seemingly inane phrases uttered by anyone – and certainly not exclusively penned by Swift – she is the first to have copyrighted the phrases in America, therefore giving her some method of control over merchandise that may be specifically linked to her work.

This kind of move is more to protect her brand than it is an outright move against her fans but there are still repercussions to this choice that Swift cannot just, to borrow a phrase, Shake (it) Off™.

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Under new law, terminally ill patients given access to medication not approved by FDA

The only drugs administered to the public are those that have been investigated and thus approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  This can often be a long and uphill battle, taking many drugs years to reach consumers.  However, when the already approved medications given to a terminally ill patient aren’t working, many are arguing that they should have a “right to try” medications that have not received final approval from the FDA.

Twenty-two states in the United States have already approved this law and other states are following.  These “right to try” laws state that under correct protocol, terminally ill patients have the right to drugs not approved by the FDA.   When a patient has tried all other treatment options and still remains in critical condition, this new law can offer some hope if an unapproved drug can possibly help.  Some are saying this law gives some hope to those who have lost all.  If some patients were forced to wait until the drug was approved by the FDA, many would die before the process was complete.

“Right to try” activists are calling for the new law to be approved in more states.  Some states have even seen unanimous votes in the House and Senate in approval of the law.  According to families of terminally ill patients such as Dalton Powers, whose dad suffers from ALS, this new law has allowed access to treatments and medications that may not be officially approved for 10 more years. Due to reasons such as this, it seems as though more states will move forward with “right to try” laws.

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The Debate around Death with Dignity Laws

shutterstock_125077214Several months back, a 29-year-old woman named Brittany Maynard chose to end her life through physician assisted suicide. Before she died early in November 2014, she wrote a column for CNN to explain her difficult and controversial decision. Just a year after she had been married in 2012, Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and was given a prognosis of 6 months or less to live. Having learned her treatment options (and the physical, emotional, and psychological suffering that would go with it), she soon decided that death with dignity was her best option. Maynard moved to Oregon with her family from California, because it is one of only 5 states where physician assisted suicide is authorized in America.

Physician assisted suicide, which is more popularly referred to as death with dignity or end-of-life choice, is a medical option available for terminally ill and mentally sound individuals that have been given a fatal prognosis by their physicians. When a patient opts for an end-of-life choice, he or she will be prescribed a lethal dose medication that they can take on their own or in the presence of their physician—depending on state laws.  Oregon is the first state to have legalized it in 1997 through their Death with Dignity Act. There, a patient opting end-of-life will have to meet eligibility requirements before they can be prescribed with medication that they have to self-administer. Similar legislations have been put into effect in Washington and Vermont in 2009 and 2013 respectively.  Death with dignity is legal in Montana and New Mexico through court decision, but full-reaching laws are yet to be passed. Several other states currently have death with dignity bills pending in their legislative body, among them are Maynard’s home state California. In plenty of these places, death with dignity legislation remains a subject of a very heated debate.

Advocates of death with dignity say that laws like the ones in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont help patients to take control of their dire situations and die without having to experience having their quality of life be degraded by their illness. They also say that giving a terminal patient the option to end their life saves their family from the pain of having to watch their loved ones suffer and fade away.  On the other side of the debate, opponents argue that death with dignity go against the moral tradition of certain religious and spiritual beliefs. Aside from religious concerns, end-of-life opponents also express concern that physician assisted suicide could be sought by patients who are mentally ill. However, the lawmakers that have proposed death with dignity laws in their states argue that their legislations will have room for stringent criteria and examination to prevent such scenarios from happening.

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Facing a Marijuana Possession Charge

shutterstock_139577978Drug violations in the U.S. are consistently being met with harsh prosecution and punishment. As the Bureau of Justice Statistics have found, there were more than 1.8 million arrests made in 2007 for violations against drug abuse laws. The American Civil Liberties Union also noted that more than half of these arrests involve marijuana. In fact, about 88 percent of drug arrests are usually for the illegal possession of marijuana.

Recent years have seen a controversial debate on the legalization of marijuana. While its use has become less and less taboo in American culture, the law remains stringent against the substance. Only a few select states have decriminalized the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. Even fewer have chosen to legalize it completely. In most of the country, state laws still hold harsh penalties against possession of the substance. Even a small amount found in a person’s possession can lead to some damning consequences.

Generally, marijuana possession at first offense is classified as a misdemeanor. It could lead to a maximum $1000 fine and up to 1 year in jail. The penalty will become stricter at second offense, resulting to a maximum $2500 and up to 2 years’ time in jail. Any subsequent offenses are typically considered a felony, which could require a maximum $5000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Certain states also impose specific penalties based on the amount of marijuana found in an individual’s possession. In Texas, for example, carrying more than 4 pounds of marijuana can already be considered a felony. Punishment would then become more severe, especially if the individual has committed previous offenses in the past.

Facing a marijuana possession charge is no easy matter. Regardless of the popular sentiment for the use of marijuana, the law holds true on a different idea.

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