Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NBA Star Dwyane Wade Finalizes Divorce

Lengthy Court Battle Ends 


Three years after his divorce was granted, Miami Heat heat guard Dwyane Wade is now able to move forward after finally reaching a financial settlement with his ex-wife.

A turning point in the case may have been an agreement that Siohvaughn Funches, his ex-wife, reportedly signed, promising not to speak badly of her ex-spouse. The NBA star will pay his former wife $5 million as part of the settlement that also includes a "non-disparagement" clause, preventing either of them to speak disparagingly of each other, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Ex-Wife Claimed She Was Homeless

The basketball player filed for divorce in 2007, it was granted in 2010, and he was awarded sole custody of his two sons in 2011. The divorce became a public matter as Wade’s ex-wife repeatedly took actions against Wade, the latest which was sleeping on a busy Chicago street next to a large poster that claimed Wade left her homeless and without money.

“Dwyane Wade is offering to pay only some of what he owes me if I sign an agreement never again to discuss what happened in our marriage or with our children. I refuse,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I finally told Carr I just wanted to end the case and keep my freedom and my voice. I told him I didn’t want anything from Dwyane. The judge demanded the trial continue. I couldn’t believe it.”

Non-disparagement Agreements

Attorney James Pritikin said Wade paid his ex-wife $25,000 a month, her monthly mortgage, four cars and fees by the 16 attorneys she hired for divorce and custody proceedings. The two were former high school sweethearts.

Legally, these agreements are known as non-disparagement agreements, which prevent each party from talking badly about the other. These kind of agreement most usually are found in employment contracts to prevent an employee from speaking badly about the company upon leaving employment with that company.

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Men Head Single Family Households

New Child Custody Laws Have Spurred Some of This Growth

Men are increasingly heading up single-family households in the United States, now making up nearly one in four single-parent families.



Those are the latest findings by the Pew Research Center, which showed that the number of single father households has multiplied eight times since 1960, when less than 300,000 U.S. households were headed by single dads. Today, that number has swelled to more than 2.6 million.

Why?

Divorce rates have leveled off in recent decades but they are still higher than they were in the 1960s and 1970s.

Easier for Dads to Gain Custody

Two factors have had a profound effect on the number of dads heading single-family households today. Child custody laws today make it easier than in previous decades for dads to gain custody of their children. And society has a differing view of fathers, who are now expected to play a bigger role in their children’s lives than they did in the past.

As a result of so many changes, only 67 percent of households with minor children include two married parents today, compared to 92 percent of households with minor children in 1960.

Who is the Single Dad?

The Pew Research Center classified as single dads men in a variety of family circumstances. About half are separated, divorced, widowed or never married and are living without a cohabiting partner; 41 percent are living with a non-marital partner; and less than 10 percent are married but living apart from their spouse.

The study also found that there are stark differences between single dads and single moms.

How is the Single Dad Doing?

The single dad is likely to be living with a cohabiting partner, have a higher income, be far less likely to be living at or close to the poverty line, be slightly less educated, older and more likely to be white.

The younger, less educated single dads tend to be cohabiting with someone and be living at or near the poverty line. Those who were better off financially and were better educated tended to be older.

Educational level is closely tied to the prevalence of single fatherhood: the more education a father has, the less likely he is to head a single-parent family.

At the Law Offices of Eric A. Kay, we can help you with any child custody issue you may be having.

Photo credit: Rik

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Police Quietly Tracking Movements of Every Car


Crime-fighting Techniques Worry ACLU 


More bad news for those concerned about their privacy conflicting with local and national security efforts.

State and local police departments nationwide have been quietly tracking the movements of every vehicle with a license plate.

Automated Scanners Monitor Moving and Parked Cars

Automated scanners affixed to police cars, bridges or buildings take pictures of passing or parked cars, noting their location. The information is collected on every vehicle in the area, regardless of who owns it and whether that person has done anything wrong. The information is held by law enforcement sometimes for years.

All this information was revealed in a study published earlier this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. The civil rights group wants police departments to get rid of any records of cars not linked to a crime.

ACLU Steps In

"There's just a fundamental question of whether we're going to live in a society where these dragnet surveillance systems become routine," ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump told the Associated Press.

Law enforcement agencies say the scanners are helping them nab criminals, not monitor the activities of ordinary residents. They point out that the scanners allow them to track suspicious cars, and help with drug busts and abducted children. They also note that the technology is legal in most cases.

ACLU Says No Laws to Regulate Scanners

But the ACLU says that only five states have laws regarding license plate e-readers. These do not include states like New Jersey, where Jersey City collected about 10 million images of cars in a city with a population of 250,000.

In the report, the ACLU also questioned the relatively small number of hits, about 1 in 500, for suspicious vehicles in Maryland. Most hits were for suspended or revoked registration, or a violation of the state’s emissions inspection program.

Other Controversial Programs 

This latest news comes to light after a string of revelations that law enforcement agencies have been collecting personal information from millions of ordinary people, including DNA samples and driver’s licenses.

Last month, the Washington Post reported that the faces of more than 120 million people are contained in photo databases that police are increasingly relying on to help them identify suspects, witnesses and other bystanders.

About a couple months ago, the Supreme Court cleared the way for law enforcement officials to collect DNA samples from suspects they arrest for investigation of serious crimes.

As it turns out, many state officials were already compiling their own statewide DNA sample databases to help them in their crime-fighting efforts. These have all come to light just as we have now discovered that the National Security Agency has been aiming some of its top-secret surveillance programs on ordinary Americans.

Photo credit: Tripp

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Divorce Coaches Offer a Lending Hand


Divorce Coaches Can Be Certified 


Some say a divorce coach can offer informed advice and hold your hand during the tough spots. Others say, “Don’t waste your money. That’s what friends are for.”




Well, just what is a divorce coach? He or she can be many different things before, during and after your divorce. Confidante. Assistant. Financial planner. Logistics expert. It all depends on their area of expertise.

Divorce Coaches Are Usually Not Lawyers

One thing they are not is your lawyer (unless they also happen to be lawyers). Divorce coaches cannot dispense legal advice or stand in as your divorce attorney. Some divorce coaches work in tandem with a divorce attorney to make sure everything runs smoothly.

A divorce coach can be a good option for those who feel uncomfortable unloading all the details of their divorce on a friend, no matter how close they may be. It can also be a good option for those who simply feel like that they could use a helping hand to navigate through all the difficult paperwork and decisions that need to be made.

Divorce Coach Certification

Once you’ve decided you can benefit from a divorce coach, you can ask your attorney or friends for a referral to a divorce coach. As you search, you will notice that many divorce coaches say they are certified. This means they have taken a course in divorce coaching.

Certification requirements vary widely depending on where coaches obtained their credentials.

Research Coach Credentials

To make sure you are hiring someone who is qualified to help you, make sure you ask about their credentials. You will want to know what they did to obtain certification and how they developed their area of expertise within divorce coaching.

A certification program offered by a company based in Tampa has a comprehensive overview of their standards and goals for those who wish to be “champions for those involved in divorce by becoming a “CDC Certified Divorce Coach.”  The program outlines their “Standards of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.”

Is It Worth It To Hire a Coach?

As you can imagine, hiring a divorce coach is not cheap. You should decide whether spending this money on a qualified divorce coach will produce the results you need or if you are better off talking to your friends.

A good divorce coach will work hard on your behalf; a good friend will listen and offer advice but likely won’t be an expert on divorce matters. Even if they have gone through a divorce, their advice may not apply to your specific situation.

Picture credit: lcronticPrime


Friday, July 12, 2013

Facebook Postings Being Used in Court More Often


Social Media Writings Become Evidence

There are plenty of cases where judges have allowed attorneys to use information from Facebook postings, evidence that is often pivotal to a case. However, judges do frown upon broad requests for someone’s social media communications.






Judges Don't Like Broad Requests

Just a few weeks ago, a Florida judge ruled against a request for a sheriff’s deputy social media, cell phone and e-mail communications in a wrongful death suit against Marion County sheriff’s deputies.

Vincent Salvato had sought the information in the hopes of finding evidence that could prove Deputy Norman Brown and Deputy Lauren Miley used excessive force and failed to provide timely medical care, resulting in his son’s death. Joshua Salvato died July 6, 2012 of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Judge Said Request Was a "Fishing Expedition"

Vincent Salvato requested all of Brown’s communications (with the sole exception of any between Brown and his attorney), but the judge said the request was a “fishing expedition.”

“(Salvato) has failed to make a threshold that the requested information is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Philip   R. Lammens said in his June 11 ruling.

Facebook Activity Found to be Relevant

Judges are more likely to turn down requests for someone’s Facebook postings if they believe those requests are merely fishing expeditions. Information gleaned from Facebook postings and other social media communications has been allowed as evidence when judges believe that the information is directly relevant to a case and not a blatant violation of someone’s privacy.

In early June, a Colorado judge ordered a man to produce Facebook postings that  could provide evidence of his alleged emotional distress and physical injury. James D. Moore is suing Denver and two city police officers for alleged excessive force during an arrest on March 25, 2008.

“Mr. Moore’s Facebook activity is relevant to his claims of emotional pain and suffering (for which he claims $750,000 in damages), as well as his claims of physical pain ($750,000) and humiliation ($500,000),” U.S. Senior District Judge John L. Kane wrote in his June 6 ruling.

Judge Orders All Facebook Postings

Moore had already produced selected portions of his Facebook postings that he said was relevant to the arrest, but the judge said in his ruling that Moore must produce his Facebook activity log, in addition to all of his Facebook postings as evidence of his state of mind before and after the arrest and possible evidence of his alleged physical and mental harm.

“Mr. Moore reputedly has chosen to share his version of events online often and in many different forums ... Defendants are entitled to know of these accounts,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

Photo credit: dannysullivan 

If you need representation in a Facebook related criminal investigation, check out our website at hgilbertlaw.com

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Apps Can Help You Through a Divorce


Apps Can Help With Advice, Scheduling and Emotional Issues


A best friend can definitely help you tough out your divorce, but what do you do when your best bud isn’t available to help?

You may want to check out the latest apps designed to help people through their divorces. That’s right, applications (or apps, as they are better known) definitely go beyond the latest version of the Angry Birds game. Well beyond and into the realm of helping people navigate the ins-and-outs of divorce.

App Helps With Logistics

Take the logistics of sharing custody of your children with your former spouse. Even if your divorce was amicable, issues about scheduling often arise. Communicating all the details about Junior’s violin recital and your daughter’s soccer games just got a lot easier with 2houses, an app that helps you coordinate your schedule with your ex-spouse so that both parents can know their child’s schedule at a glance without even having to pick up the phone.

Well, OK, you’ll likely be using your phone to use the app so you will have to pick up the phone, but you likely won’t be using it as much to go over all the details of the weekly schedule.

Parents Can Share Stories and Photos

2houses is more than just a calendar and scheduling, tool. The app also offers a finance feature that allows parents to jot down notes on money they’ve spent on their children, such as to pay for the dentist. The app also offers parents a messaging option to notify them if there has been a schedule change. Parents can use the journal and albums to share anecdotes, stories and photos about their children.

Parenting Apart is an app, based on the book by the same name written by Christina McGee, that offers advice and guidance on wide-ranging topics dealing with divorce. This app promises to help divorced and separated parents make decisions that will help kids become “happy, confident and secure kids.” Among the topics included: what to expect during the different emotional stages for parents and children, adjustment issues for kids, talking to kids about divorce, co-parenting, and options for the legal process.

"Making Documentation Easy"

Divorce Log, has as its slogan “Making documentation easy.” This app makes it easier for you to keep track of your incoming and outgoing expenses that pertain to your divorce, such as all incoming and outgoing child support and alimony payments, time spent with your child, expenses, and correspondence.

The app, which promises privacy, allows you to control who sees the information. You have the option of forwarding any of the information to whoever you wish. This app is handy to keep track of important information.

If none of these apps are quite what you're looking for, you can search the iTunes store or Google Play for other options to see other available apps better suited for your needs.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Remaining Silent Can Be Used Against You


Supreme Court Says Right to Silence Not a Given 


Suspects who want the right to remain silent must first speak up.



That’s the message from the Supreme Court in one of their recent rulings, which said that a suspect’s silence can be used against him or her unless that person has invoked the Fifth Amendment.

Miranda Rights

Police are legally required to read suspects their Miranda rights upon an arrest. One of these rights is an individual’s right to remain silent, contained within the Fifth Amendment in the Bill of Rights. The right to remain silent is to prevent people from incriminating themselves.

However, the recent Supreme Court 5-4 ruling says that suspects must verbally say they are invoking their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. If they do not, their silence can later be used as evidence against them.

Invoking the Fifth Amendment

“Our cases have long required that a witness assert the privilege to subsequently benefit from it,” wrote Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. in the ruling. “... Before petitioner could rely on the privilege against self-incrimination, he was required to invoke it.”

The case Salinas v. Texas involved Genovevo Salinas, a man convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years. During a one-hour police interview, Salinas readily answered an officer’s questions until he was asked whether ballistics testing would match his shotgun to casings found at the murder scene. Evidence was introduced at trial that Salinas had looked down at the floor and behaved differently at this point during police questioning.

Suspects Cannot Simply Remain Mute

Salinas unsuccessfully challenged the legality of presenting this evidence at trial, saying it should not have been allowed because it violated his Fifth Amendment rights by forcing him to incriminate himself.

But the Supreme Court found that previous cases clearly show that a suspect cannot simply remain mute to benefit from the right to remain silent. Salinas had willingly complied with the officer’s questioning up until that one question about ballistics, although he had not been arrested and thus had not been read his Miranda rights.

Does Ignorance of the Law Matter?

Ignorance of the law is not a sufficient reason to exempt someone from the responsibility of invoking the right to remain silent, Alito said in the ruling.

But four other justices disagreed.

“How can an individual who is not a lawyer know that these particular words are legally magic?” wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer in a dissenting opinion.

Photo credit: Miki Yoshihito