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March 9, 2009

It is becoming very common for contracts to contain a clause stating that “Any and all disputes arising under this contract will be settled by arbitration.” Arbitration is simply an agreement between parties that their disputes will be settled through arbitration rather than in court. Arbitration is favored by federal and state courts as a form of “Alternative Dispute Resolution” (ADR) and is one of the fastest growing means of settling disputes. The dispute is submitted to a private, non-judicial person who often has practical knowledge of the matter in dispute.

March 2, 2009

You might be surprised to find out that despite your level of income or assets, you may need a prenuptial agreement.

Many people fail to consider signing a prenuptial agreement because they mistakenly assume that such agreements are only appropriate or necessary for especially wealthy individuals or couples. Others overlook the option of executing such an agreement simply because the topic is a difficult one to broach and they do not want to risk offending their future spouse. In reality, people of all income levels can benefit from a prenuptial agreement and it can be executed in an amicable way with the cooperation and education of both parties.

A prenuptial agreement should not be seen as an anticipation of divorce or separation, but simply as a means of planning for the future and protecting the parties in a worst-case-scenario. It is no secret that the divorce rate in this country is relatively high, usually reported at a rate of around 50%. Therefore, it is no surprise that more couples are choosing to protect themselves with prenuptial agreements today than ever before.

February 20, 2009

What is the Family Medical Leave Act and who qualifies?
The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) was enacted to protect the jobs of employees in need of time off from work to assist family members.  More specifically, it gives employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave in any 12 month period to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or a seriously ill parent, child or spouse.  The employer must hold the employee’s job or provide a similar job upon his/her return, continue group health benefits, and continue the accrued benefits earned by the employee prior to the leave (e.g., vacation time, seniority).

To qualify, the employee must work for an employer that has 50 or more employees, and the employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours in the year preceding the leave.

By Doreen Letty on February 16, 2009

Every homeowner should be aware that the responsibility for keeping up your real property, whether it is your personal residence or a rental property, is not merely a personal preference to be exercised only when you desire. The condition and appearance of the property is also a matter of public interest and, if you fail to maintain said property to the satisfaction of the municipality in which the property is located, you could find yourself being called before a judge in Housing Court.

February 10, 2009

In New York State Grievance Day is the opportunity for owners of Real Property to challenge their property’s assessment for real property tax purposes.

Each municipality has its own Grievance day. Generally towns hold Grievance Day in the spring – in Erie County towns it tends to be the fourth Wednesday in May; the City of Buffalo’s is near the end of December. You can check on the website for the New York State Office of Real Property Services (ORPS).

January 30, 2009

While most of us recognize the dangers of drinking and driving and the implications that a DWI conviction can have on our licenses, many people do not appreciate how substantial the financial penalties are.

There are numerous drinking and driving offenses in NYS, the most common of which are: (a) driving while ability impaired (“DWAI”); (b) driving while intoxicated (“DWI”); and (c) aggravated driving while intoxicated (“ADWI”). You can be charged with DWAI for having a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) of 0.05 – 0.07%. DWI can be charged when the BAC is 0.08 – 0.17% and ADWI can be charged when the BAC is 0.18% and above. You can also be charged with drinking and driving based on the police officer’s observations and your performance on field sobriety tests. Refusing the breath test carries separate and considerable penalties and fines.

January 23, 2009

You can find just about anything on the Internet, from a meatloaf recipe to a Yorkshire Terrier. The Internet can be a valuable tool or a source of entertainment, but it is a risky place to find a commercial lease form. “One Size Fits All” Lease forms may contain seemingly appropriate legalese like “subrogation” and “condition precedent,” but if you don’t know what those terms mean, you shouldn’t use them.

January 21, 2009

The current economic chaos and uncertain future has negatively impacted many industries and people. Some businesses are filing for bankruptcy and others are seeking relief through bailout plans. The average person has probably suffered significant investment losses especially relative to their 401k or other retirement plan. Even worse, some individuals may be faced with job instability and are probably starting to look for ways they can cut expenses to start saving for peace of mind or to bridge the gap in the losses that have been sustained over the past five months.

January 12, 2009

With the current bleak state of the economy, many taxpayers may find their ability to pay taxes has been negatively impacted by unemployment or corporate downsizing, loss on investments and reduced income. When in these circumstances, the reaction of many taxpayers is to ignore the problem and procrastinate in dealing with the IRS.

December 15, 2008

Far more often than not, grandparents play a special role in the lives of their grandchildren. In recent years, many grandparents have become increasingly involved in their grandchildren’s lives, from seeing them on a regular basis to caring for them on a full time basis, if a parent is unable or unwilling to care for the child. Sometimes, however, situations develop where grandparents are denied the right to see their grandchildren. Historically, grandparents lacked any legal right to visit and to communicate with their grandchildren when such contact was forbidden by the parents. However, lawmakers have increasingly recognized the need to preserve the beneficial relationship between children and their grandparents, and as such, at least forty-eight states have enacted various statutes allowing grandparents the right to petition for visitation under certain circumstances. For instance, New York State, which takes a paternalistic approach, recognizes that visits with grandparents can be a precious part of a child’s life, providing benefits that cannot be derived from any other relationship.

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