Here Are 2019 Changes to Alimony Laws in California

Alimony law is often very confusing and comes with a lot of moving parts. There are a few changes in California alimony law that have come into effect for 2019 and should be taken note of.

One of the biggest 2019 changes has to with spousal support. Previously, spousal support was tax deductible for the spouse that way paying and was taxable income for the spouse that was receiving it. Now, alimony will no longer be tax deductible, and the recipient spouse will not have to pay any taxes on it.

This big change to alimony law came due to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which scrapped a 75-year old spousal support payment tax stipulation. The new law came into effect on January 1st . Divorce agreements signed on or before December 31st, 2018, will not be affected by the new rules.

The change of the law relating to taxation and alimony means divorce negotiations will most likely become trickier, especially if the spouses were wealthy, since these types of people often benefited the most from the tax deductions pertaining to alimony.

Some think it will lead to smaller spousal support payments because the tax advantages with a larger sum are now lost. The alimony tax deduction before the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act change was a strong bargaining tool in divorce proceedings, but many see this advantage as a relic of the past due to the new stipulations.

If you signed an agreement of separation or divorce before the end of 2018, and the support order is modified after the start of 2019, the pre-2019 tax rules still remain in effect. The only exception to this rule would be if there is a specific clause in the agreement that says otherwise. You will want to have a lawyer review the separation or divorce agreement if you are not sure which tax law you will be subject to.

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All payments must qualify as spousal support or alimony in order to be tax deductible under the pre-2019 legal standards. Payments that qualify as spousal support only are eligible if the spouses do not file a joint tax return, if the payment is made under a legal divorce agreement, and if the actual funds are in the form of cash, a check, or a money order.

Additionally, spousal support must not be treated as child support and is not able to be part of the settlement of any property.

Some have questioned if they are able to pay more in child support to offset any of the changes under the new alimony law. Child support is never deductible and it is not counted as taxable income by the person who is receiving it.

Divorce proceedings are a tricky affair that can often take a lot of time and energy to move through. A good lawyer will not rush the process but will make sure that everything is taken care of and both sides are satisfied with the arrangement. However, the changes to alimony law can be very confusing and can change a lot of the divorce aspects depending on your situation.

As a result, be sure to speak with an experienced and professional divorce and alimony attorney as soon as possible so you can get up to speed with the new changes, especially if your divorce agreement is dated on or after January 1st, 2019.

Do you have a question about alimony laws in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Courtesy of Cuselleration

 

Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Have a Lawyer Review Your Contracts

Being a business owner comes with a lot of work and you will have to review and look through a lot of paperwork that comes across your desk.

Part of the process for businesses is signing contracts and agreements with other people or companies who you want to work with. Flipping through these documents can be a tedious task, especially if the other party in an agreement comes with their own contracts to sign.

You might be tempted just to sign off on any agreement that comes by, but this can be a big mistake. It is always better to have an experienced lawyer review your contracts, even if you believe they are ironclad. This is especially true if another party brings their own contract or wants to revise parts of yours before they sign.

Here are a few reasons why you should hire a lawyer to review your contracts.

1) Hiring legal counsel will save you a lot of time and money as opposed to trying to solve problems down the road that emerged from a bad contract. A good lawyer will be able to advise you about certain terminology in contracts and be able to help you to articulate your thoughts into words that will give all parties in the contract the proper protection.

They will also be able to review your business structure and ideas and give advice about the potential pitfalls down the road that can be avoided with a good contract. All of this will be significantly cheaper than trying to fix problems after they occur.

2) A lawyer who reviews contracts serves as a valuable outside pair of eyes for your business. Many entities write and see contracts as just a tool to make money, or to market in a particular way. This can cloud the judgment of those actually writing contracts, potentially setting up problems in the future. Lawyers often look at contracts every day for clients who work in a number of industries. They will be able to look at yours with an objective perspective that will not be a distraction to other work and operations.

3) Having a lawyer review your contracts gives you a sense of legal protection if something does go wrong. If you just review your contracts, all the litigation is going to be on you because there will be no recourse. If your lawyer looks at one, then they can potentially be sued if something goes wrong.

4) Having a lawyer review a contract can make you more competitive in the long run. Other parties who want you to sign their contract usually have it written with their best interests in mind. Signing these can really hurt you down the road. Having an independent review of any contract gives you peace of mind to know a contract will not be egregiously advantageous to one party or the other, and might even help your future competitiveness in comparison to other businesses. A good lawyer is going to understand the legal terms in contracts that could have serious consequences and will be able to draw on their expertise to advise about what to watch out for.

Click here to learn what you need to know about California Collection Laws!

5) Very few business owners have any sort of knowledge when it comes to contracts. It’s always smart to stick with what you know and hire the experts to fill the gaps. Lawyers bring a lot more experience to the table when it comes to employment issues, leases, and business agreements.

Do you have a question about getting a lawyer to review your contracts? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Courtesy of Cuselleration

What You Need to Know About California Collection Laws

Navigating through debt collection law in California can be tricky. There are a lot of moving parts inside of pertinent legislation that can be hard to keep up with. However, no matter your situation, there are a few important factors to keep in mind as you work through the collections process.

The primary collection law in California is the California Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This mandates that debt collectors and creditors are required to treat people due for collections in a fair manner. They are not allowed to be deceptive, unfair, or engage in an abusive manner when it comes to debt collection so the process can be fair for both sides.

As per the Act, all entities, including the agencies collecting debt, are regulated. This means anyone contacting you to pay off bills or dies should be in full compliance with the Act. It also means a number of other entities,such as the attorneys involved in debt collection activities, and the companies who actually make debt collection tools, should be in compliance with the Act. Do not let anyone try to manipulate you into thinking they do not have to be in compliance with the Act. California laws are strict when it comes to debt collection.

However, it is important to note debt collectors in the state are not mandated to have a license, since agencies underwent deregulation in the 1980s. These collectors are not even required to have a local business license to start and continue operations.

Debt collectors are under limits on how much they can communicate with debtors. They are not allowed to use profane language, must disclose their information, and are not allowed to call repeatedly or harass you with calls while you are busy on the phone. Additionally, they are not allowed to lie to you in a manner that causes you to spend more money than you needed to, like if they try to get you to call a long-distance number for an extra charge.

Debt collectors in California must protect the privacy of all debtors, as per the law. Regulations say they are allowed to send debt reports to a credit reporting agency, but they are very limited in the other information they can give out. Envelopes from collectors can not have any details about debt on the outside, and the law says debt collectors are not allowed to publish your information in a public setting if you do not pay.

California collection laws gives debtors a lot of protection and options if a agency breaks they law. If a collector breaks the Act, you can file a complaint with the state attorney general, sue the debt collector in court, or get in touch with federal authorities who are in charge of enforcement of debt collection laws.

Overall, the best way to stay out of the way of debt collectors is to pay your debts on time and in full. While legislation in California does provide protections against predatory debtors and ones who are abusive, you are still required to pay off debts, and these agencies can be very persistent when it comes to getting their money.

Be sure to clear your debts as quickly as possible so you do not have to deal with the debt collectors and subject yourself to worry and stress about their tactics and methods.

Click here to learn why the date of separation is important!

If you do engage with a collector, be sure to study relevant laws so you understand what collection agencies are and are not allowed to do as they engage with you. Don’t be afraid to report a debt collector if they break the law.

Do you have a question about collection laws in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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This is How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody in California

Domestic abuse is a serious crime that can take a variety of different forms through physical, mental, emotional, and even economic control. No matter its form, scars are always unfortunately left on the victims, and courts and juries take these facts into mind when they are deciding on a verdict in a domestic violence case.

Domestic violence organizations are numerous in California and have a lot of resources for those looking for assistance. The state government also has resources available for people who are looking for shelters and counseling services.

In regard to child custody and domestic violence, the legal system in California is going to focus on keeping the child’s health and safety secure. Courts are mandated to keep this idea in mind when making decisions and judges are also required to keep the safety and security of a child when they make a decision.

When it comes to domestic violence and custody, it is important to note the different types of custody. It can be solely awarded to one parent or jointly shared. Legal custody gives parents the ability to makes decisions for a child. Physical custody actually gives parents the ability to live with their child and give them basic care, such as bathing and feeding.

Judges are required to make a custody decision in a domestic violence case that serves the child first. They will consider any history of abuse by a parent to the child, the other parent, a friend, roommate, or any other child that might have some sort of relation.

As a result, juries and judges will consider any evidence of abuse that backs up accusations. This could include law enforcement reports, notes from child protective services, insights from social agents, and details from doctors and other medical providers. They can also speak with other nonprofit agencies to get information.

If an abusive parent has committed domestic violence in the last five years against the other parent, child or the child’s siblings, it is up to the court to decide if the perpetrator should be allowed to take custody of the child.

Click here to learn 6 reasons why a parent may lose custody of a child!

This might occur if the perpetrator has complied with parole requirements, have taken counseling, and has provided proof that taking custody of the child would be in his or her best interest.

Overall, judges are asked to grant reasonable rights to visitation unless it is not in the best interest of a child. If there is a risk, the court can mandate supervised visitation to protect a child against risk of abuse.

This could include the addition of a third party to supervise visits, or even a ban on overnight visits to protect a child’s safety. Visitation with these types of conditions often occurs if some sort of protective order has been issued.

If there is an emergency protective order in place, a temporary custody can be established to help a child victim become safe. Here, judges are asked to not make a permanent custody order that is different than the temporary award of custody.

If there are any concerns about a child’s safety when it comes to custody arrangements, a judge can take whatever actions that are needed in order to keep the child safe until investigations can be carried out and completed. This could include the termination of a parent’s custody rights if needed.

Do you have a question about domestic abuse and custody in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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What You Need to Know About Fraud in California

Fraud is something that can get anyone tangled up. Most fraud cases do not come at the hands of random people or strangers, but occur through someone who was trusted and then got swindled. This is a big issue because people who are victims can quickly become embarrassed and unwilling to share what happened to the proper authorities.

Across many jurisdictions, fraud is both a criminal and civil matter, even though fraud has a narrow legal definition. In California, there are activities that seem like they constitute as fraud, but are not seen as such in a court of law.

There are a few different categories of fraud. These include a deliberate misrepresentation of a fact that was knowingly false, especially if an individual believed that fact to be true.

Another is the deliberate hiding of a fact by a fiduciary, or the negligent misrepresentation of one, that a victim relied on and was harmed as a result.

These definitions can be a bit vague, but the important fact about fraud is that it takes place when another party betrays the trust of someone. Fraud can also take place amid complex transactions, making it even harder for people to pick up on.

One of the best ways to catch fraud is to simply keep detailed records, especially with your financial transactions. Holding onto receipts, bank statements, and any other financial records makes it a lot easier for an experienced professional to get a grip on fraudulent activity and take the proper steps to remedy an issue.

Click here to learn why you should have a lawyer review your contracts!

Always make sure to have a clear grasp of any terminology in a contract before signing, especially if it has to do with a large sum of money. Many people get tricked through deceptive or confusing language. Do not hesitate to enlist the advice of our experienced attorneys to look over an agreement or deal before you sign.

Another way to cut down on risks of fraud is to simply make sure you deal with the right people. Check out reviews and recommendations before engaging with a business, and make sure they have proper licensing as it pertains to California law.

The legal system in California gives people a few options if they have been defrauded, as most of the recovery from such a case will come in the form of damages.

The most common measure is the “out of pocket” rule in California. This makes sure people get compensated in a fraud case for the money they actually lost.

Another one is called the “benefit of the bargain” rule, which gives people the difference in what they thought they would get minus what was actually received. It is important to note that debt is not able to be discharged during bankruptcy for instances of fraud. People who have committed fraud are mandated to pay back their debts, even if they go into bankruptcy.

If you feel like a victim of fraud, be sure to talk to our legal experts for your case. Our attorneys will be able to review and give you advice in the pleading stage of your case.

Do you have a question about fraud in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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Facts About the Right to Repair Act

You probably hear a lot about ‘damages’ when it comes to attorneys and litigation. But what do damages really mean? There are two types of damages, actual and economic. Actual damages encompass physical injuries and property damage, while economic damages centralize around the cost of a repair that did not encompass a physical injury or lead to property damage.

A good example to think about both has to do with construction. Actual damages would consist of things like a bad roof that leads to water damage, or even a collapse that injures someone inside of the building. Economic damages would have to do with the actual cost of repairing or replacing the bad roof, aside form any other property damage or injury claims.

Background

In 1998, the California Supreme Court said economic damages from construction defects are not able to be recovered in instances of negligence or strict liability. They made this ruling in Aas vs. Superior Court.

In response, the Right to Repair Act came into effect. The Act says homeowners in newly constructed housing can sue for economic damages if the residence did not meet certain construction standards.

The Act came into existence thanks to the work of legislators in California through SB 800. The intention of SB 800 was to mitigate the effects of the Aas decision.

Here’s a few facts about the Right to Repair Act to keep in mind.

It applies to all claims relating to construction defects

Homeowners also have the ability to file a claims related to personal injury, breach of contract, strict liability, and fraud, without having to adhere to the pre litigation stipulations spelled out in the Act.

It now covers more than just economic loss

A California Supreme Court Case in 2018 said the Act can now cover cases relating to property damage that arise out of defects related to construction.

Click here to learn about financial fraud laws in California!

It is now the exclusive way to recover property damages that are related to construction defects

However, personal injury damages are still outside the scope of the Act and are not listed as a recoverable category.

Homeowners must still comply with the pre litigation procedures spelled out in the Act even if their construction defect is not specifically listed in the Act

The California Supreme Court, when taking on this question, said homeowners are not able to bypass the pre litigation procedures because the Act has a ‘catchall standard’ in addition to the specific construction standards that were listed.

The decision by the California Supreme Court was seen as a big win for builders, contractors, manufactures, and design professionals

This was because of a couple of reasons. First, the vast majority of claims still had to go through the pre litigation procedures as spelled out in the Act. It also substantiated that the Act still applied to construction defects that were not specifically laid out in the jargon and wording of the Act itself.

The Right to Repair Act might seem like a complicated piece of legislation. There’s an extensive amount of background that corresponds with how it’s interpreted and seen today. Overall, homeowners do reserve the right to bring claims, but usually still have to go through a pre litigation process, except in certain instances.

Do you have a question about the Right to Repair Act? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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3 Reasons You Should Have a Lawyer Review Your Contracts

It can be tricky as an entrepreneur to call up a lawyer to review a contract. But failing to do so can have devastating consequences for your business.

A lot of things can go wrong thanks with a bad contract. You could end up forking over a lot more money than you should. You could lose your rights to valuable property, and even expose yourself to risky (and costly) lawsuits.

Therefore, it is important to spend the money on having a lawyer review contracts. It will be a lot more expensive for an individual to come in at the end of the day to revise and fix a bad one.

Here are three reasons why you should have a lawyer review your contracts.

1. Courts Find Them Easier to Enforce
A good contract means that it holds weight in court. But a generic contract or one you wrote yourself, thanks to the internet might not be able to actually be enforced in your area.

If you’ve chosen to broker an oral agreement, it might not even be valid for certain types of transactions.

On the other hand, contracts that have been reviewed and edited by a lawyer ensures that important jargon and terms are included so the contract is valid. Plus, a good lawyer will make sure the agreement is up-to-date based on state laws.

This is particularly important when it comes to non-compete agreements. They can be a variable way for you to keep talent from working with a competitor, but a non-compete you crafted yourself probably will have some sort of error that could make the whole agreement non-enforceable.

2. Contracts Reviewed or Written by an Attorney Are Thorough
Poorly written contracts, or one with glaring gaps, could open you up to disputes or expensive lawsuits. Lawyers are experts when it comes to contracts. They understand how to write them in a clear manner and how to mitigate any potential problems on the horizon.

A good attorney who reviews a contract will be able to fill in the gaps that someone might have missed and will have the legal know-how to suggest additional clauses.

Lawyers know that a good contract includes stipulations about what happens if one party does not hold up their end of the bargain.

Well-written contracts also take steps to limit your liability in a scenario that is beyond your control. Additionally, they will incorporate so-called “boilerplate” clauses that will minimize frivolous disputes.

With the help of a good lawyer, a contract becomes a document that helps resolve problems. It becomes something that can help shorten the length of any disputes, and make sure you stand a better chance of
winning the case.

Click here to learn the 5 ways for your business to avoid legal issues!

3. Attorneys Can Help Craft Contracts That Save You Money
An experienced attorney in your industry will know about the types of standard language and terms. As a result, their expertise will translate in a contract that favors you, their client.

Having an attorney look over a contract, or taking the steps to revise one, can be a useful way for you to potentially save a lot of money. An attorney on your side can give advice about how to push the boundaries in your favor, or at least advise you about reasonable terms and negotiation standards.

If you are writing a contract on your own, and the other side has an experienced attorney working on theirs, you might be subject to unfair terms or be put at a bad negotiating vantage point.

Overall, getting good legal advice when it comes to contracts can make or break your business.

Do you have a contract that needs to be carefully reviewed by an attorney? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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How to Protect Your Business from Copyright Lawsuits

Think your company has the next ‘big idea’, good enough to break into your industry? Chances are, someone else has had the same idea. At Von Esch Law Group, we’ve seen too many start-ups and business owners face patent litigation from companies waiting to file lawsuits against unsuspecting entrepreneurs. Here are 4 tips for avoiding copyright infringement throughout each stage of your development.

  1. Be cautious if it’s not your own.

 

You may think this goes without saying, but so many business owners get caught in this tricky copyright trap. If a piece of content was not created by you or your company, whether in person or on the internet, a high level of caution is required when deciding if it’s acceptable to reuse. If you find content you want to use for business purposes, especially photographs and music, check the permissions or license to see whether you can use it for free or need to pay a fee.

  1. Big companies do care.

With so many massive corporations pushing out content daily, it can be tempting to take a small piece of their content – like an Instagram post or 3-second video clip – for your business’s personal use. However, more often than not, they’ll be looking out for this small form of plagiarism. New software has made it possible for companies to monitor any content being republished on the web, no matter how small. Play it safe and avoid this type of copyright infringement.

  1. Don’t forget to look for “fair use”.

While these infringement laws may seem scary, there may be a way around them. “Fair use” is an exemption offered to those who wish to use a piece of content with a copyright license for educational purposes. While this option requires you to read the fine lines, it often allows you access to otherwise prohibited content for educational use.

  1. Start early.

Just had an idea for a business, product, or service? It’s never too early to start researching the current patents associated with your idea. Whether you assign it to your development team or look into it yourself, thoroughly researching the copyrights related to your product can help you avoid a major headache (and lawsuit) in the future.

In addition to following these tips, our team at Von Esch Law highly recommends hiring a legal team to walk you through each step of your business or product development. We specialize in business law and have helped countless clients avoid costly lawsuits. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation with our team!

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Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

It is not an uncommon occurrence to find that the disabled in the society end up being discriminated in the workplace. But then again, it also isn’t a good practice to discriminate or undermine anyone who is disabled anywhere. Fortunately, California state laws offer protection for the disabled from any kind of discrimination at work.

Most of these state laws also prohibit an employer from subjecting any of their disabled employees to any kind of unequal treatment in regards to your actual or perceived disabilities. So, how will you know whether you are being subjected to any form of discrimination at work due to your disability?

Read below to find out.

What is disability discrimination?

If you are disabled in any way and working, then you can spot any kind of disability discrimination either from your employer or fellow employees quite easily. This unlawful habit may even start right from the moment you are applying for a new job. The moment you realize that you are being

treated unfavorably by your interviewer or employer qualifies as a disability discrimination. California also has laws that expect employers to provide reasonable accommodation to their disabled employees and/or applicants.

Definition of disability

A disability is a state of any medical condition which impairs activity. This can also include an employee’s ability to work optimally in the workplace. Disabilities can always take many different forms. Most disabilities are usually physical impairments. But you will also find situations where psychiatric conditions can hinder an employee or applicant from performing at work.

As a disabled applicant or employee, you also need to know that not all disabilities are protected by law. So, for you to be protected, you first need to qualify for a job, then see whether your California laws protect employees of applicants with your kind of disability.

Signs of disability discrimination in the workplace

Aside from the clear fact that California has put federal laws in place to protect the disabled from any kind of discrimination at work, disability discrimination occurrences still happen. The moment you realize that your employee is subjecting you to less favorable working environments due to your medical condition, you will know that you are being discriminated against. These forms of discrimination may include reduced working hours, denial of a raise and/or promotions, or even write-ups.

Common disability discrimination signs at work

  • Being threatened or even harassed due to your disability
  • An employer, not hiring you due to your disability
  • Being publicly shamed due to your disability
  • Verbal abuse by an employer due to your disability
  • Being cyber-bullied either by your employer or co-workers due to your disability
  • Being demoted as a result of your disability
  • Denial of promotions due to your disability
  • Being left out of staff meetings due to your disability
  • Contract termination as a result of your disability.

Do you have a question disability discrimination in the workplace? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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Basics of Wrongful Termination in California

When employers take it upon themselves to fire their employees in violation of the statute or policy of the business or state, it constitutes wrongful termination. You will always find that in almost every work situation, the employee always thinks that their continued employment in any business or company is under the sole discretion of their bosses and that they don’t have any protection from being fired whenever their boss/employer deems it necessary.

But, there are instances where the employer can be committing employment violation by terminating an employee’s contract. It is vital that you, as the employee, know all of your rights as a worker in any business, especially the ones that touch on your employment and termination of a contract. There are steps that you can take to protect yourself against any wrongful termination in your place of work. Sometimes, it is your ignorance that is what will end up getting you fired. Like not knowing the limits and situations with which your employer has the power to fire you.

Every business is different. Each business has a different set of rules and regulations which they need to abide by. And the employer also has his/her own set of rules and regulations which he/she must follow. Firing an employee may be among some of the powers that an employer is allowed and granted, but only under certain circumstances, and not at his/her own leisure and feelings.

That being said, here is some basic information that you need to know which might help protect you from wrongful termination of your contract at your place of work.

At-will employment

This is a type of employment where an employer and employee relationship at work is of an indefinite duration. This means that either of the parties has the power to terminate the relationship even for reasons that are not illegal. Maybe even for no reason at all. In most cases, you can find that some of the work relationships between the employer and the employee that start as at-will is usually transformed into an employment situation by the employer. From here, the employer can only fire the employee for a just cause, and either through oral statements or written material.

There are, however, some exceptions that count when referring to the at-will employment rule. In situations where an employer fires an  employee in violation of the stature and public policies of the business and of the state, it is referred to as wrongful termination. But the California prohibits employers from discriminating any employees based on employment decisions, wrongful termination inclusive, on the basis of factors such as, but not limited to the following:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy
  • Medical conditions
  • Disability
  • Ancestry
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Religious creed
  • Sexual orientation

So, if an employer were to fire any of his/her employees based on any of these factors, then that would be considered wrongful termination. Wrongful termination can also occur if an employer fires his/her employee for refusing to break the law.

Do you think you have been wrongfully terminated? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!