1. Entering Into a Basic Contract
A contract is a legal document that requires you to comply with its terms. It’s important to carefully read the entire contract (yes, even the fine print that requires a magnifying lens) before you sign on the dotted line. If you want to make changes a contract, draw a line through the language you want to change, if necessary and handwrite the new terms. Just note, that in order for the handwritten changes to be fully and legally incorporated into the contract, all parties to the contract must initial the page to show that they are in agreement.
2. Getting Pulled Over by the Police
When you see a police car with its siren blaring or emergency lights flashing, pull over as soon as possible. Roll down your window, turn off your engine and place both hands on the steering wheel. Don’t start rummaging through your purse looking for our license and registration until you are asked for them. Normally, an officer is not allowed to search your vehicle. However, if the officer has a reasonable belief that you are dangerous or involved in criminal activity, he can search you, your passenger and your car. In the event that a simple stop turns into an invasive physical search, you have the right to demand that the search be conducted by a female police officer. Do your best to stay calm and level-headed. Don’t try to talk your way out of the situation. When asked questions give brief noncommittal answers such as “Yes,” “No” or no answer at all. Remember, silence is not an admission of guilt and cannot be used against you.
3. Equitable Distribution
Most states apply the legal concept of “equitable distribution” in deciding how marital property will be divided in a divorce. Instead of allowing you and your husband to each take one-half of all marital property, equitable distribution requires courts to analyze what your financial situation will be in after the divorce. Some factors considered by courts include the duration of the marriage, your potential earning power, whether you were the primary care-giver for the children and the existence of any separate property. New York is the only state that treats professional degrees as property for purposes of equitable distribution as a professional degree may play a significant factor in estimating earning power.
4. Best Interests of the Child
It’s a common mistake for women to assume that a child remaining in the custody of the mother after a divorce is in the child’s best interests. Although women are often viewed as the primary care-giver, courts consider the child’s wishes, the capacity of the parents or guardians to meet the child’s physical, emotional or educational needs and any relevant characteristics of the child the court finds appropriate. The most important thing to keep in mind is that having a healthy relationship with both parents is always in the best interest of the child, regardless of the differences between you and the child’s father.
5. Equal Pay
Your employer is required to pay you the same salary as your male co-workers for any job that requires the same skill, effort, responsibility and is performed under the same conditions. However, your employer is allowed to pay different rates when the salary is based on seniority, a merit system or the quantity and/or quality of the work performed. If you think you’re not receiving equal pay for equal work, you can, either file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who will negotiate a settlement with your employer, or you can file a lawsuit against your employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Written by Joycelyn Brown, Esq.