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Have Some Tricky Questions? We’ll Treat You to Some Answers.

October 31st, 2011 1 comment

Lately, we’ve been flooded with mail from readers with legal problems and questions. I thought it would be appropriate to use the Kiley Blog to post some of the better ones.

 

A desperate housewife posed question about divorce law:

Dear Blogger,

My husband doesn’t seem to understand me and won’t communicate. I try to engage him in conversation but he mostly just grunts in response. I try to put the spark back in our marriage but he only says, “Fire . . . bad.” He’s abusive, but usually focuses his anger on local villagers carrying pitchforks. Sometimes, I think he’s a real monster. Do I have grounds for divorce?

Signed,

The Bride of Frankenstein

Dear Bride,

You’re in luck. On October 13, 2010, the New York State legislature passed a no-fault divorce statute. You can now bring an irretrievable-breakdown divorce action under D.R.L. §170(7). Good luck finding a process server.

 

 A merchant wrote a question about the Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C):

Dear Blogger,

I wanted to order a supply of straight edge razors, but my office manager accidentally ordered a pallet of double blade Gillette Venus razors. They’re so safe. You can’t even nick someone with one. Do I have to take delivery of them?

Signed,

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Dear Barber,

§ 2-507 of the UCC regards Effect of Seller’s Tender; Delivery on Condition. Sub-section

(1) provides that “tender of delivery is a condition to the buyer’s duty to accept the goods and, unless otherwise agreed, to his duty to pay for them.” If I were you, I’d keep them, break them in half and sell them to the old lady at the end of the street who’ll stick them in apples and give them to trick-or-treaters.

 

Another reader asked a question about criminal law:

Dear Blogger,

I’ve been a very bad boy and committed mass murder. Well, to be truthful, I’ve committed several mass murders. You see, it’s a sequel thing and the movie-going public can’t seem to get enough. Now, I’m concerned that I may be caught and prosecuted. I’ve got two questions. First, I’ve got a contract for two more pictures. Can my director be convicted for aiding and abetting me? Second, what’s the difference between consecutive and concurrent sentencing.

Signed,

Freddy (Last name withheld upon request)

Dear Fred,

If your director is directly responsible for the actus reus (guilty act), he’ll be considered your joint principal and could be charged for the actual crime. But if he merely encourages you to “go with it” and be creative, he’d only be guilty of being an accessory to your crimes. As to your second question, New York State Penal Law § 70.25 (2) provides that concurrent sentences must be imposed “for two or more offenses committed through a single act or omission, or through an act or omission which in itself constituted one of the offenses and also was a material element of the other.” As for the applicability of your facts to the law, I have to admit that I’m not a fan of the genre. You’ll have to ask Roger Ebert.

 

This reader was named the as beneficiary in his probate a neighbor’s will but was frustrated by the probate process.

Dear Blogger,

I helped a neighbor write his biography and he named me as the sole beneficiary in his will. The man was pretty much a loner and only came out at night. I’d have to confess that he was a little batty. He was very old when he died and I can’t find his birth certificate. Also, he grew up in a remote section of Romania and I can’t seem to find his family. What should I do?

Signed,

Bram Stoker

Dear Bram,

You’ve got a problem. The New York State Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) requires you to locate his heirs at law. If he had no spouse or children, you’ll need to research his family tree all the way back to his grandparents on both sides. You’ve got to diligently do your research. If I were you, I’d spend the money to hire a genealogist. Why not go with him and make a vacation out of it. I’ve heard that Transylvania is beautiful this time of year.

Dear Readers,

Keep those questions coming in. I’ll be happy to answer them or not, depending on my moods.

Sincerely,

The Blogger

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The Easter Bunny and New York’s Child Support Law

April 15th, 2011 Comments off

In New York State, parents are legally obligated to support their children until they become emancipated at age twenty-one (or sooner, under certain circumstances). The child support laws are codified as Domestic Relations Law § 240(1-b), commonly known as the Child Support Standards Act. DRL §240(1-b) requires each parent to pay support based upon a percentage of gross income (less deductions for NYC taxes, social security and medicare payments). Payment is based upon a schedule: 17% if one child; 25% if two children, 29% if three children, 31% if four children, and at least 35% if four children or more. The law is gender neutral; so the formula applies to any parent, male or female, as long as they are non-custodial, meaning that the child does not live with them. Enforcement of the law becomes more complicated when a parent has children with more than one partner.

To illustrate my point, consider the plight of the licentious Easter Bunny (EB). He is biologically challenged by the tendency of his species and genus to profusely propagate. Simply put, Mr. Sylvilagus Dicei is a male whore. He tries to fertilize any Easter egg he encounters. But his baby mamas have to pay for carrots and a lair on Watership Down and that costs a lot of cabbage.

He’s married to Mrs. Rabbit and has four children: Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-Tail and Peter. Unbeknownst to his spouse, he also has a bunny with a Dutch baby mama, named Miffy. When he fails to support his little bastard, Miffy takes him to court and establishes paternity. The judge tells EB that he has to pay to play. EB is an independent contractor and makes $100,000 per year (after the appropriate deductions) on his Easter gig and royalties from the sale of Beatrix Potter books. The judge awards Miffy 17%, or $17,000. She brings an enforcement action which she serves upon him at his personal residence.

When Mrs. Rabbit greets the process server, she is hopping mad. She sues for divorce on grounds of adultery and is awarded custody. On a pendente lite motion she demands child support for her four children. She presumes that she will receive 31% of EB’s annual income or $31,000, but the judge awards her a lesser sum. He properly rules that the formula for child support must take into account EB’s legal obligation to Miffy’s son. He deducts $17,000 from $100,000 and awards Mrs. Rabbit $25,730 which is 31% of $83,000. Because she snoozes, she loses $5,250. It’s not fair, but the law is the law.

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