Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Employee Internet Usage

Employee Internet Usage

In today’s world, email and the Internet are at the crux of your business communications. Now more than ever, having constant access to the world wide web and email makes your business more profitable and productive. However, your business could be liable if employees misuse the Internet or their business email accounts. Here are some tips on what to look out for.

Should You Allow Internet Access for Personal Use?

With their speed, convenience and efficiency, the Internet and email have become essential tools for most businesses. But inappropriate use of a company’s Internet and email systems can have serious implications and consequences. An employee who abuses these tools may place his position with the company in jeopardy. In addition, the employer may be forced to take legal responsibility for the misconduct of their employee. While a new world of information and business opportunities is available through the Internet, so too is an entirely new world of legal dangers.

  • Copyright Infringement – The very nature and speed of the Web encourages copying and passing along of information and data. Sometimes nothing seems to heighten morale around the office like a good Dilbert-ism liberally circulated through the company’s email system. But copying and distributing someone else’s works without their consent could constitute copyright infringement.
  • Sexual Harassment, Discrimination – Even one off-color joke sent through the company’s email system could help constitute proof of a “hostile working environment.” Such evidence could then be used to bolster potential sexual harassment or discrimination complaints.
  • Trade Secret Disclosure – While most employers hope that their employees are not sending their company secrets to competitors, it is a real danger. Suspicion of an information leak could be sufficient grounds to monitor outgoing emails.
  • Securities Law Violations – It’s the Wild Wild Web when it comes to spreading (usually mis-) information about a company with the goal of moving the stock price up or down. An employee of a company whose stock is publicly traded posted false information on an Internet bulletin board regarding the company’s stock. Anyone with visions of riches should be warned: when such an occurrence of stock manipulation occurs, the company could potentially be held liable for a securities law violation.
  • Defamation/Cyber Libel – Workplace email addresses usually contain an easily identifiable company name. When an employee sends an email, the recipient of the message may infer that the company endorses the material contained within the email. Because the boundaries between opinion and defamation or libel are confusingly thin, it’s prudent to discourage personal use of the company’s domain name by employees. Even employee participation in a chat room or newsgroup using the employer’s domain name could present danger of a defamation lawsuit.

Protect your Business – Make Sure You Have a Written Policy

There are ways companies can help protect themselves from potential liability resulting from employee misuse of the Internet and email. One recourse is to institute an employee email/Internet policy, which outlines appropriate and inappropriate usage of the company’s resources. Such a policy shouldn’t be viewed as a panacea that completely shields a company from legal responsibility. But it would show a court that preventative action was taken to limit inappropriate use of the company’s Internet and email system.

Technology exists today that can limit employees’ access to inappropriate Web pages. But Internet filters and other software that can monitor employee usage of the Internet and email should be used with caution. A company should have significant reason to institute such measures because intrusion of employee privacy may violate federal wiretapping laws.

Additionally, let employees know the consequences of Internet misuse, including the dangers the company faces if litigation develops due to an employee indiscretion. Employees need to be educated about copyright, libel and securities laws and the dangers posed by inappropriate use of company email and Internet systems.

Free Consultation with a Utah Business Lawyer

If you are here, you probably have a business law issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free business law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Monday, November 12, 2018

Moms Less Likely to Pay Child Support than Dads

Moms Less Likely to Pay Child Support than Dads

A new study revealed some information that may have been surprising to some people: a higher percentage of non-custodial mothers fail to make their child support payments than non-custodial fathers.

According to the study, in 2011, approximately 32 percent of custodial fathers did not receive a single dollar of the total child support they were owed, compared to 25.1 percent of custodial mothers. On the flip side, 43.6 percent of custodial mothers received the total amount of support they were owed, compared to 41.6 percent of custodial fathers.

However, these numbers can be misleading without other numbers and facts to put them into context:

  • Fathers make up only 18.3 percent of the custodial parents in the United States as of 2011, meaning there is still a significantly greater number of delinquent fathers than mothers
  • The average income of custodial fathers that do not receive their full amount of child support is $51,791, compared to only $26,231 for mothers. So custodial fathers make approximately twice as much as the average single mom.
  • As of 2011, approximately 31.8 percent of single moms were below the poverty line, whereas single dads below the poverty line were about half that figure.

So while it is true that a higher percentage of custodial mothers fail to make their support payments, this would seem to be due to a variety of factors, most notably a significant difference in income and a greater likelihood that they are living in poverty.

Really Bad Pieces of Divorce Advice

As you are going through a divorce, chances are you will receive a lot of unsolicited advice from family members and friends who may or may not have ever experienced a divorce of their own. Although they almost certainly mean well, it’s important to remember that each divorce is different, and any advice they give might not be appropriate for your situation.

To that end, here are some common pieces of bad advice related to divorce:

  • Wait at least a year before dating again: This isn’t true for everyone, and some people may be able to recover and get back on the dating scene more quickly than others. You shouldn’t put any limitations or timeframes on when you can start dating again. Instead, focus on getting yourself into the right emotional or mental state to move forward successfully.
  • Never let your ex-spouse in the home: This is simply childish and could also affect your kids in a negative way. You need to at least attempt to remain cordial with your former spouse so you do not influence the relationship your children have with that person.
  • Never get married again: This is, again, poor advice that does not take into account the fact that everyone is different. Although some people may wish to avoid marrying again, others may find a great partner who makes them truly happy.
  • Just move on and don’t feel sorry for yourself: It is completely natural to spend time in grief. Anyone who tells you to stop feeling sorry for yourself either has never been in your situation or simply does not respect you and your emotions. You have the right to take some time to figure out your feelings.

Free Consultation with a Family Lawyer

If you have a question about child support or family law, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Right of Repossession

Right of Repossession

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “repossession man” or “repo guy” — a shadowy figure who creeps up to your house in the middle of the night to take your back your shiny new sports car because you’ve defaulted on your car loan. Sounds like something out of a bad network television show, but in reality, creditors do have rights of repossession in certain circumstances and they can send a person out to take possession of any items a consumer or business doesn’t pay for as agreed upon in the contract.

Here you will learn about the basics of creditor’s rights of repossession in secured debts including what repossession is, what property may subject to repossession, and much more.

Definition of Repossession

So what exactly is repossession and how does it happen? Repossession is a process wherein a creditor takes possession of specific property after the debtor defaults on a contract. As in the example above, a person buys a car and then doesn’t pay for it as they agreed to in the contract. The right of repossession is created by contract and can exist in many different types of transactions.

Note, creditors are allowed to repossess property in many circumstances because they are “secured creditors,” meaning the lenders have an ownership interest in the borrower’s property. These are typically car loans or home mortgages.

How Repossession Works

A creditor can start the repossession process almost immediately if the account goes into delinquency. At that point, a creditor contracts with a third-party service, the repossession person or business, to capture the property and sell it to satisfy the unpaid balance plus the costs of the sale and attorney’s fees.

The most notable part to this process is that the creditor does not need a court order to begin repossessing property. How can the creditor do this? Usually this is spelled out in the terms of the contract signed between the business and the buyer. Each state has different business laws specifying how much, if any, notice has to be given to the consumer, so it is always good to check the laws in your state first. The same is true for leased vehicles or business equipment – miss a payment and the property can be seized right away without a court order.

Breach of the Peace

While creditors have broad rights of repossession, they can’t use the repo man to “breach the peace” or break the law to retrieve on secured debts. Breach of the peace can mean a variety of things, so it is important to look to state laws to understand the meaning. But generally it means the repossessor can’t come onto your private property to take the property such as an enclosed garage, or into a fenced or locked area, without permission from the legal owner of the building or locked area.

However, that doesn’t mean you can hide the property away in a location that would make it impossible for the repossesor to enter. In fact, in many states hiding or concealing the vehicle to deprieve it from the legal owner can be a crime. The repossesor can, however, take items, such a car or motorcycle, if it is located in an unsecured driveway, street, parking lot, and other publicly accessible areas at any time of day or night.

Are Cars the Only Property Subject to Repossession?

No, in fact there are number of different types of items that can be repossessed by a creditor to satisfy the secured debt including:

  • Real estate (see home foreclosure below);
  • Jewelry;
  • Rent-to-own furniture or electronics;
  • Artwork; or
  • Any other tangible asset that can be sold.

Another form of repossession happens when a person defaults on a home loan. If a consumer can’t make their mortgage payments, the lender can repossess the home through a process known as foreclosure. When that happens, the lender will sell the property to recover as much of the outstanding loan balance as possible because the house is collateral for your debt.

What if a Person or Business Doesn’t Pay a Credit Card Bill?

Most credit card debt is known as an “unsecured debt,” meaning the creditor has no ownership interests in the property. If a person or business doesn’t pay their credit card bill after collection attempts have been made, the creditor will have to go to court to secure a judgment, meaning the repo man can’t just waltz up to your doorstep and take the goods.

Right of Repossession: Related Resources

  • Creditors Rights and Collection Options
  • Debt Collection
  • Do I Need a Collections Attorney?

Free Consultation with a Utah Business Lawyer

If you are here, you probably have a repossession issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you with repossession matters.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Children Who Smoke and Drink are Linked to Parents’ Divorce

Children Who Smoke and Drink are Linked to Parents’ Divorce

Researchers in a variety of studies have linked parents’ neglect, absence or divorce to bad behavior in their children, including smoking and drinking. Children who have lost a mother or father early in life (defined as before the age of seven) are far more likely to drink and smoke before or during their teen years, whether that loss was due to divorce, death or separation.

One study found that preteens who had lost a parent in some way were more than twice as likely to drink and smoke compared to children who had not had this experience. Many experts say that these behaviors are a coping mechanism and, in some cases, a form of self-medication.

The study involved an analysis of data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, which tracked health information for children born between 2000 and 2002. Researchers collected information on the involvement of the father in each child’s care and development. A survey of children at age 11 asked whether they had smoked or drank before. Those who drank also were asked if they had ever felt drunk. Of the 11,000 children who responded, about 25 percent had lost a parent in some way before age seven.

Preteens who experienced the absence of a parent before age seven were more than twice as likely to begin smoking and approximately 46 percent more likely to begin drinking.

Parents should pay close attention to kids’ behavior

This is not to say that all children whose parents divorce early in lives will start abusing substances in their teenage years. What it does indicate is that parents must make a big effort to stay involved in their kids’ lives, especially if they have experienced a major life change at an early age.

Do You Have to Answer Every Question at a Divorce Deposition?

At a divorce deposition, the other party’s attorney will be given the chance to ask you questions on a wide variety of subjects related to your divorce. These topics could include your overall health, your employment history, and your fidelity during the marriage, any debts or assets you own and anything else that could factor into the divorce. Your spouse is not allowed to interrupt you or to attempt to correct anything you say during this meeting.

Any answers you provide be truthful and entirely accurate.

Prepare for all types of questions

In most cases, you will have to answer any question asked of you — unless your attorney advises you not to do so. To that end, you should be prepared for some potentially uncomfortable subjects.

Before your deposition, spend some time with your lawyer preparing for how you will handle these difficult questions, and exactly they types of questions you can expect. An experienced attorney will prevent you from answering any inappropriate questions that could hurt your case. If you have any doubts about whether you should or should not respond, turn to your legal counsel.

Keep in mind that a court reporter will keep a record of your deposition. The transcript of your deposition contains all questions and answers, along with any objections your attorney makes. You should practice answering questions with your lawyer before the deposition.

Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Taking Legal Action for Non-Payment of Invoices

Taking Legal Action for Non-Payment of Invoices

If you run a business, whether a major corporation or a sole proprietorship, one of the biggest headaches is not getting paid on time. Accounts receivable are the lifeblood of any operation and when that spigot turns off or even slows down, it can have a devastating impact.

Understanding your rights to take legal action for non-payment of invoices is an important part of ensuring the viability of your business. Below is a helpful primer on how the legal process can help you recover your losses.

Determine Your Damages and the Likelihood of Recovery

Before you initiate the legal process to collect a debt, you need to make an important business decision — is it worth the cost of litigation to pursue? As you weigh this decision, you’ll need to know what your damages are and whether the customer can pay up.

When determining damages, you’ll want to calculate all of the unpaid invoices and, if the customer was renting or buying goods or equipment, whether they were damaged in any way. If so, you can factor in repair costs and possibly other damages due to lost income from future rentals (this is more likely if you already have future rental agreements in place).

The next step is to examine the customer’s financial health by analyzing factors like:

  • Fixed assets (vehicles, equipment, machinery, etc.);
  • Cash on hand;
  • Liquid inventory;
  • Real property;
  • Corporate bonds/stock;
  • Notes receivables; and
  • Debts/liabilities.

If you’re dealing with a customer that doesn’t appear to likely to pay you back or is on the brink of bankruptcy, instead of litigation, you may want to consider selling the debt to a debt collection agency and moving on.

Make Your Formal Demand

If you decide to take legal action for non-payment of invoices, you initiate the process with a formal demand letter to the defendant, whether it be an individual or a business, or both. If the defendant is a business, but an individual signed a personal guaranty, you can make the demand on both.

In your demand letter, among other things, you’ll want to:

  • Identify how the customer is in default;
  • Identify how much is owed;
  • Demand payment of all past due amounts by a certain date; and
  • Advise of possible legal action.

File a Lawsuit and Seek Pre-Judgment Relief

The next step is to file and serve a complaint in a court with the proper jurisdiction. Typically this will be in the county where the transactions took place or where the defendant resides/operates.

After you file a complaint, there are ways to seek relief early on in the process. For example, you could apply for a writ of attachment or writ of possession to either place a lien on some of the defendant’s assets or to take possession of them (if they were collateral for your agreement). This can protect your ability to collect on a judgment while also pressuring the defendant to settle the case.

Finally, during the pre-trial phase of a case, you can utilize the discovery process to not only obtain evidence supporting your claims, but also to identify and locate a defendant’s assets which can help you enforce a judgment down the road.

Obtaining and Enforcing Judgments

You can typically obtain three types of judgments:

  1. Default judgment (where the defendant fails to answer the complaint or appear in the case);
  2. Summary judgment (obtained on a motion); or
  3. Judgment after trial.

Once a judgment is obtained, you can immediately start the process of enforcing it. Each state provides different types of judgment enforcement mechanisms, such as:

  • Judgment liens;
  • Abstracts of judgment (which can be used to place liens on real property); or
  • Writs of execution (which can be used to direct a sheriff to seize equipment or garnish cash assets held by the defendant).

Keep in mind that in many jurisdictions, your judgment may also include interest, attorney’s fees and court costs, all of which can be part of your judgment enforcement efforts.

Free Consultation with a Business Lawyer

If you are here, you probably have a business law issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free business law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Violations of Child Custody and Visitation

Violations of Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody and visitation orders are legally binding arrangements that all parties must adhere to now and in the years to come. However, in some circumstances, a parent or relative may break the agreement by illegally visiting or keeping a child for an unpermitted amount of time. If this situation occurs, it is helpful to know how to handle it.

What to do if court orders are violated

If a child custody or visitation court order is broken, you may not be able to resolve the issue on your own. In fact, it is not recommended that you try to navigate these difficult situations alone. When you need assistance in returning your child back to his or her proper home, call the police. Officers will take appropriate actions to handle your issue, and make a record of the incident that took place. It is always in yours and your child’s best interest to report violations of custody and visitation orders.

Once the child has been returned to his or her legal guardian, it is important to notify your lawyer about the violation. Your lawyer will be able to discuss your legal options, as well as inform the other parent about possible consequences of their actions. If the non-custodial parent consistently violates court orders, you may need to file a motion for contempt of court.

While handling violations of child custody and visitation orders, remember to not bad-mouth your child’s parent in front of them. Though this may take effort after a violation of orders, talking negatively about a parent to a child will not be helpful if your situation goes to court.

Results of court order violations

If a parent disobeys a child custody or visitation court order, the custodial parent may choose to petition the court for enforcement of its terms. If a parent repeatedly violates court orders, they may be found to be in contempt of court. This may result in a total loss of custody or visitation rights or even jail time.

Why Courts Order Supervised Visitation

Under Utah law, courts decide custody and visitation matters in “the best interests of the child.” Generally, there is a presumption that frequent, meaningful contact with both parents is in the child’s best interest, so even if one party to a divorce can’t share custody, that parent gets regular visitation or parenting time. Visitation usually has few restrictions, detailed in the court-approved parenting plan, pertaining to times for pickups and drop-offs.  However, the court will deny visitation or order supervised visitation if the child’s physical or emotional well-being might be endangered.

In making that determination, the court considers evidence of:

  • Violence or threats of violence against the child
  • Emotional harm
  • The child’s request to limit or deny visits
  • A noncustodial parent’s mental illness or substance abuse
  • The emotional damage caused by visiting a parent in jail
  • A parent’s threats to abduct the child

Most supervised visitation orders are temporary. If the supervisor reports that there is no reason to fear for the child’s safety, the judge usually calls an end to supervision.

Free Consultation with Child Support Lawyer

If you have a question about child support or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will aggressively fight for you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Is it Legal to Copy Content from a Website?

Is it Legal to Copy Content from a Website

News stories, photos, and other online content often show up in multiple places, and sometimes it’s difficult to determine where the content originated. At first glance, it may seem as if it’s perfectly legal to copy content from a website. But is it? The short answer to this question is “no,” unless you’ve obtained the author’s permission.

In fact, virtually all digital content enjoys the same copyright protections as non-digital, “offline” content. Copying material from a website and posting it on another website or publishing it in a newsletter, for example, may violate the copyright of the person who developed the website. This article summarizes the legal protections of digital content found on the Internet.

Copyright Law

Anything that enjoys copyright protection, whether it’s rendered in ink or pixels, may not be copied or published elsewhere without the express (typically written) permission of the author. The information need not have a copyright notice or symbol associated with it to be copyrighted, since copyright protection arises as soon as an author creates an original work and fixes it in a tangible medium. The contents of a website are no different than the contents of a book or magazine in terms of copyright protection, even though web content is often seen as more “disposable” than works existing in a physical medium.

Also, any non-digital content that is protected by copyright law is automatically protected in its digital form as well. For example, a copyrighted novel published as a paperback will receive the same protection when it’s published as an e-book. In addition to online content, databases (both electronic and paper files) also enjoy copyright protection as long as they show a certain degree of creativity by the author, such as in its organization or selection.

The Legal Theory of Fair Use

Copyright law allows “fair use” of small parts of copyrighted works without the permission of the author. If the reproduction is for the purpose of criticism, news reporting, teaching, or research it is more likely to be fair use than if it is copied for commercial purposes. It is difficult to make this determination in advance, however, since they typically depend on a number of case-specific criteria. An example of fair use would be a book reviewer quoting a few lines from a book in an online book review.

The U.S. Copyright Office maintains a Fair Use Index to help attorneys and non-attorneys get a better understanding of how the courts have ruled on fair use claims.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA

A federal law passed in 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), makes it clear that materials published on the Internet are protected by U.S. copyright laws. The law makes some exceptions that are specific to Internet law. Internet service providers can escape liability for infringing the copyright of materials that merely pass through their computers, for example in email messages. If an Internet service provider removes infringing material promptly upon request, it also can escape liability.

Free Consultation with a Copyright Lawyer

If you are here, you probably have a copyright or trademark issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free intellectual property law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506