How to Understand Family Law ?

If you do not want to talk to your spouse that is understandable. Some divorce cases can be very acrimonious. If you do not want to experience any any contact with that other person, then you should just hire a divorce attorney.

They could act as a go-between for you and your spouse. This would mean that you can minimise the contact that you have with the spouse that you are divorcing..


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Nonprofits are a backbone of the modern American economy. They provide help to millions of Americans and serve as a safety net in addition to government programs. Many of them have a ubiquitous presence after national disasters and throughout the holiday season. There are also misconceptions about their size and their relationship to money. In fact, nonprofits are more similar to for-profit corporations than many people realize. A particularly thorny similarity is bankruptcy. Nonprofit bankruptcy is a real possibility and one that all nonprofit owners should be familiar with.

Nonprofit Finances

There is a certain stereotype attached to nonprofits that mirrors that of charities and religious institutions. These institutions are seen as labors of love staffed by volunteers and running off of handouts and donations. Money does not seem to be a concern for these individuals and the idea of making money and paying bills is rarely attached to their image in the minds of most people.

Many nonprofits could not survive without volunteer labor and donations. However, that does not mean nonprofits have no sort of financial incentive for their operations. Indeed, many common nonprofits have stores that sell goods and services and employees that are paid wages. At that level, a nonprofit is subject to all of the same pressures and rules associated with for-profit companies.

Nonprofits and Bankruptcy

To that end, a non-profit can definitely file for bankruptcy. Many financially-oriented nonprofits are similar in many ways to for-profit companies. They both bring in revenue and have a list of expenses. For-profit corporations often bring in large amounts of debt in order to fuel expansions and meet bills in lean times. Nonprofit corporations do not take on as much debt because their budgets are lean and their business model is focused on spending as much money as it has instead of making as much money as possible. But nonprofits have financial pressures that lead them to take on debt.

For instance, a nonprofit may have a large piece of real estate that they have to make monthly rent payments to and a large workforce that they have to pay wages for. The individuals in that workforce may make considerably less than their counterparts in the for-profit sector. However, they still need to get paid on a regular basis. A nonprofit’s business model may be split between a store that they run, staffed by former inmates, and a yearly telethon. The nonprofit may make business decisions based off of strong sales at the store and a strong showing for the telethon.

But stores can have variable sales that rise and fall due to weather, changing traffic patterns, or shifting consumer tastes. At the same time, the yearly telethon is no guarantee. The telethon may not be carried on as many television stations as the nonprofit had hoped. A particularly generous donor may not have the funds to contribute this year. The nonprofit, as a result, has to take on debt.

Therefore, the cause for bankruptcy applies to both types of companies equally. Both forms of corporations risk bankruptcy when they do not have the income to pay off their debts, and do not have a reasonable plan to pay those debts that satisfies the needs of their creditors. While this issue is rare for nonprofits, it definitely occurs.

The Bankruptcy Process

The different forms of bankruptcy apply in the case of a nonprofit. There is the possibility of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a nonprofit sells some of its assets and restructures its debts to the satisfaction of its creditors. Chapter 11 bankruptcy has a complex structure that grants a certain amount of protection to the corporation involved. There is a period of time where companies are protected from their creditors and not forced to meet payments.

Then, the bankruptcy court restructures debts and pays off certain creditors first. Resulting assets are then protected and a plan is devised to pay off creditors to the best of the ability of the company in question. With nonprofits, there is a considerable chance that the company will be able to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Nonprofits often attract charitable contributions and companies or financial institutions that believe in their purpose. These groups want the institution to continue its work. As a result, they will often settle on more favorable terms than they might settle for in a proceeding with a for-profit company.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, on the other hand, is a total liquidation. The company sells all of its assets and a court decides what creditors get paid with the remaining funds. There is a similar process of priority. Certain debts such as wages and contracts are paid off first. Then, individuals with secured loans, debts, and bonds are paid off next. The entity liquidates and does not legally exist afterwards.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is extremely rare for a nonprofit. In cases where the failure of a nonprofit is clear and imminent, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the best approach. In all other cases, the new settlement that results from Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be helpful and allow a nonprofit to survive.

A nonprofit that is considering bankruptcy must look at its finances and its potential future as an entity. There is the possibility that bankruptcy might allow a nonprofit to restructure its debts and become more financially viable over time. However, this is a double-edged sword for any nonprofit. Nonprofits thrive on their reputation and their brand. The public needs to be able to trust that their money will be spent responsibly and on the task that the nonprofit is committed to.

Conclusion

Nonprofits need to be treated with the same level of care and attention as for-profit corporations. Their accounting and finances need to be handled by experienced professionals. While nonprofit work is a labor of love in many ways, bankruptcy can harm a nonprofit’s mission and lead to its untimely end. Becoming more familiar with bankruptcy can help nonprofit owners realize the financial implications of their organization and make better decisions with its money.

Whether you are a volunteer or you work for a nonprofit, you have rights. Employment laws are in place to protect you, to protect your employer, and to protect the workforce. If you feel that your rights are (or have been) violated at work, you can speak to an attorney regarding your options. The problem with employment laws is many people who work for a company are too nervous to speak up when their rights are violated. They’re worried they could lose their job, their boss might make their work life miserable, or they’ll put themselves in a situation where every little thing they do is scrutinized.

It’s not uncommon, but it’s illegal. Let’s say you are working for a nonprofit organization. Your workday consists of an 8-hour shift. You are almost done at work when your boss asks you to stay later. Things aren’t going well or someone called in or the boss just wants everyone to stay since he has to stay. Whatever the reasons, you cannot be there for more than 8 hours today. You have an appointment or no childcare for your little ones. You are only scheduled to work 8 hours, and you inform your boss it simply isn’t possible for you to stay longer. With that polite refusal, your boss informs you that you stay late or you lose your job. What do you do?

Employment Laws and Overtime Work

Here’s the situation regarding overtime and your job. You can be fired if you don’t work the overtime your boss asks you to work. It’s not always fair, kind, or even something you want to do, but you can lose your job if you don’t work the hours your boss asks you to work. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that you are entitled to overtime pay, however. There is no limit to how many hours your boss can work you every week, but there are laws that mandate you are paid overtime for your additional time at work. The law is complex, but here’s all you need to know about it.

– Your boss can require you to work overtime and fire you if you refuse.
– Your boss does have to pay you overtime, but only if you are a non-salary employee.
– Your boss only has to pay you overtime if you work more than 40 hours per week (in most states).

If you are a salaried employee, it means you are not entitled to overtime pay. You don’t get paid more for working 60 hours per week, but you typically don’t get paid less if you work fewer than 40 hours per week. Most employers use something called the honor system. You are salaried, and you work much longer than 40 hours a week so you’re not required to use your personal time if you want to leave early one day or take time off for an appointment. You honor your schedule, and they honor your schedule in return.

If you are a non-salaried employee, your boss is required to pay you overtime if you work more than 40 hours per week no matter what. The caveat here is that they are not required to pay you overtime if you work an 18-hour day one day but work less than 40 hours the entire week. There are a few states that require all employers to pay their employees overtime if they work more than 8 hours in one day even if they work fewer than 40 hours per week, but that’s not a law in most states.

It’s important to note that this really depends on where you live. The FLSA laws in every state are different, and your state might not make it possible for your employer to fire you if you refuse to work overtime. There are also a few other things to consider when your boss threatens to fire you for refusing overtime.

Things to Consider

While it’s possible for your boss to fire you for refusing to work overtime, you may have some rights. For example, if you’ve already worked 30 hours of overtime that week and refuse to work another 8, you probably have some ground to stand on if you are fired. That’s excessive, and most people can agree that you aren’t refusing because you are lazy or not taking your job seriously.

Another factor to consider is the reason behind your refusal. Do you have kids and your spouse is out of town? If you don’t have someone to pick up and care for your small children on the day you’re asked to work overtime, you might have some rights. If you are officially off the clock and on your way to an appointment or you are now on vacation for a week, you might have more rights.

Every situation is different, and many of those situations can work to your advantage if your employer fires you for refusing to work overtime. Your employer might not want to have the bad publicity that comes along with firing someone. Especially someone who didn’t work overtime because she’s a single mother whose only other options were to abandon her kids at daycare past closing or leave to pick up her kids because the facility is closing and she has no childcare.

If you do work overtime, your employer must pay you the overtime hours you worked, provided you are not a salaried employee. If you are being threatened with losing your job at a nonprofit because you refuse to work overtime, you might be fired. You also might have some rights.

Call an Attorney

The best course of action is to call an attorney. Your attorney can go over the employment laws in your state as well as your employment contract to see if your employer violated any laws. If your employer is guilty of violating employment laws or you had a valid reason to refuse overtime, you might be able to file a lawsuit against the company.

Without knowing the specifics and your personal story, it’s difficult to tell you what you can do at this point. The best advice is to call an employment law attorney in your area to ask questions, find out if you have a case, and to see what actions you must take next. You could have rights, but you could also find yourself at a dead end. It’s worth trying to figure out what you should do, though. Call an attorney for help if you lose your job.

As a means of protecting volunteers from getting sued due to their activities, many states have implemented charitable immunity laws. These laws, on occasion, do offer valuable protection for ministry volunteer workers; however, the scope of these protections is not as broad as you may think.

What Is the Charitable Immunity Doctrine?

Charitable immunity is the legal doctrine that posits that a charitable organization should not be held under the law of tort.

Tort Law

A tort is an impermissible act taken by one individual against the other that ends up injuring the latter. Legally, tort is defined as a civil or private injury or wrong which results from the breaching of a legal duty. The legal duty normally stems from the expectation of society in matters regarding personal conduct. Thus, systems of tort law have been incorporated into what is termed as  “common law.” Common law is a set of laws that have been developed over the years by courts as they judge cases that are presented to them. For this reason, common law varies regionally.

In years past, a lot of courts gave charitable immunity to certain philanthropic and religious institutions. Today, very little of that immunity is left – with religious institutions no longer being immune to the law of tort in the modern world.

Why Charitable Immunity Laws Offer Only Limited Protection Today

  1. The Charitable Immunity clause does not apply to a ministry organization. Charitable immunity laws are only applicable to an individual but not the entire institution. As such, even if a religious minister is able to avoid legal consequences, the church may still be sued.
  2. The laws significantly differ from state to state. There are some states that offer significant protection to their volunteer and ministry workers. However, most states provide little to no charitable immunity protection.
  3. It only protects those on the board of a charitable organization. Charitable immunity laws are meant to protect actual volunteers from being sued, however, some state laws narrow this down to only board members of a charitable institution. Thus, a volunteer or ministry worker can still face a lawsuit if their work causes injury to someone.
  4. These laws typically prevent only specific individuals from suing. Charitable immunity laws, in most states, are fairly precise about who cannot sue volunteers or ministry staff. Thus, persons deemed as beneficiaries of the organization’s work cannot file a lawsuit; but anyone who doesn’t benefit from the institution’s efforts can still sue. For instance, if an individual gets injured while receiving free goods from a charitable organization, they may be prevented from suing the volunteer workers handling the process. Conversely, persons that got injured during the event and were not partaking any of the institution’s goods have the right to sue.
  5. The laws only apply to certain torts. If the charity worker engages in intentional criminal acts, the charitable immunity laws will not protect them. Also, they won’t be applicable in acts of gross negligence or willful misconduct. Charitable immunity laws will only apply to situations where the volunteer worker unwillingly caused harm or injury.
  6. The charitable immunity laws are not applicable to all kinds of court awards. Often, these laws will protect the church or charitable foundation from compensatory damage awards; however, they will not protect the ministry from a non-compensatory penalty or fine that the court may impose.
  7. Legal defense expenses are still incurred. Even though charitable immunity law may exempt a ministry or charity worker from legal liability, it is still up to the volunteer to seek removal from the lawsuit. For the charity worker to achieve this they will need an attorney to guide them through the process, and this costs money.

The Decline of Charitable Immunity

Charitable immunity originally started in England in 1846 and was taken up in the U.S in 1876. The theory posited was that the money held by the charities was for distribution to others. Thus, if a tort plaintiff claimed damages against the church or charity, it would jeopardize the operations of the organization.

Religious and charitable organizations enjoyed immunity from tort liability in most courts in the United States until 1942 when District of Columbia abolished the law.

Consequently, several states now follow that ruling or have minimized its effectiveness. Changes in society are what contributed to the change in charitable immunity laws. The mid-20th Century saw the rise of charity to “big business.” Thus, the piece of mind that the charitable immunity laws gave to workers and volunteers could no longer be sustained.

Nonetheless, some states still observe a certain level of charitable immunity. Those jurisdictions that still acknowledge a degree of charitable immunity often preserve the immunity for religious organizations. However, charitable hospitals no longer enjoy that privilege.

The Federal Volunteer Protection Act

Enacted in 1997, the Volunteer Protection Act was intended to offer charity workers in all states some protection from litigation. While the volunteer protection act is quite helpful, it still contains many of the limitations in the present charitable immunity laws. And surprisingly, the act dilutes the potency of the charitable laws even further. There is nothing in the volunteer act that will prevent the charitable institution from filing a suit against a volunteer whose actions had negative monetary repercussions for the organization.

Because of the remnants of charitable immunity laws in some jurisdictions, any tort claim against the ministry or charity foundation needs to be examined to see whether there is a charitable immunity clause within that state.

Additionally, the extent to which the charitable immunity law can protect your religious ministry or charitable organization tends to vary from state to state. Thus, it is imperative you also consider the Volunteer Protection Act when you are assessing protection options for your volunteers. If you are uncertain of volunteer protection laws in your jurisdiction, consult a local attorney to guide you through the applicable charitable immunity laws.

The purpose of volunteer protections acts and laws similar to them in scope is to provide those individuals who serve as volunteers for different organizations a certain amount of protection in certain circumstances. Since volunteers are not paid professionals, these types of laws ensure that their civil rights are protected in the case that their actions might prove unfavorable.

The Federal Volunteer Protection Act was put into practice in June 1997 by former President Bill Clinton. The Act was passed as a means to promote volunteerism throughout the country; after all, people should be more willing to volunteer if they have some guarantee that their rights will be protected.

The letter of the Volunteer Protection Act states: “no volunteer of a nonprofit organization or governmental entity shall be liable for the harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on behalf of the organization or entity if–

(1) the volunteer was acting within the scope of the volunteer’s responsibilities in the nonprofit organization or government entity…,

(2)…the volunteer was properly licensed, certified, or authorized by the appropriate authorities for the activities or practice in the State in which the harm occurred…,

(3) the harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer, and

(4) the harm was not caused by the volunteer operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle for which the State requires the operator of the vehicle [to hold a proper license]…”

Each provision of the Act is set in place to protect the rights and liberties of a volunteer in the case of accidental harm. Following is a closer look at these four particular provisions.

Provision 1

In the structure of a nonprofit organization or government institution that enlists volunteers to complete certain jobs, these entities entrust the running of these jobs to their unpaid workers. That being said, they still expect the proper returns and work ethic to be applied to the job. For the most part, volunteers are willing to perform to a degree of these expectations, which is why they volunteered in the first place.

However, accidents and mistakes do happen, and in the case that a volunteer is the one who causes these and has possibly committed harm to someone or something, they cannot be held liable so long as they were doing their job. If a volunteer was working outside of his or her assigned capacity, the story changes.

Provision 2

This provision is straightforward enough, and states that if a volunteer was properly licensed by the State in which he or she is working when the accident or harm occurred, then they cannot be held liable. In medical, legal, and defense organizations that employ volunteers, certain licenses or credentials are often required to prove the volunteer is trained to do a certain job.

For example, if a volunteer doctor went and offered his services in an area that has been hit by recent disaster and performs a surgery on an individual, that doctor could be held liable if he or she does not have the proper licensing or certification. If he or she does, then there’s no issue. It’s as simple as that.

Provision 3

Again, accidents happen, and harm caused by an individual does not always mean that it was intentional. So long as there is no evidence that the volunteer in question was acting with criminal intent, recklessly, or negligently in their assigned position which directly led to harm – then the volunteer cannot be held liable.

In the legal world, provisions like this unfortunately have to exist so that individuals, businesses, and other organizations do not take advantage of a situation and erroneously “point the finger” at someone they have publicly labelled as a criminal. This provision exists to provide an extra layer of protection for volunteers on the basis of motive, or lack thereof.

Provision 4

Similar to Provision 2, this provision simply means that so long as the volunteer did not cause harm while operating a vehicle of some kind without a State-issued license, then the volunteer cannot be held liable. A provision like this is why it is so important for volunteers to take care when working for another entity, as there may be times when they are asked to do something that goes against their training, certification, or otherwise. To protect yourself as a volunteer, only do what you are licensed and hired to do.

Possible Weak Points of the Act

While the Volunteer Protection Act served to propel the success of nonprofit organizations across the country, it is not without its pitfalls. For example, this Act does not protect volunteers who may, in some way, infringe on federal laws even though by state standards they are protected (or vice versa). The fact of the matter is that the Volunteer Protection Act was meant as a safety net, not an outright guarantee of immunity.

This Act makes it more difficult for organizations to unjustly hold a volunteer liable, but a good lawyer can often find the perfect loophole that will make any protection benefits offered by the Volunteer Protection Act null and void. The conflict between State and Federal law is not a new one, and creates an even more complex environment through which to traverse if you are being held liable under any circumstance.

One other weakness of the Volunteer Protection Act is the fact that it does not protect volunteers from a suit or other forms of litigation that the organization they work for might demand. And in the case that the harm affected someone outside of the organization, the organization itself is not protected at all under this Act.

Final Thoughts

The Volunteer Protection Act was a good, strong step in the right direction in terms of offering some form of legal shield to volunteer workers. However, it is not a fool-proof law, and volunteers must still be careful when it comes to activities that could result in bodily harm or physical damage or in the violation of state or federal laws in any way. You have a safety net; but it is best not to poke any more holes in it.