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Everybody's Guide to the Law
Cover of Everybody's Guide to the Law
Everybody's Guide to the Law
All The Legal Information You Need in One Comprehensive Volume
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What are your rights if the car you bought is useless? If your ex-boss refuses to let you take along your Rolodex? Who gets custody of the children after a divorce? Do you worry about laws governing your use of the Internet? What rights are accorded to the elderly, disabled, and other social minorities? How can you successfully sue in small claims court? Or write your own will?

The law pervades every individual's life, yet few know just what their rights are, how to use them, and what to do when they're violated. With expert assistance from Everybody's Guide to the Law, all your legal questions and concerns will be answered in simple everyday language that demystifies the law and arms you with the right information to make the best decisions.

While a host of Web sites and books claim to help you understand the law, this fully revised and updated edition of the essential home legal reference is your one-stop guide. Comprehensive, accurate, and with no hidden gimmicks or programs to sell you (unlike most online "resources"), this superbly readable, indispensable addition to any home library provides up-to-date and easy-to-understand practical legal information most people need to know.

Praised by critics and embraced by the public, Everybody's Guide to the Law remains the standard by which all other home legal guides aspire to, but have never managed to meet.

What are your rights if the car you bought is useless? If your ex-boss refuses to let you take along your Rolodex? Who gets custody of the children after a divorce? Do you worry about laws governing your use of the Internet? What rights are accorded to the elderly, disabled, and other social minorities? How can you successfully sue in small claims court? Or write your own will?

The law pervades every individual's life, yet few know just what their rights are, how to use them, and what to do when they're violated. With expert assistance from Everybody's Guide to the Law, all your legal questions and concerns will be answered in simple everyday language that demystifies the law and arms you with the right information to make the best decisions.

While a host of Web sites and books claim to help you understand the law, this fully revised and updated edition of the essential home legal reference is your one-stop guide. Comprehensive, accurate, and with no hidden gimmicks or programs to sell you (unlike most online "resources"), this superbly readable, indispensable addition to any home library provides up-to-date and easy-to-understand practical legal information most people need to know.

Praised by critics and embraced by the public, Everybody's Guide to the Law remains the standard by which all other home legal guides aspire to, but have never managed to meet.

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  • Chapter One

    Marriage, Divorce, and the Family

    Family law — sometimes called the law of domestic relations — deals with all aspects of your legal rights and obligations as they apply to the family unit. It covers a vast field: marriages, annulments, divorces, separations, domestic violence, premarital agreements, child support and custody, visitation rights, property division and alimony, adoption, name changes, child discipline, establishing paternity, living together, responsibility for damages done by other members of he family, and more. Just by reading his list you begin to see how broad and complex this area really is.

    Family disputes involve strong emotions — emotions that can get in he way of rational thinking and reasonable settlements. When feelings of anger and revenge take over, we lose sight of reality, so it is important to keep our emotions in check as much as possible. If you find your emotions getting out of control, particularly where a divorce or children are concerned, do yourself a favor and see a family counselor or other professional immediately. The advice of a good family law lawyer is also recommended for most domestic problems.

    Getting Married

    Age Limits

    All states have limitations on how old you must be before you can marry. In most states, both the man and the woman must be at least 18 years old to marry without parental consent. The exceptions: in Arkansas, the man must be at least 17, the woman 16; in Georgia, each must be at least 16; in Louisiana the man must be at least 18, the woman at least 16; in Mississippi, the man must be at least 17 and the woman at least 15; and in Nebraska, each must be at least 17. If you are under the prescribed age, you'll need the consent of your parents or court approval to get married. Parental consent is not required if you can prove that you are emancipated; that is, hat you are living apart from your parents and are self-supporting. You may first have to obtain a court order declaring you emancipated, however.

    There is no upper age limitation on marriage. Persons over 90, even 100 years old have entered into legally binding marriages, some to mates their own age, others to mates decades younger. Specific information concerning age and other requirements for a valid marriage, as discussed below, usually can be obtained simply by calling your local county clerk's office.

    Whom You Can't Marry

    You can't marry just anybody. First of all, except in Vermont (see chapter 14), your spouse-to-be must be a member of he opposite sex. Except for Vermont, "marriages" involving persons of the same sex are not legally valid, even if performed by a religious authority.

    You can't marry certain close relatives. All states prohibit marriages between a parent and a child, grandparent and grandchild, great-grandparent and great-grandchild, brother and sister (including half-brothers and half-sisters), uncle and niece, and aunt and nephew. Many states also ban marriages between first cousins, and some bar marriages between a former stepparent and stepchild, a former father-in-law and daughter-in-law, and a former mother-in-law and son-in-law.

    Suppose that first cousins wish to tie the knot, but the state they live in won't let them get married. So they go to a state that allows marriages between first cousins, get married there, and then come back to their home state to live. Will their home state recognize the marriage? Maybe not. Ordinarily, if a marriage is valid in the state in which it is made, all other states must recognize its legality. Some states, however, refuse to recognize a marriage if the couple's only reason for going to the other state was to get around the law.

About the Author-
  • Allen P. Wilkinson, who was once Melvin Belli's legal assistant and collaborator on the earlier edition of this book, today an eminent lawyer in his own right and a respected legal writer and teacher, has fully revised and updated this essential guide to the law that no one can afford to ignore.

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2003
    The first edition of this work was written in 1986 by the late Belli and his then legal assistant, Wilkinson. In this extensively revised new edition, Wilkinson, now an attorney, has kept the original concept of providing explanations of a broad range of legal principles in simple language. New chapters on gay rights, the Internet, immigration policy, the rights of the disabled, and elder law have been added. The original chapters on such topics as contracts, bankruptcy, family law, employment issues, and product liability have been updated to reflect recent changes. As a home legal reference, Everybody's Guide to the Law succeeds because it takes familiar legal problems and explains the laws and rights at issue, as well as the common complications and possible outcomes. The explanations are clear but not overly simplified, and there are appropriate cautions about seeking legal advice and about state-to-state variations in the law. Recommended for most public libraries.-Joan Pedzich, Harris Beach LLP, Rochester, NY

    Copyright 2003 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • USA Today

    Melvin Belli and Allen Wilkinson...put it all in layman’s language.

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Everybody's Guide to the Law
All The Legal Information You Need in One Comprehensive Volume
Allen Wilkinson
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