5 Things to Know About Common Law Marriage

Formal marriages, complete with marriage licenses and the signatures of legal officiants/witnesses, are the most recognized forms of relationships today. However, there are also informal relationships — such as a common law marriage — that our modern society recognizes in nine states and the District of Columbia.

A common law marriage is a union between two individuals who live together and present themselves to others as a married couple, without having gone through all the legal proceedings for a formal marriage.

Want to know more? This article highlights the ins and outs of common law marriage, how such an arrangement compares with statutory marriage and five elementary things you should know about common law marriage and its circumstances and consequences.

What Is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage, also known as sui iuris marriage, arises if two parties cohabitate without being formally married but, by mutual consent, agree to be husband and wife (or married partners in the case of same-sex couples.) Common law marriage also is referred to as marriage by habit and repute, informal marriage or marriage in fact.

A common law marriage is an agreement between the two involved that they will live with the open assumption of a marital relationship, which implies that both spouses hold themselves to the public as a married couple. The couple in a common law union both recognize it to be a valid marriage, although their marriage has not formally been recorded with a religious or civil registry.

In addition to their mutual consent and an open assumption of the marriage, spouses who wish to prove a common-law marriage must meet additional criteria laid under the legal codes of the state they live in. In most instances, the legal requirements include:

  • Both parties should be at least 18 years old at the time of the marriage
  • The marriage must not be bigamous, so neither of the parties should have been married at the time of their union
  • The marriage is not incestuous, meaning the union cannot be between relatives

However, even when the court finds a marriage to be prohibited, you can still be considered as a “putative spouse” — someone who has lived with a partner under good faith and with the belief they were in a marriage. This happens when a couple forms a common law relationship, but one spouse doesn’t know the other is married, technically, to someone else.

Under the law, a putative spouse has similar rights as a legal spouse regarding the right to property and alimony. Having children together does not make a relationship automatically a common law marriage. The key is whether you regard yourself as a wife or husband.

Understanding common law marriage rights is sometimes confusing. Even the spouses may not know all the ramifications if they decide to terminate the marriage and sort through their individual rights and responsibilities.

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In a legal dispute, so long as friends and family view the couple as married, then it doesn’t matter what each spouse thinks of the living arrangement or relationship. This means that, upon termination of a relationship, one partner may get his friends and family to support the marriage claim, especially if the tactic involves money.

You cannot annul such a marriage without a full-blown divorce proceeding. And, if you die unexpectedly, your partner may inherit your assets, potentially depriving your biological heirs of the rights to money and valuables.

Common Law Marriage vs. Marriage

Statutory (legal) marriage and common law marriages can be quite confusing as they ultimately seem to be describing the same thing. Yet, there are many differences. Here, we will look at what these two types of marriages have in common and how they differ from one another.

What Is Common Law Marriage?

  • Both partners freely consent to being in a matrimonial arrangement
  • Both parties should be of sound mind
  • Neither of the partners should be married currently
  • Neither of the parties should be under a disability that prevents them from entering into a valid marriage
  • Both parties are of legal age to contract a marriage
  • Partners have parental consent to marry if they are not of legal age
  • In both marriages, partners are subject to legal rights after a breakup, such as property sharing

Differences

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A common law marriage arrangement differs from statutory marriage in the following ways:

  • There is no formal ceremony that solemnizes the marriage before witnesses, such as in a church
  • There is no marriage license that the government issues to recognize the marriage
  • No formal certificate is filed with the government
  • Most jurisdictions require that the parties should be living together at the time the marriage is formed
  • Some jurisdictions may require the cohabitation to last a certain period of time, specifically 3 years, for the marriage to be valid
  • Cohabitation alone doesn’t create the marriage, as the partners must intend their relationship to be recognized socially and regarded as legal

5 Things You Should Know

The following are five things you need to know about common law marriages:

1. No Process or Ceremony Needed

To be considered as a couple under the common law marriage arrangement, partners must live together in a marriage-like relationship. (This can include same-sex partners.) There are no legal formalities or requirements that the two people involved in the union have to undergo any process or ceremony in order to formalize the arrangement.

2. Cohabitation Agreements Allowed

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In this type of marriage, you can agree on a pre-nuptial contract, just like they do in formal marriages. Partners in common law marriages can use the "cohabitation agreement" to protect their property rights, settle financial obligations or even determine what a spouse's entitlements would be if the two agree to dissolve the marriage.

However, just like in domestic contracts, this marriage arrangement will not cover matters concerning the access to or custody of children.

3. Defining Parameters

To be in a common law marriage, the spouses must have lived together for at least three years or for a shorter time if they had a child together and a “relationship of some permanence.”

Generally, courts will consider the lifestyle of the couple, for example: shared accommodation, social interaction, personal and sexual habits, financial support of each other and of any children and how the public and society perceive them. Not all these parameters should be present, however, for a legal system to consider the couple to be in the marriage arrangement.

Even though there is a requirement that the partners must have lived together continuously for about three years, temporary break-ups without a settled intention to end the marriage doesn’t interrupt the continuity of the relationship.

4. Spousal Support

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If the marriage ends, one partner may have the right to receive spousal support. Although common law marriages are treated differently under the law regarding the division of property, there is an entitlement for spousal support similar to formal marriages.

This implies that if the common law relationship between the partners ends, one may seek spousal support under certain circumstances, such as one partner being unable to support herself or himself after the termination of the relationship.

5. Right to Property

If the marriage ends, one partner may still be entitled to certain rights in connection to the partner’s property. Common-law partners don’t have similar property rights as spouses in a formal marriage. Upon termination of a common law relationship, property such as furniture and other household items continues to be owned by the individual who bought them.

However, in the right circumstances, partners in a common law relationship may still make claims against each other’s property based on “unjust enrichment.” This is due to the concept that one partner in the relationship should not be allowed to profit at the other’s expense, regarding their respective contributions to the union.

One partner can apply to have the other compensate them for the value of services, property and benefits that the other partner received at the expense of the first partner.

Conclusion

An informal or common law marriage arises if two parties live together without being formally married, but both people mutually consent to presenting themselves as married to the public. A common-law couple is legally recognized as married, even though they have not formally registered their relationship as a religious or civil marriage.

Besides their consent and an open assumption of marriage, both spouses should meet legal requirements. They have to be at least 18 years old at the time of the marriage or have a parent's signature if they are underage. The marriage partners should neither have been married at the time of their union to one another. Additionally, the marriage cannot be between related parties.

For a couple to be considered under the common law marriage arrangement, they must have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for about 3 years. There is a legal provision that allows common-law spouses to enter into a cohabitation agreement, which will help each partner to protect his or her property rights.

For those who have lived together fewer than three years, the relationship is still considered legally as an informal marriage if the spouses have had a child together and the relationship had permanence. Those in an informal marriage have the right to spousal support upon dissolution of the relationship.

Additionally, if the marriage ends, common-law spouses may be entitled to certain rights in connection to their partners' property. Common-law partners don’t have similar property rights as spouses legally married, but under the right circumstances, similar rights may be enforced. 

Where and How to Find a Good Business Lawyer

Many people feel like they do not need a business lawyer, at least until they are in trouble. That is when it is already too late. Every business, whether they’re small or big, needs legal expertise at different stages of work and while dealing with clients. Hiring a business lawyer can help you work efficiently and without any legal hassles while saving you a great deal of money that could go into fighting long legal battles, which is something that can be avoided easily with the right preparation.

A good business lawyer advises you on everything from obtaining business licences and permits to contract agreements or customer complaints. He/she is, in fact, of great benefit to startups or emerging businesses that cannot afford to lose money because of legal implications.

What Is a Business Lawyer?

Business law is also called mercantile law. It refers to the laws that govern dealings between people and business matters. A business lawyer ensures that no laws are violated during these dealings. Wrong decisions, unhappy clients, intellectual property theft, hiring the wrong employees, hurriedly drawn drafts and agreements, or non-compliance with state and federal laws can cause great damage to your businesses. They can spoil your reputation and bring big financial losses. A legal expert can help you prevent or mitigate such problems before they occur.

Why You May Need a Business Lawyer

Formative Aspect

When your business is new, or even if the doors are not even open yet, there are a lot of legal procedures that need to be sorted out before your business can get off the ground. These procedures can seem quite baffling, and any errors may cost you dearly in the future. Startups, especially, do not have a lot of money to spare for such unforeseen or unnecessary circumstances. A business lawyer can guide you every step of the way and ensure that your business has all the legal backing it needs to avoid getting sued by anyone.

Buying a Business

If this situation is where you are starting off, you know that there are many steps involved. A legal expert can help you with the evaluation of the business, make the purchase and acquisition agreements, and ensure the smooth transfer of permits and licenses.

Structural Decisions

As a new businessman, you would like to be in charge of the entire decision-making process. However, it is not easy for one person to understand liabilities, asset values, tax obligations, comply with local rules and regulations, or study the laws that govern employer-employee relationships. A business lawyer has expertise in more than one area and can take some of this burden off your shoulders. This allows you to focus on what you opened the business to do.

Filing Patents

Filing a patent for a new product or service is a complicated and time-consuming process. Hiring a legal expert can expedite the process for you and get it done without any errors on your part.

Preventive Aspect

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It is way more cost effective and prudent to prevent lawsuits or complaints from clients or employees rather than dealing with them after the damage has been done. It is the work of a business lawyer to go through all the regulations that are put in place for smooth business operations and oversee your business decisions to avoid any future complications.

Compliance with State and Federal Laws

Understanding and complying with local business regulations is crucial, and because there are so many, it may be quite difficult for new business owners to research and adhere to all the rules. Whether your business dealings are interstate or outside the borders of the country, you’re purchasing or selling property outside the state, or you’re paying taxes, you need to be careful and ensure that you are not breaking the law in any region. Along with his/her legal expertise, a business lawyer can do the research for you, save you a lot of time, warn you if there are any discrepancies, and save you numerous financial hassles.

Businesses also require expertise and talent from other countries. In such cases, business and immigration laws go hand in hand. Understanding immigration laws allow businesses to hire people overseas as well as have employees visit various branches to contribute to particular projects. A legal expert will know how to best go about this without breaking any federal laws or overstepping any boundaries. Such a professional also ensures the safety of your employees, who trust you as a business owner, in order to keep them away from legal harm.

Drafting of Contracts

Businesses require contracts at every stage of functioning. It is wise to not do any work without a formal contract between the two parties, be it clients, employees, or business associates. Legal experts have a sound knowledge of all that must be included in contract drafts and negotiations. They often have templates that can be used, as well. However, these obviously need to be edited to suit the requirements of one particular business. It is best to leave the nitty-gritty to a business lawyer and focus on areas that need your attention.

Employee Issues

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Whether it is the hiring process, rules of payment, employee compensation, or the process of letting people go, a legal expert can prevent issues with employees by laying down all the required rules and regulations for a smooth hiring and firing process and keep you safe from expensive lawsuits.

In the case of manufacturing and sale of consumer goods, labor laws come into play, as well. Hiring a business lawyer will simplify the regulations for you so that you are able to put into place all the necessary hiring processes, comply with working conditions, distribution requirements and price control, or deal with compensations in case of accidents, whether they are natural or man-made.

Protection of Intellectual Property

For any business to thrive, it is required that their ideas, information about new products and services, marketing campaigns, and advertising campaigns remain confidential. Businesses must have the rights to own and use their ideas and property to profit them. A business lawyer will help your company register and enforce copyrights as well as prevent or deal with intellectual property theft.

How to Find a Good Business Lawyer

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When you are setting up a new business, most of the people you are looking to work with are found through your personal contacts or references. While this is not a bad way to find business associates or potential employees, it is not completely safe. There are a few things to keep in mind that will help you find the right person for your commercial requirements.

Sift Through Personal Contacts

This is what most people do, and there is no harm in it. We prefer finding somebody that you personally know or a lawyer recommended by friends and family rather than calling up a total stranger. This is fine as long as you have them vetted out and check if they are able to deliver exactly the kind of work that you require

Use Online Legal Directories

In many states, the lawyer bar associations maintain an updated list of all the licensed legal practitioners in states, along with their area(s) of expertise. Legal help sites can come to your aid, but they are more generic in nature, and it is better to retain a lawyer you can approach all the time, as well as one who knows about your business, specifically. Additionally, one cannot trust all the reviews posted on these sites.

Know What You Want

You need to find a business lawyer that understands exactly what your business needs and how to go about getting it. It is better to seek out professional help based on an area of expertise, such as intellectual property, share trading, and labor laws. Determine why you need a legal expert and what his/her tasks will be for you. Once you shortlist a few lawyers, ask them the right questions to understand whether they are the right person for your business.

Interact and Enquire


Just reading and knowing the qualifications and area of a business lawyer’s expertise is not enough. It is important to interact with the lawyer you plan to hire. Ask him/her about their work experience, especially in your field of business, and for clients similar to you. Inquire why he/she is working in that domain, specifically, how they would go about working for you, how many people would be involved, how they charge, their mode of communication, possible conflicts of interest with your business, and if they can provide client references.

Conclusion

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All businesses require legal expertise, but there are certain tasks, such as obtaining a business licence, applying for a loan or filing tax returns, that you can handle yourself. As a result, one need not spend money on these moves. However, the objective of hiring a good business lawyer is to save you time and money. Thus, it is necessary to consult with multiple lawyers before you choose the one that is right for you so that your choice works out in your budget, has the right approach, and one is available for you when you need advice. Having a business lawyer makes every task easy for you and ensures peace of mind.

Rental Agreement Signing: 15 Things You Should Know About

Renting a new apartment can be an exciting time. It can also be a stressful one so it is important to make sure that you have done your due diligence when it comes time to sign your rental agreement. The rental agreement is a contract between you and the landlord, the person renting the property to you, and it is meant to cover all the physical items, rights, policies, or expectations that are associated with renting that property.

Since many people do not spend as much time reading this contract as they should, or do not know what to look for, we have reviewed here some major things to pay attention to before signing this important document.

What To Do before Signing Your Rental Agreement

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There are a number of things a future renter should do before signing their rental agreement, not least of which is physically examining the property. This may seem fairly obvious, but examining the property together with the landlord is the first step to handling any problems with the property, possible renovations, areas that are not clear, or specific issues like common areas or outdoor spaces. Physically reviewing the property allows you to request that certain issues like renovations are resolved before you rent the property or, at the very least, that language pertaining to these issues is included in the rental agreement.

The period before signing your rental agreement is also a time to make sure that you are fully prepared to enter into a binding contract and that you are able to fulfill your end of the bargain. Contracts of this nature nearly always include a duration of the lease, 12 months, for example, so you need to make sure that you are ready to commit to a 12-month lease, and that you can afford it. Any doubts you have about the property should be resolved before you sign your rental agreement. This is also a good time to meet the neighbors and establish a positive rapport with your landlord or their representative.

Questions To Ask A Potential Landlord

rental agreement between two persons

A smart thing to do before you sign your rental agreement is to come up with a list of question to ask the landlord or their representative. These questions will vary based on your specific situation and the specifics of the property.

If the landlord mentions in passing that pets are allowed, what kind of pets? He or she may allow dogs, but are we talking about a lapdog or a Great Dane? This is a good chance to ask about any weight or breed specifications in the lease.

You notice that there is a dent in the wall of the apartment. Is the landlord going to fix that before you move in? At the very least, the presence of any defects in the property should be noted before you sign the agreement.

In reality, the questions that might be asked by a prospective renter are too numerous to list. These questions depend on your specific situation. Some common questions that renters commonly ask before they sign a rental agreement include:

  • When is the rent due and what are acceptable forms of payment?
  • In what situations would a security deposit be withheld?
  • Am I allowed to have roommates or to sublet?
  • Am I required to maintain (i.e. clean or mow) common areas or outdoor areas?
  • What happens when my lease is up—is there a chance that my rent will magically increase?
  • What is included in the monthly rent?

This is merely a short list of some important questions that renters should consider asking before they sign their agreement. We all understand that sometimes you’re in a rush to sign an agreement and move in. Maybe the place is great and you don’t want someone else to swoop in and nab it, but you need to protect yourself. Asking the right questions before you sign an agreement is the first step to doing that.

15 Things To Look For Before Signing A Rental Agreement

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Some things you should look for in your rental agreement will be covered in the questions you have asked your future landlord (or should have asked). This is not a case of being redundant, but of making sure that critical aspects of renting a property have actually been stated in the agreement. This is not only to make sure that you and the landlord are on the same page but to protect you should any disagreement arise or if you decide to move.

When you surveyed the property, you should have noted any issues. These are important to keep in mind when going over the agreement. What follows is a list of 15 things you should look for before signing a rental agreement.

Read The Contract In Its Entirety

This may sound like a no-brainer, but many renters make the mistake of assuming that things they discussed with the landlord will be in the agreement, or that they understand the terms of the agreement without actually having read the document. To protect yourself and spare yourself any potential headaches in the future make sure you read the rental agreement in its entirety, and we don’t mean speed read it in two minutes either.

Understanding The Rent

This was mentioned in the questions you should ask the landlord. It is important that you and the landlord are on the same page in terms of how much the rent is, when it is due, and how you are expected to pay it (check, online, cash, etc.). All of this should be clearly stated in the agreement.

What Is Included In The Rent

Some rental properties may include some amenities in the rent, like cable, access to a common area, like a roof deck or a park and the like. Make sure all of that is mentioned in the agreement.

Utilities

Utilities are a biggie. Many of you may have lived in cities where the utilities may cost nearly as much monthly as the rent. Make sure that you understand what is covered by rent and what is not, also whether the utilities are already set up by the landlord or if you are required to get things turned on. Are you paying the water bill or is he or she?

Rental Property Policies

The landlord may have said that your komodo dragon is okay to stay in the apartment, but does it actually say that in the rental agreement? Make sure that any policies of the property are clearly stated in the agreement and match what the landlord may have told you.

Pets

Pets are another big issue. Many renters have them and properties vary in their policy on pets. The agreement should clearly state what breed or species of pet is allowed, whether there are any weight requirements, how much extra a pet deposit or monthly pet fee will be, etc. In reality, if you have a pet or are planning on getting one, you should read this area thoroughly.

Renewal Process

Many leases have a 12-month period of the lease. Although the period may vary depending on the property, it is important that you understand what will happen at the end of that period. Can you renew? Will it renew automatically? Is there a chance that your rent might go up? Also, make sure to ask if your lease will be shortened if you choose to not renew.

Renter's Insurance

Renter's insurance is always a good idea. Is this included in the rent or do you have to pay for it? Renter's insurance doesn't only cover your own belongings. Many times it can help cover the costs that a landlord might pass onto you if you are found responsible for something such as fire damage to the unit.

Security Deposits

Security deposits are important because most people want these back when they move, especially if they took good care of the property. Make sure any policies regarding security deposits are clearly stated in the agreement.

It can be particularly useful to look for reviews of the potential landlord. Some less reputable landlords claim to give back security deposits in the contracts, but never return the deposits in practice. These unscrupulous landlords will claim normal wear and tear as excessive damage to avoid returning the deposit.

Heating And Air Conditioning Units

AC units may not be important if your apartment already has one, or if you are renting an entire property, like a house, but if you live in a high-rise, these may be an issue. Some properties prohibit items jutting outside of windows so make sure you read and understand this part of the agreement.  

Additionally, if you rent an older single-family home, the heating unit could pose problems.  If your new rental has oil heat, and you turn on the heat without knowing that no oil is left, you run the risk of potential damage to the heater. Check to see if you would be on the hook for replacing appliances in situations like these.  You will also want to estimate costs for heating the home in winter prior to signing the lease to be sure that it will fit within your budget.

Roommates

It is common to have roommates. It is even common to sublet properties. Although you may have discussed this with the landlord, make sure any policies in these regards are clearly stated in the agreement before planning for these types of arrangements.

Common Areas And Outdoor Spaces

Some properties may come with common areas, like gardens or pools, or outdoor spaces like yards and terraces. Make sure that any expectations regarding these areas are clear in the agreement. If there is a yard that you will be expected to maintain, find out if a lawnmower and weed whacker will be provided or if you will be expected to buy your own. If you are expected to buy your own lawnmower, is there a shed or storage area that you will be able to store your mower away from the elements?

Renovations

Maybe during your walk-through of the property, you notice that a new paint job is needed, or the landlord promised to bring in a new fridge. Make sure that if the landlord has not already addressed these promises that they are mentioned in the agreement.

Apartments That Are Furnished

Some apartments are furnished. If the one that is, make sure that any furnishings there at the time you rent are clearly listed and described. This will save you any headaches later when (or if) you decide to move. After moving in, it can be helpful to take detailed pictures of any damage present on the furniture for your records.  You don't want to be held financially responsible for items that were damaged prior to you moving in.

Ask Questions

Yes, we talked about this one, but it is important that all issues are perfectly clear before you sign that rental agreement. Make sure anything you have discussed with the landlord is in the rental agreement. This is your last chance!

Conclusion

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Renting a new place does not have to be a hassle. This is an opportunity to turn your life in a positive direction by getting a fresh start somewhere else. You are turning a new leaf, but you want to make sure you’re not turning to the wrong page. Making sure you have asked questions and carefully read the rental agreement will ensure that you are taking a step in the right direction with your new home.  

If the rental agreement seems to not match what the landlord claims and the landlord resists changing the agreement to match their promises, it might be best to pass on the property and find a different option. It can be frustrating to pass on what seems like the perfect apartment, but the last thing you want is to be stuck renting from an untrustworthy landlord for the next year. Do yourself a favor, make sure it's in writing. Walk away if it's not.

Breach Of Contract: Different Types Of Work That You Should Know About

No one wants to be a party to a breach of contract. Small businesses are especially vulnerable when a violation occurs.  Consider the costs and repercussions if someone sues you or even if you are the aggrieved party—all parties usually lose more than they gain when faced with legal disputes. You can only have a breach of contract on a valid contract. While it is optimal to have a lawyer review your contracts, it is not always possible nor is it a requirement by law. The courts have measures to assess whether there is a breach of contract. Not all contract violations invalidate a contract. 

What Is A Breach Of Contract?


A breach of contract is a violation of a legally binding agreement where at least one party fails to perform one or more contractual obligations. If you are considering suing someone, a court will first evaluate your contract to see if it meets the criteria for a breach of contract case.

First, you must prove your contract is legally valid. You must then demonstrate you fulfilled your part of the contract. If you could not perform all of your contractual obligations, you must prove that the breach hindered your performance. Furthermore, you have to show you suffered damages because of the breach.

WHAT CONSTITUTES A CONTRACT?

You do not need a lawyer to construct a legal contract. The contract can be a verbal agreement, something written on a dinner napkin, or it can be a 50-page agreement written in a lawyer’s office. Even if you have a formal agreement drawn up with lawyers present, it still needs to pass the validity test. Your contract is only valid if the following criteria are met:

  • An offer is made
  • The offer is accepted
  • Consideration exists
  • There is a legal intent
  • Both parties are competent
  • The contract is fair to both parties

The party making the offer must clearly communicate the proposition. All parties in the contract must agree on its terms. The offer details should be easy to understand, and both parties must interpret the conditions the same way.

The contract must also have consideration, which means it should be mutually beneficial. For instance, if you want a web design company to create your company website for a fee, then the contract has consideration for both parties.

Another critical element to a valid contract is the legal intent. For instance, if you pay someone to rob a bank and the party takes your money but does not go through with the robbery, you can’t sue the breaching party because robbing a bank is illegal.

The parties signing the agreement must have the mental capacity to understand what they are signing. You can’t enter into an agreement with someone who cannot understand the agreement (including minors). All parties to a contract must be of clear and of sound mind. You cannot enter an agreement while under the influence of any mind-altering agent like drugs or alcohol.

Finally, a contract is not valid if it is not fair. Going back to the website design firm example, assume the design firm owner is a college student who needs money to pay college expenses. You take advantage of his situation and pay him $500 per month for a year to complete and maintain the website. However, the student works 40 hours a week. Your contract is invalid because it is not fair to both parties

Types Of Contract Breaches


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Once you determine you are dealing with a breach of contract, you still have to determine the kind of breach that occurred. There are four contract breaches:

  • Material
  • Fundamental
  • Anticipatory
  • Minor

What Is a Material Breach?

A material breach is the most severe type of contract breach and deems a contract “irreparably broken.”  A contract breach is a material breach if one or more parties in the contract failed to perform their duties as outlined in the contract. Proving a material breach is difficult. The court determines the answer to the following questions before declaring a material breach:

  • Is the aggrieved party deprived of the “heart” of the deal?
  • Would compensation take care of the aggrieved party’s loss?
  • What will the breaching party lose?
  • What are the chances that the breaching party can and will fix things?
  • Was the breach willful or in bad faith?
  • Is the aggrieved party “ready, willing, and able” to perform?
  • Does the contract include a clause to deal with a material breach?

A contract breach would deprive the aggrieved party of the “heart” of the deal if the party did not enjoy the core agreement. For example, you paid the web design company $20,000 for your website. They completed all the site's core functionality and design, but the content contained obvious grammar errors and some broken links. The courts would consider the errors a material breach since you received all the required features. That would not deprive you of your part of the core deal. You still can pursue corrective measures, however, it does not qualify for material breach.

If the breaching party can compensate the aggrieved party for the breach, then the courts would enforce the contract. The court also considers what the breaching party would lose if the contract were void. You paid the web design company $10,000 dollars to start the website. A week before the project is complete, you tell them you are not happy with the product and decide you will not pay the final $10,000. The courts would not consider a contract breach since they completed most of the work.

If possible, the courts will try to uphold the contract, so unless the breaching party does not have the capability of taking corrective actions or acted unethically, you cannot cancel the contract. The last thing the courts will test is the contract itself. If there are provisions in the contract for handling breaches, the courts will enforce the contract.

What Is a Fundamental Breach?

A fundamental breach is one where the breaching party failed to complete a task so essential to the contract it hindered the aggrieved party from fulfilling their part of the agreement. If you are having a website built, but you do not give the contracted party access to your web servers, then they cannot deploy your site.

What Is an Anticipatory Breach?

You hired a web design team to launch your website by December 1st. It takes about three months to complete the site. It is now November 3rd, the team has not worked on the project and you no longer trust the project will make the launch date. You can sue before any violation occurs. An anticipatory breach is a breach that has not yet occurred, but it is clear the offending party will not perform their duties.

What Is a Minor Breach?

A minor breach, also known as a partial breach, is when there are minor contract violations. In the example where the web design company finished most of your website but the content contained errors, it would be a minor contract breach.

What Happens In A Breach Of Contract?


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The journey is not over once you have determined you have a compelling breach of contract case. Not all contract breaches are treated the same. The courts consider an array of remediation tactics. You may get monetary remediation or contract remediation.

Common Remedies for Breach of Contract

The legal remedies depend on factors such as the breach, its severity, and how much work both parties completed. Compensatory damages allow you to recover the money you are owed while punitive damages penalize the breaching party their wrongdoing.

People use incidental and consequential damages interchangeably, however; they have two distinct meanings. Incidental damages are the expenses the non-breaching party incurred while trying to avoid further losses. Consequential damages are expenses that would have been avoided if the breach did not occur.

Liquidated damages are damages the parties outlined in the contract should a breach occur. Contracts usually use liquidated damages when the losses are hard to prove (like intellectual property). Some contracts include a clause that forces the breaching party to pay attorney fees. You cannot recover attorney fees unless the contract permits it.

Other Remedies for Breach of Contract

Along with monetary damages, there are other options available to remedy a breach of contract. The court can force both parties to fulfill their obligations under the original agreement.

It is possible that a judge would rescind the contract. This means the contract is treated as if it never existed and all monies are returned to the rightful party. Contract rescission can occur in the following situations:

  • Both parties agree to it
  • The contract is illegal
  • It is evident that one party has no intention of fulfilling their contractual duties

Contract reformation is a viable option if both parties agree a contract rewrite to match the original intent.

Conclusion


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Legal contract disputes can get complicated. Make sure your agreements are legally binding and try to settle disputes before going to court.  

How To Get A Restraining Order: FAQS, Process And Its Different Types

If you are the victim of abuse in a relationship or have experienced sudden violence or threats outside a relationship, you might feel very isolated and alone. It’s important to tell someone you trust so you build the momentum to help you take action to leave or protect yourself. One very important way you can protect yourself is by making the police and courts aware of your situation and filing for a restraining order. We’re here to help you understand how to get a restraining order.

What Is A Restraining Order?


A court issues a restraining order to prevent one person from contacting or being within a certain distance of another person. This order prevents contact of any kind and often will have distance restrictions included in the text. It is intended as a legal process for eliminating the harassment and intimidation of the abused or threatened person. It’s important for someone in an abusive relationship to know how to get a restraining order, but there are other situations that warrant a protective order.

There Are Four Types Of Restraining Orders

  • Emergency—the police can issue these if you are in immediate danger and can’t get to a courthouse right away (expires after a few days)
  • Temporary—issued by a judge for coverage before a case goes to court (typically last 14 days)
  • No-contact order—if the abuser is convicted of a crime, the court will include this long- or short-term order as part of the punishment
  • Domestic violence restraining order—issued by a judge as part of a hearing and can last up to a few years

Reasons To File A Restraining Order


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While you know restraining orders exist, you may not know if they apply to you or your situation. You must first understand the circumstances that warrant seeking an order to know how to get a restraining order. While we won't list every situation under which a restraining order can be filed, these are the most common. Note: there are always dangerous situations that might warrant this kind of protection outside these listed categories.

Psychological Abuse

Abuse doesn't always have to be physical to be considered dangerous enough to get a restraining order. Those who work with domestic violence victims recognize that psychological abuse is usually the most destructive aspect of domestic violence, and the most difficult abuse to heal from. Psychological abuse can involve:

  • Degrading behavior
  • Threats of violence
  • Unreasonable attempts to control another’s behavior
  • Threats against your children or loved ones
  • Behavior that interferes with daily life
  • Behavior that affects your ability to do your job
  • Destroying property and displaying weapons as intimidation
  • Stalking
  • Threatening to divulge sensitive information about you
  • Threatening to take your children or have them taken away

It’s important to keep a journal of all incidents of psychological abuse along with how each incident affected you. If acts of psychological abuse happen via text, email or social media, print out each occurrence for evidence to present to a judge. Be sure to list the date and time of each interaction and any potential witnesses.

Since this will be considered a legal document, it's important to present the facts of the interaction as objectively as possible. Play-by-play descriptions can be useful. The journal and printed materials are a vital step when you need to focus on how to get a restraining order for psychological abuse.

Physical Violence

The most important thing to do when faced with physical violence is to make a plan and get out. Physical violence ends in tragedy far too often. Many survivors believe the violence will decrease if they can do what it takes to meet the demands of their abuser.  The sad truth is that it usually escalates regardless of what the victim says and does to try to stop the abuser's attacks. No matter how many times a person tells you they’re sorry and that they will change—they rarely do. In many cases, abusers can only make real changes after they seek intensive therapeutic services while staying far from abused loved ones.

Abusers will often make the victim of their abuse feel like they’re overreacting and what they’re experiencing isn’t abuse. This is referred to as gaslighting and recognizing it when it happens is important to recovery. Signs you’re in a physically abusive relationship include when your abuser:

  • Physically hits, punches, pushes, shoves, grabs or kicks you
  • Uses a weapon of any kind to hurt you
  • Blames you for the physical abuse
  • Destroys your things
  • Hurts your pets
  • Hurts your children or other loved ones
  • Threatens to hurt him or herself if you leave

If there is an immediate threat to your well-being, call 911. The police will provide you with a police report. They will also often provide advice on how to get a restraining order and may connect you with domestic violence services in your area.

Please be aware, all of this advice applies regardless of gender. Many people think of abusers as men and the abused as women, but the reality is more complex than that. Law enforcement officials and those working at domestic violence shelters and hotlines are familiar with working with victims of every orientation and gender. There has been a growing awareness of these realities in the United States. No survivor of abuse should ever fear ridicule or disrespect for doing what they need to do to be safe. No matter who you are, you will be respected and helped when you reach out for assistance.

Financial Abuse

This often goes unaddressed because it can appear there isn’t help for those being financially taken advantage of. There is. Studies have shown that financial abuse happens just as often as physical and emotional abuse and 99% of physically abusive relationships also involve this kind of cruelty. Financial abuse can look like:

  • Restriction of the victim’s ability to use and gain money or financial tools
  • The abuser not allowing the victim to work
  • Having to account for every penny spent
  • Abuser using the victim’s credit without permission or repayment
  • Abuser feels entitled to the victim’s money
  • Being told where you can and can’t work
  • Pressuring you to quit your job
  • Harassing you at work

When this kind of abuse occurs, it makes it nearly impossible to create an escape plan because there’s no money to payroll such a plan. In the long-term, it can prevent the victim from getting housing, credit, and a job. It’s hard to get any of these things without a positive credit history, access to money for deposits or a tangible employment history.

This type of abuse also takes place in other familial and caretaker relationships outside of romantic ones. If you or someone you know is elderly and experiencing financial abuse, you can contact your local Agency on Aging or Adult Protective Services for specialized assistance in stopping and preventing the financial abuse.

Trademark Infringement

This is an uncommon situation, but may still be covered by a restraining order. If you’re in the process or trademarking or getting a patent for something you invented, and another party is using or selling that product or logo, you may file for a restraining order. This will prevent the other party from selling and using your invention until the lawsuit is settled.

How To Get A Restraining Order


Your state and local governments may have specific and special steps for how to get a restraining order in your area, but these are good guidelines to follow. Most importantly, don’t wait to file. Most courts require a person to file within 30 days of a violent incident.

Learn The Process

You should visit your county clerk’s office for instructions and forms to file. They will tell you how to get a restraining order in your county. The process may take a few hours of waiting but is fairly easy.

Domestic violence help centers will show you, step by step, how to get a restraining order and give you advice, making it as easy as possible. Some may have lawyers that work or volunteer for them to offer legal advice. They can point you toward a lawyer if they or you think you may need one. This could be costly, but you can seek lawyers who specialize in domestic violence.

Present Evidence

You want to walk into court prepared. Things to keep and bring with you:

  • Printed texts, emails and recorded voicemails—never delete these
  • Printed social media posts
  • Copies of police reports
  • 911 transcripts
  • Signed and dated witness reports
  • Medical reports and dated photos of injuries
  • Dated pictures of damage to property
  • Dated pictures and descriptions of weapons
  • Your journals and written accounts of dates and types of violence

If possible, bring any witnesses with you to court.

Practice

Practice what you want to say when you get to court. Remember to keep your focus on the subject of your restraining order. Don’t talk about why what the abuser is doing is wrong, talk about the abuse. Cheating, drinking, and cursing won’t help your case. Focus on what scares you, how you feel threatened and the facts of the abuse.

A big part of how to get a restraining order is staying as calm as necessary to present all your evidence. The person you’re getting a restraining order against may be in court with you, so preparing will help keep you composed.

Frequently Asked Questions


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How Old Do I Have To Be To Get A Restraining Order?

Most states require you to be at least 14 years old.

How Much Will It Cost?

In most cases, it costs nothing to file with the court.

Does the Order Only Protect Me?

No. You can include children, roommates or other loved ones.

How Long Does An Order Last?

That depends. It can last weeks, years and, sometimes, a lifetime depending on the facts of your case.

What If The Order Is Violated?

Call the police. They will arrest the violator. If it’s a repeat offense, or the offense was severe, they could charge him with a felony.

If I Move Will I Be Protected?

Yes. All states recognize protection orders from other states.

Conclusion


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Knowing how to get a restraining order is the first step to getting out. There’s nothing more important than ensuring your and your children’s physical safety. The law is on your side and a restraining order is one layer of defense against abuse. If they have isolated you, reach out to friends and family for help and community. Each connection will make you feel stronger.

The first sign of violence or abuse is the best time to leave. The longer a relationship lasts, the harder it may be to leave. If you’re wondering how to get a restraining order—you should start now. Starting on a plan to get out and to safety should be your number one priority.

If you are or suspect you are in an abusive relationship, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-HELP (7233). They offer free, anonymous help 24/7. They offer advice in several languages and can help you figure out how to get a restraining order in your particular situation. If you are in immediate danger, always call 911. There is help and you are not alone.