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Credit Tips

Credit Repair Services 101: Red Flags to Watch Out For, Your Rights, and Choosing a Legit Company

According to the “Credit Repair Organization Act”, it is unlawful for credit repair providers to lie about what they will be able to do for you, and to try to make you pay before they have even performed any services. These are red flags to watch out for when comparing offers from credit repair services. There is the “DIY” approach, but it can take a long time and be complicated depending on how messed up your credit reports are.

The ideal company will request copies of your TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax reports and review all derogatory marks like charge-offs, bankruptcies, late payments, tax liens, and so forth. Also, did you ever check to see if you were one of the millions of Americans affected by the Equifax hack? Hurry and do so if you haven’t yet. If any of your personal information is vulnerable to identity thieves, you’ll want a credit repair company with lawyers to help you prove that you are a victim.

The CROA requires that any such company you work with must explain your rights to you in a written contract, in addition to the details concerning the services they will perform. No company can make any specific promises. If you are not provided with proof that they are doing everything they possibly can to help you, then you have the right to sue them in federal court.

Avoiding Scams With Credit Repair Services

Avoid getting scam by watching for red flags and only working with an organization that has a long-standing positive reputation. What are some of the strategies a legit company will perform in order to help you repair your credit? It will prepare a plan for disputing errors and trying to have as many negative items as possible removed by using legal methods. The reason why it’s ideal to work with such a company instead of using the DIY approach is that they know how to negotiate with creditors and will do so on your behalf. Are you tired of getting harassed by obnoxious debt collectors? Just opt for credit repair services that include sending cease-and-desist letters to the collectors.

It might not be a good idea for you to apply for new accounts to try and get positive information added to your report to balance out the bad, so be cautious about any company that will try to get you to do this. If you’ve had trouble managing your debts in the past, it might not yet be the right time for you to apply for new lines of credit / loans. Depending on how low your credit score is, you might not even be able to get approved for new credit accounts anyway, and apply for them will have a negative impact on your credit scores anyway due to “soft hits”.

Now that you know how credit repair services can help you, provided they are honest and legitimate, you can get started on cleaning up your reports. Just get a free consultation from Lexington Law.

Categories
Taxes

Your Legal Rights in a Living-Together Relationship – The Rights of Unmarried Cohabitants

If you’ve read Part I of this article, you know that it’s extremely difficult to establish a common law marriage under New York law. And, if this led you to wonder why the system has seemingly abdicated responsibility for issues related to the break-up of long-term living-together relationships, you’re not alone. Why the courts and legislature have taken this approach is puzzling, particularly considering that in contemporary society such relationships are more prevalent than ever.

You may find the answer to be disappointing. It’s what lawyers and judges call, “judicial economy”. This is the idea that certain litigants, as a matter of public policy, should be kept out of the courts. The primary rationale cited is the proverbial opening of the floodgates, though some cite a state interest in promoting marriage. It’s no secret that divorce cases comprise a troublingly high percentage of the courts’ dockets, most studies say it’s as high as 50% in New York State. This means the system is already on overload. So, inviting more litigants into the system to address their divorce-like rights isn’t exactly enticing.

Yet, societal and legal trends expanding the legal definition of terms such as “marriage” and “family” have been accelerating fast. As these terms become more elastic, perhaps lawmakers will reconsider, and begin writing legislation that addresses the dilemmas faced in the dissolution of living-together relationships. Until that time, those of you in non-marital relationships looking to the courts for guidance will likely have to look elsewhere.

One such place is alternate dispute resolution, e.g., mediation or arbitration. Or, you can plan in advance for the possible break-up of your non-marital relationship, by entering into a cohabitation agreement (an especially sensible alternative for those beginning to acquire property or build wealth together). Absent these alternatives, it’s more than possible that there may be no legal solutions to the problems you’ll encounter in the process of dissolving your living-together relationship.

However, before throwing up your hands to denounce the legal system as hopelessly antiquated, read on. There are certain circumstances for which the law does provide answers. In the balance of this article, I will attempt to summarize these circumstances and the applicable legal concepts, most of which derive from tort or contract law, and explain how such might apply to your living-together relationship.

Contractual Rights

The most fundamental legal concept available to unmarried cohabitants interested in establishing their legal rights or obligations is contract law. However, its applicability is severely limited under New York law. Under most circumstances, for any contract to be enforceable it needs to have been reduced to writing and supported by “consideration” (meaning one party gives something up and the other receives something of benefit in return, e.g., payment for services rendered).

The courts have additionally held that the terms of any such contract must be clear and definite. For example, where the promise was to provide domestic services and contributions as a business partner in exchange for an equal share in the other’s business, the court held that the exchange of promises was an enforceable contract. However, a more general promise, such as one to take care of a significant other in the style to which she had become accustomed, in exchange for a promise to introduce and promote the other socially, was held to be inadequate. You should also be aware that any illicit form of consideration is void as against public policy.

The benefits of contract law are generally only available to those who have bargained for and entered into a written contract in advance of their break-up. So, if you’re presently involved in or contemplating a committed living-together relationship, you should strongly consider reducing your respective rights and obligations to contract. This document is akin to a prenuptial agreement and can be referred to as a cohabitation agreement, living together agreement, or the like.

Granted, it may be difficult, unpleasant, or even unadvisable to broach this topic with your significant other. Moreover, you don’t have the ability to induce your significant other to sign a cohabitation agreement by threatening not to go through with the wedding if they won’t sign. Yet, other circumstances, e.g., purchasing or renting a common residence, or even moving in together, can perhaps serve as motivation.

If you surmount these obstacles, you’ll have the benefit of a clear blueprint to follow in the event of separation. Another great benefit of contract law is that most if not all of the legal benefits of a contractual agreement are equally available to same-sex cohabitants. This should also be the case with the balance of legal concepts discussed below.

Property Rights

Assuming that you don’t have a valid written contract, you will have to turn to a far less precise set of legal principles for guidance. Most of these legal principles have existed since long before living-together arrangements became societally or legally sanctioned (in fact, many are common law innovations, meaning that they date back to case law that originated in England and was later adopted by most states, including New York). Some of these concepts have been applied to living-together relationships.

Legal Presumptions

There are certain established presumptions that may provide guidance in the process of disentangling your financial affairs. Certainly, any bank account jointly titled in your respective names, absent agreement to the contrary, is presumptively a fifty-fifty shared asset under applicable banking law. The same should apply to other investment accounts like securities, mutual funds, bond or money market accounts.

Jointly titled or jointly acquired assets that can=t readily be divided in half, such as artwork, an automobile or real estate (see discussion below), are more problematic. Although you might be able to agree to sell and equally divide the proceeds, that course may be impractical or undesirable for economic reasons.

Partition of Real Property

If you own real estate jointly, it will probably be even more difficult to determine your respective rights in the event of a dissolution of your non-marital relationship. Under a legal principle known as “partition”, the rights of joint property holders are determined not just by how title is held, but also by virtue of the relative financial contributions (towards both acquisition and maintenance of the property) made by the title holders. There are lawyers who specialize in this area of practice.

Non-Contractual Rights

An even more troublesome class of property, is assets that were acquired together or through joint efforts and which one of you now holds in sole name or otherwise has within his/her exclusive control. To legally address assets of this type, you’ll need to resort to theories of legal recovery that derive from tort and contract law. Most of these legal concepts were developed with the idea of redressing wrongs perpetrated by one member of a fiduciary relationship against the other (a fiduciary relationship is one that by its very nature gives rise to a presumption of mutual reliance or dependency, e.g., a broker-customer relationship, a relationship between business partners or one between close relatives of unequal bargaining power). These legal concepts include causes of action under partnership law, contract law and tort law, such as economic partnership, express contract, unjust enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation, constructive trust and quantum meruit restitution, all of which are discussed below.

Economic Partnership

One legal concept that may apply to your living-together relationship is the law related to business partnerships. The courts routinely refer to the financial relationship between the parties to a marriage as an “economic partnership”. In divorce litigation, in order to refute this presumption, you must present evidence showing that the parties actually functioned as separate economic units. So, why shouldn’t the concept of economic partnership be applicable to the dissolution of non-marital relationships, assuming that a party can show that their relationship functioned as an economic unit?

There are reported cases that have accepted this logic. One such example is the case of McCall v. Frampton, which was a suit brought by Ms. McCall, an established business manager of rock and roll acts before she became romantically involved with Peter Frampton, a classic rock guitar icon known for such hits as, “Do You Feel Like I Do?”. Ms. McCall was able to convince the court that management services that she provided to Mr. Frampton free of charge, services of a kind that she had previously been paid for in the marketplace, constituted a thing of value that should entitle her to compensation (namely, a share of the profits of their partnership).

The decision in McCall notwithstanding, establishing an economic partnership under New York law will require a high standard of legal proof. You will need to show that you and your significant other deliberately entered into a business relationship, and that you then proceeded to function as business partners over the course of your relationship. If this was your situation, I strongly recommend that you speak to a lawyer well versed in partnership law.

Quantum Meruit Restitution

In a cause of action for quantum meruit restitution, the question to be resolved is: “Did the moving party confer a financial benefit upon the non-moving party?” This typically could involve housekeeping or homemaking efforts, and, in a more unique case, could include financial, managerial or other marketable services.

As suggested above, it can not include sexual favors, which judges have disapprovingly termed “meretricious” services. Another criterion is whether the alleged contribution was “quantifiable”, or would be more appropriately characterized as “pillow-talk”. Unless the advice-giving cohabitant is a career counselor by day, his or her advice from the sidelines (or more likely, the bedroom) is not likely to be compelling. Again, the case of McCall is illustrative, where Ms. McCall’s prior experience as a rock and roll manager was crucial to the success of her claim.

Under reported New York cases, you must prove the following to make out a case for quantum meruit recovery: (a) good faith performance of the service(s); (b) acceptance thereof by the other party; (c) that you had an expectation of compensation; and (d) that you can demonstrate the reasonable value of the service(s).

Constructive Trust

In a constructive trust cause of action, the movant must prove a confidential or fiduciary relationship with the other party, that a promise was made to him or her, and that as a result the other party was unjustly enriched. The courts speak of a constructive trust cause of action as an “equitable device”, meaning one designed to redress inequality. An example of when the courts might apply this concept, is where one party in a position of trust convinces another to transfer money or property to him or her, based on a declaration or promise that is subsequently broken.

Unjust Enrichment/Fraudulent Misrepresentation

The cause of action known as “unjust enrichment” emphasizes the economic unfairness to the aggrieved party in a particular transaction. The related concept of “fraudulent misrepresentation” involves the same unfairness, but with an added element of fraud. This means that the misrepresentation at issue must have induced the defrauded party to take or omit to take an act that resulted in some substantial detriment.

Palimony

Lastly, under New York law, there is no such thing as “palimony”. Again, the concept of judicial economy was a driving force here. The concept of palimony first came to public attention in Marvin v. Marvin, 18 Cal. 3d 660, a California case, decided in 1976, which involved a non-marital relationship between the legendary film actor/action hero, Lee Marvin and Michelle Trola Marvin. In that case, the court afforded Ms. Trola Marvin the right to attempt to prove that an implicit or express contract involving Mr. Marvin=s earnings and assets was entered into between the parties. This case paved the way for recognition of palimony as a recognizable cause of action in California.

However, on this side of the continent, the courts have viewed the issue quite differently. In 1980, New York’s highest court, in Morone v. Morone, 50 N.Y.2d 592, decided that it would not recognize palimony as a valid cause of action on the grounds of public policy. As a result, palimony has been a disfavored cause of action in New York ever since.

Conclusion

A word of caution, each of the legal concepts described above is applicable only under special circumstances. Again, reference to the interesting case of A vs. A, may help to bring this home. Although Mr. and Mrs. A’s relationship lacked the formal sanction of marriage, they were virtually universally assumed to be a traditional married couple. After Mrs. A’s common law marriage cause of action was dismissed (as described in Part I of this article), she proceeded under some of the contract and tort law principles discussed above (including constructive trust, quantum meruit, economic partnership, unjust enrichment and fraudulent misrepresentation).

I believe that what enabled Mrs. A to prevail, in the face of Mr. A’s motion to dismiss, were the compelling and special circumstances that she was able to demonstrate. Specifically, when the parties embarked on their living together-relationship, they were in their late-20’s to early 30’s, and had yet to achieve the significant financial success that they would later in life; Mr. A was still plying his trade as an oil burner furnace serviceman, and Mrs. A hers as a dental technician. Yet, over the course of their relationship, they built a successful business together. Mrs. A was integrally involved in both the development of the product, and in fulfilling many of the demanding functions involved in building a business from the ground up (including physically challenging and dangerous jobs like making late-night cash deposits in sometimes marginal neighborhoods).

By the time of their separation, they had a number of investments in joint name, filed joint income tax returns for most years of the relationship, adopted common estate plans, and jointly owned residential apartments, including the penthouse apartment they lived in up to their separation. During the years in which they built their substantial wealth, Mrs. A served as corporate officer and secretary of their primary business, and, as they expanded into property holding and development, she was issued shares in one or more corporate holding companies.

And lastly, but perhaps as importantly, Mrs. A was able to prove these facts. As is often the case after litigation commences, when Mrs. A attempted to obtain certain documents in order to prove her claims, Mr. A contended that the documentation no longer existed, was no longer under his possession or control, or never existed in the first place.

Consequently, it was crucial that Mrs. A had the foresight to retain and copy hundreds of documents before litigation was initiated. As a result, she was armed with an arsenal of paper that would help prove her claims.

So, my last word of advice is to do more than just keep yourself informed and knowledgeable about your financial affairs. Also, be wary enough to collect your documentary proof, and to do so before it’s too late. Otherwise, you may find that you’re barred from locations where documents are kept, and that documents have been thrown out, hidden, shredded, or otherwise placed beyond the reach of legal process.

And lastly, the case of Jennings v. Hurt (discussed in Part I of this article) illustrates that you can’t tailor the facts of your case to fit your claims. In dismissing Ms. Jennings’ common law marriage cause of action, the court also refused her request for permission to amend her complaint to add three non-marital causes of action (constructive trust, breach of contract and breach of a promise to support), leaving her with effectively no legal remedy, except for the right to receive child support for their common child.

Critically, the courts require a proponent of any one of the legal theories described above to specifically plead and prove the specific elements of the given cause of action. This was the case with respect to Ms. Jennings’ proposed constructive trust and breach of contract causes of action, which were held insufficient, as a matter of law, due to failure to plead specific elements of the cause of action. It should come as no surprise (in light of Morone) that the Court dismissed the third proposed cause of action, which it considered to be a mere promise to support in return for “wifely” duties, in essence a palimony claim, finding it to be void as against public policy.

The lawyer for Ms. Jennings contended, rather unconvincingly, after losing on the trial level, that the trial judge had been blinded by Mr. Hurt’s celebrity (even claiming that the judge had fallen in “love” with Mr. Hurt). Yet, issues of relative credibility aside, it seems clear to me from the face of their respective allegations that the degree of financial interdependence involved in the relationship between Ms. Jennings and Mr. Hurt, didn’t compare to the interdependence that existed between either Ms. McCall and Mr. Frampton, or between Mrs. A and Mr. A for that matter.

Categories
Taxes

What Are A Mother And Father’s Rights In California, When You Are Not Married?

In modern times many couples have children when they are not married. Problems can arise with respect to Child Custody, Visitation, and Child Support when these couples break off the relationship.

In a perfect world the mother and the father are amicable in such a situation, and do what is in the child or children’s best interest. However, it is much safer, and highly recommended, that you obtain Court orders with respect to custody, visitation, and support issues, so that the mother and father each know their respective rights and obligations, and so that there are no ambiguities regarding the same.

This article will discuss the issue of children who are born out of wedlock from both the mother and the father’s prospective to give you a general understanding of the law in California regarding children born out of wedlock.

The Mother’s Prospective

The mother of a child that is born out of wedlock has a unique advantage in that she does not normally have to prove that the child is hers. If hospital records indicate that a female has given birth to a child, and the birth certificate that is issued upon the birth of a child indicates that the female gave birth to the child, than there is usually no issue with the mother showing that she is the paternal mother.

The mother of a child born out of wedlock will automatically be entitled to full custody of a child absent a Court order indicating otherwise.

She may give the father visitation if she so chooses, or she can deny visitation to the father absent a Court order.

All minor children in California have a right to receive child support pursuant to a statutory guideline. (The subject of Child Support will be covered in a forthcoming separate article). If the mother of a child who is born out of wedlock wants to obtain child support from the father, she will have to file and serve a Petition to Establish Parentage on the father, and an Order to Show Cause for child support with the appropriate Court.

If the mother is on welfare or Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the District Attorney in the county in which the mother resides will ordinarily aid in this process so that the County gets reimbursed for the aid that is being provided to the mother by the County.

If a father voluntarily accepts paternity, than the Court will decide each party’s rights to custody, visitation, and child support based upon the facts in the case. If the father denies that he is the father, he may request that a DNA test be done to determine whether he is the father. Once this process is completed than the Court will determine each party’s rights.

If a mother is not sure who the real father of a child is, she will have to file a Petition to Establish Parentage on each potential father.

The Court will ordinarily allow the father visitation or custody rights to the child unless it can be shown that it is not in the best interest of the child for the father to have such rights.

The Father’s Prospective

The father of a child born out of wedlock has no rights to Custody, Visitation, or Child Support unless they obtain a Court order for the same.

If a father wants to have rights to custody, visitation, or child support for a child born out of wedlock, the will have to file a Petition to Establish Parentage, and an Order to Show Cause for Custody, Visitation, and/or Support.

The mother of the child may or may not agree that the father is the true father of the child. Either party may request that a DNA test be done to prove whether or not the father is the paternal father of a child.

Once the Court determines paternity, the Court will than look at many factors with respect to rights to Custody, Visitation, and Support.

The Court will ordinarily allow the father visitation or custody rights to the child unless it can be shown that it is not in the best interest of the child for the father to have such rights.

The Mother and Father’s Prospective as a Whole

The Court will always try to determine what is in the children’s best interest when determining who will have Custody and Visitation rights to a child or children. This can be a long and expensive process if litigated. It is recommended that a Mother and Father try to informally work out a Custody and Visitation plan for a child or children, and then get a Court Order which reflects the agreement of the mother and father.

If you cannot informally work it out than the Court will decide the issue for you.

Support of the child or children will be determined by the Court using a statutory formula which is based on both parties income, the percentage of time each person has with the child or children, and other factors.

It is always recommended that you retain a lawyer in these types of cases. Only a fool has herself or himself for a client.

You can check out our family law website at http://www.divorce-legal.net for more general family law information.

© 2007

Categories
Insurance

A Brief Introduction To The History and Principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Although the human rights of children were recognized within the international community more than 50 years ago, by way of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959), this was not binding as an international agreement or treaty. However, in 1978 Poland proposed that a new convention should be adopted in the following year, 1979, which was designated as the International Year of the Child. The proposed convention – later to be named the Convention on the Rights of the Child – was initially proposed to follow the principles stated in the 1959 Declaration, addressing economic, social and cultural rights, but many states favored a wider scope to incorporate issues of justice , ethnicity and children's involvement in armed conflicts. These additional aspects of children's rights reflected the provisions of other conventions that had come into force in the intervening period, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966). Another criticism of the proposed convention was that it lacked detail, and was not drafted in enforceable terms.

The United Nations General Assembly was supportive of the Convention being settled during the International Year of the Child, but the Commission on Human Rights resisted undue haste and established a working group comprised of representatives of member states to review the initial proposal. Poland then produced a revised proposal that was accepted as an improved basis for negotiations to reach agreement about the Convention. All of the working group's decisions were by consensus, which meant that some key issues were not included – eg, child marriage – because consensus could not be reached on those issues. Nonetheless, this process eventually produced an agreed text that could be submitted to the General Assembly without controversy.

Despite the early hopes for a convention that could be adopted by member states in 1979, it took a decade and successive drafts before the Convention was finalized. In the meantime, more countries from Africa and Asia came on board, as well as some Islamic countries, so the Convention became more representative of worldwide concerns. The drafting process was also assisted by progress in the adoption of other international agreements, including instruments relating to juvenile justice, foster care, and adoption. The terms of these agreements informed many principles stated in the Convention.

Besides the United Nations, UN member states, and inter-governmental organizations – eg, World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, and (belatedly) UNICEF – some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) became involved in the drafting. The NGOs were not there as of right, but could be invited to make suggestions and give feedback on drafts. As some of the NGOs had been involved in drafting other international agreements around that time, their input into the Convention was invaluable. In about 1983, human rights NGOs and children's NGOs joined forces, creating an NGO Ad Hoc Group that put forward more consistent proposals to the working party established by the Commission on Human Rights. This led to the NGOs having greater influence in the drafting process.

Several controversial issues addressed during the drafting process included the definition of a child, the determination of fundamental freedoms, protecting the best interests of children who are being adopted, and the minimum age that children can be participants in armed conflict.

The definition of a child is open as to when childhood starts, but the preamble of the Convention refers to children before and after birth. The upper age – when childhood ends – was set at 18 because that was the age of adulthood in most countries. The fundamental freedoms include freedom of association, religion, and communication. Adoption was a big issue because certain countries had previously allowed poorly regulated inter-country adoption of their children.

Many states wanted the minimum age that children can be participants in armed conflict to be set at 18, the age when children cease to be covered by the Convention, so that children would effectively be excluded from participation in armed conflict. However consensus was not able to be achieved on that age. In the end, the age was set at 15. In ratifying the Convention since it was adopted, some states have declined to accept the notion of children being engaged in armed conflict and have reserved their position on this provision of the Convention.

It was not until 1989, a full 10 years after the International Year of the Child, that the Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. As most countries and states in the world have now ratified the Convention, it has truly become "the international legal framework" for protecting and promoting children's rights (Arbor). Under article 4 of the Convention, states who are parties are required to "undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures" necessary to give effect to the rights and principles stated in the Convention. This obligation is not discretionary. This means that subject to the resources they have available, all state parties must allocate public funds to ensure that laws, policies and programs within the state are consistent with the rights recognised in the Convention. Australia and New Zealand ratified the Convention in 1990 and 1993 respectively. Although the United States has signed the Convention, it has not ratified it, which means that the United States is not a party state and is not obligated to implement the principles of the Convention.

The general principles of the Convention, as they are now recognized, are the right to non-discrimination (article 2), the primacy of the best interests of the child (article 3), the right to life, survival and development (article 6 ), and the right to be heard (article 12). These general principles are often used as a guide to the interpretation of other principles, which fall into two categories: negative rights (where the state should not interfere with the exercise of the right) and positive rights (where the state must facilitate the exercise of the right). Another way of categorizing rights is to consider their adoption historically, so that civil and political rights may be regarded as 'first generation rights', economic, social and cultural rights may be regarded as 'second generation rights', and 'solidarity rights' such as the right to peace and the right to a clean environment may be regarded as 'third generation rights'.

In assessing the 'best interests of the child', which is not defined in the Convention itself, reference can now be made to the UNHCR Guidelines on Determining the Best Interests of the Child (May 2008). This is an important document that complements the Convention and assists child protection practitioners to identify what is in the best interests of a specific child or group of children in their unique circumstances.

The Convention is also an example of the specialization of rights. Although the right to not be discriminated against is applicable to both adults and children, the best interests principle and the right to life, survival and development are examples of rights that more specifically apply to children under international law. These specialized rights include the right of children to live with their parents, subject to child protection concerns that might prevent this, and the right to play. In this way, the Convention may be regarded as both a statement regarding the needs of children, and a 'code of conduct' that tells parents and other adults how they should behave towards children in their care and in their community. Internationally, the Convention stands as a guide to the minimum level of rights that should apply to children everywhere. Where a state has ratified the Convention, it gains the force of law. In this context, an important optional protocol, adopted in 2011, is the 'communication protocol' which allows children (or groups of children) directly or through their representatives to address the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding allegations that rights under the Convention have been violated. However, any review rights arising in the home state of the child or children must be exhausted first unless an emergency situation is recognized by the Committee. In some cases the home state may be asked by the committee to take steps to protect a child who comes to the committee's attention.

An important ongoing feature of the Convention is implemented pursuant to the 'third optional protocol of the convention' (the OPIC) which establishes a committee to monitor states' compliance with the Convention. The committee comprises 18 independent experts who are appointed for terms of 4 years, and who serve personally not on behalf of their home states. States who are parties to the Convention file reports on their compliance. The committee also receives 'shadow reports' from NGOs operating in each state. This aspect of the Convention is unique, as no other international treaty expressly reserves a role for specialist agencies in monitoring compliance. Following consideration of the state and NGO reports, the committee will send a list of issues or concerns to the state party. This may lead to dialogue between representatives of the state and the committee, and formal recommendations being issued by the committee. In appropriate circumstances, the committee can offer technical and financial assistance to a state to help it in meeting its obligations under the Convention. The committee also issues formal comments on aspects of the Convention, as a guide to interpretation and implementation.

The issue of children's rights is closely bound up with children's well-being and happiness. While obtaining reliable data about well-being and happiness is difficult, particularly in relation to young children, a lot of work has been done in the past couple of decades to measure factors such as children's physical health, mental health, self-esteem and lifestyle . This kind of well-being data is valuable as a guide to how children are developing towards adulthood, and can help us identify specific issues affecting individual children or groups of children. In 2007, UNICEF published international data in its Report Card Number 7 which included indicators of children's well-being for the first time (UNICEF, 2007). Although this continuing work is at an early stage, it has the potential to inform further development of the Convention, recognizing that children's happiness is a product of many factors that can have serious lifelong implications for individuals in terms of how they relate to others in society , the contributions they make within society, and the overall quality of life they enjoy.

This evolving view of children's rights represents a maturation of our awareness of children's needs and how meeting those needs promotes a better future for us all. It has been suggested that the Convention's "major accomplishment" is increasing the visibility of children in society, so that children's rights are not easily ignored (Lee). The Convention stands out amongst all international treaties as the one ratified by the most states, which is an almost universal acknowledgment of the importance of our children to our planet's future and recognition that the protection of children's rights must have primacy regardless of other demands on our resources. Moreover, ratification of the Convention by a state has often been closely followed by the establishment of an independent public institution focused on the rights of children. In New Zealand that independent institution is the Children's Commissioner, while in Australia it is the National Children's Commissioner. As at 2012, there were more than 200 such institutions throughout the world – under a range of names including 'ombudsman', child advocate, and 'child rights commission' – engaged to "monitor the actions of governments and other entities, advance the realization of children's rights, receive complaints, provide remedies for violations, and offer a space for dialogue about children in society and between children and the state "(UNICEF, 2012). In Australia, the Australian Human Rights Commission has described the Convention as "underpin [ning] the work of the National Children's Commissioner" (AHRC).

Despite the extraordinary efforts of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN member states that have ratified the Convention, NGOs that report to the committee, and independent public institutions in member states, there is considerable work still to be done to overcome breaches of the Convention, and to address remaining areas of contention such as child marriage and juvenile justice. The criminal law is sometimes criticized for treating children like small adults (Edwards). Even Australia and New Zealand struggle with the divide between care and protection issues and criminality. New Zealand's Children's Commissioner has identified the need to "avoid an unhelpful, rigorous split between the youth justice and care and protection provisions [of legislation] by allowing a cross-over between the two parts" echoing a similar warning by the former President of the Children's Court of New South Wales in Australia. The New Zealand Commissioner describes the "trenchant criticism" by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child when New Zealand extended the jurisdiction of its Youth Court in October 2010 to include indictable offending by 12 and 13 year olds. Part of the answer here is improved understanding of the neuropsychological factors present in youth offending, and how culpability should be attributed in light of those factors. In a relatively recent decision, Graham v Florida 130 S. Ct. 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States – noting that in the US at that time there were 123 juvenile non-homicide offenders serving sentences of life imprisonment without parole, and that in Florida "a 5-year-old, theoretically, could receive [life without parole] under the letter of the law "- recognized that" developments in psychology and brain science continue to show fundamental differences between juvenile and adult minds "that must be taken into account when sentencing juvenile offenders.

In relation to child marriage, it is notable that as at 2012 about one-third of girls in developing countries (other than China) were expected to be married before turning 18. Despite a majority of states having ratified the Convention, the same UNFPA report suggests that in the decade from 2010 to 2020 there are likely to be around 142 million child marriages worldwide. Although there are many reasons for the persistence of child marriage, the effects can be devastating. A significant feature of child marriage in some countries is the practice of paying off debts and resolving disputes by giving away a young girl child – a practice sometimes known as 'swara' – where the child becomes effectively enslaved to her husband, and is often punished for the alleged wrongdoing of her family.

The widespread ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child stands as a testament to the values ​​expressed within it – values ​​that have been carefully considered and that bring "the weight of the law to the recognition of morally based individual rights for children "(Da Silva et al.) – and the work of innumerable contributors from around the globe. While the Convention is neither complete nor wholly effective, it is nonetheless a major influence on the well-being of children in most developed countries. Even in developing countries, the Convention and its monitoring processes are slowly encouraging positive change. For example, between 2000 and 2014 the number of children engaged in child labor declined by about one-third (UNICEF, 2014). While this might be expressed as still two-thirds too many, for those children who can now attend school instead of work, this change is dramatic and life-changing. Similar patterns can be seen in many other areas of children's rights. Perhaps most remarkable is that all this has happened in less than 30 years. By any measure that is a laudable achievement.

Categories
Wealth Building

Estate Planning When Mineral Rights Are Involved

Life is hard, and then the government steps in and makes it harder. When you lose a loved one, grief counselors, clergy, even funeral directors are there to guide and support you through your difficult time. Uncle Sam socks you with estate taxes.

Careful estate planning can help make the tax burden, and the paperwork burden, a bit lighter. Some people choose to utilize a concept called a "life estate." In this case, the owner of a property can deed that property to another person and then continue to utilize owners' rights up to his or her death. At that point, the property reverts automatically to the person holding the deed. The "life tenant," or original owner, enjoys all the rights of an owner, including such things mineral rights, until death. The only right he or she forgoes is the right to sell the property.

The life estate is utilized at times to ensure that the intended heir gets the property, to avoid probate, or to ensure that an ancestral home remains in the family (passing property on to children, but allowing a surviving spouse to live there). Like any action fraught with legalese, it can be difficult to understand and difficult to conduct correctly without the advice of a good lawyer.

However, if you're the fortunate recipient of a life estate deed, you've got additional options for help. Maybe you've inherited family property with leased mineral rights. What this means is that an oil or gas company shares a royalty percentage of any production from the land. The former owner of the property (your rich, now-favorite uncle, perhaps) enjoyed the royalties from those rights during his or her lifetime. Now you'd like to do so, too.

Many Royalty companies buys mineral interests, however, not the land itself. The process includes the simplification of all the paperwork for your life estate so that you can enjoy the benefits as soon as possible and reduce the taxes as much as possible. Subsequently, a royalty company converts royalty interest to cash quickly and efficiently, allowing you time to mourn your dearly departed uncle without worrying as much about Uncle Sam.

Categories
Mutual Funds

Know Your Rights & Duties As a Mutual Fund Investor

Being an investor of mutual funds, everyone is well aware of the fundamentals, process, and all other factors which they should know. But, are you sure you have enough information regarding the funds in which you intend to invest? Well, you must be.

It is a general behaviour of every investor that they never worry about the facts they don’t know until they realise the implications of not knowing them. However, it is not right. While registering with any online portal, we come to the terms and conditions to confirm that we adhere to them and intend to get associated with them knowing all the facts and figures. But do we read them in actuality? Many of us don’t. The reason being is that we believe it is a common practice and there won’t be much impact of such T&Cs in our lives. Holding such a casual behaviour is sometimes fine, but in the case of mutual fund investments it may end up with various complications. Thus, it is quite essential for every investor to perform the duties and exercise the rights thoroughly in order to persuade a better investment.

The regulatory authorities in every country have set up certain guidelines for the mutual fund industry. We must adhere to them and follow the rules to make the best decision. All the Asset Management Companies (AMC) which design and manage the mutual fund programmes are obliged to disclose all the scheme related documents to the investors so that they can come to know about every vital detail about the fund in which they intend to invest. Investors too have certain duties to perform and different rights whenever they take an investment decision. They include:

Analyse the Offer Documents

The scheme related documents which include the SID, KIM, and SAI must be read thoroughly before buying the funds. They provide every single detail of the scheme including its nature, type, assets, portfolio, and instruments. With this, one can come to know about the fund’s capacity to generate the required returns.

Get Annual Reports, Statements & Periodic Updates

It is the right as well as duty of every investor to get annual reports and declarations from the AMCs. Moreover, there might be some other updates in the mutual fund houses which every AMC must inform to the investors.

Receive Dividends Within Time

Suppose you are an investor in SBI Mutual Funds and hold equity funds having dividend investment plan. Then you have the right to receive the dividend payments within time after the declaration. This means, once the AMCs declare the dividends, investors have the right to get his/her share within time.

Get Updates of Changes in Schemes

The fund managers of the AMCs keep changing the funds’ portfolio in order to grab the best opportunity and offer better yields. The investors have the right to receive information or updates regarding the changes made in the scheme so that they can take adequate steps in this regard whenever required.

Complaint Redressal System

Every fund house has a complaint redressal mechanism which is focused on addressing investors’ problems. Whenever you have a complaint, you can approach the grievance redressal department of the AMC to get instant solution.

Details About Distributor’s Commission

All the investors have the right to know the amount of money or the commission that is paid to the mutual fund distributor by the fund house. Moreover, it is the duty of the distributor to tell the investor about the commissions or remunerations that they receive by selling other competing schemes.

Awareness about the rights and duties of the investors brings transparency in the fund management system. A well-regulated scheme has distinct advantages which help the investors in gaining superior benefits. With this, the investors get a clear view of their investments and the possibility of return generation increases. So you must be aware of all the updates related to the fund in which either you have investments, or you intend to invest your hard-earned money.