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Thursday, January 27, 2011



The New York Times recently published the article below, written by Julia Werdigier, regarding how British law is starting to take America’s lead by giving prenups more weight in divorce cases.
NY divorce law gives well drafted prenups that are fair, where both parties were represented by attorneys and full financial disclosure was made by each party a great deal of weight when it comes to divorce.
Although, if any of these elements are missing, the court will seriously consider overturning the prenup if challenged.  NY divorce law is extremely fickle when it comes to properly drafted prenups.
If the prenup is unfairly biased in favor of one party, one party was not represented by an attorney or full financial disclosure was not made, then the prenup will likely be overturned if challenged.
Its extremely important to go about a prenup in the right way.  If you don’t, then its not worth the paper its written on.
The Law Office of David Centeno offers free prenup consultations.  To schedule your free prenup consultation call (866) 830-2064 now.
LONDON — A ruling by the Supreme Court here on Wednesday gave prenuptial agreements more weight in divorce cases, bringing British law closer in line with that in the United States.
The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Nicolas Granatino, a former JPMorgan Chase banker, asking the court to give less weight to an agreement he signed with Katrin Radmacher, a wealthy German heiress, before they married in 1998 that said that neither should profit from the wealth of the other.
British lawyers followed the case closely, awaiting more clarity on how much importance courts in Britain should give to prenuptial agreements, which had been more popular in the United States and in the rest of Europe.
Simon Bruce, a lawyer representing Ms. Radmacher, said in a statement that the ruling “means prenups are binding as long as they are fair.” He added: “Everybody hopes their marriage will last a lifetime. From today we are allowed to prepare for the possibility that it might not be the case.”
British courts have the discretion to decide on a case-by-case basis whether prenuptial agreements are binding. This has contributed to a reputation for awarding huge payouts in divorce cases, including recently to the ex-wives of Paul McCartney and the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
“I’m delighted that Britain has upheld fairness,” Ms. Radmacher said in a statement. “For Nicolas and I, in our homelands — France and Germany — these agreements are entirely normal and routine.”
Ms. Radmacher and Mr. Granatino divorced in 2006. At that point Mr. Granatino had quit his career as a banker to become a researcher at the University of Oxford. He applied to the court for financial help, arguing that he did not receive appropriate legal advice when signing the prenuptial agreement.
Mr. Granatino was initially granted more than £5.5 million, or $8.6 million, which would have given him an annual income of about $158,000 for life and allowed him to buy a London home where the couple’s two daughters could visit, according to court documents. Ms. Radmacher appealed that ruling.
“The husband should only be granted provision for his role as the father of the two children and not for his own long-term needs,” the court said in a statement.
Ms. Radmacher will now pay Mr. Granatino about $55,500 per child per year, and will pay for a London house so he can be closer to their daughters and for a property near her house in France, Ms. Radmacher’s lawyer said.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

LEGAL TIP: Before You Go Into Business with Family or Friends

Before You Go Into Business with Family or Friends

You want to start a business with your spouse...or your best friend from college...or your brother-in-law. You have heard horror stories about working with family and friends, but you are sure it will work out. But you wonder what you should to to make sure you can work together in a business without destroying that relationship. Here are some tips:
Talk About It
Sit down and talk about who is going to do what job in the business. Maybe you like doing marketing and your friend or spouse wants to do the accounting. Talk about what happens when one of you has to stay home with a sick child, or if your friend wants to take a vacation. Cover as many concerns as possible. Make a list of all types of contingencies.

Decide Who Owns What
Decide who owns what percentage of the business. You may decide to split the ownership 50/50, but there may be reasons for not doing this. Maybe one of you is going to be full-time and the other only part-time. A different ownership split can show those differences.

Put Together an Agreement
Create a written agreement, describing who does what, how much of the business each person owns, and listing what happens if someone wants to leave the business or if there are problems.

Determine Your Business Form
Learn about the various forms of business organization that might suit your circumstances. You might want to form a Partnership or an LLC. Or you may want to create a corporation.

Complete The Paperwork
In other words, take your agreement to your attorney for the final version of your agreement. The type of agreement is similar for all types of businesses (except for a sole proprietorship). Don't try to write up the agreement yourself.

Follow the Same Process for Family/Friend Investors
If a family member or friend wants to invest in your business, you will definitely need an agreement or something prepared by an attorney that protects both of you. Y may not be able to save the relationship if the business starts going downhill and the person loses money, but you may be able to at least remain on a talking basis.
Finally, Remember "Business is Business"
The business agreement you signed can help save your relationship if things go wrong in the business. Don't be afraid to change the agreement if something changes in the business relationship.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions About: Getting a US Visa

Frequently Asked Questions About: Getting a US Visa

Whether you’re applying for a work, student, immigrant or any other US visa, the process is rarely straightforward — and it often results in a lot of questions.
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the US visa process.

1) How long will it take before I get a US visa?

This is perhaps the most frequently asked question regarding US visas, and with good reason. Unfortunately, it is one of the most difficult questions to answer.
There is usually a wait time to receive an appointment to apply at the US Embassy or Consulate in your area. Depending on where you live, what type of US visa you are applying for, and whether or not many others are also applying for visas, this wait for an appointment can be anywhere from just a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
Visitor, student, work and other nonimmigrant visas are the easiest appointments to get — often within a week. Appointments for immigrant visas, including the dual-intentK-1 fiancĂ©(e) visa, may take up to two weeks or even a month in some remote areas.
If you would like a more specific approximation, the US Department of State has ahandy tool on its website that helps you calculate how long it will take in your area to get a consular appointment.
At your appointment, the consular officer decides whether or not to grant you a US visa. If you are granted a visa, there is a processing time before you receive it — usually around a week, but it may take up to 60 days, especially with immigrant visas.

2) What is a police report, and why do I need one to get a US visa?

A police report can be obtained at your local police department. It will show your criminal history. If you have no criminal history, the police department will still check your name against its databases and print out a report with your information showing that you have a clean record.

3) Does having a criminal history affect my US visa application?

This question is more frequently asked than you might think! Some people committed small crimes when they were younger, but they have paid the price and have had a clean record ever since.
The answer: It depends on the type and frequency of criminal activity. US immigration officers often will overlook smaller crimes, like petty theft, if it happened only once and not recently. Having a DUI on your record is a little more serious, but it won’t disqualify you from obtaining a US visa, especially if you have shown that you have paid the fines and went to classes.
If you have a recent DUI or more than one on your record, or if you have any more serious crimes, you may want to consult an immigration attorney on how best to proceed with your visa application.

4) Why would my visa application be denied?

In addition to serious criminal convictions, there are a number of reasons why the US may choose to deny your visa application:
  • You have a communicable disease that may endanger public health, like tuberculosis.
  • There is insufficient proof that you’ve been vaccinated against preventable diseases such as mumps, measles, rubella, tetanus and hepatitis B.
  • You have physical, mental or behavioral disorders that might pose a threat to the safety of others.
Consular officers will also deny visa applications of anyone they believe to be a drug user, drug trafficker, prostitute, terrorist or spy.

5) What should I expect at the US border?

Even though you may have been granted a US visa, there is no guarantee that it will get you into the United States!
Be prepared by completing the following tasks:
  • Fill out the Form I-94 that you are given on the plane to the best of your ability.
  • Have your passport and any other travel and identification documents ready.
  • Answer the officer’s questions truthfully about what you are planning to do with your time in the United States.
  • If you cannot speak English well, have a certified translator draft you a letter in English that lists the language or languages you do speak so that border patrol officers may better assist you.
Even if all of your paperwork is in order and you have already submitted a background check, the first priority of border officers is security, and they will most likely check your name against several databases. You can be turned away if it appears that you are lying about your intentions — for example, talking about moving to the US full-time if you have only a visitor or other nonimmigrant visa.
With some preparation and the answers to these frequently asked questions, getting a US visa will seem like a much smoother process.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sullivan & Cromwell Pays Generous Spring Bonuses!

Sullivan & Cromwell Pays Generous Spring Bonuses!
Friday afternoons are for bad news. When you have some news that you want to disappear into the ether, you announce it on Friday afternoon. It’s a favorite time for disgraced D.C. figures to resign from office in order to “spend more time with their families.”
So why did Sullivan & Cromwell, one of the world’s most prestigious and profitable law firms, decide to announce good news — namely, generous spring bonuses for its associates — late on a Friday afternoon? (Was it perhaps in response to the Latham bonus news from earlier today?)
Yes, Cravath and Skadden and Davis Polk associates, you read that right. S&C is paying out healthy springtime bonuses. They’re supplemental to the 2010 year-end bonuses that S&C announced back in December.
So how much are we talking about? And when will these amounts hit associate bank accounts?
Let’s find out….
By the way, the S&C springtime bonuses shouldn’t come as a total surprise. When the firm announced year-end bonuses in December 2010, S&C mentioned that it might pay spring bonuses in 2011, subject to firm performance.
We’re gathering that the firm is performing well, since the amounts in question are significant. For junior associates, the springtime bonuses are equal to the end-of-year bonuses, meaning that S&C junior associates are getting twice as much bonus money as their friends at Cravath, Skadden, Davis Polk, Simpson Thacher, Weil Gotshal, Cleary Gottlieb, and Debevoise.
Here’s the full scale of Sullivan & Cromwell springtime bonuses, as set forth in today’s memo from firm chairman Joseph Shenker. The bonuses are payable in April — an incentive for S&C associates who were thinking of leaving to stick around until then.
Class of 2010: $2,500
Class of 2009: $7,500
Class of 2008: $10,000
Class of 2007: $10,000
Class of 2006: $12,500
Class of 2005: $15,000
Class of 2004: $17,500
Class of 2003: $20,000
2002+: $20,000
And here’s a table that we’ve prepared — if you see any errors, please note them in the comments — totaling the December 2010 and April 2011 bonuses for S&C associates:
Class Year: December 2010 Bonus + April 2011 Bonus = Total Bonus
Class of 2010: $0 + $2,500 = $2,500
Class of 2009: $7,500 + $7,500 = $15,000
Class of 2008: $10,000 + $10,000 = $20,000
Class of 2007: $15,000 + $10,000 = $25,000
Class of 2006: $20,000 + $12,500 = $32,500
Class of 2005: $25,000 + $15,000 = $40,000
Class of 2004: $30,000 + $17,500 = $47,500
Class of 2003: $37,500 + $20,000 = $57,500
Class of 2002+: $42,500 + $20,000 = $62,500
What might be motivating the springtime bonuses — and the January announcement? Said one of our S&C sources: “The early timing is likely due to the fact that the firm has been bleeding associates since January 1.” But another S&C tipster disagreed: “We get emails whenever someone leaves, and I haven’t noticed any uptick in attrition.”
UPDATE (1/22/11, 3 PM): There’s more discussion of this attrition issue in the comments. The majority view seems to be that attrition is running high at S&C these days. As for why it might not seem that way from emails, here’s a representative comment:
The reason that we haven’t seen an uptick in associate attrition on the weekly farewell emails is that the firm stopped sending them because so many people are leaving. Check the “S+C This Week” publications they’ve sent us and you’ll see a long list of people [leaving], and plenty more are — well, before the bonus news — scheduled to leave in the next few weeks.
In any event, regardless of the motives behind them, these spring bonuses are happy, happy news. Congratulations, S&C associates!
Now the question becomes: Which (if any) of Sullivan & Cromwell’s “peer firms” will match?

Verizon Files Early Challenge to Latest ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

Verizon Files Early Challenge to Latest ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

What, you ask, is that clickety-clackety noise you hear off in the distance, emanating from office buildings everywhere?
Here’s the answer: It’s the sound of lawyers (and their assistants), typing up legal challenges to the Federal Communications Commission’s recent rules on “net neutrality.”
One of the first (and most high-profile) challenges was filed Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by telecom giant Verizon. The company asked the D.C. Circuit to overturn the FCC’s latest effort to regulate the Internet lines, predominantly on grounds that the government overstepped its authority. Click here for the WSJ story; here for the NYT story.
Last month, the FCC passed new rules to police Internet lines. The rules would bar phone and cable companies from blocking or slowing legal Internet traffic or providing preferential treatment to certain Web sites.
Verizon has long maintained that the FCC doesn’t have jurisdiction to enforce net neutrality rules and has urged Congress to get involved. In its appeal, Verizon said it is “deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband networks and the Internet itself,” according to a statement from Michael Glover, a Verizon deputy general counsel.
This won’t be the D.C. Circuit’s first bite at the “net neutrality” apple. The court ruled early last year that the FCC overstepped its authority when it sanctioned Comcast for deliberately slowing some subscribers’ Internet downloads. Verizon has hired Wiley Rein’s Helgi Walker, the lawyer who helped Comcast win its case, to ask the D.C. Circuit to shoot down the FCC’s latest rules.
The Verizon suit is the first of several challenges expected to be launched against the rules.
Public interest groups that believe the rules don’t go far enough also are expected to contest the rules.

Challenges to the Health-Care Law Are Wrong — And Right

Challenges to the Health-Care Law Are Wrong — And Right

In a provocative piece over at the National Law Journal, Wisconsin Law professor Andrew Coan stakes out a position that’s new to us: that both sides in the debate over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act are correct. And, at the same time, they’re both wrong.
(For background, click here for all of the LB coverage on the debate over the constitutionality of the law, arguably the signature domestic-policy achievement reached by the Obama administration.)
So what is Coan talking about? He explains, on the one hand, his assertion that both sides are right:
For courts to uphold the act would thus cast aside a cherished principle of American constitutional law — that the national government is one of limited powers, with everything else left to the states.
On the other hand, he writes:
For courts to invalidate the act would thus cast aside another bedrock principle of American constitutional law — that Congress has plenary power to regulate interstate commerce, including health insurance, and also wide flexibility in choosing how to carry that power into effect.
But both sides, he writes, are also wrong; wrong to deny the validity of their opponents’ arguments.
Coan compares the current conflict to one that emerged during the presidency of George Washington, when Congress passed legislation incorporating a national bank. The bank’s proponents claim the Constitution gives Congress the powers to tax and to borrow money, and, by extension, establish a national bank.
The bank’s opponents, on the other hand, argued that, in Coan’s words, “if Con­gress could incorporate a national bank merely out of convenience, what could it not do?”
At the end of the day, the Supreme Court upheld the bank, ruling implicitly that “Congress is usually in a better position than the courts to determine how to carry those powers into effect.” If the people really object to a piece of legislation, they can vote Congress out of office.
Coan concedes that the national bank situation may not be directly applicable to the health-care situation. And he doesn’t weigh in on one side or another.
Instead, his request is refreshingly modest:
If their decisions follow the lead of most commentators, both courts and the country will fail to appreciate the hard compromises that either result would entail. One bedrock constitutional principle or another must give way. It would make for wiser judicial decision-making — and a healthier democracy — if we began to wrestle with this openly now.