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About 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Approximately 59 percent of these adoptions occur through child welfare (or foster) system whereas 26 percent are the result of international adoptions, and 15 percent are voluntarily relinquished by their American biological parents. Due to the frequency of adoptions, the process of adopting a child involves two main areas: a process involving a social welfare agency and adoption agency and a process involving the courts or in the case of international adoptions USCIS which will manage the adopted child’s immigration into the United States.

Read and find a number of resources on adoption procedures across the globe. This section contains information on how to adopt, process in domestic and international locations, how much an adoption costs, birth parents and relatives, along with a host of related topics. Read articles on assessing, developing, and evaluating adoption programs and services, recruiting adoptive families, preparing children and youth, supporting birth parents, obtaining and providing post-adoption services, the impact of adoption, and more.

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Child abuse is physical, emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse, negligence and other forms of exploitation of children that can potentially harm their physical health, mental health, growth, development and dignity.

Children are weak, defenseless and hence are vulnerable to abuse. More than 700,000 children are subjected to child abuse annually in the U.S. In the year 2014, U.S National estimates revealed that 4 children succumbed to death per day due to injuries inflicted during abuse. These numbers have not reduced considerably since then.

Child abuse is a criminal offense. Child abuse laws have been enacted to protect children from offenders. These laws can ensure that children are treated fairly and ethically by their parents, guardians, caregivers and other acquaintances.

This section consists of detailed information about child abuse cases, pertinent laws and getting legal help for child abuse victims.

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Domestic violence and abuse impacts a large segment of the population and presents a serious social, economic and legal burden to those affected. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. At this rate, over one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men who are subjected to domestic violence and abuse.

A common misperception is that domestic violence and abuse overwhelmingly affects women, in fact men comprise a larger portion of domestic violence and abuse cases in America in addition to the high rate of incidents direct at women victims. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence data shows that  1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. Given that non physical domestic abuse is much more difficult to track the numbers affected, the rates of combined domestic violence and abuse may be much higher.   

What is domestic violence and abuse?

What constitutes domestic violence and abuse can include a wide range of behavior that involves behavior by a person in a domestic setting (marriage or cohabitation) whose intent is to coerce or intimidate another person in that domestic setting using some form of abuse or physical violence. Domestic violence and abuse does not always involve a married couple and can involve a same sex couple. It can also include what is commonly referred to as family violence which includes child abuse, elder abuse, or other abuse directed at a family members.

The type of conduct that is considered domestic abuse or violence varies by state but can involve a wide range of behavior other than simply making physical contact with another person.   Domestic violence can involve what is normally considered battery and violent sexual acts. Domestic abuse may include emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that threaten or coerce another person. Abuse can include any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

If you are victim of domestic violence, it is important to hire a lawyer experienced in representing victims of domestic violence. A skilled domestic violence attorney can help, explain the rights you may have and how to best protect yourself from an abusive partner or family member.

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Devising an estate plan will help you manage your property efficiently, protect your family’s and your own interests. Estate planning entails creation of wills, living wills and trusts.

A will is a document that can be very useful in securing the future of your partner and your children, when you are longer around. Wills consist of detailed plans about how and to whom a person’s belongings will be transferred.

A living will is a document through which you can transfer your belongings to your family while you are alive. If a time comes in your life in which you are not able to communicate your wishes to your partner or your children, this will can help them get what you intended to give them. You can also specify your health care preferences and the kind of treatment you would like to get, in your living will. If you ever fall ill and are not able to express your wishes, the living will help you get the your desired form of treatment.

A trust can be created in a person’s lifetime and as well as after his death, through a will. It’s a good way to manage property and avail tax benefits.

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One of the best things you can do when you get married is ensure that you put the right things in place to protect you and your family while living and after you or your spouse passes away. Whether putting a plan in place to cover the costs associated with a funeral, your children’s college tuition, or life insurance to cover the cost of your home and living expenses, there is a tremendous peace of mind that comes with the knowledge that your family will be taken care of.

When it comes to protecting your family’s future, it most often revolves around financial security and end of life. To ensure you have the right things in place, taking time to create an estate plan can help make the process move in the right direction.

There are many different tools that you can choose from to secure your assets, property, and finances such as:

  • Wills and trusts
  • Medical directives
  • Life insurance
  • Healthcare insurance
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Savings and retirement accounts

One of the most searched for tools in family financial planning is allocating power of attorney for spouse. In the process of making a partner the power of attorney spouses encounter a number of questions, to which they need answers. Questions like- “does a spouse need a power of attorney, does a spouse automatically have power of attorney, and so on.

Knowledge of marriage rights and benefits is very critical to ensure efficient financial planning for families. Rights of married couples also include some “marriage government benefits” that they are entitled to. This section has all the essential financial planning advice that you need to secure your family’s future.

Also, there are steps you can take along the way to increase the chances of preserving what you build such as:

  • Carefully manage any risks associated with financial plans
  • Periodically review your estate plan and documents
  • Think long-term
  • Avoid chasing after financial fads
  • Live within your means
  • Pay off debt quickly

These days people take exorbitant debts to fulfill their desires. So, the terms “Debt and marriage”  are profusely searched by couples who have taken a significant amount of loan.  “Am I responsible for my spouse’s debt” is a question that people search when their partners have taken a debt. This section has all the answers to such questions and family financial planning tips to avoid any kind of financial crunch or crisis.

Regardless of the path that you choose, when it comes securing and protecting your family’s future, a little family financial planning can go a long way.

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According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on any given day, over 415,000 children are living in the U.S. foster care system. Nearly 108,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, and on an average, wait four years for an adoptive family. Despite the fact that foster care is frequently used, what foster care entails is often confused by the public.

The Relationship Between Foster Care and Adoption

For those not familiar with child welfare services and the adoption process, foster care, is often confused as being the final step in adoption or that a child in foster care must be adopted.  Although the two can be easily confused, foster care and an adoptee’s permanent adopted home are steps in the process of adoption. There are significant differences between the two.

Adoption is best thought of as the final stage in the adoption process whereby an adoptee ends up with a family that formally takes on a child as their legal son or daughter. Whereas in foster care, a family or an individual volunteers to provide care for a child or children whose birth parent is unable to care for them. In this sense, foster care is best viewed as the middle step between the identification of a child in need of a stable home and the finalization of the adoption. Further, a child in foster care may be and often is returned to his or her birth family.

The Basics of How Foster Care is Provided

Foster care is best described as a temporary arrangement in which a child it is no longer able to live in his home due to conditions which endanger his health, safety, or welfare. A child who is no longer able to stay in his or her home will be placed temporarily in a foster home by a child welfare agency.

Foster Care Settings

Foster care can be provided in either a family home setting or a congregated setting such as a group homes. In either case, efforts are made to normalize the experience for foster children to minimize problems with adjustment to change and to not exacerbate any existing problems the child may be experiencing.

Becoming a Foster Parent

Foster parents who accept children into their home must undergo a rigorous background checks and submit a home study to ensure that the foster home is suitable for children. Under either scenario, the goal for a child in the foster care system is reunification with their birth family, unless the child’s birth parent’s rights have been terminated. However, if the child is unable to be reunited with his or her birth parents, the foster family may petition to adopt the child or the child may be adopted by another family.

Legal Help for Foster Care

Prospective foster parents will be faced with a number of legal questions ranging from how to best position themselves to become licensed foster parents, receiving financial support while caring for a foster child, dealing with family courts in the capacity of foster parents or as prospective adopting parents. Under any of these circumstances, it is important to retain counsel experienced in the law of child welfare, foster care, and adoption.  

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Some help or guidance is always needed in life. But some cases, like of a child or an adult/elderly person( who can’t make necessary decisions or actions owing to some disability or their age), need more protective, lawful, just and appropriate help in decision making processes. A guardian is someone who is legally appointed to take decisions on behalf of above mentioned persons who are unable to do so on their own.

This section deals with the specific laws on guardianship and its various important details.

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Learn how marriage affects taxes. Most often this is the furthest thing from our minds during the wedding, but it plays a huge role on your taxes. Learn how marriage can impact your taxes, what are some of the benefits you and your spouse will receive as a married couple and much more.

When it comes to absolutes, it seems that death and taxes are two of the ones that jump out. Now that you are married, although the absolutes don’t change, there tends to be some light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to your taxes.

When you get married, the date of marriage will determine what tax year you can claim as being married. According to IRS rules, as long as you are married by December 31, you are considered married for the entire tax year.

Tax benefits of marriage

Marriage brings new options (beyond filing single), including filing your taxes together (joint filing) or filing as married, but submitting individual tax forms (married filing separate). Depending upon your situation, one of these filing options may provide far better results than the other. For instance, if both work and one makes quite a bit more than the other, filing a joint return may yield better tax advantages. On the other hand, if one has significant medical debt and is able to meet deduction levels set by the IRS or has tax issues, filing separately may provide better results.

Another potential advantage of filing a joint return is the standard tax deduction. Unlike the previous ‘marriage penalty’ that reflected a lower standard deduction for a couple than if filing separately, the standard deduction rate has been adjusted to being twice that of a single filer. That said, when the combined incomes are considered, joint filers in the higher tax brackets may not realize this advantage. Moving to the higher tax brackets can also result in losing the ability to realize previous deductions available to you.  

There are other key areas that are important to understand when you are married, whether filing a joint or separate return.

  • Absent filing to claim a refund of withheld income tax, you can no longer be claimed as a dependent on your parent’s tax return if you file a joint return with your spouse.
  • If your spouse has tax liability coming into the marriage…it doesn’t become yours (although the IRS still has the ability to keep your refund if your spouse has tax liability and you file a joint return).
  • If you are unemployed and have an IRA, when you file a joint return, both parties can still make tax deductible IRA contributions. Check to see what the maximum contributions are for your tax year.
  • If you sell your home that you have owned for at least two of the past five years and it was your primary residence at least two of those years, you may gain the benefit of doubling the capital gains tax exclusion. Thus, doubling the amount that is excluded from being taxed.
  • When it comes to estate planning and gifting, spouses generally are allowed to gift each other unlimited cash and property free from gift taxes.

The moral of the story is that being married can potentially lead to benefits that you didn’t have access to when single…but, it is not an absolute. Being married isn’t the only factor, thus it is important to seek out a qualified tax professional to help you identify the best route when it comes to filing.

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Congratulations on getting married!! Are you ready to change your last name now after marriage? Not everyone is interested in changing their last names immediately after their weddings. People may want to change their names for completely different reasons. Changing a name does not have to be a chore but it does need to go through some legal procedure. So, how should one change their name after marriage? Get tips and advice on legal processes for name changes, answers to FAQ’s on name changes and more here.

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A postnup agreement is a legal contract signed after a couple gets into a civil union or marriage. So even if a couple have not signed a prenuptial agreement before their marriage, they can sign a postnuptial one for similar reasons later on.

A postnuptial agreement determines how a couple’s financial assets will be divided in case the event of divorce or separation occurs in future.It spells out the division of all property and also includes details about incurring debts, spousal or child support. Additionally, it can even address issues like division of labor at home after the marriage.

Mostly, a postnuptial agreement is considered to ensure you as well as your children (mostly likely from previous marriages) will be financially safe and secure. Learn more about post nuptials, how they work and the laws around them.

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