Category Archives: Family

People involved in contentious family law proceedings need to proceed cautiously …. They believe that mediation is only effective in family law cases under the..Family law news and headlines from around the web.

Am I legally responsible for shoveling my sidewalk?

By Victoria Dalton
on February 14, 2016 at 6:41 AM, updated February 14, 2016 at 6:42 AM

As we brave the wintery cold, Valentine’s Day brings some warmth to our hearts and reminds us of when we fell head over heels in love with that special someone.

Falling head over heels is only good when love is involved.   Walking on snow and ice covered sidewalks can result in a nasty slip and fall.  Serious injuries can occur which may bring unexpected medical treatment and bills.  Is anyone legally responsible when these accidents occur?

In some instances, a property owner may be responsible when someone falls head over heels on their property. This week, Your Legal Corner will discuss the various factors that govern sidewalk liability.

Type of Property

The law distinguishes the level of care to be provided to a pedestrian based upon the type of property involved.  For example, the level of care required for a residential property owner is quite different and much less when compared to a commercial property owner.

Residential Property

With a residential property, the sidewalk that abuts or is in front of your premises is considered public property.  As a result, the general rule is a homeowner is not responsible for the condition of the public sidewalk in front of the home.  There is no duty to maintain the sidewalk in front of the premises in a safe condition.  However, it would be too simple if that was the only rule and there were no exceptions.

If a homeowner attempts to make repairs to correct some defect or clears the sidewalk from ice or snow, they may be held legally responsible if their actions are done negligently and result in a new or increased element of danger to a pedestrian.

For example, if a property owner undertakes to shovel the snow covered sidewalk and leaves a thin layer of ice but does not spread salt, they could be held responsible for a fall for increasing the element of danger that previously did not exist.

Additionally, the driveway and walkway leading up to the property is always the responsibility of the homeowner. Therefore in this instance there is in most cases homeowner liability for slip and falls on their property.

Commercial Property     

 Commercial property owners have a higher duty of care when it comes to sidewalk liability.  Their responsibility can best be described in one word, “reasonableness.”

The owner of a commercial property has a duty to use reasonable care to ensure the sidewalk abutting their property is safe for pedestrians using them.  They must determine whether the condition of the sidewalk poses an unreasonable risk of harm.  If so, they must take action in a reasonable period of time to correct the condition.

Notably, a commercial property owner is required to take affirmative steps to correct any dangerous condition.  Especially with snow and ice, they must remain vigilant to ensure that changing conditions are addressed in a timely manner.

Homeowner or Condominium Association 

In this type of living arrangement many individuals have left their traditional neighborhood to live in an “over 55” or condominium community.  Who is responsible for the sidewalks in a private community?

In a recent decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court determined that the rule governing residential property owners does not apply where the association controls the sidewalks.  The bylaws of the homeowners’ association typically spell out a duty on the association to maintain sidewalks and common areas.  As such, they have a duty to maintain those areas in a safe condition.

As you can see the rules are somewhat confusing. Should you suffer from a slip and fall, it is best to contact a personal injury attorney to know for sure who is legally responsible.

Hopefully, this Valentine’s Day is only filled with love and fond memories of when you first fell head over heels!!!

Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss  “A Patient’s Bill of Rights.” Victoria M. Dalton is a dedicated Family/Elder Law Attorney with the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio. Email correspondence or call 856-845-8243.

Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational material about the law and is not legal advice.

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How to Win a Custody Battle


  1. Take action first. If the mother of your child takes you to court, then you will have a problem. When a father takes the mother of the child to court, it shows the court that you really want to be in your child’s life and want to take action.


2. Pay child support. Even if it’s not ordered into court yet, no matter what. Give something every month and do not give cash, write a check, money order, etc.


3. Avoid arguing with the other parent. This only makes things worse and it will start giving your child mixed emotions.


4. Call the police. If at any time the other parent argues with you, just walk out and call the police. “Do not argue back”, because it can be put into a police report and it can be used against you in court.


5. Spend as much quality time with the children as possible. Take them to activities them will enjoy every time you are with them and document the activities with photos. Do they enjoy swimming, face painting and walks in the woods?


6. Great–do that and more with them and have the photos to prove it. Don’t have time to take them somewhere special? No problem–make a game of whatever you are doing with them form shopping at the local Publix to raking leaves. Make it fun for the kids and get photos of the good times to back it up.


7. Be present. Make sure you attend as many teacher conferences, doctors appointments and extracurricular activities as you can and be sure to know the names of their teachers, doctors, friends, coaches and babysitters.


8. Keep track of everything. This is very important, keep track everyday when you see/don’t see your child. It will also help you in the long run. Do not tell the other parent that you are keeping track.

  • Record each and every time the other parent breaches the current custody agreement. Record every omission, such as, late pickup/returning, didn’t return child’s things, didn’t pay math tutor, no show at parent-teacher conference, etc.
  • Keep a detailed record of all payments. This includes all child support payments and other financial obligations governed by current agreement. Keep it in the file with your other court documents.


9. Make your visits. Make sure that you are making your visits when it’s your day. If you cannot make it for some reason, make sure you call the other parent and tell her. Not making a scheduled visit will look bad on your part.


10. Dress professionally. Make sure you are dressed nicely with a suit, etc. Don’t dress like a slob with ripped jeans or a ripped shirt.


11. Make sure that you go to all your court dates. Missing court could result in a warrant for your arrest.

12. Be yourself but also demand your rights.

Rocco Ritchie Allegedly Pictured Smoking Amid Custody Battle: ‘This Is Exactly What Madonna Has Been Afraid Of,’ Says Source

02/08/2016 AT 07:10 AM EST

Madonna and Guy Ritchie‘s custody battle rages on.

Over the weekend, U.K.’s The Sun posted photos of the exes’ underage son Rocco allegedly smoking with friends in London while under his father’s care.

“This is exactly what Madonna has been afraid of,” a source tells PEOPLE. “Rocco still isn’t back in school – and now this. He is just a rebellious teenager, but he needs guidance and direction from his father.”

The teen had been on tour for a few months with Madonna, 57, but left to go live with his father, 47, in the U.K. in December because, as sources previously told PEOPLE, he prefers his father’s laid-back parenting style.

However, when Rocco refused to return home to his mother for the holidays, a judge reportedly ordered him to return to New York for his parents to sort out his living situation. Despite the order, Ritchie has yet to return Rocco to the United States, and a source close to the singer alleges Rocco has missed some school. As a Ritchie source told PEOPLE last week, Madonna even visited her son in between tour legs to make a plea for him to come home.

As a Ritchie source told PEOPLE last week, “It’s about a fundamental difference in parental philosophies,” adding the filmmaker views his ex’s “old-school” approach as “counter-productive” and “harming his self-esteem and confidence at such a crucial part of his life.”

But a friend of the former couple – who finalized their divorce in 2008 – believes the custody squabble was caused in part by their contentious history.

“This is far beyond a situation about Rocco – it’s about a situation between Madonna and Guy,” the friend told PEOPLE last month. “They don’t have a good relationship; it’s more of a power fight between them and if he can one-up her. This is the best way he can do it.”

Madonna and Ritchie are due in New York Supreme Court for a hearing March 2; reps are not commenting.

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Ryan Phillippe Has Found His Soulmate in Law Student Paulina Slagter: They’re ‘Madly in Love,’ Says Friend

UPDATED 01/04/2016 AT 08:35 AM EST


Over the moon about his engagement to law student Paulina Slagter, actorRyan Phillippe, 40, spent a whirlwind New Year’s weekend at eco-friendly One Hotel & Homes South Beach celebrating with his new fiancéée.

“Ryan and Paulina are very much in love,” a close friend of the actor’s tells PEOPLE. “She is changing him. He is a better man.”

One of the things Phillippe loves the most about Slagter, 24, is her mind, says the source, who spent the weekend with the couple. He is mesmerized by her intelligence and desire to make life better for everyone around her.

“Ryan feels Paulina is very intelligent and has opened his mind to equality and civil rights, areas he has never really focused on that intently,” the source adds.

“Being a student at Stanford law is impressive to him, and he is very proud of her. He feels that she has the ability to change the world and make it a better place.”

Another thing that made Phillippe want to marry Slagter was her affection for the children he shares with ex-wife Reese Witherspoon, Ava, 16, and Deacon, 12, as well as his daughter Kai, 4, with Alexis Knapp, a former girlfriend. “Paulina loves Ryan’s children, and they love her,” says the source.

Adds the source: “Ryan is madly in love and wants to spend the rest of his life with Paulina.

“And the feeling is mutual. They had eyes only for each other during the South Beach weekend. They are a wonderful couple.”

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12/8/2015 10:07 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas are officially single, after dividing a huge chunk of movie change.

According to final divorce docs, obtained by TMZ, Antonio made a lot of dough on “The Mask of Zorro,” “Desperado,” and “Spy Kids.” He keeps all the cash from those flicks and she gets to keep what she made from her earlier work.

Melanie and Antonio split money from every movie either of them did between 2004 and 2014, including “Shrek 2,” “Puss in Boots,” “Machete Kills,” “Expendables 3” and others.

It appears they signed some sort of postnup in 2004 which changed the financial deal of their marriage … they married in 1996 but it seems they kept everything separate from the date of their marriage until 2004.

Antonio is not getting out clean … he’s paying her $65k a month in spousal support.

She gets the house in Aspen and they sold their L.A. mansion and split the profits.

And there’s a lot of rich people’s stuff that was divvied up. She gets a Picasso called “The Painter and His Model.” He gets a pencil drawing by Picasso and another pencil drawing by Diego Rivera.

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