- Adoption In Nevada
- Assisted Reproductive Technology
- Divorce Retirement
- Domestic Partnerships
- Estate Planning in Nevada
- Family Law In Nevada
- Financial Disclosure Form
- Living Will
- Nevada Interest Rate
- No Fault Divorce
- Real Property Deed
- Same-Sex Marriage
Reno, Nevada Family Lawyers & Divorce Attorneys - Surratt Law Blog
Divorcing parties with a Nevada PERS pension benefit should carefully look at their rights and the best way to divide the pension. Often, this is an afterthought as the parties simply agree to divide the asset “equally”. There is very specific case law in place that governs what takes place relative to the “survivor benefit.” I urge my clients to be aware of their pension and for the spouse that is not the named plan member, to be aware of the survivor benefit. Good information is available from NV PERS. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (called a “QDRO”) will need to be drafted to address the exact requirements of the pension plan administrator and all the little terms that govern exactly how the pension will be divided.
The institutes they will be teaching offer a great mix of advanced and general skills programs for all paralegals. The institutes described below will be held each morning of the July program – Wednesday July 22, Thursday July 23 and Friday, July 24. The educational institutes are the key programs of the NALA convention, offering over 8 hours of CLE.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution. The purpose of this institute is to review with legal professionals the various aspects of Alternative Dispute Resolution. This institute will cover how different ways disputes can be resolved and what it takes to get to the table as well as what to do once you get there. This institute will review how the ADR options differ and how to determine which option you choose or how to determine whether you get to choose or the choice is made for you according to existing agreements or contracts.
- Corporate Law. Corporate Law covers any issues that accompany the formation and day-to-day management of a business. In this institute, we’ll cover a broad spectrum of topics that most corporate paralegals encounter. On day one, we’ll lay the groundwork by covering the formation of legal entities, with a focus on the LLC. Day two, we’ll build on that foundation with a finance flavor and an overview of due diligence during the M&A process. The last day of the institute will be employment law as well as the provision of contract drafting skills that are imperative to all corporate paralegals. This will be a great introduction to various aspects of corporate law for newcomers, and a great refresher for seasoned paralegals.
- Environmental Law. From attending this environmental law overview, paralegals will have a more thorough understanding of (1) Environmental Governance; (2) Brownfields, Vapor Intrusion, and Hydraulic Fracturing; (3) Sustainability basics; (4) Water Rights Issues in Oklahoma and Texas; (5) Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air Act (6) Keystone XL Pipeline Project; (7) Reviewing Phase I and Phase II Reports for Environmental Issues; and (8) Burlington Northern v. US.
- Essential Skills. This practical course is helpful for everyone, especially those studying for the Certified Paralegal Examination. The Essential Skills Institute will cover legal research, judgment and legal analysis, and written communications. During legal research, you will learn a simple research procedure that can be used in any law library. Judgment and legal analysis will cover techniques to categorize facts and evidence, to analyze the relevant ones, and to organize them into a final product; and written communication will conclude this institute by covering the most difficult areas of writing for people in the legal environment. It is suggested that you review the rules of grammar and style in The Elements of Style by Strunk & White to prepare for the course.
- Immigration Law. This course will provide an overview of the legal immigration system in the United States. The course will focus on three categories including business and employment immigration, education visas and permanent residency and family based immigration. The course will also cover ethical and professional responsibilities of immigration law, and what makes immigration law different. Participants will gain a better understanding of vocabulary often used in immigration law.
- Litigation with Emphasis on Government Liability. Students will learn the basics of complex issues involving government liability claims and the discovery leading up to trial. Students will gain skills to understand the law from Section 1983, identify types of immunities, and common causes of action. Students will also learn about ethical considerations when dealing with government claims and resolution strategies. Discussion subjects include:
- Federal Claims Under 42 U.S.C. §1983
- Statutory, Constitutional, and Common Law Claims
- Filing The Claim, Defenses, Discovery, Damages, Statute of Limitations
- Subject Areas of Litigation, Damages, and Settlement
- Government Liability Ethics
- Medical Malpractice and How it Differs from Run-of-the-mill Litigation. This program will review the paralegal’s role in Medical Professional Liability cases; provide understanding as to why medical malpractice actions differ from general litigation matters; discuss HIPAA and Medicare compliance requirements and restrictions in a medical malpractice case; and, provide an understanding of the admissibility of evidence from the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s perspectives from the time the potential client walks through the door to the night before trial.
- Legal Technology. We live in a digital world. Most if not all paralegal and legal assistant positions currently advertised require technology skills ranging from online research, e-filing, project management, knowledge of practice specific software for case and/or firm management. Moreover, hybrid paralegal positions are on the increase. Stay on the cutting edge of the legal technology and resources out there and acquire a proficient understanding of this technology to help you advance your career. Legal professionals of all skill levels will benefit from this institute. Come join us as we explore where law and technology intersect.
You can find additional information, including how to register, at www.nala.org
Is Surrogacy allowed in the State of Nevada?
Yes, Nevada does allow a surrogacy/gestational carrier arrangement. You must comply with the minimum requirements of Nevada law, including but not limited to have a valid contract.
What is the difference between a Surrogate and a Gestational Carrier?
Over time these terms have been confused. A “surrogate” has in the past referred to what we call “traditional surrogacy” in which the third party that is carrying a baby is also the egg donor, meaning she is genetically related to the child. A “gestational carrier” is a woman who carries a baby for a third party or parties who is not genetically related to the child, meaning her egg was not used. Traditional Surrogacy is not allowed in Nevada. However, the term “surrogate” is interchangeable with the term “gestational carrier”.
Are Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier agreements enforceable in Nevada?
Yes, a gestational carrier agreement is enforceable in Nevada. In fact, Nevada requires that you have a gestational carrier agreement in place before the Carrier is on her medications in order intended parents to be declared the parents of a child pursuant to the arrangement.
Is traditional surrogacy allowed in the State of Nevada?
No, Nevada specifically does not permit traditional surrogacy by statute. The law in Nevada provides that the Surrogate / Gestational Carrier can not be genetically related to the child born of the process. You must utilize either the egg of an intended mother or an egg donation from another third party.
Can you pay a surrogate/gestational in the State of Nevada?
Yes, a gestational carrier may be paid/compensated in the State of Nevada. Under Nevada’s old surrogacy statute, compensation was not permitted but that was specifically repealed in October of 2013.
Do intended parents in a Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier Arrangement have to be married in the State of Nevada?
No, Intended Parents in a Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier Arrangement do not have to be married in the State of Nevada.
Can a single Intended Parent utilize a Surrogate / Gestational Carrier in the State of Nevada?
Yes, a single Intended Parent can utilize a Surrogate / Gestational Carrier in the State of Nevada.
Can an embryo donor be used in the State of Nevada?
Yes, it is permissible by statute to use an embryo donation in the State of Nevada and be the legal parent of the child.
Can an egg donor be used in the State of Nevada?
Yes, it is permissible by statute to use an egg donation in the State of Nevada and be the legal parent of the child.
Do the Intended Parents in a Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier Arrangement need to have a genetic link to the child?
No, the Intended Parents in a Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier Arrangement do not need to have a genetic link to the child.
Do same-sex Intended Parents have to register in the State of Nevada as domestic partners to be the legal parents of a child born of a Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier Arrangement?
No, same-sex Intended Parents do not have to register in the State of Nevada as domestic partners to be the legal parents of a child born of a Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier Arrangement.
Can Intended Parents of a Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier Arrangement obtain a pre-birth order in the State of Nevada?
Yes, by statutory authority, Intended Parents can obtain a pre-birth court order designating them as the parents of a child born of a Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier Arrangement.
Can Intended Parents of a Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier Arrangement obtain a post-birth order in the State of Nevada?
Yes, by statutory authority, Intended Parents can obtain a post-birth court order designating them as the parents of a child born of a Surrogacy / Gestational Carrier Arrangement.
Is a hearing required for a pre-birth order to be obtained in the State of Nevada?
No, a hearing is not automatically required for a pre-birth parentage order in the State of Nevada. The Court always retains the authority to require a hearing. However, historically the Court only requires a hearing when the parties have not followed Nevada law.
Do I have to have a lawyer for a surrogacy/gestational carrier arrangement?
Pursuant to Nevada law, both the Intended Parents and the Surrogate / Gestational Carrier must have independent legal counsel while negotiating and entering into their written Agreement.
What state should I have an attorney in for a surrogacy/gestational carrier arrangement?
It is highly recommended that you obtain a lawyer in the state in which the child/ren will be born. That is the state that will determine parentage and issue the birth certificate. Under Nevada law, both the Intended Parents and the Surrogate / Gestational Carrier must have independent legal counsel.
Can an international same-sex male couple obtain an initial birth certificate naming the biological father and Surrogate / Gestational Carrier?
Yes, an international same-sex male couple can obtain an initial birth certificate naming the biological father and the Surrogate / Gestational Carrier. However, it may only be done with specific court orders and the couple must understand that each Judge operates differently and there is a possibility that the Judge is unwilling to assist them with this request.
Can an international same-sex male couple subsequently obtain a birth certificate naming only the biological father and/or both fathers, with no mention of the Surrogate / Gestational Carrier?
Yes, an international same-sex male couple subsequently obtain a birth certificate naming only the biological father and/or both fathers, with no minion of the Surrogate / Gestational Carrier. However, it may only be done with specific court orders and the couple must understand that each Judge operates differently and there is a possibility that the Judge is unwilling to assist them with this request.
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Many divorcing parties are unaware of the fact that Nevada’s community property law requires an “equal division” at divorce. A divorcing couple will often have a general discussion about splitting assets, but do not take the time to determine of the agreement complies with Nevada law or otherwise meet legal requirements for an unequal disposition. See NRS 125.150(1)(b), which states, in part:
NRS 125.150 Alimony and adjudication of property rights; award of attorney’s fee; subsequent modification by court. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 125.155 and unless the action is contrary to a premarital agreement between the parties which is enforceable pursuant to chapter 123A of NRS:
1. In granting a divorce, the court: …
(b) Shall, to the extent practicable, make an equal disposition of the community property of the parties, except that the court may make an unequal disposition of the community property in such proportions as it deems just if the court finds a compelling reason to do so and sets forth in writing the reasons for making the unequal disposition. …
If the parties are going to reach and agreement resulting in an unequal disposition of the community, such as one party taking more debt or one party keeping all of a retirement asset, there have to be reasons. Moreover, the Court wants to know what those reasons are, or a divorcing couple could find the matter “stricken” by the Court.
The Court forms provided in various counties in the state do not necessarily make this clear. A significantly one-sided agreement risks increased scrutiny and/or outright rejection.
Ensuring your assets are there for your same-sex spouse with Estate Planning tools will be much easier, and fairer, given the DOMA decision. It is clear we are still in a transition period, but, in Nevada, which only mandates filing a federal tax form, there are broader protections for higher wealth same-sex spouses.
For those that may not be as familiar with this issue, there was a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in US v. Windsor that significantly impacts same-sex married couples. “DOMA” (the Defense of Marriage Act) was impacted by the Windsor decision when the Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision this summer, found Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional, declaring it “a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment.” This has special tax and estate planning implications for same-sex married couples. While Nevada does not allow same-sex marriage, couples that marry in other states now living in Nevada are impacted under federal rules. Under Windsor, same-sex married couples are treated the same as heterosexual married couples in certain jurisdictions.
Each person can give another person thousands of dollars each year without current tax consequences (for 2013, the tax-free gift limit is $14,000, adjusted each year based on inflation). The gift recipient does not have to pay tax on the gift. The giver must report the amount given if it exceeds the annual limit. These excess amounts go toward the lifetime total of money each taxpayer may give without facing any gift tax penalty. In addition, an important tax break for married couples, called the marital deduction, permits spouses to transfer as much as they want to each other without having to pay any federal estate or gift tax if the recipient spouse is a U.S. citizen. For 2013, the lifetime limit is $5.25 million (also adjusted each year for inflation). This lifetime limit is taken into consideration by Estate Planning professionals when looking at how spouses intend to provide for each other in their final Will or Trust documents.
The annual and lifetime gift limits mean that few people have to worry about the tax implications of gifts. However, married couples recognized by the Internal Revenue Service get a break. Heterosexual married couples are subject to no limits, annual or lifetime, on gifts or transfers of property of any amount to their spouses. With the DOMA decision, now same-sex married couples who were legally married in one of the states or jurisdictions that recognize their marriage will be given the same federal estate and gift tax benefits as heterosexual married couples.
The DOMA decision impacts other areas of law that are considered when drafting Estate Plan documents. To name just a few, same-sex married couples should consider the implications the law change will have on:
- The right to be named the sole primary beneficiary on ERISA qualified retirement accounts.
- The right to roll over IRAs and other qualified retirement plans, rather than be subject to mandatory withdrawals.
- The right to collect spousal benefits under Social Security Benefits.
- The right to be treated as a spouse with all military benefits.
- The right to COBRA continuation health insurance benefits.
- The right to protections for an “innocent spouse” under Medicaid and the impacts with long term nursing home care.
- The right to take time from work under the Family Medical Leave Act.
There are many professionals still figuring out where the same-sex spousal rights fit in to various areas of law, but, overturning DOMA vastly expands the estate planning resources available for same-sex couples as they plan for how to ensure the one they love is provided for.
As a greater number of jurisdictions grant same sex marriage, there are a growing number of couples in non-recognition states traveling to those states for marriage. They then return to their non-recognition state of residence. Upon needing a divorce, they are then learning that their state may not be willing to grant the divorce and they do not meet the residency rules to obtain a divorce in any other location. It is a growing problem. In response to the growing problem, many states and countries, Canada, have started to modify their jurisdiction rules to provide exceptions for these couples. In general, the exceptions state that if the couple was married in that state and they are not able to obtain a divorce in any other jurisdiction they can get divorced in the state they were married in. In most cases they will only receive the status of divorce and not additional assistance with division of assets and debts. That is problematic but not as problematic as being permanently. NCLR has a great memorandum that summarizes each of the jurisdictions that have exceptions. If you are desperate for a divorce – read up and find out if you have a chance of returning to the state/country that you originally were married it. NCLR Memorandum
It is very important for Intended Parents from the UK who are utilizing a surrogate/gestational carrier in the United States to follow specific instructions. I have written a blog on this issue in the past. However, there is a new decision in the UK that helps explain what is needed and explain what the though process is for a Judge in the UK. The decision can be found at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2013/2408.html.
The following analysis was processed in the case:
- There must be a biological connection between the child and one of the intended parents.
- The carrier can not be biologically related to the child.
- The court assessed the status of the applicant’s (the intended parents) relationship, considering that they had been in a relationship for ten years and married eight years.
- The application must be issued within six months after the child’s birth.
- The child must be in the care of the applicants at the time the application was made and at the time that the court is considering the order and at least one of the applicants must be domiciled in the UK.
- The applicants must be over the age of 18.
- The gestational carrier and her husband must give unconditional consent to the application. The consent should be given freely and with full understanding of what is involved. The carrier’s consent should be more than six weeks after the child’s birth. The court bolstered the argument that there was consent by acknowledging that there was also agreement by the gestational carrier and her husband to a pre-birth order and that there was the original surrogacy agreement entered into.
- The court found that the child’s welfare was best met with a parental order. What is interesting is that the a “Parental Order Reporter” had to investigate the matter on behalf of the court. It is really a “home study” as we see it in the United States and it required consideration under the UK’s Adoption and Children Act 2002. The paramount consideration is the lifelong welfare of the child. What this says to me is that the Court could find the intended parents to not be suitable parents and still deny the parentage. The investigator set out her professional judgment in the case as follows: “C[hild] is living in a home environment where he is cherished and loved. There are no concerns that he is at risk of harm in the care of [the intended parents] and, in my view, it is in his best interests to remain in their care. It would be beneficial to C[hild] that his parents are willing to talk openly about his origins.” I am blown away by the last statement. While I do not disagree with it I am shocked it was part of the record and even considered as a recommendation.
- The last consideration for the court was that it must be satisfied that no money or other benefit, other than for expenses reasonably incurred, has been given or received by either of the applicants for, or in consideration of, the making of the order, any agreement to be in a relationship/married, the handing over of the child to the applicants, or the making of any arrangement with the view to the making of the order unless authorized by the court. This was probably the biggest risk in this Case for failure. The Court assessed that compensation was paid to the gestational carrier, her expenses were reimbursed, an agency fee was paid, an egg donor payment was made, and payment were made for medical treatment. The two payments the court found questionable were the payments to the gestational carrier and her husband that were not for identifiable expenses and the agency fee. The court found that the agency fee was partially for the agencies expenses but it could not identify how much. To determine if the court is to authorize payments such as these, the court must look at a number of factors: Was the sum paid disproportionate to reasonable expenses? Were the applicants acting in good faith and without moral taint? Were the applicants’ party to any attempt to defraud the authorities? The court was satisfied that the payments in this case should be authorized. The Court was satisfied that the sums which were paid were not disproportionate to the reasonable expenses even with a compensation value (the payments the court did not believe were for expenses reasonably incurred) of $51,200. The court found that the $51,200 did not overbear the will of the surrogate and were not of such a level to be an affront to public policy. They were payments permitted in the jurisdiction in which they were made, and were not too dissimilar to payments made in similar cases. The Court found that the information on carrier demonstrated that she was altruistically motivated to become a surrogate mother and to assist the intended parents to have a much wanted child. She had been a surrogate before and had the benefit of detailed prior discussions and legal advice before entering into the agreement with the applicants and had a clear understanding of the process and issues involved. She formed a positive relationship with the applicants and she wholeheartedly supports the applicants’ wish to be treated as the child’s parents. The court was also moved that the intended parents acted in good faith in their involvement with the authorities, followed all US requirements, followed all UK requirements, and furnishing the court with all the information which it required. The finding was that there was no ‘moral taint’ in the applicants’ dealings with the respondents or with the authorities. It is also clear from the applicants’ statements that the surrogacy arrangement was entered into with care and thought and in respect of a much-wanted child, and does not represent the simple buying of a child overseas.
This is a relief!!!!! I never though that such a high compensation value would pass muster in the UK. We will have to reach out to our UK counterparts such as Natalie Gamble to determine how this decision sets the tone in the UK. Will other Judges come to the same decision? Is this a consistent decision? I will seek a guest blog entry from Ms. Gamble and keep you informed!
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July 09, 2013
The state of Nevada recently passed a bill into law that dramatically expands the assisted reproductive technology (ART) rights of its citizens. The law—drafted, submitted and lobbied by Surratt Law Practice—positions Nevada as a national leader in reproductive rights legislation.
The new law is set to take effect October 1 and includes neutral language regarding the gender and marital status of intended parents through the use of ART. While the state’s previous law narrowly defined intended parents as legally married heterosexual couples, the new law recognizes the rights of single individuals, unmarried couples and domestic partners.
“This new law is truly a milestone in the national struggle for equal parental rights,” said Kimberly Surratt of Surratt Law Practice. “We are thrilled to see this bill passed into law, and we believe that our efforts will become a template for the rest of the country in the years to come. The issue of parental rights is central to marriage and gender equality, and Surratt Law Practice will remain on the forefront of these important efforts.”
The law firm had a central role in pushing the bill forward, with Kimberly Surratt drafting the bill itself. The firm’s team also engaged in aggressive lobbying, working closely with several members of the Nevada legislature.
The new law was introduced to the state legislature by Assemblyman Jason Frierson and was recently signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval. It also includes modifications to the rights of donated egg and embryo recipients, mirroring existing laws for sperm donations. In addition to expanding parental rights, the new law allows for compensation to be paid to gestational carriers, and also permits pre- and post-birth instructions for surrogates.
“Surratt Law Practice is dedicated to comprehensive parental rights reform in the state of Nevada,” said Surratt. “We’re proud of the results we’ve attained so far, and we’ll continue to work on behalf of all citizens in the future. This is a major step forward for equality, but our work has only just begun.”
Surratt Law Practice, based in Reno, has made significant contributions to surrogacy and reproductive rights legislation in the state of Nevada and is a continuing leader on the issue. To learn more about the firm, visit http://surrattlaw.com/.
For more information and the full text of the new law, go to http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/77th2013/Bills/AB/AB421_EN.pdf.
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Each year Nevada Business Magazine conducts a Legal Elite pole. This year, 2013, the polling had 5,232 unique votes. The 2013 Legal Elite Pole highlights the top attorneys in Nevada as voted on by peer nominations. Nevada Magazine considers the list to represent the best in an already elite field. The list contains just over 200 attorneys in Southern Nevada and just over 100 attorneys in Northern Nevada, meaning any attorney that makes the list in in the top three percent in Nevada. Surratt Law Practice had three attorney’s in the Northern Nevada list. Congratulations to Kimberly Surratt, Melissa Exline and Rayna Brachmann for making it onto the 2013 Nevada Business Magazine Legal Elite list.
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