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New York Family Law Blog

Investors, mall owners in legal fight over alleged EB-5 fraud

Foreign nationals who dream of starting over in America have a variety of visa options, though with the current quotas and restrictions, it may take years of waiting before those dreams are realized. However, one visa program allows investors who can meet the monetary requirements to begin the process of obtaining those coveted green cards. Unfortunately, this program is not without its problems and there may be investors in New York who are concerned that they have become victims of EB-5 fraud.

More than a decade ago, a shopping mall in another state fell upon hard economic times. It has been sold several times over the past years with the ownership change in 2010 heralding plans that promised to revitalize the prime commercial property through foreign investments. The owners, through their property management investment firm, courted foreign nationals with the hoped for end result that they would qualify for their visas once the project was completed.

Misconceptions may make same-sex adoption more difficult

As someone who has always wanted a child, you may have found the prospect of parenthood exciting. However, as a homosexual person, you may have also considered the prospect of having a child of your own potentially out of reach. Now that same-sex adoption is legal in all 50 states, you may have once again begun to feel the desire to add children to your family.

Though you and your spouse may have discussed the idea and feel comfortable with the thought of having a child of your own through adoption, you may also have some concerns. Because many people still have unwarranted misconceptions about same-sex couples, you could worry that your adoption process may not go as smoothly as you would hope.

Marriage equality equals divorce equality for same sex couples

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in June of 2015. As a result, same sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples -- including a divorce. New York was one of the states that allowed same sex couples to wed before the Highest Court's ruling and has its own laws regarding the process for divorcing couples.

There are countless partners who were already in a committed relationship well before they were granted the right to marry. As a result, it may be more difficult for these couples to reach a satisfactory settlement in the event their relationship ends in dissolution. It has been advised that these couples take the same measures that opposite sex partners have done whenever they have made the decision to formally wed after years together. Two tools that may make a divorce less stressful are the prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Key points to consider that may help reduce estate litigation

Even though it may be an unpleasant task, contemplating one's demise is a human tendency. However, making plans for what happens to one's estate after he or she is gone could ease some anxieties while also possibly forestalling estate litigation by disgruntled family members or other interested parties. New York residents may benefit from reviewing their current plans or taking steps to ensure their wishes are met if they have not done so already.

There are certain steps that would be beneficial when deciding to draft one's final plans. The first consideration is to carefully review the demographics of one's family. One may wonder if there certain loved ones who deserve to benefit more from an inheritance or if a family member needs to be removed from consideration.  Determining how assets will be disbursed and by what means are other points to incorporate into these plans. Secondly, a thorough accounting of all assets can provide a more concise picture of what needs to be distributed upon one's death, and careful examination of any existing plans can reveal whether all assets and the needs of heirs will be met as intended.

Federal judge allows alleged EB-5 fraud suit to continue

There are several different visa programs available, and each one has a different set of regulations and requirements. However, only one program requires a considerable investment from foreign nationals, which has led to several allegations of EB-5 fraud. While there have been many projects in New York that have been completed by way of these investments, there are other projects that have been the subject of civil lawsuits.

Recently, a federal judge has determined that a lawsuit against a business owner may continue -- including the counter suit that the other parties have filed. The judge also stated that both state and federal agencies purportedly have failed to provide the required oversight into the EB-5 program once this particular program was taken under the management of a private firm. The lawsuit was initially filed over allegations that investors defaulted on the loans that the private firm made for a motel and casino project.

Separate rulings result in conflict over same-sex parental rights

The Supreme Court ruling in 2015 regarding marriage equality may have been understood by some families to provide protection for more than just marital relationships. There could be some same-sex couples who have assumed that this ruling also confers parental rights when a marriage ends in divorce. There may be many New York families who are attempting to discern how custody could be affected in a same-sex dissolution that includes children.

In one state, two separate rulings by family and appellate courts in different districts have arrived at vastly different conclusions in these matters. In one case, a court ruled that the women involved in the marriage were entitled to parental rights when their relationship legally ended. That ruling was upheld in an appeals court decision, which came after the 2015 Supreme Court ruling. A more recent case was decided in a manner that contradicted the first ruling.

Same sex adoptions gaining more acceptance

Families come into being in wonderfully diverse ways. One growing family dynamic is that of the ones including a same sex couple and their children. While many of these couples do find ways to have a biological child, a more common way of raising children is through same sex adoption. It is likely that there are hundreds of these families who call New York their home.

One adoption agency compiled statistics to show the growing acceptance of same sex adoptions throughout the country. Out of the millions of families that are comprised of a same sex couple, more than 94,627 are currently raising children. More than 6 percent of those families have adopted their children, which is a much greater percentage of the families that are comprised of opposite sex partners. There are approximately another 2 million gay couples who are interested in adopting a child.

What are the benefits of a health care proxy?

Everyone can benefit from having certain protections in place, regarding of health status, income level or sexual orientation. Same-sex couples could benefit from making certain that they have strong estate plans in place, which should include a health care proxy in case one person becomes incapacitated.

In New York, husbands and wives have the protection of certain state laws that would allow one partner to make medical and financial decisions in the event that the other partner dies or becomes incapacitated. However, same-sex couples do not enjoy that same protection. LGBT couples would be wise to ensure that they have the proper documents in place, such as a health care proxy, in order to protect their interests in case of an emergency.

After investigations, center to close over EB-5 fraud allegations

While there are many avenues for one to apply for a visa, only one program requires a foreign national to make an investment into a project that is geared toward improving both the surrounding geographic location and the lives of other residents. However, this program is also the frequent magnet for criticism and allegations of EB-5 fraud. Many New York developments have been completed through the investments that immigrants have made through this visa. 

For the past several months, both the government of one state as well as a federal agency have conducted investigations into that state's handling of a regional center. Recently, both entities have come to the same conclusion: this center will be closed over the mishandling of the EB-5 visa projects. The owner of several of the projects that were registered with this visa was accused by both the U.S. government and the SEC of misappropriating the funds that were meant to be used in the development projects -- most notably the Jay Peak Resort.

Several changes in views of same sex marriage

As recently as June 2015, there were still 14 states in America that would not grant equal rights to certain couples that wished to marry. However, the United States Supreme Court ruled in June of that year that all couples were to be granted equal protections under the constitution, including same sex couples. While New York laws granted these rights before that date, it has taken some time for the rest of the country to catch up with modern views.

There are several facts concerning same sex couples that not every citizen may be aware, like how some of these views have changed over time. For starters, just one decade ago, just slightly more than half of Americans were opposed to same sex couples getting married. That statistic has reversed itself with more than 62 percent favoring gay marriage. There are still some differences in opinion among those who claim a religious background, though even among these segments, approval is growing.