Richard Alderman's archive

Q. What are my rights if I have a common law marriage? If we get divorced, will I have the right to any property?

A. As I have said many times before, a common law marriage is no different than any other marriage. You are married. Whether you are married by a justice of the peace, a rabbi or priest, or have a common law marriage, the legal ramifications are the same.

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Richard Alderman

Q. I am in a dispute with my landlord. Is it legal to record my phone calls with him? Do I have to tell him I am recording it or have a beeping sound?

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Richard Alderman

Q. If I cancel a retail purchase, in this case furniture, within the 72-hour cancellation period, does the store have the right to keep my deposit? The contract does state that the customer shall forfeit the deposit to the store.

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Richard Alderman

Q. When my lease was up, my landlord asked me to sign a new lease. He told me I could sign now, but I had 30 days to decide after signing my lease if I wanted to stay or go. Shortly after signing the new lease, my apartment was broken into. Within 30 days, I told the landlord I was moving. She told me I couldn’t because I had already signed a lease. I also reminded her that I had 30 days to decide whether I wanted to stay or go, but she said it didn’t matter. I moved well within the 30 days, and now she has reported to the credit bureau that I broke my lease.

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Richard Alderman

Q. I have not had this arise, but I am still curious. Can a store demand to see a photo ID when I pay with a credit card? Some places ask, and many do not.

A. Until recently, the only law that controlled whether a store could ask for a photo ID from a customer was the contract between the credit card issuer and the merchant. For most credit cards, this contract prohibits asking for an ID if the card is signed. If the card is unsigned, the merchant has the right to demand to see a photo ID. Here is what each credit company contract says:

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