A Japanese company wants to install solar panels around the Moon’s Equator. Is this legal?

Shimizu, a Japanese Company, has recently proposed installing a field of solar panels up to four hundred kilometers wide along the moon’s equator and then beaming the power to Earth.[1]  Is this legal under current international space law?

The Outer Space Treaty states that space is the common heritage of all mankind and that the exploration and use of space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest off all countries.  Presumably, beaming clean energy will benefit all countries on earth by reducing the reliance on coal, gas and oil based energy.

Can a base be established on the moon?

Yes.  Nothing in the Outer Space Treaty or any other source of international law prohibits the establishment of a base on the moon.  What is prohibited is national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.[2]

 

Are there any restrictions on the size of a base on the moon?

 

Not directly.  However the operation of one facility on the moon or in space cannot interfere with the operations of another facility in space or on the moon.[3]  Also, there have been efforts to preserve specific sites of historical significance on the moon such the Apollo landing sites, etc.[4]

Can the existence of such a solar array be used by any entity to claim ownership of a part of or the entire moon?

No.  Article II of the Outer Space Treaty is very specific about this.  Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.  However, this does not mean that whatever entity establishes such a solar farm won’t have exclusive possession and control of the underlying and surrounding area the Solar Farm occupies.

Will national law allow the establishment of such a solar array on the moon?  That is not known.

Countries are responsible for the actions of their nationals in space.[5]  The country on whose registry[6] an object is launched into space maintains jurisdiction over it and its personnel.[7]  What does this mean?  It means that before any objects are launched in support of this endeavor they need to have the permission of whatever country they launch from and which will have continuing jurisdiction over it.  It could also lead to an interesting situation in which an astronaut is subject to the jurisdiction of two different countries, the one from whose territory he or she launched into space from and his or her country of citizenship.

What needs to be done from a legal perspective to make this solar farm a  reality?

            National law is the area in which much work needs to be done.  Any country whose nationals, be they corporate or person, and any country from whose territory people and material are launched from in support of such an endeavor will have to create and or modify existing laws to meet their obligations under the OST.


[2] Article II of the OST

[3] Article IX of the OST

[4]  NASA’s Recommendations to Space-Faring Entities: How to Protect and Preserve the Historic and Scientific Value of U.S. Government Lunar Artifacts, released January 20, 2011

[5] Article VI of the OST

[6] Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space

[7] Article VIII of the OST

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CONFIDENTIAL ADDRESS PROGRAM

Most victims of domestic violence are aware that they can file for a Temporary Protective Order and in that order they can check the box to keep their address confidential.  The weakness in keeping an address confidential is that an abuser can get an address any number of ways such as public records. business records, etc.  There are so many governmental and private entities that have our address, all an abuser has to do is get one of these entities to provide the address and a home address is no longer confidential.  It seems that the only option a victim of abuse has is to provide a false address.  That can open up a whole other can of worms.

There is an alternative.  The Nevada Secretary of State has a Confidential Address Program which is allows a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault to apply for a fictitious address.  A person applies through a certified agency, Safe Nest and Safe House are two such agencies in Clark County.  If a person is accepted into the Confidential Address Program the person uses an address provided by the Nevada Secretary of State when providing an address to state and local governmental entities including schools and private businesses.  That way the victim of domestic violence does not have to worry about a third party keeping their address confidential as they don’t have the physical address.  Mail is sent to the fictitious address and then forwarded to the confidential address.  Although a rented mail box may serve a similar purpose many places will not accept a Post Office Box and an abuser can always stake out the mail box.

I learned about this program reading a case from the Nevada Supreme Court which discussed the program in the context of a child custody dispute.  The issue was did the Confidential Address Program override a parent’s right to know where their child was living.  The court said no it didn’t.  It was apparent from the opinion that the Court was not happy about its decision but saw no alternative.

The take away is that there are steps a person can take to protect themselves from an abuser and the Confidential Address Program is one of them.

Asiana Flight 214 Liability

I was watching the news about the Asiana 214 crash and an attorney came on to discuss who would the passengers could sue.  I wasn’t too impressed with what he said, so here goes.  Liability for aircraft accidents involving international flights is governed by the Montreal Convention.  The passenger does not have to prove fault on the part of the airline.  For claims less than $100,00 SDRs (approximately $179,000.00) the airline has to pay proven damages.  Even if they can show that someone or something else was responsible for the accident the airline has to pay.  For claims above this amount the airline has to prove the cause of the accident was out of their control, such as the airplane being shot down. 

This burden shift is important.  Normally, the Plaintiff, here the passenger, has to prove both fault and damages. Under the Montreal Convention all the passenger never has to prove is damages not fault. 

RENTERS RIGHTS WHEN HOUSE IS FORECLOSED ON

A few weeks ago an acquaintance had to move out of a home quickly.  They were living in a nice rental home.  Unfortunately, their landlord lost the house to foreclosure and the tenants were forced to move out at the last minute.  They told me what had happened after the fact.  My initial reaction was that had they called me when they got the notice to leave, I could have gotten them at least 30 days to find a new place instead of them having just a few days.  They may also have a cause of action against their landlord including fraud, which is not dischargable in bankruptcy.  Which brings up a related matter.  I tell people that attorneys, me, are handy critters to have at the other end of a phone call, email or text.  If someone contacts me with a question I may be able to answer it with quickly or we may need to have a formal consult in my answer.  If I can’t help I will refer them to someone who can.

HOW CHILD SUPPORT IS DETERMINED

When a court orders child support it first looks at what the custody arrangement is.  If the parties share joint physical custody then the parties’ child support obligation is averaged and the person who makes more pays the other parent.  The parties share joint physical custody if they both have the child for more than 40% of the time.   If one parent has primary physical custody then the Court determines what the non-custodial parent’s income is and applies the statutory formula to determine the child support obligation.  There are reasons for deviation from the formula such as the cost of health insurance, the cost of child care, if the child has special needs and if the person paying child support has a legal obligation to pay child support for other children to mention a few.

 

Generally, a person’s marital status and community income is not relevant.  One exception is if there is a large income disparity between the parties.  Then the court may make special findings and order a deviation.  This is rare.

How to Get Divorced Quickly

A question that comes up from time to time is how do I get divorced quickly?

In order to get divorced quickly both parties must:

1)      Have a desire to not fight,

2)      Have professional attorneys who want to get the divorce over with quickly

3)      Know the law as to division of property and assets, child custody and child support, and

4)      Know what their assets are.

The first two elements are the most important.   The divorce will be lengthy and expensive if one party wants to fight.

The important thing to remember is that Nevada is a no fault state, that means infidelity is not relevant in a divorce, unless it affects a person’s ability to parent.  Also remember that there just because parents have different parenting styles does not mean that the other parent is a “bad” parent.

The best way to get divorced quickly is to offer the other spouse what they are entitled to under the law.  The law requires that all things being equal or close to equal that assets be divided equally and the parents share joint legal and physical custody of the children.

There are of course exceptions to the above, such as if one party can’t work or has less earning power than the other spouse, a child has special needs, the parties don’t live close enough to each other to share joint physical custody or there is a specific reason why joint physical custody is not in the child’s best interest..

While many people file Joint Petitions for Divorce and it is faster to do so, I recommend each side have their own attorney to ensure that everyone’s interests are protected.

 

SPERM DONOR TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT

Can a sperm donor be required to pay child support?

It depends on the situation.  In Kansas a sperm donor has been found to be the father for the purposes of child support and has been ordered to pay child support.  In that case two women had adopted several children and wanted to have one of their own.  They placed an ad on Craigslist for a sperm donor.  They contracted with a sperm donor and a baby was born.  The two women later split up and the woman who had custody of the child in question then applied for public assistance.  The State of Kansas required the mother to identify the biological father as a condition of receiving public assistance.   He was then ordered to pay child support as the biological father.  Could the same thing happen in Nevada?  Yes.

Nevada law provides that a sperm donor is not the legal father only if the sperm donor goes through a licensed doctor and the sperm is donated to a couple consisting of a husband and wife as defined by Nevada statutes.  In all other situations the sperm donor can be determined to be the father for purposes of child support.   In Nevada even though the biological the parents or donor and donee can agree that there will be no child support obligation, this agreement is not binding on the State when the custodial parent asks for public assistance.  The best practice is terminate the putative father or donor’s parental rights once the child is born.