Pool rules should not apply only to kids
Question: I enjoyed reading the articles on fair housing as I'm a Realtor who promotes fair housing, and I teach continuing education and pre-licensing courses. I was told by several building managers that they had to take signs down that say children must be accompanied by an adult at the pool since it could be seen as discrimination. Your article says it's not illegal to post signs saying children must be accompanied by an adult.
I'm hearing two interpretations of the law. Can you clarify the discrepancy?
Answer: According to Cynthia Thomas, Legal Aid's fair housing project manager, the bottom line is that amenities like swimming pools should be accessible to all persons, including children. Reasonable safety conditions may be imposed provided there is a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the rule and the rule is the least restrictive means for achieving the desired result. Pool rules that require all children (i.e., persons under 18) to be supervised by an adult are discriminatory because they are overly restrictive and ultimately exclusive; in other words, a 17-year-old doesn't require the supervision that a 6-year-old might need to safely use the pool. Also, other factors should be considered (e.g., if there is a lifeguard on duty, adult supervision could overly restrict children's use of a pool, as a lifeguard serves a safety function). Remember, these are analyzed on a case-by-case basis. What's reasonable at one apartment project might not be reasonable at another. If you're imposing these rules, you should consult with an attorney to see if any given rule violates the law. To be conservative, think about applying general safety rules that would apply to everyone, not just children.
Q: I want to get a divorce; does my spouse have to sign the papers?
A: According to Heather Brown, staff attorney for Legal Aid-Maui, not necessarily. If you properly serve (i.e., give your spouse) the papers and your spouse does not respond in any way, you can proceed by default. This means that the case will go forward without your spouse, and you don't need his/her signature on the papers.
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.