May 21, 2019

Many drivers don’t understand advanced safety technology

Drivers in Colorado and elsewhere may not understand the advanced safety technology that automakers are increasingly placing in new vehicles. As a result, they may not be using or responding to the systems properly.Currently, around half of all new vehicles manufactured in the U.S. are semi-automated, including those with relatively low price tags. In addition, automakers have pledged to make automatic emergency braking systems standard on all new cars sold in the U.S. by 2020. However, many drivers don’t understand how this technology works, which sometimes leads to fatalities. For example, a survey found that 11% of drivers misunderstand how semi-autonomous vehicles work, thinking that they can use their phone or read while the car drives itself. In fact, several drivers who have let their semi-automated vehicles drive themselves ended up dying in horrific crashes. While fully automated cars are being tested across the country, none of them have yet reached the market.The situation is being compared to the automated technology that has been added to commercial aircraft over the decades. While these systems have helped pilots avoid crashes, they have also had some tragic unintended consequences, including the two recent crashes involving Boeing 737 Max planes. Analysts say the solution to both problems is to make sure drivers and pilots are thoroughly educated on the advanced safety technologies that are installed in their cars and planes.Someone who has been injured by a driver improperly operating a semi-automated vehicle might have grounds to take legal action. For instance, by filing a personal injury lawsuit, an injured party could obtain compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, property damage and other accident-related losses. An injured victim could initiate the lawsuit process by partnering with an attorney who handles car crash claims.

May 20, 2019

Changes in tax law forces changes in divorce settlements

When the government changed the tax code, divorce filings increased in 2018 due to the implications of the changes. Lawmakers changed the code to remove the tax incentive for those paying alimony.How does one change in the tax law have such an impact on divorce settlements? To get an idea of what it may mean for you, take a look at what the law was like before Jan. 1, 2019 and how it exists now. Comparing the two may help you understand how divorce negotiations may differ drastically from what they were just a year ago.The old codeUnder the prior code, the spouse paying spousal support took a tax break on payments because it reduced income. A reduction in income may put the payer in a lower tax bracket. The recipient of the payments had to count it as income and pay the taxes. For some receiving the support, it may push them into a higher tax bracket. However, spousal support is necessary in many cases, as the recipient may have a difficult time without it. Therefore, having to pay taxes was not as big of an issue.

All divorces finalized prior to Jan. 1, 2019, became grandfathered into this tax situation.

The 2019 changes in the code

As of Jan. 1, spousal support is no longer taxable on either end. For the payer, this means it stays a part of the calculation of income, placing him or her into a higher bracket. The amount of money the payer now has to spend in taxes throws a wrench in negotiations.

Likewise, the change may seem to benefit the recipient since it is no longer taxable as income. However, with more of a reluctance to settle spousal supportpayments at a higher rate, it may wind up costing the recipient more in the short and long run.

May 9, 2019

Disparate incomes linked to divorce

When people in Colorado decide to divorce, financial conflicts are often some of the primary issues that lead to the end of a marriage. These issues can derive from a range of disputes, and some are more common when one partner earns significantly more than the other. While this can cause problems in a relationship of any kind, one survey found that couples were particularly likely to divorce when the wife made more than the husband. There are several social reasons why this may be the case, but it is also important to note that the problem is far from universal.In some cases, disputes may be caused by the higher-earning partner’s dominance in financial decision-making. The lower-earning partner may not feel as if he has a voice. Men who were socialized to be dominant in their relationships may find this grating. However, the higher divorce rate is not confined to couples struggling with unfair or inequitable decision-making. Some men may be subject to social pressures or stereotypes that lead them to doubt their masculinity as the lower earner. In some cases, these husbands may become controlling or resentful, sparking the issues that lead to the dissolution of the relationship.Of course, there are many happy couples in which the wife outearns the husband. In fact, 38 percent of all American married couples follow this financial pattern, one which may reach parity in the years to come. Other studies indicate that perhaps the happiest relationships are those in which both partners make roughly the same amount of money.Just as financial conflicts can lead to divorce, the end of a marriage can have a long-lasting impact on personal finances. A family law attorney might be able to provide advice and representation to help achieve a fair settlement on issues including property division and spousal support.

April 22, 2019

Distracted driving study reveals growing road safety issue

The results of a recent study suggest that drivers in Colorado and around the country spend an average of 13 minutes each day looking at their cellphone screens while behind the wheel. Root Insurance, which offers motorists discounts for not engaging in this potentially deadly behavior, commissioned a Virginia-based research firm to conduct the online poll.Previous research into distracted driving has revealed that most motorists have an inflated view of their own behind-the-wheel skills and criticize others for behavior that they are often guilty of themselves. The Root Insurance study is no different. Almost 40% of the drivers polled admitted that even seeing a police car in their rear-view mirrors was not enough to convince them to put their phones down, but 90% considered themselves to be more skilled than Uber or Lyft drivers.The respondents also admitted to using their phones for more than making or receiving calls. Over half admitted to using their smartphones to type texts or send emails while driving, and one-third confessed to using their devices to post on social media or read posts. A worrying 18% of the drivers polled said that they even use their cellphones to watch videos while behind the wheel.One of the challenges facing police accident investigators is that distraction leaves no obvious physical clues. However, electronic records may reveal that a distracted motorist was not paying attention when they crashed. If the events suggest that distraction may have been a factor but police investigations fail to reach firm conclusions, an experienced personal injury attorney may use subpoenas to access wireless service and internet usage data. Legal counsel could ultimately help a crash victim obtain compensation for crash-related damages.

April 8, 2019

Changes in divorce and custody over the decades

If parents in Colorado who are getting a divorce must go to court to reach an agreement on child custody and visitation, it is likely that the judge will be amenable to both shared legal custody and an arrangement that allows the father far more time with the child than he might have had in the past. This is part of a shift over the past several decades toward fathers spending more time with their children after a divorce or separation.

Fathers who were never married and who have lower incomes are less likely to seek custody than higher-income fathers who were married. However, when the former group does seek access to their children, they are more likely to be granted it than they were in previous years. Another significant shift in how divorce plays out today compared to earlier decades is that parents are more likely to reach an amicable agreement through mediation instead of going to litigation.

According to one professor who specializes in family law, divorce laws began to change in the 1960s and 1970s along with the rising divorce rate. However, although it became less difficult to obtain a no-fault divorce, courts still worked off the assumption that children were better off with their mothers. Today, shared physical custody may still present some logistical complications, but it is far more common.

Parents who are negotiating child custody and visitation may consider a variety of different arrangements. Some parents find that having the child go back and forth on alternate weeks works well for them. A few families have even tried an approach called “nesting,” in which the parents take turns living in the family home with the children who are there full-time. However, most people find that this works best as only a short-term solution as children adjust to the divorce.

March 27, 2019

How a DUI conviction negatively impacts your employment

Should you find yourself facing DUI charges while in Colorado on spring break or at any other time, you will definitely want to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to aggressively defend you in court. The last thing you need is a DUI conviction on your record that will follow you for years as you attempt to establish your career and move ever upward through the employment world.Unfortunately, a DUI conviction could end your employment dreams before you even begin to fulfill them. Should your ambition entail practicing medicine, law or any of the other professions, the state licensing board could refuse to grant you the professional license you need to practice in your chosen profession if it discovers that your record contains a criminal conviction. In addition, should the job you apply for requires a Commercial Driver’s License, you likely will find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain one once you receive a DUI conviction.Employment background checksWhen you apply for a job, your prospective employer almost assuredly will run a background check on you. Not only will your criminal conviction come to light, but many or all of the following may well, too:

  • Records of any incarceration you served as a result of your DUI or other criminal conviction(s)
  • Records from the court(s) that tried you for DUI or other criminal charges
  • Driving records from the state(s) where you became convicted of DUI or other traffic-related offense(s)
  • Records from the state(s) where your driver’s license became suspended or revoked
  • The Facebook and other social media posts you and/or your family and friends posted about your arrest and/or conviction

Once the background check reveals all these negative things about you, your chances of obtaining employment plummet. Rightly or wrongly, many employers refuse to hire someone with a criminal conviction on his or her record if they have other applicants whose records are clean.

March 25, 2019

Diagnostic mistakes commonly linked to medical malpractice

When Colorado residents go to the doctor, they may be at risk for a misdiagnosis that could put their health or even their lives at further risk. According to one study carried out by an insurance company, 46 percent of closed medical malpractice claims were related to an incorrect diagnosis or the failure to diagnose a serious, progressive illness. Even more significantly, 68 percent of paid malpractice claims were related to the diagnostic process, and 45 percent of these cases involved the death of the patient.A misdiagnosis can be particularly dangerous when a condition like cancer is involved. Early detection and treatment can be critical to survival. Therefore, the failure to diagnose cancer can introduce damaging delays that make it impossible to properly treat the condition. In other cases, patients may undergo treatments that are unnecessary and harmful, given that they did not have the condition for which they were treated.In a second study by an insurance company, 38 percent of all medical malpractice claims involving children in the past decade were also linked to misdiagnoses. In many cases, these medical mistakes were related to an improper or insufficient medical examination by the treating doctor. Physicians may not order appropriate tests and may not interpret the results correctly. In other cases, they may not conduct a full physical examination or take a thorough family history. The National Academy of Medicine said in 2015 that mistakes in diagnosis might be the third most common reason for deaths among hospital patients.People who have suffered a worsened health condition due to a doctor’s error may face escalating medical bills and a compromised quality of life. A medical malpractice attorney can review a patient’s case and determine the potential for seeking compensation for the damages suffered as a result of a misdiagnosis.
March 11, 2019

Claiming children on taxes after a divorce

When spouses in Colorado decide to divorce, they may wonder how the end of the marriage will affect their income tax filings. Of course, people will begin filing again as single rather than married, but claiming dependents can be a more complicated process. In some cases, both parents want to claim a child as a dependent on their taxes. The parent who can claim the child as a dependent will access credits like the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit as well as be eligible to file as the Head of Household.In many cases, parents specify who can claim the children as dependents in the divorce or custody agreement. If the parents have two or more children, they may distribute dependent status between both parents as part of the agreement. However, when families do not make this decision for themselves, the IRS has to make it for them. In this case, the tax agency will use several factors to assess the validity of the claim. First, parents have a higher priority than non-parents. Second, the parent with whom the children live the longest can claim them. If the parents have shared or equal custody, the ex with the higher income would receive the priority, assuming they have actually provided more support.The IRS does not mediate these disputes for parents. In general, the first person to file a claim will receive the credits and the second will have the return rejected. An additional step would be necessary for the IRS to decide.There are a number of factors that can complicate divorce, especially for parents. A family law attorney can help divorcing parents reach an agreement about a range of legal issues, from tax filing concerns to child custody.

February 25, 2019

Prenups and other ways to protect a business from divorce

A business can represent a significant emotional, financial and time investment for its owner, so protecting it in case of a divorce can be important. One way a business owner in Colorado can do this is with a prenuptial agreement. A prenup that specifies that the business is separate property can mean the intrusive and expensive process of valuing the business for property division purposes can be avoided entirely.A prenup might also state that the spouse is to receive a certain percentage of the company’s value. If both spouses own the business, they may want a prenup that says they will continue to be co-owners if there is a divorce, or they may want it to specify which party will buy out the other. If the couple is already married, a post-nuptial agreement can serve the same purpose.Some people prefer to use the company’s organizing documents to establish that the business cannot be transferred if there is a divorce. It is also important to keep good financial records and to be able to clearly demonstrate that business expenses were kept separate from marital expenses. Funding sources and all transactions, including cash ones, should be documented. Spouses who work for the company should be paid market rates to reduce the likelihood that the spouse can later claim to have contributed to the company’s value.While a prenuptial agreement may cover property, parents will still have to reach an agreement regarding child custody and support if they have children. However, this does not mean that ending up in family law court is inevitable. Many couples are able to successfully negotiate both property division and child custody without turning to litigation. Even if the couple is experiencing conflict, mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods may help them resolve it and come to an agreement that satisfies them.

February 19, 2019

The link between payroll and child support

In 2017, $24.4 billion in child support payments were collected through payroll deductions in Colorado and throughout the country. During that year, a total of $32.4 billion in support payments were collected from all sources. The agency collects $5.33 for every dollar it spends to operate its internet portal program, according to the Office of Child Support Enforcement’s (OCSE) office commissioner. However, the OCSE is looking for other ways to become even more efficient.There were 67,458,725 new hire reports in 2017. Employers are required to file them in a timely manner after bringing on a new employee, and they are used to determine if money needs to be withheld for child support. In addition to reporting new hires, employers can also report if lump-sum payments are made to workers or if certain individuals no longer work for the company.It is possible that the internet portal program will grow in the future. However, the OSCE is waiting to see if it would actually lead to greater efficiency. According to the OSCE’s commissioner, the child support system works best when payroll departments act as willing partners. He also said that it only works when there is a system that makes it easier to distribute money earned by a noncustodial parent.Individuals who are seeking child support payments may want to consider hiring a family law professional. Such an individual may be able to help custodial parents determine if their children’s other parents are working and where. It may also help facilitate the transfer of payments from one parent to the other. If a noncustodial parent is not making payments as ordered, it may be possible for an attorney to take steps to resolve the matter either in court or through other means.