July 15, 2019

Wedding debt may be linked to unhappy couples

When people in Colorado go into debt to finance their weddings, it could be a sign of further trouble down the road. Because finances and debt can be such a powerful source of marital strife, it is essential to consider the future effects of the debt when deciding to splurge on a venue, catering or an open bar for a large, elegant wedding. According to one study conducted by loan company LendingTree, 45% of newly married couples between 18 and 53 took on debt in order to finance their wedding ceremonies. Many people expect to be able to host elaborate ceremonies for their weddings even if they are just starting out and struggling financially.The survey found that, of the couples who went into debt for their weddings, almost half had considered divorce since their marriage because of financial stress, particularly wedding-linked debt. On the other hand, only 9% of the couples without wedding debt said the same. The couples who went into debt also seemed to have more differences about how to fund their ceremonies. Three-quarters reported having arguments about the expenses that went into the wedding, while only 20% of the couples without wedding debt said the same.Of course, there are a number of factors that can help to produce these results. The couples with wedding debt may still have enjoyed large weddings, but they may be wealthier and better able to deal with financial stresses. The couples with more debt may also be facing difficult financial circumstances in other aspects of their lives.Marriage and divorce are financial and practical transactions as well as reflections of a romantic relationship. A family law attorney might be able to provide advice and guidance on how assets and debt can affect the end of a marriage, including property division and spousal support.
July 5, 2019

Safety technology belongs in every vehicle

In Colorado and across the United States, 90 percent of serious car crashes are caused by drivers who make wrong decisions at critical moments. Automatic emergency braking systems and forward collision warnings help prevent mistakes from taking place. However, only 56 percent of the vehicles manufactured in 2019 include these safety features. Jeff Plungis of Consumer Reports believes that every new automobile needs to have a forward collision warning and an automatic emergency braking system. He mentions that technology is not always implemented in a timely manner. For instance, he states that it took more than a decade before it was mandatory for car manufacturers to include seat belts in all vehicles.Thanks to the invention of the now common seat belt, more than 300,000 people have survived car crashes since 1960. Today, seat belt technology has improved by the implementation of two parts called the “limiter” and the “pretensioner.” A limiter provides enough slack to protect the seat belt wearer from injuries. A pretensioner ensures that the seat belt becomes tighter in the event of a crash.In addition, some vehicles include inflatable seat belts offering even more protection from potentially serious injuries. Plungis states that many automobiles do not include built-in safety features. Plus, he mentions that safety features often focus on front seats rather than rear seats. He states that life-saving technology is not only for wealthy people who can afford to buy expensive luxury cars.A car accident can occur even if the vehicle includes every conceivable safety feature. Survivors of car crashes need to understand that insurance companies do not necessarily provide adequate compensation for injuries and injury-related matters. When a victim incurs paralysis or a traumatic brain injury caused by a car crash, speaking to a personal injury attorney may lead to monetary compensation.
June 21, 2019

Proving causation: an obstacle in many malpractice cases

Medical malpractice cases are some of the most difficult personal injury cases to pursue in Colorado and elsewhere around the country. Two things must be proven for such a case to be valid, the first being the fact that the doctor, nurse or other medical professional failed to provide an established standard of care. While this can be easily done, the second step, that of linking the negligence to the injury, can be challenging.For example, those who are about to undergo a surgical procedure are told beforehand that there can be side effects and complications. If they develop complications after surgery, then they will need to show that a surgical error or another mistake was to blame. Otherwise, they cannot be compensated for injuries that can arise even when there is no negligence.Orthopedic injuries like fractures come with a similar risk. Not all of them heal properly even when the doctors follow an accepted standard of care. Only in cases where a doctor was clearly negligent, such as in failing to align the bone or consider surgery when the injury would have called for it, can victims be successful.Delayed cancer diagnoses pose a problem, too, for those who wish to file a claim. Cancer has a high mortality rate and requires extensive treatment.

Those who believe they have a strong case may wish to have it evaluated by a lawyer. Most attorneys who specialize in personal injury have a network of professionals who can help build up cases. Investigators may obtain proof of negligence, and medical experts may measure the extent of injuries and their related costs. Expert witnesses may come in to offer testimony. A lawyer may start by striving for a settlement out of court, litigating only when negotiations fail.

June 3, 2019

Business owners may have special concerns during divorce

Business owners in Colorado who decide to divorce may have specific concerns that arise about their situation. After all, some of the longest-lasting effects of divorce are financial, and these issues may linger long after the emotional and practical issues have faded away. In particular, business owners may want to think about the tax implications as well as the impact on their companies of any decisions they make about property division in a divorce. However, business owners can work with professionals and take steps to allow their companies to emerge successfully after a divorce.With many family-owned businesses, these enterprises may be the major source of income as well as a significant marital asset. This means that the business may be the primary subject of negotiations over how to handle property division in the divorce. This is especially true for the type of small companies where personal and corporate lines are often heavily blurred in terms of finances. As a result, it may be difficult to agree on a valuation for the business or an accurate assessment of the business owner’s income.Since Colorado is an equitable distribution state, it is not assumed that each spouse will necessarily receive 50% of the business during a divorce. However, when the business is a major contributor to household income, and both spouses are part of its success, it should be considered likely that some division will be a part of the divorce settlement. In some cases, other marital property, such as investment funds or retirement plans, can be used to “buy out” the other spouse.The complications that accompany the financial side of divorce can be exacerbated when a family business is involved. A family law attorney can work with a divorcing spouse to advocate for a fair settlement on property division and spousal support.
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.