Merrell Law Firm, LLC

Hoover Area General Law Blog

Planning for college expenses after a divorce

Alabama parents who get a divorce are generally not required to pay for their children's college educations, but it may be a matter of concern to some parents anyway. Living in separate households can be costly, and parents may need to prioritize day-to-day living expenses and child and spousal support above college. However, there are still steps parents can take to plan for their child's college education.

This might involve changing college plans. An expensive private college may no longer be a possibility after divorce. However, parents and their children should research what kind of loans, scholarships and grants are available.

Divorce mistakes to avoid

Alabama couples who are going through divorce should beware of potentially costly errors. For example, one man who said he could not afford a certain settlement later made financial boasts on social media that hurt his case. Another common error is not getting the financial paperwork necessary when it is available. Information such as how much was paid for the home and account numbers may be useful years after the divorce as well as during it.

Understanding how tax laws may affect divorce negotiations is also important. For example, because withdrawals from a Roth IRA are not taxed on retirement, this type of account is worth more than a traditional IRA. Taxes on spousal support have also changed since starting in agreements made in 2019, it is not longer deductible by the payer or treated as income to the recipient.

Advocates seek to reform misdemeanor system

Though felony criminal cases in Alabama receive most of the news publicity, it is the misdemeanor cases that take up most of a court's workload. A misdemeanor is a less serious criminal charge that can be punished by no more than a year in jail.

Justice reform advocates have pointed out some of the more unfortunate consequences of the present misdemeanor prosecution system. As misdemeanors constitute nearly 80 percent of the United State's caseload, judges cannot or will not devote substantial time to most individual cases. That's why some courts will discourage defense attorneys from raising constitutional issues. This can be true even when the issue raised has merit.

What are the most common construction injuries?

Construction workers have a difficult job in an environment that is not always safe. While many companies do their best to protect their workers, injuries still occur.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes that out of the 4,693 workplace fatalities in the private sector in 2016, 991 were in the construction industry. This amounts to a little over one in five fatalities.

A parental arrangement that's best for the children

When couples get divorced in Alabama, they need to figure out how to take two joint lives and separate them. This includes dividing property, assets and any retirement plans. Parents have the additional challenge of figuring out a guardianship arrangement that is going to be in the children's best interests.

Many parents believe that it is in the bests interest of infants and toddlers for a mother to have sole custody. This is based on antiquated beliefs about child development. According to these ideas, if toddlers and infants are forced to spend the night away from their mothers, this could lead to emotional and behavioral issues in the future. There are a number of fathers who are not fans of this idea. They may be divorcing the mother of their children, but they naturally still have strong feelings and concerns for their children. They want to be as involved in the lives of their children as possible.

What to know about DNA tests

In Alabama and most other states, if a child's parents are not married when he or she is born, no one is assumed to be the father. Instead, a man may be given the title of alleged father. To prove paternity, a DNA test can be conducted by swabbing a person's cheek. This is both painless and considered to be a reliable method of getting an accurate test result.

A DNA test can have an accuracy rate of up to 99.99999 percent, and such a test is conducted with strict security protocols in place. Therefore, if the test proves that a man is a child's father, that assertion is likely to stand up in court. Of course, the same could be true if the test reveals that a man is not the child's father. Prior to establishing paternity, no child support order can be created as there is no legal noncustodial parent.

Tips for navigating the holidays with children after divorce

One of the hardest periods for parents and children in Alabama after a divorce is the holidays. Parents and children may feel a range of emotions including loss, fear, anger and sadness. However, it is the responsibility of the parents to manage those emotions in a way that allows them to focus on the children during the holidays. This means parents must set aside their feelings toward one another to ensure that children are still able to enjoy themselves.

Parents might need to talk to family and friends or to a therapist in order to deal with their own emotions. They must not try to prevent the child from seeing the other parent because of a desire to get revenge on that parent. Instead, they should encourage their children to enjoy their time with the other parent. Parents do need to make a plan for the holidays and share it with their children. It will reduce stress for the children if they know what to expect.

Coming tax changes create urgency to settle divorces in 2018

Alabama spouses who are ending their marriages have new tax laws to consider, especially if alimony could be part of the final divorce settlement. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will end tax deductions for payers of alimony or spousal support. Divorces completed after Dec. 31, 2018, will be subject to this tax rule. Starting in 2019, those with spousal support obligations will pay income tax on those funds before sending the money to former spouses. This could force some payers into a higher tax bracket. This possible outcome has motivated some people to complete their divorces before the year's end.

The insights of a financial planner could help someone determine how the changing tax rules could influence long-term expenses and income. If settling a divorce in 2018 appears likely to lower long-term costs, then a person might want to finish a divorce prior to the New Year. If the divorcing spouses can work out a tentative agreement in 2018, then the old tax rules would be locked in even if the parties modify the terms in the future.

Six Alabama residents arrested on meth, weapons charges

If you drive north of Hoover for a little more than two hours, you will come to Rogersville, Alabama. The police department there recently announced that they served a search warrant at 2 in the morning and made six arrests on drug-related charges, as well as allegations of firearms violations.

Law enforcement officials reported that as officers arrived at the residence to serve a search warrant, they saw a 24-year-old man run from a vehicle parked in the driveway. They said they saw him throw a handgun and a baggie as he ran.

Choosing Mediation Over Litigation

One of peoples' biggest concerns when they are faced with appearing in civil court are the amounts of time, money and stress it will cost them. Contract disputes, insurance arguments, divorce and other matters are all common, and commonly require each side to foot considerable time and money. However, there may be a way to circumvent this.

Mediation may be the right choice when both parties wish to avoid the court room and are able to keep their emotions in check. While mediation might not award one party as substantial of an outcome as litigation – damages after an accident or full custody of a child, for example – it is often an effective solution to disagreements.

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