Merrell Law Firm, LLC

Hoover Area General Law Blog

Study finds many psychological tests used in court unreliable

Courts in Alabama and across the U.S. are admitting unreliable psychological and IQ tests into evidence in court, according to a new study. Experts say the use of such tests can unfairly influence judges or juries in a variety of court cases.

For the study, which was published in February in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, researchers analyzed tests that were introduced into 876 U.S. court cases between 2016 and 2018. They found that the generally well-regarded Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory was the most commonly used psychological test in the county. However, the Rorschach test, which was first introduced in 1921, was the second most commonly used test, and many scientists consider it too ambiguous and subjective to be an accurate measure of an individual's psychological state.

The reasons women initiate divorce

When thinking of divorce, the usual image that comes to mind is that of a neglected, middle-aged woman being cast aside in favor of a younger model by her philandering husband. However, the reality is usually different. In over 70% of divorces, women are the ones initiating the separation. Women in Alabama may decide to end a marriage for any number of reasons, but they usually fall into one of these main categories.

Women may complain of not thriving in their marriage. In the current economy, most women are in the workforce and contributing to the financial well-being of their families. Despite their economic contributions, women are still tasked with the majority of household chores. Women can feel stifled with such an arrangement and be left feeling like they're doing it all on their own anyway.

Co-parenting strategies after the divorce

Alabama parents who get a divorce must still deal with co-parenting issues. This can be challenging when parents are missing important moments in their children's lives or struggling to communicate, but it is possible to build a functioning co-parenting relationship even after a difficult divorce.

For example, a parent can take a photo or send a message to the other parent when the child brings home a good report card or a piece of art. This can be part of each parent's larger strategy to encourage the child's relationship with the other parent. Parents should make an effort to say positive things about one another when they are with the child. It is also helpful if parents can present a unified front. Children feel more secure if rules and expectations are consistent between households. However, parents should also be flexible when it is appropriate. For example, one parent might plan a special treat during the other parent's time with the child. If it will make the child happy, it may be best to allow it.

Busting 2 myths about DUI stops

In general, most people know that driving under the influence is illegal. They also know that the legal limit is a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. They have some understanding that a DUI arrest could lead to the loss of a license, time in jail and heavy fines.

That's all true, but the unfortunate reality is that there are also a lot of myths floating around out there about DUI cases. These lead to a fair amount of confusion and they can even lead to legal mistakes. It's important to bust these myths whenever possible. To get started, here are two of the most common ones.

Why Miranda warnings are important

Many people in Alabama know that if they are arrested, they will hear the police officer read out a list of rights, beginning with the famous phrase, "You have the right to remain silent." However common these words may seem to be, they are more than just rote phrases. They reflect significant rights that people have when under suspicion of a crime, and understanding those rights can be important to protecting them from violations. These rights, known as the Miranda warnings, take their name from a 1966 Supreme Court case that mandated suspects must be advised of key rights when they are taken into police custody.

The Miranda rights are a way of protecting people's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. When people are arrested, they are told that they can remain silent, that the words they do say can be used against them in court, that they have the right to a lawyer and that one can be appointed if they cannot afford one. In essence, people are being told that they are not required to talk to the police and can speak to legal counsel instead, despite tactics that police may use in interrogation in an attempt to get a confession.

How to prevent and solve construction disputes

During large or small construction projects in Alabama, disputes can sometimes arise between various parties involved, including the property owner, contractors and subcontractors. These disputes have the potential to reduce the profitability of the project or damage long-term working relationships. That's why many contractors want to do what they can to seek a fair settlement of issues that arise in the construction project. In many cases, these disputes emerge when there is no clear understanding of a contract, an ongoing delay or a failure to follow the contract's terms.

When a construction dispute arises, there typically has not yet been a breach of contract. However, these matters can escalate to litigation or the termination of the contract involved if a resolution is not reached. There are several ways that companies involved can make it less likely for disputes to arise in the first place. Doing more planning in advance, insisting on a reasonable and realistic schedule, carefully reading and fully understanding the contract and producing complete estimates can help to prevent problems down the line. In addition, parties may not want to shy away from negotiating contract terms. If something stands out as problematic at the start, it could lead to costly problems later on.

A prenup can help provide peace of mind

A properly executed prenuptial agreement can be equated to a good insurance policy. The hope is never to have to use it, but if the time comes and the situation arises and it's needed, it can be very useful in saving significant time and money. Traditionally, many Alabama residents contemplating tying the knot would take offense if their intended spouse even hinted that a prenup should be considered, but more and more people are realizing it can be beneficial to both parties to at least have a conversation about financial expectations and whether a prenup is a necessary component of the marriage.

Legal experts emphasize the fact that although prenups are a specific type of contract, they must comply with basic contract principles. Typically, if enforcing a prenup is at issue, consideration and duress are matters to be considered. Both parties should freely enter the agreement with a complete understanding of what they are giving up. While various issues can be addressed, most often one party will agree to settle for less in the event of a divorce than the law would otherwise provide for if no prenup existed.

Dividing retirement and other assets in divorce

Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful and anxiety-producing events that a person can experience. It can cause stress mentally, emotionally and financially. The financial stress, though, is among the most readily reduced as the parties can gain piece of mind through preparation and understanding. People in Alabama can reduce the amount of financial stress associated with divorce by understanding how retirement assets are likely to be divided and by planning for the required changes.

First, there are differences in the legal treatment of different kinds of retirement assets. When individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, are divided, the division is referred to as a transfer incident to divorce. When other plans, such as 401(k)s, are divided, on the other hand, that usually requires a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO. Correctly handling the division of different types of accounts can have significant tax implications.

As a stay-at-home spouse, you have property rights in a divorce

Not that long ago, women were almost always the ones who stayed home to take care of the family home or young children. However, the modern economy is much more diverse than the economy even a few decades ago, and many women are making great wages that allow them to support a family.

Whether you are a stay-at-home mother or father, you have rights under Alabama law. In the event that your marriage starts to falter or you decide you want to divorce, you need to educate yourself about your rights, as they will play an important role in your financial stability immediately after you file for divorce.

Learn how to communicate better with a toxic ex

Many co-parents in Alabama have found that challenges arise when raising children in two different households, even if a separation or divorce was amicable. When a person is dealing with a toxic ex-spouse, though, they may feel like the challenges are so overwhelming that it affects their ability to parent well. Here are a few tips to help individuals who are dealing with a toxic ex-spouse.

The first thing a person should remember is that they do not have to respond to everything that a toxic ex-spouse says or does. When the divorce is finalized and custody arrangements have been set in place, the relationship is no longer the same. Parents need to be on hand when emergencies arise in order to be there for their children, but it is sometimes best to simply ignore bad behavior, sarcasm or insults.

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