Merrell Law Firm, LLC

Hoover Area General Law Blog

How DNA tests influence child support rulings

Alabama parents are generally required to financially support their minor children. However, there may be questions about who the father of the child is. In some cases, individuals may try to cast doubt about their paternity even if there is reason to believe that they are their children's legal fathers. If necessary, a judge can ask for a DNA test to confirm who a child's father is.

DNA tests are over 99.9% accurate, and samples are generally tested twice to ensure that the results of a given test are correct. To collect a DNA sample, a technician will swab the inside of a person's mouth or cheek. The painless process is usually just as accurate as a blood test without the need to poke or prod the person giving the sample. There is a record of everyone who comes into contact with the sample to ensure that a court will accept the results of a test.

Can joint custody work in practice?

Going through a divorce does not have to tear a family apart. When done right, it can strengthen the bond that each parent has with their child, while minimizing toxicity and facilitating independence. Maintaining parent-child relationships is often done most successfully through joint custody. Joint custody means that the courts award the rights and responsibilities of care to both parents after a split, rather than just one.

If you are interested in filing for joint custody but you have reservations regarding how it might work in practice, it is a good idea to spend time researching ways to maximize the benefits of joint custody. The following are behaviors you can adopt that will increase the likelihood of maintaining a joint custody agreement that works for everyone.

Privacy and confidentiality during divorce proceedings

In Alabama and across the United States, people frequently share personal information via social media platforms. Many couples planning to divorce have active accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Although it's fine to stay active on social media platforms, people getting divorced should take some precautions. Most online friends are not close friends. Accordingly, sharing personal and confidential information with distant acquaintances is not always advisable. For instance, people should refrain from posting negative comments about their spouses.

It's a bad idea to post a spouse's wrongdoings even when divorce is not an issue. Instead, people should speak with a marriage counselor, pastor, rabbi or close friend. In some states, data shared via social media platforms may count as evidence during divorce proceedings. Negative social media posts could prove to be incriminating during a difficult divorce. It is also a good idea to avoid sharing personal details with social media friends.

Bail and hefty fines can be devastating for the poor

For some, getting a traffic ticket is nothing more than a short-term inconvenience. However, for low-income individuals in Alabama and many other states, it can have a long-term impact on their lives. Those who are unable to pay a fine may be sent to jail, and these individuals may be required to pay a fee for each day that they are there. People can also be charged a supervision fee if they are put on probation.

These fees can be on top of the $500 or more needed to make bail. According to the Supreme Court, defendants cannot be forced to pay fines or fees if they don't have the means to do so. However, Tennessee law allows the state to suspend a person's license for failure to pay a fine. Many groups are working to reform the fine and bail system in an effort to provide relief to those who are struggling to pay their debts.

Equitable property division and separate accounts in divorce

Millennial married couples in Alabama may be among the 28% who keep their finances separate according to a Bank of America survey. This is more than twice as many as Gen X and baby boomer couples. However, according to experts, this will not necessarily mean their finances are considered to be separate property in a divorce.

In general, in an equitable division state like Alabama, money earned by individuals during the marriage is considered separate property. However, it is possible for an attorney to argue that this should be considered shared marital property. If a judge agrees, the property could be split equitably. This means it should be divided fairly but not necessarily equally. Couples who are concerned about maintaining separate property may want to consider a prenuptial agreement; these are also on the rise according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. When couples draw up a prenup, they have the opportunity to talk honestly about their finances.

Robbery convictions can come with hefty prison sentences

People accused of robbery in Alabama may face serious long-term consequences if they are convicted. There are several different kinds of theft charges, and not all of them amount to robbery. In most cases, robbery is considered a violent crime as it is classified as taking another person's property through force or the threat of force. There are several different categories of robbery charges in the state, which depend on the circumstances of the incidents involved, and sentencing can vary depending on the charges.

Before sentencing in a robbery case, an accused person must be convicted of the charges by a jury or through a guilty plea. The most serious form of a robbery charge in Alabama is robbery in the first degree and usually includes allegations that a deadly weapon was used or threatened to be used in the course of the theft. Sometimes it is referred to as "armed robbery," although the presence of a deadly weapon is not required for this charge. Sentences for robbery in the first degree can range up to 20 years to life in prison.

3 things to consider when choosing a business formation

Opening a business is an exciting time for entrepreneurs. Your dream of being your own boss is finally coming true. You have spent hours creating a business plan along with your mission and company goals and you are almost ready to take the next step: making your company a legal entity with the ability to operate in Shelby County. Part of starting a company includes selecting a business structure for your business.

The type of legal entity you choose for your company can have lasting affects on how you run your business. Here are a few things to consider before you settle on a business formation.

Divorce impacts business owners in many ways

When a divorce takes place in Alabama or any other state, it could mean significant changes for an individual. For a business owner, it is important to understand how much the company is worth and how having a business could impact the final divorce settlement. Ideally, the company's value will be assessed by an independent professional appraiser. This person should have access to any documents needed to come to a fair valuation.

It is important to note that a business owner may label any income generated by the company in two different ways. First, he or she may earn a salary comparable to anyone else who fulfilled a similar role with an organization. In addition, an owner may take a 20% return on capital if the business is qualified to do so. This may reduce an owner's income and increase the value of the company.

Collecting Social Security benefits after a divorce

For many married people in Alabama, Social Security benefits are an important asset. Even when a spouse has little or no income of their own, they may still collect up to half of their significant other's benefits if they are eligible to receive payouts. But when a marriage ends, there's understandable concern about what might happen with such benefits.

If a marriage lasted for 10 years or more, a former spouse still unmarried and eligible for Social Security benefits may be able to collect on their ex's record, provided he or she is also entitled to benefits. Even if the other spouse has remarried, the former spouse may still collect up to half of their ex's full benefits. Payouts claimed before full retirement age, however, will be reduced accordingly. Also, collection when an eligible ex-spouse has not yet applied for benefits may be possible if it's been two or more years since the divorce.

How ketosis can complicate a DUI charge

If a person in Alabama is in ketosis, it could fool a Breathalyzer machine into thinking that the person is legally intoxicated. This is because acetone is created while the body is in ketosis, which may then be expelled from the body in the form of isopropyl alcohol. However, it is important to know that a breath test is not the only way that authorities determine if a person is too impaired to drive.

For instance, an officer may determine that a driver is impaired because he or she smells the odor of alcohol on a person or the person's breath. If there is other evidence that a person is likely intoxicated, it may not matter if his or her body is in ketosis. It is also worth noting that acetone alone usually won't cause a person to register a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher.

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