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Spencer Legal Issues Blog

Researchers study reality-based elements for teen drivers' ed

Supplemental risk education driving programs are starting to incorporate more interactive, reality-based elements. Many insurers, government agencies and hospitals across Virginia and the rest of the U.S. are in turn starting to recommend these programs. A study from Baylor University has analyzed the effect of one such program on teen drivers' risk awareness.

Called the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program, it is a one-day, six-hour program set in a hospital. The participants, who are usually teenagers enrolled for disciplinary action by a court or school administrator, go through a guided tour of the hospital's emergency rooms, ICU and morgue. They also speak with health care staffers who have treated car crash victims.

Survey finds most pastors lack estate plans

Virginia residents may understand the importance of having a will and other estate plan documents. However, according to a LifeWay Research survey, over half of Southern Baptist pastors don't have a will, trust or legacy story. This is in spite of the fact that 74 percent of survey participants said that estate planning is an important part of managing assets. Of those surveyed between the ages of 18-44, only 31 percent had a will.

That number increased to 54 percent among those who were ages 55 and older. Having an estate plan may make it easier to minimize an estate's tax bill while also providing increased asset protection. Without a will, a court may decide what happens to a person's assets or who will raise the deceased's children. However, 48 percent who were surveyed said that the family decides what to do with a person's assets in the absence of a will.

How do bond hearings work?

When facing criminal charges, your bond hearing before a judge is the first of what could be many court appearances. Before appearing in court, you'll want to understand what the purpose of a hearing will be, who will and can be present, what specific issues will be addressed and what is expected of you as a defendant.

The court uses a bail hearing to evaluate the chances of the defendant reappearing at their criminal trial. This hearing also sets the exact amount of money the defendant needs to pay, if the judge grants bail.

Establishing child support

One common issue many parents in Ohio may have to address is child support. Child support is typically paid by the non-custodial parent whether the child in question is a girl or boy.

In order to establish a child support arrangement, the relationship between the child and parent must first be verified. For mothers, maternity is established when a woman gives birth to the child. For fathers, there are multiple ways paternity can be established. If a man is married to the mother of the child at the time the child is born, he is recognized as the father. In situations in which the parents are not married to one another, they will be required to complete a form that acknowledges the paternity of the child. They can complete the form in the hospital at the time the child is born, or they can complete the form at their nearby Vital Statistics Registrar or Child Support Enforcement Agency.

Gray divorces and splitting assets

According to data from the Pew Research Center, the divorce rate for older couples in Virginia and the rest of the country is two times what it was in the 1990s. People over the age of 50 are likely to have multiple IRAs, 401(k)s and pensions, so they should take extra care with how they divide their retirement assets during the divorce process.

In order to divide pensions and 401(k) plans properly, it will be necessary to obtain a qualified domestic relations order. A QDRO is a legal order that stipulates how much of an account holder's qualified plan the divorcing spouse has the right to receive. After the order is submitted to the administrator of the retirement plan, the stipulated portion of the plan can be transferred into the ownership of the divorcing spouse.

Prenuptial agreements more popular among millennials

Young people in Virginia are less interested in marriage than in the past. When they do choose to marry, however, millennials are increasingly seeking prenuptial agreements before taking their vows. As the divorce rate across the country is almost 50 percent, there can be good reasons for people to act to protect themselves before marrying. In fact, people of all age ranges have become more likely to sign a prenup, with the frequency of prenuptial agreements multiplying fivefold in the past 20 years.

Celebrity divorces have helped to shine a light on prenuptial agreements and how they can help to protect premarital financial assets in case of a later divorce. While few millennials have celebrity levels of wealth, as people marry at a later age, they are more likely to have developed significant retirement portfolios or 401(k) plans. The average age of marriage is 29 for men and 27 for women, an increase of three and four years, respectively, over the average age 30 years ago. While it may seem like a small jump, these are prime years for career development.

Handling child support disputes

Divorced parents living in Virginia often find themselves faced with significant co-parenting challenges. One area that can lead to disputes is that of child support. While most parents understand the importance of giving financial support to their children, circumstances can sometimes make this difficult. Sometimes, conflict over support payment escalates, which can lead to long-term damage to one parent's personal finances.

When a couple with minor children decides to divorce, one parent may be required to pay child support to the other. The amount of child support assigned is typically based on a parent's current income or the amount of money the court would expect somebody with the parent's educational level and work history to earn. Sometimes, however, that parent may encounter circumstances that prevent him or her from being able to afford child support payments and basic living expenses.

Divorce and retirement planning

When couples in Virginia divorce, financial issues are often a major consideration. This is particularly the case when a spouse divorces later in life. By age 50, if not earlier, many people are planning for retirement. The process of asset division and moving into separate households can throw current plans into disarray.

In addition to concerns about the division of household assets, such as savings and investment accounts, there is also the issue of retirement assets and benefits that may require special consideration. In many cases, a divorcing couple will decide to sell their home, and the proceeds from the sale of are also subject to division in the divorce.

Breaking down the basics of getting a DUI in Virginia

Alcohol consumption in America has been highly regulated since ending prohibition in 1933. The laws vary from state to state, but there are legal consequences that span jailtime and legal fees depending on the type of alcohol related offense. If you are facing DUI charges, it is normal to seek legal relief and protect your personal record.

Getting pulled over by the cops is never a good feeling. Oftentimes, this event comes with feelings of fear, shame and uncertainty when not-knowing what you may be charged with and how it might affect your life. DUI charges in Virginia are not something you want on your record if you can avoid it and here’s why.

Estate planning for art and collectibles

Art collectors in Virginia may have special concerns to address during the estate planning process. There are an array of tax laws that apply to these types of assets, which can carry significant sentimental value in addition to their assessed value. In fact, many collectors consider their art collections to be an appreciating investment.

People who have valuable art or other collections can take measures to ensure that these items are adequately addressed in the estate planning process. The IRS evaluates taxation of collectibles on a "stepped-up basis," so it can be particularly important to plan for and evaluate these items appropriately while planning for one's estate. In addition to the tax issues associated with these items, many people have strong emotional and sentimental attachments to art and other collectibles. This means that these assets can frequently be the subject of disputes among heirs and beneficiaries after the original owner passes away.

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