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Oakdale Minnesota Legal Blog

Study examines driver education program for young people

Minnesota teens who get more exposure to the consequences of dangerous driving behavior, such as visiting hospitals and morgues, may gain a better understanding of the risk of some types of driving behavior. However, they may not necessarily change their own behavior over the longer term. Researchers who looked at a supplemental drivers' education program in Texas said that data from a follow-up two months later was inconclusive.

The study, which appeared in the journal "Transportation Research," focused on 21 young participants in the Texas Reality Education for Drivers program. The six-hour program took place in a hospital and included videos, lectures and development of a safe driving contract. At the end of the program, participants had a better understanding of the dangers of speeding and of how drinking and driving could be influenced by peers. However, there were only six participants in the follow-up questionnaire, and all said they had texted and driven while two admitted to speeding. Researchers said that more such programs were needed along with additional follow-up.

What can you do if a spouse is hiding assets in divorce?

Divorce is a complex and trying time for Minnesota couples of all income levels, but it can be an especially complex process for high-asset couples. When there are valuable assets and a significant amount of money at stake, it can be difficult to be reasonable and discuss these issues peacefully. Some spouses may even attempt to hide assets.

If you are facing the prospect of a high-asset divorce, you may have concerns that your spouse will attempt to hide assets in order to keep more marital property. This is unfair, and you have the right to fight back against these attempts. There are ways you can seek full disclosure and secure your rightful share of all assets and money. 

Getting prepared for a child support case

When parents in Minnesota head to court for a child custody hearing, they may be confused about what to expect and even intimidated by the process. However, people can be ready for their hearings by getting prepared in advance and learning more about what to expect. Preparation is particularly key when making a case for custody, and it can include factors from wearing the right clothes to being ready to present a logistical plan for the children's care.

For example, it is recommended to dress conservatively and in a business-appropriate fashion for a child custody hearing. Of course, dress style is no reflection on anyone's parenting abilities; however, wearing clothes appropriate for an office can send the message that a parent takes the hearing seriously and wants to make a good impression. In addition, parents should not only be able to speak about their love for their children but also about their practical plans. This means being able to demonstrate that an apartment has an appropriate, private place for the children to sleep, or showing that childcare plans exist while a parent is working. By bringing witnesses like babysitters or teachers, parents can also present reliable testimony from others about the parent-child relationship.

Divorce and business owners

Minnesota residents who own a business and are getting a divorce should expect that the process of dividing their marital estate will be lengthy and complex. There are a number of issues that arise when one of the assets owned by an individual is a privately owned business. It will be necessary to determine exactly how much the business is worth, if the spouse who owns the business is being completely truthful about the business income and if the valuation of the business will be impacted by any support obligations.

The value of a business can be determined by the market, income or asset methods. The first step for all of these methods is a thorough evaluation of the financial statements for the business. However, the discovery stage of valuating a business should not end there, particularly if there are spouses who do not participate in the daily business operations.

Later-in-life divorces can have specific financial concerns

More and more people in Minnesota and across the country choose to get divorced at later ages. While the divorce rate for all ages and demographics has remained flat or even declined, the rate among Americans over the age of 50 has doubled in the past two decades. There is a number of attributes that can distinguish these so-called "gray divorces" from their younger counterparts. In general, child support and child custody are not at issue, and many divorces among older people are quieter and more amicable.

The financial aspects of later-in-life divorces can differentiate them as well. Many couples have accumulated significant wealth over their years together, and the complicated mix of investments and properties can lead to a high-asset divorce. In addition, retirement funds are often some of the largest assets in a divorce at any age, but they can be particularly critical for people who choose to divorce at or close to retirement age. While there may be disputes about how these funds should be divided, the process can be complex even when both parties reach an agreement about the distribution of the accounts.

Some financial issues may surprise women during divorce

When couples seek divorce in Minnesota, many unexpected circumstances could develop. According to a recent survey of more than 1,700 adult women in various stages of the divorce process, financial issues tend to produce a lot surprises. In fact, nearly half of the females surveyed reported experiencing financial problems they didn't anticipate. Among all respondents, women under age 55 reported experiencing more financial surprises.

Living on a single income was the most common financial challenge reported among all age groups. This was followed by the cost of divorce. Women may also be surprised at the total size of the marital debt. Even with a high-asset divorce, it's possible to be unaware of debt obligations such as mortgages and credit card balances. Some women also fail to plan for the cost of health insurance or a return to the workforce.

Avoid family law court trial by creating a parenting agreement

As you and your spouse embark on your divorce journey, you cannot help but to feel apprehensive about how your children will handle it. After all, as emotionally difficult as the marital breakup process may be for you and your spouse, it is just as difficult for the children to navigate.

However, many cases involving child custody in Minnesota resolve before ever heading to family law court. You can accomplish this by working with your soon-to-be ex-spouse to produce a mutually satisfactory parenting agreement.

How to co-parent after a divorce

Minnesota parents who get divorced will have to find ways to raise their children while separated. While this can be difficult, courts generally operate from the position that children should be encouraged to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents after divorce.

Parents can interfere with this if they are not careful. For example, exes should avoid making negative remarks about one another. Children pick up on this even when parents think they are being subtle. At its worst, this kind of behavior can cause children to feel they must pick a side. Parents should instead encourage their child's relationship with the other parent.

What Minnesota drivers should watch for on July 4

There is a wide variety of ways in which Americans can get hurt on the 4th of July holiday. Drunk driving is a serious problem as evidenced by data from Esurance and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that indicates that 40 percent of all highway fatalities between 2007 and 2011 were caused by drunk drivers during the Independence Day holiday. Between June 30 and July 4, an estimated 37.5 million Americans will be driving 50 or more miles.

In addition to dangers on the highway, individuals could also harm themselves by not using fireworks safely. While a person may not die from a firework accident, he or she could still experience painful injuries to the head, face and ears. Mishandling fireworks could also lead to someone's fingers or hands being disfigured. Finally, those who are celebrating during the July 4 time period should be careful about eating and swimming.

Stopping distracted driving with the help of new tech

Minnesota residents may be disconcerted by the number of smartphone-using drivers. As distracted driving and, with it, the number of accidents increase, others are searching for ways to keep themselves from growing negligent behind the wheel. To this end, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon have all made free apps available that can silence incoming communications and disable the texting function while the user's car is in motion.

This may not be enough, though, because such apps do not prevent drivers from accessing social media networks or video games, such as Pokémon Go. However, two new devices may provide an answer. The need is great, but it all depends on whether the new technology will receive the wide marketing it deserves.

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Bowden Cyr, PLLC - Attorneys At Law

7825 3rd Street North | Suite 204 | Oakdale, MN 55128 | Phone: 612-254-6409 | Fax: 651-731-5496 | Oakdale Law Office Map