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Asheville Legal Blog

The benefits of settling a divorce before trial

Going through a divorce in North Carolina can be a highly emotional process. When spouses decide to end their marriage, they may have a difficult time agreeing on almost anything. They might find themselves frequently arguing, and it could seem like there is no alternative to an extended trial in family court to manage the divorce. However, these couples should consider the ramifications of going to trial.

In the first place, a divorce trial takes longer than reaching a settlement. Court calendars can be crowded, and a trial will need to be scheduled long in advance. The court process is highly structured and can require a significant amount of an attorney's time. Because trials can take so long, judges themselves will often encourage the parties to settle before proceeding with the trial. In some areas, such as child custody, parents are encouraged to reach an agreement about their parenting plans because they will have a higher level of control.

Fancy cars are less likely to stop at crosswalks

North Carolina pedestrians may wish to take note of the cars passing through when they are trying to walk through a crosswalk. This is because there are various factors that may dictate whether the driver stops and yields including the value of the car. In other words, the driver of the expensive luxury car may be more likely to plow through the crosswalk when someone is waiting to cross.

The research shows a number of biases when it comes to stopping at crosswalks. Race, gender and culture are factors in whether the driver will yield. Drivers are less likely to yield for black and Hispanic pedestrians than they are for white pedestrians. In addition, drivers also have a higher statistical probability of stopping for women in the crosswalk.

Addressing racial bias in criminal trials

The criminal justice system in North Carolina and around the country has been criticized in recent years for the harsh sentences that are often handed down to minority defendants, but an article published in the Seattle Journal for Social Justice suggests that touching on race issues during the early stages of criminal proceedings can lead to a more equitable outcome. The federal public defender who wrote it reached his conclusions after analyzing criminal trials involving Latino defendants.

The article advises defense attorneys to tackle issues like police bias and cross-racial identification during pretrial motions and the voir dire jury selection process. Making these arguments could lead to evidence being excluded if the police officers involved obtained a search warrant based on racial factors, and experts could be called on to raise questions about the reliability of eyewitness identifications that cross racial lines.

Clearing a past criminal conviction in North Carolina

Your criminal record is holding you back. You already paid your fines. You did your time. You have never broken another law. You've expressed remorse over what happened.

Regardless, that record is a black mark that you can't shake. It has prevented you from getting a job, for instance, or advancing your career. You feel like you have done everything right since the arrest. Do you have to suffer for that one mistake for the rest of your life?

Divorcees may be entitled to Social Security benefits

Figures from the Social Security Administration reveal that about one in five married couples in North Carolina and around the country will rely on their Social Security benefits to cover at least 90% of their retirement expenses. Older spouses who are unhappy in their marriages may feel that divorce is not practical because losing their husband or wife's Social Security benefits would leave them financially vulnerable, but the SSA has rules in place that allow divorcees to receive payments based on their former spouse's contributions.

This means that even divorcees who have never been employed may receive Social Security benefits. However, these benefits are only available to people who were married for at least a decade and have not remarried. Divorced spouses may begin to receive Social Security benefits at 62 years of age, but the monthly amount will be higher if they wait until they reach their full retirement age.

North Carolina drivers should know how to avoid car accidents

Motor vehicle accidents occur every day across the country, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety wants drivers to understand that there are ways to avoid some of the most frequent crash types. Drivers need to be aware that modern technology can assist as great tools in newer vehicles, but there are also several easy-to-implement practices that will assist drivers with overall safer vehicle operations.

The most common accidents include front- and side-impact wrecks along with rear-end crashes and parking lot accidents. Many newer vehicles can come equipped with technologically advanced systems such as lane-maintaining and automatic braking features. These devices not only alert drivers to a possible dangerous situation, but they can also control the steering and braking of vehicles. Forward-collision warning gadgets and rear-view cameras are more tools designed to protect drivers from getting into accidents.

Drivers combining hands-free cell use with other distractions

Drivers in North Carolina and across the nation use hands-free devices in order to talk on their cellphones while driving. While some may feel like this makes driving safer, data actually shows the opposite to be true. It seems that when a person uses a hands-free cellphone while driving, he or she is likely to engage in other risky behaviors at the same time.

This data comes from Lytx, which is a provider of safety and productivity solutions, analytics and video telematics for commercial and public sector fleets. They found that over 20% of the fleets that they analyzed involved drivers who engaged in various behaviors that were potentially risky. Depending on which risky behaviors are engaged in at the same moment, it could increase a driver's risk of getting into an accident by up to 100%.

Tips for a functional co-parenting relationship

When parents divorce in North Carolina, they may struggle afterwards to maintain a functioning co-parenting relationship. However, it can be important to the well-being of their children that they do so.

It may be helpful for parents to work with a counselor. At minimum, a counselor may offer assistance in setting ground rules and expectations for the co-parenting relationship. Focusing on the children may help parents move past resentment, anger and other negative emotions and work toward what will be best for them. Parents should consider where would be the best places for them to meet to discuss the children. Places that have painful associations, such as the house they once shared, may not be the right choice. Instead, a pleasant public environment where both feel comfortable, such as a cafe, may be a better choice.

Distracted driving happens in 3 main ways

There are two ways to look at distracted driving. First, you can think of it as something with a nearly endless list of causes. Texting and driving is one of the most common, but you also have people doing their grooming on the way to work, talking to their children in the back seat, trying to choose a new playlist on their phones and drinking a morning cup of coffee -- just to name a few.

The truth is that, while you can cite an incredible amount of specific causes for distracted driving, there are just three main ways that it happens. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are:

  • Cognitive
  • Visual
  • Manual

How negligence works in car accidents

North Carolina drivers are likely interested in finding out how negligence applies to auto accidents. This information could help them drive safer and determine if they have a legal case against another person who caused an accident.

In order for negligence to apply to a car accident, there are certain criteria that need to be met. First, a requirement or an expectation for some type of reasonable care needs to exist. Individuals who possess a driver's license are expected to drive safely in order to keep others safe. There has to be proof that care wasn't exercised, such as a driver failing a breathalyzer test after the accident. Third, evidence needs to show that the negligence of the driver caused injury or loss.

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Bull & Reinhardt, PLLC
160 E. Chestnut Street
Asheville, NC 28801

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