Jackson County General Law Blog

New year, new alimony taxation

The thought of getting divorced at any time of year is generally one of the last things people in Missouri want to rush through. The thought of hurrying to get divorced amidst the Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's season would be even less palatable to people under normal circumstances. This year, however, circumstances are anything but normal as a major change to the tax code set to take effect in 2019 will have major implications on divorce settlements nationwide.

According to a report by Bloomberg, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will shift the burden of paying income tax on spousal support monies from the recipient spouse to the paying spouse. In addition, the paying spouse will lose the deduction they have previously been given for these monies. Many believe that this change could make divorce agreements harder to arrive at with people far less willing to concede to making alimony payments. 

What are Missouri's sex offender levels?

If you or someone you know in Missouri has been arrested for and charged with a sex crime, you will no doubt want to learn as much as you can about the charges and any potential consequences associated with a conviction should that happen. One of the penalties of a conviction for a crime of a sexual nature may well be the requirement to register as a sex offender. This program has recently undergone some important changes.

As explained by Missourinet, before August of this year, the state's sex offender registry program had a one-size-fits-all approach. This means that all people convicted of any type of sex crime were treated exactly the same as each other. A person convicted of indecent exposure in public would be forced to register as a sex offender for life just like an adult convicted of raping multiple young children. 

What is legal separation?

When your marriage is not going well, you may consider divorce. In some situations, though, divorce is not the right answer. Missouri offers you an alternative. According to the Missouri Courts, you can file for a legal separation. This allows you to have a formal decision on your relationship without the permanent effects of a divorce.

A separation allows you to have the chance to eventually reconcile. People often choose this option if they are unsure about divorcing or if they want to stay legally married for some other reason. Some people may have religious objections to divorce or want to stay married for tax purposes. The key to this process is that you and your spouse retain all the legal rights of marriage, but you now live separately.

When you drive in Missouri, watch out for these hazards!

Perhaps you consider yourself a seasoned expert at navigating high-traffic roadways in Missouri because you've been making the same morning and evening commutes for 10 years or more. Then again, you may have only recently moved to this state and are still getting used to its motorists and pedestrians.  

Whether you have been driving on Missouri highways for decades or are still finding your way around town, the last thing you want is to wind up in the back of an ambulance following a motor vehicle collision. There are several red flag issues that increase your risk of injury while driving or traveling as a passenger in someone's vehicle. While you may not be able to avert a collision, it still helps to know where seek support in the aftermath

Attention, Missouri travelers: A distracted driver might be near

Do you know that studies show that, in motor vehicle collisions in Missouri and other states, as many as two out of every three vehicle operators were driving distracted just before they crashed? That basically means you are at risk for a distracted driving accident every time you get behind the wheel or travel as a passenger in someone's car, or even as a pedestrian.  

If you have a teenager in your household, he or she belongs to one of the most high-risk categories of people who are likely to die in distracted driving accidents. In fact, a distracted driving collision is the number one cause of death for people of this age group. You can be as proactive as possible to try to improve your own safety on the road. If you suffer an injury in a collision a distracted driver caused, you can seek legal accountability against him or her.  

What are the different types of warning signs?

Whether you are a Missouri property owner, an employer or anyone in charge of maintaining a property, you have a duty to mark off dangerous areas or places of potential hazards to anyone who walks into that location unwarily. One of the simplest ways to warn people of a dangerous spot is to use a warning sign. Depending on the level of risk, you will have to choose the right kind of sign to convey the proper warning.

The Grainger website explains that there are three kinds of warning signs classified by OSHA. For locations with the most serious and immediate risk, a danger sign is to be used. A danger sign should be employed if a person risks serious injury or death by walking into a particular spot. Danger signs are characterized by the use of white, black or red colors. Generally, a danger sign will sport a “danger” or “warning” label.

Brain injuries may cause cognitive damage

If your loved one has just been through an auto accident or experienced a Missouri workplace injury, pay attention to how your relative reacts to outside conversation, follows outside stimuli, or how long it takes for your loved one to conduct ordinary household activities. Should your loved one experience problems with these activities, it is possible your relative may have suffered cognitive damage.

Brainline explains that cognition is an action that involves thinking and knowing. When a person engages in cognitive activity, that individual is perceiving information, comprehending it, storing it in memory, and using that information either in the present or for a later time. Cognition also involves communicating to other people, paying attention, organizing information, controlling one’s behavior, and exercising temperance.

Can I make choosing a guardian for my kids harmonious?

Choosing a person to be a possible guardian for your children in Missouri is a difficult enough task since you have to contemplate who can care for your kids if you should pass away before they reach adulthood. However, picking a guardian could ruffle some feathers among your family or your spouse’s family. Here are some ways you can promote harmony among your family as you choose your guardian.

Parenting points out that some spouses will argue over who should be a guardian. Disagreements can range from whether a spouse's sibling or parents should care for the kids to whether the children will be happy in their new hometown. Because of these divisions in opinion, spouses should be up front about concerns they may have. They should also be willing to discuss issues that the other spouse has a problem with. These steps can help show that spouses understand and empathize with each other’s concerns.

Is eyewitness identification reliable?

You may be surprised to find out that not all sexual predators behind bars are guilty of committing a crime. In fact, there are a number of people who have been released from prison after spending years, sometimes decades, behind bars for a rape or sexual crime they did not commit. How does this horrible tragedy occur on such a regular basis? Errors in eyewitness lineups, as well as the inaccuracy of the human memory under times of severe stress can often lead victims to identify an innocent person as their attacker.

According to the Innocence Project, eyewitness misidentification was involved in 70 percent of the cases that were overturned after further evidence showed the person was innocent of the crime. There are several factors that may prompt a person to mistakenly identify the wrong person from a lineup. People are more likely to make a mistake if the perpetrator is a different race than their own. Studies show that people are unable to distinguish key facial characteristics in different races. This is especially true under times of high stress. The human brain may fail to pick up crucial pieces of information while it is struggling to deal with the stressful situation. The deficits in information may be filled in with false beliefs and invalid reoccurrences of what happened. People also have trouble remember exact details when there is a weapon involved.

Halloween is the most dangerous pedestrian time year for kids

Trick-or-treating is an event most children in the U.S. look forward to. What can be more fun than dressing up and going around the neighborhood to get candy on the spookiest night of the year? At the law firm of Kelly, Symonds & Reed, LLC, we want all Missouri kids to get home safely on Halloween, but we also know this can be a particularly hazardous time for excited children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no other day of the year is more dangerous than Halloween for child pedestrian accidents. Authorities say children are four times more likely to be hit by a car while trick-or-treating than any other day of the year. How can you keep your children safe on Halloween while letting them have fun? AAA Exchange provides the following tips:

  • Review pedestrian safety rules with your children before letting them go trick-or-treating.
  • Walk with your kids or have a responsible teenager or adult go with them.
  • Plan out the trick-or-treating route ahead of time and instruct your children on not going anywhere you didn’t approve of first.
  • Make sure your kids are visible to drivers by putting reflective tape on their costumes or having them carry flashlights.

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