Jackson County General Law Blog

Am I entitled to my ex’s Social Security retirement benefits?

Retirement is one of the things many people await with anticipation. After putting in decades of work, your senior years should be spent taking it easy and enjoying your family. However, some Missouri residents may dread the retirement age if they have no retirement benefits to look forward to. This can be especially true if you are divorced and struggling to make ends meet.

If you stayed at home or only worked part-time while you were married, you may have expected your spouse’s retirement benefits to support you in your golden years. However, you face a different scenario after your divorce. The Social Security Administration puts a portion of your paycheck into a retirement fund, as you may know. However, you might not have accrued a sufficient retirement fund if you did not work while married.

Dogs deemed aggressive may have more rights, according to MO bill

It does not matter whether the dog is a chihuahua or a mastiff – being bitten can be frightening as well as harmful. However, there is more of a focus on larger breeds when it comes to legislation controlling dangerous dogs, since big dogs can cause much more harm when they attack. Even so, many dog owners in Missouri and elsewhere feel that breed-specific legislation is unfair and stigmatizes entire breeds, when not all dogs of those certain breeds are vicious.

According to KOMU News, a bill that was recently introduced – HCS HB 297 – aims to keep Missouri residents safe from dangerous dogs while not penalizing entire breeds. Many communities or landlords ban certain breeds, such as pit bulls or German shepherds, regardless of an individual dog’s history. If passed, the bill would allow cities and counties to uphold leash laws and make other pet-specific safety laws, but not to target entire breeds.

Holding parents liable for a teen driver's accidents

It is hard to see teen drivers take to the streets of Lee's Summit and not remember the excitement you felt when you were first learning to drive. Yet that excitement might also be mitigated by the knowledge that their inexperience can make teen drivers pose a greater risk to themselves and others while they are behind the wheel. The expectation is that their parents will ensure that they are only driving unsupervised once they have shown they can be responsible. In cases where irresponsible teem drivers have caused accidents, many come to us here at Kelly, Symonds & Reed LLC wanting to know if they can hold the parents responsible. 

You can assign liability to the parents of a teen driver in an accident, yet only under certain conditions. The legal principle of negligent entrustment does indeed allow one to assign vicarious liability to a third party who provides the person who injured them with the instrument used to do so. In citing the state's view of negligent entrustment, the Missouri State Supreme Court references this passage from the Restatement (Second) of Torts: "One who supplies directly or through a third person a chattel for the use of another whom the supplier knows or has reason to know to be likely because of his youth, inexperience, or otherwise, to use it in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical harm to himself and others whom the supplier should expect to share in or be endangered by its use, is subject to liability for physical harm resulting to them."

Criminal records and job seeking

People in Missouri who want to find a new job after being convicted of a criminal offense may feel discouraged before they even submit one application. This can be due to the fact that they assume once an employer knows they have a criminal past, the company will no longer consider their candidacy. Monster does acknowledge that the use of background checks is extremely prevalent in today's society with as many as 93% of companies running checks on job candidates according to a 2017 Background Screening Trends and Best Practices Report by Sterling Talent Solutions.

However, despite the widespread reliance on background checks, 66% of people in human resources jobs and eight out of every 10 managers believe that a person with a criminal past has an equal ability to bring value to an organization as does a person without a criminal past. This is per a study conducted by the Charles Koch Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management.

Shifts seen in who pays alimony

If you are like most people in Missouri, you likely know at least one divorced man who has been required to make alimony payments to his former wife. For some time, this was a relatively normal component in the average divorce settlement. This was a reflection in part on the fact that women either stayed at home to raise their children and did not have their own incomes at all or that whatever jobs women did have earned them much smaller salaries or wages than those earned by their husbands.

MarketWatch reported that data from Pew Research shows that two out of every five American households today are led by primary breadwinners who are female, not male. This fact is having a direct impact on the outcome of many divorces. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers surveyed attorneys about spousal support and child support payments.

If Missouri police knock at your door, must you let them in?

It's Friday evening and you are glad to be relaxing at home with your family. You have plans for the weekend that include putting some burgers on the grill and inviting a few friends over for some drinks. Imagine that you and your spouse are just sitting around, talking about what side-dishes you'll serve with those burgers when there's an unexpected knock at your door.

You don't make it a habit to open your door when you weren't expecting a visitor, so you look through the peephole or a nearby window and see two Missouri police officers on your doorstep. In moments like this, it pays to have a clear understanding of your rights. There's no way to predict what type of events are about to unfold, and if you lack knowledge about what you can or should not do, you might wind up facing some serious legal problems.

Managing debt through a divorce

Debt seems to be something that most people in Missouri face in some way. It is all but impossible to buy a car or certainly a house without amassing some serious debt. In addition, credit cards have come to be a commonly used form of payment across the country in today's society. While all of this is normal, it can pose unique challenges for people when they face an impending divorce.

A lot of attention is given to how a couple will split up their assets when they get divorced but the reality of the situation is that debts must also be addressed. As Money Management International explains, people should not assume that the terms of a divorce settlement will protect them in all situations.

Signs that a Missouri driver might be intoxicated at the wheel

When you're traveling on a Missouri highway, you may feel nervous or even frightened if there's a lot of traffic and one or more drivers appear to be disregarding certain laws. For instance, it's never pleasant to share the road with someone who is tailgating you, or with someone whose speed is exceeding the posted limit. Such situations can be highly stressful.

Sadly, many of the worst collisions in this state and others often involve people who consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Do you know how to recognize a possible drunk driver when you see one? Sometimes, you can recognize a potential problem on the road and react quickly enough to avoid collision. However, there's no guarantee of that because you might be in a situation where you can't change lanes or even hit your brakes. If a drunk driver hits you, you might suffer serious injuries.

Reducing the risk of winter accidents and injuries

Most Missouri residents know that snowy winter weather may lead to slips, falls and injuries. For business owners, it may be especially important to find ways to make their properties safer for employees and visitors. There are several steps employers may take to reduce the chances of slips, falls and other accidents happening during the winter.

Snow, sleet and other winter weather phenomena may drastically increase the number of slip-and-fall incidents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ice, sleet and/or snow contributed to 1,040 occupational injuries and illnesses in Missouri in 2014. The incidence rate (per 10,000 workers) for such injuries in Missouri was 4.8, which was higher than the national average.

How does Missouri's zero tolerance law affect minors?

As a Missouri resident, you have likely heard about the state government's "zero tolerance" policy for drinking and driving. There state's DWI laws cover several different charges, and there may be severe penalties if you drive while intoxicated or refuse to take a test for blood alcohol concentration. If you are under 21 years old, however, there are additional aspects of the zero tolerance policy that may affect you.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol provides detailed information about the state's DWI laws. If you are over age 21, you may receive a DWI charge if you have a BAC level of 0.08%, even without any other evidence of impairment. You may lose your license for a year if you have multiple DWI convictions over a certain period of time.

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