Greenwood Law

Divorce costs may rise with the new year

For people in North Carolina and across the United States, upcoming changes in tax law could make divorce even more financially complicated. In December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump. While other aspects of the tax reform garnered a great deal of media attention, less discussion focused on the law's effect on couples who decide to divorce.

The law eliminates the personal and dependent exemptions from previous years while increasing standard deductions. There are different standard deductions for different types of tax filers. Single people will have a $12,000 standard deduction while a Head of Household has an $18,000 standard deduction. In order to file as Head of Household, an unmarried taxpayer must have a dependent in the household over 50 percent of the time. If there is one child, only one of the two parents can qualify for the status after a divorce. In the past, exemptions were a topic in negotiations because they helped to reduce taxable income. With their elimination, eligibility for child tax credits can become more important.

Marijuana arrests up in the U.S.

Recent years have seen a loosening of marijuana laws in many parts of the county. For example:

  • Some states have decriminalized certain marijuana offenses
  • Many states have legalized medical marijuana
  • A handful of states have legalized recreational possession of the drug

However, recent data suggests that, despite these trends, police here in the U.S remain aggressive in their enforcement efforts against marijuana possession.

Penalties for embezzlement and your need for an attorney

Perhaps you work for a government-funded organization or are provided investments from donations to use solely for your position. Yet you make decisions that seem as though you use some of the funds to supply your own needs. Depending on the severity of the poorly-allocated money, you could face embezzlement charges that land you in debt or prison.

Embezzlement constitutes a serious crime in North Carolina. Should you face charges, significant penalties arise if a court finds you guilty of using your company or another individual's funds for your personal use. It is essential, if you face an accusation of embezzlement, that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to aid you in lessening and avoiding punishments.

After divorce: Keeping the home or not

When people in North Carolina decide to divorce, it can be complex to negotiate the financial issues that arise with property division. For women in particular, divorce has been shown in a number of studies to have a wide-ranging impact on their financial future. While men's income appears to rise an average of one-third after a divorce, women do not enjoy the same benefits. In many cases, women's income can decline as much as 20 percent after a divorce and often never rises to its prior level.

However, another study says that divorced women can often be better off financially than single women who were never married. In particular, the study highlights homeownership as a significant factor in determining who does well after the divorce. Women who leave a marriage as homeowners are more likely to hold onto the asset according to the study. Single women who never married are less likely to be homeowners and often have fewer financial assets than those who shared in marital assets during a divorce.

Can the police look through my phone?

It's no secret that this is a digital age. That means that it's more than likely most of your life exists on your cell phone. For many people, looking through someone's phone is considered a severe violation of privacy.

You know what your privacy rights are for search and seizure of your home or car but you might be worried about what your rights to privacy are in regard to your cell phone. This is a new aspect of law that came along with the rise of technology.

Why drinking and driving is so dangerous

The legal blood alcohol limit for drivers in North Carolina is .08 percent. However, people may be impaired regardless of what their blood alcohol level is. In some cases, they may be too drunk to drive even if they aren't showing any obvious signs of impairment. This is because it can take up to two hours for alcohol to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Drivers who are impaired may have a slower reaction time compared to those who are sober. They may also lack the coordination to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner. Depending on how intoxicated people are, they won't have the coordination necessary to stand or walk properly. Other side effects of alcohol consumption include decreased vision or a lack of depth perception.

Splitting assets, debts and other divorce financial issues

People in North Carolina who are getting a divorce need to take a number of financial issues into account. In some cases, property division may be more complex than it appears on the surface. For example, some assets may appear as though they have equal value, but one account may be taxed on withdrawal, lowering its actual value, while the other is not.

Many people struggle with what to do about the home because it has an emotional aspect. However, it is still necessary to deal with practicalities such as who will pay the bills for the house until a sale is final if the couple decides to sell it. If one person keeps the house, the divorce agreement does not mean that the person will no longer be considered responsible for the mortgage. The same is true for credit card debts. Creditors will still pursue the person in whose name the debt is regardless of what the divorce agreement says. All of this may need to be addressed.

Victims' rights campaigner facing drug charges

Advocacy groups in North Carolina and around the country may be familiar with Henry T. Nicholas III and his efforts to pass legislation protecting crime victims. Nicholas was inspired to action by a 1983 case involving a California student who was murdered by her stalker, but the 59-year-old technology billionaire now finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Nicholas was taken into custody on Aug. 7 by police in Las Vegas on drug possession and trafficking charges.

According to reports, Nicholas called hotel security after trying unsuccessfully to enter his room. When security officers gained admission to the room, they are said to have discovered an unconscious woman lying on the floor with a semi-inflated balloon hanging from her lips. Security personnel are said to have called police after Nicholas admitted that the balloon contained nitrous oxide.

College debts could lead to divorce

As many North Carolina residents know, there are various reasons why people get divorced. Financial issues are commonly cited as causes behind separations. However, some may be surprised to learn that debt from college loans could significantly contribute to the end of a relationship.

In a recent survey conducted by the education debt managing website Student Loan Hero, 13 percent of respondents pointed to college loan debt as a specific factor in their divorces. This connects directly with the rising costs of a college education and the loans many students take out to pay for it. The average college loan balance is $34,000, which is an increase of 62 percent over a decade. Furthermore, loan balances of over $50,000 have tripled during the same amount of time.

Reducing drug penalties could erase racial health disparities

Researchers say that reducing penalties for drug possession in North Carolina and elsewhere could lead to a reduction in racial disparities in the court system. It could also cause an indirect reduction in health disparities.

Since the 1970s, drug arrests have disproportionately impacted communities of color. However, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that California's Proposition 47, a 2014 law that reclassified drug felonies as misdemeanors, caused a reduction in racial and ethnic arrest disparities. Researchers examined statistics from the California Department of Justice's Monthly Arrest and Citations register from 2011 until 2016. There were approximately 1 million drug arrests made over the five-year study period. During the first 30 days after Proposition 47 went into effect, absolute felony drug arrest disparities between white and black defendants dropped from 81 per 100,000 to 44 per 100,000. Disparities continued to fall over subsequent months.

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Winston-Salem, NC 27101

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