What is a prenuptial agreement?

Oct 01

Whenever I hear the word “prenup”, I automatically think about the song Gold Digger by Kanye West. The lyrics go, “If you ain’t no punk holla ‘We Want Prenup.’ ‘We want prenup!’” But what is a prenuptial agreement and who are they really for?

Prenuptial agreements are not just for the wealth, explains Andrea Berkowitz, a New York attorney at Stutman Stutman & Lichtenstein, LLP. In fact, prenuptial agreements can actually work for both parties, especially as couples marry later in life and have more assets.

While the conversation about signing a prenuptial agreement before marriage may be nerve-wracking and seemingly hurtful, Berkowitz explains that a prenuptial agreement can be an opportunity for the partner who is not considered the “monied spouse.” How is this possible? While one partner may have more assets and wealth than the other, the “non-monied spouse” still may have separate concerns about financial security. The prenuptial agreement can help protect the rights of the “non-monied spouse” too. Berkowitz even goes on to recommend that all couples have a clear contract before marriage.

The major concern with divorce is that one spouse may exit the workforce after children are born and have a difficult time rejoining the workforce after time away. While exiting the workforce may be a planned event for some, it becomes a necessity for others when one spouse has to care for the children and cannot work at the same time. Rather than promising re-entry into the workforce, a prenuptial agreement provides for the spouse who stays at home with the children in the event that marriage does not work out. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that the partner outside of the workforce receives a set percentage of their former spouse’s income.

The terms of a prenuptial agreement help guarantee financial support in the event of a divorce. Signing a prenuptial agreement can give both parties more freedom and security during a marriage, and help mitigate the issues of divorce if it occurs in the future.

According to the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield, prenuptial agreements can help with the “division of assets, visitation rights to children, custody of children”, and alimony. However, the lawyers at the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield explain that each prenuptial agreement is unique to the couple’s situation. By discussing the division of assets, visitation rights to children, custody of children, and alimony upfront, couples can avoid lengthy and costly divorce settlements.

Prenuptial agreements can also include “lifestyle clauses,” according to attorney Lois Liberman. Lieberman explains that some agreements include stipulations about where a child is to be raised even in the event of a divorce. She continues by explaining that “Prenups are contracts that are supposed to be utilized during death or divorce.” Some lifestyle clauses are more wild, penalizing a partner for cursing or a changing physical appearance. While it is difficult to enforce these rules during a marriage, they often can be used to penalize someone in the event of a divorce.

Prenuptial agreements are not just for the wealthy; they can be used by a variety of couples to secure their respective financial futures. While some of the lifestyle clauses are a bit ridiculous, prenuptial agreements help couples divide assets, delineate visitation rights and custody of children, and deal with alimony upfront.

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The Causes of Dog Bites

Jun 08

Dogs are common pets. But there is one disadvantage of having too many dogs in the neighborhood – the risk of dog biting accidents increases. It is good news that, according to the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, those who have been hurt in animal attacks such as dog biting have legal options, such as trying to get compensation for the damages.
It is reassuring that the legalities are on the side of victims, but why do dog bites happen anyway? They happen mainly because of three primary reasons. One, the dog has been provoked. Two, the victim has been reckless. Three, the dog owner or the property owner has been negligent. If you are filing a lawsuit, it is much easier to win if your case involves the third reason, especially if you did not do anything wrong.
Usually, this negligence of dog owners and property owners come in the following forms:

  • Failing to supervise the dog
  • Failing to tether the dog
  • Failing to ensure that the dog is tethered in a durable object
  • Failing to choose a tethering spot that is inaccessible to others

The first and second reason often go together. You can do reckless things that can provoke the dog. Of course, it is still possible that the dog owner or the property owner are held accountable, but you should not be going around and provoking dogs in the first place either.
Below are some of the things that dogs may find provoking, and they may respond by biting:

  • Intentionally or unintentionally hurting the dog, such as stepping on its tail
  • Running or other intense activities around the dog, as they may trigger hunting instincts
  • Trying to get its possessions, like food and puppies
  • Trying to get its master’s possessions, such as those in burglary instances

To avoid dog biting accidents, it is also important to know the physical signs that a dog is about to bite, such as the following:

  • Deep growl
  • Raised fur
  • Showing of teeth
  • Showing of the white of the eyes
  • Stiff body

In short, all parties should be responsible to avoid dog bites. Dog owners and property owners should make sure that their dogs are not going to attack, or at least not be able to reach their possible victim when they try to attack. Possible victims should also not try to provoke the dog and stay away, especially if the dog involved doesn’t know them.

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You may be Eligible to Receive SSI Benefit

Mar 01

The Social Security retirement benefit, disability benefit and death benefit are given by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to its insured members. These are individuals or employees who have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and who have earned the number of credits required by the SSA (these credits are earned through payment of Social Security taxes which are identified as “FICA,” that is, Federal Insurance Contributions Act. Payment is automatically deducted in employees’ monthly take home pay).

Disability benefits are paid to members (who have sustained total, permanent disability) through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. SSDI, which the SSA introduced in 1956, is one of the two largest programs of the U.S. Federal government (the other is the Supplemental Security Income or SSI, which was created by the SSA in 1974).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), specifically, is designed to provide cash benefits to:

  • Disabled adults with limited income and resources;
  • Disabled children who are below 18 years old and who have limited income and resources; and,
  • People 65 years old or older who may be without disabilities, but who meet the financial limits set under the federal benefit rate (FBR).

SSI benefit is also meant to help provide for its recipients’ basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter (under the SSI program, some legal aliens are also considered eligible to receive the cash benefits).

The word “disabled,” as defined for SSI purposes, means physical or mental impairment, (including emotional or learning problem) that:

  • Has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months
  • Results in severe functional limitations (in the case of children) or in the inability to perform any substantial gainful activity (in the case of adults); and
  • Can be expected to result in the disabled person’s death.
    The words “income” and “resources,” on the other hand refer to:

Income: this refers to money earned from work; money received from Social Security benefits, Workers Compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs, unemployment benefits, friends or relatives; and free food or shelter.

Resources: things a person owns, such as: cash; bank accounts, U.S. savings bonds; land; vehicles; personal property; life insurance; stocks, and whatever can be converted to cash and used for food or shelter.

As explained in the website of the Chris Mayo Law Firm, “Dealing with a serious disability can make everyday life a challenge, and for many of those in this position, earning a living wage can be extremely difficult. For this reason, the Social Security Administration provides income support through various programs to Americans with disabilities who struggle to make ends meet. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is one such program that has played a substantial role in helping disabled children, adults, and their families across the country.

SSI benefits are available to those living on low incomes, who are aged, blind, or suffer from a disability, with sometimes increased benefits for families to help provide a level of support that more accurately matches their needs.”

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Can A Pedestrian Be Held Liable In A Car Accident?

Oct 23

When it boils down to a pedestrian vs a car in an accident, the usual assumption is that it is the driver of the vehicle who was at-fault. The usual notion is that the automobile should have yielded to the pedestrian’s “right of way.” According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicles kill more than 4,000 people every year and injure over 70,000 pedestrians.

According to the website of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, pedestrians who get involved in a car accident can suffer from physical injuries, pay tons of medical bills, and a long term recovery. The truth of the matter is that pedestrians can also have some liability in a car accident. There are certain instances when the pedestrian will not be able to collect damages for the injuries they incurred and here they are:

  • Jaywalking or crossing in the middle of the street outside of a crosswalk
  • Crossing against the traffic signal
  • Entering a street or highway while intoxicated
  • Walking along highways, bridges, or causeways where pedestrians are strictly prohibited

But while a pedestrian is partially to blame for causing an accident, it is also likely that the driver of the vehicle can also be partially at fault for the collision. Let us say that a pedestrian was jaywalking but if the driver has been driving at a safe speed or is distracted, who will be held liable for the accident? There are different states that adopt shared fault situations.

When it comes to accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians, there are two principles that govern determination of liability. In comparative negligence, the pedestrian receives compensation from any at fault party. However, the amount of damages can be reduced by a percentage equivalent to their share of the liability. Contributory negligence, on the other hand, removes any chances of receiving damages if they were deemed partially at-fault with the accident.

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Jun 20

Despite going into a marriage with the best of intentions, sometimes divorce is inevitable and the overall best option for all parties. However, just because it’s the best option doesn’t mean that it will be easy. In the United States, grounds for divorce are separated into two main categories: contested and uncontested. Oftentimes the difference between the two is the amiability between partners and how well they can come together to dissolve their marriage and divide their assets.

Contested divorce is by far the most painful, expensive, and emotionally taxing. This occurs when the two parties cannot come to an agreement about any number of things concerning the separation of their union–this can include finances, child custody, property, etc. When this occurs, the divorce must be heard by the court and ultimately the judge decides the outcome of the division of marital assets.

According to Holmes, Diggs & Sadler, in cases like this couples have options. Mediated divorces can be extremely beneficial in order to avoid unknown or arbitrary settlements. The two parties employ the assistance, advice, and resources of a third party in order to reach an arrangement that is universally beneficial and does not favor one client over the other. Similarly, in a collaborative divorce, the two parties use their attorneys to assist them in making informed and professionally supported decisions. While these attorneys cannot further represent their clients in the court, the process of collaboration usually facilitates better communication between the two parties and allows them to approach an uncontested divorce settlement to present to the judge.

Uncontested divorces are infinitely easier due to the fact that the two parties come to court with a pre-agreed upon proposal for the separation of property, finances, and child care. In certain cases, couples are eligible for a simplified divorce, also known as a “simple divorce” or “summary divorce.” This allows couples who meet various criteria–including less than five years of marriage, an absence of children, and limited property and financial assets–to easily and inexpensively end a marriage.

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