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What Happens to Retirement Funds and 401(k) Plans in a Divorce

This article was written by Anna Rodriguez, a NYC divorce lawyer with Raiser & Kenniff, PC.

When people get divorced, assets are always split up. They are done either equally, or in some mutually agreeable manner. In most cases, the retirement account – like an IRA, or 401(k), is split at the end of the marriage. In a divorce, each person is entitled to a share of the split.

It’s possible that a portion of the retirement account, can be considered sole property.  For instance, if you have $100k in a 401k account before you were married, or had an IRA that you solely contributed to – before, and during, the marriage – then the money can be exempt from the divorce. However, if there are contributions or growth based on your contributions to the account after marriage – then that growth is considered joint property. That joint property, is what will be distributed in a divorce.

If there’s a prenuptial agreement in place – then this can drastically alter what will happen. The prenuptial agreement is a customized divorce contract. It bypasses state laws regarding property division, and asset division. As a result, the rules of your state may be totally ignored as a result of the prenuptial agreement. For example, your prenuptial agreement could state your spouse takes all the retirement accounts and 401k accounts as a part of the divorce. Alternatively, the agreement could state the retirement accounts will only be split if the marriage lasts 10 years or more. Before you agree to the prenuptial agreement, it’s a good idea to bring your attorney to any proceeding. An attorney can determine if the prenuptial agreement is valid, or if it can be enforced. If the agreement isn’t valid, then the state laws “kick in,” and apply to how the assets will be split – and in what proportion.

Timing is a huge role in when/how the retirement account will be split. In some cases, a spouse may ask for access to the funds immediately. However, this may result in – income taxes being penalized if the spouse is under the age of 59. As a result, it may be advantageous to wait to split that money after 59 years age. It’s also possible to conduct what’s called a qualified domestic relations order. This makes it possible to transfer money from one spouse’s account to another, without incurring any taxes or penalties.

Divorce is complicated, – emotionally and financially. As a result, it’s a good idea to end the process as soon as possible. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible.

A Basic Guide to Motor Accident Compensation Claims

This guest blog post is by Jim Ingolia, a top rated personal injury lawyer.

Due to convergent social and economic factors, modern society is fully mobile. Emergent technologies have cut transcontinental travel speed from months to hours. Likewise, sophisticated electronic gadgetry found only in sci-fi novels a generation ago are now standard integrations in new autos.

Despite huge benefits, a big detriment of exponential ability to get around quickly is correspondingly higher risk of severe injury and death on highways and byways. Below is a summarized outline of motor accident compensation claims.

Dual classifications of car accident claims

There are two basic types of motor accident damage claims: property and personal injury. Like the label implies, the first applies to property that is damaged or destroyed in an auto accident. While the most common kind of property claim involves vehicular damage, any possession that is lost or damaged may be covered.

For instance, this author lost control of her minivan just after turning a street corner on the way home and skid into my next door neighbor’s yard last January. My neighbor filed a claim with my auto insurance carrier for the cost of replacing her chain link fence, while the local municipality filed a claim for replacement cost of a fire hydrant that was totally excavated from the ground in front of my neighbor’s home.

Most common motor accident personal injury claims

High-speed movement while confined inside a metallic box weighing a few tons poses major safety hazards for all occupants, including serious injury and even death. In fact, bodily harm can be severe enough to cause permanent total paralysis, loss of limbs, or broken bones that never heal properly.

Moreover, traumatized delicate muscles or tendons often causes long-term adverse impacts like lifelong migraine headaches. Such injuries can mean temporary or permanent inability to earn a livelihood in one’s chosen profession or career. Occupational retraining and specialized medical equipment to accommodate mobility impairment are expensive. Continuing medical care or physical therapy are also cost prohibitive, and even short-term injuries often mean lost wages, medical bills and travel costs to obtain treatment.

Of course, an auto accident victim’s wrongful death has enormous devastating effects on loved ones left behind to cope with severe grief and emotional distress. Not to mention medical and funeral bills as well as loss of the family breadwinner’s income.

Distrust the obvious

Regardless of how minor injuries may seem or even if you appear to be uninjured, always seek medical attention promptly after an auto accident. Many injuries begin with mild symptoms that rapidly deteriorate to reveal serious medical conditions. Next, consult an experienced motor accident attorney for accurate legal advice and competent representation. This is critical to protect your legal right to receive full and fair compensation for all damages caused by third-party negligence. Applicable laws change frequently and impose strict deadlines on motor accident damage claims.


Why Do You Need a DUI Lawyer?

Why Do You Need a DUI Lawyer?
One crime that is certainly treated very seriously by the legal system is driving while under the influence of alcohol. Being convicted of this crime can produce some pretty serious consequences for the accused. Not having proper representation can put a defendant at risk. Below are several reasons why you need a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles.

1. You Could Go to Jail

One of the worst consequences of being convicted of driving while under the influence is the possibility of spending time behind bars. This is even the case for first time offenders. You could spend over 90 days in jail. If your blood alcohol level is high enough, the amount of jail time could be doubled.

If you have been convicted of a DUI before, the amount of time spent locked up could grow exponentially. These days, it’s not uncommon for a person convicted of multiple DUIs to be sentenced to five years in a state prison.

Spending time incarcerated is no laughing matter. Not only is your freedom gone, but your life is constantly at risk. If you are put into general population, there is a good chance that you will be the victim of a violent crime perpetrated by a felon doing hard time.

2. You Could Lose Your Driving Privileges

If you enjoy the freedom to drive as you please, you should absolutely have representation from a DUI attorney in court. Otherwise, you could lose your driving privileges. If convicted, you could have your driver’s license suspended. Driving with a suspended license is a serious crime in and of itself that could result in serious jail time and fines. If you receive multiple DUI convictions, you could have your licensed confiscated permanently.

Even in cases when a person convicted of a DUI is allowed to drive again, there may be serious limitations. This could include a device being placed on the ignition that requires a breathalyzer test to be performed on the driver before the car will start. This can be extremely awkward especially if you have passengers in your vehicle.

3. Your Car Insurance Will Suffer

Another serious consequence of being convicted of a DUI is what it can do to your car insurance. First, your insurance rates are likely to go through the roof. Insurance is a risk averse business. Insurance companies like selling insurance to people that are unlikely to file a claim. Being convicted of a DUI certainly raises the probability that person will be involved in a future accident.

In fact, in certain cases, a car insurance company may just drop a client completely after a DUI conviction. This can create a serious problem for a driver since it’s illegal to drive a car without insurance. Being in an accident without insurance can be even worse. Your entire savings could be wiped out.

4. A Conviction Can Be Avoided with Good Representation

These and other consequences like significant fines and community service can be avoided. Just because a person is accused of driving while under the influence does not mean a conviction will take place. However, to achieve an acquittal, proper legal representation is required.

For example, there is a lot of science involved when accusing someone of this crime. Usually this includes a breathalyzer test. A seasoned DUI attorney could prove that the test was faulty or inconclusive. The blood alcohol level may have been too low for a DUI to have occurred, or the driver’s medication may have interfered with the reading. In cases when a breathalyzer was not performed, it can be even easier to avoid a conviction since there may not be enough evidence.

5. You Could Get a Plea Bargain

In certain cases, a conviction is more likely. With a good DUI lawyer, however, you could obtain a plea bargain for a reduced sentence. This may mean staying out of jail. To get this kind of deal though, you need someone who knows how to maneuver though the legal system in a jurisdiction to obtain this kind of deal from a judge. Without an experienced DUI lawyer, you may not be able to obtain a plea deal and may be forced to live with the maximum sentence.

This article is by Nima Haddadi, a premier DUI lawyer in Los Angeles.