Bill to raise age requirement for car seats passes state House

After a sometimes emotional debate, a bill that would raise the minimum age for children not to use a car seat when riding in a vehicle to 9 passed the Georgia House of Representatives on March 1. The bill would also impose fines on parents caught not strapping their young children into car seats.

The 129-43 vote sends the bill to the Senate. According to an article in the Augusta Chronicle, House Republicans were split on the bill. Some argued that it was a necessary safety measure to protect children from death and serious injury in a car accident. Other Republicans, particularly freshman representatives who were elected as part of the tea party movement, objected to what they characterized as a “nanny state” regulation.

Longtime Human Services Chairwoman Penny Houston, R-Nashville, strongly denied that was the purpose of the bill. She said the charge that the measure was a “nanny bill” made her emotional.

Under the terms of the bill, children age 8 and younger would be required to ride in a car seat. Currently, the law only requires car seats for children age 4 and under. Parents would be fined $50 if caught driving with a child not in a car seat. A second offense would cost $100.

Rep. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, who is a physician, said he was initially unsure about the bill, but said he supported it because it would save taxpayers money on medical costs. The bill would lead to fewer uninsured children being injured in car accidents, he said. For assistance in car accident matters, contact the best Queens, NY car accident, attorney.


Group Home Owners On Trial for Fraud

Although no criminal charges were brought against the owners of a group home in connection with a fatal 2006 fire, the event brought to light the allegedly illegal activities of its owners. Robert and LaVerne DuPont were recently on trial for federal fraud charges, including health care fraud and money laundering, in connection with their operation of several group homes.

Robert DuPont, 65, was convicted in 2002 for his involvement in Medicaid fraud and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. The terms of his conviction prohibited his involvement in businesses receiving federal Medicaid funds for the care of the elderly or disabled, such as group homes. Soon after Robert went to prison, LaVerne, 74, was named executive director of Joplin River of Live Ministries, a nonprofit religious group that allegedly ran several group homes, including the Anderson Guest House, the site of the 2006 fire.

Fraud charges against Robert allege that he was operating several Missouri group homes from prison and after his release, in violation of his prior conviction. Robert has denied the allegations, stating that a 2004 federal bankruptcy petition listing his occupation as executive director of River of Life Ministries was a ‘clerical error’, assisted by the help of Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney James Kelleher, the ministry was a “front” for the illegal group home activity, and LaVerne just a “shadow operator”. “Prior to becoming executive director, her only involvement was to bake pies for the residents,” Kelleher said.

However, Robert testified that his wife’s background made her an ideal manager of the company. According to Robert, LaVerne had extensive experience managing daycare centers, clothing stores, and other business. “LaVerne had a lot more business experience than I did,” he said.

Robert’s attorney argued that the Medicaid exclusion of his 2002 conviction only restricted him from actively caring for patients. District Judge Greg Kays is expected to issue a decision soon.

Fighting like cats and dogs not most likely cause of divorce

Many of us think of serious marital fights as a series of screamed insults, accusations, and even physical abuse. Those are the types of fights most likely to lead to divorce, right?

Maybe not. A recent study from the University of Michigan says that, as bad as all-out yell-fests can be for a marriage, it is the passive-aggressive method of fighting – withdrawing from a confrontation without explaining what is wrong – that is most destructive. The study followed 373 couples through the first 16 years of their marriage. Researchers chronicled the couples’ fighting styles, how often they fought in the first year of marriage, and the different ways men and women fought.

According to the study, the combination of fighting styles most likely to cause a divorce is analytical and passive-aggressive. That means that one spouse approaches a problem in the relationship by calmly analyzing it, while the other spouse simply avoids the problem by withdrawing from the argument. While it may delay the problems for a while, the analytical spouse tends to interpret the withdrawal as a lack of interest in the relationship, the study said.

The best combination of fighting styles does not really involve “fighting”: couples who both approached a disagreement ready to work constructively on the problem had the best chance of being married at the end of the study.

Interestingly, whether or not the couples fought in their first year of marriage did not have much effect on their staying together long-term. Of couples where at least one spouse claimed not to have had a fight in their first year, 46 percent were divorced by year 16. Unfortunately, divorce happens. And if it happens to you, make sure to contact your trustworthy divorce lawyers in Kansas for assistance along the way.

Survey Highlights Growing Use of Social Media in Divorce

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), an organization comprised of prominent divorce attorneys from across the nation, recently released the results of a very interesting survey regarding the prevalence of social media in divorce cases.

Specifically, the survey found that 81 percent of AAML members had seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases utilizing some form of social media evidence over the last five years.

FaceBook, the social networking site, was identified by 66 percent of those polled as the primary source of social media evidence.

“Going through a divorce always results in heightened levels of personal scrutiny. If you publicly post any contradictions to previously made statements and promises, an estranged spouse will certainly be one of the first people to notice and make use of that evidence,” said Marlene Eskind Moses, the president of the AAML.

It is important for clients going through a divorce to be especially careful when using any form of social media, including comments/posts on profile pages, tweets, emails or photos. Any questionable or potentially damaging content may be used to undermine your credibility in divorce-related proceedings (child custody, child support, alimony, etc.).

In fact, if you are in the midst of a divorce or separation, it may be wise to consider reviewing your privacy settings or revisiting your online habits.



Bankruptcy, Alimony and Child Support Payments

Given the current state of the economy, it is not surprising that more and more Americans are filing for bankruptcy. While bankruptcy can provide a fresh financial start for many people, it does not discharge all of their preexisting obligations, including student loans, back taxes and – most importantly – alimony and child support payments.

In fact, under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, alimony and child support must be paid first, before any other creditor.

While this is always true no matter the circumstances, it may still be wise to consider filing a “nondischargeability compliant” if you are divorced. This can help guarantee the protection and enforcement of your alimony and child support rights.

If your former spouse does initiate bankruptcy proceedings, you should receive notice from the bankruptcy trustee on two separate occasions: at the time of filing and at the time of discharge. (The state child support enforcement agency (a.k.a. the Arizona Department of Economic Security) should also receive notice.)

If your former spouse has sufficient assets and these assets are liquidated, then he or she will more than likely be in a better position to cover past due alimony/child support payments. Liquidation may also enable them to resolve enough outstanding debts so that it becomes that much easier to make future alimony/child support payments.

However, if your spouse has insufficient assets, the bankruptcy court will probably order catch-up payments. In these situations, it may be beneficial to retain the services of an attorney to negotiate payment terms on your behalf. The same can be said if your former spouse goes to court (post-bankruptcy) seeking alimony/child support modification.

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