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Lehighton Legal Issues Blog

Non-biological parent awarded shared custody

The rights of same-sex parents have been evolving in America. In one case, a Pennsylvania appeals court recently upheld a trial court opinion that granted shared child custody to both a child's biological and non-biological mothers.

The same-sex parents were involved in a dedicated romantic relationship in 2012 when they decided to conceive a child by impregnating one of them through artificial insemination from her partner's brother. They planned and prepared for the child's birth, decorated a nursery and shopped for baby supplies. The partner who did not carry the baby was also at the child's birth and selected the child's first name.

Know what you are getting into before filing for bankruptcy

Throughout life, everyone faces struggles. Even though some of those difficulties may seem similar in nature, your particular circumstances differ from everyone else's. For example, you may face struggles relating to your finances, and while numerous other individuals also land in this predicament, the details of your situation are unique to you.

Because of your specific predicament, you may not know the best options for finding debt relief. The types of debt you have as well as the amounts of those debts may be playing a significant role in your decision. Still, it may be worth your while to give bankruptcy its due consideration.

Dangerous facts about texting and driving

Texting and driving is among the most dangerous distracted driving behavior. Although many drivers believe that they are skilled at driving and texting, motorists who text while they are driving are six times more likely to become involved in car accidents.

The distraction is short but still too long. On average, a motorist takes five seconds to type out a text message. However, taking the eyes off the road for five seconds equals the time it takes to drive the length of a football field. Two seconds is the maximum amount of time that a driver can look away from the road, according to Journal of Adolescent Health in 2014.

Considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal process that allows for the reorganization or discharge of debt. Even though it may provide a financial fresh start, it may be stressful and have financial consequences. There are advantages and disadvantages with filing for Chapter 7 that should be considered.

Chapter 7 is known as "liquidation" bankruptcy and is one of the two most commonly used forms of bankruptcy by individuals. Debtors may also file for Chapter 13, which involves reorganization instead of liquidation. Under Chapter 7, many assets become part of a person's bankruptcy estate during the process and non-exempt assets are sold to repay creditors. Exempt assets can include equity in the home, retirement accounts, work equipment, an inexpensive vehicle used for work transportation and low-value personal property.

Police drawing blood in impaired driving cases

Law enforcement has been trying to overcome obstacles with screening motorists for drug-impaired driving after states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use and the opioid crisis has grown. Unlike drunk driving, there are no breath-testing devices to measure drivers for drug impairment. Pennsylvania and another eight other states, however, have started programs allowing police to draw blood from motorists to detect drug-impaired driving.

Police may suspect that a motorist is driving while impaired based on their driving patterns, their appearance, a field sobriety test and their interaction with the police officer who made the stop. A blood test is intended to determine which substance is causing the impairment. Law enforcement officials have looked for ways to quickly draw blood to avoid losing it effectiveness as evidence. Like alcohol, the psychoactive compound in marijuana and drugs such as heroin metabolize quickly in a person's body.

Overcoming custody issues with a difficult parent

Courts have overcome misconceptions about awarding custody after divorce and are seeking to make decisions based on providing joint custody or equal access, where possible, and not basing rulings on the parent's gender. However, a resentful former spouse can complicate formulating a child custody plan.

Parents must, or the courts will, formulate a parenting plan. It is usually difficult for a parent to have sole decision-making authority and children usually are better-adjusted when both parents are involved. Plans include decisions on the child's education, such as where they will go to school, handle homework and supplies, attendance and scheduling events. Medical decisions involve scheduling routine appointments, insurance, speaking with health practitioners, elective or specialized care and dealing with appointments.

Truck drivers are held to a higher standard when it comes to DUI

When you chose to become a truck driver, you knew that it would require commitment, time and effort. Learning how to drive an 18-wheeler is not an easy task. Controlling one of these mammoth vehicles takes skill, attention and patience.

Because of the immense responsibility attached to making a living as a long-haul truck driver, you are held to a higher standard when it comes to your behavior behind the wheel. Even when in your personal vehicle, you must meet certain standards prescribed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that ordinary drivers do not have to attain.

Custody does not stop at the water's edge

Relocation and other custody issues are not limited to the continental United States. Parents may also face serious disputes over child custody that involve removing a child or keeping them in another country.

Under federal law, a parent cannot obstruct another parent's custody rights by taking a child from the United States or keeping the child in another country. This federal crime, "international parental kidnapping," is punishable by up to three years imprisonment.

When is the time to file for Chapter 7?

Creditors struggling with debt may have to consider filing for bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows the discharge of a range of debt and can provide a fresh start. The time for filing is when a creditor is struggling with debt and tried to negotiate with creditors, work with a credit counselor or consolidate debt.

Chapter 7 can put a temporary hold on some debt. After the bankruptcy petition is filed, creditors may be stopped from taking most collection actions for a temporary period. However, some assets may be ultimately lost. Pensions, retirement accounts and some home equity are usually exempt.

Custody make-up bill introduced

Failure to follow a court order can lead to a custody dispute and legal wrangling despite improvements in Pennsylvania's laws. A bill was recently introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that provides another legal remedy when a parent does not comply with a child custody order.

If a parent does not follow an order, the other parent is usually limited to returning to court and filing for an order of contempt. The case then returns to the conference officer. Normally, the offending parent receives a minor penalty for their first violation. For the second violation, the case will go to a judge who will usually make the violator pay the other parent's attorney's fees. Future violations will usually lead to more threats from the judge.

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