New Jersey Law Blog

Detecting marijuana intoxication can be difficult

Law enforcement officers in New Jersey have breath analysis equipment to detect and measure alcohol intoxication. Detecting and measuring marijuana intoxication, however, poses multiple challenges. To prosecute cases against drivers allegedly influenced by marijuana generally requires evidence, but breath tests for marijuana so far cannot reasonably measure how much a person has used or when.

Hound Labs has tried to solve this problem for law enforcement with a breath analyzer device that can detect THC, the intoxicating substance inside marijuana, within three hours of consumption. Because the first couple of hours after marijuana use causes the bulk of intoxication, the company believes that its device offers law enforcement a solution.

Many DUI breath tests in New Jersey found to be inaccurate

New Jersey and Massachusetts judges dismissed over 30,000 breath tests after it was discovered that human error, poorly maintained equipment and other issues made at least some of the tests inaccurate. Some devices reported blood alcohol content as much as 40% higher because of improper calibration.

The New York Times investigated cases in which people were taken into custody for DUI and found that breath tests may not be as reliable as some people assume. For example, some devices no longer worked properly because of age. Others had modifications, including one that had a hole drilled in it because police believed it was returning readings that were too low. Breath mints can affect the result with some handheld breath tests. In other cases, there were errors in the programming on the device. As part of their investigation, journalists went over thousands of documents, including contracts, emails, court papers and more. They also interviewed dozens of professionals, including police, attorneys and scientists.

Consider all that is at stake before a strategic divorce

Some New Jersey couples are considering strategic divorce in order to save money on taxes, help an ill spouse qualify for Medicaid or secure more funding in order to help pay for a child's college education. However, before a couple decides to get divorced on paper in order to reap financial benefits, they should look at what is at stake.

Lots of people may feel awkward thinking of asking their spouses for a divorce in order to save some money. However, there are many reasons why chatter regarding this subject has been increasing. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act requires married individuals to pay higher taxes as opposed to single individuals who would make the same amount of money individually. Also, some presidential candidates are proposing wealth taxes, causing some to feel that a divorce on paper could help them hold onto more of their money.

Calculating the marital home's value during a divorce

The marital home is one of the most valuable assets that most New Jersey couples own. When a couple decides to divorce, calculating a house buyout is often a necessary step. This will allow one spouse to buy the other spouse's share of the home in order to retain the residence for themselves and any children.

If the couple has a mortgage on their home, the first step they will need to take is determining how much equity they have in the home. This is an easy calculation. If the home is worth $500,000 and the mortgage is $250,000, this means that each spouse will have $125,000 of equity in it.

Will the court reduce the amount of child support I pay?

Nearly everyone goes through times when money is tight. In many cases, you can juggle your bills and debts, keeping your creditors happy until things are back to normal. One financial obligation you cannot juggle is your child support payments.

During your divorce or separation from your child's other parent, the New Jersey family court ordered you to pay an amount of child support based on numerous factors, including your salary, your ex's salary and your other obligations. Any of these factors can change at any time, creating a difficult challenge. You may find yourself running out of money before you have paid all your bills or falling short on the amount of support you owe. What can you do to fix this?

When a child wants to live with a former spouse

In New Jersey and across the United States, a child may tell a divorced parent that they prefer living with their other parent. Although the announcement does not come as a shock, the news is not something the custodial parent wishes to hear. However, it is important to engage in the conversation in a positive way. Communicating with a child opens up an opportunity to exchange thoughts about the child's living arrangements. It is a good idea to tell the child that their views are welcome.

Cultivating an understanding attitude helps a parent value their child's opinions with an open mind. When a couple has children, divorce is not just about two people drifting apart. Divorce affects children in a profound way that often leads to confusion. Listening to a child's request to reside with the other parent means trying to see things in a new and different light. It is helpful to invite a former spouse into a meaningful conversation with the child or children.

Separating finances after divorce

When married couples in New Jersey split up, property and asset division is often a primary concern. Spouses with few or no debts or assets may find this process to be relatively simple. However, partners who do own a home, have significant debt or multiple retirement accounts might find it quite complicated to "detangle" finances.

In many marriages, the family home is the couple's greatest asset. A lot of couples opt to sell the home and divide the proceeds. Keeping real estate in a divorce can be complicated and, in some cases, impossible. If a spouse does decide to continue living in the family home, they may opt to refinance the current mortgage in their own name.

Unique financial challenges faced by divorcing couples over 50

New Jersey residents may be interested in learning about the effect that 'gray divorces", which involve spouses over age 50, have had on society over the past few years. In 1990, only 10% of the divorces involved individuals over the age of 50. In 2010, that number had jumped to 25%.

Most people who have gone through a divorce realize that marital separation brings many financial challenges. When a person divorces later in life, those challenges have the potential to become even greater. The average individual over 50 can expect their personal income to decrease by up to 50% after a divorce. Women are disproportionately affected by this trend. Women over the age of 50 who divorce can expect their wealth to decrease by nine times more than women who stay married.

Alleged fathers may want to get DNA paternity tests

In New Jersey and across the United States, divorced men should think about getting DNA paternity tests. Since there are many legal issues involving child support and child custody, a negative DNA paternity test can alleviate men of their legal obligations toward the care of a child. On the other hand, a positive DNA test informs the man of his responsibilities for taking care of his biological child. An unmarried man is not automatically a child's legal father. Instead, he is known as the child's "alleged father" unless a DNA paternity test's results prove otherwise.

Since DNA paternity tests are nearly 100% accurate, the results can make a radical difference in a divorced man's financial situation. If the man takes a DNA paternity test yielding negative results, the man does not have any legal obligations to take care of the child. Consequently, his name does not need to appear on the child's birth certificate. However, a paternity test yielding positive results indicates that the man is the child's biological father.

What does New Jersey law say about manslaughter?

Like other states, the crime of manslaughter is a complicated one here in New Jersey. It takes a variety of forms, which can be confusing for many people who face this charge.

The one thing everyone seems to agree on when it comes to a manslaughter charge is that the accused did not intend to kill another human being. After that, it helps to understand authorities' theory on the crime to understand what you face and how to best prepare a defense.

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