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Newton NJ Personal Injury and Family Law Blog

Documentary deals with the inequalities of child support

According to research conducted by the Urban Institute, about 70 percent of delinquent child support in New Jersey and around the country is owed by noncustodial parents who either report no income or earn less than $10,000. Other studies have found that noncustodial parents who are unable to meet their child support obligations are disproportionately African-American. A documentary dealing with these issues and the challenges faced by noncustodial fathers of color has recently been released.

The documentary is called 'Where's Daddy." The film criticizes child support collection systems and cites the case of a black father who was fatally shot while fleeing police because he feared being sent to jail for nonpayment. The filmmakers also take aim at media outlets that portray African-American fathers as irresponsible and uncaring.

Seat belts could save crash victims from severe liver injury

Considering that auto accidents send some 2 million Americans to emergency rooms every year, New Jersey drivers may want to think twice about neglecting to use their seat belts. Researchers at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn have released a study revealing yet another benefit to buckling up; it can lower the risk of severe liver injuries by 21 percent. If combined with properly functioning airbags, that number goes up to 26 percent.

Liver and spleen injuries are a frequent outcome of internal abdominal trauma. While the spleen could be surgically removed in an emergency situation, the liver cannot. In fact, severe liver injuries often result in death. Symptoms of severe liver injuries include ruptured clots and deep lacerations, all of which require immediate treatment.

Old Ford pickups may be under airbag recall

Drivers in New Jersey may be aware of the ongoing Takata airbag recall. Defective airbag inflators made by Takata Corp. can explode upon impact, sending metal shards into the occupants and seriously injuring or killing them. To date, these have led to over a dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries. It is now believed that certain older pickups made by Ford Motor Co. carry these defective products.

Back in January, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned that the 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series pickups may be at risk and should not be driven. NHTSA has released an additional warning this May, mainly due to the currently slow rate of replacement. Approximately 33,320 Rangers and 2,205 Mazda pickups are considered dangerous, but only 49 percent and 55 percent of the respective vehicles have had the issue repaired so far.

Reasons to establish paternity and how to do it

There are a number of reasons that either a mother or a father in New Jersey might want to establish paternity if the parents are not married. Establishing paternity is the first step in obtaining child support, but the potential financial benefits go beyond that. It is also necessary for a child to inherit from the father and get benefits such as Social Security. Finally, establishing paternity could help the child get information about any medical genetic issues that might arise.

Paternity might be voluntarily acknowledged. The father might do so at the birth of the child or later sign an affidavit of paternity.

Wearable devices can't make texting behind the wheel safe

Many New Jersey drivers are well aware of the risks of texting while driving, especially after major public awareness campaigns and the passage of legislation to make handheld mobile use behind the wheel illegal. However, the appeal of incoming notifications while behind the wheel or stuck in traffic can be hard to deny, even when drivers know that distractions can lead to dangerous motor vehicle accidents. Some may wonder if the use of alternate devices other than handheld smartphones could increase the safety of texting while driving.

One University of Texas study examined the use of Google Glass while driving to see if sending and receiving texts could be safer when a handheld mobile phone is not involved. In many cases, car accidents are caused when a distracted driver takes their eyes and attention from the road to type out a response to a text on their phone. In this case, researchers had participants use a driving simulator while receiving and sending texts using either a traditional smartphone or a Google Glass wearable.

Tips to keep in mind when dividing retirement accounts

When a New Jersey couple gets a divorce, they might have retirement accounts that need to be divided. For some couples, a retirement account may be the largest asset they own. However, it is important that it is divided correctly in order to avoid costly taxes and fees.

A workplace retirement plan, such as a pension plan or a 401(k), will need a document known as a qualified domestic relations order before it can be divided without penalties. The QDRO should be prepared by a professional who is accustomed to working with the documents, and it should include the terms of the divorce agreement as it relates to the retirement plan. The QDRO should specify how the distribution will be made. For example, it might be rolled over into an IRA. A person could also receive it directly, and although this is an exception for which there will not be a penalty, the person will have to pay taxes on the distribution.

The major causes of construction deaths

One in five workplace fatalities occur on construction sites. Construction workers and employers in New Jersey will want to know, therefore, what the most common factors are in these fatalities. There are four: workers can fall, be struck by falling objects, get caught or compressed in machinery, or be electrocuted.

Falls account for 39 percent of construction fatalities, making them the leading cause among the four. Companies can reduce the number of these with a few steps. They can guard floor holes; install railways and toe guards on runways, platforms, and other elevated surfaces; conduct inspections of ladders and scaffolding; and provide the right fall protection equipment, such as safety nets and harnesses.

Creating child visitation schedules around work schedules

When New Jersey parents of young children get a divorce, a variety of schedules for child custody and visitation may be available. The most important elements of such a plan are that parents are on time and that they are able to offer support to their children.

Many parents still find that a traditional arrangement that allows the child to visit the noncustodial parent every other weekend works well. This can be scheduled from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday, or parents may decide to extend it to Monday. To give the noncustodial parent a little more time with the child, some parents also build in a Wednesday night visit from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This could also be turned into an overnight visit.

Bird nesting is becoming a post-divorce phenomenon

Couples in New Jersey who decide to divorce can face a number of serious challenges, especially when dealing with child custody, property division and financial settlements. These issues can lead to long, contentious debates, even for couples who divorce amicably. However, there is a new trend that some couples are using to address issues involving shared property as well as child custody.

Called bird nesting, this approach involves the couple keeping one home for the children after the divorce. While the children remain, the parents take turns living in the home based on their custody schedules. This approach relies on heavy communication and can be best suited for separating couples who have a relatively amicable relationship. Indeed, bird nesting is featured in a TV comedy show called "Splitting Up Together" in which the protagonists are navigating post-divorce life.

The dangers of inattention while behind the wheel

Despite significant attention paid to the dangers of driving while distracted by a cellphone in New Jersey and around the country, one study has found that simply daydreaming and failing to pay attention is the cause of many car accidents. Erie Insurance reviewed a national database of motor vehicle deaths called the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to learn what law enforcement identified as the cause of most fatal car accidents.

There were a total of about 172,000 fatal car accidents over a five-year period. Around 10 percent of those fatalities involved distracted driving, and in 61 percent of fatal accidents caused by distraction, a driver was simply thinking of other things and not paying attention. This compares to 14 percent of people who were on cellphones. Unfortunately, the monotony of driving can make it all too easy for minds to wander.

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