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Des Moines Legal Issues Blog

New legislation signed by governor regarding OWI charges

When someone is convicted of drunk driving in Iowa, there are a variety of potential penalties he or she may face. Depending on the number of offenses one has, the consequence may be a monetary fine or time in jail. However, a new law recently signed by the governor will impose a new penalty on those convicted of OWI charges for the first time.

The new legislation states that an ignition interlock must be installed on the vehicles of all first-time convicted drunk drivers. This installation is required for drivers to obtain a work permit or a temporary restricted license. With the passing of this law, Iowa is one of 32 states that stipulate the usage of the interlock.

Divorce issues: Make sure prenups are binding

Couples in Iowa and all around the country may choose to develop prenuptial agreements for a variety of reasons. One partner may anticipate an inheritance in the future and wants to protect it in the event of a potential divorce. There may be children from a previous marriage and a spouse wants to protect their interests and avoid contention if the marriage fails. Regardless of the reasons for creating a prenup, a couple going through a divorce likely assumes that such an agreement would help them eliminate any questions or problems about property division. However, experts warn that there are instances when a prenuptial agreement may not be enforced.

Matrimonial lawyers stress the importance of making sure a prenup is a formal legal document. Whether a state follows community property or equitable distribution laws, like Iowa, the document must be properly written in order to supersede the laws. Courts may not enforce a prenup if it is discovered that one of the parties was forced to agree to it. Also, it is vital that both parties have read the agreement if it is to be valid.

How to deal with debt during and after a divorce

Many factors have to be deliberated when an Iowa couple decides to end their marriage. Child custody and support, determining who keeps the house, dividing up bank accounts and changing beneficiary designations are just a few of the topics that must be addressed. One significant area that may be overlooked is how debt should be handled in a divorce.

First, it certainly matters how the state in which a person live handles marital property. Community property states consider both parties to be responsible for any debt accumulated during the marriage, regardless of who owns the account. In equitable distribution states, such as Iowa, both parties are responsible for the debt if they are joint owners of that account. However, if only one of the spouses' name is on an account, that spouse is solely responsible for the debt.

The different effects of domestic abuse charges

People have arguments all of the time, and sometimes those arguments can become physical. In certain cases, these instances may lead to domestic abuse charges

Whether the charges have merit or are the result of ulterior motives, it is important that the accused party understand the various aspects of the abuse charges. There are a few ways that such charges can affect the accused party moving forward.

Criminal defense: Men facing drug charges after search of home

Being convicted of drug charges in Iowa could lead to some serious consequences, such as fines or jail time. Two Iowa men are facing several felony charges after drugs were allegedly discovered at their apartment. To get these charges dropped or reduced, the men will need to present a strong criminal defense.

Officers from the Forest City Police Department reported that they had obtained a warrant to search the apartment of a 23-year-old man and 21-year-old man. During the search, officers apparently found over 42.5 grams of marijuana. An agreement was also located that supposedly specified how proceeds from drug sales would be distributed among the three people who signed the document.

Modern child custody is not one-size-fits-all

Keeping the best interests of the child at the forefront is the hope of many divorcing parents. Families and the courts no longer tend to default to automatically granting full child custody to the mother and offering visitation to the father. Now, more Iowa families are analyzing their unique situations to determine what options work best for the whole family, while trying to minimize disruption to the child's life. 

One recent custody option that has appeared is the bird's nest model. The bird's nest in this instance is the central home that the child remains in. The parents move in and out of the nest, sometimes week to week, allowing the child to stay in his or her  own home without the stress of going back and forth. This arrangement works for some co-parenting couples quite nicely. 

OWI versus DWI

Many people are familiar with DUIs; however, they are not the only charge that people may face due to driving intoxicated. In fact, an OWI is a more common charge in a few states, including Iowa.

Though the two charges have their similarities, they are still different. There are a few key characteristics that separate the two.

Man faces OWI charges after traffic stop

Most drivers have been guilty of driving too fast at one time or another on the roads or highways. When law enforcement officials spot this behavior, many motorists are stopped and given a warning or a speeding ticket. One recent traffic stop in Iowa ended a bit differently when the driver was suspected of driving under the influence. He now faces OWI charges in Pottawattamie County.

An officer from the Council Bluffs Police Department recently reported that a car was speeding on a local street. The car was spotted in a 35 mph speed zone, yet it was evidently traveling at 60 mph. When an officer spoke with the driver, it was noted that the car smelled like alcohol. The driver allegedly had slurred speech and watery, bloodshot eyes and supposedly told police he had a drink earlier in the day. Officers purportedly discovered that a child was in the back seat of the man's car.

New tax laws may lead to increase in divorce

There has been heated discussion in Iowa and elsewhere around the country about the nation's recently revised tax laws. There is much debate regarding whether the changes will have a positive impact on the economy. However, some experts anticipate that there will be an increase in the divorce rate through the end of 2018.

There has been a so-called "marriage penalty" in the country's tax laws for some time. Yet, the new laws seem to make that penalty greater. Currently, a couple where both spouses work is often thrust into a higher tax bracket when they get married. In the new tax bill, several deductions have been modified., limiting how much a married couple filing jointly can deduct.

Criminal defense: 2 arrested on drug charges

Iowa motorists may drive on roads and highways, completely unaware they have a taillight that is not working. When this occurs at night, police officers will frequently pull drivers over to let them know the defective light needs to be fixed. While some officers issue a citation, many drivers simply receive a warning and instructions to get the taillight repaired. Two individuals from Dubuque recently got more than a warning when they were stopped for a nonworking taillight. They now likely focused on mounting a criminal defense after drugs were allegedly discovered in their vehicle.

Officers from the Eldridge Police Department reported a sport utility vehicle being driven with a defective taillight in the early morning hours. When the police turned on their lights and siren, the driver of the SUV apparently sped away instead of stopping. However, the police officers eventually pulled the SUV over and searched the vehicle.