Prenuptial Agreements In New Jersey Now More Difficult To Amend

Under recent amendments to the New Jersey Uniform Premarital and Pre-Civil Union Agreement Act, premarital agreements will be more difficult to amend. Therefore, it is imperative that both parties fully understand their rights and obligations before signing on the dotted line.

Essentially, a “prenup” is a written contract executed prior to marriage, which outlines the assets and liabilities of each spouse and determines their rights and obligations, should the couple divorce. To ensure the contract is enforceable, it must be clear and reasonably fair to both parties.

Under the prior law, a spouse could challenge the enforceability of a prenup if terms would result in financial hardship, such as providing a standard of living far below that which was enjoyed before the marriage or leaving one of the spouses without a means of reasonable support. Therefore, if the support payments outlined in the agreement would leave one of the spouses destitute and result in a windfall for the other, a court could deem the contract “unconscionable” and amend its provisions.

However, the revised statute narrows the definition of “unconscionable” to include only situations in which one party:

  • Was not provided full and fair disclosure of the earnings and property and financial obligations of the other party;
  • Did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided;
  • Did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party; or
  • Did not consult with independent legal counsel and did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, the opportunity to consult with independent legal counsel

Thus, financial hardships that occur after the execution of the agreement no longer warrant amendment. Given the recent changes in state law, couples should consult an experienced and knowledgeable New Jersey family law attorney prior to signing any premarital agreement. While no one wants to enter a marriage thinking its not going to work out, it is important to understand how the agreement may impact you later down the road.

At Kardos, Rickles, Hand & Bidlingmaier, our New Jersey family law attorneys can explain the benefits and risks of a prenuptial agreement. We can also help negotiate a contract that protects your best interests and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today at 609.989.7995.

Are Medical Errors The Third Leading Cause Of Death In The United States?

For years, experts have estimated that medical errors impacted approximately 98,000 patients in in the United States each year. However, a new study suggests that medical mistakes may be far more common — roughly four times the original figure.

The latest research, which was published in the Journal of Patient Safety, predicts that preventable adverse events (PAEs) lead to as many as 440,000 patient deaths in U.S. hospitals each year. These new findings make medical errors the third leading cause of death in our country, behind heart disease and cancer.

As Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyers, we are not completely surprised. One of the reasons medical errors are so prevalent is because they can take a variety of different forms, including:

  • Surgical errors. Examples include performing surgery on the wrong body part, failing to remove foreign objects from the body after surgery and improperly monitoring patients under anesthesia.
  • Birth injuries. Examples include misdiagnosing a pre-birth condition like preeclampsia, failing to order a timely cesarean section and improperly using forceps or other medical devices.
  • Misdiagnosis. Examples include misinterpreting test results, failing to acknowledge patient complaints and providing untimely treatment.
  • Failure to obtain informed consent. Examples include neglecting to properly explain the potential benefits, risks and alternatives involved in a medical procedure.
  • Medication errors. Examples include prescribing a wrong medication, failing to check for drug interactions or administering an incorrect dose.

Until hospitals can make medical care safer, victims of medical errors will continue to needlessly suffer. The Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys of Kardos, Rickles, Hand & Bidlingmaier provide knowledgeable and compassionate legal advice after a serious medical mistake. You can count on us to fully investigate your claim, hold the negligent parties responsible and obtain the compensation you deserve.

Defending A Drug Possession Charge In Pennsylvania

While drug possession is one of the most common and minor drug offenses in Pennsylvania, the penalties can still be severe. Depending on the type of drug and the amount, you could face costly fines and significant jail time.

Proving drug possession

Under Pennsylvania law, a conviction for drug possession requires proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you:

  • Knowingly and intentionally possessed a controlled substance without a valid prescription
  • Knew the drug was an illegal controlled substance
  • Had actual or constructive possession of the drug

Under the doctrine of “constructive possession,” the police do not have to find the drugs in your pocket or in your purse. Rather, prosecutors need only show that you had knowledge of the drug’s presence and exercised dominion and control over it. For instance, if you placed marijuana in the glove compartment of a friend’s vehicle, you could be charged with drug possession. However, if a friend placed LSD in your purse without your knowledge, you should not face criminal charges.

Drug possession penalties

The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act of Pennsylvania classifies drugs into schedules based on their potential for abuse and other factors. Schedule I drugs, like heroin and peyote, result in the highest penalties, while Schedule IV drugs, which include small amounts of opium or codeine, carry the lightest. First offenders charged with possession of common drugs like cocaine, meth and LSD face up to one year in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

Pennsylvania has specific laws addressing marijuana. If found guilty of possession of 30 grams or less, you can be sentenced to no more than 30 days in jail and/or fined not more than $500. However, if you have more than 30 grams of marijuana in your possession, the penalties include jail time of up to one year, a $5,000 fine and automatic suspension of your license. Depending on the other facts and circumstances, you may also be charged with possession with intent to distribute, which is a more serious offense. 

At Kardos, Rickles, Hand & Bidlingmaier, we know how devastating a drug conviction can be for your personal and professional life. Our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys work tirelessly to minimize the consequences of an arrest, such as obtaining a full dismissal of the charges or successfully negotiating a plea deal.

Texting Liability In New Jersey

A driver who is texting behind the wheel is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Yet, nearly half of U.S. drivers admit to receiving or sending texts while driving, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. To crack down on this risky driving behavior, New Jersey has enacted strong distracted-driving laws regarding cellphone use while driving.

New Jersey imposes a texting ban for all drivers and also prohibits the use of handheld cell phones while driving. Both are primary offenses, which means that a police officer does not need another reason, such as speeding or erratic lane changes, to pull you over.

Drivers who cause accidents while texting can also be held accountable for their negligent driving behavior through a New Jersey personal injury lawsuit. Evidence of texting or cellphone use at the time of a crash is a strong indicator that the driver was negligent.

Under a recent court decision, liability may even extend to the sender of the text message. In Kubert v. Best, a New Jersey appeals court held that a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will read the text while driving. However, the court was also clear to point out that texters are generally safe to assume that the recipient will view a text message only when it is safe and legal to do so.

Therefore, to prevail in a lawsuit against a “remote texter,” the plaintiff would have to show that the sender knew the driver would read the text while driving, thereby putting the driver at risk for a distracted driving accident. How difficult a hurdle this will be in practice remains to be seen.

If you suspect texting may be to blame for your car accident injuries, it is important to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer at Kardos, Rickles, Hand & Bidlingmaier. You may be entitled to compensation for your financial and emotional losses.