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U.S. News Archive
December 07 - December 13, 2000



This page contains news for the period December 07, 2000 through December 13, 2000.  

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Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Divorce and 'Financial Rights' book is released

A story released today by PRNewswire reports that "Divorce and Finances," a 72-page, self-help paperback guide written by Stephanie Blum, a family law attorney based in Los Angeles, California -- a book designed to help those in the throes of divorce know and understand their financial rights "clearly and quickly," -- is now available in major bookstores throughout the country, according to Blum.

Stephanie Blum, a family law attorney at the prominent family law firm of Nachshin & Weston, in West Los Angeles, California, embarked on the project some time ago in an effort to educate her clients and others as to what they should know about the state of their financial affairs when going through a divorce. "The dissolution of marriage process is such an emotionally-charged time for those who go through it that they rarely stop to assess many of the financial matters that will affect them long term," she explains. "My book has been designed to provide a simple yet thorough overview of each area that should be addressed and considered before signing any binding marital settlement agreements."

Published by Dorling Kindersley and written with co-author Marc Robinson, the book is available in all major book stores throughout the country.

The book offers six basic chapters and opens with a general overview that covers how to take basic resources and divide them in two and who to contact for help. Next, it addresses the negotiation process, records and budgets. Credit reports and bank accounts are also discussed, in addition to dividing assets and debts. Spousal support  and child custody awards are also covered (state-by-state), as well as taxes.

Tuesday, December 12, 2000

Most abortions in U.S. are obtained by unmarried adult women

A story released today by Catholic World News reports that the US Centers for Disease Control said last week that the number of abortions performed in the US in 1997 fell by 3 percent compared to the previous year.

The CDC said there were 1,186,039 abortions reported in 1997, which includes only legal, induced abortions. There were 1,221,585 reported in 1996. The 1997 total was the lowest since 1978 and the total has declined each year since 1990.

"Women who obtained legal abortions in 1997 were predominantly white, unmarried, and 20 years and older. About one-fifth of women who obtained abortions were less than 19 years of age," said Lisa Koonin, chief of surveillance in the CDC's reproductive health division.

The 1997 national abortion rate of 20 per 1,000 women of reproductive age, defined as those aged 15 to 44 years, was the lowest rate recorded since 1975, the CDC said. The abortion ratio, or the number of legal abortions per 1,000 live births, declined from 314 in 1996 to 305 in 1997, and was also at its lowest recorded level since 1975, the agency said.

About 55 percent of the reported legal abortions were performed during the first eight weeks of pregnancy and about 88 percent were performed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the CDC said. The agency attributed much of the decline to increased use of birth control and reduced access to abortion service.


Saturday, December 9, 2000

Roommates should be named on insurance policies

A column published today in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune warns younger renters, who are particularly likely to live in non-traditional household arrangements, that they should examine their need for insurance whether renting with roommates, renting without a lease or renting in a private home.

They also probably need to be named on a policy if they are unmarried and sharing an apartment.

"The thing to think about is that often it's [decided on] a case-by-case basis," said Mark Kulda, communications director for the Insurance Federation of Minnesota. "To be sure, you should carry that renter's policy if you're renting with a roommate.... The worst thing you could do is think that you're covered, make a claim, and find out you're not covered."

When renting in a house, "a lot of it would depend on the agreement you have with the homeowner," he said.  "If you're staying as a guest, the homeowner's insurance coverage would cover you and your possessions," he said. "However, if you're paying rent and not a child of the owner, the assumption is that you're not a guest. Then you should buy your own renter's policy."

Kulda suggests a written rental agreement to avoid disputes with insurance companies after a loss. "The more documents you have, the better," lest a disagreement end up in court and proof of ownership is needed.

Without a lease, there are no different rules, said Lori Hanten, underwriting operations supervisor in State Farm Insurance's  regional office at Woodbury. "The renters' policy applies also." She didn't know about any rules for renting an illegal apartment -- for example, a room or floor in a house not zoned for rentals. "That's not something we ask people," she said.

People renting an illegal apartment -- an apartment in an area not zoned for such rental -- would be safer "just to have a renter's policy," Kulda said. "The underlying factor here is not ever to rely on someone else's coverage. You're always safer to buy your own."

According to Kulda, unmarried roommates are yet another matter.  If the apartment is leased to one person but several are living there, "so long as somebody in the apartment has renter's coverage, the people who live there may be protected," Kulda said. "It varies from company to company. The issue gets a little more complicated if some of the extra people are paying part of the rent." It would be safer if their names also are on the insurance policy and it would be safer yet for them, if they're not on the lease, to have their own insurance.

"If the name is not on the lease or the insurance, it could be difficult to collect on a claim," he said. "You'd have to prove that you live there."

Insurance can be purchased in one's roommate's name only, says the Insurance Information Institute, but rules might differ among companies and between states. "Some insurance companies now allow unmarried couples who have been living together to obtain joint coverage, rather than two separate policies. Each person's name should appear on the policy," the institute says.

"If we have roommates together, we like to have them listed together on the policy, or have two separate policies,because they have to be able to show ownership of personal property they claim as lost," Hanten said.

With a State Farm policy, if "I'm not married and there's a loss to my apartment and some of my roommate's
property, there's no coverage for the other person's property, unless the other person is listed on the policy as a 'named insured,'" she said. "So we encourage the names of all the people living there to be on the policy. There would be no additional cost if they were keeping the same amount of coverage."

Roommates who are not blood-related "also would want to be named for liability coverage," Hanten said. "If they're not named on the policy, there's no coverage."

Kulda says that "if you were sharing an apartment, it's very simple to have more than one name on the policy, and even if you're not related, you can put more than one name on the policy and still have coverage."


Friday, December 8, 2000

Single women outpace single men as home buyers in U.S.

A story published today in the Philadelphia Daily News reports that single women across the country are buying their own residences at twice the rate of single men, according to the 2000 National Association of Realtors profile of home buyers and sellers.

In 1999 single women accounted for 18 percent of all home buyers.  Some 1.17 million single women purchased homes last year. That's up significantly from a decade ago, when single women represented 13 percent of all home buyers, according to the NAR report.

Although married couples still dominate the home sales market (66 percent), single men accounted for just 9 percent last year and unmarried couples 6 percent.

The Realtors report says that "most single women have established a good savings plan," and offers these figures: The median income of single female buyers in 1999 was $39,700, and they purchased a home costing a median price of $102,300 with a down payment of $12,300, or 12 percent.

According to the story, the Realtors association, home builders' sales staffs and demographics analysts add other factors contributing to the growth of single female home buyers: women's longer life spans, the sense of financial independence that comes with economic security, housing affordability (in some areas), a greater variety of mortgages targeted to first-time buyers and the tax benefits of owning vs. renting.

To Thomas Lys, director of the real estate management program and a professor at the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, NAR's report isn't surprising because "the buying power of single women in a variety of categories has increased tremendously."

Lys says young professionals have certainly benefited from the economic boom; women going through divorces are wiser about splitting the estate which, these days, is likely to include a stock portfolio as well as a residence, and there have been strides in helping divorced mothers get alimony payments.

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