Important 2018 Law Changes You Should Know

Written by Laura Sands and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Most 2018 law changes apply to individual states and, therefore, do not impact others living elsewhere. However, some very important changes apply nationwide. Here are several of the most recently changed or newly introduced laws throughout the United States in 2018.

Alabama 2018 Law Changes

A couple of key changes in the law affect couples divorcing in Alabama in 2018. One significant change is centered around a divorced spouse’s eligibility to receive a share of a former spouse’s retirement benefits. The second change relates to alimony payments.

Prior to Alabama’s Act 2017-162, a couple had to be married a minimum of 10 years before a divorce judge was able to award one spouse a portion of the other former spouse’s retirement benefits. However, 2018 law changes have done away with this minimum and courts are now able to award benefits to couples who have been married and divorced in less time. A share of a former spouse’s retirement benefits is not automatic in these cases, but the new law now allows courts greater flexibility in deciding whether it is appropriate to divide retirement benefits between former spouses.

Another change to Alabama’s divorce laws was introduced through House Bill 257 in April of 2017, taking effect in 2018. Now known as Act 2017-164, this new law changes how long a spouse may receive alimony after a divorce has been finalized. Under the new law, the courts will only award a former spouse with alimony for a limited amount of time while adjusting financially to their newly-divorced status. While couples ending a marriage lasting 20 years or longer may still receive alimony settlements for lengthier timeframes, most others will generally be limited to five years or less.

California 2018 Law Changes

California’s New Marijuana Laws

Several new laws in California are centered around marijuana usage and possession. Others apply to changes in existing labor laws.  

Whereas California previously allowed marijuana use for those with a doctor’s prescription to treat a medical condition, the state has now legalized it for recreational use. This new law follows similar laws where recreational marijuana was previously legalized, in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

While it can now be consumed recreationally and without a doctor’s prescription in California and elsewhere, marijuana still cannot be used in public, which includes inside a person’s car or vehicle. Other strict regulations also remain in place. For example, recreational marijuana users must be 21 years of age or older. Similar to alcohol laws, selling marijuana or purchasing it for anyone under this age is still illegal.

It is also important to note that, whether used recreationally or for medical purposes, the sale and use of marijuana is still illegal under federal law.

California’s New Employment Laws

Another very significant change in California’s law applies to employment – specifically with regards to salary information and wage increases.

In California, it is now illegal for an employer to ask a prospective employee for her or his salary history. Proponents of this law cite attempts to close the gender pay gap as the incentive behind this change. Upon “reasonable request, new laws also stipulate that employers must provide potential employees with an up-to-date pay scale for the position they are applying for.

California is also one of 18 states where the minimum wage has been increased. While the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 per hour, the minimum wage in California and each of the following states has been adjusted to:

Alaska – $9.84 per hour

Arizona – $10.50 per hour

California – $11.00 per hour for companies with 26 or more employees; $10.50 per hour for all others

Colorado – $10.20 per hour

Florida – $8.25 per hour

Hawaii – $10.10 per hour

Maine – $10.00 per hour

Michigan – $9.25 per hour

Minnesota – $7.87 – $9.65 per hour depending on employer revenue

Missouri – $7.85 per hour

Montana – $4.00 – $8.30 per hour depending on employer’s revenue and whether the Labor Standards Act applies to the company

New Jersey – $8.60 per hour

New York – $10.40 per hour

Ohio – $7.25 – $8.30 per hour

Rhode Island – $10.10 per hour

South Dakota – $8.85 per hour

Vermont – $10.50 per hour

Washington – $11.50 per hour

Illinois 2018 Law Changes

The state of Illinois experienced as many as 200 different 2018 law changes. Among these is a new law allowing domestic violence victims to keep their mobile telephone numbers even if they break a contract with a previous cell provider and sign up for service with a new company.

In a separate new law, the pets of divorcing couples will no longer be regarded simply as marital property. As of 2018, the custody and care of a shared pet will now be decided on by a judge in much the same way as child custody cases are settled.

Oregon 2018 Law Changes

In Oregon, one of the more polemical 2018 law changes involves personal firearms. Law enforcement officers or a family member are now able to petition a judge to request a person’s gun(s) be taken away if it is believed the firearm’s owner is a danger to self or others. Under this new legislation, once a person has been relieved of their firearm(s) per court order, they will not be allowed to possess it or any other weapon for the period of one year.

Wyoming  2018 Law Changes

A person wrongfully convicted of a crime before 2018 law changes in Wyoming had two years to present exculpatory evidence in order to fight a conviction. After the two year limit, the only evidence deemed to be acceptable for consideration had to include DNA. With recent law changes in that state, however, a defendant is now allowed to present evidence of their innocence at any time, whether it includes DNA or not.

Other States

Washington not only experienced a hike in its minimum wage, but 2018 law changes in that state now dictate that employers must also offer paid sick leave to eligible employees. Rhode Island also must offer employees paid sick leave beginning in 2018. In New York, new state law changes mean that employees there will now be able to take up to eight weeks off for Paid Family Leave.

While most changes in laws surrounding leave revolve around illness, maternity, or family care, Nevada’s new law extends to victims of domestic violence, too. In that state, employees who have suffered from domestic violence are allowed to take 160 hours off within a 12-month period. This law is intended to allow victims time off from work in order to seek medical, mental, and legal help, as needed.

2018 Tax Law Changes

While the laws affecting most people govern individual states, a collection of 2018 law changes involve the Federal Tax Code, which directly impacts most American adults. Here are a few highlights from tax laws taking effect in 2018:

  • The child tax credit has changed from $1,000 per child to $2,000
  • The limits for employee contributions to select retirement plans has been raised an additional $500, which means workers can now contribute up to $18,500 per year
  • Head of household deductions rose from $9,550 to $18,000
  • Individual taxpayer deductions rose from $6,500 to $12,000
  • Married people who file jointly saw a rise in deductions from $13,000 to $24,000. (Married people who file separately have the same deductions as individual taxpayers)
  • Employers will now use new tables for withholding income from employees

There are still seven different tax brackets determining how much an individual or a married couple may pay in taxes. However, each of those seven tiers has now been adjusted. Due to 2018 law changes, people should review the latest tax tables at the IRS’s website or consult a qualified accountant to determine their correct tax bracket for the year.

We the People

Generally speaking, all 2018 law changes are intended to make a better, safer, and more just society for all Americans. Through the election of key officials who represent particular jurisdictions and by directly voting on key initiatives, new laws are created by and for the people they serve. For a full list of 2018 law changes, visit your state’s official website, our Legal Resources section, and USA.gov.

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