Michael R. Morrison Attorney Blog

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy FAQs

November 16, 2017

bankruptcyVirtually all aspects of personal bankruptcies are governed by a federal law known as the Bankruptcy Code. Depending upon their circumstances, individuals and couples file under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Code.

If you are experiencing serious debt problems and are considering bankruptcy, a qualified bankruptcy attorney can discuss the options available to you, including whether you may file under Chapter 7. However, here are some general FAQs and answers about Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Q: How does Chapter 7 work?

A: Any Chapter 7 debtor can keep his or her property as long as the value of the property is less than the exemptions. If there is some property valued more than the exemption, only that property is surrendered. The surrendered property is then sold by a court official called a trustee, who distributes the proceeds to creditors. Chapter 7 debtors seldom surrender the property to the trustee.

Q: May any debtor file under Chapter 7?

A: No. Debtors who are deemed to have the means to repay at least some part of their debts must proceed under Chapter 13 of the Code. Under Chapter 13, the debtor agrees to live on a budget for several years. Income not required to meet necessities goes to unsecured creditors, such as credit card issuers.

Most holders of secured debt, such as home mortgage or car loans, continue to receive their full payments. On successful completion of the plan, the debtor's remaining unsecured debts are discharged.

Q: Will filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition stop my creditors from pursuing me for payment?

A: Yes! Once a petition is filed, the Bankruptcy Code prohibits creditors from making any further collection efforts. This includes telephone calls and letters, wage or bank account garnishments and attempted repossessions of vehicles or other property.

Q: Must a couple file jointly under Chapter 7?

A: No. However, a spouse who does not file will remain liable for both joint debts as well as any incurred individually. He or she will also not be entitled to the Code's protection from collection efforts.

Q: Can a debtor be fired from employment because he or she files?

A: No. An employer may not terminate or otherwise discipline an employee because he or she has filed for bankruptcy protection under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. This applies to both private and public sector employers and employees.

Q: Can private student loans be discharged?

A: Maybe. After the Code was amended in the mid-1990s, for all practical purposes student loans became non-dischargeable. This is no longer invariably the case, but getting out from under student loans via bankruptcy is still difficult. The debtor must show both a continuing financial hardship (typically due to a permanent disability which limits his or her ability to work) and a good faith effort at repayment.

The presence of hardship and good faith is determined by the bankruptcy judge, and the odds of success are rarely good. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can evaluate your chances.

Q: Must I have an attorney in order to file under Chapter 7?

A: It is not legally required, but having an expert guide through the process can help avoid potentially costly errors and oversights.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Parenting Plan Examples in Washington State

November 2, 2017

familyBefore the conclusion of a divorce, annulment or legal separation in Washington, state law requires court approval of a "parenting plan" for any minor children. These plans are legal agreements that govern various aspects of the child's care, including where the child will spend his or her time, who will make educational, medical or other decisions, and how parenting conflicts will resolve.

Understanding the basics of a parenting plan

The premise on which most parenting plans are based is that children do best when they have an ongoing relationship with both parents. As discussed in the examples below, however, precisely what form this relationship should take depends in large part upon the family's specific circumstances.

There are minimum requirements for any plan. To receive approval, however, the plan must be tailored to the family's particular circumstances, and the court must agree that a proposed plan will serve the best interests of the affected children. If the court rejects the plan or the parents are unable to agree to one, the court will create a plan on its own. As with more traditional custody orders, parenting plans may be modified by the court if the parents' or child's circumstances change.

Here are key provisions of some common parenting plans.

"Every Other Weekend"

As the name suggests, this plan presumes that the parents will continue to reside in the same vicinity after the divorce. It names a primary custodial parent and provides for visitation at the non-custodial parent's home every other weekend, sometimes with an additional weekday visit. It also covers holiday and school vacation schedules, transportation and many other details.

Long-Distance Parenting

If the parents live at a distance which makes frequent visitation impractical, a long-distance parenting plan will likely be appropriate. The traditional long distance plan calls for the child to reside with the non-custodial parent for extensive periods during school vacations but only rarely during the school year.

Many judges and lawyers have come to believe that the extended time apart inherent in long distance plans can be traumatic for children and parents alike. Provided the parents are cooperative, they will attempt to craft a more flexible alternative, such as having the child spend half of summer vacation with each parent.

Joint Custody

Joint custody plans contemplate that the child will spend one half of his or her time with each parent, most often through a"week on/week off" schedule. Many judges feel joint custody parenting plans are unduly disruptive, especially in contentious cases. The belief is that having a "home base" is less confusing and stressful. Example

Infant Parenting Plan

Many experts believe that very young children benefit from frequent interactions (but not overnight stays) with the non-custodial parent. This often means visits several times per week or even daily, but for just a few hours. Many infant child parenting plans provide for automatic modifications as the child matures.

Restricted Parenting Plan

Restricted parenting plans are appropriate if the non-custodial parent has a history of drug abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse. These plans typically call for fairly short visitation sessions, supervised by a neutral third party.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Quality Advice and Representation from an Attorney near Silverdale

October 16, 2017

attorney

When searching for an attorney near Silverdale, residents of the greater Seattle area and Puget Sound can choose from among hundreds of qualified lawyers and law firms. If you are seeking quality advice and representation from a lawyer, I encourage you to contact my office. Known throughout the greater Kitsap County and Olympic Peninsula region for integrity, experience and a commitment to providing every client with the highest quality and cost-effective legal services, I help clients to resolve a variety of legal matters.

The attorney-client relationship

A client’s relationship with his or her lawyer can have a significant impact on the outcome of nearly any legal matter and its effect on one's family, business, and personal life. Mutual trust, confidence, empathy and an understanding of the client’s needs are all essential elements of a successful attorney-client relationship.

It is important for every client to feel comfortable with the lawyer that they hire. The ability to speak freely and confidently, discuss sensitive matters and feel confident with the proposed legal strategy is foundational for a successful working relationship. I work to ensure that my clients feel comfortable during meetings, when discussing legal strategy and are prepared for negotiations or going to court. This ensures that clients can be confident in my ability to provide legal representation, protect their rights and best interests.

Confidentiality

Anything that a client says when meeting with their attorney is confidential and protected by attorney-client privilege. The one exception to this is if someone else hears or participates in the conversation. If someone else is privy to what was said, that person could be subpoenaed and forced to give testimony. This is why it is important for clients to have meetings with counsel in a way that can protect confidentiality.

Receiving legal advice

I recommend that anyone considering engaging in a legal matter call my office and speak with an attorney near Silverdale prior to moving forward. It is important to first determine if there is a case and then determine how to handle it. Going to court is not always the best approach. Some matters can be resolved through negotiations and mediation. If so, this can be beneficial from both a time and financial perspective.

However, if going to court is necessary, then having a clear strategy will be necessary as well. Knowing what the goals, objective and how the law applies is necessary before proceeding. I take the time to educate client so that they understand what their legal options are and what the potential outcomes will be before making any final decisions.

Receiving this type of legal advice is necessary for being an informed client, especially since any litigation is going to be time-consuming and have a significant impact on a person’s day to day life. With legal information and a clear strategy, clients can be positioned for a successful outcome.

Speak with an attorney near Silverdale

To have your questions answered or to receive legal advice, call my office today. I will be happy to provide information and assistance.

Information on Divorce from A Silverdale Divorce Attorney

October 02, 2017

divorce

For most couples, ending a marriage is an emotionally charged, life-altering event. Even an amicable and uncontested divorce requires a court filing and provision for the division of the couple’s assets and debts. Custody, visitation and support may also be an issue. An experienced and knowledgeable Silverdale divorce lawyer can help you navigate the sometimes bewildering process of ending your marriage and ensure that your rights are protected.

Common practices through an order of dissolution

In Washington, the most common means of terminating a marriage is through a court order of "dis­solution" (traditionally known as a "divorce"). One or both spouses can seek a dissolu­tion of an "irretrievably broken" marriage by filing a petition with the court. Although that spouse is called the "petitioner" and the other "respondent," as a no-fault jurisdiction, Washington does not require the petitioner to prove adultery, desertion or other misconduct.

Once the dissolution request (called a "petition") is filed and served on the respondent, there is a statutory waiting period of three months. If no objection is filed by the end of that time, the court will usually issue a dissolution order in due course.

Other factors to keep track of

An annulment (technically a "decree of invalidity") is also court-ordered dissolution but requires evidence that the marriage was for some reason not legally valid. Annulments are relatively rare in Washington.

For religious or financial reasons, or as a temporary step while they attempt to reconcile, some couples opt for a legal separation, which does not legally end the marriage. A separation can be made formal through a binding contract known as a "decree of legal separation."

Change of Name

A divorcing spouse who took his or her spouse’s surname at the time of the marriage may have his or her maiden name or a former name restored as part of the dissolution decree. Since this request should be included in the dissolution petition, it is something experienced divorce attorneys ask about before they file.

Child Support

Under Washington state law, both parents have a duty to support their minor children through child support. The amount each parent is required to contribute is calculated based on a schedule, which considers both the total cost of support and each parent’s income. Either parent may request modification of a support order in the event of a change in either expenses or income.

Generally, the obligation to financially support a child ends when he or she turns 18-years-old. If the parents want the child support to continue post-secondary education, then the parents must request the modification before the child support ends. A support obligation may also continue if a child who remains dependent because of a physical or mental disability.

Spousal Maintenance

Previously known as "alimony," a maintenance payment may be awarded if there is proven need by one spouse and the other has the ability to pay.

Our firm serves clients in Silverdale and throughout the greater Kitsap County area. Whether you are interested in learning your options or are ready to proceed with the divorce, our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys can provide the sound advice and representation you need.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

 

Reasons to Speak with a Family Law Attorney When Separating

September 01, 2017

Family

If you and your spouse are talking about separation, it is a good idea to speak with a family law attorney. Many people think of separation as the simple act of living in different dwellings. While physically, this is the act of separation, legally, separation is something entirely different. Once a couple becomes married, they can choose to live separately.

For the law to consider a couple separated, the couple must take steps and file paperwork with the court. Only then can a couple be separated for the purpose of financial and legal matters.

More complex than some realize

For example, if a married person enters into a contract, their spouse may also be liable for that agreement. However, if they are legally separated, then the spouse is not liable for the contract agreement. The same is true for debts. When someone is married, and they take out a new credit card or an auto loan, the spouse is also liable to make payments.

If the couple is legally separated, the debts that one spouse incurs after the separation, are separate from the other spouse. The other spouse cannot be held liable for paying the debts or any collection action resulting after the legal separation. Since there is no way to control or know what one spouse is going to do after physically separating residences, the only way to protect oneself legally is to file for a legal separation with the court.

This can be temporary

A legal separation does not need to be permanent. As a family law attorney, I speak with many people who are worried that a legal separation is permanent. It is not. When a couple files for legal separation, it is possible to turn the separation into a divorce in the future or to end the separation and reunite.

Things to consider

In a legal separation, there is the need to address the division of assets, debts and even monthly income. It is necessary to put careful thought into the separation document and what both partners hope to achieve. Also, this often becomes the framework for a future divorce so it is important not to include any provision that one or both parties could not live with long-term.

The best thing to do is to outline who is responsible for each debt payment at the beginning of the separation and to stick with that schedule so there is no future confusion. What must be avoided is making an open-ended agreement that simply does not work for one or both parties. The more specific the agreement, the better.

Set up child custody plans

When handling issues of child custody, it is also important to look at the long-term perspective. There is no way to know how long the separation will be or if it will become permanent by way of a divorce. Therefore, child custody matters need to be set up with a long-term plan in mind. The planning involves determining how much time children will spend with each parent and where.

Deciding things like who is going to pay for health insurance, education factors, and who is going to take the kids on vacation, are all factors that the couple needs to account for.

As a family law attorney, I know that if one handles a separation correctly with detailed documents, it makes it easier for couples to live a separated lifestyle. It will also be easier if that couple decides to divorce in the future. At that point, they can file paperwork to change the separation to a divorce.

Schedule a consultation

To discuss becoming separated and to ensure that it is done correctly, call my office to speak with a family law attorney.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Reasons to Hire a Silverdale Family Lawyer in an Amicable Divorce

August 15, 2017

family

If you and your spouse wish to handle the divorce negotiations on your own, you should still hire a Silverdale family lawyer. It is necessary to complete certain types of paperwork, file the documents correctly and go to court to finalize the divorce decree. It is also wise to have an attorney prepare the documents to protect your legal rights both in the near future and the long-term.

After all, this agreement will govern what happens to assets, debts and even the children. Thus, it is critical that all components of the divorce decree are complete in a way that protects your interest.

An amicable divorce benefits everyone

Rather than a divorce that is contentious and involves constant fighting, an amicable divorce is beneficial for both parties and for the children in the household. When two people can get along and work to negotiate the aspects of a divorce without involving a massive legal battle, it is possible to move through the divorce in a more calm fashion.

From an emotional perspective, this can further increase the healing for everyone in the family and allow for life to move forward in a more peaceful manner. From a legal perspective, it is also beneficial. When two parties can agree on how to divide assets, who will pay what debts and how the children will spend their time, there is no need for a lengthy trial and family court. This saves time, money and emotional strain.

An attorney can ensure everything runs smoothly

However, even when two parties can agree on everything, it is still necessary to have an attorney help with the process. An attorney takes the responsibility off the shoulders of the divorcing couple and understands the legal process. The attorney has the knowledge of the necessary documents to file for and finalize the divorce.

In other words, a couple that is getting a divorce can focus on the untangling of their lives, their own health, and well-being. The attorney handles the legal aspects that can be complicated and create unnecessary stress for a couple that is already going through such major life changes.

Protecting the future

When a couple goes through a smooth divorce and is able to agree on everything, it becomes difficult to consider a future where that agreement may no longer be in place. Think of it this way, when a couple is getting a divorce because they no longer want to be married but are still friends, it is possible to have rational discussions and to move through the process with relative ease.

However, when one of the partners enters into a new relationship or makes a change that is out of the ordinary, the other may suddenly feel threatened and emotions may arise. At this point, a couple that once agreed on everything may find that they are at odds.

This makes it critical to have a divorce decree that offers protections to everyone in the event that people who were once married no longer agree on the issues. A Silverdale family lawyer can help by crafting documents that are intended to plan for the future whether it is agreeable or not.

Schedule a consultation

To find out how you can get the help of an attorney with your divorce, while still controlling the negotiations process, call my office and schedule a consultation. As the Silverdale family lawyer, I can discuss all options available to you and how I can work to protect your legal rights.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Keep Your Assets by Speaking with a Bankruptcy Attorney in Silverdale

August 1, 2017

money

As a bankruptcy attorney in Silverdale, clients call my office wanting to know when they file bankruptcy, what assets they can keep. This is a complicated question but one that is incredibly important to sort out and resolve prior to filing. I recommend scheduling a consultation with my office to go over the specifics of what exemptions apply in each situation and to determine which ones will protect specific assets.

What is an exemption?

An exemption is a legal rule that allows people to exempt a particular asset from the bankruptcy proceedings. This applies in a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy. In Chapter 7, the individual must disclose all assets and the court may require the individual to sell certain assets in order to pay debts. While an individual can exempt certain property and assets, meaning that they cannot be sold to pay back debts, the individual needs professional services.

One of the most common exemptions allows people to remain in their home and not have it sold to pay debts. To qualify, this must be a primary residence and the equity in the home needs to be under a certain threshold. Other exemptions allow for things like personal property, jewelry and vehicles to not be sold as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. If the assets a person owns exceed the exemptions, those remaining assets are likely to be sold and any money earned will go toward paying off debt.

Since each situation is unique, it is important to discuss what assets are the most important. That way, the individual can maintain assets of critical or sentimental value throughout the bankruptcy process.  As a bankruptcy attorney in Silverdale, I encourage my clients to be forthcoming with this information so that I can create a plan to meet their objectives and priorities.

Consider a Chapter 13

Individuals or couples who have significant assets such as an incredible fine art collection may be better served by filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7 because it allows for property to be kept, rather than sold. However, exemptions still apply because a liquidation analysis is performed, excluding exempt property, to make sure that unsecured creditor get as much under 13 as they would in a Chapter 7 liquidation. In 13, rather than selling property, payments are made in the amount that would be recovered. On a monthly basis, a payment is made and that money is distributed among creditors. Once that time frame is complete, any remaining debt will be eliminated.

This provides for a plan that is sustainable and allows people to pay back a portion of what they owe, rather than all of it or facing harassing creditor calls.

Schedule an appointment with my office

There are pros and cons to each type of bankruptcy. With a Chapter 7, unsecured debts are eliminated but some assets may need to be sold. With a Chapter 13, assets can be kept but payment must be made to satisfy the debt for a period of several years. This makes it important to speak with a bankruptcy attorney in Silverdale to discuss which option is best for your situation.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Consider the Children with Help from a Child Custody Lawyer in Silverdale

July 15, 2017

Child custody

There are several things to consider when hiring a child custody lawyer in Silverdale. As an attorney, I inform my clients of the law and what their options are but also encourage considering the impact on the children from a perspective of daily life and their emotional stability.

Consider the children

It is the job of the judge to make a ruling in custody cases that are going to be in the best interest of the children. The judge will be looking at things like stability and consistency when making their decision. However, it is important for parents to make those considerations on their own before going before a judge. Custody plans should help a child to grow and develop without any unnecessary stress or complications.

As a child custody lawyer in Silverdale, I understand that it can be incredibly difficult for parents to take a step back and analyze the situation without being emotional. There is nothing more emotionally taxing than custody cases. Everyone in these cases has a personal stake in what happens.

However, it is still necessary to take a step back and evaluate what is right for the children in the situation, rather than what will be right for the parents. Prior to making a determination of what type of custody arrangement a parent wants, the parent should ask:

What does my child want?

Most children are old enough to have an opinion on where they want to live or how they want to spend their time. Children as young as seven or eight years old often understand what it means to spend time with each parent. These children will typically have an opinion or idea of what they want their life to look like.

While children at this age should not have the ultimate say, asking their opinion and listening to any concerns that they have is important for the long-term well-being. It gives them a sense that they matter and that they have some control over their destiny. It also helps to preserve the relationship between a parent and child so that children do not grow up feeling that they have no say.

How much time will the children get with the other parent?

It is important to note that the court tends to favor plans where each parent has custody or visitation of their children. Unless someone poses a direct danger to a child, the judge is unlikely to deny visitation and, even in these cases, a judge may award supervised visitation rather than taking it away altogether.

This makes it unwise for anyone to go to court demanding full custody and no visitation to the other parent. Create a plan that allows for each parent to see their children and participate in their activities so that it appears to be fair and is in keeping with the best interest of the child.

How will decisions be made?

One of the things I deal with as a child custody lawyer in Silverdale is disputes between parents that involve decision making. Even after a divorce is finalized, it can be very difficult for two parents to agree on things like educational decisions, sports or even medical care.

Since there is no guarantee of these decisions being easy to make, it is important to create very detailed custody plans. These plans need to include provisions for how to make decisions and how to resolve disputes.

Get help with your case

As an attorney, I can provide assistance when creating custody proposals and also represent you in court to try and secure a custody arrangement that is favorable to you and your children.

Questions Answered by a Silverdale Bankruptcy Lawyer

July 1, 2017

Bankruptcy

As a Silverdale bankruptcy lawyer , I get a lot of questions from clients who are considering bankruptcy but are unsure of how it works or what is entailed in the process.

Here are some of the questions I am asked on a regular basis and the answers to them.

Can filing for bankruptcy stop the creditor calls?

The answer to that question, thankfully, is yes. Once a person files for bankruptcy, there is an automatic order from the court that prevents creditors from attempting to continue to collect on a debt. Once someone files for bankruptcy, it becomes illegal for creditors to continue to harass them.

Creditors and debt collectors are acutely aware of the fact that once a bankruptcy filing has been made they are no longer allowed to harass, email, call and make life miserable for the person who owes them the debt. After initiating the bankruptcy filing, if a creditor continues to harass and call, a Silverdale bankruptcy lawyer can take steps to ensure that they understand the law with a cease and desist.

What does a discharged debt mean?

A debt that has been discharged through a bankruptcy means that it has been eliminated. In cases where the client files for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the vast majority of their unsecured debts will be discharged. In other words, the client will not have to make payments or come up with other arrangements to pay back this debt at any time.

Under other bankruptcy filings, like Chapter 13, it is a re-organizational bankruptcy which means that the debts are not discharged. They are merely reorganized to fit within the parameters of a payment plan, designed and followed by the bankruptcy filer.

Can anyone get a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Not everyone qualifies to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The courts believe in a fair system, and as such not everyone can get rid of the debts they do not want to pay. If a person has the means to pay off the debt but simply needs better structure or more time than a Chapter 13 is more appropriate.

If, however, a client can demonstrate that they are unable to make the payments because their income and assets are insufficient to sustain the debt load, then they may qualify for relief under Chapter 7. The best way to determine eligibility is to speak with a Silverdale bankruptcy lawyer about a specific situation.

Is an attorney really necessary?

Getting through a bankruptcy be a complicated affair, which is why it is important to have the right representation. A Silverdale bankruptcy lawyer can guide a person through all the potential pitfalls that come with a bankruptcy. Going through this process can be complicated. It is a major decision that can be extremely stressful. Thus, it is always recommended to get the help of a professional who specializes in this area of the law.

For a better understanding of bankruptcy, and all the nuances of your particular situation, call my office and find out how we can assist.

Note: This is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

How Can A Bankruptcy Attorney Help Me Improve My Credit?

June 30, 2017

Family AttorneyAs a family attorney, I offer a variety of services, including help with:

  • Divorce
  • Custody
  • Establishing parentage
  • Adoption
  • Family estate planning
  • Elder law questions

Other than divorce, one of the most common reasons people call is to ask if decisions during divorce are permanent. This is especially true when it comes to matters involving children. Custody and visitation, along with child support, are sometimes in flux and require modifications from time to time.

While judges try to make orders that will not be modified, this is simply not in keeping with the realities of a changing life. When modifications are necessary, the best thing to do is hire an attorney.

Do you need help with custody?

Very often, the need to revise a child support order stems from the need to change the custody arrangement. For anyone that is not satisfied with the visitation schedule and has a valid reason for changing it, there are options. For a judge to consider modifying a custody agreement, there needs to be a reason that is in the best interest of the child and not strictly based on a parent's request.

An example of this would be a new job for seeking a relocation or a child having a unique educational opportunity that forces change. Since child support is established, in part, based on how much residential time a child has with each parent, a change in the parenting plan would result in a change in the support order.

Reasons to modify child support

Anyone interested in hiring a family attorney to help modify child support needs to be aware that there has to be a specific reason for making this request. Simply not wanting to pay the amount anymore or wanting the other party to pay more than was initially ordered would not be sufficient.

It must be related to very specific financial circumstances or the needs of the child. Some examples include:

  • Job loss. The court recognizes that job loss leads to a direct loss in income and changes a parent's ability to pay child support at the existing amount.
  • Additional children. It may be possible to get an adjustment due to the number of children in your household or needing to pay child support for another child.
  • Poverty. Washington recognizes that families in poverty do not have the disposable income to pay high child support and has provisions in place to account for this.
  • Remarriage. When one or both parents remarry, it can change the household finances and the amount that should be paid in child support.
  • Disability. Becoming disabled may warrant an adjustment.
  • Child's needs. If a child has a special educational or medical need that was unknown at the time of the divorce, the order may need to be adjusted to account for these increased expenses.
  • College. Most child support agreements have provisions regarding advanced education and those sometimes need to be adjusted for college.
  • Increased income. If one parent has sudden career success and makes far more money than they did prior to divorce, child support could be adjusted.

Things to consider

The court will not hear a request for modification unless there is enough time or money left on the existing support order. If a child is getting close to reaching adulthood it is wise to move quickly by calling a family attorney.

Call for help

Discuss your needs and the reason for requesting a modification by calling my office and speaking with a family attorney.

Note: This is for information only and is not to be considered legal advice

How Can A Bankruptcy Attorney Help Me Improve My Credit?

June 15, 2017

bankruptcy

As a bankruptcy attorney, I help clients to eliminate their debts or to get onto an affordable payment plan. This makes it possible to regain a strong financial footing and to rebuild credit for the future.

The necessary steps after a bankruptcy case

One question the clients frequently ask me is how they will be able to build up their credit after having gone through the bankruptcy process. While typically, my focus is solely on the bankruptcy itself, I provide information for clients looking towards long-term goals. This includes being able to do things like purchase a home, finance a car and other things that depend on credit.

As such, it is important to make sure that my clients understand that there are steps they can, and should, take after the bankruptcy in order to rebuild their credit. For anyone considering bankruptcy, it is critical to understand that a bankruptcy is going to have a negative impact on a credit rating.

There is no way around the negative impact. Depending on the type of bankruptcy, especially a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the process may erase many of the previous debts. However, this tends to leave a sour taste in the mouth of some credit lenders.

Cleaning up the credit report

One of the first things that I recommend doing after completing the bankruptcy discharge, is to look at a credit report. While the bankruptcy itself will show up immediately and hence drive the credit score down, some other things may remain on there that continue to lower the score. After completing the bankruptcy, clients need to go through their credit report and make sure to remove all discharged items in the bankruptcy from the report.

In order to do this, it may be necessary to request a credit report from all three credit agencies, and submit a petition in order to remove certain items. I also recommend sending copies of the bankruptcy final orders to the credit reporting agencies. There is no need to have both the bankruptcy and previous debts that are still reporting work to hurt one's credit score.

Getting secured credit

After a bankruptcy attorney closes the file, clients who want to build credit back up need to consider getting a secured credit card. A number of banks can issue a secured credit card. This is a credit card that is secured by a cash deposit. The amount of the security deposit equals the amount of credit available.

For example, if a client puts down $500, then the credit available will be $500. Typically these cards have American Express, Mastercard, or VISA logos and can act exactly the same as a credit card. It is important to maintain good payment history with these credit cards because they report to all 3 of the bureaus.

Over time, with careful management of these credit cards, the credit scores will start to go up. It is important for the credit to mature, credit to be used wisely, balances kept low, and payments made on time in order to drive the scores up.

Ask more questions

To learn more about credit after bankruptcy, call my office and speak with a bankruptcy attorney.

Note: This is for information only and is not to be considered legal advice

Restructure Your Finances with Help from a Bankruptcy Attorney

May 15, 2017

bankruptcy

When people seek out a bankruptcy attorney it is often because they reach a point in their life where they need a fresh start. Luckily, the bankruptcy courts have procedures to help for exactly this purpose. As a bankruptcy lawyer, it is my job to make sure that I guide clients in the right direction so that they make the correct choices, allowing them to restart their financial existence.

Oftentimes, clients are so deeply buried in debt that they feel that there is no way out. The answer is bankruptcy, and one needs to determine what is the ultimate goal before proceeding. In order to understand this, I highly recommend that the client gives my office is a call, schedule a consultation and lay out the facts.

Every case is different

Very often, people walk into the offices of a bankruptcy attorney or browse their website hoping to get generic and universally applicable advice. The reality is that every single situation is different, and the courts tend to look at every individual situation from that lens. Depending on what a person wants to achieve with their bankruptcy, there are a number of different options that they can pursue.

For example, if a client simply wants to restructure their debt in such a way that the payments are not astronomical, they should consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. On the other hand, when it is apparent that the debts have become so overwhelming that a client has no way of ever being able to recover and pay them off, a Chapter 7 may be a more effective route. This is why it is important to have a conversation with an attorney.

Reorganize and restructure

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is one of the bankruptcy options a client should consider, is designed to restructure the financial situation of the client that has income. As someone who is filing for bankruptcy, the client will be required to provide the court with detailed information about their finances. Then, they will be required to file a plan, devised in conjunction with their bankruptcy attorney.

The plan demonstrates to the bankruptcy trustee that they are going to do their best to pay their obligations at a lower, fixed rate. If the bankruptcy trustee accepts this payment plan, it will commence payments as soon as the bankruptcy plan has been confirmed by the bankruptcy court. This allows people to restructure their finances, lower their payments and ultimately get out of debt.

Eliminate debt

On the other hand, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows the bankruptcy filer to eliminate most of the unsecured debt without first making payments. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the client will have to file all of their information with the bankruptcy court, just like in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In chapter 7, the trustee is going to seize and sell off any assets that are above the exemptions in order to pay off unsecured creditors.

It is critical to work with a bankruptcy attorney, particularly if you are considering filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy because there are rules and regulations that govern the process and loopholes that may allow you to keep more of your property and not everyone will qualify for chapter 7. In either case, if you are considering filing for bankruptcy please give my office a call.

Note: This is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

A Divorce Attorney Should Support Your Goals

May 1, 2017

divorce

As a local divorce attorney, I understand how difficult divorce is for most couples. It is difficult and stressful to untangle and separate two lives that have been connected in every way. From a financial, legal and emotional perspective, marriage really does bind two people and impacts everything. The changes can be minor like not wanting to eat at the normal restaurant for fear of bumping into each other, or significant such as deciding how to split up the house and who is going to move out.

When children are involved, the processes are far more complicated and emotional since they have needs as well. This makes it important to find the right attorney who can be supportive, encouraging and provide sound legal counsel at all times.

A divorce attorney should support their client's choices

An attorney's job is not to judge or criticize but to provide sound legal advice and to protect the rights of their client. If after meeting with an attorney, you feel uncomfortable with their demeanor or how they view the situation and how you want to handle it, that is a sign that they are probably not the best fit. Just like people have unique personalities, attorneys are unique as well.

Their approach and style are different. How they interact with clients is different. Even what their and objectives are can be different. This means that is perfectly natural to interact with some attorneys that are not a personality fit and to meet others who are. To better understand this, consider that there are several ways a divorce can be handled.

Options for safely handling a divorce

One is amicably and through negotiations. It is possible to have a divorce where no one goes to court and everything is resolved through agreements made via compromise and negotiation. A professional can mediate a divorce where both parties are represented by counsel and a mediator goes back and forth to negotiate on everything from the house to child custody and beyond. This type of divorce can go smoothly and prevent a lot of the tension and stress caused by a divorce trial.

Some attorneys are more apt to work through the negotiation process, while others are more inclined to litigate. If this is the preferred route, it is wise to hire a lawyer that is willing to take this approach. Some couples know from the very beginning that the divorce will be contentious and go to trial. In this case, it becomes necessary to have a divorce attorney that is also a litigator. Someone who is familiar with going to trial and who is not afraid to fight for the rights of their clients.

There are attorneys that are good at both negotiations and at trial, so it is possible to find one that is diverse. However, this is rare, so be sure to ask questions and find an attorney that is aligned with your goals prior to hiring them.

Call my office to speak with a divorce attorney

I can assist with your divorce and am happy to provide advice. Call today to discuss your needs in greater detail.

Information About Bankruptcy Law for You to Consider

April 3, 2017

bankruptcy attorney

When it comes to bankruptcy law, people often want to know if they will be able to erase previous child support, or late child support payments by filing a bankruptcy. Family courts are extremely complex about child support and government agencies will relentlessly pursue those who fall behind an obligation. Many people look to bankruptcy as a way to get out from under this financial burden. Unfortunately, bankruptcy is not a way to get out of not paying child support.

Reorganizing with a bankruptcy

However, depending on the type of bankruptcy filed there may be an opportunity for a person who is late on their child support payments to catch up and get reorganized. Essentially, it is important to remember that the fundamental function of bankruptcy is to help people reorganize their finances and come out ahead.

Since child support is a major factor in debt, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may allow for the father to actually be able to adjust their back child support payments in a way that is more affordable.

Priority debts

Under bankruptcy law, child support back payments are considered to be priority debts. What this means is that, essentially, the bankruptcy court is not going to touch the current or future child support payments in any way. However, for people who have fallen considerably behind on their payments, by filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, they can roll up the back child support into the payment that they are going to need to make every month under the terms of the bankruptcy.

The person who is far behind on their child support can use the laws in order to be able to remove the pressure being applied by government agencies and the family court to catch up on back child support. It is critical to note that this does not waive any of the previous child support debt and that despite filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the filer is going to be required to make all the back payments good.

Current Child Support

Even more importantly, if there is a situation where the person seeking bankruptcy has a child support commitment, the trustee is going to ask whether or not they are current on child support (obligations incurred during the case), before discharging the bankruptcy. In many cases, the bankruptcy trustee, under bankruptcy law, will not discharge the bankruptcy filing until the parent has made good on current child support obligations.

Additionally, filing for bankruptcy does nothing to offset future child support obligations and the trustee is going to make sure that they continue to make those payments even after the bankruptcy is complete.

Ask an attorney

Every case is unique when it comes to bankruptcy law. Regardless of the type of debt that has been accumulated or the type of bankruptcy being sought, it is highly recommended that a person call my office to speak with a bankruptcy attorney who is intimately familiar with the law in order to understand what type of bankruptcy is best, get the nuances of child support and understand other important information like how to structure tax returns.

A Bankruptcy Lawyer Talks About the Means Test

March 15, 2017

bankrupt

As a bankruptcy lawyer, I speak with clients about the bankruptcy means test on a regular basis. This test determines whether or not a client can file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. In 2005, when Congress overhauled the bankruptcy laws, they inserted a means test as a way to determine whether or not a person was suitable for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.  Essentially what this means test determines whether or not a person's income is low enough for them to be able to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

It is a formula that is designed specifically to keep individuals with high income from being able to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. In other words, Congress wants people who have high enough incomes to file a Chapter 13 after failing the means test. It is critically important for people who are considering filing for bankruptcy to work with a bankruptcy attorney and determine whether or not they will pass the means test.

How the test works

As a bankruptcy lawyer, I will walk clients through the entire test to determine that they are able to qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or will need to file a Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy instead. The means test will try to limit the use of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to those who truly cannot pay their debts. It deducts specific monthly expenses from the filer's current monthly income, which is determined by an average income over 6 calendar months before the filing of a bankruptcy, to arrive at the monthly disposable income.

The higher the disposable income, the less likely it is that the courts will allow the use of a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. In order to take the means test, a client will need to work with a lawyer to determine whether their income is more or less than the median income in the state. If it is more than the median, it will be essential to figure out whether or not there is enough left after subtracting certain expenses to be able to repay some of the debt.

If a person passes the means test

If a client passes the means test, this simply means that the option of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is officially on the table. At that point, the client and their bankruptcy lawyer will have a detailed discussion about whether or not a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the best alternative, or if there is another type of bankruptcy that will work better. It is essential to have proper legal advice when considering all bankruptcy options in order to make a sound legal judgment.

If a person fails the means test

Clients who do not pass the means test are limited to filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy requires the filer to make monthly payments over a three to five-year period, according to a strict budget that will be monitored by the court. At this point, it becomes even more critical for the filer to have a lawyer in order to ensure that they get the best possible payment schedule.

There are specific advantages to using a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, which is still considered the best way to handle certain types of problems like curing a default on a mortgage.

Call for help

To find out if you qualify to file for bankruptcy, call my office and schedule a consultation.

Note: This is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

A Divorce Lawyer Talks About Discovery

March 01, 2017

divorce

As a divorce lawyer, one of the most important tools that I have is the ability to conduct discovery in family law cases. Family law cases have two types of discovery which are known as interrogatories and request for production. It is important for clients to understand that discovery goes both ways. When consulting with the family lawyer, it is important that the client reveals anything that may come back to haunt the case at a later date.

This is particularly true if another individual in the case contests the divorce proceedings and both parties cannot agree to an amicable solution. Discovery is an excellent way to uncover all kinds of things about the other party and use the information to the best advantage of the client.

Interrogatories

Essentially, interrogatories are written questions that require answers from the other party. Lawyers carefully craft these questions in order to make sure that the other party answers them in a way that is helpful to the case. As a party to a divorce, both sides will most likely have to deal with interrogatories as part of the proceedings, especially in contested cases. If a person is facing interrogatories, they have 30 days after the service to respond to these questions in writing.

The respondent must answer every question separately and fully under oath in writing. The only way to avoid answering a specific question is for the divorce lawyer to raise an objection. The lawyer must fully explain the objection and why the party does not want to answer this question. The client and lawyer must then sign the answers. Very often, lawyers will also use interrogatories to ask for specific electronic data.

Request for documents

In contested divorces, it is not uncommon for parties to try and hide things like assets. One of the tools that I use in order to uncover anything that the other side is trying to hide is a request for documents. There is no requirement to get the court's permission in order to serve a request for production of documents on the other party. Once I serve the other party a request for production of documents, they have 30 days from the time of the service to provide the documents.

These can include electronically stored information like computer files, voicemails, web pages, text messages and email. In order to create a trail, it is very important to have access to all the files and documents that the other side may be attempting to hide. It is for this reason that a lawyer would serve the other side with a request for documents very early on in the case.

Seek legal help

If someone serves a client a request to produce documents or a request for interrogatories, it is critical that the client immediately runs it by me, the attorney. It is wise to have an attorney help to carefully craft the responses and provide the limited documentation specified in the scope of the request.

For help with your case or to discuss this strategy in further detail, call my office and schedule a consultation.

Note: This is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Make Decisions with Help from a Child Custody Lawyer

February 15, 2017

Child Custody

For men going through a divorce and struggling with child custody, they need a child custody lawyer who can stand for men's rights during a divorce. Unfortunately, the law seems to favor mothers as a nurturing element in a child's life. However, with strong advocacy and an experienced lawyer, fathers can actually have a very good chance of getting custody of your child or children.

Understanding the elements of child custody decisions

There are certain elements that have come into play that form a critical role in deciding which of the parents has primary custody of the child. I can build a comprehensive case to demonstrate that the judge will be serving the child's best interest by ensuring that you have primary custody of the child.

Relationship with the parent

A significant element the court is going to look at during a child custody case is the depth and strength of the relationship that the child has with each parent. The court is going to review behaviors, habits, routines and a number of other factors that demonstrate a strong bond with the child. If we successfully demonstrate the child has a stronger bond with you, there is a greater possibility that the judge will make you the custodial parent in order to continue fostering this bond.

However, it can be demonstrated that both parents have an equal bond with the child then the judge will look at other factors to ensure that the child's safety and security are ensured.

The family home

During a divorce, it is easy to get emotionally invested in things and want to walk away as quickly as possible. Very often, clients can too willing to give up the family home to their significant other in order to get away from the memories and heartache that exists in that home. This is a fundamental mistake when dealing with family law. As a child custody lawyer, we know that one of the elements in a child's stability is the family home.

The parent who gets the family home has a significant advantage in proving that they will be able to provide stability to the children.  If there is an opportunity, it is often best for your soon-to-be ex-spouse to leave the family home and move to a different location. This will allow us to build a case that you are in a more stable situation and should have primary custody of the children, given their best interest.

Every case is unique

Every set of circumstances, every complication, every nuance is completely different with each new case. It is best to call my office and sit down with a family/child custody lawyer in order to determine how to move forward.

Note: This blog is for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Protecting Your Rights and Future with Help from a Family Lawyer

February 01, 2017

Family Law

Being a family lawyer, I understand that going through a divorce can be an extremely traumatic experience. The already traumatic experience is greatly magnified by the fact that you are going to have to spend the next few months dividing up property that was collected during the marriage itself. Unfortunately, these divisions also include the time spent with your children, who is going to be paying child support and other additional questions that have a long-term financial impact on your life.

As such, it is important to engage the services of a family lawyer who will fight to protect your rights, access to your children and get the best possible financial situation after finalizing the divorce. In too many cases, courts tend to look more favorably upon a woman, especially a mother, when it comes to things like child's rights, access to the property and financial situation. It is important to protect your rights in order to ensure that you do not end up at the losing end of the entire procedure.

Property and the marriage

When it comes to a divorce, it is important to put aside ideas of nobility and chivalry. During the division process of property accumulated in a marriage, people may become more aggressive toward one another. As a family lawyer, I have represented many clients who feel that it is the right thing to do for them to move out of the house and allow their significant other to continue to remain in the family home.

Men particularly fall victim to this ideological and social pressure trap. The reason why this could be a mistake is because if the trial takes a length of time, a standard will have been established which the judge will then maintain, and could end up giving your significant other, or soon-to-be ex-spouse, rights to the family property.

Children and parental rights

Another common mistake is to establish a parenting plan, formal or informal, that one or both parties are not comfortable with continuing in the aftermath of the divorce. Too many clients believe that they can set a temporary schedule for the children to follow while they are waiting for the trial to run its course.  Anytime a parenting plan, whether formal or informal, has been followed for a specific length of time there is the possibility that the judge will decide to keep the status quo. In other words, if a client wants a specific type of parenting plan I work to establish that parenting plan from the very beginning.

By working with a family lawyer, clients can actually solidify the parenting plan into a legally binding document so that there is no ambiguity about who gets what and when. Making sure to properly distribute all parental rights between the divorcing factions during the separation and while the divorce is pending, is a much cleaner, and legally sound, way to establish parental rights.

Get a Family Lawyer

As a person going through a divorce, our clients are the only ones who can protect their rights prior to engaging our services. I urge people to take steps to protect themselves, the first and most important step being to call my office and engage a lawyer.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Tips from a Family Attorney for Men Getting a Divorce

January 17, 2017

Family

As a family attorney, I often represent men who believe they do not have a shot at getting custody and will have to appraise them of their equal rights as a parent. Just because you are the dad does not mean you have any less right to your children. However, it is important to ensure that we follow a number of steps in order to establish the existing relationship with your children. In doing so, we may even be able to get you primary custody of the kids. When judges in a family court are looking at the various factors, the one thing that they keep in mind is what is in the best interest of the children. It is then up to me, as your family attorney, to make sure that I present your case in such a comprehensive manner, that the judge has no option but to conclude that giving you, the father, primary custody is in the best interest of the children. Believe it or not, this is not quite as complicated as it sounds.

Proving your bond

There is an illusion that children have a better relationship with their mother, or that the mother is able to provide better care. However, in modern times this is not always the case. Many fathers have stepped up and are taking on the role of being a primary caregiver to their children. If this is the case, you need to speak with a family attorney as soon as possible. This will ensure that I can gather and present the evidence of this occurrence and work to get you primary custody.

A critical piece to getting custody as a father is to establish the strong bond you have with your children and the level of relationship they have both with you and with the mother. If we can show demonstrative evidence that the children have a stronger, more stable and more mature relationship with you, there is a good chance that the judge is going to look upon your case more favorably.

Best interest of the children

Remember in any family law case, my job as the family attorney is to prove that my client is the one who can provide for the best interest of the children. Every custody battle hangs on the single premise that the judge must decide which of the parents is going to be a better steward, and have the best interest of the children in mind.

This can get complicated when both parents are equally involved, have an equally strong relationship and have a record of providing an equally important amount of care. In cases like this, sometimes it can come down to simple factors such as which of you gets the family home. The family home is often seen as a beacon of stability and the judge may rule to give you custody if he or she has also given you the family home.

Do not give up hope

As a family attorney who deals with men's rights, especially when it comes to custody cases, I know that every little element can play a factor in which parent gets custody. The good news is that this means that you have hope, and the potential, for getting full custody of your children. In order to do so, you have to have a good family attorney in your corner. Call to schedule an appointment today.

Note: This is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Hire a Child Custody Attorney Right Away

January 3, 2017

CustodyHaving an experienced child custody attorney in your corner, from the very onset of a divorce trial, can be one of the critical factors that help to gain primary custody of your child. During a divorce trial, the primary custody is given to one parent while the other parent is deemed the non-custodial parent. So while this may not have a direct impact on your ability to make some decisions for your child, it will impact how much time your child gets to spend with you. It can also have an effect on whether or not you have to make child support payments.

Important aspects for one to consider for child custody

Getting primary custody of your child, if that is what you want, starts at the very beginning of the process and it is often too late to start working on it once the trial has begun. For this reason, it is important if you are getting a divorce, that you contact a child custody attorney immediately. As one, I can help to put your best foot forward.

A number of factors come into play when it comes to who the judge will award primary custody of the children, something we will go over in depth during our first consultation. In the meanwhile, there are two concepts that you need to be intimately aware of because they can influence who gets primary custody or what the final parenting plan looks like.

Establish a pattern of child custody that you want

First, as a child custody attorney, I would strongly recommend that you establish a pattern of child custody that you want to maintain. Often times, divorces can take several months to resolve. The more acrimonious the divorce, the longer it is going to take to resolve all the issues including child support and child custody. In the meanwhile, the children are still living with their now separated parents. Very often parents make the mistake of establishing a routine, and a pattern of keeping the children, that is comfortable to both of them and this goes on for several months.

In a case like this, it is important for you to understand that very often, the judge will simply maintain the status quo. What this means is that the family law judge will not change these arrangements if they have been put in place and maintained for several months. Run your current child custody arrangements by your child custody attorney so that necessary adjustments can be made for your long-term betterment.

The child's best interest are the determining factor

Second, and every child custody attorney will appraise you of this fact, is that a judge is going to look at a number of factors that play into which of the parents can provide better for the child. The child's best interests are the deciding factor in which parent is going to be the custodial parent, and which parent is going to be the non-custodial parent. These factors include elements such as:

  • Strength and stability of the parent/child relationship
  • Financial stability
  • Living situations (Family home or no family home)
  • Relationship to siblings
  • Child's own opinion

If you have any questions or need a child custody attorney, do not hesitate to call my office for more information.

Note: This is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Speak with an Attorney in Silverdale About Your Rights as a Father

December 16, 2016

silverdale attorneyAs a father going through a divorce or trying to obtain custody or visitation, I recommend that you call my office to speak with an attorney in Silverdale. I help a lot of fathers by working to protect and preserve their rights and can provide you with sound legal advice.  It is in your best interest to schedule this appointment as quickly as possible and to hire an attorney prior to commencing the divorce process or trying to go to court over custody. This will create your best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome.

Understanding Your Legal Rights

When it comes to the law, it is unwise to make assumptions. Instead, call my office to speak with an attorney in Silverdale about the specifics of your case. I can go over your rights and help to create a strategy for protecting them. In the meantime, here are some things you need to know.

#1 Unmarried fathers do not have the same automatic rights as the mother

In the state of Washington, you could be living with the mother and both have a clear understanding that you are the father without the state recognizing you as such. You first need to establish parentage through the proper legal channels. Once this is done, then you will have the ability to petition for custody and exert your parental rights in the future. Most men are unaware of this and so it is wise to work with an attorney.

#2 Married fathers do have the same rights as the mother

Many men go into the divorce process thinking that they are automatically at a disadvantage when it comes to custody situations or maintaining ownership of the house and other key properties. This may have been the case in decades past but it certainly is not anymore. With experienced legal representation, you are just as likely to get joint or even primary custody of your children and to keep the family home. The key is deciding that you want these things from the very beginning and creating a plan to go after them.

Preparation is critical and the decisions that you make during this process will directly influence the likelihood of there being a favorable outcome. For example, even though this is a stressful and emotional time, it is also the time that you need to show stability and strength for the sake of your children and the court. You do not want to take your freedom and use it to make irresponsible choices because the result of those could be used against you far more than the fact that you are the father and your ex is the mother.

Get Help from an Attorney in Silverdale

Remember your rights, be willing to fight for them and get help from an attorney for your best chance of reaching a favorable outcome during your divorce or any custody case. As an experienced fathers rights lawyer, I can work with you, answer your questions and help to guide you through these important decisions.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

December 02, 2016

Bankruptcy LawyerIf you are facing overwhelming debts or are unable to continue to make payments due to a pending separation or divorce, you need to speak with a bankruptcy attorney. As a lawyer helping clients with both bankruptcies and divorce cases, I can provide clear legal advice during this complicated time.

Why Divorce Often Leads to Bankruptcy

When a couple is living together and both are working, income is delivered into a joint account(s) used to pay bills. One person's salary may go to pay for primary expenses such as the mortgage note and an auto loan while another person's salary will be going toward health care expenses, groceries, utilities, insurance, dining out or retirement contributions. This model typically works well and creates a somewhat comfortable lifestyle.

When a couple decides to divorce for any reason, untangling finances is one of the most difficult aspects of doing so. Unless you and your spouse were able to save a lot during the marriage, there is a good chance that a divorce will cause some level of financial difficulty for one or both of you. Suddenly, both parties find themselves having to pay for their living expenses, health care costs, groceries and utilities all on their own. This often creates a situation where it is not possible to continue to make debt payments as previously done. In this case, bankruptcy can be a good option.

Understanding Timing

As a bankruptcy attorney, I recommend that couples assess the situation as they are separating to determine if they will be able to meet their financial obligations, will need to sell off assets, or may need to file for bankruptcy. If it appears that bankruptcy is inevitable, it is often easier to take steps prior to the divorce being final. While you can individually file for bankruptcy after your divorce is final, filing a joint bankruptcy petition while your marriage is still legally binding can save you money and it can also save time during the divorce process. Here is why:

If you file a joint petition, you are paying half the legal fees of filing individual petitions.

During the divorce, your debts will be divided but you will continue to have legal responsibility for any joint debts. This is because your credit was used to obtain the loan, credit card, etc. and while your ex will be responsible for making payments, those debts will continue to show on your credit report. This means that if they do not pay or are late, your credit will be impacted.

It also means their bankruptcy will impact your credit, even if it takes place after the divorce. Knowing that, it is often easier to reach the agreement to file a joint bankruptcy petition together and address all of your debts at one time. You can then continue with your divorce with some of the financial aspects of the case already resolved.

Filing for bankruptcy and divorce can be overwhelming, making it in your best interest to call my office for legal advice as quickly as possible. When you need a bankruptcy attorney that is also familiar with family law, I am the attorney for you.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Can I Change My Bankruptcy Lawyer During the Proceedings?

November 25, 2016

bankruptcy attorneyAs a bankruptcy lawyer, I sometimes get calls from people who have already filed for bankruptcy and want to know if they can switch attorneys. This tends to occur when clients are not satisfied with the way the bankruptcy proceedings are going, and want to change their attorney in hopes to reach a different outcome. The reality is that you always have the right to change who is providing you with professional services and this includes your bankruptcy attorney.

If you are not satisfied, or simply want someone else to represent you, you can remove and replace your attorney. If you are considering doing so, then there are several things that you need to take into consideration first.

What You Need to Know

I highly recommend that you schedule a consultation before you make this kind of decision. In order to properly advise you about your rights, and your ability to improve the situation, I will need to go over all of the elements of the bankruptcy. I will also need to properly brief you about the pros and cons of replacing your lawyer in the middle of the proceedings.

Before you start considering replacing your bankruptcy lawyer, you need to first be aware of the drawbacks to doing so in the middle of a proceeding. If, after weighing all of the negatives of doing so, you still want to make the change, I will be happy to assist you.

Here are some of the reasons that making an attorney change in the middle of the bankruptcy can be difficult:

  • It can cause delays in the bankruptcy process typically because the courts require filing the paperwork to remove the former attorney and to replace them with your new bankruptcy attorney.
  • Another potential source of conflict involves any fees that you have already paid the previous bankruptcy attorney. You may or may not be able to retrieve these and you need to take this into consideration depending on your financial circumstances.
  • You may have to pay additional fees. This could be worthwhile if you are not getting the kind of representation that you desire.
  • Finally, you also need to understand it is probably going to be more work for you because you will need to explain your circumstances again and go over everything that has transpired thus far.

For many of the clients who come to see me wanting to replace their bankruptcy lawyer, none of these is a serious factor because the effort and expense are less than the potential reward.

Again I cannot stress how important it is that you weigh all the pros and cons of replacing your bankruptcy attorney, especially if you are in the middle of a bankruptcy proceeding.  Like with all service professionals, it is critical that you get the representation you are comfortable with it, can afford, and gives you the kind of service that you expect. When you schedule a consultation, I can go over the details of your case, reasons for wanting to make the move and give you sound advice regarding how to proceed. Then, it will be up to you to determine if making a move is worth it.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Hiring a Family Attorney Can Protect Your Interests

November 15, 2016

Family-AttorneyIf you are getting a divorce, then you need a family attorney to represent your best interests and ensure that you receive the best possible treatment by the Family Law Courts. Too many people make the assumption, especially in the case of a non-acrimonious divorce, that they can get through the process without the right legal representation; this is a fallacy.

It is important to protect your interests since it is very easy for a divorce, which is inherently emotional, to get out of control and turn acrimonious at the drop of a hat.

A Divorce is More of a Business Transaction

For many clients, it is important to understand that a divorce is not necessarily an emotional set of decisions. Rather, a divorce is best looked at as a business transaction where your family attorney is going to work to get you as much as possible. An attorney will also ensure that you are treated fairly and that your interests are protected.

You would never enter into a business transaction, which involves contracts, without having your attorney look over the agreements. Similarly, in family law cases, it is important to have your family attorney on the front lines to ensure that you do not get the worst end of the deal. Even if you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can agree on most things it is important to have an attorney look over the paperwork just to make sure that it does not contain any potentially harmful provisions. In addition, having a third-party involved on your side smooths out any potential wrinkles before they occur.

Preparing for the Long-Term Impact

It is vital that as someone involved in divorce proceedings, you understand that a divorce is going to have a long-term impact on the rest of your life. This is especially true if there are small children involved. In cases involving children, one or the other party is more than likely going to have to pay child support for a very long time. In cases like this, you would be surprised at how quickly the proceedings turn bitter.

Children bring out some of the best and some of the worst emotions in their parents. It is important, therefore, if you have children that are young, and understand that there are going to be custody issues, parenting plan requirements, and any kind of money exchanging hands, that your best interests are protected with the help of your own family attorney.

Even if your case does not involve children, the judge will be dividing your assets. This means that the house that you bought together, the business that you may have built together, any stocks and bonds you may have acquired, and even those precious Christmas ornaments are on the chopping block. By not being represented adequately by a family attorney of your choosing, you could lose these assets.

Losing your home in a divorce can be economically devastating. Thus, it is important when you look at a divorce that you look at it, not in a matter of months or weeks, but as a long-term situation that you are going to have to recover from. Essentially, you are making a decision that is going to financially and emotionally impact you for the next decade, at least, and so it is always advisable to be properly represented by an attorney. As one, I am happy to assist you.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Risk vs. Reward of Going to Trial: An Analysis by a Divorce Attorney

November 1, 2016

Divorce-AttorneyIf you are going through a divorce, hiring a divorce attorney is in your best interest, regardless of whether or not it is amicable. A divorce is a complex legal process. It helps to have someone on your side that understands the law, the process, and what it takes to protect your interests. In a situation like this, a lack of understanding can create problems for you down the road; a risk that is not worth taking. It is important to note, however, that hiring an attorney does not mean you will end up in court.

As one, I work with my clients to analyze the pros and cons of settling outside of court or proceeding with a trial. This decision should be made using a calculated approach whenever possible because there are benefits to both.

Risk of Going to Trial

here are two of several clear risks one may face when going before a judge.

Unpredictability

There is no way to know what is going to happen when you go to trial. There is no way to guarantee what evidence will be presented by the other side, what witnesses will take the stand, how they will perform under questioning, or what the judge will decide. We can prepare, go over all potential outcomes, and make a strong case in court.

Still, there is a level of unpredictability that cannot be avoided because all of these decisions will be in the hands of the judge. At this point, you will no longer be in control of what you give and what you take. Ultimately, the judge has complete authority and for many people, this is a risk that is too high to take. On the other hand, as your divorce attorney, I can help you to negotiate a settlement where you will have more control over what you agree to and what you do not.

High Cost

It takes a lot of time to prepare for a trial and you never know how long the trial itself will take. As such, the cost to you is significantly higher than it would be if you tried to settle outside of court.

Potential Rewards

Some of the benefits of going to trial are:

  • Forced compromise. Typically, a judge will not issue a ruling that is completely one-sided. If your spouse is refusing to negotiate and compromise, going to trial is likely to reach a more favorable outcome than simply agreeing to their one-sided terms.
  • Your rights are protected. If your spouse is attempting to take away or infringe upon your parental rights, going to trial is the best way to protect them because the judge will make a ruling and orders will be entered. Your then ex-spouse will be forced to abide by them, even if they don't want to.
  • You may get a better deal. While subjective, if you do not like any of the terms being offered through negotiations, you may as well fight for a better deal.

Schedule a Consultation with a Divorce Attorney

To discuss your case and whether you should settle or go to court, call and schedule a consultation with my office.

It Is Wise to Speak with a Divorce Lawyer Even if You and Your Ex Get Along

October 15, 2016

Divorce-LawyerAs a divorce lawyer, I will tell you that even easy divorces require the help of an experienced attorney. Since a divorce is a legal proceeding, most couples are unfamiliar with the process and may make inadvertent mistakes that can lead to future disputes or financial consequences. The second a single complication arises, the merest of wrinkles, you are going to need the services of a divorce lawyer to guide you through the legal system and protect your best interests. A wrinkle can be something as simple as a disagreement over who gets to keep the cat, and the court sometimes needs to step in to determine visitation. Given the potential for complications, working with an attorney from the very beginning is in your best interest.

A divorce is one of the fastest ways to realize just how entangled with your spouse your life is, and you need a divorce lawyer on your side to prevent you from getting legally or financially harmed during the untangling. Whether the issue is the kids or the house, you want to make sure that you are protected. For example, what would happen if you forgot to address your retirement accounts? Do you need a special order to access those funds in the future? These are things that you would not know without legal training. Thus, even divorcing couples that get along should have an attorney to help with the paperwork, something that I can do for an affordable fee.

The Risk of Representing Yourself

As a divorce lawyer, I know that many people are convinced of their own ability to represent themselves, often even when they are faced with a divorce attorney on the other side of the table. This is not a good idea. An experienced lawyer knows exactly how to use the law to give their client the most benefit during the divorce proceedings. In addition, when you have a lawyer on your side we know how to bring forward the most salient points in your favor while exposing the challenges with your spouse's lawyer's arguments. If you choose to go it alone, you are going to have to figure out how to counter their arguments and provide the legal standing for doing so. Rather than taking your chances, where you are most likely going to come out at the losing end, you should have your own attorney to argue for you.

Perhaps the most important phase of a divorce and the one where you will need a divorce lawyer to guide the proceedings happens before you ever make it to court. Discovery is critically important because it allows us to find out everything there is to know about your opponent, soon to be former spouse. In addition, when I am doing discovery I will be looking for possible holes in your former spouse's case. Every case must have a counter case, and so as we are getting ready for your divorce I will need to look at as much information as is provided by your spouse's divorce lawyer and plan our own counter arguments.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

It Is Wise to Speak with a Divorce Lawyer Even if You and Your Ex Get Along

October 3, 2016

Divorce LawyerAs a divorce lawyer, I will tell you that even easy divorces require the help of an experienced attorney. Since a divorce is a legal proceeding, most couples are unfamiliar with the process and may make inadvertent mistakes that can lead to future disputes or financial consequences. The second a single complication arises, the merest of wrinkles, you are going to need the services of a divorce lawyer to guide you through the legal system and protect your best interests. A wrinkle can be something as simple as a disagreement over who gets to keep the cat, and the court sometimes needs to step in to determine visitation. Given the potential for complications, working with an attorney from the very beginning is in your best interest.

A divorce is one of the fastest ways to realize just how entangled with your spouse your life is, and you need a divorce lawyer on your side to prevent you from getting legally or financially harmed during the untangling. Whether the issue is the kids or the house, you want to make sure that you are protected. For example, what would happen if you forgot to address your retirement accounts? Do you need a special order to access those funds in the future? These are things that you would not know without legal training. Thus, even divorcing couples that get along should have an attorney to help with the paperwork, something that I can do for an affordable fee.

The Risk of Representing Yourself

As a divorce lawyer, I know that many people are convinced of their own ability to represent themselves, often even when they are faced with a divorce attorney on the other side of the table. This is not a good idea. An experienced lawyer knows exactly how to use the law to give their client the most benefit during the divorce proceedings. In addition, when you have a lawyer on your side we know how to bring forward the most salient points in your favor while exposing the challenges with your spouse’s lawyer's arguments. If you choose to go it alone, you are going to have to figure out how to counter their arguments and provide the legal standing for doing so. Rather than taking your chances, where you are most likely going to come out at the losing end, you should have your own attorney to argue for you.

Perhaps the most important phase of a divorce and the one where you will need a divorce lawyer to guide the proceedings happens before you ever make it to court. Discovery is critically important because it allows us to find out everything there is to know about your opponent, soon to be former spouse. In addition, when I am doing discovery I will be looking for possible holes in your former spouse’s case. Every case must have a counter case, and so as we are getting ready for your divorce I will need to look at as much information as is provided by your spouse’s divorce lawyer and plan our own counter arguments.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Why a Custody Attorney Uses Expert Witnesses

September 15, 2016

child custody attorneyAs a child custody attorney, it is important for me to help clients focus on what really matters and the facts of the case. Often, parents get involved in the emotion of the case and find themselves focused on the dislike they feel for each other. The objective in any custody case is not to air your differences — you are already in a divorce court — but to try to get the best custody arrangement for your child or children. As such, it becomes important that you do not allow for personal dislike, the emotional attachment parents you feel toward their children, or the desire to hurt the other parent financially to cloud your judgement. To prevent this, I try to take all the emotion out of any discussion when it comes to child custody issues. I understand that it is difficult to do so as a parent, but we need to focus on the facts so that your chances of success are improved.

The Children

There is one standard that the court pays attention to when determining who the child should spend the majority of their time with. In many cases, the judge will simply take all the evidence provided by the child custody attorney on each side of the case, and evaluate what is the best situation for the child. Judges tend to favor maintaining the status quo when it comes to the children’s living and school situation. If one of the parents wants to make a move and change the child’s current situation, they will have to prove that there is a distinct need for the child to go with them. This is not something that usually happens, so if you are a parent who is planning a relocation, you need to be aware that there is an uphill battle in front of you. As your child custody attorney, I can fight this battle for you, but need time to prepare a strong case. This is not to say that it cannot happen, but it will take preparation, lack of emotion, demonstration of evidence, and making sure we have a definite strategy from day one.

Expert Opinions

One of the tools I can use, as a child custody attorney, is the testimony of an expert. I will often request that experts be brought in to properly evaluate the situation of the children and make a determination of which parent is better for them to live with. At other times, the judge will appoint a guardian ad litem in the case. In addition, parents can benefit greatly from hiring experts in the field to testify on their behalf. Statistics show that judges place a great deal of stock in the opinion of experts. In fact, in cases where an expert was brought in to testify, these typically resulted in the judge following the expert’s advice roughly 90 percent of the time. The reasons for this is that judges understand that they need advice and guidance when it comes to difficult situations involving children. As a child custody attorney, I know how powerful the testimony of an expert can be, and are particularly vigilant when it comes to dealing with experts who may have been hired by the other side.

Take Time

While you may want to rush your divorce, you need to remember that the results of your trial will be long-lasting. It is often better to take the time necessary to work with an attorney to adequately prepare your case, hire the experts, and to demonstrate why your proposals are in the best interest of your children. To discuss this further, call my office and schedule a consultation.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

A Family Lawyer Explains Divorce Decrees and Legal Options Once the Divorce is Over

September 1, 2016

family-lawyerAs a family lawyer, I know that just because a divorce case is over, your life is not. Things have to go on for you and your former spouse in the shadow of the divorce. Regardless of how much money was spent on the case, how many resources were distributed, or how the judge allocated the debts, each one of you will have to adjust to the new reality. This reality involves lower finances, potential child support payments, alimony, being solely responsible for credit card and other debts, and a host of other financial issues that arrive in the aftermath of going through a divorce. As a family lawyer, I know that this is a critical time for my clients, and so it is important that you start to look at these factors immediately after the divorce decree is finalized and all the dust has settled.

Understanding Your Divorce Decree

The first thing I recommend as your family lawyer is to make sure you fully understand the decree that has been handed down and all its financial implications. Naturally, there will be a change in your circumstances regardless of what those are. For some clients, this means you will be solely responsible for the children and all the expenses that go into caring for them. This also means you will have an added income with the child support your former spouse will be required to pay you. One note of caution from a family lawyer: never rely fully on the child support payments from your former spouse. There are literally hundreds of delinquent child support cases and actions pending before the courts of America, so it is much more advisable that you ensure you can care for yourself and your children without the child support. On the other hand, some parents may find themselves having to pay child support. You want to make sure to account for this in your monthly budgeting, as failure to pay it could result in harsh consequences, like jail time.

Typically, if one spouse has been awarded primary residence of the home that the couple lived in, they will have a set period of time during which to remove the other spouse from the loan and title documents. If you are the person who has been awarded the house, you want to make sure not to miss this deadline, as it could have serious consequences, including a requirement to sell your home. On the other side of the equation, if you have lost the house, you want to make sure that your former spouse takes the steps to remove you from the loan and title as soon as possible. If you do not, there is always a chance you are stuck with their bad financial decisions, and this could negatively affect your credit.

If your former spouse fails to follow through on complying with the court orders, you can take them back to court. As a family lawyer, I represent clients that need to file a "contempt of court" claim against their ex-spouse due to a failure to follow the divorce decree.

Get Help After Your Divorce

I can assist you, even after your divorce is complete. If you have questions regarding your divorce decree or how to handle your ex not following it, call my office and schedule an appointment to go over your legal options.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

You Need a Child Custody Lawyer for a Modification Request

August 15, 2016

Child Custody LawyerI recommend that clients engage a child custody lawyer from very early on in the divorce proceedings because people realize that a custody agreement, or a parenting plan, is something they will have to live with for a long time. It is important to remember that whenever you are dealing with the custody of a child, the judge will only consider what they believe to be relevant to the child's safety and security. Both the family law court and child custody lawyers refer to this as being in the best interest of the child. Now, if you speak to a variety of parents who have had different experiences with the court system, you will get a hundred different opinions on whether or not the process is fair, unbiased, and actually in the best interest of the child. However, from the purpose of a parent who is trying to get custody of their child, it is important that you work with an aggressive child custody lawyer who can help get you the best possible custody arrangements from your perspective. Remember, the judge has no prior knowledge of your circumstances or situations, and how the court case is presented is the only thing the judge has to go off of when making a decision. You should also remember, as stated earlier, that a parenting plan, or custody agreement, can last throughout childhood, until they turn into an adult.

Modifications

Often, as a child custody lawyer, I am faced with parents who have had a child custody agreement in place for some time and want to see modification to the plan. It is important that you know that courts tend to favor keeping the status quo when it comes to a parenting plan, and you will need to demonstrate a very strong case for why the former parenting plan should be modified. In most cases, the court will side with its own earlier decision, believing that it gave the custody to the parent who was able to provide the most safety, security, and stability to the child. If, however, I can demonstrate to the court that circumstances have changed in a way that directly impacts the child, there is a potential for getting a hearing and maybe even modifying the parenting plan. Unless there are a confluence of certain circumstances or the other parent commits certain acts, getting a child custody agreement modified is a long shot at best, and if you are going to attempt one, you need to consult with a child custody lawyer, who can advise you on whether it is a good idea and how to best proceed.

Every case is different, which is why it is important to have me, as your child custody lawyer, look at your specific situation. I know reasons why a family court would look at modifying an existing parenting plan must meet very narrow guidelines. Some examples of reasons why the court would make a major modification include if the other parent has been convicted of custodial interference, if the other parent has willfully abandoned the child, if the custodial parent of somebody in their household has been convicted of a sex crime or is a registered sex offender, or if you can prove a history of domestic violence, assault, sexual assault, or a pattern of emotional abuse.

We can discuss all of your options regarding child custody when you come in for a consultation.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

The Purpose of Bankruptcy Law and How it Can Work for You

August 1, 2016

Bankruptcy LawWhen it comes to bankruptcy law, I often have people come to me extremely concerned about the idea of filing for bankruptcy. People believe that just because you are filing bankruptcy, there's an underlying stigma associated with it and the idea that you are actually bankrupt. This social and financial stigma is one of the reasons many people think of bankruptcy, and bankruptcy law, as a last alternative once they have exhausted all other options. The reality is that as a bankruptcy attorney, I understand that it may be in your best interest to simply consolidate your debts and get a fresh start, where you might be able to get control over your previously unmanageable financial commitments.

If you find yourself being hounded by creditors, have unmanageable unsecured debt, and are reaching the end of your tether, bankruptcy may be your best option. Bankruptcy law gives you a legal way to get out of the stifling debts you are facing.

Did you know that one of the most frequent reasons why people take advantage of bankruptcy law is to get rid of the debt collectors who are harassing them?  It is true and if you are being hounded by collectors, this is an option for ending the harassment.

What You Should Know

There are certain things you need to know about bankruptcy and bankruptcy law. Since bankruptcy is an extremely complicated legal process, it is always in your best interest to work with an attorney who is well versed in bankruptcy law. With knowledge and experience, I can pay attention to the details of the law and guide you through the entire process, avoiding any legal pitfalls that may occur along the way. With regard to bankruptcy law, however, it is important to understand that bankruptcy laws are designed in order to give people a second chance. Bankruptcy law is simply designed for you to take accountability for your own inability to pay all the debt you owe so that you can work to reestablish yourself in the future.

There are two main types of bankruptcies that an individual or couple can file for.  If you want to wipe out the majority of your debts, you can file for a liquidation bankruptcy.  This is the type of bankruptcy where your assets may be sold to pay a portion of the debts that you owe and after that, any remaining debts will be wiped out.  However, not everyone qualifies for this type of bankruptcy and if you do, that does not mean that all of your assets have to be sold.  This is where having a good attorney on your side is helpful.

You can also file for a reorganization bankruptcy that will allow you to create a payment plan so that your creditors receive a smaller monthly payment.  Over the course of several years, you will pay part of what you owe on a monthly basis and the rest will be written off.

Both are good options but it is important to schedule a consultation to discuss bankruptcy law, your objectives, and which solution will be best for you.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Tips from a Bankruptcy Lawyer on Recovering Financially

July 20, 2016

bankruptcy-lawyerOne of the most important things I do as a bankruptcy lawyer is to provide clients with hope after the bankruptcy. For too many people, there exists a stigma attached to bankruptcy, where they feel like they have failed their responsibilities financially. It is important to remember that a bankruptcy is actually a protection that is intended to provide you with a fresh financial start. What you need to do is put in the work so a fresh start can work for you — to take control of your finances and help you rebuild a positive credit rating. Going through the process with a bankruptcy lawyer is certainly not the end of your financial journey. It is therefore very important to make a comprehensive plan that will allow you to take the maximum benefit from having a successful bankruptcy filing. The decisions you will need to make can be complex and will include some of the same financial decisions that may have led you down the road to the bankruptcy in the first place. After having gone through all your finances, you will have a better idea of what it takes to live beneath your means, and never allow yourself to be in that position again.

Avoid Common Mistakes

Among the mistakes I find that my clients make, is having poor financial planning after the bankruptcy. If you have a hard time budgeting, you should consider having a financial adviser who can help you plan for the future. One of the most critical piece of advice I can give you as your bankruptcy lawyer in the aftermath of the bankruptcy is not to make the mistake of believing that since you are out of debt, your financial problems are going to disappear. Instead, you will need to create and live by a budget so that you do not find yourself in a situation where your expenses exceed your income, starting you down the spiral that led to the bankruptcy in the first place. A bankruptcy is a last option, and so it is important that you make decisions with an eye to the future so I do not have to represent you a second time.

As a bankruptcy lawyer, I have dealt with many different clients in many different circumstances. There are two patterns that are very distinct, and you should seek to avoid them once your bankruptcy has been approved. The first is experiencing major life events that lead to not being able to afford to financially survive. These events can include serious medical problems, the loss of a job, a death in the family, or a divorce. All these life situations can happen at unexpected times, but once you are done with your bankruptcy, you should consider putting in place a contingency plan in the event that you have to deal with this kind of crisis situation in the future.  For example, making sure that you are properly insured or having a plan for how to cut expenses in the event of a job loss.

The second set of circumstances that causes trouble is living on credit cards, using one source of credit to pay for another, borrowing from payday loan stores, or borrowing at high interest rates with many of fees attached. It is important that once you are done with the bankruptcy process and I am no longer involved in advising your finances, you avoid these kinds of habits because continuing to follow these patterns could lead you right back to the doors of my office with the need for a bankruptcy lawyer.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Learn What the Court Considers in a Custody Case from a Divorce Attorney

July 1, 2016

divorce-attorneyYou need a divorce attorney to be an advocate for you, your rights, and those of your children.  This is because getting divorced is complicated, and failing to understand the court system can hurt you in the long-term. This is especially true when fighting for custody.  You need to understand that the court looks at what is in the best interest of your child.

Defining "Best Interest"

The court tries to be a neutral third-party that can identify what is going to provide the most stable, secure, and happy life for your child.

Things to Consider

What will allow your child to remain in the same home?

The court prefers this because it means that your child does not have to move and that they have the familiarity of being with their same things, in their same room, neighborhood, etc.  These are all things that can help them to survive this emotional time without a lot of stress.

How can you keep your child in the same school?

Even if you are both moving out of the family home, what can you do to stay in the school district or neighborhood so that they do not have to change schools?  This is a critical aspect of a custody decision because school and the friendships your child develops there are considered to be an important part of their support system.

Will your child be able to see their siblings?

In situations where families are blended, a child could grow up with step-siblings and establish strong bonds with them.  If a child has known someone for their entire life, they will feel a deep sense of loss if that relationship is gone. The same is true for grandparents and close family.  A parenting plan needs to take this into consideration in order to preserve relationships as much as possible.

Does your child need any additional assistance?

If your child has a medical issue or disability, what support or services do they require?  Is one parent better equipped or able to provide them?  If so, it is important to make the case as to why that is and to back it up with evidence.

Is one parent obligated to travel for work?

The issue of stability is front and center at all times.  If one parent has to travel for work all of the time, that could leave a child bouncing from babysitter to babysitter.  In that case, a more stable option could be to have that parent spend time with the child on the weekend or outside of work hours.

As a divorce attorney, I can review all of the aspects of your case, let you know what is and isn't in your favor and then build a case for why you should spend the most amount of time with your child.

Speak with a Divorce Attorney Today

If you are considering getting a divorce, you need to speak with an attorney as quickly as possible. This complex legal process can leave you at a disadvantage if you are unrepresented and your spouse has an attorney. To make sure that it is an even playing field, call our office and schedule a consultation.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Family AttorneyAs a family attorney, most of the clients that I work with ask questions about how to divide their assets.  This is understandable considering how much most people own.  It is not only the major things like a home and cars but also IRAs and retirement accounts, household furniture, art, tools, and even clothes.  Literally, every item that you own must be assigned to one or both of you during the divorce.  This can be incredibly tedious but it can also be overwhelming. With that in mind, here are some frequently asked questions about dividing assets and my answers to them -

Can I keep what I owned when we got married?

This is something that we can request during the divorce process but it is not going to happen as a matter of fact.  We need to identify the items or assets that you owned prior to getting married and if your spouse disputes it, we will need to provide evidence to prove your prior ownership. Otherwise, everything you both own will be treated like shared or community property.

Will I get to keep my own retirement account?

The answer to this really depends on the circumstances of your marriage.  For example, if you were both working and contributing to individual retirement accounts, it is likely that you will simply keep the one that is yours.  If, however, one of you was financially supporting the other or you decided to invest in one person's 401k and not the other, this can lead to your retirement accounts being divided during the divorce process.

Who is going to keep the house?

As a family attorney, I find this to be the most difficult asset to divide because it is typically the largest asset that any couple owns.  A home can be full of equity due to years of making on-time payments.  However, it is also full of family memories.  This makes it hard to determine who gets to stay and who must go.  This conversation needs to occur at the beginning of the separation since it influences who will live where.  If you want to retain primary custody of the children, you should try to remain in the home since this will provide them with a level of stability.

How are the house and other assets divided?

Every asset that you own can be turned into a number or value.  This is entirely impersonal, but that is how a judge can easily decide what happens with all of your assets.  Essentially, everything  you own is given a value.  In some cases an appraisal is done while other times, you may both agree on the value or use something like purchase receipts.  Once all of your assets are valued, they can be listed on  a spreadsheet so that the judge can divide your assets down the middle based on actual numbers.  This way, if one person gets the house, the other will get an equal value in other assets.

Schedule a Consultation

As a family attorney, I can answer more questions about dividing assets and ensure that you remain protected throughout the divorce process.

Divorce LawyerAs a divorce lawyer, one of the hardest things for me to explain to a client is that a family court judge is not always an unbiased observer. Essentially, what this means is that a family law judge is a person just like everybody else and can be influenced by their own biases. While we would like to think that all judges approach the legal issues with no bias, the truth is that the judgments they make are often colored by their own preferences or real-life experiences. Cultural norms, local customs, the social and political influences of the judges themselves, and a number of other factors also influence the outcome of a divorce. Because I understand this, I prepare for the judges whom we are placed in front of. By understanding the judge themselves, I get a sense of where they're leaning and what their preferences are.  This is the type of information that only a local lawyer would know.  My time in front of Kitsap County family court judges has led to me having this information.  This means that I can be better prepared than a Seattle or Tacoma lawyer to handle your local divorce case.

I Can Help You to Settle Your Case

Perhaps the easiest way to get things resolved in any divorce case is to come to an agreement between you and your former spouse. This often is most easily accomplished with the help of your divorce lawyer, who can negotiate with the divorce lawyer on the other side. I know that many times, there is a great deal of emotion involved in the divorce, which leads to conflict. At the end of the day, I also know that when you create agreements, such as an alimony agreement or a parenting plan, these emotions can conflict with what a judge may or may not find to be acceptable. If I am able to be a conduit of agreement on all the things that can be agreed upon, it makes going before the judge much less of an "all or nothing" affair.

Understanding the Process

There is a certain practicality that has to be accepted when you are dealing with a divorce situation. Various rules about getting divorced must be followed, a strict time line is laid out by the court, and there's a number of other legally complicated procedures that I, as your divorce lawyer, will be able to successfully navigate through. One of the most important things you can remember is that the judge is required to be as fair as possible, and while their own biases may come into play, by and large, the judge will try to do the ethical thing and split property equally between the two separate houses. Most often, complications arise when it comes to the children, parenting plan, and any alimony that the court may or may not award.

Explaining Your Position

One of the pieces of advice I give all my clients is to write any documents that may be presented to the court as if a family law judge was looking over your shoulder. This allows you to try to explain your position in a way that is as clear as possible.  I can help you to do so.

Get Help from a Kitsap Divorce Lawyer

I can provide you with local legal representation.  Call my office to schedule an appointment today.

Family-LawyerAs an experienced family lawyer , I will tell you that when you are getting into a divorce situation, no matter how friendly the terms may be and no matter how well you get along with your soon-to-be former spouse, you should consider hiring a lawyer as soon as possible. This is because even in the friendliest of cases, once you start talking about things like custody of your children, separation of your assets, and who gets the family china, there are often hurt feelings and this leads to a contentious, or ugly divorce which can drag on for a very long time. In a situation like this, you want to make sure that you have legal representation that can guide you through the process of divorce, and ensure that you are properly represented so that you do not have a judgment that is completely against your best interest.

As a family lawyer , one of the first things I want you to know is that when you get involved in a divorce there's often a court-appointed timeline that you have to meet. As a lawyer, I know exactly what those deadlines are, and how to properly file the court documents and handle other legal procedures while meeting them. If you are not an attorney and decide that you want to try to do it yourself, you may struggle with the deadlines and fail to meet them. If you do not address the proper protocols when filling out and filing certain required legal documents, you could file too late or even have something thrown out which is not in your best interest. Judges tend to frown upon procedures not being followed and if your spouse has adequate legal representation chances are they're going to get all the documents properly filed and handled with the correct legal procedures. This puts you at a distinct disadvantage unless you have your own family lawyer there representing you.

It is critical that you remember that you end up in a fight for your children's future. When you are looking at situations like this you want to have access to things like expert witnesses or private detectives that are able to gather evidence that can be introduced at the correct time.  Whether you need to have a guardian ad litem appointed to monitor your spouse's behavior with your children, or whether you want to move out of the state and take your children with you, all of these things need to be addressed in the proper manner. To make sure that you do this, you need to have a family attorney who understands the procedures, is able to present your case in the proper light, and is able to get the judge to rule in your favor along the way. Since family law case is often decided in increments, especially when there is any kind of accusations of abuse, you need to remain repaired at all times and not just when going to trial.

For assistance with your divorce or custody case, call my office.


Why You Should Hire an Attorney


May 19, 2016


AttorneyAs an attorney, I know that not every legal dispute requires the use of a lawyer. For example, if you're fighting in small claims court, are trying to get a speeding ticket dismissed or have some other small situation which involves a legal dispute, chances are you can get by without an attorney try to represent yourself with only minimal risk. When there is very little on the line, the risk is extremely low. However, if you get into a seriously sticky situation where you are litigating something that can significantly impact your financial or personal future, then you will want to consider hiring the right attorney. Many jokes have been cracked at the expense of attorneys, however in the legal justice system, there is nobody who can be a greater ally for you and help you through a bad situation than the right lawyer.

Here are a few reasons that you should consider hiring an attorney: if you find yourself in the middle of a bad divorce, have lost a job and need to file for bankruptcy or have been hurt or injured. One critical point to remember is that you are not the only one who has access to attorneys, which means there is a good chance that the person on the other end of the lawsuit could have one as well. If you are a party to a lawsuit you need to have the right representation from somebody who can carefully guide you through the minefield that can be the court system.

The simplest reason for you to need an attorney is because the law itself is extremely complicated. There are many hundreds of thousands of laws on the books, each of which has nuances and case law to back it up. An experienced attorney has not only studied to give you the right guidance but also understands that they need to look at all aspects of the case and provide you with the best opportunity to win your lawsuit. Even the most seasoned attorneys will often not represent themselves when they are going to court for a personal matter.

This brings up the second reason why you need an attorney. A solid case can quickly unravel if you are emotionally invested in the case itself. As an experienced attorney, I can remain calm and calculatedly take apart the facts to make sure that I provide you with the best representation when you go in front of a judge or a jury. The law is extremely cold in many regards, which is why you need to have a representative who is able to guide you through it without overly involved emotions. It is important that you have somebody who focuses on the law and can find the best angle to present to the judge or the jury so that you have the best opportunity to win your case.

Hiring an attorney means that you will have the best advocate to properly represent your situation. To discuss your case specifically, call my office and schedule a consultation.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

A Bankruptcy Attorney Explains the Reaffirmation Process


April 28, 2016


Bankruptcy AttorneyAs a bankruptcy attorney, I know that there are many nuances to consider when you file bankruptcy. One of the most interesting situations that can arise is when a debtor wishes to pay a debt, even though that debt would be properly discharged during the bankruptcy. For example, a debtor may wish to keep a vehicle which they might otherwise lose in the bankruptcy. As a result, they enter into what is known as a reaffirmation agreement with the lender. As a bankruptcy attorney, it is my job to advise my clients on the pros and cons of any situation where a debt is being renegotiated with an agreement to make payments, even though the debt may have been discharged during the bankruptcy proceedings. It is important therefore to fully brief me about your situation and let me know if there are any debts that you would like to keep and may want to negotiate via a reaffirmation agreement. These situations can often become tricky so you will need the full advice and guidance of an attorney.

Here's what you need to know when you start considering things like a reaffirmation agreement. The first thing you should know is that not all lenders agree to a reaffirmation agreement. Knowing what the stance of the lender is on reaffirming debt versus the return and pay option is very critical for how you proceed with the negotiation. As a bankruptcy attorney, I have seen many such situations and can properly guide you through the process and procedure that will allow your reaffirmation to occur, or not occur, depending on what the courts decide. It is important to remember that when you are entering into a bankruptcy, with the help of a bankruptcy attorney, that the courts are ultimately going to try and decide what is in the best interest of you, the debtor while also looking out for the interests of the creditor.

As your bankruptcy attorney, it is important for me to tell you that the courts may or may not agree with your reaffirmation agreement. The first thing that happens is that a hearing will be set. You will receive a written notice of the hearing date and time. I can appear representing you, but it is always recommended you appear as well. This is because the judge may have very specific questions about why you want to reaffirm and agree to pay back this particular debt while they also look at your capacity to pay back the debt overall. It is important that you have all of your answers prepared and are able to explain properly why your financial situation allows you to make this reaffirmation agreement but still go through with the bankruptcy.

The court will not allow you to reaffirm a debt that is 2 or 3 times the value of what the debt should actually be.  Lenders must come with a fair proposal and payment schedule so that you are getting refreshed after the bankruptcy. As your bankruptcy attorney, I can also make sure that you know all of the laws and can carefully navigate around all of the nuances in situations that often occur when you're dealing with the legal justice system.

Call a Child Custody Lawyer if Things Have Changed


April 01, 2016


 Child Custody LawyerAs a child custody lawyer, I am regularly contacted by parents who are concerned that the decree given in their divorce is no longer working for their family. This is all too common especially if the divorce occurred when the children were very young. It is entirely unreasonable to assume that life will never change, that your child will never need a different experience, or that you or your ex-spouse will not have any changes to your job schedule, your income, or your relationship status. Life moves on and as it does, your current custody arrangement may need to be adjusted. If this is the case, call and schedule an appointment with my office.

Some of the reasons to request changes are:

  • You getting a new job.
  • A change in your income.
  • Your child wanting to change schools.
  • The need for additional medical care or therapy for your child.
  • Your ex-spouse getting remarried.

Your Child May Set the Pace

As a child custody lawyer, I am typically contacted for adjustments to the parenting plan because one or both parents have experienced a change in their lifestyle. One of the more common ones is a job change that results in either a relocation, an adjustment in income, or a significant change in schedule and availability for caring for the child. However, there also times where your child may set the pace and be the one that is initiating the change. This tends to happen more frequently with older children and teens. For example, a child getting ready to leave middle school may request to go to a private high school or one that is outside of their current district. If you and your ex cannot agree on how to handle the situation, the only way to resolve it will be to go to court. Similarly, your child may be residing with one of you on a full-time basis and want to spend more time with both parents. If they are making this request it is one that both of you should consider honoring. If you can not agree, this too could result in you ending up in court. In any of these cases it is important to hire an attorney that can protect your interest and that of your child.

Establishing Visitation

As a child custody lawyer I can also help with establishing visitation. Many of my clients realize that they are the parent of a child but legal parentage has never been established. In Washington State, there are very specific forms that must be filed in order for you to legally be considered the parent of a child. For example, you and the mother may need to sign this form and have it on file with the Department of Health and Social Services. If this never happened, the mother could say that you are not the father or simply deny your parental rights. If this is happening to you, you don't have to stand for it. You can go after visitation or joint custody by establishing parentage and your rights as the child's father. This can be a complicated process so it is wise to engage the services of an attorney. If you would like to discuss your rights and the options available to you, call and schedule an appointment with my office today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bankruptcy Law and Washington State Exemptions


March 30, 2016


Bankruptcy LawAs an attorney, I can provide you with information about bankruptcy law and give you advice regarding the type of bankruptcy that would work best for your particular financial situation. Understanding that each person and family is unique, I believe in making personalized recommendations after discussing your financial goals, current income, and debt load. The best way to get your specific questions answered is to schedule a consultation. In the meantime, here are a few frequently asked questions and my answers to them:

How can bankruptcy help me?

When you file for bankruptcy, you have the possibility of either eliminating your unsecured debts or restructuring your debts so they can be paid back over time. Essentially, you can eliminate your obligation to pay most of your debts so you can start over.

Can bankruptcy stop a wage garnishment?

Yes, it can. Filing for bankruptcy will prevent your wages from being taken unless the garnishment is for child support or tax payments.

Can a bankruptcy stop a repossession or foreclosure?

Yes, bankruptcy law dictates that when you file for bankruptcy, there will be an automatic stay on any collection proceedings. That means that while your case goes through the process, a creditor cannot take your home, car, boat, etc. However, as part of the process, we will be working on a long-term plan for what to do with all your debts and your assets. Any debts that are secured by an asset (like your home) will need to be paid according to the court-approved plan in order to prevent a future foreclosure or repossession.

What is exempt property?

This can be a complex question because there are set bankruptcy laws that dictate what property is exempt and sometimes this is influenced by other factors like how much equity is in it. However, this is actually one of the most important reasons to work with an attorney. I can help to protect your assets and make sure that you get all of the exemptions you qualify for. Exempt property can include your home, car, personal property, and more. The key is knowing what the limit is for each property type, and that is something I can provide you with during a consultation.

What are the types of bankruptcy filings?

The two most common ones are a Chapter 7, which is often referred to as a straight bankruptcy or liquidation bankruptcy, and a Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy. The differences between the two are stark. With a Chapter 7, most of your unsecured debts can be wiped out along with some of your secured debts. To do this, the court may require some of your assets to be sold or liquidated so that your creditors get something. With a Chapter 13, you are creating a plan to pay back a portion of what you owe over time. Creditors will not get the entire amount that is due to them, so you still benefit from making partial payments. The key, however, is that you will be paying what you can afford and the collection actions will stop. Not meant as legal advice. Always speak to the attorney for advice that applies to your specific case.

To learn more about bankruptcy law or to file for bankruptcy, call and schedule a consultation.

Bankruptcy Law and Steps to File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy


March 1, 2016


bankruptcy-lawTo learn more about bankruptcy law, call and schedule a consultation. I can review your financial information, discuss your needs and goals and then make recommendations as to the best way to address them. In many cases, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the ideal solution because it allows for reorganization of debts and monthly payments that are affordable. If your plan is approved by the court, you can make one monthly payment towards your debts and at the end of an established time period, any remaining debt will be wiped out. This is a true win-win when trying to regain control of your financial future. If this sounds like something you would like to pursue, here are the steps involved in the process.

#1 Speak with an attorney.

With expertise in bankruptcy law, I can make sure that you and your assets are protected throughout the process. Once retained, I become your advocate, putting your interest first and ensuring that the way your bankruptcy is structured delivers you the maximum benefit.

#2 Gather information on your assets, income, and debts.

We will review this together in order to create an accurate budget and to determine what you can actually afford to pay towards your debts each month. The goal is not to maximize your payments but to determine a payment amount that is sustainable.

#3 We create a plan.

Your initial plan needs to detail out what you can afford to pay each month and why, how long you plan on making payments, and any other pertinent information.

#4 File for Chapter 13 with the court.

I can file on your behalf.

#5 Creditors are stopped from collecting.

Once your creditors find out that you filed for bankruptcy, they will be barred from pursuing you in an effort to collect on your debts. This can provide you with fast relief from constant collector calls along with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your car will not be repossessed.

#6 A trustee will be appointed for your case.

The court will designate someone as the trustee so that they can make decisions regarding the estate. At this juncture, you should know that the estate is more important than you and your individual wishes. With this in mind, if you want to do something financially that conflicts with preserving the value of the estate, the trustee is likely to deny you.

#7 Notices are sent out.

You and your creditors will receive notices from the trustee and this includes the opportunity to attend a hearing to dispute your repayment plan.

#8 There will be a confirmation hearing.

Once the bankruptcy is approved, you begin making your set monthly payment and continue to do so until all of the payments have been made.

Per bankruptcy law, as long as you make the payments set out in your plan, you will be done paying those particular debts and free from any remaining balances at the end of three to five years. To learn more, schedule a consultation today.


A Child Custody Attorney Reviews the Appeals Process


February 27, 2016


Child Custody AttorneyAs a seasoned child custody attorney, I know that there can be nothing more devastating to a parent than losing the custody of a child to an ex-spouse. There are already emotions there, usually anger and hatred, that are heightened greatly in the event that the family court rules against you in terms of who should have custody and who should be paying child support. As a child custody attorney, the first thing I want to make sure to do is to present our case in such a way that this is never an issue on your end. However, there are cases when the court makes a counter decision, and we are immediately faced with the idea of appealing the decision to a higher court. In family law, this is an appeals court, which consists of three judges.

It is important to understand the basic facts about how the appeals process works, what makes for a good appeal, and why you should think long and hard before appealing a case.

Being a child custody attorney means that I know exactly how the appeals process works and how to present a successful case. As such, I advise my clients that there are very limited circumstances under which an appeals court will overturn the judgment of a family court judge. This is because the appeals court prefers to trust the judgment of their colleagues, meaning there has to be a clear reason for overturning the decision or sending the case back to a lower court for retrial.

  • If there has been a clear and demonstrable egregious error in judgment by the family court judge, as demonstrated by your child custody attorney. Often, this can be in the allocation of child support or some other error that needs to be rectified. Just wanting to pay less is not a reason to appeal, nor will it be accepted by the court. The appeals process looks at if there has been an actual error, not a perceived one by a grieving parent.
  • If it can be demonstrated that despite clear leanings of the law and the facts presented, the family law court ruled against you and your child custody attorney and gave custody to the other parent. Often, this involves evidence that was presented but may not have been carefully considered by the court in the first place. Remember that when your child custody lawyer presents the appeals case, they can present no new evidence.

Finally, if you can show that the judge had an inherent bias or made a decision regardless of the facts in evidence for personal or professional reasons, then you may be able to get the judgment overturned. Typically, however, judges are very careful with their interests, which makes this extraordinarily hard to prove. Essentially, you are telling the appeals court that one of their colleagues was biased against you, and you will need to have clear evidence of this before you ever make the appeal.


Bankruptcy Attorney: The Nature of Bankruptcy


February 2, 2016


Bankruptcy AttorneyA frequent question a bankruptcy attorney hears is, "How will filing bankruptcy affect my life?" The reality is that there are many ways a bankruptcy will affect your life though none as severe as the media makes them out to be. In other words, as your bankruptcy attorney, we are here to tell you that while bankruptcy may have terrible connotations in popular culture, the reality is very different. Make no mistake, there will be work to do after you are done with your bankruptcy, most notably in the area of rebuilding your credit, but by no means is this the end of the world or the end of your financial viability. In fact, many of my clients use this tool as a way to reset their finances and go on to much greater success.

The first thing to be affected, as a bankruptcy attorney will tell you, is your credit. Bankruptcy filings stay on your credit for seven years and can create a situation where you are unable to get credit or will have to pay a higher rate of interest for credit. While some may consider this a horrible circumstance, the reality is that most people who are going down the road to personal bankruptcy already have been delinquent on bills and other payments, so your credit may not be the greatest to begin with. Even if you do have stellar credit, the need for a filing may offset the damage to your credit and is one of the prices that you will need to pay. Credit is one of those things affected by every financial decision you make, so a bankruptcy is no exception. It is something you want to weigh as you are considering whether or not this is a good option for you.

There are things not affected by filing a bankruptcy. For one, this kind of a device, used by a bankruptcy attorney, is not going to get you off the hook if you owe child support. That is an obligation that simply does not go away because of your financial straits. The same holds true for most state and local taxes, as well as any fines and fees you may owe the government. While it would be lovely if you could just file with a bankruptcy attorney and every single debt would go away, that is not how the system is designed to work. The government will collect what it is owed, but may be willing to get on a payment plan or accept a settlement in lieu of a complete payment.

The most important thing to remember about a bankruptcy, as filed by a bankruptcy attorney, is that this is neither a "gotcha" for financial immaturity nor is it a cure-all for your debts. Rather, it is a careful process that is designed for people who need a second chance and are willing to take the gamble with their credit scores and other things to get that much-needed relief.


Bankruptcy Law Facts You Should Know


January 27, 2016


Bankruptcy LawAs an attorney practicing bankruptcy law, I can answer any questions you may have regarding filing for bankruptcy, whether or not you qualify, and what the process entails. There are several types of bankruptcy filings you can make, and which one you qualify for will depend on your particular situation. I can advise you as to the best course of action after discussing your financial goals, reviewing your debt, assets, and monthly income.

Here are a few things you should know about bankruptcy:

  • Not everyone qualifies.
  • The court will decide what debts can be included. Many people are unaware that per bankruptcy law, tax debts cannot be discharged.
  • You may have to pass a means test and prove your monthly income. The court will determine whether or not you should have enough money to pay your monthly debts. However, if you do not pass the means test, you can still seek relief under a debt reorganization. As an attorney, I can help you complete the test and make a decision for which type of bankruptcy you should file for.
  • All of your assets need to be disclosed. If you are not comfortable with that, you may want to get help negotiating an improved payment situation or a debt reduction outside of court.
  • You must complete credit counseling before your bankruptcy can be approved.
  • Your creditors will have the opportunity to object. In some cases, specific creditors are given a higher priority because of the statements they make before the court.

Per Bankruptcy Law, You Must Provide the Following:

  • What your income is on a monthly basis, who pays it, and how frequently it is received
  • A list of all of your property, which includes your home, cars, personal belongings, jewelry, etc.
  • A list of your creditors, what you owe them, how much you owe, and the nature of their claim
  • Your monthly living expenses, including what you pay for food, shelter, utilities, clothing, daycare, child support, insurance, doctors' bills, etc.

Bankruptcy law is designed to provide people with the opportunity to start again, without a mountain of debts. It is not meant to be a way to escape from debts on a regular basis or to avoid paying when you are financially able to do so. This is why the court will carefully examine your petition along with all the information you provide. Be prepared to answer questions about your plan and your income. When you work with an experienced attorney, the entire process is much easier. In addition to having a firm understanding of how the process works and what forms need to be completed, I can help prepare you for what will happen along the way, what may be asked of you, and what to expect from your creditors. Even more importantly, I can make sure you are treated fairly and that you are protected. For example, if you want to keep your home, I can help you do so.

To discuss your case in further detail, call and schedule a consultation.


A Family Lawyer Can Help You Legally Separate


January 4, 2016


As a family lawyer, I often speak with people who have moved out of the house and think that they are legally separated but are not. Just because you are no longer living in the same home, that does not mean you are separated in the eyes of the court. This can create unexpected financial challenges down the road. In order to protect yourself, I recommend that you visit my office before or immediately after moving out.

Legal SeparationWhat a Legal Separation Means

When you become legally separated, you are still technically married, but you are no longer able to bind with each other contractually. This can be important, especially if you or your spouse owns a business. This offers a level of protection from new agreements you or they might enter. It also protects you financially. It is common to do things like assign one credit card to you and another to them. This way, the debts that are incurred by either of you after you are legally separated are the sole responsibility of that person. Essentially, if your ex decides to take a trip to Europe, buy all new furniture, and go on a serious shopping spree, you will not have to pay for it. Simultaneously, if your ex decides to buy a new car, you will not be responsible for that debt either. The risk of moving out without making it legal is that you will continue to be liable for any of their financial decisions.

A Separation Does Not Have to Be Permanent

The benefit of legally separating is that you can take the time you need to decide whether you want to reconcile or complete the process and get a divorce. While you are taking time apart, you will need to abide by the separation agreement regarding issues like who lives in the home, who is responsible for various bills, financial considerations, and parenting. In this way, it sets the parameters for how everything will be structured. As a family lawyer, I know that having an agreement in place can prevent complications and conflict much of the time.

When you are ready to make a decision on the future, a family lawyer can take steps to either reverse the process with the court or change your separation to a divorce. Most of the issues that have to be resolved in a divorce will already be accounted for in the separation paperwork. This means there is less to negotiate or have conflict over. If you are both satisfied with the terms of the separation, there may be nothing to dispute, meaning your divorce can be finalized quickly and with very little complication.

Speak With a Family Lawyer to Decide What Is Right for You

As a family lawyer, I can advise you on whether you should consider a legal separation or file for divorce right away. Regardless of what you decide, having an attorney in your corner is important for ensuring that your rights are protected.

Call a Child Custody Lawyer If You Have Conflicts With Your Parenting Plan


December 15, 2015


As a bankruptcy lawyer, I help families and individuals better manage their finances. Very often, this requires filing bankruptcy and starting fresh. The New Year is almost here, and with it comes the time for reflection, consideration, and goal setting. If you look back on this year and feel the burden of financial stress, the frustration of daily debt collector calls, and the fear of your car being repossessed, it is time for you to start anew.

Speak With a Bankruptcy Lawyer About Your Goals

While you are considering your personal and financial goals for the future, evaluate your current debt load. You should add up the total amount you owe and what your monthly payments are. You should also add up how much you need to spend in living expenses. This should include what you need to pay on your utilities, gas, groceries, insurance, medical expense, etc. Next, add the two together and subtract them from what you bring home every month after taxes. If you do not have enough to pay everything, you should call a bankruptcy lawyer. Many people make the mistake of budgeting based on their bills only. The problem is that life calls for daily and monthly living expenses. Not having enough to pay these is what causes the credit card payments to be late or missed altogether.

Bankruptcy LawyerAs a bankruptcy lawyer, I can review your financial situation and discuss your goals with you. This is an important part of the conversation because understanding what you are trying to accomplish can help me make the best recommendation for your family. There are three main ways to approach your debt: negotiations with creditors, a consolidation bankruptcy where you make a reduced monthly payment, and a liquidation bankruptcy. Which one is right for you is highly personal, and I can help you to make that decision. I can also show you which of your debts can or should be included in your bankruptcy filing so you can have a realistic expectation of what your financial situation will look like after bankruptcy. For example, tax debt and student loans can typically not be included, whereas credit cards and personal loans can.

Get Help From a Bankruptcy Lawyer and Get Relief

One reason that people tend to call my office is because they are tired of the stress that comes from being harassed by debt collectors. Constant phone calls, letters in the mail, disconnect notices, threats of repossession, etc. are enough to cause most people to want to hide. This is no way to live, and if the stress is getting to you, an attorney can help provide you with relief. Once you have filed for bankruptcy, all collection actions have to stop. This means your creditors have to hold and wait to see what the court decides. In the meantime, the calls, letters, and notices will stop. Once your bankruptcy is final, they will not be able to pursue you for more money than the court has ordered.


Consider How a Divorce Attorney Can Help You Through a Difficult Time



December 01, 2015


divorce attorneyFor a divorce lawyer, the hardest thing to explain to our clients is that it is in their best interest to have an emotionless representative in the court system fighting for them. Divorce can be a very trying and taxing time for many people. While the courts may have created an easier way to get divorced in no-fault divorces, for which every divorce attorney is very grateful, for the person living through the divorce, there is always blame to be shared. This leads to emotion, which can, in turn, lead to bad decision making unless you have a competent divorce lawyer by your side to guide you through these many pitfalls. The family law courts have one objective, and that is to be as fair as possible, which may sometimes seem slightly unfair to you. This is where you most need your trained advocate.

Property during a divorce

Very often, couples have to go through the messy business of separating lives that are completely entangled. For a divorce attorney, it is important that we look at all the tangible things that can be separated. This includes the larger things that may be jointly owned, like cars and houses. It can also include some smaller possessions that people become sentimentally attached to. Take things like scrapbooks and photographs, for example; these are very often things of contention since each party is emotionally invested in these items. For your lawyer, separating the important from the emotionally draining can sometimes be a challenge.

Children during a divorce

There is literally nothing that will make a divorce go hostile faster than the children from the relationship. Parents have a very clear desire to protect their children, but some sadly use their children as a weapon against the other party. This is especially true if one party has been slighted, like through an affair, for example. Using the children as a tool is not a good idea; rather, you want to present a fair and balanced parenting plan to the judge, which shows you are clearly the best parent to have your children the majority of the time. To do this, your divorce attorney will start the process early on with gathering of facts, setting patterns, and ensuring we have all the financial documents we need to make a financial case as well. Few clients realize that finances are intimately tied to custody, which is why they need a divorce attorney.

Finances in a divorce

Making sure you have all your finances in order before a divorce and ensuring we can present your financial situation in the best possible light is going to be critical to some decisions the judge may make. As your divorce attorney, we will need to make sure we get all your information, including income and investments, and portray them in a way that gets you the support you need. When the judge decides on things like custody, they will also decide on financial obligations like child support and alimony. The process starts with your financial disclosures at the beginning of your trial, so it is important to get it right.


Call a Child Custody Lawyer If You Have Conflicts With Your Parenting Plan


November 30, 2015


child custody lawyerAs a child custody lawyer, I understand that nothing is forever. When you get divorced, a judge will certify a parenting plan that they hope will stand the test of time. This may work if your children are in high school when you get divorced, but if they are just entering preschool, you can guarantee that life will change. Whether this is due to you getting a new job at some point, your child needing a new school environment, remarriage, etc., life is full of the unexpected, and when changes occur, your parenting plan may quickly become out of date.

During the holiday season, anything that is not working tends to become highlighted. With so much going on, extended family involved, and everyone traveling, parenting plans need to rule the day. Their guidelines are supposed to ensure that there is no conflict. While no one may get exactly what they want, there shouldn't be any ambiguity regarding where the children go on the holidays or the weeks and weekends leading up to them. If you and your ex are continually fighting over who gets the kids when and how to share them, it is time to revisit your parenting plan.

A well-thought-out parenting plan can make your life and your kids' lives much easier. The goal is to prevent conflict whenever possible and to establish a routine your kids can depend on. Children thrive when they know what to expect, and have a set schedule. When things become complicated, chaotic, and uncertain, children tend to act out and even suffer in school and socially. While the conflict between you and your ex can be stressful, remember to consider what your children are experiencing. As a child custody lawyer, I can meet with you to discuss what you feel is not working within your current parenting plan and suggest changes that could help sort out these conflicts, creating a sound strategy for the future.

Another reason to make changes to your parenting plan is to accommodate the different needs of your kids. For example, if they really want to go to private school or play in certain sports, it may be better for them to live with the parent who is closest to that school or can take them to all their activities. Simultaneously, if one parent moves away for work, the parenting plan should be modified to create a new schedule that will work for everyone.

As a child custody lawyer, I also suggest making changes to a parenting plan when there is conflict over the kids being able to see extended family. For example, if your kids have a close relationship with their grandparents but are unable to see them because the parenting plan does not set aside proper time to do so, you may want to request a revision.

There is a variety of reasons that parenting plans need to be amended. Remember that it is wise to work with a child custody lawyer to do so, because any informal plan will not supersede what has been set by the court. We can attempt to work with your ex to get the changes agreed to and then have it certified by a judge. Otherwise, we will need to go to court and have a judge hear both sides of the argument before they decide whether or not to make the changes you are requesting.

If the Stress of the Holidays Has You Considering Separation, Call a Divorce Lawyer


November 02, 2015

Divorce LawyerAs a divorce lawyer, I understand the holidays are not a happy and joyous season for everyone. They can be stressful and complicated with extended family being brought into the normal family routine, travel, buying presents, financial stress, and sometimes, the very expectation of needing to be happy can make marriages crumble. If you have already been having difficulty with your spouse, arguing, or not getting along, the holiday season can be the straw that breaks the camel's back, so to speak. If you are in this situation, I recommend calling and scheduling an appointment with an attorney right away.

What you should know before moving out.

Many people react to a stressful situation by packing their bags and moving out of the home. While there are some situations that call for this, you should take your separation very seriously and cautiously. What you do during this time can have an impact on your divorce and the rest of your life. This makes taking the time to slow down, process, and plan. I recommend that if you need a break, you pack what you need for a week or two away and tell your spouse that you are taking the time to think. Do not say that you are moving out of the house. Instead, take this cooling off time to meet with an attorney.

The reasons for doing so are many, including that you may want to keep the house. If you declare that you are moving out and proceed to do so, the court is most likely to award your spouse the home in your divorce. In order to keep things as status quo as possible, a judge will often rule that both parties keep the cars in their possession, the house they are living in, the furniture they have, etc. Many people make the mistake of thinking that if they move out and unofficially separate, they can go back and fix everything later. Sometimes this happens, but it is difficult to do in a contentious divorce, particularly because they can take so long to become final. During the waiting period, new routines will be established that a judge may be disinclined to change. As a divorce lawyer, I can meet with you to discuss what you want the final outcome to be and ensure that you do not do anything during your separation that could harm your chances of long-term success.

You also need to meet with a divorce lawyer to discuss your children and the potential custody situation. The goal during any divorce is for the best interest of the children to be secured. Typically, that means maintaining a routine, keeping them in the same home when possible, keeping them in the same schools, etc. With that in mind, any custody or visitation routine that you set now will impact your future custody schedule. I work with many dads, for example, that let the mom take the reins during the separation and are surprised when they have limited time with their kids after the divorce. To prevent this, I recommend establishing a shared parenting schedule now, even if it is challenging.

The bottom line is that if you want a positive outcome for your divorce, you need to strategize and plan for the future. If the holiday season is the final breaking point for your relationship, call and schedule a consultation so you can obtain the strategic and legal guidance you need to be successful.

Call a Family Attorney If There Is a Domestic Violence Component to Your Divorce


October 28, 2015

Family AttorneyAs a family attorney, we know there are many complications that can arise while we are helping you sort out your divorce. Divorces are, more often than not, a messy time in people’s lives as they are looking to protect their interests in the midst of a great deal of heartache and pain. As your family attorney, it is our job to protect your interests and guide you through any pitfalls, so you do not have to suffer financial loss or worse, find yourself in a situation where you are not seeing your kids.

Domestic violence is one of the most difficult situations, and it is often present in a divorce. I have worked with clients who have suffered greatly at the hand of an intimate partner, and my first goal is always to ensure their safety and the safety of their children. When domestic violence is present things like going to court and seeing your partner can cause great stress and anxiety. This is not something to be taken lightly or for granted. As an attorney, I do whatever I can to help my clients feel safe throughout their divorce proceeding. In many cases, this requires going before a judge and seeking a temporary or permanent restraining order. If you are in this situation, I encourage you to work with an attorney right away so you have an advocate on your side. Do not try to handle the divorce on your own because if the situation is already violent, the stress of a divorce can exacerbate the situation and escalate that violence.

The other side of domestic violence in a divorce is that some people will make a false accusation in order to try and gain the upper hand in a divorce. This is something I would never recommend as a family attorney. However, it has happened, and if you are in this situation, you will need an attorney who can handle your divorce in a way that also seeks to prove your innocence. Remember that in family court, you will not be charged with or convicted of a crime. That would go through the criminal court system. However, the perception that the judge has of you, and of how safe the children will be with you, will determine how much time you will get with your children. If a judge genuinely believes that you are abusive, you could lose custody of your kids. Protecting a child from abuse is something the courts take very seriously, which is why when there is a false accusation of abuse, we have to go to work immediately to counter it and ensure that it does not affect your relationship status with your child.

As a family attorney, I represent people who are both the victims of domestic violence and ones who are falsely accused of it. Domestic violence is complicated, and it is important to work with an experienced attorney who understands how to handle such a delicate manner in a way that puts your family’s safety first.