September 17, 2010

Helping You Through a Child Custody Hearing

Posted in Custody tagged at 5:24 pm by demetriagraves

As a family law attorney one of the most challenging situations I help clients with is going through a child custody or child support hearing. Being a parent can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. The unconditional love between you and your child is probably one of the most unique and amazing things you have ever known. When conflicts arise between you and the other parent of the child however, the situation may escalate to such a level that you may end up in a court hearing for any number of reasons, including a child custody hearing or a child support hearing.

If you and the other parent of your child will be going through a court hearing regarding your child, you might want to consider seeking help from an attorney. As going through a child custody hearing will probably be one of the most stressful and difficult times of your life. It will be difficult and stressful because both you and the other parent of your child will likely both be fighting for custody of the child. Just the fear of losing custody of your child may be enough to raise your stress to an unhealthy level, and if you do not know what to expect during the hearing, it may put your emotions over the top. A family law attorney will be able to inform you of what to expect during the hearing and can help make sure that you are properly portrayed during the hearing, which can be the difference between being awarded custody and losing custody of your child.

The court will likely consider many factors during your custody hearing before determining how custody will be split and to whom it will be awarded. One of the main factors that the court will probably consider during the hearing is your parenting ability. Keep in mind, the other parent of the child will probably be trying as hard as they can to gain custody, so having a legal professional on your side that has experience in these types of cases can be crucial.

Once you have made it through the custody hearing, you may also have to endure a support hearing. The support hearing will probably be held to determine how much money the non-custodial parent will be required to pay each month in child support. Whether you are the parent making the payments, or the parent receiving the payments, a family law attorney can be a great help in making it through this hearing as well.

Fighting with the other parent of your child regarding child custody, or any other matter, can be very stressful to endure. When these conflicts end up in court, it’s important to have an experienced attorney at your side to help you through the hearing. You’re more likely to get the outcome you want with the help of an experienced attorney. I offer a free initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered.

Baby Boomers are Going Bankrupt at a Faster Rate

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 5:13 pm by demetriagraves

Americans over the age of 55 are filing for bankruptcy at a faster rate than the general population as growing mortgage debt and higher health care costs make them more vulnerable, a new study shows. It also appears that the number of bankruptcies among younger people has dropped significantly. The study recently published in the American Bankruptcy Institute’s ABI Journal revealed some very interesting information regarding the correlation between age and consumer bankruptcy filings. According to the study, adults born between 1946-1964, known as “baby boomers,” comprised 42 percent of all bankruptcy filers in 2007. In addition, the study also determined that Americans 55 and older were filing for bankruptcy at a more rapid pace than Americans 25 and under.
The study, entitled “Aging and Bankruptcy Revisited” was conducted by John Golmant and James Woods. It serves as an update to their innovative 2002 study that also examined the correlation between age and consumer bankruptcy filings.
The primary purpose of  “Aging and Bankruptcy Revisited” was to ascertain whether or not the trends discovered in the 2002 study continued after the enactment of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). Golmant and Woods sought to achieve this by carefully evaluating national bankruptcy filing data from 1994, 2002 and 2007.
Some of the key findings of the study include:
• The total number of bankruptcy filings by people 55+ increased by 61 percent from 2002-2007.
• The average age of those filing for bankruptcy in 2007 was 44.9. In contrast, the average age was 41.4 in 2002 and 37.7 in 1994.
• The younger population (age 25 and under) accounted for a mere 1.7 percent of bankruptcy filers in 2007. In contrast, they accounted for 4 percent in 2002 and 11 percent in 1994.

According to the study’s architects, there are three primary reasons why the number of baby boomers filing for bankruptcy is so disproportionate: 1.) high levels of credit card debt 2.) the housing crisis and 3.) increasing health care costs.

Often Baby Boomers also have to bear the brunt of the costs of caring for children and occasionally their parents. They’ve had to cover rising student loan costs for themselves and their own children. Plus they are often saddled with their parents’ nursing home costs.  Additionally, some of their retirement savings, which would be more significant than those for younger people, may have been wiped out by the economic downturn.

It seems that there may also be cultural differences between the Boomers and their parents’ generation. The generation preceding the Baby Boomers, were more willing to go into debt to provide their Boomer children with the luxuries they didn’t have during the Great Depression. The Boomers grew up watching people go into debt. Most of the time, they paid it off, but debt became normal to them, whereas it was a new phenomenon to their parents.

If you are finding yourself crippled by debt, no matter what your age, please don’t hesitate to get some expert advice. I offer a free confidential initial consultation, where you can get all your questions about bankruptcy answered.

September 9, 2010

Divorce Rates Rising Despite the Economy

Posted in Divorce tagged at 7:26 pm by demetriagraves

There’s been a lot of speculation about divorce rates recently. It seems that rates of divorce have declined in the last few years, and many family law practitioners have attributed the reduction in dissolutions to the recent economic challenges posed by the Global Financial Crisis. Even if a couple believes that a marriage will no longer work, they may accept the fact that maintaining two households in a time of economic uncertainty has not been a risk worth taking. Diminished real estate equity and uncertainty about jobs opportunities have left some spouses resigned to postponing legal solutions until they feel more secure.

But recent reports suggest that divorce rates are increasing, and some commentators speculate that the reason is that Americans have become accustomed to the new economic reality. It seems like we’re seeing an increase in divorce clients. With the recession, there was initial shock that paralyzed people. They were frozen, not wanting to make any more significant changes in their lives. They weren’t any happier than before, but too afraid to do anything about it. Now people are stabilizing, acclimating themselves to the new economic realities. People realize that things may not change soon, but at least it’s possible to have a happy life on an emotional level.

In the current economic climate, people who are considering divorce need to pursue knowledge about their legal options as well as their financial interests. Estranged couples who have felt trapped by a mortgage that exceeds the market value of their home should seek some professional legal advice. It may be possible for one spouse to remain in the family home. For others, there’s a full range of debt relief options that may provide solutions, including bankruptcy and consolidation. An attorney with experience in all of these areas can explain strategies to help you attain an independent future that recently may have seemed foreclosed.

In my experience as a family law attorney, I have helped may separating couples work out a plan that helps them to move forward with their lives, no matter what the current economic circumstances are. I offer a free confidential initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered. So don’t feel trapped, by your current situation. There are probably many options that you may not have considered or even known about.

Bankruptcy War

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 7:23 pm by demetriagraves

Some people have described Bankruptcy as an epic war between debtors and creditors.  These two groups are constantly battling for control of the debt in question.  The debtors are seeking to either reject or modify the debt while the creditors are seeking to enforce the debt. The Bankruptcy Trustees and Judges are the negotiators enforcing the law while attempting to balance the scales of justice.
This may be a brutal description of bankruptcy but this is what it some people feel it has become today.  In the past, creditors would only rear their heads if there was a large amount of debt at stake.  Now as the economy continues to fall apart, creditors have become more aggressive in collecting on the amounts owed to them, no matter what the amount.  Creditors can no longer afford to use the same “cost of doing business” model as they once did and allow debt to be written off without question.
As creditors heat up the battlefield the debtors are finding that they have to fight every step of the way to control their debt.  This means that the debtors have to tighten their belts even more due to scrutiny of the trustees and judges.  You probably have heard the phrase “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” In this case the squeaky creditor gets the money.  Or the flip side of that equation is the squeaky debtor is going to keep their budget.  Either way there is going to be a whole lot of squeaking going on.  Debtors under this current Bankruptcy Code have had to prove special circumstances when it comes to their work or home budget.  This is not new as you have always had to prove these things to a certain point but now the microscope has come out to analyze in minute detail. 
As with any war many analysts are asking is the cost too high? Is Congress really getting what they intended when the new law was enacted?  There are no easy cases in bankruptcy.  Every case is unique and has the potential to fail if the debtor does not disclose everything about their financial situation, assets and creditors.
Don’t be a casualty of the bankruptcy war.  Hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Be honest with your attorney.  Be prepared for your attorney by getting everything they need.  Ask lots of questions about your case.  Learn how to budget.  Most importantly be involved as this decision will affect your financial future.
Help your attorney help you regain financial control. I offer a free initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered, so what are you waiting for?

September 2, 2010

Judges Crack Down on Inappropriate Clothing in Court

Posted in Family Law tagged at 4:52 pm by demetriagraves

It seems like a no-brainer but I’ve been amazed by some of the clothing that people wear at court appearances.  Recently some Judges across the country have started cracking down on inappropriate clothing in their court rooms. So if you’re headed to court you’d better leave the flip-flops and jeans at home. Plus don’t even think about wearing short shorts to court. Many judges across the country are cracking down on skimpy, sloppy or what they consider to be inappropriate attire in an effort to maintain decorum and a sense of order in the courtroom.
 Some people seem determined to push the fashion envelope. I even heard of someone showing up to a court appearance in their PJs and they were promptly dismissed by the judge. Courts are a place where serious business is conducted, and that demands appropriate attire. It may sound like judges are out to treat people like school kids, but it’s expected that if you come to court, you need to treat it with the appropriate respect and dignity it deserves.

  Here’s some recent examples where judges have cracked down on inappropriate clothing:

• In May, Jennifer LaPenta was jailed briefly after a judge in Lake County, Ill., held her in contempt for wearing an offensive T-shirt to court.

• In Inkster, Mich., Joseph Kassab was turned away in April from the courtroom for wearing black jeans. He missed his traffic court appearance and was fined, and he’s challenging the dress code in the state Court of Appeals.

• The same thing happened to Linda West, who missed her court date after being refused entry in June to court in Bakersfield, Calif., for wearing flip-flops.

• In July, in Hamilton County (Ohio) Municipal Court, William Morse’s T-shirt featuring slasher-movie character Chucky and the words “Say goodbye to the killer” earned Morse a warning that he’d spend a day in jail if he came to court again with inappropriate attire.

  The need for many courts to adopt dress codes could be the product of a casual society and general ignorance of court culture. Many dress codes single out baggy pants, particularly those that expose undergarments. Though some attire may seem obvious choices to ban, other clothing can be a tougher call – and barring some attire can raise troubling questions about race, religion and access to justice.

  An increasing number of courts are adopting dress codes, and for security reasons some specify that faces be uncovered, posing problems for Muslim women wearing veils or burqas. That issue has come to the fore among judges and security personnel in the past six months. Courts may follow the lead of the Transportation Security Administration and have a female officer take a Muslim woman to a private setting where she can remove her face covering.

  Unfortunately, in all stratas of our society people tend to be judged by their appearance. This is not something that is limited to the court room. As a family law attorney I always advise my clients to dress appropriately for any court appearance. Like I said this may seem like a no-brainer, but many people don’t consider the impression that their appearance may make on others. When working within the legal system it’s important that you make a good impression and and inappropriate clothing can be a deal-breaker.


Tiger & Elin’s Parenting Plan

Posted in Celebrity Divorce tagged at 4:49 pm by demetriagraves

Well it’s been all over the news that Tiger Wood and Elin Nordegren have had their divorce finalized. Court documents described the marriage as “irretrievably broken”. What you may not know is that as part of the divorce they were required to work out a parenting plan for the former couple’s two kids Sam, 3, and Charlie, 1. Court papers confirm that both Tiger, 34, and Elin, 30, have completed 4-hour parenting classes – which are required for the finalization of any divorce in Florida in which children are involved.

“The parenting plan is in the best interests of the children,” the documents read. The couple were married for nearly six years; the papers also indicate that they’ve been living apart since November of last year. Woods famously crashed his car outside their Windermere, Florida home over Thanksgiving weekend – just after reports of his infidelity first surfaced.
Although the details remain confidential, the couple signed a Marital Settlement Agreement – which normally includes terms about child support, spousal support and other financial matters. The exact amount of any financial settlement has not been disclosed.
A statement posted recently on the golfer’s website said,  “While we are no longer married, we are the parents of two wonderful children and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us…The weeks and months ahead will not be easy for them as we adjust to a new family situation.”
Other details from the court documents describe that Elin will go back to her maiden name: Elin Maria Pernilla Nordegren. The newly single mom spent some of the summer in her native Sweden, where a $3 million seaside estate on the country’s west coast is currently being renovated. She has also claimed that her children are the only reason she’s gotten through the divorce.
The former Mrs. Woods also admits to feeling stupid after all the allegations started to surface late last year, because she had absolutely no idea what was going on. Elin says she plans on staying in the U.S. but she and the children will travel frequently to Sweden to see her family. Apparently she wants her children to have a relationship with their father, and also experience the Swedish culture.