November 26, 2010

Braxton’s Bankruptcy Questioned

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 9:26 am by demetriagraves

A federal bankruptcy watchdog is questioning Toni Braxton’s recent bankruptcy filing but the Grammy-winning singer’s attorney expects the matter to be resolved favorably soon.

In her Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, filed in Los Angeles on Sept. 30, Braxton reported assets in the range of $1 million to $10 million and debts in the range of $10 million to $50 million.

Recently a court-docket entry from the federal watchdog, the U.S. trustee, notified the Los Angeles bankruptcy court that Braxton’s bankruptcy filing is currently presumed to be an abuse of the bankruptcy process.

“The United States trustee has reviewed all the materials filed by the debtor and has determined that the debtor’s case is presumed to be an abuse under Section 707(b),” said the trustee, who’s part of the Department of Justice. That section of bankruptcy law allows for the dismissal of conversion of an individual’s bankruptcy proceeding after notice and a hearing.

According to Debra Grassgreen, Braxton’s bankruptcy attorney, her client’s bankruptcy filing is valid and that the notice was simply a timing issue. The U.S. trustee had to make a preliminary determination within days of Braxton’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing as to whether the singer met the requirements of that chapter (in which an independent official will be tapped to liquidate Braxton’s assets and distribute the proceeds to creditors). But this deadline came before Grassgreen was able to submit all of the necessary documents for the trustee’s investigation.

If the R&B and pop singer’s debts were primarily consumer debts, then she would have had to complete a means test to ensure she qualified for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But she didn’t, Grassgreen said, because Braxton’s debts are primarily business debts, and she is therefore exempt from the means test.

“We understand that the U.S. trustee has to conduct an investigation,” Grassgreen said. “We’re cooperating and we are optimistic that once the investigation is completed, the trustee will conclude that Braxton’s debts are primarily business debts and therefore not an abuse of the bankruptcy system.”

McCourts Divorced But Proceedings Continue

Posted in Celebrity Divorce tagged at 9:21 am by demetriagraves

The word is out that Frank and Jamie McCourt are officially divorced, even though their divorce proceedings could last several more years. This is because part of the divorce settlement includes sorting out the ownership and control of the L.A. Dodgers.

Recently Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon granted a request to change the McCourts’ marital status from separated to divorced, according to court documents. The status change has no impact on the proceedings. Any assets determined to be community property would be considered as shared assets through the date of their separation which is July 7, 2009, rather than the date of their divorce.

A status change is not uncommon, even as parties work their way through lengthy divorce proceedings. An official divorce decree would allow a party to get remarried or to file in a lower tax bracket. The McCourts married in 1979. They filed for divorce 13 months ago.

The McCourts have until the end of this month to accept or reject a mediator’s proposed settlement. If the proposal is rejected, which is expected, then Judge Gordon has until Dec. 28 to rule on the validity of a marital agreement that would give Frank sole control of the Dodgers. Jamie has asked Gordon to throw out that agreement, which could make the team community property.

Either side could appeal Gordon’s ruling, and Frank has promised to try another legal strategy to secure sole ownership if Gordon rules in favor of Jamie. So it looks like the McCourts will continue to battle it out and their change of status from separated to divorced has little impact on the larger fight between the McCourts over the Dodgers ownership.

November 19, 2010

Eva Longoria Divorcing Tony Parker

Posted in Celebrity Divorce tagged at 1:43 pm by demetriagraves

Well another celebrity marriage is headed for divorce. Three years after they married, actress Eva Longoria is divorcing her basketball star husband Tony Parker. The divorce was filed in Los Angeles, this news came only a day after her rep quashed rumors that Parker had filed for divorce in Texas.

The Desperate Housewives star’s divorce petition cites the standard “irreconcilable differences” for the split. Rumors abounded for quite some time that Parker had been unfaithful but Longoria stood by her man until this week. There is some speculation that Parker had cheated on Longoria earlier in the marriage but they tried to work through it. Longoria reportedly discovered recently that Parker had kept in touch with his mistress via Facebook. She also discovered hundreds of text messages between Parker and another woman.

It’s rumored that Parker’s latest girlfriend is Erin Barry, wife of Parker’s former teammate Brent Barry. Brent Barry played with Parker for the San Antonio Spurs from 2004-2008. The Barrys are in the midst of a divorce as well.

Longoria is seeking spousal support from Parker. He just signed a contract extension with the Spurs two weeks ago, worth $50 million over the next four years. Parker has played for the Spurs since 2001, winning three NBA championships – all prior to their 2007 marriage.

Interestingly, the couple have a prenuptial agreement which was signed a few weeks before their July 7, 2007 wedding and was amended two years later. The petition says their date of separation is still to be determined. It would be safe to assume that Longoria is going to argue that the separation was definitely after Parker’s contract extension was signed, especially if it included a signing bonus or guaranteed funds.

Generally, in a high-profile, high net-worth situation such as this one, a prenup will cover spousal support. The parties will either agree that it will not be paid or that it will only be paid upon certain conditions – such as passage of a certain amount of time or infidelity on the part of the paying party.

Because Longoria can certainly support herself and the marriage was of shorter duration, an award of spousal support without a prenup provision to the contrary, would be somewhat surprising. It’s possible the agreement included a morality clause of some sort which requires Parker to pay support in the event that he is unfaithful. It will be interesting to see what further details emerge. Longoria is being represented by longtime family law attorney to the stars Lance Spiegel.

Parenting Plan

Posted in Custody, Divorce, Parentage tagged , , at 1:40 pm by demetriagraves

If you have children and your relationship is breaking down working out what will happen with your children is one of the most important issues to resolve – this is commonly known as a parenting plan. Any cases involving children, whether it’s a divorce or separation between spouses or custody cases between unmarried couples, always involve certain issues. These issues can be resolved by an agreement or by trial, but they must be addressed one way or the other.

Here’s a list of issues that must be addressed to form the basis of a parenting plan:

  • Which house is identified as “home base” for the children?
  • When will the children be with each parent during the school year?
  • When will the children be with each parent during holiday breaks?
  • How will the summer break period be handled?
  • What arrangements will be made for exchanging the children at the beginning of each parent’s time?
  • Who will decide which extracurricular activities the children will participate in? How will these activities be paid for? What happens if an activity falls during the other parent’s time?
  • How will the children’s religious upbringing be handled?
  • Who will make decisions for the medical and mental health needs of the children? How will these needs be paid for?
  • Who will have the right to represent the children in legal action and make other legal decisions for the children?
  • How will the children’s access to the internet be handled?
  • Who will carry the children on health insurance? Who will pay for the coverage? How will the uninsured medical expenses be handled?
  • Who will make decisions regarding the children’s education? How will private schooling be handled? What happens if the children need additional educational assistance such as tutoring? How will those expenses be handled?
  • What plans are being made for the children’s future college education?
  • Will the children talk on the telephone to the parent not in possession of them?
  • Will the children be allowed to travel outside the country with each parent? How will the passports be handled?

Unless the courts have ordered something different, both parents have the right to:

  • Receive information concerning the health, education and welfare of the kids;
  • Talk with the other parent before making a decision concerning the health, education and welfare of the kids;
  • Access their children’s medical, dental, psychological and educational records;
  • Consult with the kids’ doctors;
  • Consult with the school concerning the kids’ welfare and educational status;
  • Attend school activities;
  • Be listed as an emergency contact on the kids’ records;
  • Consent to medical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the kids;
  • Be offered the chance to take care of the kids during the other parent’s time if the other parent has something that keeps them from the kids.

Here’s some other tips that I’ve found to be important as a family law attorney who works with parents who are splitting up and I recommend that you should keep in mind:

  • Alcohol consumption – limit the amount of alcohol you consume during your time with your kids, especially if alcohol has been a problem before. Never drive with your children if you’ve been drinking.
  • New romantic partners – take care to introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your kids slowly, so they don’t feel as though their other parent is being replaced.
  • Travel – when planning trips for business or pleasure, with or without your kids, keep your kids’ schedules and your parenting plan in mind.

November 12, 2010

Handling Life on Your Own

Posted in Divorce tagged at 10:36 am by demetriagraves

You’ve gone through a Divorce and the papers have been signed, custody has been decided, the assets have been divided and all that stress and strain is now behind you. It should be a great relief to have these difficult and emotionally draining parts of your divorce done with. Though for many recently divorcees it may feel like the worst is yet to come.

It’s not uncommon for recently divorced men and women to have to deal with feelings of loneliness after all the busywork associated with the legal process of divorce is done. For most people divorce enables them to make a fresh start and it’s important to focus on the positives rather than the negatives but many people who have recently divorced need to start thinking about how they will handle their new life on their own. While loneliness is a perfectly normal reaction after a divorce, there are some things you can do to help you cope.

First of all, try not to let yourself become isolated. Instead, surround yourself with a support system. Call up one or more trusted friends or family members. You may even ask if you can stay at a friend’s place. Seek out a divorce support group in your city. If there’s not one, try starting an informal one yourself to glean support from others dealing with the aftermath of divorce.

It’s also important to spend time being around people. Go to lunch with your co-workers. Attend functions you are invited to, even if you’re not feeling particularly festive. If you are religious, attend services at a local place of worship. Volunteer with a non-profit organization. The key is not to allow yourself an unhealthy amount of time alone to brood over being alone.

Keeping yourself busy can help you get on with creating your new life. Now is the perfect time to get out and do some of those things that you always wanted to do but never had the chance. While being on your own can be tough many people feel a certain sense of freedom at being able to spend more time focusing on themselves. But be careful not to turn to unhealthy habits, such as drinking or overeating. Use your new found freedom to take up a new hobby or activity you never had time for when you were married. Host a poker night or a group manicure. Go see your favorite band live or do some travel. Be grateful that you are no longer in an unloving, crumbling marriage and you can now grow as an independent person.

401K Loan & Bankruptcy

Posted in Bankruptcy, Uncategorized tagged at 10:33 am by demetriagraves

If you have a 401k loan and are considering bankruptcy here is a brief outline of what generally happens to your 401k loan. Basically a 401k loan allows you to borrow money from your 401k funds and repay it over a certain amount of time. In order to get a 401k loan, you do not have to have a credit check, and you do not need to have a certain income level. Even though it is referred to as a 401k loan, creditors do not necessarily consider it a loan. Because you are basically borrowing money from yourself with this type of loan. This means that you will still have the 401k loan even if you go through bankruptcy.

A 401k is an employer sponsored retirement plan and is generally exempt from bankruptcy. If you have a 401k loan, you have actually borrowed against your own 401k retirement account. This kind of loan is quite popular because it is easy to get, there is no need for a credit check and the interest rate is low. Filling out an application is easy and if you look at it, the interest you would be paying for the loan would actually go to yourself.

If you are unable to repay a 401k loan as per schedule, it will be automatically seen as a withdrawal from your retirement account and you will be taxed accordingly and you will be charged an additional 10 percent of the unpaid amount as penalty if you are less than 59 ½ years of age.

Therefore, if you are considering bankruptcy, unpaid 401k loans may cause problems because they are not seen as debts and cannot be forgiven. However, the monthly payments may be exempted from the means test computations for disposable income in bankruptcy.

This computation is employed to determine if your income is sufficiently low to qualify you for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. What this means is that the unpaid monthly amounts for your 401k loan that are considered for tax purposes as your income need not be included when calculating your disposable income to test whether you can file for Chapter 7. If your income is less than the median income for your state, then you are automatically qualified to file for Chapter 7.

When considering filing for bankruptcy there are many factors that need to be taken into account. This is why it’s important to seek the advice of a qualified attorney who is experienced in dealing with bankruptcy. I offer a free confidential initial consultation where you can get all you questions answered so you can determine if filing for bankruptcy is the best option for you.

November 5, 2010

Should I Consider Bankruptcy?

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:07 pm by demetriagraves

Recently with the increase in unemployment rates and harder economic times many people are turning to the option of filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to give them some financial relief. Some of the most common reasons for considering bankruptcy are excessive credit card debt and large medical bills but there are all sorts of situations where filing for bankruptcy may be an option for you. There are many considerations that must be contemplated when deciding whether to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or not. Some of these include the costs to file, will filing affect a new job, and how medical coverage is affected.

Bankruptcy is a federal court proceeding that might allow a person with large debts to get a “fresh start” by freeing them from many or all of their debts. At the same time, a trustee of the court can sell the person’s property (unless it’s exempt) and divide the proceeds to pay off the person’s creditors.
While it is possible to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy without a lawyer it is wise to hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney. This is because without a attorney an individual may have to fight with creditors and may not have a clear understanding of all the court processes involved with filing this type of bankruptcy. A much worse situation may occur if a discharge of debts is not obtained.

People who are unemployed and file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy do not have to fear a garnishment of wages. This also applies to people who are employed because an automatic stay on all collections against the filer is put into affect by a judge once bankruptcy is filed.

It is your statutory right to declare bankruptcy. However, the exercise of that right may have consequences. Even though it is illegal for any federal or state agency to discriminate against you for exercising your right to declare bankruptcy private agencies can, and often do, discriminate against people who declare bankruptcy. So it’s important to have all the facts and make sure that you understand what is involved in the process.

If you want to find out if bankruptcy is the right option for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a free initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered

Charlie Sheen Divorce

Posted in Celebrity Divorce tagged at 2:04 pm by demetriagraves

Actor Charlie Sheen filed for divorce from his wife Brooke Mueller, days after being taken to hospital following a reported drunken escapade in New York.

They signed a divorce agreement back in May but never filed it and have been living apart for over seven months, Recently Sheen officially filed to end their two year marriage.

According to Mueller’s lawyer, Sorrell Trope, the pair had agreed in May to wait a full year before officially filing for divorce because “she didn’t want to make trouble for Charlie,” who was under investigation for allegedly assaulting her in December. So Sheen’s sudden unannounced filing was a little surprising.

Sheen’s manager, Mark Burg, has shot back at Trope, saying, “Charlie tried to reach out to Brooke and left her a message before filing for divorce.”

For a parting shot, Burg said, “It’s a shame that this ambulance chaser is trying to drum up more business because this divorce was finalized and agreed upon six months ago.”

Sheen reneged on the 12-month divorce wait to divert attention away from his alleged drunken, naked, hotel-trashing outburst in New York. It seems that Charlie’s decision to file for divorce from Brooke was a public relations move to divert attention from what happened with Charlie in New York City.

Sheen cited irreconcilable differences for the divorce and indicated in court filings in Los Angeles that the couple has a prenuptial agreement. He is also seeking joint physical and legal custody of their 1-year-old twin boys, Bob and Max, but is asking a judge not to award his wife any spousal support because of their pre-nup. In a separate divorce filing, Mueller seeks primary physical custody of the boys with visitation for Sheen. Plus Mueller is asking for spousal support.

They married in 2008 and Sheen made headlines on Christmas day when he was arrested on domestic violence charges in Aspen, Colorado. He allegedly assaulted Mueller and threatened her with a knife. The ‘Two and a Half Men’ star spent part of Christmas in an Aspen jail cell. The actor was charged with felony menacing, misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor criminal mischief. Sheen pleaded guilty to assault. Both filings note Dec 25 2009 as the day they separated.

This is Sheen’s third marriage breakdown having split from first wife Donna Peele in 1996 and then from second wife Denise Richards in 2005. Those marriages lasted 1 year and 3 years respectively while he has been married to current wife Brooke Mueller since May 2008.