January 27, 2011

Financial Infidelity – A Cause for Divorce

Posted in Divorce tagged at 11:19 am by demetriagraves

As a family law attorney, I’ve seen people get divorced for all sorts of reasons. Most people are familiar with infidelity as a major cause of divorce and there have been plenty of celebrity divorces that have seen infidelity as a major cause of the break-up.  We all know that successful marriages are based on honesty and trust – so does financial infidelity cause divorce? Financial infidelity is defined as cheating on one’s spouse with cash and credit cards by being dishonest about what one is spending and even hiding bills and bank accounts.
Some recent studies in this area have found that 58 percent of respondents conceal cash from their spouse, 30 percent hide bills, and 15 percent hide bank accounts. Marriage is all about negotiation, compromise, trust, and not deceiving each other, so often financial deception can point to a bigger layer of deception underneath. One study found that, 68 percent of the time, financial infidelity has had a negative impact on relationships, with 16 percent of marriages ending because of it.

So keeping your spending secret or hiding some cash or bills may seem harmless but it seems that this can lead to a slippery slope of deception. Some may even argue that if one spouse feels the need to hide spending or cash that this is an indicator of other underlying problems in a marriage. As I said at the outset, I’ve seen marriages break down for all sorts of reasons and if you find yourself in a marriage that is ending, no matter what the reason, please don’t hesitate to get some advise from a family law attorney, who will be able to answer all your questions and make sure you are on the right track regarding the divorce process.

Michael Jackson’s Dr Files for Bankruptcy

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 11:16 am by demetriagraves

Dr. Arnie Klein, a famous Beverly Hills, California-based doctor who treated celebrity clients such as Cher, Dolly Parton and Michael Jackson, filed for bankruptcy this week. It seems that all the controversy surrounding Michael Jackson’s death has had an effect on Dr Klein. He has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a Los Angeles Bankruptcy court citing debts between $1 and $10 million.

According to details in the filing,  Dr. Klein owes $80,000 to credit card lender American Express, $127,000 to the IRS and nearly $2.6 million to City National Bank for  outstanding mortgage payments. Also included among his creditors were one of his lawyers, the landlord of his office building and various medical partners.

Dr. Klein made headlines of his own following Jackson’s death, as he became a prominent figure in the investigation after admitting he prescribed Demerol to the late singer.

By filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Dr. Klein signified that he plans to organize his debt, while not liquidating any assets, as a Chapter 7 filing would have indicated. He did not value his assets in the filing but reportedly became one of the highest-paid celebrity doctors while working with Jackson.


January 20, 2011

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Basics

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 12:40 pm by demetriagraves

One of the most common questions I get asked regarding bankruptcy is – How difficult is it to file? So here’s some bankruptcy basics that will help give you a clearer picture of what is involved in filing for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, otherwise known as “liquidation,” is generally the simplest and quickest form of bankruptcy and is available to individuals, married couples, corporations and partnerships. A court appointed trustee gathers and sells your non-exempt property and uses the proceeds from the sale to pay your creditors.”Exempt property” is property that a debtor is allowed to keep. For example, your personal possessions are considered exempt. What property is exempt is determined by state law. It is always best to check with an attorney in your state to see what exemptions apply to your individual case.

Most chapter 7 cases are “no-asset” cases, which simply means that you do not have any non-exempt property for the trustee to sell. At the time that you file your petition for bankruptcy, you declare whether your case is “asset” or “no-asset” and the burden is on the trustee to change the designation.You do need to be eligible for Chapter 7 and you must undergo a “means test” to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The “means test” is how the Internal Revenue Service will determine who can or cannot file for Chapter 7. Your income and expenses are examined in detail to see how they compare to the standard for your area as set by the IRS. If you earn less than the median income for a family of your size in your state, you can automatically file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You must also receive approved credit counseling and a budget analysis.

A bankruptcy starts with the filing of the official petition, schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs with the bankruptcy court. In order to complete the Bankruptcy Forms, you must provide a list of all of your creditors and the amount and type of their claim; the source, amount, and the frequency of your income; a list of all of your property; and a detailed list of your monthly living expenses.

As soon as you file for bankruptcy, your creditors are prevented from trying to collect on your debts through what’s called an “automatic stay.” The stay is designed to preserve your property and to give you a break from litigation. A creditor must show the bankruptcy judge, after a hearing, that there is “cause” for the creditor to be allowed to continue with collection action (for instance, by showing that the property might deteriorate in value during the bankruptcy period).

If there is property that isn’t exempt, the trustee takes control of it. From the sale of your property, the trustee pays the expenses of the administration of the case, and then gives any remaining money to creditors with allowed claims, according to the priority of the claims. Any wages you earn after you file the case are yours, beyond the reach of creditors who had claims on the date you filed for bankruptcy.

Usually between 20 and 40 days after you file your petition, the trustee will hold the “first meeting of creditors”. You must be present for that meeting. The trustee can ask you questions under oath about your property and debts. Creditors can also question you on those subjects, but seldom do. Generally, the only responsibilities you have with respect to the bankruptcy after the meeting of creditors is to cooperate with the trustee in providing any requested information. Creditors have 60 days after that meeting to convince the bankruptcy court you shouldn’t be allowed to jettison your debts.

Creditors may also approach you about what’s called “reaffirmation” of debts. Reaffirmation is an agreement between you and a creditor that you will remain liable on a debt and will pay the remaining portion of the amount owed in order to keep certain property, such as an automobile, even though the debt could be discharged.

If you have further questions regarding filing for bankruptcy, I offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation where you can get all your questions answered.


Kevin Hart Files for Divorce

Posted in Celebrity Divorce tagged at 12:38 pm by demetriagraves

Actor and comedian Kevin Hart has filed for divorce from his wife of eight years, Torrei Hart. He is seeking joint custody of their two children, daughter Heaven, 5, and son Hendrix, 3.

Kevin cites “irreconcilable differences” for the split. The 31 year old has requested that Torrei not receive any spousal support and that she be barred from leaving California with their children without his permission or a court order. Apparently the couple have been separated for almost a year.

Kevin who appeared in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Little Fockers, and Scary Movie 3 was recently seen holding hands with a new girl at a Lakers game last month. Torrei & Kevin married on May 22, 2003 and are said to have separated on Feb 5th, 2010. It’s not known if the former couple have a pre-nuptial agreement and it will be interesting to see how the divorce pans out, sounds like Kevin has already decided to move on with a new love interest in his life.

January 13, 2011

Longoria Files For Bankruptcy

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 4:16 pm by demetriagraves

After filing for divorce recently from San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker, “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria will be filing again, this time for bankruptcy. Times are tough, and Eva’s Las Vegas restaurant Beso is feeling it firsthand, filing for bankruptcy for restructuring purposes. EVA Longoria owns a 32 percent stake in eatery Beso and is also listed as a creditor, having given Beso a $1 million loan to help fund its startup. To make matters worse, Eva was named in another lawsuit for allegedly violating California lending law.

Since opening just two years ago, the restaurant has gone deep into debt accumulating upward of $5.7 million in debts, despite grossing $14.6 million last year. Records filed at the US Bankruptcy Court in Las Vegas show it was losing up to $76,000 a month and owes $1.8 million to landlords Crystals. Both the restaurant and the adjacent nightclub, Eve, have had trouble keeping up with the lease. The bankruptcy filing is designed to protect $2.5 million in assets and will help the company Beso LLC restructure the $5.7 million in debt.

Eva, 35, is now being sued for more than $4 million, its reported that an investor of Beso named Mali Nachum is claiming that Eva not only violated California law but cut into his percent of the company. He is accusing Eva of lending $1million to the company behind Beso with the agreement that she would get paid back. We’ll have to see what pans out with this one.

Who gets the Pet in a Divorce?

Posted in Divorce tagged at 3:47 pm by demetriagraves

Today many people understand that divorce can degenerate into a dog fight. But it seems that these days were talking literally and it’s possible that Fluffy or Rover could be part of a custody battle. Many people who are going through a divorce are not only sorting out who gets the house and car and primary custody of the kids, they’re also having to come to terms with who gets the to keep the family pet.

Recent stats show that family law attorneys have seen a 23 percent jump in pet custody cases. Harvard even has a course teaching animal law. Issues can range from visitation rights to how vet bills are split. Another consideration is how long treatment should be kept to maintain life before putting an animal to sleep. But the biggest battles involve which spouse gets custody.

There are plenty of celebrity cases that illustrate this point. Britney Spears and Kevin Federline battled over their pups. Drew Barrymore demanded custody of her lab, Flossie, while Jon Gosselin lost custody of Shoka and Nala, his two German shepherds. However, he got joint custody of his eight kids.

Pets used to be viewed as property, like a sofa or piece of jewelry, and whoever bought it got it. But now courts realize that pets are members of the family and their best interests are being considered. Many pet owners freely admit that their pets are substitute children and divorce settlements are having to take into account the welfare of our four-legged friends. There is even case where a judge has ruled that a divorcing couple accept joint custody of their dog – spending six months of the year with each former spouse.

What happens to the family pet could literally make or break a divorce settlement. Often, former couples have settled the residency of the children, they’ve settled the finances, the antiques and the paintings, the cars and the holiday homes, and then they fight over the pet – and one of them says ‘the whole deal is off, we’re going to court’.

While one parent may have primary custody of the children and the pets, keep in mind that many kids often bring their pets while they visit the other parent as a comforting form of continuity. But in the heat of a divorce battle, many spouses forget that they will see their beloved pet even if it’s only when the kids visit.

If you’re going through a divorce or considering one, please don’t hesitate to get the right advice. I offer a free initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered.


January 6, 2011

Is January Divorce Month

Posted in Divorce tagged at 2:10 pm by demetriagraves

Have you decided that divorce or legal separation is one of your New Year’s resolutions? If so, you’re not alone as the first few weeks of the new year is often one of the busiest times for divorce and many family law attorneys notice an increase in clients seeking divorce consultations. In many legal circles January is often known as ‘Divorce Month’ as it seems to be one of the most popular times of the year to file for divorce.

January is the coldest month of the year and apparently, the frosty vibe extends beyond the temperature and can affect many relationships. The holidays can be hectic and relationship issues can come into sharper focus when stressed-out couples spend more time together. But is January’s bad rap really deserved?

For better or worse, the numbers suggest that ‘Divorce Month’ is real. According to published statistics, January has the most legal breakups. Some studies have even tried to identify a single D-day. The most popular filing date does vary depending on where you look and there probably are many factors to consider. But interestingly enough, some common denominators for popular ‘Divorce Day’ dates have emerged. The two biggest contenders are: The first Monday after the kids return to school and the start of the first full working week after the holidays.

Nailing down a single ‘Divorce Day’ may seem a little ambitious but the month of January consistently sees the most divorce filings, which is an amazing phenomenon. If you are considering divorce and making a fresh start to the year, please make sure that you get the right advice from and experienced Family Law Attorney. If you’d like to discuss this matter further, I offer a free initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered.


Xzibit Files For Bankruptcy Again

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 2:07 pm by demetriagraves

Xzibit a well known rapper and former host of MTV’s Pimp My Ride has filed for bankruptcy last month, for the third time since July 2009. According to public records, Alvin Joiner (AKA Xzibit) owes close to $1 million in delinquent federal taxes.

It is reported that he first encountered financial problems subsequent to the cancellation of the MTV show, which preceded the foreclosure of his home in Woodland Hills, California. The 7,650 square foot home just sold last week for $610,000 as foreclosure sale. Apparently his yearly income plummeted from $497,175 in 2007 to a mere $67,510 one year later, once Pimp My Ride was off the air.

His two previous attempts at filing for bankruptcy were denied for various reasons. Despite his tribulations, he listed assets totaling $739,433 (mainly houses in California and New Mexico) as of July 2009. However, his liabilities totaled 1.4 million.
What is Owed:

  • The IRS filed a $22,196 lien against him Nov. 2 with the Los Angeles County Recorder.
  • The IRS filed a $435,487 lien July 21, 2009, with the Bernalillo County Clerk in New Mexico, where he owns a home.
  • The IRS filed a $205,485 lien Feb. 4, 2009, in Los Angeles County. He owes income taxes from 2007, according to the lien.
  • The IRS filed a $296,355 lien April 17, 2008, in Los Angeles County for unpaid income taxes from 2006, records show.

It’s interesting to note that bankruptcy can be an option for many people in a wide range of circumstances. As Xzibit discovered, it’s important that your bankruptcy filing is done right. Should you want to discuss this matter further, I offer a free 30-minute phone consultation, and we can discuss your individual questions about Bankruptcy.