July 29, 2011

NewlyDivorcedDating.com

Posted in Divorce tagged at 4:24 pm by demetriagraves

Many of my clients who go through divorce want to make a fresh start and often that involves the desire to date again and find a new partner. So I’m excited to to let you know about a new website that is launching soon called NewlyDivorcedDating.com. Here’s a press release from NewlyDivorcedDating.com that gives you more information.

NewlyDivorcedDating.com, the Newest Social Networking Site to hit the Internet, set to go Live August 26, 2011

NewlyDivorcedDating.com was created in 2008. The Company was started out of personal experience and an ever-growing trend developing in the United States.  According to the Enrichment Journal the Divorce Rate in America for first, second, and third Marriages are as follows:

41% for first marriages,

60% for second marriages, and

73% for third marriages.

When people get or go through a divorce break up and/or separation there are certain challenges you are faced with. One of the main challenges that everyone faces and dreads no matter who what is, dating!  After being out of dating scene, in some cases many years, people can find it extremely hard to adapt and learn how to survive.  That’s when the idea of NewlyDivorcedDating.com was born.

NewlyDivorcedDating.com helps bridge the gap between our Members and the Dating world by giving individuals a safe and secure place to search for love, companionship, friendship, or just someone to talk to who understands what divorced individuals have been through or are going through.  However NewlyDivorcedDating.com did not stop at dating.  As we conducted more research we found that dating was not the only major challenge associated with divorce, break up, and/or separation.  Individuals needed access to resources like, Divorce Attorneys, Therapist, Real Estate Agents, Fitness Consultants, and much more.  The second aspect of NewlyDivorcedDating.com focuses on providing a repository of proven Resources to help make the transition to post divorce life as smooth as possible.  The last and one of the most important goals of NewlyDivorcedDating.com is for our Members to have fun.  Dating is supposed to be fun and we are here to eliminate some of the challenges so you can focus on finding a new relationship and have fun during your search.

Individuals that are interested in learning more about NewlyDivorcedDating.com or becoming a Member, can visit http://www.newlydivorceddating.com.  If you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns please send them to info@newlydivorceddating.com.  Thank you and we look forward to you becoming a part of our Community.

Bankruptcy to Discharge Credit Card Debt

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 4:16 pm by demetriagraves

When Congress’ recent revisions to federal laws governing credit card usage went into effect, some consumers saw interest rates double or even triple. The law now allows for credit providers to be more flexible with interest rate raises, provided they give the cardholders notice of the action and share information about the total amount of the debt and approximately how long it will take to pay it off.

The changes in the law were initially introduced as a way to protect consumers, but, in practice they are much more biased toward lenders. Following the enacting of those laws, more consumers burdened by credit card debt need help to get themselves back on the right track financially.

Although some people believe that debt management services like debt consolidation or by negotiation with creditors for more manageable payments will resolve their problems, as a bankruptcy attorney I believe that bankruptcy maybe the best option for many people with mounting credit card debt. It’s important to remind people in debt that debt settlement agencies are not regulated by the government and cannot guarantee favorable results.

In addition, discharging your liabilities in a bankruptcy proceeding will not result in a taxable event. From my experience, debt settlements are often a piece meal approach that are often ineffective in resolving all debt problems. Bankruptcy on the other hand is a governed by federal law that grants debt relief. For many with uncontrolable credit card, bankruptcy is the best option.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect Credit Card Debt?

Different types of bankruptcy filings affect debt in different ways. Generally, credit card debt is unsecured, based only upon an obligation to pay. Secured debts, on the other hand, are based upon actual collateral, for example, a financed automobile or a mortgage on your home.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves the liquidation of non-exempt assets to pay off debt. Unless the bankruptcy court finds that a debtor has acted in bad faith while accruing credit card debt, it is usually dischargeable.

If you are concerned about the amount of debt you have, I offer a free 30 minute telephone bankruptcy consultation where you can learn more about your legal rights and options and find out if declaring bankruptcy may be the best option for you.

July 21, 2011

J Lo Divorce

Posted in Celebrity Divorce tagged at 12:58 pm by demetriagraves

Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez is divorcing her husband of seven years, Marc Anthony. The couple had dated briefly in the 1990s and then rekindled their romance in 2004. They were married in a secret ceremony at Lopez’s Beverly Hills home in June 2004. Lopez, 41, gave birth to the couple’s two children, twins Max and Emme, in February 2008. It was Lopez’s third marriage and the second for Anthony, 42.
The rumors and speculation have begun, but to Ms. Lopez’s credit, it appears she has handled the matter with dignity by reaching an out of court settlement prior to making any divorce plans public.  She sets a good example for those who are considering divorce. Many celebrities have come to realize how harmful an ugly divorce can be to their image and do everything possible to settle all personal details out of court.
These cases are typically handled quickly, and often cost much less in legal fees than divorces for the average person.  A divorce case in California is open to the public.  The court cannot seal records except in rare situations.  Detailed financial information and allegations about infidelity and the treatment of children, whether true or false, are made public for all to see when people use the court system to resolve their divorce.
The irony is that many of these high profile celebrities have found a way to resolve their cases privately and quietly but the rest of us as private citizens find it necessary to air out our lives noisily in the court of public opinion, costing in dollars and sense.

This is why it’s important to work with a family law attorney who is focused on settling matters quickly thus helping you make a fresh start and move on with your life as painlessly as possible.

Understanding Bankruptcy Legal Fees

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 12:53 pm by demetriagraves

Many people are reluctant to see an attorney, especially if their funds are tight. It’s a common belief to think that, if I’m broke how in the world can I afford an attorney? Often when doing a bankruptcy consultation the client is probably thinking, this all sounds great, I need to file bankruptcy, but what is this going to cost me? I always try and be up front with the legal fees I charge.

So how much does it cost to file bankruptcy? Well this does depend on the complexity of your case but I can give you an estimate, once we’ve had our initial consultation. You will work directly with me from day one until your case is discharged. In addition to my fees, there is a filing fee charged by the court plus any costs for credit counseling. In chapter 7 bankruptcy case the legal fees must be paid in full prior to your case being filed with the bankruptcy court. The reason being, if you owe me money at the time of your bankruptcy filing, I am now not only your bankruptcy attorney, I am one of your creditors as well! It creates a conflict of interest so the fees need to be paid up front. So here’s some ways the fees can be handled so that you can move forward with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy and make a fresh start.

1. Payment Plans. I offer payment plans. I do require a deposit to get the case started and to officially hire me as your attorney. You can then make payments on the remaining balance. I will work with you within your budget to come up with a payment plan that will work for your family.

2. Use the Money You Are Saving. When we meet in a bankruptcy consultation I discuss you with you not only what your debts are, but what your goals are, what property you would like to protect, and what secured debts (i.e. car, house) you will continue to pay. If you have decided to surrender your home or to let that car you are upside down on go back to the bank, there is usually no reason to continue to pay on those secured debts leading up to your bankruptcy filing. The funds you save there can be used to take care of the legal fees and court costs associated with filing bankruptcy.
3. Tax Refunds. During the spring of every year there is an increase in bankruptcy filings. This is largely due to the fact that people have a lump sum of money from their tax refunds that they can use to cover their bankruptcy costs.
4. Retirement Funds. I generally don’t recommend that client’s use their retirement funds for their bankruptcy filing. You will generally take a tax hit for early withdrawal and further those are protected funds, even during your bankruptcy. However, in certain circumstances it is the only option. The choice often comes down to filing your case or risking foreclosure, wage garnishment, and a bankruptcy needs to be filed quickly. In certain cases it needs to be done.
5. Help From Family. It is not unusual to have help from a family member in getting your bankruptcy case filed. It is important to know that if a family member loans you the money that their debt is discharged in the bankruptcy as well. However if they gift you the money or if you voluntarily repay them down the road there is no problem with that.
There is one place where the money cannot come from. Credit cards. You cannot charge your legal fees on your credit card. It would be nice for all involved, but it is not going to fly.
I offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation where we can discuss your situation, and help you determine if bankruptcy is a good option for you. If it is, I will help you work out a plan on how the bankruptcy costs can be put together and help you start moving forward with your case.

July 14, 2011

Why Have Bankruptcy Filings Gone Down?

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 5:54 pm by demetriagraves

Looking at the first six months of 2011, it appears that fewer people have filed bankruptcy petitions so far in 2011 than they did in 2010.  Last year there were over 1.5 million bankruptcies filed in the United States.  In the first quarter of 2011 there were 6% fewer cases filed than there were in the first quarter last year.  In March the decrease was 8.2% compared to last March.

So why are there fewer people filing bankruptcy?  Has the economy improved that much?  Actually, even if the economy bounced back to its pre-2008 status, there has traditionally been a 6 month or greater delay in the effect on bankruptcy filings.
Some observers say that it is because of the reduction in the high unemployment rates.  Others speculate that because credit has been less available in the past few years, fewer people have been able to accumulate enough debt to warrant filling for bankruptcy.  Still others say that more consumer credit is available now which is allowing people to borrow and (if only temporarily) avoid the need to file bankruptcy. Another common belief is that mortgage foreclosures are taking much longer than they used to which takes away the urgency to file bankruptcy right away.

Whatever the reason for the decrease, it may not last.  When you look at the statistics of bankruptcy fillings over a greater period of time you can see that while the number of bankruptcies filed in this country sometimes increases and sometimes decreases, the overall trend is a steady increase.

If you’re struggling with overwhelming debt and would like to find out if bankruptcy may be a viable option for you. I offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation, where you can get all your questions answered.

Cheaters Beware – GPS Tracking Upheld by Court

Posted in Divorce, Family Law tagged , at 5:52 pm by demetriagraves

A New Jersey appeals court recently ruled that straying spouses tracked by GPS does not constitute an invasion of their privacy.

County Sheriff’s Officer Kenneth Villanova, sparked the debate when he sued his wife for invasion of privacy during their divorce proceedings, claiming the GPS invaded his right to privacy and caused him “substantial and permanent emotional distress.”
Initially, the officer included private investigator, Richard Leonard, hired by Mrs. Villanova, but dropped his suit against the wife and pursued the private eye. Apparently Leonard recommended Mrs. Villanova buy the device after he was unable to tail the police officer on his own. Two weeks after the device was installed, Leonard caught the officer leaving a driveway with another woman.
Appellate Judges Joseph Lisa, Jack Sabatino and Carmen Alvarez said no direct evidence proved the GPS, installed in the plaintiff’s glove compartment for 40 days before he noticed it, captured Villanova in any secluded places where he had a right to expect privacy. The device only tracked Villanova’s movements on public streets, and that information was then passed on to Leonard via Villanova’s wife, said Judge Lisa.
There are currently no state laws governing the use of GPS tracking devices. Villanova’s suit was the first of its kind.
This ruling does not affect law enforcement officers, in June, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a lawsuit that will determine whether police need to obtain a warrant signed by a judge before installing GPS trackers on the citizen’s vehicles.
Following an arrest and conviction on cocaine charges, Antoine Jones, a Washington, D.C. nightclub owner, argued that the warrantless use of the GPS device clearly violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed and tossed Jones’ conviction in August 2010 “because it was obtained with evidence procured in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”
Jones asserted that police used a GPS device to track his every move for at least a month prior to his arrest. The Amendment, which falls under the Bill of Rights, also requires law enforcement officers to have probable cause in order to secure search warrants. A ruling on the matter, which the Obama Administration disagrees with, is expected by October.

July 7, 2011

Biggest Bankruptcy Mistakes

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 2:20 pm by demetriagraves

You’ve made the decision to file for bankruptcy and of course, you want to do it right. Most clients I work with want to avoid Bankruptcy mistakes and make the filing process as smooth as possible. Recently I’ve had to help clients whose petitions needed fixing. So I thought it would be a good idea to outline the biggest Bankruptcy mistakes. I’ve seen every one of these mistakes cost my clients untold amounts of money and grief.
These mistakes could have been avoided. I surveyed Google recently, looked for the top 20 sites for the “10 Biggest Mistakes in Bankruptcy.” as I want to do a compilation of common biggest bankruptcy mistakes and more importantly how to avoid them. Much of the online advice applies only to residents of their state—but it doesn’t say so. Some of what I’ve written here applies only to California and I’ll say so. But most is good for anywhere in the United States.
I want to cover these mistakes in some detail rather than giving a brief summary, so this week here’s 1 & 2. The other biggest Bankruptcy mistakes will follow over the coming weeks.
1. Failing to disclose everything. This includes every asset. Every creditor. Every recent transaction. This is critical, as you can lose your discharge if you don’t take this seriously. Why? A petition in the Bankruptcy Court must pass one supreme test: “Was it filed in good faith?” The minute you think, “I can’t disclose that,” you put your case at risk.
If your connection to the undisclosed asset or income left any trace anywhere, the bankruptcy administrator will find it. Then you must explain the transaction, as well as why you didn’t list it. The mere fact you didn’t list it makes it suspicious and you’ll often have to provide additional documentation. Failing to list creditors often means their debt is still valid after your bankruptcy discharge, since they didn’t have an opportunity to challenge your case, or to benefit if there is a distribution to your creditors.
2. Failing to keep good records. Even in school, the excuse “the dog ate my homework” won’t save your grade. Judges view a lack of records as an indicator of fraud. So if you don’t have records, it’s a sign of bad faith and you could lose your discharge.
So what are good records?
(1) At least 2 years tax returns for Chapter 7 cases.
(2) Income records such as pay stubs for the past 6 months. If you’re self-employed, profit & loss statements for 6 months.
(3) Several months of receipts for what you spend. The bankruptcy administrators have the right to conduct audits of your income and expenses, and take away your discharge if you can’t prove them.
(4) Six months of bank statements for every account you have.
(5) A credit report (often your attorney will get this for you).
(6) If you want to stop the creditor calls, keep all letters from collection agencies and lawyers.
(7) All lawsuit papers you receive in the past year.
(8) Escrow statements for each property you’ve sold in the past 4 years.
(9) Donation records for the past 4 years.
I offer a free 30 minute telephone bankruptcy consultation where we can discuss your specific situation and determine whether a chapter 7 bankruptcy could be the answer to your current financial difficulties.

Shriver Files For Divorce

Posted in Celebrity Divorce tagged at 2:16 pm by demetriagraves

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife Maria Shriver, has filed divorce papers to end their 25-years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. It’s speculated that she could receive in excess of $250 million under the state law. Shriver is asking for spousal support and wants the judge to deny Arnold the right to ask for support for himself,  though it’s highly unlikely he would.

Shriver is asking for joint custody of their minor children, who she names in the document as 17-year-old “Patrick Arnold Shriver Schwarzenegger” and 13-year-old “Christopher Sargent Shriver Schwarzenegger.” Together Shriver and Schwarzenegger have four children. Their two daughters are adults.

In the petition, filed by Shriver’s attorney Laura Wasser, she is asking Arnold to pay the attorneys’ fees of both parties.  Schwarzenegger’s attorney is Bob Kaufman and divorce proceedings will be conducted by a private judge. Both attorneys have a history of handling high profile clients in a way that allows their privacy to remain intact. Once a settlement has been reached one of the attorneys will report to a court and tell the judge the agreement.

Wasser and Kaufman are said to work extremely well together, and have already made great headway in the settlement discussions. Arnold must formally file a response to Maria’s divorce petition within the next two months according to California law.

There are even rumours that Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to give his soon to be ex-wife a “very generous divorce settlement.” In fact, the settlement is said to include much more than what is required under California law.

Under California law, the assets accumulated during a marriage are to be split 50/50 in the case of divorce. However, according to sources, Schwarzenegger plans to give Shriver much more than that. The ‘Governator’ is said to be worth roughly $500-750 million. Arnold is said to be offering up such a generous settlement with Shriver being that he realizes how much he has put her through. He is aware that Shriver has been a devoted wife and mother, and realizes that no amount of money can make up for the public embarrassment and betrayal.
The wealth of Shriver, who’s an award winning television newscaster, is estimated at more than $1 million. She is also a member of America’s most famous political clan the Kennedys. Shriver and Schwarzenegger, married in 1986 and became one of the top U.S. power couples as it symbolized a rare union between politics and Hollywood. The couple weathered storms over the years and Maria became the pillar of her husband’s strength at every twist and turn and was instrumental in Schwarzenegger’s victory in election for the position of governor of California. Shriver even stood by her husband’s side as he ran for California’s governorship in 2003, even after there were reported accusations by several women that they had been groped by him. Schwarzenegger was elected twice to governorship.
However, the last few months their marriage showed signs of strain and after Arnold’s tenure as governor ended, he confessed to having fathered a child out of wedlock. Arnold said in May he had an affair with Mildred Baena, a longtime housekeeper for the family. The love child is now 13.

July 2, 2011

Do I Have Enough Debt to File Bankruptcy?

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 4:11 pm by demetriagraves

One of the most common questions I get asked when consulting clients about bankruptcy is, would you file bankruptcy with this amount of debt? People are worried that the amount of debt they have is not enough to warrant a bankruptcy filing. There is no magical number or threshold amount of debt that is necessary in order to file for bankruptcy. As with most legal questions the answer as to whether you have enough debt to file bankruptcy is – it depends.

A common reason why people are considering bankruptcy is credit card debt, it’s not uncommon to see people with $80,000 up to $200,000 in credit card debts. Though one client recently had only about $12,000 in credit card debt. Twelve thousand dollars is a lot of money, however in this client’s situation $12,000 might as well have been $1.2 million. This client was unemployed, living with parents, and had no good prospects for employment in the near future. They simply did not have the ability to pay this debt. So for this client, a chapter 7 bankruptcy made sense. The rule of thumb is not how much debt you have but your ability to repay it that should be the determining factor as to whether bankruptcy is a good option.

 I offer a free 30 minute phone bankruptcy consultation where we can discuss your specific situation and determine whether a chapter 7 bankruptcy could be the answer to your current financial difficulties.

Gay Marriage & Divorce in NY

Posted in Divorce tagged , at 4:00 pm by demetriagraves

The New York Senate has now approved same-sex marriage – joining New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and the District of Columbia – two years after a similar bill had been defeated. New York is the largest state to allow couples of the same sex to marry. State senators voted 33-29 to approve marriage equality legislation introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat in his first year of office. Twenty-nine states have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, and 12 others have laws barring such marriage.

As New York’s same-sex couples head to the altar to celebrate their newly won right to marry, they can take comfort in the fact that, if it doesn’t work out, their right to get divorced in the state just got a lot easier as well. With New York state being the last state to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce last year. Officials predict that about 21,000 gay and lesbian couples will marry in New York in the next three years. Based on the state’s current divorce rate, about 1,800 of those marriages will fail. Courts in the state already allow gay divorces there because the state recognizes gay marriages performed elsewhere.

In fact, same-sex divorce was first recognized in New York in 2008, when an appeals court found that a same-sex marriage performed in Canada could be legally recognized in New York for the purposes of dissolving the union. But without a formal law on the books, same-sex divorce in the state has proceeded on a case-by-case basis, creating some degree of uncertainty for same-sex couples looking to undo their unions. Since same-sex marriages are now legally equivalent to heterosexual unions, same-sex couples’ right to divorce will be rooted in New York’s Domestic Relations Law, rather than cobbled together out of court rulings and individual judges’ decisions. If same-sex couples married in New York leave the state, however, they may run into trouble getting a divorce, especially if they end up in one of the 30 states that do not recognize same-sex marriage.

Interestingly enough, same-sex relationships are no more susceptible to divorce than their heterosexual counterparts. According to a 2008 report from the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles, annual same-sex marriage divorce rates were about 2 percent, nearly identical to the rate for opposite-sex marriage.

One issue that remains unresolved by the same-sex marriage vote is child custody, where one partner is a biological parent but the other has failed to adopt the child.