Posts made in March, 2017

Getting Your Priorities Straight: Divorce And Bankruptcy

Sometimes, trouble just seems to come in pairs. If you and your spouse have encountered some very troubled waters and are considering taking more than one major legal move in the near future, you may be wondering if there are benefits or risks with what to do first. You should know that the order could make a huge difference, depending on your exact circumstances, so read on to find out more about these complex issues that surround a bankruptcy and divorce filing.

Burdened with debt?

You might be able to make a great deal of your debt disappear quite quickly, which could eliminate one of the most contentious issues a divorcing couple can face. A chapter 7 bankruptcy filing before you divorce will make your credit card debt, and other unsecured debt, go away. This could help clear away some of the financial issues before you begin your divorce proceedings, and perhaps make your divorce a bit quicker and less acrimonious.

Be cautious about secured property loss.

If you have some secured property that has the potential to be seized by the bankruptcy courts, tread more carefully. Secured property, such as a home secured by a mortgage, can be taken by the bankruptcy trustee and sold to help pay some of your debts. Be sure to discuss your potential divorce with both a bankruptcy attorney and a divorce attorney, since filers are not allowed to “shed” property prior to a chapter 7 filing. This applies to homes, vehicles and anything else that was used as collateral on a loan.

Double your allowances

All states have homestead and other property exemptions available for filers, which removes some of the value from their property and consequently leaves it less attractive to the bankruptcy trustee. Some states allow filers to double those exemptions for an even greater benefit, so it would be smart to stay married long enough to get through the bankruptcy together in those instances.

The means test.

Every state has a median income level, and if your income is above that level you may be prevented from filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Married people are evaluated using both incomes. If your income is too high as a couple, it could make more sense to divorce first and file bankruptcy individually later on. There are some other factors at work here, such as using certain high expenses to lower your income and something called the marital adjustment deduction, so be sure to discuss your particular situation with your bankruptcy attorney, someone like Geranios Law PLLC, for more clarity.

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This Isn’t Working Out: 4 Steps To Take When It’s Time For Divorce

There’s always a certain amount of stress involved in a divorce – even those that are amicable. However, with some careful planning, there is a way to alleviate some of the stress. If you’ve decided to file for divorce, now’s the time to start preparing for your future. Here are five steps that will help you alleviate some of the stress while you’re preparing for your divorce.

Open a Savings Account

If you’re going to be moving out of the marital home once you file for divorce, you’ll need money to start your new life with. Not only will you need to pay for the initial rent and deposits for your new home, you’ll also need to purchase necessities for it. To help you arrange for those purchases, you should open a savings account as soon as possible. Once you have your savings account opened, withdraw half of the money from any joint bank accounts you have. Don’t withdraw any more than that, or you might have to pay it back to your spouse once you file for divorce.

Update Your Resume

If you’ve been a stay-at-home partner during your marriage, you’re going to need a job once you file for divorce. Before you start looking for work, be sure to update your resume. Even if you don’t have any recent work experience, you can still include any volunteer work you’ve done throughout your marriage. Having an updated resume will help you secure a job so you can land on your feet.

Document Joint Account Numbers

If you and your spouse have joint accounts, you’re going to need those account numbers. This includes numbers for bank accounts and credit accounts. Not only will you need this information for your own use, but your attorney will also need this information when working on your divorce settlement.

Gather Important Papers

When it comes to dividing assets in a divorce, it’s important to have the proper documentation. Before you move out of the marital home, take the time to gather copies of all your important papers, including the following:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Investment portfolios
  • Mortgage papers
  • Automobile loans

Hire an Attorney

Now that you’ve decided to file for divorce, you’re going to need legal representation, especially if your spouse hires an attorney. Make sure that your rights are protected by hiring an attorney, such as Christena Silvey Coleman CSC Law, LLC, to handle your divorce for you. Before you sit down with your attorney, make a complete list of any questions you might have for them. 

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Signs That A Dog Owner Should Have Known That There Animal Is Dangerous

One of the best ways to strengthen a dog bite claim is to prove that the dog has a dangerous propensity and the owner knew about it but did not take precautions to prevent it from biting people. This is a good way of proving the owner’s negligence, and anybody injured via another person’s negligence needs to be compensated. Here are a few ways of proving that a dog has a dangerous propensity:

Warning Signs on the Owner’s Property

If there is a sign on the dog owner’s property warning visitors about a dangerous dog, then the owner clearly knows that their animal is dangerous. For example, a “Beware of Dog” or “Warning, Dangerous Dog” signs clearly show that the owner of the property knows their animal can bite. The owner of such a dog should go the extra mile in keeping people safe from their animal. Therefore, if the owner lets the dog run into the street and bites you, they are negligent.

The Dog’s Breed

Some breeds of dogs are inherently dangerous. Examples include Pit Bull, Rottweiler, and German Shepherd. Anybody who keeps such a dog knows or is expected to know about their dog’s dangerous tendencies and take the necessary precautions to prevent bites. Therefore, merely proving that you were bitten by a dangerous breed is enough to show that the owner should have been extra careful in preventing such accidents.

Purpose of Keeping the Dog

Dogs are kept for different purposes that may influence whether they are dangerous or not. People keep dogs for companionship, as pets, and as guards. Obviously, a guard dog has to be dangerous for it to do its duty of guarding the home; otherwise, it may even play around with intruders. Therefore, the mere fact that a dog is kept as a guard is adequate proof that the owner knows it has a dangerous propensity.

How the Dog Is Kept

Lastly, you should also examine how the dog is kept because it can give you a clue as to whether the owner should have known that the animal is dangerous. For example, a dog that is kept in a carefree manner and left to play with the neighbors and visitors is probably not dangerous. However, if a dog is usually kept in an enclosed space and rarely sees people, then its owner should know that it’s dangerous.

If you have a dog injury claim and you don’t have a personal injury lawyer yet, go out and get one now. Proving any of the above things won’t be easy for the inexperienced.

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How Boundary Trees Can Cause Problems Between Neighbors

Trees, especially those growing between neighboring homes, often cause great controversies between neighbors. What’s more, many neighbors don’t know what they can legally do in such situations. Here are a few examples of tree-related disputes, and your possible legal rights in those cases:

Tree Falls onNeighbor’s Property

If your tree falls on your neighbor’s car or house, then the cause of the fall determines who pays for the damage. You won’t be held responsible if the tree was toppled by an act of God; for example, if the damage occurs during a freak thunderstorm. In such a case, your neighbor (though their insurance) pays for the damage. However, you will be held responsible for damages you could have prevented. For example, you may be tasked with paying for the damage if the tree was rotten and you had been advised several times to cut it down. You may also be responsible for the damage if you were careless when cutting down a tree and it ends up falling on the neighbor’s house.

Tree Litters Neighbors Compound

Tree leaves, flowers, seeds or even small twigs routinely fall. This debris can cause considerable litter on a neighbor’s compound. However, they are considered a natural occurrence, and the neighbor can’t sue you for the removal of the litter; they have to pay for it from their own pockets.

Tree Blocks Neighbors View

You can’t do anything (except maybe talk to your neighbor) to your neighbor’s tree that is blocking your view as long as the trees are growing on their side of the boundary. You neighbor can have as many trees as possible, and they can let the trees grow as big as they like. The only exception is if there is a local zoning regulation or ordinance that the trees are violating; in that case, you can seek redress as outlined in the ordinance.

Tree Root Caused Damage to Neighbors Property

A tree doesn’t have to fall to cause damage to your neighbor’s side of the fence; tree roots know no boundaries and can also cause damage. States have varied laws on this issue so you should seek guidance from your state’s laws. In some states, your neighbor can sue you for the damage while in others it’s up to your neighbor to trim the roots so that they don’t cause damage.

As you can see, the laws are many and varied when it comes to tree damage and obstructions. This means you shouldn’t take any measures without confirming that it’s in agreement with your local laws. A  lawyer can help you navigate the legal landscape. 

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What Tax Questions Need To Be Asked Before The Divorce Decree Is Finalized?

One of the biggest mistakes you and your spouse could make during negotiations to end your marriage is to forget to consider the implications of your split on your taxes. If you and your spouse do not properly handle your financial matters, both of you could face serious issues when it is time to file. Before agreeing on a final settlement, here are some questions you and your spouse need to ask.  

Who Claims the Children?

Earned income and child care credit can add thousands of dollars to a tax refund. It could make the difference between owing the government and receiving a refund. Therefore, it is important to determine who will claim the children.  

In some instances, the non-custodial parent who pays child support claims the children. However, the custodial parent might feel that he or she should claim them. Some parents choose to take turns claiming the children. Regardless of what you and your spouse decide, there needs to be a written agreement that can be referred to each year, if necessary. 

If you and your spouse fail to answer this question and both of you claim the children on your next tax returns, someone could be faced with having to pay back any refund that was paid out.  

Who Will Claim Head of Household?

If you and your spouse are splitting custody of the children, who gets to claim head of household needs to be decided. Filing head of household has various benefits, including a higher standard deduction and a more favorable tax bracket. Filing with this status could lead to a refund instead of a tax bill.  

In order to file for head of household, the qualifying child has to live with the parent at least six months during the year. It is important to note that the parent claiming the child for the earned income credit does not automatically get the right to file head of household. 

It is possible for the parent to claim the credit while allowing the other parent to use the child to get the head of household filing status. As with the earned income credit, ensure that the agreement is in writing for future reference. 

There are other tax questions that need to be resolved before you and your spouse accept the final divorce decree. Work with a divorce attorney from a firm like Legal Action Workshop to determine what those questions are and to find acceptable solutions to those issues. 

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