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When Your Credit Is Killed And It’s Not Your Fault: Can You Sue?

Posted by on Jul 15, 2016 in Uncategorized |

In today’s economy, almost every financial decision you make is based on your credit score. If your score is bad, landlords can refuse to rent to you, you often can’t buy a car or a house, and even small lending, like purchasing furniture on a payment plan, becomes difficult. It can takes years to recoup your score and get into good lending graces, so if your credit was destroyed by bad reporting, inaccurate collections, or identity theft, you might be looking for a way to take back what you have lost. Can you sue for damages to your credit? Here is what you need to know. Know who to dispute the problem with. The best way to explain who is actually responsible for your credit woes is through an example. If your internet company starts coming after you for unpaid bills, this affects your credit score. However, if your bills were actually paid in full and you are wrongfully sent to to collections for money owed, you might think the best plan of action is to go after the lender (in this case, your internet company) for their reporting mistake. However, under the law, you can’t actually sue a lender for messing up your credit score when they make a mistake. Instead, you need to dispute it with the credit reporting companies that create your score, even though they are only acting on what they have gathered from your apparent lending history.  Generally, it won’t come to a full blown legal fight. You can hire a lawyer to help you send a letter showing the error in reporting and asking for your score to be amended properly. If they refuse to correct the score and pay you for financial advantages, you can then take the civil suit to court. Know what damages you can collect. So, what financial damages can you hope to collect from suing for bad credit? Here are some examples: When you have poor credit, if you can secure a loan, those loans will come with higher interest rates because you are a high-risk borrower. Your lawyer can help you calculate how much money you would have saved had you been able to secure the loan with the proper credit score. This money from saved interest can be paid out as damages. You cannot secure a loan because of bad credit. For example, if you want to buy a house, but are turned down due to a poor credit score, you are forced to rent instead. That rent money would have paid a mortgage, and is therefore lost equity on your part.  You were unable to purchase home or rent in a better area because a landlord would not rent to someone with damaged credit. Your home might have been broken into and the resulting financial loss could be counted as damages.  You suffered emotional damages because of the reported score. Often, a credit check is run for family law situations, such as when you want to get custody or adopt a child. Good credit indicates financial stability, and you can sometimes be turned down for custody of a child or for adoption if your credit report shows activity that is financially irresponsible. Not being able to move forward with a perfectly legitimate custody or adoption...

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Car Accident Settlements: 4 Financial Impacts For Farmer’s Market Workers

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Selling products at a farmer’s market is a great way to connect with the community, make some money, and showcase local foods. However, if you’re involved in a car accident before or after a farmer’s market event, then your role in the farmer’s market industry may be drastically changed. When someone else is at fault for the car accident, you can hire an attorney to hold the person liable and seek a settlement for damages. Along with compensation for costs directly related to your injury, there are four additional financial impacts associated with your job at a farmer’s market. By breaking down these different costs, you can help build a settlement case that is fair to your losses and the true financial impact you’re going through. Lost Income The severity of car accident injuries can often have a huge impact on your ability to earn money. Even if working at a farmer’s market was not your main source of income, you can still seek compensation for lost money earned. The amount that you make at a farmer’s market typically varies on your sales and will often be based on past results. When consulting with an attorney, you will often calculate different factors associated with the income from a farmer’s market. This includes how often the farmer’s market was held and your amount earned at each event. For example, if you attended one farmer’s market each week and averaged $500 each time, then an attorney would seek $2,000 in damages for each month that you were forced to miss due to your injuries. This lost income can have a huge impact on your settlement case and help increase the final amount. Lost Inventory When traveling to and from a farmer’s market, you are likely transporting a lot of your goods with you. A car accident could cause fruits, vegetables, and other items to fly out of the vehicle and become spoiled as they are wrecked in the crash. All of these items are potential items that could have been sold at the farmer’s market. This loss in inventory can result in a huge financial impact and should be a part of your case. When someone else is liable for the car accident, a settlement case often involves compensation for the items that were damaged during the accident. Pictures and personal inventory documents can both be used to showcase how much food and product was actually lost during the car accident. Even if the items were not directly damaged, the car accident may cause them to spoil or have the inability to get sold due to your injuries and the emergency situation. Assistant Workers As you continue to heal through your injuries, you may rely on support to keep your farmer’s market going and continue to establish your presence at the events. One way to help with this is by hiring assistant workers to carry items, manage your products, and complete sales at the farmer’s market. If you were not injured in a car accident, these workers would likely not be needed. An attorney can include their costs as part of your settlement case and attempt to seek compensation for the expenses related to the additional help. Adaptive Equipment While preparing to return to your local farmer’s market, you may need...

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Smart Steps Toward Obtaining Your Social Security Disability Benefits

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in Uncategorized |

On the surface, applying for Social Security disability benefits looks like a simple process — you fill in an application and then wait for approval or rejection. Unfortunately, that process also includes a minefield of of potential sticking points, each of which can lead to a small but critical error barring from much-needed payments. Here are some smart tactics that can help you sidestep these mistakes and smooth the way for a successful Social Security disability application. Lawyer Up Unless you have an obviously devastating long-term or permanent disability or already have a detailed understanding of Social Security forms, your smartest first move will be to engage a Social Security lawyer, such as Todd East Attorney at Law. This type of professional can provide instant expertise so you don’t have to grope blindly through the complex process by yourself. An attorney will also know exactly what types of supporting data need to be gathered (and where to get them), how to decipher the sometimes-tricky terminology in the application forms and how to make the best possible case on your behalf. If you end up having to go to court to fight for your claim, you’ll be glad you already have this expert in your corner. If you’re already in dire financial straits at the time of your disability application, you may wonder how in the world you’re supposed to pay for attorney on top of everything else. The good news is that a Social Security lawyer will work a disability case on contingency, getting paid only if you’re awarded your benefits. The lawyer then receives a percentage of the back pay awarded to you by the Administration (or a flat fee of $6,000, whichever method comes out to less money). The only caveat is that you may have to pay a small sum for the attorney’s out-of-pocket expenses, win or lose. Fill in the Blanks (Correctly) Social Security disability forms distribute a dizzyingly long list of disability categories across a two–part Listing of Impairments. In many cases the terms are by no means self-explanatory, and it’s all too easy to classify yourself under the wrong disability. This is a critical reason to have a Social Security lawyer handle the documentation. You’ll also have to provide a large body of medical documentation going back as far as the earliest signs of your impairment. Your attorney can track down and obtain the exact records you need to present your case. Simply submitting the wrong forms of forms can derail your Social Security application right from the beginning. This is an easier trap to fall into than you might think because there are different types of Social Security benefits, each of which requires its own specific application. For instance, if you’ve paying tax dollars into Social Security over a certain period of years, you may qualify for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), in which you need to fill out that application form. If you haven’t been able to make those payments, then you may need to apply for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) instead. Fill out the wrong form for your situation, and you can expect to have your application denied. Update Your Data Before the Hearing If your application for disability has been denied twice by Social Security, you still have the option to...

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Reasonable Suspicion And Pretext–Their Impact On DUI Stops

Posted by on Mar 31, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Police officers in today’s society have a tough job. They are required to enforce the law but must also respect the rights of every citizen while they do so. To put this issue in perspective, imagine that someone in your neighborhood is planning to rob your home. You’d like them stopped before the crime happens, but you don’t want police to accuse everyone on your block of plotting a crime.  This means that police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is happening before a person can be detained for any reason, even in the case of a DUI. That way, your rights are protected. However, the actual definition of reasonable suspicion is murky. Knowing a little bit about it–and how it governs police behavior before and during a traffic stop–can help you behave in a way that could help protect you from misconduct. What Is Reasonable Suspicion In a DUI Stop? Impaired motorists often make themselves obvious to everyone around them. They exhibit many signs of reduced functioning, including: Swerving inside a lane Driving too slow or too fast Drifting across the center line Inconsistent acceleration or braking If you’re seen driving in a way that is consistent with an impaired driver, the officer certainly has the right to stop you and investigate further. Often, this stop will lead to a request for field sobriety tests and possibly a breathalyzer. Depending on the law in your state, your options for refusal or failure of these tests will vary. However, motorists are often detained and questioned when they have not displayed any signs of impaired driving. Some people point out that this practice of finding any pretext by which to detain a motorist contributes to racial profiling, but the practice is also used frequently to investigate a suspected DUI incident. What Is a Pretext Stop? Essentially, a pretext stop is when an officer believes that a significant crime–such as a DUI–is happening. However, they cannot articulate the reason for their suspicion in a way consistent with the requirements of having reasonable suspicion. To execute the stop, the officer then finds any minor traffic violation to detain you and begin investigating. Often, police officers are given quite a bit of latitude in establishing the pretext for a traffic stop. That said, their power in these situations is not absolute. For example, if you’ve been pulled over for speeding and the officer notices that your speech is slurred, they can begin investigating your level of impairment. However, if no signs of impairment exist, they technically should not press that issue. What Can You Do? Only a legal expert can tell you exactly what your rights are in any specific situation. Unfortunately, this analysis almost always comes after the fact. You’ve already been detained, investigated, and charged by the time you contact your lawyer. That’s why it is important to know how to best protect yourself in a general sense before you’re subjected to a traffic stop. The first thing you should do is to politely ask the officer for the reason behind the traffic stop. You have a right to know why you’re being detained. In the event that the stop goes poorly, your representation will need to know what the reasonable suspicion or pretext was. Having the officer state it will...

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3 Big Differences between Child Support and Alimony

Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Uncategorized |

During your divorce, you may have discussed the subjects of alimony and child support with your divorce lawyer. Both of these are types of financial support one spouse must pay another, but there are several key differences between them that you should know about. As you are working through your divorce proceedings, it is important to understand the following three differences between child support and alimony. The Purpose of Each Child support is a type of payment from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent to help him or her financially support their children children. If you have kids and you obtain custody rights of the kids, your ex-spouse will most likely be required to pay you child support each week or month. The court calculates this amount based on both of your incomes, and it can often be garnished from a person’s wages to make sure it is paid. This money is designed to help you provide food, shelter, and clothing for your children. Alimony, on the other hand, is a type of support designed to help provide for a spouse who earns significantly less than the other spouse. This money has nothing to do with the kids involved, and it can be awarded when a couple does not have children. It is harder to convince a court you need alimony in comparison to child support, and you will not even be eligible for collecting alimony if your marriage was short lived and if you earn about the same income as your spouse. Tax Consequences of Each The second big difference with alimony and child support involves the tax consequences of each. Child support payments you receive are not considered taxable income. This means that you do not have to report them on your tax return, and you will not have to pay taxes on this money. Alimony is taxable income. When you collect alimony payments, you will have to report all of them on your income taxes, and you will have to pay taxes on the payments. Because of this, you may end up with larger tax liabilities at the end of each year. You should also realize that your ex-spouse will not be able to write child support payments off on his or her tax return, but he or she will be allowed to write off alimony payments made to you. Length of Time Each Must Be Paid During The third difference to understand is there can be differences in the length of time your ex must pay each of these to you. When it comes to child support, most states require payments to be made until a child turns 18 to 21 years old. Each state has different rules, and the rules are different for kids in college and kids that are not in college. In either case, you can expect to receive child support payments until your children reach the age of 18 or so. With alimony, there may not be a set amount of time a person must pay it, and every state has different rules. In most cases, alimony is a temporary form of support. It may last until you have had enough time to receive training for a better job, or it may only last until the divorce is finalized. Your ex...

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Divorce And Underwater Mortgages — An Underwater Dilemma

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 in Uncategorized |

If you currently owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth, you are not alone. According to MarketWatch, there are more than 4 million homeowners in the United States who owe their banks 20 percent more than their houses are worth. In the best possible situation, you could try to live in your home until the housing market recovered and your house became more valuable. But if your marriage is ending, you may be required to sell your house as part of the divorce proceedings. So what are your options for selling your home if it is underwater? Consider a Short Sale of Your House If neither you or your soon-to-be ex can afford the mortgage payments after your divorce or if neither party has a desire to continue living in your underwater home, you could try to sell your home for less than the amount of money that you owe your mortgage company. This is known as a short sale. Generally, it is considered a better idea than letting the house go into foreclosure because, according to the New York Times, a short sale will have less of a negative impact on your credit history. Plus, having a foreclosure on your credit history can also affect other aspects of your lives. For example, some employers are leery of hiring a person with a bankruptcy on their record.  But short sales are not simple, so you may want to seek legal representation during the process to protect your interests. The bank that owns your mortgage is definitely going to have high-powered lawyers representing their needs, and they are going to try to get as much money from you as possible. Remember, during a short sale, you will be selling your home for less money than you owe the bank. And banks are not in the business of giving away their cash. So in order to recover part of their losses, the bank’s lawyers may attempt to: Garnish your wages Attach your bank accounts Pursue payments in the future A lawyer from a firm like Iannello Anderson can look over the final paperwork from the bank to ensure that it does not contain wording that could hold you liable for the balance of the loan in the future. Another reason you may need a lawyer during this process? Real estate agents are not allowed to offer legal advice even if they know the answers. And, finally, you may not have a choice of whether or not you want to hire a lawyer as some real estate firms are now requiring that short sellers hire legal representation.  One Party Keeps the House If either you or your spouse wants to continue living in the house, the other party could receive a credit for the negative equity during the divorce proceedings. For example, if you and your spouse have total assets of approximately $500,000, and your home has a negative equity of  $50,000, the spouse who keeps the home will end up with $50,000 in marital debt. In some cases, the judge may give the person keeping the house a credit for $25,000, which is half of the negative equity. This situation may be appropriate for you if: The party who wants to stay in the house can afford to pay the mortgage on their own.  The home...

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3 Mistakes To Avoid When Answering Questions At A Disability Hearing

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 in Uncategorized |

For many people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits, one or more hearings are necessary to finally be approved for benefits. Therefore, it’s important to know what to expect at a hearing and what mistakes you might make or might have made in a previous hearing that you should avoid in the future. Take a look at some common missteps that people seeking disability benefits make so that you’ll know what to avoid in the future. Exaggerating Your Disability When asked about the severity of your disability, it can be hard to know how to answer. Of course, you want the court to understand the seriousness of your medical issue. It’s not uncommon for people to misunderstand the nature of a chronic condition – you may have run into friends and family members who see you on a good day and don’t understand why you can’t work, not realizing that the bad days outweigh the good, or that you would not be able to perform any job duties on days when your symptoms were in full force. If you suffer from an invisible disability, you may even have been accused of faking. All of this can lead to an understandable impulse to exaggerate the severity of your symptoms in order to be taken seriously. You may be tempted to say that you never have good, pain-free days, or that nothing that you can do relieves the pain. However, you should remember that in this case, you’ll be talking to people who deal with the details of disabling conditions every day. They’re aware that symptoms usually ebb and flow and can often be relieved with pain medications or other treatments. If you inflate the severity of your symptoms, you’ll be less likely to be taken seriously. Downplaying Your Disability Another common mistake is downplaying the extent of your disability. Once again, this can be a side effect of living with a disability – you may find yourself frequently reassuring worried family members or friends that you’re not in any immediate pain or danger, or that you can do things for yourself. If this is the case, it can become second nature to insist that your symptoms aren’t that bad, and that you’re OK. However, in your disability hearing, you’re not there to reassure anyone or convince anyone that you can be self-sufficient – you’re there asking for help. Downplaying your symptoms is counterproductive. When asked about the severity of your pain or the frequency of your symptoms, it’s important to be honest and accurate. Don’t worry about what you think sounds best or least upsetting. Just tell the truth. Giving Vague Answers One more mistake to avoid is vague or indirect answers to questions about your condition and your symptoms. The judge at your hearing will expect someone who is truly suffering to be able to describe exactly how they are suffering, so use the most descriptive language possible. Don’t just say that you have pain – describe the pain. Is it throbbing or stabbing? Burning or stinging? Shooting or aching? Words like these paint a clearer picture of what you’re experiencing. It also helps to give time frames. Do you have five minutes of intense shooting pain multiple times a day, or five hours of aching, throbbing pain...

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5 Tips For Managing Your Expense Records During A Personal Injury Case

Posted by on Dec 12, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Whether you’re trying to win compensation after a car accident or need help to deal with the consequences of a dog bite, records of your expenses are crucial. The court won’t meet your demands for awarding a specific amount of money unless you have hard proof that the injury really cost you that much. Use these five tips to make sure you’re building a complete portfolio of expense records as you prepare for your personal injury case. Request Letters From Work Don’t just assume your pay stubs or tax records will be enough to prove your last income due to the injury. Request letters on the company masthead from your boss, manager, and the payroll department at your employer. Each letter should outline how much money you receive on a weekly or monthly basis, how long you were away from work, and whether you’re still employed or no longer work there due to your medical complications. If you’re having trouble contacting your employer because they let you go in violation of your state’s employment law, let your lawyer handle the requests instead of just skipping this crucial form of documentation. Collect Medical Receipts If your health or car insurance company is footing the bills for your emergency room trips and your physical therapy, it’s easy to forget to collect receipts. Unfortunately, many insurance companies provide hard-to-decipher payment records that don’t include the co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses you were responsible for paying. Get separate print outs every time you visit a healthcare professional for treatment related to the injury, including the following: Therapy sessions for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety Physical therapy to restore your ability to function Acupuncture and massage, as long as the providers are licensed according to your state’s requirements. Remember Travel Expenses Your personal injury claim expenses go beyond just what you’re billed from the emergency room and your lost wages. Add up the gas costs and plane fares from your travel related to the case, including trips to the doctor, lawyer’s office, and scene of the injury to collect evidence. It’s best to keep these trips separate from other errands and tasks so you can prove each expense deserves to be included in the final award amount. Taking a quick vacation while you’re already traveling to see your lawyer will make it harder to convince a judge to take your travel expenses seriously. Photograph Everything Police investigators tend to take fairly good photographs at the scene of an accident, but you’re on your own when getting visual documentation of other types of personal injuries. Start taking photos as soon as you physically can to capture as much evidence as possible that would affect the amount you receive. For example, photographs of your injuries can prove that your medical expenses were warranted, no matter what an expert witness for the opposing side might claim. You can also make backup copies of your expense records and receipts with a decent digital camera to prevent any accidental or purposeful destruction of evidence from ruining the case. Estimate Future Costs Finally, get professional help from a disability lawyer when trying to estimate the long-term impact of the injury on your future earning power. Your personal injury attorney can provide you with a recommendation, or they...

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How To Maximize Potential Compensation In Your Car Crash Case

Posted by on Nov 12, 2015 in Uncategorized |

After being injured in a car accident, you’ll have to negotiate with an adjuster for the insurance company that represents the person who’s at fault for your injuries. This negotiation process is never fun and games, as the adjuster is sure to work hard at minimizing any payments they’ll be responsible for providing you with. So if your case is potentially worth thousands of dollars, it’s essential to hire an experienced lawyer who focuses on personal injury cases and knows the laws inside and out. Here’s what you can do to help your lawyer maximize potential compensation in your car crash case: Take Photos It’s important to take photos that document the accident and help prove your point of view about what happened. If possible, go back to the accident scene and take photos of the ground, landmarks, and any other visual information in the area that is pertinent to your case. It’s also important to photograph your entire vehicle up close and in sufficient lighting so that damage from the accident can be clearly seen without glare. If you have been physically injured, take photos of your bodily injuries once a week throughout the proceedings of your case to help prove how long you’re having to deal with said injuries. Find Witnesses While you’re at the accident scene taking photos, take the time to talk to people living in the area who may have seen what happened. If you do find witnesses to the accident, ask them to fill out a simple form stating their names, contact information, and the specifics of what they saw when the accident happened. You may want to ask your lawyer to create your own personalized form and make copies of it before looking for witnesses to ensure that you get the information you want and need from each of them. This will ensure that nothing important, such as a license plate number, is overlooked when witnesses relay their accounts. Gain Some Written Insight It can be helpful to ask your friends and family to write accounts of their insight into the pain and suffering you’ve had to go through since being in an accident. The kind of pain they see you in while they’re in your presence, the loss of work you have experienced, and what you are doing with your time during recovery can all be recorded by loved ones and turned over to your lawyer, which will help to fill in the blanks. Like with getting witness information, you can have personalized forms created to have your loved ones fill out – but open letters that allow them to speak in their own words and in their own way may be more insightful to your lawyer and the courts if they have to get involved in your case. Record Your Progress Updates In addition to having your friends and family members provide insight into your healing progress, it’s important that you document your progress personally. Consider keeping a diary dedicated just to aspects of your life that involve the accident. Each morning or evening take the time to record how much pain medication you’ve had to take, whether or not you had to miss work and if so, how much money was lost, and what your overall mindset if like...

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3 Keys To Finding The Right Foreclosure Attorney

Posted by on Oct 13, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Many people’s biggest fear when filing for bankruptcy lies in the possibility of losing their home. In these situations, it’s important that you have a qualified foreclosure attorney who can fight your case on your behalf and help you to hold on to your property. However, choosing the right lawyer isn’t always easy. To help you make an informed decision, here are the three keys to finding the right foreclosure attorney: Find a Lawyer with Experience in Foreclosures Foreclosure is a very sensitive area of real estate law, and as such it’s important you find the right type of lawyer to represent you. While there are many lawyer who specialize entirely in foreclosure, you will typically come across many others with more general specializations such as real estate or bankruptcy. Whatever type of lawyer you choose, you must ensure they have a proven track record in handling complex foreclosure cases and delivering real results. When choosing a foreclosure lawyer, make sure you find out how many cases your potential attorney has filed. Rather than gauging each individual by their years in the field, choosing an attorney on the basis of successful defenses will ensure you have the legal help you require. When looking for an attorney, make sure you hold a number of one-to-one meetings to give yourself a chance to discuss your case before signing on the dotted line. Even if the first attorney you meet feels like a perfect fit, speak to a few others so that you can weigh up the pros and cons of each before coming to a decision. Calculate the Cost The cost of a foreclosure attorney depends entirely on your case. If you have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have a good chance of keeping your home, and so hiring a foreclosure attorney will be somewhat of a formality. However, if you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you face a lengthy legal battle to maintain possession of your property, and so your legal fees will be substantially higher. While it is difficult to calculate an exact figure for your legal fees, it is possible to narrow your costs down to a small range. Typically, foreclosure attorneys will charge their fees in one of two ways:   Flat fees As the name suggests, these are lump-sum costs that you pay in advance of your trial. Typical costs range from $1,500 to $4,000, depending on your situation and how much work the attorney is required to put into the case. Choosing a foreclosure attorney that charges a flat fee at the front end of the case is a good way to place a limit on your fees; however, the flipside of this is that you may end up paying a large amount for a little work. Therefore, it’s imperative that you analyze your situation in detail prior to hiring an attorney on a flat-fee basis. Hourly Rates If you would rather pay the exact amount for the legal service provided, consider hiring a foreclosure attorney who charges by the hour. Typical hourly rates for a foreclosure attorney ranges from $100 to several hundred dollars, although rates may be higher for particularly tricky cases or those with extremely tight deadlines. Hiring an attorney that charges by the hour can be a great way to...

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Bankruptcy Or Divorce: Which One Should You File First?

Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Uncategorized |

If you find yourself considering both bankruptcy and divorce around the same time, it’s easy to feel like your life is falling apart. But your position isn’t as unusual as you might believe. While bankruptcy and divorce don’t necessarily go hand in hand, they are often connected. Research indicates that debt is one of the most harmful relationship issues. And it’s well-known that legal separations and divorces have a negative impact on the finances of the couple. The court costs and lawyer’s fees are a big expense, and both spouses face bearing the full costs of maintaining a household on their own. Given the effects of finances on the strength of a marriage and the effects of divorce on one’s finances, it’s no surprise that a bankruptcy might be on the horizon before the divorce or become necessary immediately following the divorce. The question is, when you know that both a divorce and a bankruptcy are imminent, which should you file first? When to File Bankruptcy First It can be difficult to file for bankruptcy jointly if you’re not on amicable terms with your soon-to-be-ex spouse, so your ability to cooperate with each other for some length of time should be considered. It’s best not to attempt any joint bankruptcy if the relationship is highly contentious. If you’re considering filing bankruptcy first, your best bet is to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which usually only takes about three or four months. A joint Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows both of you to wipe out your unsecured debts without the need to commit to a lengthy joint repayment plan. If one of the two of you is a stay-at-home spouse or is making only a minimal amount of money, filing for bankruptcy before the divorce can help the spouse that is making the majority of the money qualify for a Chapter 7, as opposed to a Chapter 13. Separately, the spouse making the majority of the money may have too many assets to qualify for a Chapter 13, but with the addition of a non-working or minimally-earning spouse, a Chapter 7 may be an option. Many people prefer the Chapter 7 because it doesn’t require you to repay your debts. Furthermore, if neither one of you can afford to pay off an underwater car loan or mortgage, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can wipe that out, which means that you and your spouse won’t need to worry about how to split that debt up. When to File for Divorce First If your combined incomes are too high for the two of you to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, divorcing first may bring your income and asset levels down low enough to qualify for a Chapter 7. Basically, if you want or will have to have a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, filing for divorce first is a smart move. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan can last from 3-5 years. While you can certainly divorce while the repayment plan is in place,  you will still have to follow the repayment plan jointly, and one spouse’s failure to pay can affect the other’s status. In most cases, it’s best not to have your finances tangled up with someone that you intend to divorce. If only one of you wishes to file for bankruptcy,...

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