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Posted by on Sep 18, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Bankruptcy Or Divorce: Which One Should You File First?

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, divorcing first can protect the non-bankrupt spouse’s assets. For example, if you’re awarded the house in the divorce, and you don’t plan to file for bankruptcy, having the divorce decree in place and the home title legally signed over to you protects the house from foreclosure when your ex-spouse files for bankruptcy.

Spousal support and child support are also important considerations. If you’re going to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and you know that you’re also going to end up having to pay spousal support or child support, it’s best to get the divorce over with first. That way, the child and spousal support amounts will be factored in when looking at your income and determining your repayment plan.

Both divorce and bankruptcy can have a major impact on your finances for years to come, so if you’re going to have to deal with both of them, it’s best to take the time to strategize with your soon-to-be-ex spouse to choose the plan that will have the least negative consequences for the both of you. Also, contact a lawyer, such as Wade Bettis, J.D., Ph.D., PC, to help you through the process. 

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Posted by on Aug 28, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Protecting Collectibles From An Acrimonious Divorce

A person can develop a lot of anger and bitterness while going through a divorce that may cause him or her to lash out at the soon-to-be ex-spouse. This can result in the loss of valuable or sentimental items that the person spent a lot of years and money acquiring. For example, a woman acquired her ex-husband’s video game collection in a divorce and sold it for much less than it was worth to get back at the man. If you want to avoid the same thing happening to your collectibles, use the following tips.

Draw Up a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that details the terms of marriage prior to both parties going through with the union. While a prenuptial agreement can address almost any issue, the majority of contracts focus on the division of property and spousal support in the event the marriage ends in divorce. If you want to keep your spouse from being awarded your collectibles when you separate, drawing up a prenup agreement addressing the issue would be the first place to start.

Even if you’re already married, you can still have this type of contract drawn up between you and your spouse. In this case, it would be called an postnuptial and may be a little more complex to implement depending on how long you’ve been married and whether the assets you want to protect are considered separate or marital property.

In either case, it’s essential that you work with an attorney when drawing up the agreement to ensure it is legally binding. It’s not unusual for a judge to throw out a prenuptial agreement because it was worded poorly or addressed issues that can only be resolved by a court (e.g. child support payments, child custody).

Do Not Buy Your Collectibles with Mixed Money

Even if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, you can still prevent your soon-to-be ex-spouse from getting your collectibles by maintaining the assets’ separate property classification. Separate property is assets that belong to one spouse, while community or marital property is assets that belong to both spouses. In general, any assets the spouse owned prior to getting married is considered separate property, while assets acquired after the marriage are considered community property.

Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, your separate property can be ruled community property in a divorce. This can happen if you purchase items for your collection using comingled funds. For example, you buy video games with money from a joint checking account. Your ex-spouse could argue that since you used some of his or her money to enhance the collection, he or she has a claim to it.

A judge may also award your ex-spouse a portion of the collection (or equivalent value) if he or she added to it in some way. For instance, your wife spends time searching for and buying snow globes to add to your collection of kitsch. This investment in time and money may entitle her to some of the equity in the asset, especially if she spent her own money and her contributions increased the overall value of the collection.

To avoid either of these scenarios, only use your money to buy pieces for the collection. If your spouse is interested in contributing to it, then you’ll need to come to an agreement (preferably written) about what happens to the collection should you get a divorce.

Relocate the Asset

If you feel your marriage is headed towards divorce (or you’ve already entered that stage) and you think your collection is at risk of being damaged or sold off by your spouse, it may be prudent to move it to a safe place until the proceedings end. Be careful and consult with your attorney before doing so. Moving an asset can be seen as an attempt to hide it, and a judge may penalize you by dividing the asset between you and your spouse or taking it away altogether. Make sure you list the collection as part of your assets and be very clear about your reasons for relocating it to avoid accusations of impropriety.

For more tips on protecting your valuable collection during divorce, contact a divorce attorney near you, which you can do by visiting a site like http://www.glfamilylaw.com.

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Posted by on Aug 6, 2015 in Uncategorized |

When Is Your Employer Liable For Workplace Violence?

You may assume workers compensation coverage applies only injuries associated with slips, trips, and falls in the workplace. However, this insurance covers much more — and with recent increases in the rates of workplace violence, knowing when your employer is required to take steps to protect you and coworkers from potential physical danger can be crucial. Read on to learn more about the situations in which your employer may be liable for employee (or customer) actions that cause other employees injury, as well as what you should do if you find yourself on the mend from a debilitating injury deliberately caused by a customer, coworker, or supervisor.

What injuries are covered by workers compensation?

Workers compensation is a type of insurance coverage carried by employers and intended to compensate employees for any medical costs, lost wages, or other expenses associated with an on-the-job accident. Workers comp can cover injuries ranging the gamut from an infected papercut to a gunshot wound, as well as just about anything in between. If your injury didn’t take place at your work site, but while you were traveling for work (or to a new work site), it should still be covered. The only large swath of injuries excluded from workers comp coverage are those that take place during your normal morning or afternoon commute, unless you were traveling to a different location than your normal one.

Are employers responsible for violent actions committed by employees or customers?

Since 1970, the federal government has prescribed a number of health and safety regulations for employers through its Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). These OSHA regulations primarily govern safety from mechanical issues or equipment failure — like ensuring that those who regularly work at or above certain heights have the requisite safety equipment, requiring hard hats and other protective equipment in areas with falling or flying objects, and other physical safety issues.

However, some OSHA regulations are more broadly interpreted, and employers who ignore threats of violence or other potential red flags that indicate an employee or customer could pose a physical danger to other employees could be committing a violation. Many state governments have also implemented laws and regulations targeted toward reducing violence in the workplace. If your employer was (or should have been) aware of a danger and did nothing to prevent it, it may be responsible for not only workers comp coverage for your injuries, but also liable under personal injury or wrongful death law.

What should you do if you’ve been injured by a violent customer, coworker or supervisor?

Your first step should be to file a workers compensation claim with your employer. Your employer will then transmit your information to its workers comp carrier to open a claim. After this, you’ll be able to receive checks for any lost wages you’ve experienced while out of work. You should be able to have your medical bills forwarded to the workers comp carrier for direct payment.

If you feel your employer could have easily prevented your accident, you may also want to file a personal injury lawsuit to help recover additional costs. Although personal injury lawsuits are often barred in cases where the claimant is receiving workers comp for the same injury, most states will allow this lawsuit to proceed if your employer engaged in deliberate conduct or negligently failed to take action to protect you and other employees.

Depending upon the circumstances of your injury, you may also want to report this incident to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Representatives from this organization may visit your work site and speak to your employers to help implement measures that will prevent similar incidents in the future. Although OSHA fines collected don’t always go to the individuals impacted, the threat of such fines is often enough to force compliance from even reluctant employers. For more ideas, click here for info.

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Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Workers’ Compensation: Could You Claim for Avian Flu?

Around 3.8 million Americans suffer work-related injuries or illnesses every year. While employers (and workers) must take precautions to keep the workplace safe, workers’ compensation insurance helps people deal with the financial implications of time away from work. Avian flu is a rare illness for American workers, but the disease could have serious consequences.

Find out about the effects Avian flu can have, and learn more about the factors that could influence a workers’ compensation claim for this disease.

About Avian flu

Avian flu (commonly called bird flu) is a type A flu virus, which occurs naturally in aquatic birds. Scientists detect outbreaks in wild birds on a fairly regular basis, but the disease occasionally also spreads and infects humans. Only one serious pathogenic outbreak has occurred in the United States, when 7,000 chickens contracted the virus in Texas in 2004. In that case, doctors did not see any transmission to humans.

A few rare cases of human bird flu infection have occurred in the United States, after people came in close contact with infected birds. People with the virus can experience many symptoms, including severe respiratory disease and problems with several major organs. To date, only 359 people throughout the world have died from Avian flu, but many more have become ill.

Workers’ compensation requirements

There are three key criteria you must meet to file a workers’ compensation claim.

  • Employer insurance. State laws vary, but most American employers must hold workers’ compensation insurance. Some states do not force businesses that employ one or two people to have this insurance, so if you are the sole worker in a company, state law may not allow you to make a workers’ compensation claim. Also, some states don’t force charities to hold this insurance.
  • Employment status. You can only file a claim for workers’ compensation if you are a company employee. Full-time and part-time workers are eligible, but independent contractors cannot file a claim. 
  • Type of illness or injury. You must show that your illness is work-related. If you contracted the virus during working hours, then workers’ compensation laws should protect you.

In all cases, you might need a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you prove your case. If you catch bird flu, you may find it harder to prove your case than you would expect.

Objections an employer could make

While an employer cannot argue his or insurance status, he or she may battle the second two criteria.

Many employers describe workers as independent contractors, when they’re actually employees. Under Workers’ Compensation Law, the term employee normally includes borrowed employees, sub-contractors, leased employees and unpaid volunteers.

When challenging this, a lawyer will consider many factors including who has the right to control what you do, the sort of work you do and how your employer pays your wages. People who work on poultry farms often work under temporary or flexible contracts, so an employer may deny liability for any illness (like bird flu) you contract.

What’s more, it’s scientifically impossible to say when you caught a virus, so your employer may also argue against you. For example, if you came into contact with wild birds outside work, your employer’s lawyer could argue that you cannot categorically prove your illness was work-related.

Your responsibilities

When you file a workers’ compensation claim, a court will not normally consider if your conduct contributed to the illness or disease because the system works on a ‘no-fault’ basis. That aside, some courts rule against employees in certain situations. For example, if you got drunk, a court might decline your claim if your conduct directly caused an injury.

Your conduct is less likely to influence a case where an infection occurs, but a court may consider your conduct if you had used illegal drugs or alcohol. For example, scientists recommend a range of protective measures to prevent infection from bird flu. If you didn’t use protective clothing correctly, and you were drunk, a court could rule that your inebriation put you at risk of infection.

Avian flu remains relatively uncommon across the United States, but some workers are at higher risk than others. To claim workers’ compensation, you should always refer the case to a trained attorney because you may find yourself up against an employer who doesn’t want to take responsibility.

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Posted by on Jul 2, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Five Items You Can Easily Sacrifice During A Divorce

A key to getting through divorce is compromise. This can also be one of the toughest parts of a divorce. With a little compromise, you will have room to work out your agreements during mediation with divorce lawyers. The following five items may be seem important, but overtime, they can get replaced and will help you through divorce proceedings.

Magazine Subscriptions

Sharing a home with a spouse often involves shared delivery of items like magazines or newspapers. These subscriptions are often prepaid and will continue delivery even during a divorce. Instead of battling over subscription changes or remaining issues, it’s a good idea to just let that battle go.

Magazines and newspapers can easily be replaced and sent to a new home. When getting new subscriptions, you may have the ability to find better rates and deals. It’s also a good time to consider what periodicals you actually still read.

Movie & Book Collections

The library of books and movies in your home can become another complicated battle during divorce proceedings. In the long run, it will feel frivolous if you’re feuding with your former spouse over a few forms of media. Used DVD and book sales can help you rebuild a collection and gather your favorites again. Streaming websites have also expanded your options for watching your favorite movies. Use resources to find all of your movies online and know that you can move on without the physical discs.

By giving up the movies and books, you may have the ability to negotiate with lawyers on other items that have more importance to you. A lot of the movies and books are often items you will never watch or read again.

Wedding Gifts

Early on in divorce proceedings, the wedding gifts in your home may feel like important keepsakes. As you start over with a separate life from your spouse, it may be a good idea to permanently remove the reminders of your wedding.

A variety of wedding gifts can be let go of. This includes wedding dishware, custom monogrammed items, or household items like appliances. Work with your lawyer to determine the value of these items as you work to split assets.

Personal Gardens

A big part of any divorce is relocating to a new home. While a lot of the items can be removed from the home, you may have to sacrifice some items that are harder to move. One of the hardest items to move is your personal garden. Gardens are a lot of work and hard to give up, but there are always ways to recreate the garden in a new home.

Take pride in the work you’ve done with images and video clips. This will allow you to look back on your garden without digging up your lawn or debating with your spouse over the rights to the garden. Starting a fresh garden can be symbolic of your new path in life. It can also give you something to focus on as you get through the painful divorce process.

Public Areas

The public areas around your town or city may not come under any ownership battles, but sacrificing certain public areas will make it easier to cope and separate yourself from a spouse.

Make things easier by giving up local grocery stores or shopping centers. It may be hard to completely avoid your spouse, but there are plenty of ways to make it easier. Local memberships can also be changed. This includes gym memberships or libraries.

It’s easy to be stubborn and try to hang on to these items, but when working with a lawyer, you can focus on more important aspects and get through the divorce as seamlessly as possible. Visit http://www.madisonlf.com for more information and divorce tips. 

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