What Can Bankruptcy Do?

Recently, I was thinking about how so many people in this country are affected by credit card debt. Almost everyone I know has some amount of debt. Sometimes it’s student loans, sometimes credit cards, sometimes it’s taxes. I know you can get rid of some of your debt by declaring bankruptcy, but can you get rid of all debt through this process? I wasn’t sure how it all worked but I read some insightful stuff on the website of Erin B. Shank. Erin B. Shank is an attorney that has been working in bankruptcy law for more than 30 years. She helps her clients get out of massive amounts of debt, avoid lawsuits, and start to create a new life for themselves.

There are special provisions for bankruptcy that apply directly to members of the military and veterans of the armed services. When you are a veteran or active member, housing waivers and involuntary allotments are something that you are likely to deal with while finding housing. Attorneys like Erin know how to take advantage of these documents and help military members get the most out of their bankruptcy.

Some people might consider bankruptcy so they can do away with their medical bills. The costs of healthcare have gone through the roof over the past few years. When someone becomes disabled, their cost of living can more than triple overnight. Not only this, but they may have lost their ability to provide income. Declaring bankruptcy can absolve you of medical debts and expenses, creating an opportunity to gain financial traction again.

Most people think that bankruptcy won’t affect the amount you owe the government in taxes, but it turns out that this is not true. Many federal income taxes can be discharged or reduced upon declaring bankruptcy. This sort of thing is what separates a good lawyer from a great lawyer. A lawyer with years of experience under their belt will have the ability to look at tax debt and reduce this as well as other debts you may be dealing with.

Bankruptcy will not affect one area of debt that many people deal with. That’s student loan debt. If you declare bankruptcy, you will still be held responsible for loans taken out to pay for higher education. There are ways to consolidate this debt and turn it into another type of debt before declaring bankruptcy, but it cannot be erased in itself.

When it comes down to it, declaring bankruptcy is going to come with some consequences. Declaring bankruptcy makes it very difficult to get loans of any kind for years going forward. Every time you try to purchase a car, open a credit card, or get a home loan, institutions are going to see that you declared bankruptcy, and this will affect your interest rates and access to loans. Because of this, bankruptcy should never be taken lightly, and should only be used in dire circumstances.

Prenuptial Agreements

Many newlyweds are electing to add prenuptial agreements to their marriage arrangement, and although it may seem like there is a lack of trust, the choice is often a good one to make. With high divorce rates around the country, couples can find comfort in knowing that their relationship is about love and not money. No one wants their marriage to be unsuccessful, but things change over the course of a relationship. If you are planning on getting married, then you need to find a prenuptial agreement lawyer; otherwise, the agreement may not be valid in courts when you need it most. There are three primary considerations that the courts have ruled are necessary for a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable:

  1. The prenuptial agreement is only valid as long as it was not obtained through fraud, duress, mistake, or through misrepresentation and nondisclosure of material facts.  The courts will only uphold a prenuptial agreement that was open, transparent, not rushed, and legally binding. Timing will be a factor in determining the legitimacy of the prenuptial agreement, as will the full disclosure of financial assets to both parties. Hiring legal counsel to assist you through the prenuptial agreement signing can be a significant boost to the document’s viability. However, if this document was only signed days before the marriage, the court may find that the other party did not have enough time to consult with an independent attorney.
  2. The prenuptial agreement may not be unconscionable, even if it is unfair. The legal definition of “unconscionable” is debatable, and that makes this point highly contentious. Most prenuptial agreements are unfair to some extent because one party likely has more assets and more risk from the marriage than the other spouse. Although the agreement may seem unfair, it may still be considered conscionable if a prenuptial agreement attorney was able to review the documents before signing and address this factor within the contract. 
  3. What facts and circumstances have changed since the agreement was made? The answer to this question may disqualify your prenuptial agreement if the situation has become unfair and unreasonable to uphold in the court’s opinion. As such, they will need to review the circumstances leading up to the divorce and determine what, if anything, has changed. If the prenuptial agreement is upheld, it may be with the consideration that one spouse can support the other after the divorce. The court may determine that the prenuptial agreement is unfair at the time that the party is seeking to enforce it, such as after a newly developed health condition that requires significant expenses and care.

This area of the law depends on individual circumstances, and how the prenuptial agreement was organized at the time it was signed. The best way to prevent costly mistakes from being discovered at the worst possible time is if you consult with a highly-qualified prenuptial agreement lawyer who can ensure the document has integrity with the court system.

An Eye for an Eye Leaves the Whole World Blind

There are certain ways to get revenge. We all, unfortunately, cannot control the actions of others. We can only control our actions and choose how to respond to others. When someone steals your brother’s dirt bike, is it a lesson learned to run them over with a minivan? That’s what Christopher Bouchard claims in his case. He denies being guilty of killing both men who stole his brother’s bike. The two men were chased by Chris and his brother down the highway until Chris sent them flying from the stolen bike.

According to The NY Post, Bauchard is a 27-year-old man from Long Island New York. He was charged with reckless endangerment, and possibly first-degree murder, for steamrolling over the two men who were responsible for stealing his brother’s motorcycle. His bail was set at $200,000 for a cash bail or $400,000 for a bond for his release. Witnesses commented that they saw the minivan speeding after the men on the highway. In pursuit of the chase, he allegedly hit both of them and sent them flying off of the motorcycle. Brian, Bouchard’s brother whose bike was stolen, was with Christopher when he struck the back of the bike on purpose. The two men, who were pronounced dead at the scene were Keenan King and Anthony Holmes-Garriques. Both were young men who were not yet even 21 years of age. Brian was never arrested, but Christopher is currently being held for reckless endangerment, which is not considered an intentional crime by the law. Bouchard’s motorcycle accident lawyer comments on the defense and protection of Bauchard with the reckless endangerment case. He states, “It’s an absolute, absolute tragedy and there was never any intention to hurt anybody … And I can tell you after speaking with my client there was no intent to hurt anybody.”

Car accidents are always tricky because there is a lot of context and bias that can easily sway the judge’s decision. It is hard to tell if Christopher truly did not mean to kill these two men. It’s possible to extend the defense that he wanted to chase them in order to scare them off of the bike or have them feel guilty for taking the bike. The witnesses did comment that the bike was slowing down and that the minivan did speed up. If this is about the bike, Christopher had to know and expect that there might be damage done to the minivan. However, I think Christopher was trying to protect his brother and make sure that his own form of justice was obtained. The pursuit ended in murder, which complicated the case at hand, but this is also a lesson that we cannot control how people will respond to our actions. The bail amount for Chris is pricey considering that he was committing this chase to protect his property and brother. However, in the end, he took two innocent lives because of an inability to control his emotions. As a society, we all need to learn how to better control our actions in response to the wrongdoing of others. If we can all come together, there will be fewer incidents like the unfortunate one that transpired that day.

Contested Divorce

According to the Marshall & Taylor PLLC, law firm, deciding, as a married couple, to go your separate ways can be an enormously difficult decision, even in the best of circumstances. Not only is this a particularly emotional time, but the choices that you and your partner make about how to end the relationship can have enormous consequences for both your own lives and the lives of any children you may have. Issues such as child custody, visitation rights, and spousal support can all significantly impact the future of divorcing partners.

This is especially true for spouses who choose to end their union through contested divorce. Though a rarer form of divorce, for those who file for a contested divorce, there is no telling how difficult and frustrating it can be. Having to deal with disagreements can take an emotional and financial toll on both parties.

There are times, however, when divorce becomes the only option to end a troubled marriage and set one’s life back on the track. The mention of it, though, still ushers in different emotions, like worry, tension, fear, guilt or feeling of failing to be a good spouse, and uncertainty of what will become of tomorrow.

Contested divorce is a complicated legal process, besides being a demoralizing, painful and emotionally-draining experience. Not to forget, of course, a costly court proceedings that can be witnessed by anyone, which can drag on for many months and wherein all final and legally binding decisions will be made by the family court judge hearing the case.

While it requires only one party to get a divorce case going, the consent of both divorcing spouses are required in order to settle all issues that will be affected by the termination of their marriage. Issues which include child custody and visitation rights, child support, alimony or spousal support, and division of property, assets and debts. The length of a divorce case is directly affected by how fast or how long before spouses reach an agreement regarding these issues; thus, the longer the spouses refuse to come to terms, the longer (and the more expensive) their divorce case will.

This is the reason why some divorce cases end up in court, left for a judge to settle – simply because the spouses cannot reach an agreement. While each spouse has rights to fight for and interests to protect, thus their disagreement on various related issues, they should also understand that disputes will only make their divorce case much longer and more painful to bear.


Identity Theft – Victimizing Millions of Americans Every Year

The Internet may have been able to make communication and the exchange of information so much faster; however, this is not the only activity it has aided to be accomplished and completed with astonishing ease and speed – another is the committance of crimes, such as identity theft.

About 10 million Americans fall prey to the crime of identity theft every year, losing their savings to thieves who deplete their accounts. The end result is always an individual with a damaged credit and, sometimes, a huge debt.

Identity theft is a major threat to many individuals and businesses. This illegal activity refers to the illegal acquisition and use of someone else’s personal information for economic gain. More than $50 billion in losses from as many as 10 million working Americans are recorded every year; this amount is almost equal to what U.S. firms spend in order to prevent attempts of identity thieves from gaining (unauthorized) access to their files and data banks.

To battle identity theft, however, it is necessary that companies, especially those possessing information about personal and business accounts, come up with a serious and solid program that will enable them to easily and immediately detect and stop this crime.

To intensify the fight against this illegal activity, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) was enacted by the New Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the conduction of an Identity Theft Prevention Course (ITPC) to business firms. The ITPC is designed to train employees assigned in handing consumer information in red flag rules.

The Red Flags Rule is a warning sign intended to help businesses recognize, minimize and prevent damages created through identity theft. It forms part of the FTC-required Identity Theft Prevention program, which is a set of printed guidelines which financial institutions and creditors with covered accounts ought to execute. These covered accounts refer to consumer accounts that allow payments or transactions. Examples of these accounts include checking accounts, savings accounts, credit card account, mortgage loan and automobile loan. Through this red flags rule, companies are expected to see through the patterns and tactics employed by identity thieves in the performance of their crime.

As explained by Horst Law, regardless of the type of crime charged, in order to sustain a conviction, the prosecution must have enough evidence to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Different crimes have specific elements.

If you face any type of criminal charges, it’s critical that you consult with a knowledgeable criminal attorney as soon as possible. The earlier you avail yourself of sound legal advice, the more options you may have for addressing it and saving yourself.

What to Do After Hitting a Pedestrian

Accidents may happen at any moment, and they become stressful if those involved don’t know what to do. This is especially true for drivers who have hit pedestrians. They may feel guilty because they are the ones in control of the machines that can inflict force and injury and pedestrians are unprotected because they are not covered with metal.

The combination of panic and guilt can make these drivers do reckless acts. To avoid further complications, it is best to know what to do after hitting a pedestrian.

Take a deep breath and relax
Calm your body and mind, because a situation can be easier to be dealt with if the parties involved are not panicking, as panicking can cloud their judgment.

Stop your car
You should never leave an accident scene, especially if the accident has involved injury or death. You may be charged with hit-and-run if you do so. According to the website of the Flaherty Defense Firm, hit-and-run charges can be defended, but who really wants to go to court? It is best to stay at the scene and avoid charges.

Check for injuries
Check yourself and your passengers for injuries first so you can assess your party’s position in the accident. Once you have done so, you can go out of the vehicle and inspect the victim to know the gravity of injuries, if there are any. Check for other damages as well, such as in your vehicle and in the road.

Perform first aid
Perform CPR or any other first aid measures to victims that rightfully need them. These procedures may not be enough to offset the injuries and complications that they may have sustained, but at least these procedures can prevent further damages.

Call the authorities
Get help from local authorities, particularly from the police and fire departments and medical industry. Do this even if there are no significant injuries to avoid possible charges and just as a safety measure. Cooperate with emergency responders as much as you can.

Exchange information
Parties involved in the accident should exchange information, like name, address, and phone number, to establish a means of communication in case communication is necessary.

Regulating Commercial Debt Collection

Collecting debt can be a real challenge for most businesses. The problem with this aspect of business is that it is not highly regulated and there is less oversight when it comes to debt collection. Even though the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1977 is in place, only those debts accumulated through personal, family, or household transactions are covered by the law. Debts that need to be collected by businesses or individuals for commercial purposes are not covered by the Act.

According to the website of Slater Pugh, Ltd LLP, most businesses rely on collection agencies in order to collect unpaid debts. There are no US Federal laws that regulate third-party collection agencies. In most states, these firms are required to be bonded. Likewise, a license is required in order for collection agencies to collect debts of creditors. To be a licensed collector, you need to submit an application for license as well as financial documents and information about them. They are also required to purchase a bond for the protection of the creditors and pay a licensing fee ranging from $50 to $1,000.

Aside from state laws, it is also possible to collect debt through the Commercial Law League of America and the Commercial Collection Agency Association. These two organizations have assumed responsibility for looking after the needs and rights of creditors and their customers in the aspect of business collection.

When choosing a collection agency, it is important to practice due diligence. There are many collection agencies who collects many in an illegal manner or go to the extent of harassing debtors which can have a huge impact on the reputation of your business. It is best to work with members of the Commercial Collection Agency Association which are also certified by the Commercial Law League of America. They can help you find a licensed collection agency.

Foreclosure Defense

Interest rates are expected to increase for the first time since the recession of 2008 as the American economy has finally regained its footing. This is a good sign for the overall economy, but may leave many future home buyers anxious to receive their rates on borrowing. Although foreclosure rates are down 3 percent in 2015, foreclosure is still something that haunts less wealthy home owners nightly. A home is the most valuable asset that a family can own, especially if there are kids being raised in it. No one wishes to default on their mortgage payments and see their home and livelihood be taken away, however, there are currently many financial maneuvers one can make to avoid this.

Every foreclosure case is different and unique, but through basic protection methods many homeowners can seek the protection they need. According to Bradford Law Offices, PLLC, the typical options for defending against foreclosure include, mortgage modification, negotiating with lenders, and if all else fail pursuing bankruptcy protection. Mortgage modification and negotiating with lenders entails homeowners working with lenders to reorganize the current payment plan to something that the homeowner can afford. Financial institutions and creditors are welcoming to this option as they rather see some form of payment than nothing at all. Pursuing bankruptcy protection contains with it a stigma of failure, but when times become desperate it is a perfectly viable way to protect your home. Under chapter 13 bankruptcy, an individual is able to immediately halt any foreclosure proceedings upon filing the bankruptcy petition. Furthermore, it creates an automatic stay from harassing creditors and is perfect for debtors with more financial resources such as homeowners. Owning a home is the most valuable asset a person will likely have in their entire lives, and it is vastly important for homeowners to understand the methods they can utilize to protect it.

Providing children’s basic needs as a single parent

Aside from love and affection, parents should provide the basic needs of their children to have a normal life. Such basic needs like education, medical, food, shelter, and other expenses should still be provided to children even their parents are already divorced.

Unfortunately, a single parent who had been given legal custody of his or her children, experience hardships in providing the everyday expenses needed to raise their children. Factors like low income, loss of employment, and economic changes may affect the capability of a parent to provide the basic needs of children. In some situations single parents greatly suffer from financial loss if the child they are raising has a serious medical condition.

Every child should be nourished with a balanced diet for them to grow up strong and healthy. A child may grow up with personal insecurities if they are deprived of healthy foods. Parents should also make sure that their children are getting regular medical checkups to possibly detect illnesses or any medical conditions.

In California, individuals who have been given custody of their children may seek child support to their former partners. According to the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield, child support is an arrangement intended to make sure that financial needs of children are being provided by custodial or non-custodial parents based on their earning capacity.

The law requires parents to provide financial support to cover medical and other living expenses of their children. After a divorce or legal separation papers are filed, any of the two parties may request the judge to get child support from their former partners. It is important to note that parents seeking child support should first have an ongoing case related to family law or with their “local child support agency” (LCSA) for them to obtain order from the court.

Hazards linked to swimming pools aboard cruise ships

Though it might be easy to think that serious injuries may only happen in cruise ships when it capsize, many areas inside the large water vessel like swimming pools can also cause serious injuries mostly to younger passengers.

Many people together with their family choose to travel different parts of the world aboard a cruise ship. As passengers aboard are overwhelmed by the excursion experience, child passengers often find themselves having fun exploring the vastness of the ship. However, children are at risk of suffering water-related injuries like drowning in swimming pools when the cruise ship management and its crews become negligent. Swimming pools can be dangerous if it did not have sufficient lifeguards, proper safety devices, and railings around the pool area, according to The Vucci Law Group, P.A. Swimming pools inside cruise ships are also dangerous if the environment is distracting or the pool itself has design flaws.

A recent news revealed that a 4-year-old boy who was aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas with his family, nearly died of drowning after being “swept away” to the wave pool. The accident reportedly happened after the child roam away from his mother. The boy who was submerged in the pool for nearly six minutes was pulled out from the water and was given immediate medical attention. The cruise ship docked on the same day and brought the child to the hospital in Fort Lauderdale due to critical condition. Though the pool has signage, a cruise ship spokeswoman admitted that there were no lifeguards stationed in their pools like those in hotels.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drowning is considered to be the fifth cause of unintentional injury that can be fatal and a data from 2005 to 2009 revealed that an estimated 3,533 persons died of drowning.