Month: August 2020

The Parenting Plan

Divorce is one of the toughest things a person can go through in life.  Minor children can make the divorce process that much harder, both in terms of legal work and in the emotions surrounding the situation.  When a divorce happens and minor children are involved, parents must submit a document to the court called a parenting plan.  A parenting plan is a document that outlines a number of things:

  1. Physical Custody: The actual time each parent spends parenting a child, face to face.  
  2. Legal Custody: The ability to make important decisions about your child’s life, (i.e. religious instruction, academics, health, etc.)
  3. Visitation rights for parents and grandparents and how holidays will be divided up. 


Attorneys often draw up a parenting plan based on the discussions that are held between the two parents.  In a contested divorce, this can be an arduous process that often leaves one parent feeling like they got the short end of the stick and frequently involves hearings in front of a judge that can often be quite contentious.  Uncontested divorce can be different though.  Uncontested divorces allow an attorney to facilitate discussion between spouses so you can not only get the outcome that everyone wants, but you also save an enormous amount of money.  

After you and your spouse work out the parenting plan, the attorney sends it to the court for approval.  This usually happens much faster in an uncontested divorce because the parties have shown the judge that they are able to get along and work out important matters before the judge has to intervene. It also keeps the judge from having to make difficult decisions that really puts them between a rock and a hard place. 

A parenting plan is laid out like this:

  • You list the full name and birthdate of each child
  • You describe who has the primary physical custody of the child (i.e. where the child will live when.) In this description, you should lay out what days each child will live with what parent.
  • The plan describes legal custody and how the parents will decide on issues of school, healthcare and religion. 
  • The final part of a parenting plan describes how the children will spend time with their non-custodial parent.  This will usually be pretty detailed because it will specify the time, whether it’s weekends, every other weekend, etc.  It will also outline things like summer visitations and visitation when school is out for breaks like Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Also discussed are special holidays like mother’s day and father’s day, Christmas and Easter as well as significant days like birthdays of parents and grandparents. 


If you’ve reached the point where your marriage is beyond repair, know that there are options so you and your spouse can find a way to work through the process together.  Uncontested divorce has three real positive impacts.  One, it saves time.  An uncontested divorce can be finalized in as little as 30 days. Two, it saves money.  An uncontested divorce with children usually costs less than $2,000. This alone can save $6,000 to $8,000 or more over a contested divorce. Third, and most importantly, it allows parents to work out what’s best for their children in a non confrontational way that allows people to part ways, amicably. If you need to speak with an attorney about an uncontested divorce, reach out to the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove for a free, no obligation consultation about uncontested divorce today.  

Garnishment Survival Guide

“Your wages are subject to garnishment,”

That’s the first line in your most recent letter from HR. 

If You Do nothing 25% percent of your net earnings will be sent to whatever creditor has a judgement against you. 

Do something:  keep reading this if you live in Georgia and are subject to a wage garnishment.

I have three points to make here:

  • What to do in the short term,
  • What to do in the medium term, and
  • in the long run, what can we do to keep this from happening again. 


What is Wage garnishment 

A wage garnishment is an order from a judge, obtained after a judgement is secured against you, that allows a creditor to take money directly out of your check to satisfy the judgement they obtained.  

The fact that you are getting garnished means that a judgement has already been obtained by a creditor  and a judge has agreed that you are liable for an amount of money you owe to the creditor.  If everything happened the way it was supposed to, you should have gotten a copy of the complaint that was filed against you.  Due process requires that before the hearing to determine whether and how much you owe, you’re served with the complaint and have a chance to defend yourself against the complaint in court. That doesn’t always happen like it’s supposed to and we’ll discuss that later.

Georgia allows creditors, once they have a judgement, to take your wages directly from the source, your job, to collect on a judgement.  Your wages are protected to an extent by state and federal laws.  The cap is currently 25%. 

In this article we are going to look at the judgments you’re most likely to face.  Judgments for unpaid medical bills and credit cards.  There are a number of other judgments that we won’t worry about today.  

1.  Protect Your Paycheck 

The garnishment allows the creditor to take 25% of your paycheck, but that’s the max and that’s after other deductions are subtracted. 

There are a number of other exemptions under Georgia Law and you need to review them to find out if any of them apply to your situation. If you don’t fall under those exemptions there isn’t much you can do to stop a garnishment outside of bankruptcy.  

Notify your payroll department of your exemptions

If you pay falls under the scope of the exemption you need to make sure that your payroll is aware of it.  Theoretically, they should be aware of it as it is their job to follow the law, however, it’s always best to remind them of their duties and that you believe your income to be exempt from the garnishment. 

2.  Attack The Judgment

Your wages can only be garnished if a court has determined that you actually owe the money your creditor says you owe.  If you were at the hearing and lost, it is your job to appeal.  If you didn’t appeal, the matter is close and the judgement stands..  

However, If the judgement was a complete surprise to you (in other words, you weren’t properly served) you may have a chance to fight back.  This is a procedural attack on the judgement not one attacking the merit of the creditor’s claim. Attacking claims are hard though and will usually require the assistance of an attorney.  There are some legal aid societies that may be willing to help, but if you don’t qualify you’re on your own to either figure it out or hire an attorney. This is only a good thing to do if procedure truly wasn’t followed AND you have a good defense.  You don’t want to go to the trouble and potential expense of fighting the claim if you’re just going to lose anyways. 

3. Completely examine your finances. 

Your time is precious and limited.  Before you try to really hunker down and try to fight this, you need to take a look at your entire financial picture.  You need to ask yourself a question and it’s very important for you to reflect on it:

“If I handle this debt, will I still be able to pay all my other debts?”

If the answer is yes, there are a number of reputable credit counselors and social workers who can help people develop budgets.  Some organizations like the Salvation Army help people create budgets that, if adhered to, can help people to live within their means. 

If the answer is no, you need to look at other options, primarily bankruptcy.  There are tons of debt settlement companies out there and most of them are either outright scams or they don’t offer real, lasting solutions to your problems.

Bankruptcy attorneys are well versed in analyzing finances and determining whether or not you are able to get out of your financial troubles without the help of Bankruptcy. 

If you’re facing a garnishment, reach out to the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove.  They offer a free, no obligation consultation to help you decide your best course of action.

Foreclosure Plan B

Bankruptcy stops foreclosures, that’s a given.  Thanks to the automatic stay, a bankruptcy stops foreclosures dead in their tracks. 

Bankruptcy is the silver bullet to stop a scheduled foreclosure sale, guaranteed. 

There’s only one problem though, and it is the single biggest reason why people are unable to stop a foreclosure and it’s something that we’re all guilty of at one time or another.  Procrastination. 

Procrastination hampers your ability to save your home when all else fails.  The moment you get a foreclosure notice, you should start interviewing bankruptcy lawyers, even if you think you can work something out with the mortgage company.  

There are a lot of ways that you can try to stop a foreclosure but those other ways usually involve liquidating assets or making some kind of deal with your existing lender or a new lender to save your bacon.  The problem with those outcomes is, the other party has a choice in the matter.  No matter what you do, they can choose to go back on what you discussed or not discuss anything with you at all.  

In the last few months we have seen a number of clients with mortgage forbearance that will come due all at once.  Meaning those payments you missed in March, April, May and June are all going to be due at one time.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have enough money laying around to make 3-5 months worth of mortgage payments all at one time.  What we are seeing is that people are expecting to be able to refinance or get a mortgage modification.  The problem with all of that is, the lenders have a choice and they may choose to deny those, especially if you’ve suffered a recent job loss. More often than not, mortgage mods don’t go through and people are often left looking for a bankruptcy lawyer with only hours to spare before their house is sold on the courthouse steps. 

Last minute foreclosure defense

Filing bankruptcy, even just a skeletal one, is time consuming.  To file bankruptcy, you have to do things in a certain order.  You meet with an attorney, you take the credit counseling class, you pay your filing fees and then your case can be filed.  All of that takes time and if you skip a step, it can throw the whole case into limbo. Another thing you need to take time to decide is what chapter is best for me to file.  Beyond all of these other challenges, you’ve got to come up with the paperwork necessary to file bankruptcy.  You need to be able to put your hands on bills, pay stubs and tax returns at a minimum.  Like I said, the automatic stay puts a stop to all collection activities against you but once you’ve stopped it, then what?

What is the next step I need to take in order to save my home.  That’s where an experienced bankruptcy lawyer comes in.  They’ll figure out if you qualify for a Chapter 7 or 13.  They’ll help you figure out if you can afford the house going forward and they will provide you with an honest assessment of your situation so you can make an informed decision that can help you get the best outcome for your particular situation. 

Last lawyer on the bench

Here is where procrastination comes back to bite you.  If you wait until the last minute to file, you’re left with a lot fewer choices when it comes to an attorney.  Generally speaking, same day appointments aren’t going to be available for the best bankruptcy lawyers so you’ll be stuck with someone who may not be as reputable or frankly has no clue what they’re doing.  

Is that the person you want holding the fate of your single biggest asset in the palm of their hand.  A guy whose most appealing quality is the fact that they have some free time on their hands? The reality is, the best lawyers are going to be busy.  They’ve got other cases to work on and they frankly may not be willing or able to drop everything to handle your case.  

Line up help ahead of time

If you’re working on solutions to avoid foreclosure, whether that be a refinance or a mortgage modification, you need to be shopping around for a bankruptcy lawyer at the same time.  

You need to interview your lawyer and know what each of them will need to file your case (HINT: what they should need should pretty much be the same if they’re being honest with you). You need to understand your options and know how your choice will impact your overall financial picture.

If everything goes as planned you won’t need bankruptcy.  However, if something goes wrong at the last minute, you have a plan B.  If you find yourself needing to discuss your options, contact the caring attorneys at Harmon and Gorove today for a free, no obligation consultation to learn how bankruptcy can help you with your foreclosure issues. 

Collection Threats: What’s real?

When you think about debt collectors, you usually think of someone that isn’t very nice.  They call, they harass and they threaten.  In reality though, what threats to take seriously and what threats to ignore is something most people don’t understand.

The reality is, most of them are empty threats.  

  1. You’re not going to jail.  Debtors prisons are a relic of the distant past.  
  2. They’re not going to send people to pick you up.  That’s kidnapping and that’s illegal. 
  3. Chances are, they’re not going to “ruin” your credit. 
  4. So what if they, “refer it to an attorney to look at.”


The three threats with teeth

There are only three things you really need to be concerned about.

  1. They have a court judgement against you and they know where you work.  They can then file a garnishment and take your pay. 
  2. There is a lien against your house by your Homeowners Association or your  mortgage lender and they are threatening to foreclose on your house.  You need to be concerned about that and you need to take action to stop it.
  3. You’re behind on your car and they’re threatening to repossess it.


That’s what you need to be concerned with.  The rest, well, is just crap. Let’s be honest, the lender would really just rather make a deal. It’s cheaper, cleaner and keeps everyone happy.  

The debt collector who is legitimate will reach out to you in writing or dials you from a number that is from a real debt company. That said, just because they are from a “real company” doesn’t mean they won’t lie to you, call you at work, tell your loved ones about your debt or do other illegal things

If you find yourself drowning in debt and being harassed by legitimate debt collectors, reach out to us at Harmon and Gorove.  We can help you get your finances in order and bring some peace to your life.  Contact us today to learn how bankruptcy can help you achieve financial freedom and peace.