Month: September 2021

An Angry Divorce

Divorce is scary and can evoke a wide range of emotions, including anger. In our practice, we seek to help couples avoid as much of this anger and despair as possible by having a supportive and non confrontational approach to divorce.  However, we understand that inevitably, there will be some difficult feelings.  Below is a list of steps you can take to help deal with the angry feelings that will inevitably come with divorce, because in the end, remaining civil is what’s best for everyone. 

If you’re angry:

  • Write: keeping a journal or writing letters to yourself can help deal with unfortunate thoughts. 
  • Talk: It’s important to discuss your feelings with others, especially trusted friends who are willing to listen.  If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your feelings with a friend, reach out and find a counselor in the area who specializes in divorce counseling. 
  • Take a look at your “core beliefs”: do these core beliefs that you’ve had your whole life still serve you well.  We tend to trust that these long held beliefs are sacrosanct but in all honesty, we all need to re-examine our feelings and beliefs from time to time to make sure they are still serving us well. 
  • Take responsibility: You’re probably angry that your marriage is over, even though you’re doing it in an uncontested way. In all honesty, marriages rarely end with one spouse being 100% at fault.  Take an opportunity to examine what your role may have been in the end of your marriage and work on that. 
  • Learn what your “triggers” are: Try to understand why you get angry and before you express that anger, think about your response.  
  • The kids: If you have children with your spouse, protect them.  They didn’t ask to be born and they certainly didn’t ask to be dragged into the middle of the spats you and your spouse are having.  Don’t badmouth your spouse, withhold support or block visitation.  Your kids (even your adult children) love you both and they deserve to have a life where their parents can be cordial. 
  • Forgive: If you don’t learn to forgive you’ll be stuck in a rut for the rest of your life.  Ending a marriage is hard.  It may not be what you ultimately wanted. Spending your life dwelling on this anger will never allow you to live a fulfilling life and will just continue to wreak havoc on your physical and mental wellbeing. 

If your ex is angry:

  • Listen: listen to the concerns of your spouse.  Part of an uncontested divorce, (other than the cost savings) is to hear and accept what is angering and hurting your spouse.  
  • Learn to walk away: Sometimes your spouse is being unreasonable or attacking you.  Don’t be afraid to take a time out and rejoin the conversation once everyone has had a chance to calm down.  Put limits on what you’ll allow to be said and how you’ll be treated.
  • Try to defuse the situation: Sometimes empathy can go a long way.  Maybe you agree and potentially even sympathize with your spouse. If you agree, offer a genuine apology. Apologies can quickly calm the flames of anger. 
  • Don’t take things personally: Anger is deeply personal.  You and your spouse are both going through a lot right now.  
  • Learn compassion: Your ex is going through just as much as you are.  They may be worried about their future.  They may be worried that they’ll never see their kids again or that they’ll somehow prefer you over them. A lot of anger is caused by fear or shame. 

In the end, the point of an uncontested divorce is to try to lessen these emotions.  We want to make a stressful time as easy as possible.  We know things won’t ever be the same between you, but you can end your marriage in a dignified and peaceful manner.  We’re here to help you just like we’ve helped countless others. When you’re ready, we’re here.

Credit will Heal


I try really hard to give good news on this blog.  Bankruptcy isn’t nearly as scary as people make it out to be.  Unfortunately, everything can’t be rainbows and unicorns.

Bankruptcy will most likely hurt your credit. It’s a fact.  In the days immediately following your bankruptcy, your credit score will take a hit. 

So…knowing that, does that mean I shouldn’t file bankruptcy?


I frequently meet with clients who are literally drowning in debt but are worried about their credit report.  They put a miserable little report ahead of their own financial and likely personal health

They have a misguided belief that once they have damaged their credit, it will never heal or be the same again.  

That’s simply not true. 

A credit report is a snapshot of a period in time.  

It WILL recover, probably quickly. 

A credit hit is like a scratch, it will heal

No matter your choice, whether it be debt settlement, debt management or bankruptcy, your credit report will get dinged in the short term. 

Instead of worrying that it will be a death knell, think of it more as a scratch. 

It bleeds, you clean it and bandage it (think of bankruptcy as this part), it scabs over and eventually heals . 

Once it heals, there may be a scar…but that fades over time, just like the damage to your credit report.  

Debt is like a disease

When you can’t actually pay your debts off, it’s like a chronic disease.  

There are symptoms that just don’t go away, sometimes getting worse and worse. 

Debt causes stress, which causes a whole array of problems that the medical community still doesn’t quite fully understand.  

But know this, debt will drain your energy, consume your thoughts, limit your opportunities and make you mentally unhealthy. 

Additionally, if you’re already in this much debt, chances are, your credit report already tells a much different story than you like to think. 

In fact, it may not be doing you any good at all. 

The balance sheet matters most

Like I said before, your credit report is a snapshot of a period in your life.  It is, by its very nature, limited. 

As time goes by, things fall off, never to be heard from again. 

If you use the bankruptcy code, you will change the balance in your favor. The balance sheet that is. 

Bankruptcy has the ability to wipe out your debts, on the spot. 

It stops collections, eliminates unsecured debts and clears your balance sheet in one fell swoop. Immediately.

Yes, the bankruptcy filing will show on your credit report, but the further down the road you get, the less it matters to lenders. Also, with your old debts gone for good, you’ll look like a much more creditworthy individual. 

When you take the steps to get financially, emotionally and physically healthy, the credit health will come and your credit report will heal.  

When you’re ready to take that step, call me.

Ruining your FICO score


We’ve covered credit (FICO) scores in depth.  It’s one of the most talked about things in bankruptcy and on my blog.  

People worry about their FICO score and almost every person I meet with believes that bankruptcy will ruin their FICO score.  

They think that once they file bankruptcy they’ll have a scarlet “B” tattooed on their forehead for all time, like they’re some kind of criminal…or worse.  

“I’ll never be able to function again” is a line I often hear.  

Because of this fear, people stagger on, scratching and clawing, burdened with debt and the fear of getting out of it. 

Many people who actually take the time to get to know debtors and what actually drives their financial situation often come to the realization that they aren’t a bunch of deadbeats who are trying to game the system.

They’re normal people who struggle and endure trying times and difficult financial situations.  

That said, I want to shout this from the rooftop:


The financial talking heads constantly beat the drum that your life and your self worth are wrapped up in a miserable little score, which is very odd considering that we don’t even understand what that score really is

That score is something that even I as a bankruptcy lawyer of more than a decade don’t even quite understand. I’ve written about it and I have a good grasp on what it does but there are nuances of the scoring system that even I don’t know. 

All the while, we are told life will end, the world will stop rotating, the sky will fall if our credit score (which is derived from notoriously inaccurate information) declines.  

That’s horse squeeze. 

It’s that fear that keeps consumers in America struggling to get out of debt.  They keep trying to repay debts that they’d never get paid off in this life or the next, just to preserve a “score” that ultimately doesn’t mean much. 

Credit scores are dynamic.  In fact, the CFPB states that your credit score starts increasing the day you file bankruptcy

The biggest thing you can do is focus on your overall financial heath. You do this through getting rid of dischargeable debts, saving for retirement, living beneath your means and having an emergency fund. 

That fear keeps American consumers struggling to pay debt that they can never repay, in this life or the next.  In order  to preserve their credit score, they appear resigned to a lifetime of minimum payments rather than a fresh start in bankruptcy

Don’t spend your life just struggling to stay afloat. 

When you’re ready to take a step in the right direction, call me.

The Real Cause

A talking head recently stated that the root cause of bankruptcy was irresponsibility and financial fraud.

It’s a #@mn good thing I couldn’t reach through the screen and grab this guy by the neck.  

Fraud! Irresponsibility! Robbing Peter to pay Paul! 

The agony and pain felt by creditors (i.e. Bank of America or J.P. Morgan Chase) knowing they’d been hoodwinked and bled dry (note the sarcasm). 

It’s absolutely nauseating to listen to this drivel because it is a bald faced lie. 

The mere assertion that someone would go through the bankruptcy process just to deal with a few “lifestyle choices” is frankly an insult to the hard work that my clients and my team put into every single case.  

The *Actual Cause of Bankruptcy

Nonsensical spending is rarely the cause of bankruptcy.  Does it happen? Absolutely! But that’s maybe 5% of cases. 

The need for bankruptcy arises most often under the following circumstances:

  • Loss or downsizing of a job
  • Health problems
  • Failed businesses
  • Having to support adult children, grandchildren or elderly parents
  • Divorce
  • Covid-19

Carried balances on credit cards are usually a result of living expenses, not a trip to the Louis Vuitton store. 

The gig economy hasn’t helped, nor has pandemic related closures.  People are finding themselves more responsible for calculating tax withholdings, finding their own insurance and funding their own retirement. While gig jobs are a good supplement, they often don’t provide reliable enough wages to keep people afloat long. 

How People Actually Get in Trouble

Most of the people I see are in my office because they were trying to do the right thing.

  • They bought a house
  • They started businesses
  • They cared for relatives
  • They fought hard to not have to renege on their debts.

At some point the inevitable will catch up. 

It often starts with a tax problem.  You’ll have reduced your withholdings because you needed extra cash. Suddenly April 15th rolls around and you owe hundreds or even thousands more than you thought you would.  

Maybe you’re sick and can’t work.  If you don’t have paid sick leave at your job, you’re stuck holding the bag.

Even if you do have paid sick leave, do you have insurance? Even if you do it can cost thousands to get sick.  Hospitals and doctors will sue you and garnish your wages.  

Are you trying to keep you home? Are you behind on your mortgage or did you have a significant increase in rent? 

Everyone has a different story, but most of them don’t start with, “Ms. Barrett, I spent $5,000 on purses at Saks Fifth Avenue.”

In reality, its circumstances in life that often catch up.

That’s why we’re here. 

If you need help, don’t wait until it’s too late.  The sooner you act, the better your outcome will be.  Call me, I’m here waiting to help you get your finances sorted out.

What is a beneficiary in a will?

A beneficiary is a person you designate to receive property from your estate after your death.  You can name specific beneficiaries to inherit specific things (like a car, real estate or jewelry) or you can leave them everything in one fell swoop. 

Types of beneficiaries

In your will, you can leave specific instructions about the order you want people to inherit your assets.  There’s three different types of beneficiaries you can specify.

  • Primary beneficiary: this is the person or organization you want to receive your assets first. 
  • Secondary (Contingent) beneficiary: for lack of a better term, this is the backup beneficiary.  This person or organization would receive the assets of your estate if your primary beneficiary can’t.  This could be because the primary beneficiary predeceased you or they chose not to receive that assets you left. 
  • Residual beneficiary: This person will receive any assets in your estate left over after all other benefits have been distributed.  You can leave multiple residual beneficiaries and designate the percentage of your estate that each of them should receive. 


Who can be a beneficiary?

The long and short of it is, you have options.  

Your beneficiary can be any of the following:

  • Any person, including a husband or wife, partner, children, extended family members or just a friend you met last week.  Basically, it’s your stuff you can leave it to whoever you want. 
  • A charity or nonprofit: you can donate any or all of your estate to a charity or nonprofit like a church, a college or school, a charity like St. Jude or the ASPCA or even your own foundation if you have one.  The options are almost limitless. 
  • A trust. If you have a trust, you’ll likely want it to be the beneficiary of your will, otherwise, what was the point.  

When you do choose a beneficiary, remember, minor children (people under 18) generally can’t own property.  In other words, if you have or wish to leave property to minor children, you’ll probably want to name a financial guardian to watch over them and manage their inheritance until they are of age.  If you plan on passing along a substantial amount of money, you may want to consider setting up trusts to manage the money until children reach an age that you deem “mature.”

Finally, if you’re married at the time of your death, almost all states have laws that mean your spouse should inherit a minimum amount of your estate.  If you want to give a larger part to someone other than your spouse, you’ll need to discuss that with an attorney that specifically handles large estates.  

Having a will is extremely important in Georgia. You’re ready to make the first step on your estate planning journey, give us a call today.