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Do I even need a Divorce Lawyer?

Everyone asks themselves all the time, “Do I really need this?”  The questions obviously pops up more often the more something costs.  Asking yourself that about an attorney is something you’ve probably done and countless others have done as well.  You may be able to avoid hiring a divorce lawyer if you’re willing to commit to doing your research and if you meet some of these basic assumptions: 

 You and your spouse don’t own a home or have any major assets

There are NO children

You’ve maintained COMPLETELY separate bank accounts and credit accounts.

There are no taxes owed and you’re  very unlikely to have your taxes audited from the years you were married. 

You’re not looking for Alimony or Child support

The spouses are extremely detail oriented and committed to doing the research 

If you satisfy all of the above criteria, you may be able to avoid hiring a divorce lawyer.  Just keep in mind that Judges are not going to teach you how to file your own divorce case.  When you walk into court, you are expected to know what to do and are not given an opportunity to learn how to file for divorce. That’s something you need to teach yourself in advance.

Let’s be honest, you probably need to hire an attorney.  The legal system is so intricate and so many things can go wrong during a divorce that paying an expert shouldn’t be viewed as an expense as much as it is an investment in your future.  You hire an experienced lawyer for the advice and expertise in making sure that your case is handled right, the first time.  You even need an attorney in an uncontested divorce.

Because so many things can go wrong, even in an uncontested divorce, the experience your attorney brings is invaluable to making sure that you’re able to maintain a cordial relationship with your ex, especially if there’s kids involved.  Don’t make the mistake that so many do when they think they can just do it on their own.  Divorce, as with many aspects of the law, isn’t a DIY project.  Even we hire lawyers when we need to do something that’s out of our wheelhouse.

You should think very carefully before you move forward without a lawyer.   Any agreements you reach with your spouse and file with the court will be binding. Those binding agreements are often very costly to try to reverse. 

Before you go it alone, remember that a divorce is one of the most significant legal proceedings that many people will ever go through.  Do you really want to head into uncharted waters all by yourself? 

If you and your spouse feel that your marriage is broken and you’re in need of the advice of a skilled and experienced uncontested divorce lawyer, contact the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove. Our firm has more than 35 years of experience helping people navigate the difficult path to divorce.  

Who files bankruptcy anyways?

Almost every day I hear a client say the words, “You know, this is the last place I ever thought I’d be.” The client often tries to explain to me that they aren’t the kind of person who doesn’t pay their bills or skip out on a debt.  People have been conditioned to think that people who can’t pay their bills are somehow defective.  

After saying all this, you may ask, “Well, Amanda, who exactly is the kind of person who files bankruptcy?”  To answer that, I have looked at numerous studies about the types of people who file bankruptcy and I explain below what the average bankruptcy filer looks like. 

The typical person seeking protection

Married, white, educated, mid 40s to early 50s.  Both have steady employment. You may say to yourself, What?!? That sounds like me, or my neighbor, or my parents or half the people I work with and you would be right.  It could be anyone. Not very distinctive, is it? That’s the average person who files bankruptcy. Most of them find themselves seeking bankruptcy protection for some reason or another, a loss of income, an extended illness, a failed business opportunity. In today’s world, it doesn’t take long to find yourself in financial trouble. 

Trends

Over the last few years, the age of those seeking bankruptcy protection has risen dramatically.  A lot of that is due to seniors carrying large mortgage payments and consumer debts into retirement.  Only once the income they’ve depended on has gone away do they realize that they just can’t make it anymore.  Even here in Metro Atlanta, where my practice is based, I’m seeing more and more people come in who had a salary in excess of $100,000 at their last job.  For one reason or another, they are now unemployed, underemployed or investments they made aren’t producing the expected amount of income. People who could make things work with their former salary suddenly can’t find a way to make ends meet now and can’t easily lower expenses.  

The faces of bankruptcy clients

In the past month, my newest clients have included people such as:

  • A woman in her 60s with a Ph.D who had to take a leave of absence to care for an elderly parent. 
  • A young woman in her mid 20s struggling because she cosigned a loan with her sister. 
  • A couple in their early 60s struggling with debt but looking squarely into the face of uncertainty in retirement. 
  • A high income professional in her mid 30s who is facing a divorce. 
  • A small business owner in his 40s who has seen his sales drop because of unexpected competition in his field. 

 

The kind of person who files bankruptcy, you ask?  Well, as you can see, people from all backgrounds, places in life and income levels. One thing all these people had in common though? They were smart enough to see that bankruptcy offers a way out of a difficult situation and opens the door to financial freedom and a brighter future. 


If you’re a person who is staring at your finances and wondering how you’re going to make it, don’t wait and don’t stress it anymore.  You NEED to come speak with an attorney TODAY.  Our attorneys have decades of experience helping people from every walk of life get their finances back on track. 

 

Profiting from Shame

People are so scared in our society to talk about their financial difficulties.  It is a taboo subject that people avoid even more than discussing religion or politics. We all want to be like those people who made a fortune, we envy them and try to emulate them. At the very least, everyone expects to be able to live a middle class lifestyle if they work hard and play by the rules.  Many who aren’t living that lifestyle are asking themselves, what’s wrong with me?

Unfortunately people who are meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer are often manifesting an intense amount of shame.  They somehow feel like their financial failure is a moral failure, representative of some kind of failing they’ve had in life.  Because so many people are unable to discuss this outside the safe confines of their lawyer’s office, everyone thinks they are in this alone and that they’re a failure.  People even think that they’ll have to explain to the bankruptcy judge why they’re in the mess they’re in and justify it to them. 

Profiting off people’s shame

This feeling of shame and unwillingness to talk about financial problems is a big reason why debt settlement and debt management businesses are raking in cash.  They tell you that, for a price, they’ll handle your finances for you, pulling you out of the hole and keeping you from having to file bankruptcy.   

Debt settlement rarely works and is usually just a ripoff.

They fail because creditors often don’t cease collections even after they’ve been contacted by one of these for profit companies.  The company you hired pays themselves first and THEN tries to settle your debts. Inevitably, the creditors who aren’t getting anything and won’t settle end up going to court and get a judgement against you and you’re back at square one, only poorer than you were.  This only benefits the debt settlement people and works because they convince you that bankruptcy is shameful. 

Bankruptcy isn’t shameful or rare

Over the past few years more than 1.3 million people a year have sought bankruptcy protection and the numbers were even higher than in the last decade.  A recent study said that between 15 and 20% of all families in the United States would be better off if they had filed bankruptcy. The majority of people who live in the United States and need to file bankruptcy usually have a good reason.  The top three reasons for filing bankruptcy are job list, divorce, and some kind of illness, none of which are shameful. It isn’t like you’re out blowing money on gambling, cocaine and prostitutes. The average bankruptcy client is married, middle aged, white, working and has some kind of education beyond high school.  Again, nothing shameful there. Having generous and consumer friendly bankruptcy laws ENCOURAGES competition and entrepreneurship. Any country that wants to thrive in our modern economy needs to protect people who take reasonable risks and fail to encourage more entrepreneurship. It allows people to take business risks without the risk of a life sentence for failure. Bankruptcy is vital to protecting people from failure and allowing them to get back on their feet.  If you feel the need to speak with a bankruptcy attorney about your situation, don’t let someone shame you into making a mistake that may cost you money and peaceContact the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove today to learn how we can help you get back on your feet. 

 

New Year, New You!

New Year, New You! It’s a cliche really.  Every year we all make those ridiculous new year’s resolutions.  I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to get in shape, I’m going to eat better, I’m going back to school.  We all want to better ourselves in the new year because we view it as a fresh start, an opportunity to change our lives for the better.  Most of us don’t change our habits unfortunately and because of that we just fall back into the same old routine that we’ve lived in for the better part of our lives.  We don’t go back to school, we join the gym but we stop going after three weeks, we go out and buy the health food and it ends up rotting in our fridge.  We are, unfortunately, creatures of habit.  But we don’t have to be.  

189,000,000.  That’s a large number.  That’s more than half of the United States.  That’s also the number of people who have a credit card in the United States. The average person carries more than $8,000 in credit card debt alone and as a whole, consumers in the U.S. have more than 13 TRILLION dollars of consumer debt.  While the majority of that debt is tied up in our homes via mortgages, credit card debt and auto loans total nearly 3 Trillion dollars.  That’s almost enough to run the entire government of the United States of America for a year.  With all that debt floating around out there, it’s no wonder people find themselves in trouble and find their nest eggs shrinking and their ability to fund even basic life expenses severely limited. 

New Year, New You can apply to a lot of things in your life.  One thing that people often put off is a change in their financial habits. Money is hard and like anything that’s hard, most people just want to keep the status quo.  We go along, making our minimum payments to keep people off our backs.  By doing that though, we never really get ahead.  We keep trudging along with the heavy weight of debt tied around our necks.  Keeping us up at night, keeping us stressed, keeping us unhealthy and keeping us from bettering ourselves.  

We want to help.  The attorneys at Harmon and Gorove have decades of experience using the bankruptcy laws to help people clean up their finances and get their lives back on track.  If you really are all about the New Year, New You, start with your wallet.  It’s a step in the right direction and it isn’t nearly as painful as that stairmaster at the gym. 

72 Month Loans: A Car Buying Nightmare

For many Americans, buying a new car is a reason to celebrate.  People often choose to buy a car when a major milestone occurred such as graduation from school, a marriage, the birth of a child getting that promotion or reaching the retirement milestone.  However, today’s new cars are more expensive than ever, causing more and more people to take out car loans that stretch past the traditional limit of 48-60 months.  72 month loans are pretty much standard practice with 84 and even 96 month loans becoming commonplace.  While this may seem like a good idea when you’re looking at your monthly payment, this practice is leading Americans down a road of debt that is difficult to come back from,

The Hidden Costs of Car Ownership

With the average cost of a new car climbing over $37,000 in 2019, the average American family is finding it harder and harder to get into any car at all, much less their dream vehicle.  This is where unscrupulous car dealers and banks come into the equation. Car dealers and now selling people cars and financing them for periods exceeding 60 months at an alarming rate.  An example cited in a recent Wall Street Journal article described the plight of a young man who recently purchased a car understanding that he needed the payment to be $400 a month or less.  Once the dealer got them into the finance office, they convinced him to add on high margin items like extended warranties and tire protection packs that added another $100 a month to his loan.  In order to get close to the payment he needed he ended up financing his $27,000 car in a 72 month loan which will ultimately cost him $9,000 in finance charges and not be paid off until 3 years after the bumper to bumper coverage expires and long after any secondary warranties expire as well.  This could potentially leave him paying thousands of dollars out of pocket to cover repair costs in addition to his $500 a month payment.

Fortunately, There’s help

If you are one of the unfortunate people who have found themselves underwater on a car that requires thousands of dollars in repairs, isn’t running at all or is now worthless because of unscrupulous car dealers tricking you into thinking you could afford a vehicle by spreading payments out over an extremely long term, you should consider speaking with one of the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove.  Our attorneys have decades of experience helping good people free themselves from the bondage of debt and unscrupulous creditors.  Contact our office today for a free consultation to learn about how bankruptcy can help you get your finances back in order and your life back on track.