Divorce

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Credit score increases rapidly after bankruptcy, says by the CFPB.

Our clients are often so very concerned about their credit score.  That’s natural, and frankly, we are too.  I check my credit score at least once every two weeks.  It’s a point of pride for many people.  For others however, it can be the difference in being able to get ahead in life or not being able to afford those things we need. 

We have some very good news to report for people who are worried about the impact that bankruptcy will have on their credit score. The good news is, and I say it boldly;

AFTER BANKRUPTCY, CREDIT SCORES GO STEADILY UP

That’s right.  All these years you’ve been lied to by people who have no idea what they’re talking about.  Telling you that if you file bankruptcy your finances are toast and you’re dead in the water. You’ll never get another loan again.  We’ve all heard it and it’s usually coming from the slime ball that charged you 97% interest on a $2,500 car loan.

We didn’t just make this up either, although we already knew this to be true, this is a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The study, which you can read here is completely legitimate and has been researched over the last 17 years. Another finding from the study is 

A PERSON’S CREDIT SCORES START IMPROVING THE SAME YEAR AS YOUR BANKRUPTCY FILING

Take a minute and absorb that.

How Creditors Use Fear

Creditors and all their hack buddies scream from the rooftops about bankruptcy trashing your credit score.  The data shows just the opposite.  In fact, there’s usually no dip in your score after filing.  The overwhelming amount of people who file bankruptcy see an IMMEDIATE increase in their score. Don’t believe us, just read what the CFPB says: 

Median credit scores increase steadily from year-to-year after consumers file a bankruptcy petition.

Median scores for Chapter 7 filers recover more quickly than those for Chapter 13 filers possibly due to the much quicker and more likely discharge of Chapter 7 filings.  

Bankruptcy improves your Financial Health

When it comes to your financial health, let’s get one thing straight. Your credit score is a vastly inadequate indicator of your financial health.  What really matters is your balance sheet.

A credit score is a distraction

In the grand scheme of loans and credit, lenders look at your balance sheet as much or more than your credit score.  In essence, they look at your net worth which is comprised of assets minus liabilities.  If you eliminate the liabilities you have via bankruptcy, your net worth looks even better. 

A credit score is just a number, most banks prefer a measure called the Debt to Income ratio or DTI.  If you wipe out unsecured debts, your DTI goes down as well, improving your likelihood of getting approved for a loan.  

Boost your credit score

You can take actions that can boost your score.  One of the best ways to do that is to check your credit report.  Not just your score, but what’s listed on your report.  When you look into credit reports, you’ll find that credit reports are notoriously inaccurate. Nearly 1 in 4 credit reports had factual inaccuracies that could negatively impact your credit score. That’s why its very important to check your credit report often, even more so than your score itself.  

Is bankruptcy right for me?

Just because you can file bankruptcy, doesn’t mean you should. It’s just one of the things you should consider if you find yourself needing to file.  Lots of different factors influence whether you should file bankruptcy.  We discuss those factors in one of our recent blog posts

If you’re ready to discuss filing bankruptcy with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, contact our office today for a free, no obligation consultation.  

 

 

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.  

Divorce and Work: Handling a Major Transition at your Job.

You’re going through an uncontested divorce.  Even though uncontested divorces are lower stress that long drawn out ones with tons of fighting, it’s still a major change in your life. 

In a perfect world, your supervisors and your Human Resources department will understand what you’re going through and cut you some slack. Good co-workers will be there to listen and help out until you can regain your footing and get your life back in order. 

In a sense, going through the process of a divorce is like getting sick; you shouldn’t be blamed for needing time off or being less productive for a period of time. In the end, it is highly unlikely that you are the first employee who has gone through a divorce.   Unless you do something that clearly violates company policy, it is illegal for an employer to fire you just because you are going through the process of getting divorced. 

Having said all that, we do have some tips for how to handle the emotional stress of a divorce at work.

 

  • Be upfront and honest. Tell your supervisor that you are going through a divorce. You may explain to them that you will likely be missing work more often but that you still intend to get your work done. 
  • Outside of telling your supervisor, you should probably not tell anyone that you aren’t close to and don’t trust implicitly.  You don’t want rumors to get started about you. 
  • Find a way to take on more group projects at work.  It will allow you to be around others and also be supported while doing your work. 
  • Don’t handle the business of your divorce at work unless it is absolutely necessary. Taking phone calls and reading emails may just serve to upset you and make it even more difficult to handle the demands of the workplace.
  • Whatever you do, don’t get into a shouting match over the phone with your spouse.  It will just serve to get you worked up and you’ll air a lot of dirty laundry to those within earshot. 
  • Keep your temper and your ego in check.  Don’t fly off your handle or bad mouth your spouse.  This serves two purposes. You don’t want your coworkers to think you’re nuts and you don’t want to provide your spouse a reason to go from an uncontested divorce to a contested one. 
  • Don’t give up or quit: As the old saying goes, this too shall pass and you’ll want to retain as much normalcy in your life as you can once you start the rebuilding process. 
  • If you feel overwhelmed, get up and take a walk and get some fresh air. Exercise will make you feel better and help you calm down. 
  • If you’re in the process of looking for a new job, do not bring up your divorce to prospective employers. 

Divorce isn’t an easy process.  While an uncontested divorce is easier than a contested divorce, it may be hard at times. Try to follow these simple rules and remember, it’s best for you, your job, and your divorce to try to keep a level head and not get overwhelmed. 

If you feel that you need to speak with someone regarding an uncontested divorce, call the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove today.  They have decades of experience handling uncontested divorces and keeping things civil between divorcing spouses. 

 

5 Ways to Tell People You’re Getting a Divorce

We all want to communicate with others, it’s one of the most basic of human needs. This is especially true in times of divorce. Wanting to communicate with people and knowing how to do it is often where problems can occur. 

In today’s world, there are more ways to communicate your divorce announcement than ever before.

Facebook

For almost anyone on earth that has access to a computer, Facebook is the dominant force in Social Media. It makes sense that you might be contemplating announcing your divorce on Facebook.  You can reach hundreds or even thousands of people with a single post. Facebook offers a number of approaches. There’s the subtle way, simply changing your relationship status from married to single, divorced or its complicated.

The downside of doing this is that your status change could trigger a barrage of messages and comments from concerned friends and family.

If you do announce your divorce like the one mentioned above, posting that on Facebook can actually be reasonably productive. You will break the news to a lot of people at one time. However, the best way to announce this kind of thing on Facebook is to prepare a joint statement with your spouse. Even with divorce, there’s strength in presenting a united front. If that’s not possible, you can always post the news alone.

Just remember one thing: Everything you post on Facebook can be used against you in court. So if you’re not doing a joint statement, keep your post short, simple and non offensive!

Mass Email

A more private alternative than social media, email is a good way to let people far and wide know the news.  It also controls WHO knows, since you’ll control who gets the email. But, this approach also has its downsides.

First, if you send a mass email to a lot of people at once through your regular email you might get tagged for spam.  That means that lots of people won’t see it.

Of course, you could send individual (and personalized) emails to everyone you know. The biggest downside to this is that custom crafting all those emails can be tiring. The final problem is that, as with Facebook, you’re likely to get a responses you’re not ready for.

Divorce Announcements

Much Like wedding announcements, divorce announcements are a thing and they are a formal way to let your friends and family know about your new development.  These should ONLY be used once your divorce is final and should NOT be used until such time.

Greeting card universe  features a number of divorce announcements.  If you do decide to send divorce announcements though, use caution. While most of them seem funny, a great deal of them border on bad taste. So if your intended recipients are easily offended, this may not be the best way to break the news to them.

Christmas Cards

Just like with Facebook, there’s two schools of thought on this way of announcing your divorce.

If you’re trying to be subtle, you can include a family photo of just you and your kids in your Christmas card.  Simply sign the card with just your name and your kids’ names. Most people can read between the lines, although some may think your spouse died.

If you choose to be more forthcoming you can always include a statement in your card about what happened this year with your family and include the announcement of the divorce in that.

This approach isn’t for everyone but it could cut down on the emails and comments you might face using social media.

Face to Face

There’s no more personal way to communicate but it’s also one of the hardest ways. It’s emotional and time consuming. When you are first starting your divorce journey, having one-on-one conversations about your divorce with anyone can be extremely challenging.

However, face to face conversations are the best way to break the news of your divorce to those who are close to you. Just make sure you keep it positive and productive.

You also need to consider the timing of the conversation. If you open up to people about your divorce too soon, you’re either going to be a sobbing mess or you’re going to be mad enough to spit nails. Your emotions are too raw for you to be anything else.

Being emotional is okay if the people you are talking to are your closest friends and family. If you’re trying to have a face to face conversation with anyone else, it’s probably best to wait until your emotions have settled down and you can talk about your divorce without becoming too emotional.  

If you’re facing the prospect of divorce call the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove today and schedule a free consultation to find out what your options are for an uncontested divorce.  

Ending your Marriage: 7 Steps to Prepare for Divorce

Deal with Your Emotions

Often, emotion is the driving force behind divorce.  Emotions drive every disagreement, drive people to fight in court and cause them to destroy what could otherwise be an amicable process.  When your emotions spin out of control, you’re much more likely to have a contested divorce. That said, controlling your emotions doesn’t mean you have to act like a robot or a zombie, divorce IS emotional and sometimes you’re going to break down. However, the more you keep your emotions under control the less drama you’ll experience in your divorce. One of the best things you can do in order to prepare yourself emotionally for a divorce is to see a therapist or join a support group as soon as possible.  This will allow you to have an emotional support system in place before you begin to prepare for divorce.

Get Organized & Collect Documents.

The key to a relatively easy divorce process is being organized.  You’ll need a process a small mountain of paperwork during the process.  You may need tax returns, W-2s, pay stubs, credit card statements, bank account statements.  Organizing the documents in a cohesive way is one of the biggest things you can do to make the process easier and save yourself time and money.   Beyond that, having it done before you start your divorce will allow you to focus on one LESS thing during the divorce in addition to making the process go faster.

Understand Your Finances.

If you don’t want to be on the streets or living with your parents after a divorce, you need to understand your financial situation before you start the process. That means you need to get comfortable with exactly how much you will need to survive after the divorce.  You can’t end your marriage and divide up your property without knowing how much you have and how much you owe. You can’t survive the aftermath of a divorce without knowing how much you’ve got coming in and going out after everything is said and done.

Make A Financial Plan.

Understand your financial situation is the first step, then you need to make a plan for how you’ll live after the divorce.  If you’ve been separated for a long time, you likely have a good idea about what your life will be like after divorce, however, if you’re still sharing expenses, you’re probably in for a rude awakening. Before you get divorced you have to make sure that you will have the ability to bring in enough money to live and pay all of your bills once your divorce is over, otherwise you may be faced with bankruptcy.

Get an Idea of Who you need on your Team.

You don’t have to go through the divorce alone but to prepare for divorce you need to think about who you will need to help you.  Ending a marriage is challenging and extremely complicated. Some of the people you may need to consider having at your disposal beyond a good attorney is a financial adviser, a therapist, even a good realtor isn’t a bad idea if you’re having to sell a home.  You also need to line up family and friends. You’ll need their support during this process.

Set Realistic Goals.

Most people start to prepare for divorce without ever knowing what they want.  Obviously, you want to be done with your marriage, but there’s more to divorce than that.   If you don’t ask yourself the question of “what do you want”, and invest time finding the right answer, you have very little chance of ending up happy once your divorce is over.

The sooner you can set goals for your divorce, the more likely you are to achieve them. But, before you commit to pursuing a goal, you also have to make sure that it’s realistic.   

Make Peace.

Most people don’t get married thinking the day will come where their marriage will end in divorce.  Divorce may be against every fiber of your being, but unfortunately, it happens. It doesn’t make you or your spouse a bad person, it doesn’t make you wrong or a failure.  The only thing divorce means is that your marriage didn’t work. There is a lot of baggage that come with divorce. It churns up bad feelings and emotions that can cause you trouble down the road.  You need to make peace with the process of getting a divorce so that you can come out healthy and happy.

If you feel that divorce is something that is right for you, contact the attorneys at Harmon and Gorove today to schedule a time to discuss your uncontested divorce, free of charge.  

Social Media and Divorce

Social media has changed the world in just a few short years.  The first real Social Media sites debuted in 2002 and 2003 with the biggest one of them all, Facebook, debuting in 2004.  Social Media has had a significant role in changing the world we live in and making our lives more connected. Sometimes these social media sites have made our lives better and sometimes they’ve made them much worse.  It allows us to connect to old friends and keep in touch with long distance relatives. Social Media has also had many negative effects. It has led to countless extra-marital affairs, numerous divorces both uncontested and contested.  33% of all divorce filings in 2011 mentioned the word Facebook and certainly the number of divorces has grown by leaps and bounds since then with the advent of even more social media sites and messaging apps.  Without knowing the state of your relationship, we can’t say for sure that social media can be the downfall of your marriage but it most decidedly has the ability to cause substantial problems.  Even an amicable, uncontested divorce can go off the rails when one party of another sees pictures of the other spouse dating someone new, spending money, partying or acting carefree. Divorce, as we all know, is extremely trying on one’s emotions, even for people who feel that’s their only option. Even if someone’s ready to move in with their life, it doesn’t mean that they don’t still have feelings for their soon to be ex.

At one point or another, most couples had some good times and when they see their spouse with their arms wrapped around a date or a new partner, it breaks their heart, quickly turning feelings of sadness into jealousy, anger and spite.

What’s going on in your situation?

Many people ask, “Should I stay off Social Media during my divorce?

The answer depends on your individual situation:

  1. Do you use social media every day for a job or other business purpose?
  2. Is your spouse on social media?
  3. Are your mutual friends and family members on social media

If a post on Social Media that could upset your soon to be ex is likely to be seen by them or shown to them by someone else during the divorce proceeding, it would be in your best interest to stay off social media until your divorce is complete.  If you must use social media, it’s in your best interest to not comment, post or like anything that could upset the other party.

In our experience, it’s best to be cautious and this often means to abstain from Social Media during your divorce. If this sounds too difficult, then don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your spouse or their attorney to see.

During your divorce, we recommend avoiding the following posts at all costs:

  • Pictures of you partying.
  • Pictures of you drinking alcohol or using drugs.
  • Pictures of an unusual purchase like a new car or a lavish vacation.
  • Pictures of you with what could be construed as “dates” or romantic partners.

And last but certainly not least:

Rants about your spouse or divorce.

Social media can be a lot of fun and a great way to distract yourself from your divorce, but don’t forget to post responsibly. You don’t want to say or do anything that can anger or upset your spouse to the point where a cheap, uncontested divorce turns into a full-blown divorce battle. We say this because it happens all the time to spouses amid divorce, and it’s entirely preventable.

If you find yourself needing the counsel of a competent and compassionate attorney to handle your uncontested divorce, please give us a call today to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.  The attorneys at Harmon and Gorove have decades of experience in handling uncontested divorces in ways that KEEP them uncontested.