Roanoke Legal Issues Blog

Divorce, property division, and the marital home

During marital dissolution, the property division process can be amongst the most contentious. There's good reason for this conflict, too. After all, the outcome of property division sets the stage for each individual's post-divorce financial situation. Therefore, those who neglect to aggressively pursue an outcome that furthers their best interests may wind up being taken advantage of.

While property division certainly deals with bank accounts, retirement accounts, and items of personal property, another common asset that must be addressed is the marital home. For many individuals, this residence represents not only a significant financial resource, but also an asset with substantial sentimental value. However, before deciding on a course of action regarding the marital home, individuals need to ensure that they know their options.

More older Americans are seeking bankruptcy protection

Financial difficulties can befall individuals of any age or economic class. The sudden loss of a job, the onset of an unexpected medical condition, or other major life events can throw an individual into financial despair. These individuals may struggle to get by, sometimes going to extraordinary measures to avoid bankruptcy, even though bankruptcy may be able to provide them with the debt relief they need.

Many older Americans are turning to bankruptcy for help. In fact, the number of individuals age 65 and older who are filing for bankruptcy has tripled since 1991. Although some of these filings can be attributed to the fact that many Americans are living longer and simply running out of money, there are other, more prevalent factors at play. Perhaps the biggest factor is medical costs. Although most senior citizens can rely on Medicaid to a certain extent, medical care has become so expensive that even government assistance isn't enough to stay afloat.

The effect of domestic violence on a child's well-being

For many Virginians, there is nothing more important to them than their children. When divorce or other issues arise between parents, children can be adversely affected. Although Virginia's family law courts seek to determine what is in the children's best interests when issuing orders regarding child custody and visitation, those orders are granted based on the information provided by the child's parents. Therefore, parents seeking sole custody or who are trying to restrict the other parent's access to the child need to present compelling evidence to support their position.

For example, if domestic violence is common in one parent's household, then it behooves the other parent to present evidence to that effect and demonstrate how the child will be negatively impacted by that violence. To start, studies have shown that children who live in a home where domestic violence occurs are much more likely to be subjected to physical abuse.

July sees significant increase in bankruptcy filings

If you're struggling with debt, you're not alone. In fact, in July alone, more than 64,000 Americans filed for bankruptcy, which was a 5% increase from the number of filings in June. There have been more than 450,000 bankruptcies filed in the first seven months of this year. If those numbers seem shockingly high, they aren't. Bankruptcy filings recently reached a 10 year low. Although 2018 saw 770,000 bankruptcies, that number is less than half of the number seen in 2010, which came in at 1.6 million.

There are a number of driving forces behind bankruptcy filings. While some individuals find themselves struggling with overwhelming debt simply due to overspending, most people who pursue bankruptcy are trying to find a way to cope with unexpected medical expenses or the sudden loss of a job. Far too often these individuals are left living paycheck to paycheck as interest rates and debt collection fees force them into a deeper hole of debt.

Your spouse's Facebook may be evidence at your divorce

When people post on their social media sites, they may do so from the privacy of their homes. However, that does not mean their posts are private. In fact, those messages often reach well beyond the poster's friends list.

Like many, you and your spouse may use your Facebook or Twitter accounts as sounding boards when you're having a bad day or a source of inspiration when things are going well for you. What you post or share, however, can have repercussions you may never expect, especially if you are going through a divorce.

Mobile apps may trap Virginians in revolving door of debt

Payday loans were once a popular option for individuals in Virginia looking to bridge the financial gap between a difficult financial situation and their next paycheck. On its face, the intent behind these loans seemed fair. After all, businesses providing these loans claimed that they were short-term in nature and were meant to address challenging financial situations such as unexpected car repairs or medical expenses. The problem, of course, is that many people who turn to these loans end up facing triple-digit interest rates, and many of these borrowers find themselves in a revolving door where they constantly need to take out these high-interest loans.

Now that a light has been shone on the issues with payday loans, some are looking for new business opportunities to help people in financial need. One of those businesses in mobile app Earnin. The program allows individuals to borrow up to $1,000 against money they have already earned. Then, when their paycheck is deposited into their account, Earnin withdraws the borrowed amount with no interest. But there is a catch that may wind up leaving consumers facing even more challenging financial circumstances.

Forensic accountants may help during property division

The initial impact divorce is usually emotional in nature. Oftentimes the parties feel hurt and sad that they no longer care for each other as much as they once did. As tough as it can be to deal with these emotions, Virginians who are going through the divorce process must think about more than just their heartache. They also must consider how their divorce will affect their financial well-being, and plan accordingly.

One's post-divorce financial standing is typically dictated by the outcome of the property division process. Here, marital assets and debts are divided in a way that is fair, which can either be negotiated or litigated. However, to obtain a truly fair outcome, the parties have to be open and honest about their assets and debts. In some instances, though, one party to a divorce may try to hide assets to avoid losing them during the property division process.

Stepparent adoption in Virginia

Virginia families are as varied as the individuals who occupy the commonwealth. As a result, there are a wide array of family law issues that can arise. Oftentimes problems arise when families are breaking apart through divorce. Other times, though, legal issues present themselves when families attempt to expand through adoption. The following is some basic information on stepparent adoption that may be beneficial to some of our readers.

Before a stepparent adoption can be completed, an adoption petition signed by both the stepparent and the child's biological parent must be filed. The law will only allow an individual to have two legal parents, so stepparents can face an uphill battle if the child's biological parent is still in the picture.

Is summer daycare breaking your budget?

While the winter holidays can take a bite out of your budget, you may find creative ways to keep your expenses down without depriving your family of the joys of the season. If you still find yourself struggling in January to catch up from holiday bills, you are not alone.

However, when it comes to your summer expenses, you may feel very much alone. Once school dismisses for summer break, you may be among the many parents who must make painful choices that can leave you financially devastated for the rest of the year and beyond. One of the overwhelming expenses you face over the summer is child care.

Chapter 13 and the meeting of creditors

Filing for bankruptcy is a very real way for Virginians to obtain debt relief. There are two types of bankruptcy available to qualified debtors: Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Unlike a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in which a debtor's assets are liquidated, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows individuals to retain their assets so long as they adhere to a court-ordered repayment plan that can span three to five years. At the end of that process, certain debts may be discharged. But the process can be complicated, and fully understanding it can be critical to one's successful utilization of the system.

One important aspect of the Chapter 13 process is the meeting of creditors. Shortly after filing the bankruptcy petition, the bankruptcy trustee must schedule a meeting between the debtor and his or her creditors. At the meeting, the debtor is placed under oath and creditors and the trustee can direct questions at him or her pertaining to his or her financial affairs. Depending on the information disclosed during this process, modifications may be made to the repayment plan.

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