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How the Supreme Court’s Decision on Marriage Equality Affects Our Clients

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 at 4:22 pm    

A few weeks ago, a Lawrence & Associates blog discussed the interplay between marriage and bankruptcy. At the time, Kentucky and Ohio were two of only four states in which courts had upheld bans against same-sex marriage, and we noted that a case before the United States Supreme Court could change the status of same-sex married couples in a bankruptcy:

At this time, same-sex couples are not allowed the right of marriage in either Kentucky or Ohio and therefore do not get the benefit of filing together. They do not get the cheaper filing rates of opposite-sex married couples, although the rules regarding household income are the same. The United States Supreme Court is currently considering this issue, so that rule may change. If so, we’ll update this blog in a different post to reflect that change.

supremecourtLast week, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the United States Constitution. This landmark decision, similar to Brown v. Board of Education decades ago, advanced the goal of equality for all American citizens.

What Does this Mean for Bankruptcy Filers?

What this means for you depends on who you are. If you are not in, or about to enter, a same-sex marriage, then this ruling has no effect on your rights whatsoever. However, if you live in the Northern Kentucky or Southern Ohio areas, are in, or about to enter, a same-sex marriage, and are considering filing bankruptcy, then you have gained rights that had been previously denied to you. Insofar as it relates to a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you now have the right to file together, with only one filing fee. (This applies to both attorney fees and court costs.)

You will also be recognized as one household by the bankruptcy court once you have been married. By contrast, couples that are just dating are treated the same as roommates in the same household. Married couples, however, must list their spouse’s income on their bankruptcy, even if the spouse is not filing. This has no effect on the spouse’s credit, but it does affect one’s ability to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 debtor must be under median income for his or her household size in the state in which he or she lives. Household income includes a spouse’s income regardless of whether the spouse files. Thus, a same-sex couple may be forced to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy where before they could have filed separate Chapter 7s.

What Does this Mean for Those with an Injury?

In Workers’ Compensation, spouses of an injured worker do not have a claim for damages, so nothing will change for Workers’ Comp filers. In Personal Injury claims, however, a spouse historically has a right to damages called loss of consortium. This is the loss of the injured person’s household services, affection, ability to have sex, etc. Same-sex married couples are now going to be afforded the same loss of consortium rights that other married couples have enjoyed for centuries. Loss of consortium is a small factor for small injuries (and in fact can be worthless in many small injury claims), but is a major factor for major injuries, sometimes totaling millions of dollars. The adopted children of same-sex couples also enjoy a version of loss of consortium based upon the loss of a parent’s affection, or vice versa.

In disability claims, married same-sex couples will likely enjoy the same spousal benefits that opposite-sex married couples enjoy.

Find Out How the Supreme Court’s Ruling Affects You Personally Before Filing Bankruptcy

Being recognized as a same-sex couple can have beneficial or negative effects on any court action. At Lawrence & Associates, we give free consultations on all our cases. Please call us to get more information on how the Obergefell v. Hodges case applies to your legal proceeding. We take pride in representing Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati couples. If you are getting married and have questions about bankruptcy, please give us a call today!


What Happens When I Surrender My House in Bankruptcy?

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 at 1:20 pm    

Regardless of whether you file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have the option at the time of filing to keep or surrender your home. Many Northern Kentucky residents file bankruptcy especially for the purposes of keeping their homes, especially during the recent foreclosure crisis. However, others in the Northern Kentucky area file bankruptcy for the purpose of getting out from under crippling debts, which often includes the mortgage. People in that group will surrender their house in the bankruptcy, which means they give it back to the bank. This article talks about what happens when you decide to surrender your home.

The Process of Giving the Home Back

keys-400When you file your bankruptcy, you will have the option to surrender the house. If you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will use the Form 8 to make this choice. If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must fill in the appropriate section of the Plan to surrender. In either event, the filing of the bankruptcy gives the mortgage company all the information they need to know they can take the house back.

However, the bank does not get to automatically take the house back. The automatic stay applies even to property you have surrendered in the bankruptcy, and will prevent the mortgage lender from taking the house without first asking the bankruptcy court for permission. Typically, mortgage companies will file a proof of claim and a motion for relief from stay with the bankruptcy court before it does anything else. You typically will not object to the motion for relief from stay if the debtor has surrendered the home, and the court will enter an order granting the motion.

After the mortgage company gets its order granting relief from stay, it still has to file a foreclosure action in state court. Even though you have surrendered the house, you will still get served with all the foreclosure paperwork. This is normal, and it does not mean you have to appear in court or file anything with the court. If you know you surrendered the property and have no intention of fighting to keep it, you can just throw all the papers sent to you in the recycling bin. Eventually, the mortgage company will get a judgment and a Master Commissioner’s sale will be set. The Master Commissioner’s sale is the date that the property will be taken out of your name and put into the buyer’s name.

Problems that Can Arise Before the Bank Takes the House Back

Many months can pass between the day you file your bankruptcy and the day the Master Commissioner’s sale takes place. During this time, you own the property and it is yours to maintain, regardless of whether you filed a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This is both good and bad.

On the good side, since you own the house you are free to live in it up until the date of the Master Commissioner’s sale, and you can do so without paying anything to the mortgage company. This allows you to save the money you would normally pay toward rent or mortgage payments to give yourself a financial cushion going forward. Likewise, you can rent the property to someone and keep the rent payments (but make sure you are up front with the renter about the bankruptcy). However, if you choose this option, be ready to move your things quickly. If you enter the home after the Master Commissioner’s sale, you are trespassing.

On the bad side, you are responsible for maintaining the property and making payments to homeowner’s associations until the date of the master commissioner’s sale. If the city has an ordinance requiring the grass to be cut and they cite you for letting it grow too long, that citation is yours to pay. If the HOA makes an assessment against the homeowners after the bankruptcy but before the Master Commissioner’s sale, that is your assessment to pay. Remember that a bankruptcy only eliminates debts that exists before you filed, so debts like these that come up after the bankruptcy will not be covered by it. You cannot force the mortgage company to file the foreclosure quickly, and sometimes they wait a very long time.

Why it is Usually Better to Surrender the Home in Bankruptcy

There are other ways to allow the bank to take a home back. You could enter a short sale, or sign a “deed in lieu of foreclosure.” The problem with these solution is that they may be taxable to you. The IRS requires a tax paid for forgiveness of debt, so if the mortgage company writes off $100,000 of debt using these options, then you will owe the IRS taxes on $100,000.

A bankruptcy does not create a taxable event, although its effect is worse on your credit. Thus, you need to weigh your options prior to picking one of these alternatives.

Get Legal Advice Before Getting Rid of Your Home

Bankruptcy consultations are free, so take advantage of them. When Lawrence & Associates does a bankruptcy consultation, we do not charge you or ask you to sign a contract. If you decide to retain us, you can do so at a second appointment or at the first, whichever you choose. We take pride in representing Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati residents, and we can advise you on how to best let go of a home that has become an albatross around your neck. Please give us a call today!


How Marriage Affects Bankruptcy

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2015 at 2:06 pm    

At Lawrence & Associates, our bankruptcy attorneys deal with a lot of bankruptcies that come at the same time as a marriage or divorce. Many Northern Kentucky residents find that they either want to get rid of debts before they get married (often to avoid affecting the other person’s credit), or find that their debts become overwhelming following even the most amicable and fair divorce. In this post, we will talk a little bit about how an upcoming marriage can affect the filing of a bankruptcy.

Wedding Bells and Bankruptcy – What You Should Know

weddingflowersOne of the questions we get asked most often at our Fort Mitchell, Kentucky office is whether a bankruptcy should be filed before or after the couple gets married. Generally, the concern is that getting married will somehow make the other spouse responsible for the indebted spouse’s debts. We’ll deal with two scenarios: one in which both spouses-to-be are indebted and need to file bankruptcy, and one in which only one spouse is indebted and needs to file.

First, let’s assume both of the soon-to-be married couple both have an avalanche of debt and both require bankruptcy. In that instance, it will usually make sense for the couple to get married before filing. First, a married couple only has to pay one court filing fee and one attorney fee, so the cost of filing is cheaper. Second, in both Kentucky and Ohio, all bankruptcies – regardless of whether they are Chapter 7 or 13 – require all household income to be listed. (This information helps determine whether you can file a chapter 7 or a chapter 13, and also how much a payment in a Chapter 13 will be.)

Therefore, an engaged couple in the same household is treated the same as a married couple when household income is taken into consideration. It would be rare that an engaged couple would want to file separate bankruptcies before getting married, but that might be wise if: a) the couple lives apart, b) at least one qualifies for a Chapter 7 while living alone, and c) when the engaged couple combines incomes, it would force them into a Chapter 13. In that case, filing separately would allow the spouse with the Chapter 7 to get in and out of bankruptcy quickly, rather than being in the bankruptcy for three to five years. However, this involves a means test calculation and the means test is complex. We do not recommend that you do this without an attorney.

Next, let’s assume only one person has a lot of debt coming into the marriage, while the other person has very little debt. The second person may not need a bankruptcy, although the first might. The analysis changes very little from the first scenario. If only one person is filing, the fees and costs will be the same regardless of whether that person is married or not. There is still no change in household income based on marriage; rather, the court looks at whether the two people are co-habitating regardless of marriage. One of the biggest concerns voiced is that the partner without the debt does not want his or her credit affected by the bankruptcy. However, in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati, the courts will not require the non-filing spouse’s social security information on the bankruptcy documents. Therefore, the non-filing spouse’s credit will not be affected by the bankruptcy. Just like in the prior scenario, the toughest question is for spouses-to-be who don’t live together before marriage. In that situation, an experienced bankruptcy attorney should determine whether moving in together will change the type of bankruptcy you can file.

Marriage Equality and the Supreme Court

At this time, same-sex couples are not allowed the right of marriage in either Kentucky or Ohio and therefore do not get the benefit of filing together. They do not get the cheaper filing rates of opposite-sex married couples, although the rules regarding household income are the same. The United States Supreme Court is currently considering this issue, so that rule may change. If so, we’ll update this blog in a different post to reflect that change.

Get Legal Advice to Prepare for Bankruptcy Before You Make Any Life Changes

There are still a few free lunches in the world. One is in the form of a bankruptcy consultation. When Lawrence & Associates does a bankruptcy consultation, we do not charge you or ask you to sign a contract. If you decide to retain us, you can do so at a second appointment or at the first, whichever you choose. We take pride in representing Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati couples and helping them achieve a debt free future. If you are getting married and have questions about bankruptcy, please give us a call today!


How Do I Know if that Debt Collection Call Was Really a Scam?

Posted on Monday, May 4th, 2015 at 2:03 pm    

Lawrence & Associates’ bankruptcy section sees many calls from Northern Kentucky residents who have been contacted by debt collectors – or at least people claiming to be debt collectors. In this post, we will discuss whether a call to collect a debt might be a scam, or whether a legitimate debt collector is lying about what they can do to collect a debt.

Did the IRS Really Just Call Me About Past Due Taxes?

debt-scam-callsBetween January and April of 2015, many Greater Cincinnati residents began receiving phone calls (sometimes automated) from callers claiming to be IRS representatives. These calls were especially common in Northern Kentucky. The calls stated that the person being called owed unpaid and past due income taxes. The caller then demanded that the taxpayer give up personal information – including a social security number – and sometimes demand that the taxpayer make an immediate payment on the balance owed.

If you receive a call like this, it is a scam. The IRS has held a press conference on this, and has publicly stated that they do not make phone calls for past due taxes owed. Instead, the IRS sends letters. Further, the IRS generally avoids filing lawsuits related to past due taxes. Instead, the IRS will often seize any future tax returns, because this allows them to be repaid without having to pay an attorney. Don’t fall for this scam!

Can I Go to Jail for a Past Due Debt?

Many Greater Cincinnati residents receive phone calls from debt collectors threatening jail time if a debt is not paid. The debt collector will state that failure to make a payment by a certain date will result in a sheriff or the state police arresting the debtor and taking them to prison. Many Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky residents become so afraid of prison time that they go without food in order to make a payment.

This is a scam; debtor’s prison was outlawed centuries ago. While it is true that fraudulently incurring a debt can land someone in prison in both Kentucky and Ohio, unwisely taking out a debt simply is not fraud. In fact, in the thousands of bankruptcies this law firm has filed over the years, we have never once seen a client charged criminally for fraud. So rest easy – there is no jail time for accidentally getting behind on a payment. The sheriff’s deputy will visit you if you are sued, but this is only to serve you with the complaint from the civil suit. If you are sued civilly, that just means the creditor wants money from you. And if you are sued civilly, Lawrence & Associates can help you take care of that lawsuit by filing a bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Foreclosure Scams – Can you Save Your Home for $800?

If your home has never been foreclosed upon, you’ve probably never seen this scam. But anyone in the Northern Kentucky area that has been served with foreclosure papers can probably recite this scam by heart. Usually in a snail mail letter, or sometimes even in the local newspaper, companies will offer “mortgage assistance” or “foreclosure counseling” – two very vague terms that really mean nothing. The letter will offer to work out the mortgage arrearage by having the homeowner sign a deed over to the “foreclosure counselor,” or by transferring a fraction of the interest in the home to another person in bankruptcy. By doing so, this company promises that attempts to foreclose on the property will stop.
This is also a scam. Yes, attempts to foreclose on the property will stop for a while. But you can also lose ownership of your home. Further, the foreclosure will only be stopped temporarily at best. Once everything is sorted out, and assuming the homeowner still has a home, the foreclosure will proceed. This type of scam has gotten so bad that the federal government has written a report warning homeowners about it. Never sign a deed without consulting with an attorney first, under any circumstances! And never believe that your foreclosure will be permanently stopped without making plans to repay the arrearage on the mortgage.

Bankruptcy Can Legitimately Stop the Problems These Scams Claim to Stop

If you are on the receiving end of any of these scams, you probably have real financial problems. Financial problems that cannot be resolved by setting up a short repayment plan with a creditor are nearly always best solved by filing bankruptcy. Remember, the most common reaction of most Northern Kentucky residents upon filing a bankruptcy is wishing they had investigated the possibility before sinking their time and money into poorly thought out financial “solutions.” Lawrence & Associates can help Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati clients file bankruptcy and stop the harassment. Call us today and learn how we can help you!


Lawrence & Associates Help a Client Keep Her Home Using Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 at 4:47 pm    

save my home from foreclosureThere are many reasons that individuals and families find they can no longer afford to pay monthly bills. Some may have recently gone through a divorce or been saddled with overwhelming medical bills. Others have been injured at work or in an accident and are unable to earn an income. Many are facing increased interest rates on mortgages or credit cards and cannot keep up. There are also people who simply let spending get out of control and cannot find a way out. We want to share a recent case we handled to give you an idea of what we can do for our clients. We will supply as many details as possible while still respecting our clients need for privacy.

The Situation

Our client needed to stop a foreclosure on her Northern Kentucky home. She was behind on her mortgage because she had unexpectedly gotten laid off, and it had taken her a few months to find a new job. The foreclosure had been filed and she had no way to defend it.

What We Did

When out client called Lawrence & Associates, we let her know that she could save her home with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, so long as she filed the bankruptcy before the Master Commissioner’s sale on her home. Even if the mortgage company gets a judgment on the foreclosure, they cannot take the home so long as the mortgage arrearage is repaid inside a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The Result

Our client got to keep her home and she was able to repay her mortgage arrearage. With her new job and reduced debt, F.S. has gotten the fresh start through the bankruptcy court.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

Providing You With Debt Relief Solutions Through Bankruptcy

Regardless of the reasons that brought you to financial distress, filing for bankruptcy does not make you a bad person. In fact, the government created bankruptcy in order to help people recover from unmanageable financial problems. At Lawrence & Associates, we help our clients understand how bankruptcy laws are made to protect them and will allow for a brighter financial future.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

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Bankruptcy Explained: What Type of Bankruptcy Should I File?

Posted on Friday, February 6th, 2015 at 9:04 am    

types of bankruptcyAdvice from an attorney is your best bet when deciding if you should file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Are you facing foreclosure from a bank like Wells Fargo, being sued for medical bills by a hospital like St. Elizabeth, or confronting a mountain of Capital One credit card debt? Filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will end the harassing phone calls and letters. You must comply with the terms of any repayment agreement or you will lose these protections, so it is important to have strong legal guidance before agreeing to anything. Choosing the right kind of bankruptcy can mean the difference between keeping your house, keeping your car, keeping your money, or losing it all. Some of the things a Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy attorney will need to know is a client’s past income and current assets. Knowing the asset exemptions and median income levels of the client will help to make the decision easier.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

A bankruptcy lawyer’s first step will be to determine whether you are eligible for protection under Chapter 7. The 2005 revisions to the bankruptcy laws require that, to qualify to discharge debts under Chapter 7, you must submit to a “means test,” demonstrating to the court that you lack the means to repay your creditors in a Chapter 13 proceeding. We will conduct a means test and, if you qualify, we will prepare and file all documents required to complete the Chapter 7 process. We will carefully explain which debts can be eliminated, as well as which assets you can protect, so that you get the benefit you deserve.

In General, You Cannot File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy If You…

  • have filed a bankruptcy in the last eight years
  • have assets with significant value that you don’t want to lose
  • have income over median for your household size in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Make Sure to Assess The Value of Your Property Correctly

Figuring out how to correctly assess the value of your property, or the correct number for median income, can be a daunting task, and the consequences of making a mistake are very drastic. A Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy lawyer will make sure your bankruptcy is filed correctly so that you get the maximum benefit from your decision to file.

You Get Immediate Relief  After You File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Once you file for protection, an automatic stay goes into effect, preventing your creditors from calling, writing or taking any other legal action to collect the debt. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition can also stop foreclosure proceedings, wage garnishments and repossession actions. With the help of a lawyer, in Kentucky, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding can generally be completed in 3 to 5 months.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you don’t qualify to permanently discharge debt under Chapter 7 or prefer to set up a new payment plan with your creditors, we will help you reorganize your debt in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. We will prepare and file all the necessary paperwork to complete the process and will represent you in hearings or meetings with creditors, the bankruptcy trustee or the bankruptcy court. We will help you put together a reorganization plan and will review all proposed repayment plans to ensure they are appropriate.

You Get Immediate Relief  After You File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When you file for protection under Chapter 13, an automatic stay goes into effect, which prevents your creditors from calling, writing or using any other means to collect the debt, other than through the bankruptcy proceeding. The automatic stay will suspend foreclosure or repossession actions, as well as wage garnishments, giving you time to get back on your feet financially. In many instances, you will be able to reduce the amount you have to pay, sometimes to as little as a penny on the dollar, by entering into agreements with your creditors. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be ideal for someone with large medical bills or credit card debt, allowing you the opportunity to keep most or all of your assets and enter into payment arrangements that are workable.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Bankruptcy Explained: There Are Legal Solutions That Provide Debt Relief to Those Who Need It

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2015 at 2:37 pm    

fresh start bankruptcyThere are many reasons that individuals and families find they can no longer afford to pay monthly bills. Some may have recently gone through a divorce. Others have been injured at work or in an accident and are unable to earn an income. Many are facing increased interest rates on mortgages or credit cards and cannot keep up. There are also people who simply let spending get out of control and cannot find a way out. Have you received notice that your wages will be garnished due to delinquent payments on your financial obligations? Has the bank started foreclosure proceedings on your home? Is your car about to be repossessed? Or have you realized that try as you may, there is just no way for you to stay current on all of your bills? Regardless of the financial problems you are facing, it is important to realize that there are legal solutions to help you obtain debt relief.

Immediate Relief For Pressing Financial Problems

Above all, do not ignore your financial problems or lawsuits that creditors bring against you. These issues will not disappear. Your best option is to contact a bankruptcy attorney at the first sign of financial distress. Even if you are facing immediate foreclosure, repossession or wage garnishment, Lawrence & Associates can provide swift legal action to help protect you. Your start to a fresh financial future begins when you contact a Northern Kentucky bankruptcy lawyer. A bankruptcy attorney will help you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Good Fort Mitchell, Kentucky bankruptcy lawyers will take the time to fully explain your legal options and the bankruptcy process in an understandable way — not with complex legal jargon. Good bankruptcy attorneys will also provide advice on how to stop creditor harassment, garnishment, foreclosure and repossessions.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Important Considerations Regarding Debtors and Their Spouses in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Kentucky

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2015 at 3:23 pm    

spouse bankruptcyWhen considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky, a debtor who is married needs to take into account how one’s marriage will affect his or her ability to file. For example, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the state median family income for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky is $40,020 for a single person household, while for a two person household, it is $46,815.[1] This is a particularly important factor which must be calculated when filing for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy Means Test is a formula used to determine whether your income is low enough for you to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. High income filers who “fail” the means test may still file Chapter 13 bankruptcy as a way to discharge a portion of their debts, but it usually won’t wipe out their debts altogether.

Is the Debt in the Debtor’s Name or the Spouse’s Name?

The married debtor needs to determine whether the debts are solely in the debtor’s name, or if they are also in the debtor’s spouse’s name as well. Debts that were obtained in both spouses’ names will make each spouse jointly and severally liable for payment of that debt. Therefore, it is often necessary for both spouses to file for bankruptcy in order to avoid liability of the debt.

Conversely, if only one partner in a marriage is responsible for a debt, then generally only that spouse should file for bankruptcy. However, even in circumstances where only one spouse needs to file for bankruptcy, the debtor-spouse is still required to list his or her spouse’s income as part of the household income that is used in the Means Test. See e.g., In re McSparran, 410 B.R. 664 (Bankr. D. Mont. 2009) (unexplained failure to list non-filing spouse’s income was fatal to confirmation). Generally, this makes it more likely that the debtor’s household income will be greater than the allowed median family income, and consequently, make the debtor less likely to be eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Determining Eligibility to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Other factors used in determining eligibility for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy are known as adjustments. For example, a debtor’s household expenses are taken into consideration as a way to determine the debtor’s actual disposable income, and can have the effect of preserving a debtor’s eligibility to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy when the debtor’s household income is greater than the allowed median family income. The inclusion of the debtor’s household expenses will usually be factored into the Means Test by a debtor’s bankruptcy attorney, especially when the attorney is attempting to ensure that his or her client is eligible to file Chapter 7. However, one of the most overlooked “tools” available to a married debtor who is otherwise ineligible to file a Chapter 7 due in part to the inclusion of the debtor’s spouse’s income are Marital Adjustments. “The Marital Adjustment is the portion of a non debtor spouse’s income that is not paid on a regular basis to the household expenses of the debtor or debtor’s dependants.” (John P. Gustafson, The Chapter 13 Means Test:Line-by-Line, February 7, 2013).

This means that a debtor can deduct from the non-filing spouse’s income any amount used to pay for personal expenses that are separate from the debtor’s household expenses. These expenses, also known as “marital deduction expenses,” have the effect of reducing the debtor’s spouse’s income used in the Means Test to solely the amount that is used to contribute towards the debtor’s expenses or the debtor’s dependent’s expenses.

Marital Deduction Expenses

Although there is little case from the Kentucky Federal Courts regarding what qualifies as marital deduction expenses, most courts have generally found that the following can be considered marital deduction expenses:

  • Alimony Payments
  • Student Loan payments made by the non-filing spouse for his or her own student loans
  • Car payments for the non-filing spouse’s car
  • Credit Card payments for non-filing spouse’s credit cards.
  • Etc.

Therefore, although it is clear that there are many different ways in which a debtor could become eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it can be a rather daunting task for someone who is unfamiliar with the bankruptcy laws and requirements.

If you are attempting to make this determination on your own, or know someone else who is, please don’t hesitate to contact Lawrence & Associates. Our attorneys are extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to making sure that you are able to take advantage of all the protections that are afforded to you in a bankruptcy.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

[1] http://www.justice.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/20130501/bci_data/median_income_table.htm

Immediate Relief For Pressing Financial Problems

Above all, do not ignore your financial problems or lawsuits that creditors bring against you. These issues will not disappear. Your best option is to contact a bankruptcy attorney at the first sign of financial distress. Even if you are facing immediate foreclosure, repossession or wage garnishment, Lawrence & Associates can provide swift legal action to help protect you. Your start to a fresh financial future begins when you contact the bankruptcy law firm of Lawrence & Associates. Our firm helps clients file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. When you work with our firm, we will take the time to fully explain your legal options and the bankruptcy process in an understandable way — not with complex legal jargon. We can also provide advice on how to stop creditor harassment, garnishment, foreclosure and repossessions.


Should I Take Out New Debt Before a Bankruptcy? The Don’ts and the Don’ts

Posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 at 4:23 pm    

bad faith debtShould you take out new debt just before filing bankruptcy? No. No no no no. Please don’t. For those who are looking for a short and easy answer from an attorney, look no further. For those who want to know how taking out new debt right before filing bankruptcy can ruin your chances for a discharge, read on.

Bankruptcies Have to be Filed in Good Faith

Bankruptcies need to be filled in good faith like debt must be taken out with the good faith that you intend to pay it back. Taking out a debt with intent to discharge it in bankruptcy makes both taking out the debt and filing the bankruptcy an exercise in bad faith. The law sets an arbitrary cut off for when a debt is presumed to have been taken out in bad faith. If you take the debt out within 90 days prior to filing a bankruptcy, there is a presumption that the debt will be non-dischargeable. If you charge a de minimus amount to a credit card – say you mistakenly ring up a $7 lunch on your Mastercard – it’s unlikely the creditor will pursue the matter in court. But racking up debts of more than $500 within that 90 days is almost certain to call the creditor’s attorneys into court with you.

Usually If You Take Out Debt Just Before a Bankruptcy, You Can’t Add That Debt to the Bankruptcy

The penalty for taking out debt prior to filing is usually that the debt is non-dischargeable. This means that you can’t get rid of the debt in bankruptcy. The problem is that the entire debt is non-dischargeable, not just the amount you charged within the 90 day period. Let’s assume you have $10,000 on a Discover Card, and you add another $600 to it about a month before you file. If Discover comes to court to enforce the non-dischargeability of the debt, you now have a $10,600 debt that survived the bankruptcy. In cases where the court feels the Debtor’s behavior was especially bad, the court could kick out the entire bankruptcy and prevent the Debtor from filing again.

But Circumstances Matter; Creditors Need to Prove Your Intention of Bad Faith

Not all debts incurred within 90 days prior to filing a bankruptcy fall are necessarily going to be bad faith debts. Circumstances matter, and the creditor has to prove that you intended to act in bad faith. Let’s say you have an American Express card that you regularly pay off at the end of the month. Suddenly you have a heart attack, which gets you a whole lot of medical bills that your insurance won’t pay. You’ve got to file a bankruptcy, and your AmEx is going to get roped in with the medical bills. You’d used the AmEx all the way up to the day of your heart attack, and you need to file the bankruptcy 60 days after the heart attack. Will the AmEx debt be considered bad faith? Absolutely not. A good Kenton County bankruptcy attorney will get both the AmEx bill and the medical bills discharged, and get you a fresh start on life.

You have to give your attorney full disclosure of any debts you’ve taken out prior to filing. Experienced bankruptcy attorneys, like those at Lawrence & Associates can advise you on the best way to handle your debts and the best timing in which to file your bankruptcy.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

Providing You With Debt Relief Solutions Through Bankruptcy

Regardless of the reasons that brought you to financial distress, filing for bankruptcy does not make you a bad person. In fact, the government created bankruptcy in order to help people recover from unmanageable financial problems. At Lawrence & Associates, we help our clients understand how bankruptcy laws are made to protect them and will allow for a brighter financial future.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Immediate Relief For Pressing Financial Problems

Above all, do not ignore your financial problems or lawsuits that creditors bring against you. These issues will not disappear. Your best option is to contact a bankruptcy attorney at the first sign of financial distress. Even if you are facing immediate foreclosure, repossession or wage garnishment, Lawrence & Associates can provide swift legal action to help protect you. Your start to a fresh financial future begins when you contact the bankruptcy law firm of Lawrence & Associates. Our firm helps clients file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. When you work with our firm, we will take the time to fully explain your legal options and the bankruptcy process in an understandable way — not with complex legal jargon. We can also provide advice on how to stop creditor harassment, garnishment, foreclosure and repossessions.


The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Protects Debtors From Harassment Such as Robo Call Abuse and Other Techniques

Posted on Thursday, January 15th, 2015 at 4:22 pm    

Robo CallsRecently, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act has become a big deal. This important law says that big banks, mortgage companies, and credit card companies cannot harass you when trying to collect a debt. Specifically, the TCPA doesn’t allow the creditors to call your cell phone without permission to do so. Robo calls that happen multiple times per day are especially frowned upon (although not outright illegal yet), and can result in big penalties for the creditor.

Example: Bank of American and the Coniglios of Florida

The TCPA is a powerful law, as is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Either can make a creditor sorry for using abusive methods to collect a debt. Take, for example, the example of the Coniglios, a Florida couple that began receiving harassing calls from Bank of America. They sometimes received robocalls five times per day, all related to a mortgage they were behind on. Bank of America had the option to foreclose on the house, or to re-structure the mortgage so the Coniglios could get caught up, but it apparently chose to do neither. Instead, Bank of America allegedly decided to harass the Coniglios into giving up the home via robocall.  The Coniglios took them to court and they wound up receiving over $1,000,000 from Bank of America as a penalty for Bank of America’s conduct – an amount that came to approximately $1,500 per call!

Debt Harassment is Happening in Northern Kentucky Also

While the Coniglios’ case is unusual in size and scope, similar conduct by creditors causes Northern Kentucky families grief and hardship every day. Many times, this harassment forces families into bankruptcy and further hurts their credit. The emotional impact of the banks’ harassment only adds to the families’ stress from being financially strained.

If you or someone you know is suffering financially, or getting harassed by their lenders, know that you (or they) don’t have to suffer alone. A Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy Lawyer can help you!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

Providing You With Debt Relief Solutions Through Bankruptcy

Regardless of the reasons that brought you to financial distress, filing for bankruptcy does not make you a bad person. In fact, the government created bankruptcy in order to help people recover from unmanageable financial problems. At Lawrence & Associates, we help our clients understand how bankruptcy laws are made to protect them and will allow for a brighter financial future.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

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