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Fort Lauderdale Bankruptcy Legal Blog

Are you sensing alienation in your relationship with your kids?

No matter what your reasons were when you decided to divorce, it likely affected your children in many ways. Hopefully, you did some research or reached out to other Florida parents who trod the path before you, in order to glean insight and practical advice as to how best to help your children navigate the process. Relationships can become quite tenuous in such situations, as each family member tries his or her best to deal with ever-changing emotions.

If you feel your relationship with your kids is suffering, you may want to build a strong support network to help. One of the first things many parents in your situation do is analyze what the causal factors in a particular relationship decline might be. In fact, you might have employed similar tactics back when you first noticed your marriage was in trouble.

Make health care decisions for yourself with a living will

Predicting the future is impossible. You may not know what is going to happen, but there are certain things you can do to still have a measure of control. Estate planning is a way for you to decide what happens to your money and assets upon your passing, but there are legal tools available that also allow you to make decisions regarding your own health care in case of incapacitation. 

One of the tools you may consider adding to your estate plan is a living will. A living will allows you to outline your wishes regarding medical care and health care in the event that you are unable to speak for yourself. It's your body, and a living will helps protect your right to decide what happens to it.

The basics of chapter 7 bankruptcy

Despite the growing economy in various states, including Florida, many individuals still struggle with personal debt. Some debtors may become overwhelmed with the details of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as such a case has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may allow individuals to keep property and other exempt assets.

The United States Bankruptcy Court of the Middle District of Florida offers information on Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A debtor may be required to surrender all assets to a trustee in Chapter 7 bankruptcy; the Bankruptcy Code and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure gauge which chapter an individual is able to file. The following factors can determine whether an individual files Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

  • The Debtor has insufficient income to pay a portion of his/her debts
  • The Debtor is not seeking to keep non-exempt property
  • The Debtor completes a credit counseling course with an approved agency (guidelines may vary)   

The role of the trustee in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy

If you are considering filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Florida, you may be wondering what role the trustee plays in helping you to repay your debts. At The Law Offices of George Castrataro, P.A., we provide answers and advice to people who want to know more about what is involved in the discharge of your debts through a restructured payment plan.

According to the U.S. Courts, after you file your Chapter 13 petition, a trustee will be appointed to oversee your case. Although you will appear before the judge in court, the trustee is the person who you will interact with primarily during your bankruptcy. He or she will review the financial information you provide and evaluate your circumstances. A trustee also performs the following duties:

  •          Schedule and conduct the meeting between you and your creditors
  •          Collect the payments you owe according to the timetable outlined in the plan
  •          Distribute funds among your creditors

Should you transfer your credit card debt to a no-interest card?

High interest rates on several credit cards could make it difficult to pay any of them off, particularly if you are stuck making the minimum payments on each. Getting out of debt in Florida may seem impossible at that pace, but transferring all the balances to a single card with a 0 percent interest annual percentage rate could be a solution.

According to NerdWallet.com, here are some things you should consider about credit card consolidation offers before you make your move.

Wage garnishments: when you work two jobs

When you fall behind on your payments and your creditors begin garnishing your wages in Florida, you may consider getting a second job to try to keep up with your living expenses. However, adding another income source does not necessarily mean that you will be bringing all of that money home. At the Law Offices of George Castrataro, P.A., our team understands that federal and state laws are not always sufficient to protect the income you need to live on.

According to Chron.com, your creditors are limited in how much they can garnish from your wages, although the percentage that they take depends on the type of debt. For example, a credit card company may garnish up to 25 percent from the amount of your earnings you would have taken home after standard deductions such as taxes are taken out. On the other hand, child support may result in a garnishment of as much as 60 percent of that disposable income. These garnishments would affect your first and your second job separately.

What if I don’t pass the means test?

Increases in the cost of living in Florida without corresponding increases in your salary can put you in trouble quickly. Using a credit card to keep up could strain your finances further. If at some point you decide to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and get relief from your debt, you must first prove that you are eligible through the means test.

According to NerdWallet.com, the point of the means test is to show that you do not have enough disposable income to pay your debts. If you make more than Florida’s median household income, you may not pass unless you can show that after allowable expenses such as food and housing, your disposable income falls below the limit. If you still do not pass, then Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not currently an option.

Taking a stand against gender discrimination at your workplace

Women have been fighting for equal rights for decades, and while they have achieved significant progress, women still face certain types of discrimination in the workplace. Workplace discrimination for any reason is illegal, and women who experienced this have the right to stand up for themselves and fight back.

Both Florida laws and federal laws expressly prohibit the discrimination of an individual solely based on his or her gender. It can be difficult to know if the treatment you experienced in the workplace could qualify as gender discrimination, but you have the right to know. By reaching out to an experienced attorney, you can better understand your rights and take the steps necessary to hold the appropriate parties accountable. 

Buying a home after Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Some people may be worried that filing for bankruptcy in Florida may affect their ability to qualify for a home loan. According to Experian, one of the major credit reporting bureaus, it may be possible and profitable to purchase a home through a rent-to-own agreement. While buying a home with this type of contract may not improve a person’s credit score, it does typically allow those with issues on their credit report to become a homeowner.

SFGate.com explains that most sellers run a credit check, even if they have advertised that they accept applications from people with a bankruptcy on their report. In any case, a potential homebuyer may be better off explaining the circumstances at the outset, which may save time if there are any disqualifying factors.

More credit card debt? Increased cost of living may be to blame

If you feel as if you came by your credit card debt through forces in Florida outside your control, you are far from the only one. Nerd Wallet notes that its most recent report on debt in the United States reveals rising costs of living rather than consumerism drives much of the country’s financial issues.

Your grocery bill may have increased by as much as 36 percent since 2003, while your household income, if you are in the middle range, has only gone up by about 28 percent. Even more expensive than just getting by is the toll medical bills take on your finances—and for good reason. These have gone up 57 percent in the last 13 years. After paying for your health, you may have no choice other than getting out the credit card to buy food or fuel.

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