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Fort Lauderdale Bankruptcy Legal Blog

How financial issues lead to divorce

For many couples in Florida, issues about money could lead to marital problems. There are several common financial issues that crop up regularly that may result in divorce. For example, poor communication about money is a problem in many relationships. Usually, this only tends to work out when one person trusts his or her spouse to manage the money, although this can cause problems if the money manager dies.

A lack of savings can also lead to marital strife because it generally means that there will be financial strain in the marriage. A good rule is to have at least three months' worth of expenses saved up. One way to save money is by having the bank deduct a small percentage out of each paycheck.

Early bankruptcy filing can be important

When people in Florida face a growing pile of debt due to credit card bills, medical bills, loans and other issues, bankruptcy can offer a way toward a renewed financial future. At the same time, despite the potential of bankruptcy filings to protect people's financial futures, they may be hesitant to file as soon as it is feasible. Many individuals attribute a sense of economic failure or social shame to filing for bankruptcy, and they may wait for a long time - even years - to file as a result. However, the effects of such a delayed filing can be significantly detrimental to the financial future that can be achieved through a bankruptcy filing.

According to a 2018 law review study, people who continue to struggle for a long period before filing for bankruptcy can find themselves in a much greater financial "hole" from which to emerge. The period prior to a bankruptcy filing is often referred to as the "sweatbox" for the difficult financial conditions that it represents. People in the sweatbox can face lawsuits over unpaid debt, unending collection calls, sales and losses of assets and an inability to pay basic bills like food and electricity.

Veterans with less-than-honorable discharges face hiring troubles

Florida readers may be surprised to learn that military veterans discharged for minor offenses frequently have difficulty finding employment. As a result, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities recently warned workplaces not to discriminate against veterans based on discharge status.

When a military member leaves service, he or she can receive an honorable discharge, a dishonorable discharge or a less-than-honorable discharge, known as "bad paper." Dishonorable discharges are issued over serious offenses and require a court-martial, but bad-paper discharges can be issued over relatively minor infractions, such as tardiness, talking back or fighting. They can also be issued for suicide attempts or other events associated with mental health problems. According to the commission, these discharges are disproportionately issued to black, Latino and gay veterans. They are also frequently issued to disabled veterans, including those with brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder.

What to do with an inheritance

Receiving a monetary inheritance from a loved one who has passed away can be a tremendous help in wiping out old debt or creating a nest egg. However, there are estate administration and probate rules in Florida that govern how the money is to be transferred and what can be taxable after the inheritance. Making the wrong financial decisions regarding an inheritance could quickly cause undue stress and unnecessary costs.

The first step in getting an inheritance settled is to speak with the executor of the estate. They should be able to explain how money and property will be divided and the process by which the transfers will take place. If there is any disagreement in how much is to be transferred or about the process of transferring, it would be advisable to speak to an attorney to help sort things out.

Contesting a will is not an easy process

After someone in your life dies, you may be dealing with a flood of emotions. Whether the passing was sudden or expected, there is always a certain amount of shock and sorrow. The many plans to make and details to take care of - including funeral arrangements, contacting relatives and consoling your family - often temper those feelings.

What you may not expect is to learn that your relative excluded you from the will or that the inheritance you received was not what you expected. The surprise of this announcement may be harder to take if someone unexpected received a more generous inheritance. You may even consider taking steps to contest the contents of the will.

Debtors can move to remove bankruptcy before 10 years

The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows credit agencies to list bankruptcies of any kind for up to 10 years. However, the major credit agencies only list a Chapter 13 case for seven years. Florida consumers who are concerned about the impact of a bankruptcy on their credit report should know that its impact fades over time. This can be done by paying bills in a timely manner and not obtaining new debt.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, a debtor has his or her non-exempt property sold with funds used to pay off existing debts. If a balance remains after liquidating property, that debt is generally discharged. In a Chapter 13 case, a person uses regular income to repay debts over a period of three or five years. Regardless of what type of bankruptcy an individual files for, there are ways to remove it early.

How establishing paternity impacts a parent and child

Florida residents who want to be a part of their child's lives could do so by establishing paternity. What this does is establish that a man is a child's legal parent. In addition to the benefits a parent can gain by taking this step, the child can also benefit as well. The child both knows and can be supported by his or her father, and he or she can learn more about that person's history.

Financial support could come in the form of child support payments or by giving the child the right to inherit assets from the parent. Paternity can be established either voluntarily or by compelling an alleged father to submit to genetic testing along with the mother and child. If a man does not submit to genetic testing, he may be named the father anyway. The same is true if testing determines a person to be the father and he does not contest the results within 60 days.

How housework arguments could lead to divorce

Florida couples who argue about the household chores might be more likely to get a divorce than couples who do not. A study conducted by Harvard Business School found that of the couples that split up among the 3,000 in the study, 25 percent said the top reason their marriage ended was because of arguments over housework.

Studies support the idea that having fewer chores to do leads to less stress and better relationships. A 2008 study found that free time leads to a better sense of well-being while a 2017 study found that when couples spend from $100 to $200 paying someone else to do some chores, whether it is cleaning, laundry or grocery delivery, their relationship improves.

Americans carry a significant amount of debt

Some Florida families may be among the households throughout the country that owe an average non-mortgage debt of more than $24,000. The credit reporting agency Experian also found that in 2017, people's average mortgage debt was over $200,000. On average, people owed more than $6,300 on their credit cards and $1,841 on retail cards. The average student loan debt set a new record at $34,144.

These averages do not necessarily represent the typical situation of most households. There are significant regional variations, and even people who carry a high credit card balance might pay it off monthly. However, it is clear that overall, Americans carry a large amount of debt. In June 2017, the total debt hit a record high of $1.02 trillion. Furthermore, the fact that 33 percent of people with student loans have had a late payment over the past year and that over 7 percent of credit card debt was at least 90 days past due in the third quarter of the year suggest that some people are struggling with those obligations.

Studies show credit card debt is on the rise

Credit card debt may have risen over the last year for some people in Florida. A study by WalletHub found that in 2017, credit card debt nationwide rose by $92.2 billion and reached its highest levels since before the Great Recession in 2007. Much of that increase happened in the final quarter of the year when the additional $67.6 billion in debt represented the highest increase in a single quarter in 30 years. The Federal Reserve estimates that the total national credit card debt is around $1 trillion.

From 2015 to 2016, credit card debt went from $43 billion to $87 billion. This rapid growth might be because there are more customers who cannot pay their credit card bills and low charge-offs. Banks are extending loans to customers with lower credit scores, unlike during the recession when they tightened their regulations on who could borrow money.

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