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Northern Virginia Law Blog

What to do if you’re pulled over by a police officer

You're driving down the road in Washington, D.C., when you see police lights in your mirror. You hope the officer is going after someone else, but you're concerned that you may be the target.

If you see flashing police lights, turn on your hazard lights and safely pull to the side of the road. Even if the officer doesn't pull you over, it's the safe thing to do.

Many societal forces sending older adults to bankruptcy court

Rising health care expenses, longer lives, fewer pensions and low savings have begun to drive more older adults in Virginia to file for bankruptcy. From 1991 to 2016, data collected by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project showed a 12% rise in people 65 and older who need debt relief. As of 2016, 1 in 7 bankruptcy filers fell into this age group.

Health care inflation has burdened many of these people with medical bills that they cannot pay. Their longer lives add to the difficulty of paying for ongoing medical care. The decades-long decline in trade unions also left many retirees without access to retiree health care benefits after working for years without significant wage increases. The shift away from employer pensions has also limited the income for older adults.

Research shows courts believe parental alienation exists

In child custody cases in Virginia, as in any other state, the top priority is what is best for the children. However, according to research from George Washington University, claims of child sexual abuse are rarely substantiated when the mother makes the claim against the father. The study found that just 1 out of 51 allegations of sexual abuse that are made by the mother against the father are confirmed.

In the other situations, the courts often side with fathers who claim that they are being victimized due to parental alienation. According to a representative from Child Justice, there is a strong belief among judges and attorneys that parental alienation happens frequently. Parental alienation occurs when one person tries to manipulate his or her child into believing that the other parent is a bad or dangerous individual. However, many are skeptical of the researcher who first coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).

Research finds emotional, psychological reasons for divorce

Virginia couples who are considering ending their marriages may be doing it because they are not emotionally fulfilled. According to a survey of 2,371 divorced people, psychological and emotional reasons may have replaced reasons such as addiction or violence as the main causes.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, found that 47% of people surveyed said they divorced because there was no love in their marriage any longer. The second most popular reason for divorce was poor communication at 44%. This was unsurprising since this is a well-researched area of marital discord. One woman's comment was that her husband did not talk to her. In third place, people said their marriage failed because they did not trust or respect their partner. Some marriages suffered a break in trust that one or both spouses felt could not be repaired. In fourth place, people said they had grown apart. They could no longer maintain a marriage in which they did not share the same values.

Finding a way to become private in a social media world

In Virginia and across the United States, people thinking about divorce typically have active accounts on one or more social media websites. Although it is fine to maintain an account on Twitter or Facebook during and after divorce proceedings, people who want uncomplicated divorces should think twice about their online profiles. According to research, individuals with active accounts on Facebook and other social media platforms often experience problems with their marriages.

The study does not indicate that social media is responsible for failed marriages. However, data shows that marriages, divorces and social media platforms are somehow connected in important ways. A person who has several social media accounts may want to make sure their settings are private. It is difficult to change remarks about prenuptial agreements once several people make comments. Eliminating negative posts may help Twitter and Facebook account holders experience smoother sailing when they file their divorce documents.

How to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy

With so many benefits of bankruptcy, it's easy to make the decision to move in this direction. However, before you do so, you should also implement a plan for rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy. This will ensure that you're ready to hit the ground running at the appropriate time.

While there's no right or wrong way to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy, there are five basic tips you can follow to put yourself in position for success:

  • Review your credit report: Pay most attention to anything that doesn't look quite right. There's a chance that an error is dragging down your credit score. If so, you'll want to dispute it with the appropriate credit bureau.
  • Create a budget: Rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy is all about making the right financial decisions. If you begin to miss payments once again, you can't expect to rebuild in the near future. Instead, you'll find yourself heading down the wrong path.
  • Apply for a secured credit card: You're not likely to qualify for an unsecured credit card shortly after filing for bankruptcy. However, a secured credit card can do big things for your credit report and score. Your security deposit acts as both your credit limit and collateral. If you manage your credit card in a responsible manner, you'll find your score climbing soon enough.
  • Become an authorized user: If you don't want to carry your own credit card, become an authorized user on someone else's account. This allows you to take advantage of the benefits, without being solely responsible for the account.
  • Don't rush: With your bankruptcy remaining on your credit report for a minimum of seven years, there's no reason to get ahead of yourself. By taking the recovery process one step at a time, it's easier to remain on track and make decisions that will have a positive impact in the long run.

Financial planning may reduce co-parenting stress

The American Psychological Association has reported that between 40% and 50% of marriages nationwide end in divorce. It is among the most stressful events a person can experience, and it can bring with it financial concerns, especially for couples who have children. Co-parenting after a Virginia divorce becomes much easier if the parents work together to minimize financial stresses.

The divorce decree is a good place to start. This is the document that makes the divorce official, and it usually sets forth the parents' responsibilities, including who will pay for education, extracurricular activities and health care for the children. Spending time with the other parent to focus on the details of the divorce decree can make problems less likely later.

Bankruptcy and your credit health

Financial struggles are common, and sometimes bankruptcy is the only way out. If this is the case, you have two filing options; Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy or “straight bankruptcy” allows you to often keep your exempt property (car, clothes, furniture, etc.). Nonexempt property, such as: property that’s not your primary home, valuable collections and investments are not safe. Anything the court appointed trustee can sell is nonexempt property. In turn for giving up your property and assets, some or all of your debts will be forgiven. Your income cannot be higher than a certain amount to qualify for Chapter 7. This amount varies by state.

Keeping separate accounts may not protect funds in divorce

According to a survey conducted by Bank of America, 28% of people in the millennial generation choose not to establish joint bank accounts with their spouses. Members of this generation in Virginia are more likely to keep their financial lives entirely separate than previous generations. Part of the reason may be that technology, including financial apps and services, has made it easier to share expenses, and part of the reason may be that millennials have seen how hard it can be to divide assets in divorce.

Simply maintaining separate accounts and financial lives may not be enough to keep assets separate in divorce. Most states have laws that call for equitable distribution of assets and liabilities, and property acquired by either spouse during the marriage might arguably be marital property, making it subject to division by the family court. Equitable division means the court will endeavor to divide assets fairly, but not necessarily divide them equally.

The benefits of personal loans for credit card debt relief

Virginia residents and others who have credit card debt may find it easier to pay off by converting those balances into a personal loan. Personal loans can come with an interest rate of about 5% for those who have good credit while the average credit card interest rate is about 18%. Another benefit for borrowers is that there is generally no need to use collateral to secure a personal loan.

Generally, borrowers will have about two to five years to repay their personal loan in full, and the most favorable terms may be available for balances repaid in 36 months or less. Ideally, borrowers will pay off their debt as quickly as possible to avoid paying more interest than necessary. Those who are looking to refinance their credit card balances may find that getting a personal loan is easier than qualifying for a balance transfer. Furthermore, this option can be best for a person who wants to wean themselves off of credit cards.

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Bristle & Yi Law, PLLC
9200 Church Street
Suite 202
Manassas, VA 20110

Phone: 703-278-2027
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