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 » 2010 » September

Choosing a Bankruptcy Lawyer

Caution and your best instincts go a long way, but the number one factor in choosing a bankruptcy lawyer is experience.

During the great recession of recent years, bankruptcies have been occurring with frightening regularity. Rates are approaching those of the 1930s, when another prominent economic downturn occurred. If you are facing such an eventuality, you will need to choose an attorney.

But this can be problematic. The downturn in the economy has affected lawyers, too. As lawyers discover that fewer potential clients are knocking on their doors, some have been forced to “downsize” in a declining practice. In Florida alone, such “downsizing” has occurred at thousands of practices across the state. Desperate, and yet resourceful by nature, many lawyers have been seeking out new practice areas with which they were previously unfamiliar. To these inexperienced lawyers, representing a debtor in a bankruptcy case seems like a no-brainer. The operative word is “seems.”

Bankruptcy law is a specialty practice that calls for meticulous attention to detail and knowledge of many nuances of bankruptcy law. The stakes are high. The smallest error in a filing can cost the debtor, already likely to be in precarious financial health, a great deal of money. A lawyer new to bankruptcy, even if well-intentioned, is more likely to mishandle a case than would be a lawyer experienced in bankruptcy law. In such cases of mishandling, rancor can easily develop between an anxious debtor and his incompetent lawyer.

If a lawyer wanting to handle your bankruptcy case approaches you, or if you seek one out, you have to ask several questions. Ask the lawyer how many cases that he or she has handled, specifically in the practice area of bankruptcy. How many years has this lawyer practiced in bankruptcy? A red flag would be answers like “I’m new to bankruptcy,” or “You’re my first case but…” even if the candor appears to be refreshing. Trust your instincts. Realize that experience in handling bankruptcy cases, a willingness to review such cases, and the ability to discuss nuances of bankruptcy law is likely to be more refreshing in the long run. Another red flag is when you’re shuffled off to a paralegal or other staffers, and don’t get to spend adequate time with the lawyer. If you find yourself in a situation where your instincts make you leery, it’s time to find another lawyer – a genuine bankruptcy lawyer – fast.

Shiobhan Olivero is the Owner and President of Olivero Law If you need a Brandon bankruptcy lawyer, Tampa bankruptcy lawyer, or Tampa bankruptcy attorney, call 813.654.5777 or visit Brandonlawoffice.com.

Posted on Monday, September 13th, 2010 at 2:40 am under News and Press.
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How Bankruptcy Affects Spousal and Child Support

Consumer bankruptcy filings for the first half of this year are currently at record levels. There is evidence to suggest that a good number of these scenarios include divorce situations where a spouse is receiving or paying for child support and/or alimony.

Think filing for bankruptcy will absolve child or spousal support payments? Not so.

“Child support payments and spousal support payments generally cannot be discharged in bankruptcy,” said Reginald Osenton of Olivero Laws in Brandon, Florida. “This means that a parent who owes child support cannot usually escape meeting those obligations, no matter whether it is Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.”

Section 523 of the United States Bankruptcy Code states that an individual debtor may not be discharged from debt “to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor, for alimony to, maintenance for, or support of such spouse or child, in connection with a separation agreement, divorce decree or other order of a court of record, determination made in accordance with State or territorial law by a governmental unit, or property settlement agreement.”

Spouses who file for bankruptcy often are behind in support payments. Bankruptcy law even mandates that the nonpaying spouse be among those creditors first in line to be paid. Nonpaying spouses are also to be kept apprised of the status of the bankruptcy proceedings.

“But there are some exceptions, however,” Osenton added. “Discharges in spousal or child support may be granted if the debt, for example, is assigned to a third party such as the state or federal government.”

With the rising number of bankruptcies this year, there is more concern than ever about how this will affect child/spousal support payments. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the number of total filings is up 14 percent during the first half of 2010 when compared to the first half of 2009.

The above information about bankruptcy and how it can impact child and spousal support obligations is offered as general advice. If you are currently experiencing difficulty in either paying or receiving child support or alimony, however, contact your divorce attorney for more in-depth advice and counseling.

To learn more visit, http://www.brandonlawoffice.com.

Posted on Monday, September 13th, 2010 at 2:32 am under News and Press.
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