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Brandon Family Law Attorney Recommends Balanced Approach to Alimony Reform

Some Florida activists say that the state’s alimony laws, which provide for permanent alimony in some cases, are “antiquated” and should be eliminated. Others have criticized this position, saying that ending permanent alimony would only protect “wealthy men who cheat on their wives.” However, there is a middle ground.

The fact is that Florida’s alimony laws did need to be changed, and the state legislature accomplished this with the help of Florida family law attorneys,” said O. Reginald Osenton, a Brandon divorce lawyer. “Alimony reform in the state of Florida is something best done with the assistance of the people who are most informed about the law.”

The push to end permanent alimony in the state is led by a group called Florida Alimony Reform. Until recently, the leaders of the organization were mostly men who were dissatisfied with permanent alimony, in which the breadwinner spouse in a divorcing couple can be required to pay alimony until one of the parties dies or the recipient spouse remarries.

Recently, however, a new activist joined the group: Debbie Leff Israel, a founder of the Florida Second Wives Club. Israel said she wants to get married but does not want her paycheck to go to support her fiancé’s ex-wife, who is receiving permanent alimony. In Florida, a family law judge may increase the amount of permanent alimony if it is justified and if the payor spouse’s financial circumstances have changed. This can include remarriage to a person who is earning money. Israel told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that she wants to demonstrate that permanent alimony is unfair for men and women.

However, not everyone is on board. In an article published on FloridaVoices.com, David Manz, chair of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar Association, which represents more than 4,000 family law attorneys in the state, said that the position of the activists was too extreme. The Florida legislature rejected a ban on permanent alimony last year and instead passed legislation that provides stricter guidelines for judges in determining alimony payments.

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

Posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2012 at 10:28 pm under News and Press.
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Bankruptcy Law in the United States Has Developed Over Time

Bankruptcy law in the United States has gone through many changes, most recently in 2005 with the passage of a law that tightened restrictions on people filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But that is only the latest development in a set of laws that are almost as old as the nation itself.

The United States Constitution gives Congress the power to create laws regarding bankruptcy, a concept received from English law. Article I of the Constitution provides that Congress may make “uniform laws on the subject of Bankruptcies,” and the body first made use of the power in 1800, passing a law that applied only to traders and was strictly an involuntary procedure. It was repealed three years later.

American concepts of bankruptcy law were incorporated into the 1833 Roberts Treaty with Siam, but voluntary bankruptcy in the United States did not develop until 1841. Bankruptcy law developed further in the 19th century, leading to the passage of the Bankruptcy Act of 1898, which is the basis of modern bankruptcy law.

The Bankruptcy Act of 1898 is also known as the Nelson Act, after Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota, who was instrumental in enacting it. The Nelson Act provided the first lasting legislation that allowed companies to protect themselves from creditors.

In 1938, the Chandler Act superseded the Nelson Act, providing greater access to the voluntary system and improving the position of debtors. Under the Chandler Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission became the body responsible for administrating bankruptcy law.

In 1978, major changes were made by the establishment of the Bankruptcy Code, also known as the Bankruptcy Reform Acto of 1978. Several changes were made to the law, the most important of which was establishing bankruptcy courts. The new courts were essentially free-standing, though under the auspices of federal district courts. This raised Constitutional questions of judicial authority in the 1982 case of Northern Pipeline Co. v. Marathon Pipe Line Co., which were not resolved until Congress acted again in 1984.

Further reforms were enacted in 1986, making changes in the law as it applies to family farmers, and in 1994, altering provisions of bankruptcy law that apply to the mortgage banking industry.

The most recent development in bankruptcy law is the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. The new law tightened restrictions on Chapter 7 filings by consumers, though some may use Chapter 13 instead. The law was thought by many to be a victory for the banking and credit card industry, which lobbied heavily for the changes.

Today, after centuries of reform, bankruptcy law still provides significant protections for debtors.

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 Thursday, August 30th, 2012 at 10:25 pm under News and Press.
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Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Protects Consumers

Many people today find themselves in debt, and some are surprised when a company they never heard of buys their debt and then pursues an aggressive collection strategy, which may include harassing phone calls or filing a lawsuit against the debtor. Debt buying is legal, but some collection practices are not.

“If you are being harassed by phone calls from debt collectors, you should know that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects you,” said Brandon bankruptcy attorney O. Reginald Osenton. “Fending off debt collectors is often one of the first steps before declaring bankruptcy, and it is important to know the law, both to bring you peace of mind and as a strategy against your creditors.”

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was passed in 1978 to protect consumers. The law prohibits certain methods of collecting debts and provides debtors with an avenue to learn the facts about their debt.

The FDCPA places a number of restrictions on debt collection companies. Debt collectors may not make telephone calls for the purposes of collecting a debt before 8 am or after 9 pm local time. They may not make repeated calls for the purpose of annoying or harassing the debtor, and if told that the phone number is for the debtor’s workplace and such calls are not allowed, they cannot continue to make calls.

The law further prohibits certain types of communication by mail because they might prove to be embarrassing to the recipient. Postcards are not allowed, and an envelope from a debt collector cannot display any message indicating that it contains a debt collection letter.

The FDCPA also makes it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive or profane language in collecting a debt or to misrepresent either the amount of the debt or their own identity. For instance, debt collectors cannot falsely represent themselves as attorneys or law enforcement officers or falsely threaten a lawsuit or arrest.

“The FDCPA allows consumers to file a lawsuit against debt collectors that violate the law,” said Osenton. “People facing unmanageable debt should speak to a qualified bankruptcy attorney to learn about their options.”

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

Posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 at 10:27 pm under News and Press.
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Changes Suggested to Student Loan Rules on Bankruptcy

The newly-created United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommended to Congress that people be allowed to erase some of their student loan debt if they file for bankruptcy. However, even if the change is made, it may not bring the needed relief debtors want.

“Filing for bankruptcy is a viable option for many people with unmanageable debt,” said O. Reginald Osenton, a Brandon bankruptcy attorney. “However, it is important for people to understand that not all student loan debt will be discharged.”

The CFPB, created to protect consumers from unfair financial practices, has issued a report critical of private lenders. Richard Cordray, the director of the agency, said that a 2005 law that prevents borrowers from avoiding student loan debt when filing for bankruptcy had failed in its promise to encourage lenders to lower their rates.

However, even if Congress were to act on the agency’s suggestion regarding private lenders, federal loans would still not be dischargeable in bankruptcy. Such loans account for about 85 percent of outstanding student loan debt, which totals more than $1 trillion. Federal loans default at almost twice the rate of private loans. About nine percent of federal loans are in default, compared to only about five percent of private loans.

The agency’s recommendation is timely, as Americans face an unprecedented student debt burden. The total student loan debt has risen from $430 billion in 2005, to more than $1 trillion today, and many borrowers are not able to keep up with payments. Last year, Congress extended the 3.4 percent rate for Stafford loans for an additional year. Stafford loans are subsidized by the federal government. If Congress had not acted, the rate would have doubled.

“Bankruptcy is not a total solution to student loan debt,” said Osenton. “But it is important to speak to a qualified bankruptcy attorney to learn about your options.”

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

Posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 at 10:28 pm under News and Press.
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Seniors Face Special Challenges in a Divorce

American seniors are getting divorced at a greater rate than at any time in the past, and there are special concerns for people over 50-years-old considering divorce.

The United States already leads the world in divorce rates, with approximately 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce. Now baby boomers are divorcing at a much greater rate, accounting for one out of every four divorces in 2009, the last year for which data is available. That represents a 15 percent increase since 1990. Florida is particularly affected by the increase, as many people retire to the state.

Researchers have found that people who have already been divorced once are 2.5 times more likely to be divorced again than people in first-time marriages.

The reasons for the increase in divorce among older couples are not entirely clear, but researchers have speculated that they include greater social acceptance of divorce and greater financial independence among women.

Any divorce is difficult, but seniors have particular life circumstances that affect them differently than younger couples. For one thing, older people are often planning carefully for retirement and expecting to rely on two sets of assets and income. This type of planning often involves a balance of retirees’ own assets, including a 401(k), combined with Social Security benefits and health care savings from Medicare. When those resources are split instead of combined, and either or both spouses has reached the end of a working career, serious financial hardship can result.

Divorce can be one of the most trying emotional experiences, and it is important to be sure that both parties take a clear-headed approach to financial planning, including creating a budget that takes into account reduced funds. Of course, each party should have the counsel of an experienced family law attorney to be sure that assets are divided fairly.

When people have been married for a longer period, there are often more assets to divide in a divorce. This may include savings, real estate, stocks and other investments.

In the state of Florida, property in a divorce is assigned according to “equitable distribution,” which calls for assets to be divided proportionally. A divorce settlement can include alimony, which may be more appropriate in some cases than a lump sum payment.

In addition to the financial aspects, a qualified family law attorney can assist in the preparation and review of new legal documents such as wills, insurance policies and healthcare directives.

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

Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 at 10:25 pm under News and Press.
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