Claims Divorce Law Family Law Finance Separation Law

One rule for him and another for her as Oklahoma Supreme Court dismisses Sue Ann Arnall’s appeal

In November 2014, Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Resources, was ordered to pay his ex-wife Sue Ann $995.5 million in what was described as one of the biggest divorce settlements in history. With the award representing only a fraction of Mr Hamm’s estimated $18 billion empire, Sue Ann appealed, claiming that she should be entitled to a much heftier settlement due to her significant contributions during their 26-year marriage. Conversely, Harold made his own appeal, arguing that the almost $1 billion figure was excessive.

Divorce Law Family Law Finance Marriage Separation Law

Don’t look back in anger? Try telling that to Dale Vince

During the couple’s relationship, the pair lived a nomadic lifestyle, surviving on very little money. Following their separation, life continued in a similar manner for Ms Wyatt, who today lives in an ex-council house in Wales with her children. However, things changed dramatically for Mr Vince when he founded Ecotricity in 1995, which is now one of the UK’s biggest green energy companies.Mr Vince’s new lifestyle mirrors his business success and he currently lives in a £3 million 18th-century castle with his new wife and their son.

Divorce Law Family Law Finance

Hohn divorce settlement secures the UK’s position as the divorce capital of the world

It has been an exciting few weeks in the world of divorce settlements. Less than a month after American Billionaire Harold Hamm was ordered to pay his ex-wife almost $1 billion, the UK’s largest divorce pay-out has hit the headlines as Mrs Justice Roberts ruled that Ms Cooper-Hohn is entitled to £337 million following her divorce from philanthropist Sir Chris Hohn.

Children Divorce Law Family Law Finance Marriage Separation Law

Family Dispute Resolution Week: A Look at Mediation

Mediation will make the divorce process quicker, fairer and more empowering for both parties, says a family law expert at Manchester-based Kuits Solicitors today to mark the beginning of Family Dispute Resolution Week.

Divorce Law Family Law Finance Marriage Separation Law

Billionaire Hamm’s is one of the biggest divorce settlements in history, but is it big enough?

American entrepreneur Harold Hamm, best known for his position as CEO of Continental Resources, has been ordered to pay his ex-wife, Sue Ann Hamm, $995.5 million in what has been referred to as one of the biggest divorce settlements in history. Although an enormous figure to most, it is only a fraction of Mr Hamm’s $14 billion empire and Sue Ann plans to appeal the decision on the grounds that it is inequitable. For this reason, the ruling invites an intriguing question – is the Oklahoma County Court’s decision reasonable compared to the conclusion that a court in England and Wales would have reached?

Note also you can see our new guide to some of the best divorce lawyers in the US here.

Child Custody Children Divorce Law Family Law Finance Marriage Tax

A Collaborative Divorce Interview: Clients and their Attorneys

In November 2013, Tyler Nelson and Pamela Nelson of Tampa, Florida, sat down for an interview with The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine.  The Nelsons had decided to Divorce using the Collaborative Process, as they did not want to fight in Court and they wanted to focus on the best interests of their daughter.  Tyler was joined by his collaborative attorney, Adam B. Cordover, and Pamela was joined by her attorney, Joryn Jenkins.  The interview was conducted by carl Michael rossi.

You can find the full interview at The World of Collaborative Magazine, and you can find excerpts below.

Tyler: A child needs her mother and father, even if they’re not together…Pamela was the one who found out about the collaborative process and told me about it. You know, you’re always going to have some kind of fear. Is this going to work out like it should? What is everyone going to have to do to make this work out? But as soon as I spoke with Adam about everything, all of my fears were gone. He explained everything and the way it was going to work, how it was going to work. I’m pretty sure Pam felt the same way, as soon as she spoke to her lawyer, she probably went through everything. That’s the one good thing about our lawyers, that they explained everything that was going to happen before it happened.

Pamela: Not everybody knows about collaborative divorce, yet. We really didn’t know until it was explained to us. It was a better process for us, rather than go to court and fight.

Tyler: Everything that needed to be addressed, has been addressed…Everything that we wanted to agree on, we did, and everything that we wanted put down on paper, it was.

Pamela: We also have different visitation rights with our daughter. More than, likely, other people have. We already had that situated, and we just needed to put it on paper. It was kind of different than normal people, where they only see their kids every weekend. We do our schedule every week, and we split the holidays. We had to work that out, and put that on paper.

Pamela: The judge actually said that she agreed that we were doing it the best way and that we were dealing with the divorce in a good way. Instead of people fighting and it being a bad thing, it was actually a good situation.

Adam: It was interesting that, at the end of that final hearing, Tyler and Pamela had their pictures taken with the judge. It was described afterwards as being not so much like a divorce setting, but strangely enough kind of like a wedding setting. They had their picture taken with the officiating person. Judge Lee was fantastic and was praising Tyler and Pamela for dissolving their marriage in a way where they keep their focus on their children and not on fighting. To divorce in a way that
was in the best interest of their daughter.

Joryn: I can’t remember doing another divorce where the judge congratulated the parties afterwards, and I’ve been doing this for thirty years.

Tyler: (regarding an interdisciplinary team) They told me about the financial manager [Monicas Ospina, CPA], and she was great. So was the psychologist [Jennifer Mockler, Ph.D.], she was great. They were all great.

Pamela: [The financial professional and mental health professional] were very helpful. They helped us with our tax returns, to see who should file for dependency exemptions to get the most out of it. And the mental health professional helped us stay on the same page with our daughter to make sure that we were doing the right thing. The psychologist made sure we were on the same page in how we were raising our daughter and determine what’s best for her.

Pamela:  (regarding the collaborative process) There’s no arguing, you know, there’s not really fighting or going back and forth or going to court or having the records be there out in public. There’s more privacy. I would definitely recommend it to anybody considering divorce.

Tyler: I have to agree with her…If you go and do the collaborative divorce, you have a lawyer there…They are not trying to make us fight. They are just there to write down what we want, and that’s the best thing about collaborative.

Tyler: We all sat down and talked. There was no arguing.

Pamela: The professionals worked around our schedules instead of us being court ordered to go to court on certain times and dates.

Pamela: (regarding going to the state-mandated parenting class) Everyone else was crying and hated their ex and wanted to kill them and I was like “well,
we’re friends, and everything is good.”

Tyler: “If anybody is thinking about doing a divorce, they should look into a collaborative divorce instead of jumping into it and going to court and fighting.”

Adam: “What I found excellent about this process and this couple, as opposed to the court-based divorces that I generally go through, is that when we were sitting around the table together with the mental health professional and financial professional, and we were talking, we weren’t just talking “civilly.”  We were talking in earnest.  We were actually just joking around at a few times and able to communicate in ways that you just couldn’t imagine doing in other divorce processes, even at a mediation table when there is the threat of litigation.

Joryn: “It is a much more protected environment, I think. It freed me up, and I’d like to think Adam, as well, to feel like we were teammates. We didn’t have to be adversaries, even though we were both representing different interests.”

Adam B. Cordover, Joryn Jenkins, Monica Ospina, and Jennifer Mockler are all members of Next Generation Divorce, formerly known as the Collaborative Divorce Institute of Tampa Bay.  Next Generation Divorce is made up of professionals dedicated to respectfully resolving family disputes.

Children Finance

Social Security Disability Benefits in the New Year

Social Security Disability Benefits Elizabeth struggles from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a mid- stage of a rare, but deadly form of lung cancer, mesothelioma.  Twenty years ago, Elizabeth was working as a volunteer firefighter when she was called to the scene of a fire at a historical building.  By the time Elizabeth arrived, the building was completely engulfed in flames and her husband, who was also a firefighter, was stuck in the building and was not rescued until it was too late.  Elizabeth was traumatized from the event, but had to keep on moving forward for her family.  Last year, she started to feel very ill and had her most severe panic attack to date when her son went away to college.  After visiting a doctor, Elizabeth was told she had been and was suffering from undiagnosed PTSD, attributed to witnessing her husband’s death.  Her early diagnosis of mesothelioma was a surprise for a younger woman of 50, but the doctors had speculated that she had breathed in asbestos particles from her husband’s clothing and body (after he fought fires) and from all of her own exposure while firefighting.  Her overall diagnosis is not good, but Elizabeth has a life expectancy of at least 2 to 3 years, maybe more if she’s able to manage her health in other ways.

Elizabeth never remarried and has worked hard, as a book keeper, to provide for her 3 children.  At one point, she had attempted to return to school and get her Master’s degree in Financing, but was too overwhelmed by the physical, emotional, and financial stress.  With one teenage child still living at home, Elizabeth cannot afford not to work, but is physically and mentally unable to.  Six months ago, she filed for social security disability benefits (SSD) and was initially denied because her condition was not severe enough, after being given a more thorough and accurate diagnosis, she was approved to receive benefits, as she is expected to be “disabled” for at least one year or until death.

One Mother’s Struggle, Millions Needing Assistance

Elizabeth is just one of millions of people who are struggling with physical and mental health issues on a daily basis, so debilitating that they are unable to keep or find a job.  Unfortunately, not every one of those people “qualifies” for assistance.  Filing for SSD is a lengthy, frustrating, and complicated process with strict guidelines that are based upon how much work you have performed throughout your life (and paid into Social Security) and if your disability falls within the List of Impairments.  Monthly SSD benefits can range from $300 to $2,200 with the average 2013 payment being about $1,132.  For many recipients, the benefits they receive are barely enough to get by and for others, not even enough to meet a “living wage”.

The 2013 National Poverty Guidelines for a Household of 1 is $11,490.  If a single parent with a child or a couple received the “average” monthly SSD payment they would fall below the poverty line for a 2 person household ($15,510).  Depending on where you live, how you live, and what you need, will determine if you are receiving a livable wage.

Promising News for the New Year

Starting in the 2014, some recipients will see a 1.5% increase in SSD benefits.  For some struggling recipients, this will be the boost they need offering a little financial cushioning while others will continue to struggle with their disability and trying to make ends meet.  Individuals, who have once worked hard to try to make a living wage, but have all of a sudden been thrown a “curveball” (like a disability), deserve and are entitled to financial assistance.  If you are disabled and are no longer able to work, will you file for benefits you deserve or suffer your financial, physical, and mental struggle in silence?

Executry & Probate Finance

Boomers: Have You Planned for Retirement?

Boomers Have You Planned For RetirementCompared to retirees of just a generation ago, older Americans are staying in the workforce longer, and they’re returning to the workforce post-retirement in higher numbers, too. The shift began slowly in the late 1990’s when the labor force started to see an influx of post-retirees looking for work, but accelerated, in part, due to the recession of 2007. The ever increasing cost of living, combined with the negative impact the recession had on investments and home values, meant that SSI/SSD simply wasn’t enough to cover the bills. That left many retirees with no choice but to go back to work.

Though many retirees who were financially pressured to return to work were already receiving monthly social security insurance benefits, some may not have been aware that there were ways they could have increased the amount they received prior to retirement. Had they known, some may not have had to return to work, could have returned to work for a shorter period of time, or could have returned to work but worked fewer hours. If you are planning for retirement, here are a few tips you can use to ensure you receive the maximum SSI benefits available to you so you can avoid returning to work, if possible.

  • Make it Count: Start by confirming that your earnings are being properly reported so you’ll know the taxes that you’re paying into the system are being credited to you. A paystub will give you information, but only by downloading your earnings statement from the Social Security website can you verify that the information on the paystub was correctly reported. 
  • Claim Delay: This isn’t an attractive option, and for some it may be impossible. But, if you are able to delay claiming social security benefits until the age of 70, your SSI benefits will increase by 8 percent for each year you delay the claim after you reach full retirement age. 
  • 35 Years: Since SSI benefits are calculated using the beneficiaries highest 35 years of wages earned, you’ll want to make sure that you work for at least 35 years. Otherwise, zeroes will be averaged in, and that will lower your benefit amount. 
  • Claim Twice: Married couples who have reached retirement age can claim spousal benefits and then switch to payments using their individual work record (once they reach 70). That way, the benefits will increase because of the delay in claiming benefits until after the age of 70. 

Post-retirement Benefits

For anyone who is currently planning their retirement, but is unsure how their SSI benefits might be impacted if they do decide to continue working, the rules are pretty straightforward. As long as you work until full retirement age, you can still receive the full benefit amount to which you are entitled, no matter how much money you earn post-retirement. However, if you claim SSI benefits prior to reaching full retirement age, your benefits could be reduced, depending on your earned income.

The Social Security Administration also reviews the earnings of SSI recipients annually. So, if a beneficiary worked during the previous year and those earnings reflect one of his highest years, the SSI benefits will be recalculated to reflect an increase.

Just as with SSI recipients, if you receive SSD benefits, you can also work, but there are income and time limits. Whether you live in Reno, Rochester, or Raleigh, SSD terms are the same and, like SSI rules, they apply to everyone.


With so many older Americans working past retirement age, and returning to work once they have retired, it’s important to know where you stand with Social Security benefits. Educating yourself about the ways to maximize your monthly SSI payment may not completely eliminate your need to work, but you may be able to work less and for a shorter period of time, so you can finally enjoy your retirement once and for all.



Child Custody Child Support Divorce Law Family Law Finance Marriage Separation Law

How Military Divorce Differs from Regular Divorce

Military divorces are much like any other divorce. Two people decide they no longer want to be married, and go through the process of separating property, assets and determining child custody issues. However, the way these concerns are addressed, and the way things are separated between the two parties, requires a consideration of the military member’s lifestyle and benefits. Understanding how survivor benefits and military pensions are divided up, and how custody of children is determined, is important for both spouses considering divorce.

Child Custody

Many military marriages involve an active duty spouse and a civilian spouse. The lifestyle of these families adapts to the military world, with active duty personnel moving regularly for various deployments, and with the military spouse frequently away from home. Families that fit this description should be aware that the courts will rarely grant full custody to the active duty spouse.

When determining child custody, the courts always look out for the best interests of the child. It is understood that, while the active duty spouse is doing much for his or her country, the lifestyle is ill suited for raising children. Military families should assume that child custody will go to the non-active spouse, and this will likely include child support payments.

Division of Military Pensions

Active duty service members are entitled to a pension after 20 years of service. The courts answer the question how to divide up this pension in the case of divorce. Most military couples are aware that the non-military spouse is entitled to half of the pension after 10 years of marriage. However, not all are aware that this division is negotiable.

The couple can come to an agreement on the division of the pension in their own way. This includes if the marriage has been shorter than the standard 10 years, and it includes the possibility of a payout of less than 50 percent of the pension after the 10-year mark.

The 10-year and 50 percent standards are simply guidelines for the court to go on. The arguments presented by both divorce attorneys and the decision of the court can produce a number of different results. Each spouse may wind up with more, or less, than he or she was aiming for.

It should also be noted that only after ten years of marriage can the finance center pay the awarded portion of the pension to the spouse. If the non-military spouse wins some of the pension, but the marriage did not last for at least ten years, it is the responsibility of the retiree to make the payments to the ex-spouse.

Survivor Benefits

Some spouses make the mistake of assuming that the Survivor’s Benefit Plan (SBP) – the payout that happens upon the death of the military spouse – will still go them in the event of death. While the SBP can be awarded to the divorced spouse during the divorce proceedings, this is certainly not guaranteed.

If the ex-spouse is not awarded the SBP, then he or she will stop receiving pension payments in the event that the military member dies. This is something to remain aware of during divorce negotiations.

Military Divorce Lawyer

Spouses considering a military divorce should seek the help of an experienced military divorce lawyer. This will help ensure the best possible results from the divorce.


Legal Issues with Family Finances

Imagine the following scenario, you are the parents of three children, a boy age 17 and two girls, ages 9 and 12. You have been meaning to attend to certain legal and financial issues regarding your family such as establishing a last will and testament. You may feel secure if you and your spouse have life insurance through your employer that amounts to around $500,000 in death benefit when either of you die, and you named as beneficiary each of your children in equal amounts (per stirpes).

Here is a summary of the worst case scenario in the event that both you and your spouse predecease your children before they reach the age of majority (which is 18 in in the United States). Your assets will not automatically pass to your three children if they are under the age of majority at the time of both of your deaths. What is worse is because no individual was appointed guardian of the children, a court would appoint what is known as a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the children.

Issues Arising From the Death of a Parent with Minor Children
As you can see, failure to address the issue of a will while alive forces the hand of the state to take action and appoint an individual to look after your children. Questions will arise from this scenario about the financial status of the estate left behind by the demise of you and your spouse.

When the joint deaths occurred (and we will set aside for a moment the issue of who died first) and no will was left behind, you are said to have died intestate, or without a will or a set of written instructions that determine the disposition of your estate, guardianship of the children, and settlement of your affairs. This invokes the involvement of the probate court to fix these matters, a process which could take some time. Consider the size of your estate and how likely it may be to cause disputes among members of your surviving family (i.e. parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.).

Simultaneous Death or Death Caused by a Common Disaster
Now back to the issue of who dies first. Under what is known as the Uniform Simultaneous Death Act, insurance contracts have what is known as the common disaster clause. If you and your wife were involved in an accident that resulted in your deaths, the determination (in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary) would be that you predeceased your spouse, meaning the proceeds of the insurance would go to your estate, not hers. Regardless of the relationship you have with the children you are raising from another marriage or her children from another marriage, if she were the primary beneficiary the proceeds would pass to her at the time of death.

What Can Be Done?
There is a common myth that estate planning is something only for wealthy people and a will is not necessary if there are not a lot of assets to distribute. If you own a home, participate in a retirement savings account like a 401(k) plan, and have money in the bank, you need to protect those assets for your surviving children in the event that simultaneous deaths were to occur. The effort to plan for the protection of your children and their financial interests cannot take place if you and your spouse are no longer around to protect them.

This article was written by Robert Tritter, an aspiring lawyer who looks forward to helping you understand legal issues better. He recommends taking a look at the finance jobs with if you’re interested in a career in finance. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!

Executry & Probate Family Law Finance Property issues

Six common reasons to contest a will

The number of families contesting wills has risen dramatically since the recession. In 2008 some law firms estimated that the amount of wills being contested in court had doubled, or even tripled, in the UK. Studies indicate they have continued to soar since then.

A high proportion of these court cases are caused by incidents which are entirely preventable, meaning thousands of pounds worth of money is being wasted on legal costs every year. Let’s explore some of the main reasons why people decide to contest a will.

Wills are ‘unfair’

The main cause of a will being contested in the UK is that a family member believes that it is unfair on them. When writing their will, some people believe they have the right so spread their money however they like, but that’s not necessarily true. Family members do have a legal right to contest a will if they have not been allotted what they deserve. If the deceased leaves one son out of their will, whilst keeping all their brothers and sisters in, this could legally be deemed unfair.

Lack of mental capacity

Wills can be contested if it is believed that the testator lacked the mental capacity to write a sensible will. If it can be proved that the testator lacked the capacity to understand how much property they owned, the identity of their loved ones or the basic logic behind what a will is then a will could be contested. This type of contest would typically occur if the testator had a mental illness when writing their will.


If it can be proved that the testator was forced or blackmailed into executing their will a certain way, it can be contested.


If the testator was deceived into writing their will a certain way, this could be judged as probate fraud. In this case, there are two main types of deception. The first of these is fraud in the execution, such as making the testator believe they are signing something other than a will. The second type is fraud in the inducement, which could involve deliberately mis-leading the testator in order to change their course of action.

Disputed ownership

If the deceased appears to be giving away something that doesn’t actually belong to them, then this represents strong grounds for appeal.

Incorrectly drafted will

A will can be contested if it is believed that an accidental error was made. This contest might come in the form of a lawsuit against the person who drafted the will. It can be hard to prove though. If the wronged person was left out of the will altogether is not a family member and was left out of their will altogether, they have no grounds for appeal.

The common theme linking all six of these scenarios is that the odds of them occurring are significantly reduced when the testator hires a professional will writing service. These services are staffed with experts on probate law and will can offer advice that can prevent wills being appealed against once you die.

The small fee paid to the professional will writer could save a family thousands of pounds in legal costs later on down the line.

Divorce Law Family Law Finance Marriage

The Divorce Process: Where to Begin

Most couples do not begin their marriages with the anticipation of ever getting divorced. However, as statistics consistently show, close to half of all marriages end in divorce today. When a husband or wife decides to end his or her marriage, that individual may wonder what steps to take and how to begin the process. The process to get a divorce may take some time; however, following these steps can ensure that each party’s best interests are addressed and that the matter is settled as fairly as possible.

Start Saving Money

Because most couples share bank accounts, a husband or wife may not have immediate access to the funds needed to file for divorce. If possible, a person should try to set aside money out of each paycheck and save these funds for the divorce proceedings. It may take a few months to save enough money to file; however, without the needed money, people may not be able to file, especially if they do not qualify for free legal services through the state or social organizations.

Retain a Good Lawyer

People can certainly file for divorce on their own at the courthouse. However, in most cases, this idea is not advisable. A divorce lawyer is trained to advocate for clients and to ensure that each petitioner’s interests are protected. An attorney can help a client go through what is referred to as a discovery process where the couple’s assets are identified and the reasons for the divorce are solidified. Through his or her divorce attorney, a person can work toward a mutual agreement with the other spouse without having to go to trial. If, however, an agreement on the matter cannot be reached, a person can be well served by having an attorney by his or her side as the case goes through the trial process.

Finding a good divorce lawyer can be a relatively hassle-free process if people take several things into mind. With the Internet now a popular referral tool, people can search online and find experienced attorneys in their area. For example, a search would be done online for an Orlando divorce lawyer for plaintiffs in the central Florida area, to obtain a list of local lawyers knowledgeable in divorce law. They can consider previous clients’ online recommendations, as well as ask friends and family members for advice. Clients can also discover if an attorney can help by going to an initial consultation. Retaining a lawyer for the divorce can make this process less traumatic and difficult.

Make Lifestyle Adjustments as Necessary

As they approach a new life path, people may need to adjust their lifestyles accordingly. If a person does not have a job, for example, that individual could be urged to find employment and begin working before the divorce is filed. Having an independent income can make adjusting to post-divorce life easier. Likewise, if a person is under-employed or does not have benefits like life and medical insurance, that individual may be advised to look for a higher paying job and retain these benefits as soon as possible. People going through the divorce process must learn to rely on themselves rather than someone else for their well-being. Adjusting their lifestyle and planning ahead can ensure that they successfully rebuild their lives after they are divorced.

Knowing how to begin divorce proceedings can empower people who are no longer happy being married. Retaining experienced legal counsel and allowing a lawyer to advocate for them in court can be the most crucial aspect of the divorce process. An attorney can help a person come out of the divorce with their best interests intact.

Lisa Coleman encourages employing experienced legal counsel during the process of a divorce while handling the emotional transition into an adjusted lifestyle. Katz & Phillips, P.A., a client-focused divorce firm, is experienced in all aspects of divorce law and can represent and counsel a client through their divorce proceedings.

Family Law Finance

Signs that a Nursing Home is Being Negligent

elder neglectWe’ve always been told to “respect our elders”, but looking at the news and hearing the horrific stories of elder abuse, it’s clear that not everyone holds elders in high regards.  Elderly individuals, over the age of 60, are at higher risk for maltreatment and such elderly neglect takes place everywhere, but most often in the nursing home setting.  In nursing homes, residents are vulnerable as they often rely on others (such as nursing aides) to assist them with everyday living.  Unfortunately, many elders are physically, mentally, sexually, financially exploited, making them victims of a large and sometimes “silent” problem, elder abuse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 500,000 older adults (aged 60 +), in the U.S., are believed to be abused or neglected each year.  However, the startling and overwhelming statistics are most likely underestimated due to the number of elder abuse that is not reported.  Like many abuse victims, many elders are unable or afraid to report the abuse to police, family, friends, or others who can protect them.  Family and friends who have a loved one in a nursing home facility should stay involved, informed, and be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior in either the resident or a worker.

Warning Signs of Elder Abuse in a Nursing Home

When visiting a friend or family member in a nursing home pay attention to the way he/she looks and acts.  If you suspect elder abuse, report it.  Protect seniors by bringing suspected abuse to the attention of the appropriate authorities such as a local adult protective services agency.  Many people are afraid to report suspected abuse because they fear they might be wrong, but if you don’t report suspicious activity, your elderly loved one could continue to be abused and in worse cases, die because of the abuse.  Take action and report if you see, hear, or suspect the warning signs of neglect in a nursing home:

–          Your loved one might be Financially exploited if:

  • He/she has a lack of affordable amenities and comforts in their room.
  • Uncharacteristic or excessive giving of gifts or financial reimbursement for care and companionship.
  • The victim is not getting proper care to fulfill needs, even if money is available for such costs.
  • Has made legal or monetary transactions, but does not understand what they mean.


–          Your loved one may be a victim of physical or emotional abuse if he/she:

  • Has inadequately explained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores, or burns
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from normal activities, or unexplained changes in alertness
  • Caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, or uncaring


–          Your loved elder may be a victim of overall Neglect if he/she:

  • Lack of basic hygiene or appropriate clothing
  • Lack of food and basic needs
  • Lack of medical aids such as glasses, dentures, medication, hearing aids.
  • An individual with dementia is left unsupervised
  • An individual confined in bed is lacking care
  • The room is cluttered or dirty or in need of repairs and lacks amenities
  • Untreated bed sores or pressure ulcers (indication of lack of care)

Elder abuse and neglect in a nursing home affects thousands of innocent senior citizens each year.  Many suffer in silence because they are unable to communicate and they live in fear.  Be the voice for neglected elders.  Respect your elders; don’t turn your back on them.



Advantages and Disadvantages of Going Bankrupt


Believe it or not, people who go bankrupt do enjoy some advantages. Bankruptcy, in fact, exists so that people who make a mistake financially don’t have their entire life ruined for the rest of their existence. It gives people an opportunity to get a fresh start, to do things right and, after the bankruptcy has gotten off of their credit report, to start rebuilding their credit without having to repair a tremendous amount of damage that they may have caused in their youth. There are disadvantages to going bankrupt, as well, and you want to take these into account if you’re considering filing for bankruptcy.

Collectors Go Away

If you are considering filing bankruptcy, it’s likely that your phone is ringing off the hook with collection agents trying to get money out of you. One of the advantages of filing for bankruptcy is that you get a stay order against those collectors. Until your bankruptcy is resolved, those collectors cannot bother you about the bills you have with them without contacting the court first.

While this may seem like a small benefit from the outside, it is a huge benefit. It allows you to get time to consider your situation, to put together your bankruptcy claim and to not be constantly stressed by people who are reminding you incessantly of debt about which you are already well aware.

Keep Your Home

There are accommodations that allow people to stay in their homes if they declare bankruptcy. This can allow you time to get back in the good graces of your mortgage holder and ensure that you don’t end up out on the street. For some families, this is absolutely the best move possible.


There are basically two types of bankruptcy that individuals can file for: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all of the existing debt that you have is liquidated, except for those debts that are guaranteed. Student loans, for instance, do not go away. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you still pay off your debts, but you pay them off through the courts at a rate that is affordable for you.

The disadvantage to both of these types of bankruptcy is that they do stay on your credit report. It can make it much more difficult for you to get lending and, in some cases, to even get an apartment. Compared to having your wages garnished to pay back credit cards with ridiculous interest rates or other unsecured debts, however, bankruptcy may actually be preferable.

Talking to an attorney who handles bankruptcy law is the best way to determine whether or not it’s time for you to go ahead and file bankruptcy.

Family Law Finance

What is Balance Billing…Are you a Victim?

balance billingJanet, a professional accountant, was suffering from severe pain in her wrists, suspecting she had carpal tunnel syndrome from her years of repetitive computer tasks.  With the recommendation of a friend, Janet found a surgeon who worked at the hospital in her insurance network.  After she met with the recommended surgeon, she was more confident and happy with him than other surgeons she had talked to.  After her successful surgery, Janet was able to return back to work sooner than she’d expected.  Pleased with her progress and fast healing, Janet was happy that she didn’t wait any longer to have her debilitating condition fixed.  About a month after her surgery, Janet had received bills in the mail to cover some costs of her surgery.  Janet was confused as she made sure she chose the right hospital in her network so that the surgery would be covered, in full, by her insurance.  Upon further investigation, Janet realized that the surgeon who performed the surgery was not part of her insurance network even though he worked in a hospital that was in her network.  The bill that Janet received is called balance billing and it occurs when a health care provider (in this case, Janet’s surgeon) tries to collect money directly from a patient after getting partial reimbursement from an insurance company.  Janet knows that “balance billing” is illegal for Medicare recipients, but she’s not sure if it is legal for her private insurance company. 

How to Avoid a “Balance Billing” Nightmare

If you have recently become a victim of balance billing, there may not be a lot you can do other than refuse to pay the bill or seek legal advice.  The best way to avoid balance billing is to work out all of the details before you are billed for a medical procedure, exam, or hospital stay.

–          Choose within Your Network:  Sometimes in the event of an emergency, it is not possible to be treated by a health provider in your network, but if you are in charge of choosing a physician or surgeon (for example), you should make sure they are in your network.  Even if they work in a facility that is in your network, the individual doctor may not be in the network.  While you may want to go with a doctor that you have heard so many good things about, make sure he/she is in your network otherwise you may have to prepare to pay out of pocket.


–          Verify the Person is in Your Network:  If you rely on the information that comes in your insurance packet, it may be incorrect or even outdated.  When choosing a medical professional, do not go by what you read or see in a book or on the internet.  Call the office and double check that he/she is part of your insurance network.  Failure to double check might leave you with an unexpected bill.


–          Don’t Fear Price Negotiation:  You may be forced to visit a specialist who is not in your network.  If this is the case, try to find out the bill for your procedure.  According to a patient advocate, Jane Cooper, after you find out how much your bill will be, check with your insurer to see how it matches with the out-of-network service pay.  A patient, who is prepared with this important information, may be able to negotiate successfully with a doctor.   If you are stuck with balance billing, try to negotiate a payment plan to keep your bill from heading to collections.  If you are able or need to, also consider talking with your insurance company to see if they will be willing to front some of the balance bill.


“Balance Billing” can be an unwelcome and financially frustrating surprise.  If you are recovering from an accident or a medical procedure, your focus should revolve around your healing not the overwhelming worry of how you’ll cover the bill.  The doctor’s may be in control of your health, don’t let them control your finances!

Divorce Law Finance

Protecting Your Assets During a Divorce

protect your assets divorceWhen John and Emily married 15 years ago, they both thought the marriage would last a lifetime.  After 10 years in a colonial-style home, 2 children and 3 dogs, their marriage looked picture perfect, especially with the white picket fence that surrounded Emily’s prize winning roses.  Last year, John lost some investments and started gambling to ease his stress.  His secret gambling made financial issues even worse.  Emily, unaware of their family’s financial distress, continued her duties as a homemaker and volunteering at her daughter’s school.  Had Emily known of the financial distress, she would have taken a job to help ease some of the debt, but because John was always in charge of finances, Emily had no idea of how bad their situation was.  One weekend, John had gone on a “business trip” (which ended up being an expensive trip to Las Vegas) and Emily was unable to withdraw funds from an ATM machine.  Shortly after John’s unsuccessful gambling trip, there marriage began to fall apart and divorce seemed to be the best option for their young children.  Because Emily has little control of their money, she doesn’t know how to proceed with protecting her assets during the divorce. Charles Ullman and Associates understands that during divorce, life has been turned upside down and can cause financial and emotionally challenging moments.  What can Emily do?

Avoid Losing Everything: Protect Your Assets

Often times, in a marriage, one spouse takes charge of finances. Unfortunately, in the event of divorce, the other spouse has no idea how to deal with their finances, leaving her/him at great risk for financial distress after a divorce.  Protecting your assets during divorce can make the whole process a little less stressful:

  • Familiarize Yourself with Financial Statements:  Financial statements, tax forms and other important financial paperwork can be overwhelming, hard to organize, and even harder to understand, but it’s helpful to know how your household’s income is being spent.  Even if you are not the “breadwinner”, you have the right to know where the money goes.  If you find something suspicious or something you don’t understand (and don’t feel comfortable confronting your soon-to-be ex), talk to a financial planner, lawyer or accountant.  Additionally, make sure you make copies of all the financial information and keep it in a safe place.  When you meet with your divorce lawyer, he/she will help you decide what information you will need for your settlement.  It’s better to be over prepared than not.


  • Establish Your Own Credit:  If you have a shared credit account with your spouse, it’s important to pay close attention to credit card statements, as one spouse may use a credit card more often than the other.  If your spouse has poor credit, it may affect you, even after the divorce.  If you are able, try to get your own credit card account before you divorce.  While may stay-at-home, non-income earning spouses find it difficult to establish credit, The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act) made changes allowing non-working spouses set up their own line of credit, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Additionally, it may be wise (if you don’t already) to set up your own bank account.


  • Make Sure Your Name is One Everything You Own with Your Spouse:  Depending on what you purchased together, if it is a valuable asset, make sure that your signature (as proof of part ownership) is on all the proper documents.

Divorce can be a financially, emotionally, and mentally exhausting process.  While you should always have a good handle on your finances, even if you don’t make all the money, it is even more important during the separation or divorce process.  Don’t let your divorce leave you penniless and powerless; get your documents in order!

Family Law Finance

Injured On The Job? Workers Compensation Procedures

Most companies are required to maintain workers compensation coverage for their employees. Injuries, illnesses, or exposure to dangerous chemicals can make cause damage to an employee and lay the grounds for a workers’ compensation claim. The injuries covered under this policy can be minor or major. One are that is not covered under this general liability coverage is under the coming and going rule. This rule references any injuries that occurred on the commute to or from the work-site. Although these injuries would not be covered under a workers’ compensation claim, other injuries that occur while transporting goods, traveling, or running errands for your employer may be covered.

First Steps: File A Claim

The first step when you have been injured on the job is to file a workers compensation claim. Your supervisor or boss will provide you with the proper claim form to complete. If your employer contests the claim, a court hearing will be scheduled. It’s very important that you file your claim form as soon as possible after the injury. Some of the more long-term injuries from the incident may not appear until a few weeks or months after the initial accident, which is why it’s so important to have an attorney representing her interest in court. If you need an attorney, the time is now to contact Salvi Law.

What Happens Next?

After you have filed a claim, the insurance company will select a doctor to perform an independent medical examination. Preparing for this exam is incredibly important, since the doctor will send a report to the insurance company that is used to generate an offer for your compensation. Write notes about the appointment after it is over, and come prepared with your own list of questions for the doctor. Do not underestimate the severity of your symptoms during this appointment.

What Happens If My Claim Is Approved?

In general, the monetary payment under an approved workers compensation claim will represent up to 66% of your typical income, but what sets workers compensation apart is that these monies are tax-free. Since there are no taxes on these funds, it’s likely that your payment will be similar to your former income. All medical expenses will also be covered under a workers’ compensation claim, so long as those medical expenses are related to the workplace injury.

Should I Accept a Settlement?

If a worker has been on long-term disability for some time, one common tactic for companies is to offer that individual a settlement. In the short term, these settlements can be appealing. Over the long run, however, the settlement may not be in your best interest. For example, if your medical costs increase or you incur other complications as a result of your initial injury, the settlement may not be enough to provide for your future medical expenses. Especially when you are not represented by a lawyer, the company will usually undervalue the settlement offer. You can reject the settlement, and it’s recommended that you have a conversation with an attorney about your best options.

Divorce Law Finance

Divorce and the Division of Debt

(U.S. Family Law and generally) Almost everyone dreams of one day meeting the person that they’ll grow old and die with. Movies like Titanic, Romeo and Juliet and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind give people hope that a perfect love exists out there for each of us. Unfortunately, individual love stories can end much more abruptly, and sadly, this can leave one or both of the spouses struggling with debt. Most people fail to realize that debt is distributed much like property after a divorce, so it’s important for every individual to recognize the consequences of marital debt prior to ending their nuptials.

Division of Debt after DivorceWhen two people get married, they basically legally become one. This means that the debt that accrue is shared. When the two get divorced, they must distribute this debt in a fair and equitable manner. A few states make the distinction between “community” and “separate” debts. Community debts would be those that each spouse had an equitable share in (ie. mortgage, car loan) while separate debts would be those which were mainly accumulated by one spouse (ie. loan for golf clubs).Community debt, in the applicable states, is divided equally amongst the spouses while they hold onto their own separate debts. In equitable distribution states, however, everything accumulated during marriage, including debt, is divided equitably between the two spouses. The majority of states in the United States handle divorces in this matter.

Consequences of Marital Debt

There are a number of consequences of marital debt after the committed relationship ends. Unfortunately, a person is often left with debts that they now have to pay on just one salary as opposed to two. Even worse, many marriages end with only one spouse having worked throughout the relationship, so the other spouse can be left with huge bills and no means of paying them.

The worst thing that can happen after a divorce, however, can occur once debts are distributed by settlement. The simple fact is that this debt distribution only works if both spouses can be trusted to take the debt seriously. If one spouse chooses not to pay on an owed debt, a creditor isn’t going to care that the marriage is over; they’re just going to want their money from one or both of the former spouses. In the end, this can destroy a person’s credit without them even realizing it.

Avoiding Debt Issues after Divorce

There are several ways to handle debt during a divorce. One of the best ways of doing so is to pay off all debt before filing for divorce. This will ensure that it’s unnecessary to keep up with whether or not an ex-spouse is making proper payments on a shared debt. In addition, divorce settlement negotiations can be used to decide who owes what, but as previously mentioned, this simply places faith in a spouse to keep up with payments.

Unfortunately, many spouses only end up thinking about the shared debt of marriage after it has caused damage to their credit. In these cases, it’s pertinent to speak with a credit repair and counseling agency. Though it may be possible to settle debts on one’s own, a person will usually end up spending much more on a settlement than they need to. Professional companies can work on consolidating, transferring and reducing a person’s overall debt after a divorce.

Divorce is a disheartening time in anyone’s life, and unfortunately, if unprepared, the accumulation of debt can make these times even more difficult than they otherwise would’ve been. Luckily, there are a few surefire methods to decrease, if not eliminate altogether, many of the consequences of marital debt. Just because a person’s marriage is ending doesn’t mean their life has to, and handling marital debt appropriately will ensure this.

Author Catherine Stephens also works as a small business consultant and contributes this article to raise awareness marriage debt. At you will find one of the largest providers of customer relationship management software systems within the finance industry. These tools are important in helping a credit counseling agency to properly track and negotiate your debt to make certain there are no unresolved issues after the divorce is final.

Some things you didn’t know about your finances during a divorce

Guest family law blog post regarding finances and divorce.

Going through a divorce can be a difficult time emotionally never mind debating who is going to get the house, the car and even the cat. One of the most argued elements of a divorce will always be the finances regardless of how much or how little that couple had. Here are some things you might not have known when it comes to divorce proceedings and your finances.

First steps and temporary agreements                                                                                                                      

Self-divorce, divorce legal adviceNormally before any divorce proceedings take place there will be a separation period for both partners. During this time it can be difficult to support yourself, especially if your partner was the one bringing home the majority of the household earnings. You can apply to the court for interim maintenance or maintenance pending suit if you were married or in a civil partnership. This can be quite costly and the legal costs may be more than you are awarded so it is always worth talking to a legal advisor before making a decision on this. It may be that your partner is willing to make some kind of arrangement for maintenance payments before divorce proceedings go through.

Financial settlements

One of the most cost effective way to agree on a financial settlement is to do it between you and your partner, as opposed to involving mediators, lawyers or even going to court. If this can be done then you will find the break up to be a lot easier and also save you plenty of money on legal aid. If you make an agreement between the two of you then it is not necessarily legally binding. There are some ways to ensure that your financial settlement is more formal and would therefore stand up in court. Make sure that you write down the agreements that you have made together and take this to a solicitor for their advice. The solicitor can then send this agreement to a county court judge who will make a decision based on how fair they feel it is. As long as the outcome is ‘fair’ to both of you and you both have had independent legal advice then it is much more likely to be accepted.                                                                                                           

Lump sums                                                                                                           

In most divorce casMoney and divorcees there will be a maintenance payment and perhaps a lump sum of money from one partner to another. This could be to share the assets more fairly between partners, to enable one partner to purchase a house to live in or a lump sum to replace ongoing maintenance payments. A capital lump sum will tend to be paid in one go and can enable a ‘clean break’ so that partners no longer have to communicate. The best thing to do with a lump sum settlement is talk to an accountant who will be able to advise you further on investing the money wisely.

Hopefully this article will have touched upon some points that may have been unclear when you first start divorce proceedings. Remember to ask for legal help when needed and also seek the advice of an accountant if large sums of money are involved.

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Some things you didn’t know about your finances during a divorce


Going through a divorce can be a difficult time emotionally never mind debating who is going to get the house, the car and even the cat. One of the most argued elements of a divorce will always be the finances regardless of how much or how little that couple had. Here are some things you might not have known when it comes to divorce proceedings and your finances.

First steps and temporary agreements

Normally before any divorce proceedings take place there will be a separation period for both partners. During this time it can be difficult to support yourself, especially if your partner was the one bringing home the majority of the household earnings. You can apply to the court for interim maintenance or maintenance pending suit if you were married or in a civil partnership. This can be quite costly and the legal costs may be more than you are awarded so it is always worth talking to a legal advisor before making a decision on this. It may be that your partner is willing to make some kind of arrangement for maintenance payments before divorce proceedings go through.

Financial settlements


One of the most cost effective way to agree on a financial settlement is to do it between you and your partner, as opposed to involving mediators, lawyers or even going to court. If this can be done then you will find the break up to be a lot easier and also save you plenty of money on legal aid. If you make an agreement between the two of you then it is not necessarily legally binding. There are some ways to ensure that your financial settlement is more formal and would therefore stand up in court. Make sure that you write down the agreements that you have made together and take this to a solicitor for their advice. The solicitor can then send this agreement to a county court judge who will make a decision based on how fair they feel it is. As long as the outcome is ‘fair’ to both of you and you both have had independent legal advice then it is much more likely to be accepted.


Lump sums


In most divorce cases there will be a maintenance payment and perhaps a lump sum of money from one partner to another. This could be to share the assets more fairly between partners, to enable one partner to purchase a house to live in or a lump sum to replace ongoing maintenance payments. A capital lump sum will tend to be paid in one go and can enable a ‘clean break’ so that partners no longer have to communicate. The best thing to do with a lump sum settlement is talk to an accountant who will be able to advise you further on investing the money wisely.

Hopefully this article will have touched upon some points that may have been unclear when you first start divorce proceedings. Remember to ask for legal help when needed and also seek the advice of an accountant if large sums of money are involved.


Five Tax Laws Affecting the Middle Class

On January 2 of this year, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (or fiscal cliff deal) became law and was made retroactive to January 1. The act was designed to shield the middle class from the expiration of the Bush-era tax rates. While the law included tax increases directed at wealthier Americans, much of the act was targeted at the middle class. In particular, five key tax laws of the fiscal cliff deal affect the middle class and they are discussed below.

First Provision

The first provision of the tax changes was something omitted in the fiscal cliff deal and that is an extension of the payroll tax cut enacted by the president back in 2011. All taxpayers enjoyed a 2% reduction in their withholding due to the lower Social Security payroll tax rate of 4.2%. However, with the expiration of this tax cut, the rate returns back to 6.2%. Given that the maximum taxable earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax is $113,700 in 2013, the tax increase affects the middle class more than it does top wage earners. This makes this tax increase a regressive tax increase and will result in a decrease of $100 a month in disposable income for households earning $50,000 a year.

Second Provision

The second provision affecting the middle class was the permanent extension of exemption amounts to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The exemption amounts for 2013 increased over 2012 levels and are now $50,600 for individuals, $78,750 for married people filing jointly, and $39,375 for people married filing separately. Also, the AMT exemptions are now inflation adjusted annually. This will insure that the AMT, designed to affect the wealthiest Americans, does not become the de facto middle class tax rate. If the AMT exemptions had not been increased, sixty million workers would have become subject to higher tax rates.

Third Provision

The third provision affecting the middle class is the permanent extension of the Bush-era tax rates of 10%, 25%, 28%, 33% and 35%. A new tax rate was added of 39.6% for income over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples. Absent this change, tax rates would have increased across the board for every worker and coupled with the expiration of the payroll tax cut would have been a substantial tax increase.

Fourth Provision

The fourth provision affecting the middle class is the permanent extension of the marriage penalty tax relief. For couples filing jointly, the standard deduction is exactly twice that of an individual’s standard deduction. This eliminates the disparity in the standard deduction for married people which disparity became known by the pejorative “marriage penalty tax”. The fiscal cliff deal prevented the standard deduction for married couples from decreasing to $10,150 from $12,120.

Fifth Provision

The fifth provision benefiting the middle class is the permanent extension of the Bush-era child tax credits of $1,000 per dependent child who is under age 17 by year’s end. The phase out for this tax credit remains the same at $75,000 for individual tax filers, $110,000 for married filing joint or $55,000 for married filing separate.

There are many other provisions in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 which directly or indirectly affect middle class taxpayers such as business tax extenders, small business expensing, and bonus depreciation. Also, tax credits for education were also extended. However, the provisions cited above were those which most directly affected the middle class. Covering all the tax provisions is beyond the scope of this article but they may be reviewed in greater detail by clicking on the link for The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

This article was written by Robert Tritter, an avid writer of law-related articles throughout the web. He writes this on behalf of R&G Brenner, your number one choice when looking for a Brooklyn Tax Consulting firm. Check out their website for more information on their services.