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Since 1997 we are Tampa attorneys practicing exclusively in Divorce, Family, Adoption, Bankruptcy & Mediation Services: practicing in Tampa, Riverview, Brandon, Valrico, Lithia and all of Hillsborough County as well as for bankruptcy in all counties in the Tampa Division of the Middle District of Florda: Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Hardee, Hernando, Polk, and Pasco Counties. Our lawyers have experience practicing in contested and uncontested divorces, including military divorces, and family law, child support, child custody and visitation, relocation of children, alimony, domestic violence, distribution of assets and debts, retirement/pensions (military and private), enforcement and modification of final judgments, paternity actions, adoptions, and name changes. We offer a free consultation and we are happy to discuss your case. Call or email to schedule a consult. Our representation of our clients reflects our dedication to them.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Reaffirmation Agreements in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will either retain or surrender your secured property. You will probably have to sign a reaffirmation agreement if you are going to keep your property, for example, your vehicle and your home. The reaffirmation agreement basically will reaffirm the amount remaining on the loan, interest rate and the monthly payments. Usually the agreement will be that you continue to make the same payments on the balance due. If you owe a significant amount more than the value of the collateral, sometimes you can negotiate with the creditor to reduce the balance due, monthly payments, and/or interest charged.

If you do not sign the reaffirmation agreement but continue to pay the debt, then it is possible that the creditor will repossess the collateral, although it really depends upon the benefit to the creditor of doing so. For instance, if the vehicle is worth much less than the loan, then it is to the creditor's benefit to continue to allow you to make payments. The bankruptcy discharges the debt unless you sign the reaffirmation agreement. Therefore, if you do not sign the agreement even if you say you will reaffirm it in the bankruptcy petition and you stop paying the debt, the creditor can pick up the collateral; however, it cannot come after you for the deficiency. That is why the creditor wants a signed reaffirmation agreement.

If you have a secured debt and an unsecured debt, i.e., a credit card, with the same lender, then often that lender will require you to reaffirm both the secured and unsecured debt to keep the collateral. For example, you want to keep your vehicle as you have equity in it of $10,000.00 so you will want to sign the reaffirmation agreement with the lender; however, you also have a credit card with the same lender with a balance due of $10,000.00. The lender will require that to keep your vehicle, you must sign a reaffirmation agreement that you will pay the balance due on the vehicle as well as the $10,000.00 credit card debt. If you do not sign the agreement, then it is to the creditor's benefit to repossess your vehicle.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Use of Annuities to Improve How Alimony Works

All Family Law Group, P.A., is collaborating with The Planning Partners* to help our divorcing clients to improve their chances for an alimony settlement beneficial to both parties.  Annuity contracts can provide a combination of either more benefits for the same money or at less cost for the same benefits and they can deal with most contingencies alimony agreements include.

Some of the benefits of having an annuity as opposed to providing alimony payments are as follows:
  • The receiving spouse has a certainty of payment as a highly regulated insurance or annuity company provides the payments.  
  • There is no necessity of having to motion the court for enforcement of the alimony provisions of a Final Judgment if the ordered or agreed upon payments are not made.
  • The payor does not have to make payments or have the payments deducted from his or her income through an income deduction order.
  •  If the payor's income goes down because of reduced income from employment, illness, or he or she retires or dies, the annuity payments will remain the same for the former spouse and the payor will not have to seek a reduction modification through the court of the alimony he or she is paying.  Alimony normally terminates upon the death of the payor.  
  • Annuities allow the opportunity to obtain more benefits for the same amount of money or to save money to provide the same benefits agreed upon.  This occurs because insurance and annuity contracts provide for interest and other benefits that creates amounts in addition to the principal payment to be paid to the receiving spouse.
  • The spouse may receive income for terms of 5, 10, or 20 years, for example, or income for life.  However, the amount received will be more the shorter the term of payment.
  • Annuity contracts are exempt from creditors in the event of a bankruptcy, which means that all of the funds survive a bankruptcy.
  • Income taxes are deferred on the build-up of interest income in a deferred indexed annuity, including the new 3.8% Medicare Tax on passive income, if applicable.
Annuities are divided between "immediate" annuities and "deferred" annuities. The immediate annuities start paying an income right away. Deferred annuities allow the growth of principal deposits inside the contract. In the future, the deferred annuities become like immediate annuities providing income from the higher Retirement Fund balance that has grown tax deferred over the years.

There is so much more information to be had on annuities and their benefits in a divorce where alimony or other assets are involved. Call us at 813-672-1900 or contact us by email, if you would like more information on how annuities can work for you if you are going through a divorce or otherwise.  

*To offer insurance and annuity products I have arranged a strategic relationship with two very experienced estate planners. Rick D. Miller, CLU, ChFC, RHU and Scott F. Barnett, J.D., LL.M. (Taxation) have a combined 70 years of experience in the field.  They have organized THE PLANNING PARTNERS to offer professional level services to individuals, families, and closely held businesses.  Rick and Scott have taken the Collaborative Law Training Seminar and Scott is now a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. 

By Lynette Silon-Laguna


Friday, August 2, 2013

Is an Income Deduction Order transferable to another employer?

Question from AVVO.com:

She quit her last job as a paralegal for a personal injury lawyer to get out of the Income Withholding order. The income withholding order was just done couple months ago with the employers name on it. Can I send that to the new employer even if there name is not on it. She is working for another personal injury lawyer. I don't have much money since I have to take care of whats important first for my daughter which is 3 to even pay for a lawyer to set things right. In the divorce its states she is to pay for health insurance, half of the medical expense and half daycare.

My Answer:

Even though it has the specific name of her prior employer, there is language in the Order which will make it applicable to future employers. You will have to send a copy of the Income Deduction Order to her new employer and send it certified mail/return receipt requested so that you have proof that it was received. It also must be a Certified copy which you can obtain from the clerk. 

You also mentioned that she is to pay for health insurance, half of the medical expenses and half of the daycare expense. I assume this is in your marital settlement agreement and/or final judgment that she is to do so. If she is not doing this, then your only option is to proceed with a motion to enforce the final judgment and schedule a hearing on it. A mediation may be required prior to a hearing. Also, if you attend a hearing you will need to provide proof as to the health insurance, medical and daycare expenses that you have paid and of which she should have paid all or half.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What if a house that my wife and I own is not included in the divorce?

When people are married and they purchase a house together, the house is automatically titled as tenants in the entirety, which means that each party owns the entire house and this is referred to as an undivided interest in the property.  Both have the right to occupy it and use the property and they each have a right of survivorship, so if one of the parties dies then the property would automatically pass in its whole to the other party without the necessity of probate.  In addition, creditors of one spouse cannot force a sale of the property to collect a debt.  Note also that if the house is homestead the creditors cannot force a sale of the property.

When the parties obtain a divorce, normally the marital settlement agreement will include provisions on how the house is to be distributed between the parties and who will be responsible for the mortgage or that the mortgage will be refinanced, etc..  If the property is not included in the marital settlement agreement and the divorce is final, the the parties will continue to own the house together; however, it will become owned as tenancy in common.  This is a type of ownership where each party owns a share of the whole of the property.  In this case, each spouse would own one half of it and this half can be sold to another or if one of the parties dies then that party's one half share will be subject to inheritance laws.  In addition, each party will have the right to full access to occupy the home.  If the parties have a mortgage on the property, then each will continue to be responsible for payment on it and if one party does not pay their share of the mortgage, the other will be responsible for paying it.  There will be no recourse in the divorce court after the marriage is finalized if the parties do not include it in the divorce.

Therefore, in short, if you own a home and you are married, unless you provide for it in the divorce, then both the wife and husband will continue to own it as tenants in common as explained in the paragraph above.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna