Sevierville Legal Blog

Certain veterans' benefits protected from creditors by HAVEN Act

Veterans of the U.S. military make up a disproportionately large percentage of people who file for bankruptcy. Almost 15% of those who file for protection under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code are military veterans; the group makes up only around 10% of the population overall. During the year 2017, roughly 125,000 military veterans in Tennessee and across the country filed for bankruptcy. A newly passed federal law will provide greater financial protections to veterans who file for bankruptcy.

The law is called the Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need Act of 2019, or the HAVEN Act. Prior to its passage, disability payments received from the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense were included when the bankruptcy filer's disposable income was calculated. These payments were reachable by creditors even after a veteran had filed for bankruptcy, that is. Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration were already excluded from these calculations.

Bankruptcy filings by seniors continue to rise

The number of bankruptcies filed in Tennessee and around the country by individuals 65 years of age or older is five times higher today that it was just 25 years ago, and one in seven petitions are now made by senior citizens. These are just two of the worrying trends identified by the team of academics behind the Consumer Bankruptcy Project.

The trend is expected to continue for several more years as the baby boom generation retires. Experts say that older Americans are running into financial problems because they are living longer and face increasingly high medical expenses not covered by Medicare. Few senior citizens have company pensions and their savings are often scant, which prompts many of them to turn to easy forms of borrowing like credit cards to make ends meet. According to a U.S. Federal Reserve survey, almost half of Americans over the age of 75 are carrying at least some debt. In 1989, that figure was about 20%.

Survey finds emotional reasons for divorce

The main reasons some people in Tennessee get a divorce might differ from reasons for divorce in previous decades. A study that appeared in the "Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy" suggests that ideas about marriage and grounds for divorce may have shifted.

The study surveyed more than 2,300 people who were straight and recently divorced. More than one-quarter said the divorce was high-conflict compared to 40% who said their divorce was low or very low in conflict. Whatever the divorce itself was like, the top reason cited for a marriage ending had to do with too little intimacy or love. Almost half of all respondents selected this as a reason. Nearly as common was communication problems, cited by 44%. The third most common was a lack of respect or trust while the fourth most common was simply growing apart.

Avoiding a DUI in east Tennessee

When you go on vacation, you get a chance to relax and have fun. Visiting east Tennessee near Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg provides you multiple options to have fun. The area offers several great restaurants, amusement parks and a backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains. You can also visit multiple moonshine distilleries.

For some tourists, fun and relaxation can mean drinking and driving. But being on vacation does not prevent from getting a DUI.

Gray divorce may be financially devastating

For people over the age of 50, the divorce rate has doubled since 1990. Unfortunately, the financial consequences of ending a marriage have also become especially pronounced among seniors. Even wealthy Tennessee residents can find the divorce process financially draining.

Spouses who split up after turning 50 are said to be going through the gray divorce phenomenon. This type of separation can be much harder on the parties than divorcing earlier in life. Part of the reason is that older people have less time to recover and rebuild.

Dealing with a debt collection lawsuit

Many people in Tennessee struggle to make ends meet. They may be facing mounting credit card bills, medical costs, car loans and more. When people have difficulty paying their bills on time, they may begin to receive calls and letters from collection agencies seeking to be paid for the debt. In some cases, people may even be sued by the debt collectors. Over 70 million Americans have dealt with debt collection agencies, and their tactics can be disturbing at times. Around one-quarter of people felt threatened while dealing with the companies.

It is important for people to understand what they can do if they are sued by a debt collector. People who owe money have rights under the law that must be protected. When people are facing a debt collection lawsuit, they can respond via an official answer through the court. In this document, it can be particularly important not to admit responsibility for the sum owed. Instead, the respondent can demand that the creditor show proof of the debt. Responding in a timely manner can help people avoid additional penalties.

Are child support amounts the same in each state?

Child support amounts vary significantly from state to state. This might be of interest to Tennessee parents who receive or pay child support. While logic dictates that child support payments should reflect the cost of living, a variety of factors actually influence how much child support is awarded in each state. Additionally, while the federal government does provide guidelines, it also allows each state to set up their own formulas for calculating child support.

Child support is one of the most important decisions to be negotiated after a split. The amount of support awarded can make a deep impact in a child's life, so it is a delicate process. Still, according to a study by Custody X Change, a company that provides a web application that helps parents set support agreements, the difference in payment amounts could be as much as 2/3 of the total amount. For example, in Massachusetts, which is the state with the highest average support payment, a divorced parent of 2 children ages 7 and 10, can receive $1,187. However, if they move to Vermont, that amount can decrease by half to $519. Moving south to Virginia can decrease the original amount by as much as 2/3.

Credit card debt increasing for millennials

Since they came of age during the stock market crash on Wall Street in 2008, many millennials have been wary of taking on debt from big banks. Unfortunately, new research shows that unpaid debts on credit cards are increasing for this younger generation. For Americans age 18 to 29, delinquencies 90 days or older surpassed 8%, which is the highest it has been in more than eight years. There are several factors driving this increase.

While older generations tend to favor credit cards with cash-back offers and low interest, millennials are more enticed by immediate rewards, like signup bonuses and extravagant gifts, even though the average interest rates on credit cards is 18%. Some cards have interest rates higher than 25%. Another factor for this debt may be a feeling that the economy is strong and will continue to remain that way.

Judge rules immigrants’ lawsuit can move forward

The Trump administration's focus on U.S. immigration reform was dealt a recent blow in a class action suit brought about by four young-adult immigrants who allege that they were either abused, abandoned, or neglected. Their ultimate goal? To seek Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, which will allow them to remain in the country even if their parents face deportation. The Trump administrators had filed a motion to dismiss the case. A motion that was denied. 

 

Social Security eligibility for divorced spouses

Divorcing spouses in Tennessee and around the country who have never worked or only worked part-time have a lot at stake during alimony negotiations, but these discussions are usually less contentious when the couples involved have been married for 10 years or longer. That is because divorced spouses who were married for at least a decade are eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on the contributions made by their former wives or husbands.

When these spouses wait until they reach full retirement age to begin receiving Social Security benefits, they are entitled to up to half of the benefits their former husband or wife will receive. They can start receiving these benefits even if their former spouse has not yet applied, providing that they have not remarried and their individual benefits are lower than their former spouse's benefits. The full retirement age varies according to an individual's year of birth. Americans born after 1960 reach this milestone at age 67.

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