How Divorce Affects Credit

Divorce is hard emotionally, legally, and financially. Sometimes, people don’t think about what joint accounts can do to harm their credit reports until they finally get around to looking at their credit scores. Don’t let mixed assets affect your credit report after you file for divorce. Here are some ways to prepare for separating your credit and steps to regain your financial independence.

Remember that divorce is only acknowledged by the court. A divorce will not automatically separate you and your spouse financially. All jointly held financial accounts and debts will have to be reconciled jointly or transferred from one party to the other.

Separating Credit

1. Contact any lenders about outstanding debt. A collections agency may try to contact you long after outstanding debt has been removed from your credit score. If you have any debt leftover from your marriage, find a way to pay it down, or have the lender remove you from the contract. You may need to get your spouse to agree to the arrangement and he or she may have to prove to a creditor that the debt can be managed singularly.

2. Always pay debt down during a divorce process. In some cases, a spouse may try to use credit cards in an effort to hurt the other party with high balances and debt. Pay any jointly held accounts to prevent a bill from affecting your credit score. Close the accounts or have yourself removed from the account to prevent further abuse.

3. Close accounts that cannot be reconciled. This will ensure that no new debt is added to your accounts if you have trouble removing yourself from them or paying them off.

4. There is no need to separate your credit reports. All credit reports are issued to individuals regardless of marriage status. Making sure that all jointly held accounts are reconciled is the most important credit-affecting factor to consider after divorce.

5. Your ex-spouse is not allowed to receive your credit report after the divorce is finalized. There are a number of ways a report could accidentally be sent to an ex. If he or she has identifying information for you, it is possible that your credit report could be accessed despite the reporting bureaus’ identity protection precautions. You may have grounds for a lawsuit if your ex-spouse obtains your credit report illegally.

6. Have your ex-spouse removed from your report. Even though your report is completely separate and having a spouse’s name on it will not affect your score, having your ex removed as your listed spouse can clarify your situation to anyone who accesses the report.

The bottom line is to reconcile any accounts that you and your ex-spouse held jointly. While divorce will never impact a credit score directly, the status of joint accounts can affect both parties’ credit reports negatively.

Rebuilding Credit

If your former partner caused damage to your credit prior to or during divorce proceedings, you may need to take steps to rebuild your credit. If you haven’t held an account individually in several years, you might also have a lower credit score than you will want to have as an independent individual. Take these steps to rebuild your individual credit score.

1. Change your name. You will need to establish your credit as an individual. While changing your name doesn’t erase existing debt, it will help you build your individual credit apart from your ex-spouse.

2. Gain financial independence. The sooner you take steps to regain financial independence by getting a job, paying bills, and other financial necessities, the sooner your credit score will improve. Child support and alimony will both supplement income in a usable way, but you should never rely on these two sources of income completely.

3. Take steps to handle bills you can’t pay. Contact a credit counselor or repair agency to help you work through financial struggle after a divorce. There are a number of different ways to handle debt after a divorce, and a credit counselor can help you determine the best course of action for your situation. Leaving bills you can’t afford unattended will only worsen your credit score over time.

4. Successfully use a credit card. Even if you don’t use it for extravagant expenses, use a credit card occasionally and pay off the bill every month. Using credit cards responsibly is one of the best ways to rebuild credit. The cards should be in your name as an individual, not a jointly held card from your marriage. Sometimes, jointly held accounts that were not responsibly paid off may prevent you from obtaining a credit card. In this case do the following.

A. Make sure the card is closed. As long as a jointly held card is open, it has the ability to affect your credit score.

B. Apply for a secured credit card. If you cannot get a regular credit card, a secured card will be available with a cash or collateral deposit. You’ll only be allowed to use the card for as much of a deposit as you put down at first, but it is a successful method for building credit. It also has the benefit of being a more secure method of payment than a debit card.

5. Keep all card balances low. Ideally, your credit card balance should never rise above 35%. If you need to put a larger expenditure on the card, pay it off multiple times a month rather than waiting until the due date. Doing so will ensure that credit bureaus are not receiving inaccurate information about your accounts during the month.

If you have trouble reconciling your accounts on your own, seek the professional advice of a credit counselor or repair service. In addition to offering you advice, a professional team like ours at Park View Credit will help you review your credit reports and determine if there are any inaccuracies or factors lowering your score that can be contested with the credit reporting bureaus. Often, making a change in your credit report will immediately boost your score. Because divorces are naturally complicated, the help of a professional may be the best option for improving your score.

Can You Amend Spousal Support When There Is a Change in Income After Divorce Is Final

When two spouses decide to end their marriage, they need to reach a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) which spells out how they will divide their community assets and debts and if one spouse will receive support, and how child custody, visitation and support will be assigned if there are children involved. Spousal Support, also known as alimony, is a type of financial aid paid by one spouse to the other once the marriage has ended. It can be ordered for the spouse who has been earning less during the marriage. Laws about alimony vary from state to state, but in California, alimony is almost always awarded for long-term marriages. In a “Short-Term Marriage (One of less than ten years in length) support can last up to half of the marriage duration, so if the marriage lasted 10 years, the spouse receiving the support will usually see that support end after five years. Long-term marriages have separate guidelines. By law, spousal support in California is considered a temporary situation, not a permanent one, except in cases where one spouse is permanently disabled and will not be able to reach financial independence in his/her lifetime. In other circumstances, California judges expect the spouse receiving support to eventually become self-sustaining and financially independent.

Once the divorce decree has been issued, it is considered a permanent decision. However, the California court system allows ex-spouses to revisit their divorce agreement when there has been “a substantial and unforeseen change of circumstances” in one of the spouse’s life. Several substantial circumstances can warrant a Spousal Support order to be modified and effect the amount of support an ex-spouse (payer) contributes every month after the divorce. The most common reason to request a spousal support reduction is a considerable reduction in the support payer’s income. For example, if the spouse paying alimony suffers loss of income due to layoff or illness, he/she can request spousal support amount to be lowered, reflecting the diminished payer’s ability to pay the original spousal support amount. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an increase in the supported spouse’s income is also cause for the payer to request the original spousal support amounts to be reduced. Another factor that directly affects spousal support amounts is if the supported spouse remarries. In this case, California law is clear and states that the obligation to pay alimony automatically ends.

However, if a supported spouse is simply living with a partner in a cohabitation state, spousal support orders usually continue. The party seeking the modification must go before a Judge to state their case. It does not happen automatically.

Because obtaining a reduction or an increase in spousal support after the divorce requires ex-spouses to share information on their personal and financial situations, tensions may rise. We recommend spouses discuss alimony changes between themselves first. If they can’t reach common ground, the next step is to work with an experienced family law mediator, who will encourage both parties to discuss and agree to adjust spousal support payments without the painful and costly involvement of attorneys. The mediator will discuss options available to the parties in hopes of achieving a compromise. Once the spouses reach an agreement, they simply give their written stipulation to the judge to be entered as a new court order.

 

Major Attributes of Dexterous Legal Services by Family Divorce Lawyers

Separation in relationships is always painful and is attached with several unwanted circumstances. No wonder, if the matter is related with dissolution of marriage or divorce under the court of law, importance of appropriate and authentic approach becomes evidential. This in a way signifies the magnitude of employing strategic and legalised ideas of professional experts. With such sorts of assistance, acquiring the best possible outcome can also be made possible.

It is believed that the causes and effect of divorce lies within, still, after detailed research and extensive analysis here are some of the popular genres:

  • At-fault divorce
  • No-fault divorce
  • Uncontested divorce
  • Mediated divorce
  • Collaborative divorce, etc.

Added with so many forms and patterns it becomes clear that, these lawful divorce issues are not only complex, but are also diversified. Hence, the idea of not consulting family divorce lawyers and hoping to meet with supportive results by oneself may lead a person to nowhere. Any minute fault at some stage or the other may affect people who filed for divorce with negative outcome. This again vitalize the importance of hiring dynamically experienced and impressively knowledgeable lawyers or attorneys working in similar field.

People applying for divorce have turned to be a frequent phenomenon in this modernized age. According to the expert and adept legal assistance mentioned above, here are some of the reasons behind such unfortunate development:

  • Domestic violence
  • Disloyalty among couples
  • Addictions and more.

It is seen that couples filing for divorce also has to deal with psychological aspects of their inopportune children. Over the time, off-springs of such couples getting accustomed with depression, lesser mind satisfaction, anxiety and fickle mindedness is common too. Apparently, this signifies the immense essentiality of abiding by the tactful measures taken by legal assistants, because, they can deal with such hectic situation in a most supple way. Hence, the children can lead a normal and disciplined life, even after such disturbing separation. No wonder, that the entire process gets executed in a courteous and respectful way is also assured by them.

Perplexities and hectic hassles of divorce are really hard to handle which can’t be conducted in a proper way without the adept assistance of family legal service providers. With them, any sorts of difficulty gets solved and at the same time procuring favourable outcome becomes easy and quick. Even if the matter is related with documentation or other issues, these adept solution providers are of paramount help.

Even some of the most popular and lovable couples are found to be seeking for mutual separation by following truthful legal guidance. Needless to state such sort of requirements can also be fulfilled finely with the help of lawyers and attorneys discussed above. Vital prerequisites that are related with child custody and property dividing in such cases are also pursued with significant look-through by these proficient legal service providers. No matter what the requirement is, seeking productive and favourable guidance from such extensively knowable experts is always preferred.

 

How to Find a Right Divorce Attorney Easily

A divorce attorney is a family law attorney. That means they practice representing cases that concern families, and personal relationships that pertain to families. When a relationship that you are involved in dissolves you need a family law attorney to make sure that the decisions you make regarding the division of property and assets is in your best interest.

Finding a divorce attorney to represent you in the dissolution of a marriage is not as easy as picking up a phone book and calling the first lawyer that you find listed there. To find a qualified lawyer you are going to have to do a little research, and a little interviewing.

Steps to follow while hunting a lawyer to handle your divorce

1. Write down all of the pertinent information the lawyer will need to know about you, your spouse, and your impending divorce. Be sure to include a list of all assets the two of you own. List any grievances you have against your spouse like infidelity issues, or spousal abuse problems.

2. Make a list of lawyers that you have heard of from friends, relatives, and other advertising sources. Make appointments with at least three of those law firms to discuss your situation. These consultations are usually free of charges.

3. Make a list of things you would like your lawyer to have. Include a compatible personality, time to work on your case, close proximity, affordable fees or easy payment plans. When you go to the consultation visits rate the lawyers according to the things you have on this list. When you have visited all of the firms look over this list and see which lawyers met the most of the things you wanted.

4. Consider the amount of experience the lawyer has in the kind of cases that you have. You want to hire a lawyer who is knowledgeable in the laws that pertain to the type of circumstances you are facing.

5. Call the Better Business Bureau and the local Chamber of Commerce to see if the firm has any complaints against them, and if they have had complaints how they resolved the issue.

6. Ask the attorney how full their case load is. You want a popular attorney, but you do not want to retain someone that has a case load that is so heavy they will not have time to pay close attention to your interests.

7. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the lawyer. You have to work closely with this person and you need to be able to get along with them, trust them, and they need to have offices close enough that you can go to see them when needed.

 

What Is Identity Theft and How to Tell If You’re a Victim?

What is Identity Theft?

With all the data breaches in the news, there’s a lot of concern about identity theft and frankly a lot of confusion. So let’s first start by defining what “identity theft” really means. California law defines ID theft as the “unauthorized use of another person’s personal identifying information to obtain credit, goods, services, money, or property.” Cal. Civ. Code § 1798.92(b). OK, but enough with the lawyer stuff what does that really mean?

Basically, if you use another person’s name or identity to get something in return (typically money) that’s ID theft! Many people think that they have to have their whole life taken over to order to qualify as victim of identity theft. That’s not true. Even something as simple as an unauthorized credit or debt card purchase can qualify as identity theft. After all whose name is on the card they’re using to make that purchase – yours!

Are You an ID Theft Victim?

OK OK so identity theft can basically be anything but how do you know if you’re really an ID theft victim? There’s no perfect one-size-fits-all answer for this but there are some obvious signs:

1. You’re getting calls or letters from debt collectors for accounts that aren’t yours;

2. You’re getting letters from creditors telling you that you were denied for a recent credit card application or loan you don’t recognize;

3. Your credit score takes an unexplained nose dive; or

4. You start seeing tons of new inquires on your credit that you don’t recognize.

A lot of my clients tell me that they just ignored the first few debt collection calls they received for accounts that weren’t theirs. Please don’t do that! If you have people calling you about accounts that aren’t yours or something is fishy with your credit report look into it and get help. There are tons of online resources for identity theft victims. Many of my clients are able to successfully resolve their credit issues by doing some quick research on Google. However, others often get frustrated because there is so much information out there or they hit a roadblock and get discouraged. Many would like to talk to an attorney but they assume that it’s going to cost them an arm and a leg. That’s rarely the case. Almost all attorneys offer free consultations and many attorneys offer legal help for no out of pocket costs. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed find a professional near you, call them and take your identity back!

 

What Are the Fire Safety Requirements for Landlords

images (41)If you are a landlord you will have legal obligations and duties with regard to fire safety and the protection of your properties and the people who live in them. It is important that you apprise yourself of these duties and obligations and ensure complete compliance with the legislation and regulations as ignorance of the law is not a defence.

The three main pieces of legislation which cover this area of law are:

• The Housing Act 2004
• The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015
• The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005) (The Order)

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005) (The Order) stipulates that owners, managers, agents are likely to be deemed to be the ‘Responsible Persons’ for the purposes of The Order. What it means is that any person who has some level of control over your property must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire to an acceptable level and ensure people can safely escape if there is a fire. As a landlord, it is likely that for the purposes of The Order you will be The Responsible Person.

As the Responsible Person it will be incumbent upon you to:

1. Ensure you obtain a Fire Risk Assessment of each property you rent out.

The objective of the Fire Risk Assessment is to identify and evaluate all fire risks to which ‘relevant people’ are exposed and eliminate or reduce those risks and to ensure that in the event of a fire, people can safely escape. This can be achieved by carrying out a fire risk assessment.

Relevant people are those persons who are legally allowed on the premises, e.g. staff, visitors, residents and contractors etc.

If you are the responsible person, you must make sure you carry out a fire risk assessment. This task can be carried out by a fire safety professional. However, you will still be responsible, in law, for meeting the order.

As a landlord, if you own or manage a block of flats you will be required by legislation to carry out a fire risk assessment of all the common areas of your properties.

If you own or manage Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO’S) you are also required to carry out a fire risk assessment of the property.

The Fire Risk Assessment must:

• Identify fire hazards
• Identify people at risk
• Evaluate, remove or reduce, and protect from risk
• Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
• Review.

2. Ensure the Fire Risk Assessment is reviewed.

Any such assessments must be reviewed by the responsible person regularly so as to keep it up to date particularly if there is reason to suspect it is no longer valid or there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates, including when the premises, special, technical and organisational measures, or organisation of the work undergo significant changes, extensions or conversions. Where changes to an assessment are required as a result of any such review, the responsible person must make them as soon as practicable after the assessment is made or reviewed. The responsible person must record the significant findings of the assessment, including the measures which have been or will be taken by the responsible person and any group of persons identified by the assessment as being especially at risk.

Good practise and best advice is to review each fire risk assessment annually.

3. Provide Information: Keeping Tenants and Visitors informed.

Signage is extremely important. In the event of a fire, all relevant persons need to know what action needs to be taken and where their nearest fire assembly point is located. Clear fire action signs in the relevant language need to be visibly located. You may wish to consider the following too:

• Alerting each resident to fire safety measures
• Placing fire action signs on the inside of each tenant’s front door
• Holding regular fire safety meetings.

4. Provide fire fighting and fire detection equipment.

Where necessary the responsible person must:

• Ensure that the premises are equipped with appropriate fire fighting equipment and with fire detectors.
• Record, repair and maintain fire safety equipment and any issues within the premises
• Ensure alarms and any non-automatic fire-fighting equipment is easily accessible, simple to use and indicated by signs.
• Take measures for fire fighting in the premises and nominate responsible persons to implement those measures.
• Ensure that the number of such persons, their equipment and their training available to them are adequate, taking into account the size of, and the specific hazards involved in the premises
• Arrange any necessary contacts with external emergency services, particularly as regards fire-fighting, rescue work and first aid and emergency medical care.

5. Keep all emergency exits clear.

All escape routes must be kept clear at all times and any blockages removed immediately.

Nothing should be allowed to obstruct escape routes.

It is worth giving mention here to mobility scooters as these are often stored or left to charge in areas such as corridors or near staircases. They can form an obstruction to escape routes and access when needed. Numerous serious fires around the country have involved mobility scooters.

Landlords who own/manage blocks of flats

Aside from your legislative obligations and duties as mentioned above, you may wish to consider the following:

• Fitting smoke detectors to all properties
• Ensuring that all outside doors can be easily opened at all times from the inside
• Introducing a non-smoking policy in the property
• Carry out regular electrical installation safety checks
• Ensuring all escape routes are kept clear at all times
• Ensure fire doors are fitted
• Employ a fire safety professional to carry out all relevant checks and fire risk assessments and reviews.

Private Sector Landlords

From 1st October 2015, private sector landlords will be required to have:

• At least one smoke alarm installed in every storey of their properties
• A carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. wood burning stove, a coal fire).
• The landlord must ensure that the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. Also;

• Gas appliances must be checked by a registered Gas Safe engineer annually
• Electrical appliances must carry the British Safety Standard sign
• Any furnishings you provide in your property must be fire resistant and meet safety regulations
• You must produce safety certificates to your residents, so they can see that gas and electrical appliances have been checked.
• Under the Housing Act 2004, as a landlord, you are required to ensure there are adequate escape routes in the property.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is defined as a dwelling that is occupied by two or more persons not living as a single household but sharing certain facilities such as WCs, bathrooms and kitchens. Tenancy agreements, use of communal areas, relationship between residents, locks on bedroom doors etc will be used to determine whether a group of residents forms a single household or an HMO.

In addition to the legislative obligations and duties detailed above, the HMO Regulations place duties on the manager of an HMO to keep fabric, fixtures and fittings in good order, ensure that occupiers are protected from injury and supply and maintain gas, electricity and other services.