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Richmond Virginia Family Law Blog

Domestic violence and disaster recovery

People in Virginia who are victims of domestic violence may be particularly vulnerable during disasters, and domestic violence professionals should work with first responders and others involved in recovery to ensure that they remain safe. The stress and potential lack of access to water, food and shelter can not only compound existing situations that include domestic violence but may affect families who are recovering as well. A framework for dealing with domestic violence may need to be adapted during a disaster.

First responders may need to work with shelters to help transport victims to them and to ensure that their needs are met. As a community is recovering, professionals should look to connecting domestic violence victims to long-term resources and social supports.

Medical debt reforms help few people

Many people in Virginia who are struggling with medical debt should not expect too much from two recent reforms. Starting Sept. 15, credit bureaus will be required to wait 180 days before reporting medical debt on a person's credit report. Furthermore, if a bill goes into collections and is paid by an insurer, it will be deleted from the credit report.

These reforms were put in place to help people when an insurer delays in paying a bill. However, there are many more people who simply do not have the money to pay their medical debts or get tired of waiting on the insurer and simply pay the debt themselves. A study by FICO, the leading credit scoring company, found that the 180-day delay in reporting will only help around 200,000 people. The reason is that medical debts are generally not reported to the credit bureaus until this time period is up anyway.

Helping children adjust after a divorce

Some divorced residents of Virginia may understand how difficult it can sometimes be for children to acclimate in the aftermath of a separation. One of the more challenging aspects of this is often having two competing sets of rules at the different residences where children will be spending their time. A little cooperation between parents in this regard can potentially go a long way toward making the transition a little easier for kids to handle.

In situations where parents absolutely cannot agree with one another about house rules, it's often helpful to seek outside mediation for assistance in the matter at hand. For instance, a mediator with knowledge of family law may be able to intervene effectively to guide disputes toward a successful resolution. If for some reason that isn't possible, it may be necessary to have a court hear the dispute and allow a judge to make the decision.

Appeals from J&DR Court

You've received a final order from the Juvenile & Domestic Relations district court, but you're unhappy with what it says. What should your next step be?

You have two options. First, you can choose to live with the order for a while. If later you decide that it isn't working, you can file a Motion to Amend with the same J&DR court. To change the order, you must show the judge there has been a material change in circumstances since the last order. To say that you aren't happy with the order isn't good enough: there must be something different.

Bankruptcy costs and facts

Virginia consumers who are considering bankruptcy may wonder what it will cost them. Even if a person does not use an attorney, there are filing fees. These fees vary depending on what kind of bankruptcy is being filed.

The most common kind of bankruptcy is a Chapter 7, and it costs $335. Chapter 7 is for people who cannot pay their debts at all. Any assets that are not exempt under federal or state law are liquidated by the trustee to help pay creditors back. Some people may be able to keep all their assets in this type of bankruptcy as long as they are not worth a great deal. A Chapter 7 will remain on a person's credit report for 10 years.

Debt settlement is not a replacement for bankruptcy

Virginia residents with credit card debt may be looking for the best way to deal with these obligations. While debt settlement is one option, it is important that people consider all the facts before choosing that alternative. Debt settlement can have a negative effect on the credit score and financial future of the consumer, and not all consumers who use this option are aware of this fact until they have already contracted for these types of services.

The truth about debt settlement is that even after paying off their obligations, consumers will still have to work with a poor credit score. This means that when they try to get loans for large purchases in the future, they could be charged higher interest rates, and it could take years to bring their credit score up.

Virginia residents contribute to record debt levels

American consumers now have a total debt balance of $12.84 trillion according to a report published by the Federal Reserve of New York. The report covered the second quarter of 2017, and it represented a $552 billion increase from this time last year. Higher levels of mortgage, auto and credit card debt were cited as factors for the overall increase. It was noted that there was a jump in credit card delinquency rates.

The overall debt delinquency rate was 4.8 percent, which was unchanged from the previous quarter. A loosening in lending standards has resulted in individuals with lower credit scores being given access to credit cards. According to some, this is the reason why credit card delinquency rates are starting to increase. This may also be important as it may also be a signal of distress in the overall consumer debt market.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees target online accounts

Court protection offers several benefits for Richmond residents seeking debt relief with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Certain assets can be sheltered from creditors, and bankruptcy forces creditors to deal with the trustee instead of the debtor. However, it has been reported that two trustees may be jeopardizing debtors' sensitive information by requesting login information for popular websites. With the U.S. Trustee Program withholding support, it is unclear whether electronic snooping is a new trend in personal bankruptcy cases.

An attorney involved in one of the two cases of personal bankruptcy shared that the trustee had demanded log-in information for the debtor's Paypal, eBay and Amazon Prime accounts. The routine questionnaire with this abnormal request also demanded the debtor keep the accounts open and passwords unchanged for at least 10 days. Trustees routinely ask for information found on typical account statements, and this behavior is a significant departure from that norm.

Facts about DNA testing and child support

Child support in Virginia is determined by a certain mathematical formula, but sometimes complicating factors can arise. When the paternity of a child is in question, DNA tests could be required to accurately identify the biological parent.

When a baby is born, the parents can voluntarily agree to the identity of the father. But when this is not possible, DNA testing might be required in order to establish paternity for the purpose of child support. DNA testing today is nearly 100 percent accurate. It has become common for courts to require DNA testing to establish paternity and even maternity in some cases, for example, in cases involving an adopted child or a surrogate mother.

You may not be a Hollywood star, but you probably need to rethink your social media strategy

As you may have heard by now, Chris Pratt and Anna Farris have decided to end their marriage. Even if you have no clue who these people are or couldn't care less about their break-up, if you find yourself participating in the legal system, you should borrow a page from their social media playbook.

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