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Westlake Village Legal Blog

Consumer laws restrict abusive behavior among debt collectors

Missing loan payments can trigger debt collectors to contact people in California. These entities that pursue money for unpaid creditors have the right to contact people by mail, email, telephone and text message. Although debtors have obligations to pay their loans, consumer laws grant them some rights when interacting with collection agents.

When communicating with debtors, collection agents cannot employ abusive tactics like threatening to attack, arrest or deport people. Collectors cannot attempt to shame people by publishing their debts in a public venue or contacting employers or relatives. Collectors can, however, contact other people to pursue contact information for debtors. Additionally, collection calls should only occur between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

How divorced parents should deal with the holidays

California is known for having some of the highest divorce rates in the nation. This means that many parents in the Golden State will have to deal with the reality of separated families during the holiday season. Even happily married couples admit that the holidays bring about a mixture of stress, excitement and anticipation that can cause strong emotions to flare up. For this reason, divorced parents should focus on looking out for the best interests of the children above everything else.

When the holidays come around, it does not matter if divorced parents have sole, shared or joint custody. What really matters is that they have an adequate parenting plan for Thanksgiving through New Years Day. If there is no parenting agreement to guide divorced couples during the holidays, the children are bound to suffer.

Bankruptcy refiling time restrictions

Technically, there are no restrictions on the number of times a person can file for bankruptcy. However, after a discharge in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case, the bankruptcy petitioner may have to wait for a period of time before he or she can file for bankruptcy again. The time periods that apply to California filers vary based on the types of bankruptcy involved.

A person who wants to file a second Chapter 7 bankruptcy after their first Chapter 7 was successfully discharged, for example, is required to wait until eight years have passed from the date of the original filing. If the first bankruptcy was Chapter 13, the person has to wait six years following the discharge of the Chapter 13 case before filing for Chapter 7. In some situations, it may be possible to file earlier, but only if the petitioner has paid off at least 70 percent of the requirements of their Chapter 13 plan.

Mistakes to avoid with children during divorce

If you are the parent of a minor child and are going through a divorce, you have to consider not only your own well-being, but also that of your child. This makes facing your divorce especially challenging on both a logistical and an emotional level.

While there is a lot of advice for parents going through a divorce about what they should do, there are also some things you should make an effort to avoid. By taking steps to not engage in certain acts that could negatively affect your children, you can be more proactive in your divorce to ensure your children do not suffer needlessly.

How parents can provide more stability after divorce

There are a number of different ways that divorcing parents in California can help provide some stability for their children. For starters, they should avoid having their children change schools when so many other elements of their lives are in flux. They can also try to keep routines, expectations and discipline the same in both households. In addition, parents should help their children keep relationships with relatives on both sides of the family.

To minimize upheaval for their children, some parents are going a step further with a custody arrangement known as "nesting" or "birdnesting." With nesting, children stay in the family home while the parents rotate in and out from it and another residence, usually a shared apartment nearby. While most experts say birdnesting can work in limited circumstances, they generally recommend that the arrangement last no longer than three to six months.

Support and custody challenges for fathers

California fathers who have gone through a divorce or who had a child with someone they were not married to might have trouble paying child support or may struggle to get the custody or visitation rights they want. Fathers should try to pay something toward support even if it is not the full amount. They might also be able to ask for a modification in the amount they must pay monthly although this will not reduce any child support debt from past missed payments.

A father may be prevented from seeing his children if the other parent files a protection order. This might occur if the parent feels the children are unsafe with the father. The father might want to consult an attorney about how to respond to such an allegation.

Making financial plans to succeed after divorce

Spouses in California thinking about divorce may find themselves preoccupied with the financial consequences of their decision to end their marriage. Even after the emotional and practical issues associated with a split have been handled, the money aspects of divorce can linger for some time to come. However, by keeping some key guidelines in mind, people can help to protect their assets and continue to prepare to achieve their financial goals even as they proceed with a divorce.

Many people feel tempted to spend in the immediate aftermath of the end of a marriage. People need a new place to live and they may look for clothes, goods or even cars that fit their new, single life. However, the immediate post-divorce period can often be a fiscal adjustment, especially for people who were used to being part of a dual-income household. In the period right after divorce, it can be important to focus on making frugal and responsible choices and opt for small indulgences rather than major purchases. As time goes on, people will get a better feel for how items will fit into their budgets.

Things to know about spousal support modifications

Spousal support is a means to aid individuals during their transition from a double to a single person household. Whether the two parties or the court sets the support amount, sometimes the payee does not want to stick to the agreement, for various reasons.

If your ex-spouse is seeking to modify your spousal support agreement, you may be able to combat it. In order to do so effectively, you should be aware of a few things.

Appeals judges rule that debt collector lawsuit can continue

Debt collectors in California and around the country have been known to take legal action against consumers over debts that were taken out by identity thieves or other malicious individuals. These lawsuits are generally dismissed with prejudice once the true provenance of the debt has been established, but that does little for consumers who have had to spend significant amounts of time and money defending themselves.

Efforts to hold debt collectors accountable under the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act have not fared well in these situations because the courts have been reluctant to classify an individual who did actually not take out the loan in question as a consumer, but the legal landscape changed on Oct. 18 when a panel of federal appeals judges took a different position. The 1977 law defines a consumer as an individual who is obligated or purportedly obligated to pay a debt. This has stymied FDCPA lawsuits against debt collectors because the consumers behind such litigation do not actually owe or allege they owe any money to the defendants.

Easy ways to get into debt trouble

Consumer debt has grown to an all-time high in California and in other states. The national consumer revolving debt is now around $1,037 trillion. Consumers can easily let credit card debt accumulate on their accounts if they are not paying close attention.

Many credit card holders get into debt trouble by using credit cards to pay for their vacations. Some cards offer rewards programs that allow consumers to use rewards programs in advance before they have earned mileage points. Consumers who don't read the fine print may be charged penalties and interest if they fail to accumulate the points after their vacation.

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