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William Jones Law Firm Blog - Big Latin Words Blog

Perhaps You Didn't Hear Me, I Said Shut Down Your Facebook Account


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William, or as they call him on the radio, Cinco, is my very active two year old child. I try and protect him, to give him advice that will save him from getting injured or harmed. Sometimes though, he just will not listen. This morning while washing his hair, he opened his eyes and leaned forward. This meant instant tears. I should note here that If I had a nickel for every time I have said "close your eyes and lean your head back", I would have enough for a white chocolate mocha; make that a venti. I firmly believe that somewhere in that two year old brain of his, he understands that I have washed my hair a time or two and I know what I'm talking about, but for some reason he chooses not to listen. Each time we go through the same ordeal, he chooses not to listen, I must fix it, rinse and repeat. In this case, a dry towel hanging over the shower makes me a hero.

 

Much like my son, my clients for reasons unknown often choose not to listen. I have found that there are two areas where this occurs most often. This first an age old problem for divorce lawyers and attorneys; securing asset's that are likely to fought over or hidden after a divorce begins. In a Memphis divorce, there is a mutual mandatory injunction that prohibits both parties from destroying, spending or hiding asset's. This doesn't mean that you cannot protect these assets. We generally advice our clients to secure a storage unit, inventory the items they will store, do not remove anything necessary for everyday life, provide your spouse with a list of what you removed, take great measures to avoid damaging any items, and if possible video tape the move. It never fails. People don't listen. What happens next is not a big suprise. Much like my son, tears ensue, items are removed and I am called upon to fix it. The results are generally less than what one would hope for, additional legal expenses, uncertainty, locating the items, waiting for a hearing date and having to fight for what could have been preserved. In addition, I learn something. I learn that my client will consider my advice to be mere suggestion.

The second problem, and one that has become more prevalant is Facebook. Our contract states that our clients will either suspend or shut down their facebook account. It never ceases to amaze me that this rarely happens. Recently, we had an individual seeking custody of children. At trial we had to face evidence that showed my clients intentions may have been less than honest. I think "Ill do anything to get these kids, even if it means telling that judge whatever he wants to hear" may be something you want to refrain from putting out there in social networking land.

The point is that I've done this a few times. I generally have a good idea what is going to happen. If I tell you to do something, it is not a suggestion and it is not a power trip. It is to help you in your case and your life. Your paying for my advice, don't waste your money. Let me help, let my experience and the experience of others help your avoid the mistakes that we have seen.

Hey.....Are you still listening?

Life Happens

Life Happens

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Image: istockphoto.com

I’m not trying to be coy. But it does. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Take for example a couple that lives down the street in my neighborhood. They were lucky enough to come into the market for a new home when the prize of the neighborhood went up for sale. They bought it and according to both, were prepared to retire in our quaint little hollow. But somewhere along the way, life happened. Somehow love turned to disdain, to hate and divorce reared its ugly head. Now I have a vacant house and an unkept yard to look at until the bank auctions it off. But we can save our discussion about that topic for a later date.

What I want to talk about is planning. Planning for the unthinkable. No one plans on separating, if they did, they would never enter into the union of marriage. So we play out our lives as if we will be a family unit forever. We buy china sets, and furniture, cars, and homes. A home is in all likelyhood the largest investment that you will make as a family unit. In most cases that investment is contingent upon the sustained survival of the marriage. In todays two earner household, rarely can one party finance the home on their own. To compound matters, when you sign your mortgage documents with your lender, you are agreeing that you will pay back this debt regardless of what may happen in your life. I can write a Marital Dissolution Agreement that say one party is responsible for the note after the divorce, but if that party defaults on the loan, you are still liable. This is because back when life was perfect you made a deal with the bank; the bank doesn’t care what agreement you made between yourselves.

If you or your spouse do default on the note, then the home will be foreclosed. Lets say that you owe $200,000.00 on your home, but at the foreclosure auction the bank sells it for only $125,000.00. Guess what, you still owe the remaining balance of $75,000.00. Here is where Bankruptcy can be a valuable tool. If you can pause for a second and rationally consider the possibility of filing a joint bankruptcy prior to the divorce process, you can give back the house to the bank, its called a voluntary surrender. The nice part is that you wont owe the bank a cent more. This only works if there is little or no equity in your home.

There is also an added bonus, once you file bankruptcy you wont need to worry about separating your debts in the divorce. Most people only consider dividing their stuff, or assests, but you must separate the bad as well. If there is substantial marital debt, a joint bankruptcy, prior to divorce, could shorten the unholy post divorce debt marriage.

These of course should always be last resorts. Counseling, be it finacial or marital will be infinetly cheaper. If you would like a free DVD on bankruptcy give me a call, or watch the readers digest version here. Your neighbor will thank you.

We have nothing to fear, but fear itself….oh..and the media.

We have nothing to fear, but fear itself…
oh..and the media.

blog-fear
Image: digital enhancement of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch

The economy, layoffs, bankruptcy, the stock market, the housing crisis and the bailout.  Turn on your TV and tune into CNN, FOX, HLN and if you don’t hear one of these topics within 10 minutes call me and I’ll buy you a cookie.  Ill even spring for one with macadamien nuts in it.   Everywhere you turn you hear how bad and how scary it is out there.  Tonight I tuned into Dave Ramseys’ Town Hall for Hope and for once, I heard what I’ve been screaming all along.  Yes, we are in the midst of a recession, but it is not the end of the world, so if your a heathen you can stave off that death bed conversion for one more day.

I’m not trying to trivialize the economy right now.  I am seeing 4 times the amount of bankruptcy’s this year that I saw last year.  But I think most of what your seeing is driven out of fear.  People are afraid, and they are afraid because its all that they see.  Once upon a time, when the world was in black and white, before HD and Color-Vision, we found out what to think from the trusty newspaper.  We gathered round the fire and read what was going on out in that big scary world.

When I was a child, Mom and Dad watched the news after I had gone to sleep.  They might discuss what they had heard or read at work or church, but it was a topic of conversation, not a focal point.  The news now is everywhere, 24 hours a day on tv, twitter, facebook, this blog or your iphone.  When the people that are constantly feeding us our news become scared and uninformed, they become part of the fear monster.  When your hear all these stories that the economy is in a downfall, that houses are foreclosing like State fans lose teeth, they cease to be topics of conversation and become focal points of fear and stress.

It was refreshing to hear tonight that I am not alone in this view, that someone else thinks that its not all going down the drain.  That we should tune out and pitch in.  Hope is what we make it, Hope is what America does best, it is what will get us out of this problem.  Listening to these media outlets constantly preach gloom and doom will only bring you down into the fray.  And here’s the shameless plug.  If you think you’ve got it bad, if you think your headed down the path to becoming a statistic that feeds this fear machine, then come in, lets talk.  Let’s see if you are.  There are few problems that can’t be solved, but you cant solve anything if you ignore it and wait for your bailout bill.

If you need hope then help someone that needs it.  It can feed and grow just as fast as fear.

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