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Monday, January 15, 2018

What Happens to Debt in Divorce?

With all the focus on division of property in divorce, an important aspect often gets looked over. Where does the marital debt go? Marital debt will be subject to division just like the assets. From mortgages to credit card debt, someone will be responsible for taking on the repayment of these debts assumed during marriage.

If you cannot agree to who will assume debt that has accrued during the marriage, the trial court will do so for you. Factors to consider during this process will vary between states, but often, the court will consider:

· What was the purpose of the debt?

· Did one spouse or another incur the debt? Who was responsible for taking on the debt?

· Which spouse benefited from assuming the debt? For example, if the debt was a car loan, the court would look to see who drives that car.

· Which spouse is best able to repay the debt? One spouse may be in a better financial situation to have the ability to consistently make payments on the debt.

The trial court will use the answers to the questions above to attempt at dividing the marital debt in the best was possible. It is important to note that only marital property will be subject to division. Debt incurred prior to the marriage will stay with the spouse that brought the debt into the marriage, with some exceptions. Sometimes a spouse will assume responsibility for the other spouse’s debt for credit and other reasons. This may lead the debt to be included in the marital debt evaluation. Generally speaking, however, marital debt includes those debts incurred by either spouse individually or both spouses jointly during the marriage. This means that any debt incurred from marriage up until the date of the final divorce hearing is considered marital debt.

The fact that any debt taken on during the divorce process will still be considered marital debt may be disconcerting to many. Malicious or simply irresponsible spouses may try to put you in a bad financial situation by assuming as much debt as possible during divorce proceedings. If you have a valid basis for these fears, you may request that the court order certain spending restrictions, including:

· Making high risk investments
· Spending money for the sole intention of harming you
· Over spending or frivolous spending
· Excessive gambling.

If you are considering divorce or are beginning the divorce process, be mindful of all of the above. Division of debt, just like division of property, can have substantial and lasting impacts on your finances. Additionally, and this is very important, remember that while the court may order who will be responsible for paying a specific marital debt, you can still be held responsible by the lender should your former spouse fail to make the required payments. A creditor may go after either spouse when payments are not received. Some states even have a stipulation in divorce decrees that states each party acknowledges that assignment of responsibility for paying a debt incident to the divorce does not necessarily change the creditor’s ability to go after either spouse for a debt owed.

 


Monday, November 13, 2017

How to Negotiate a Commercial Real Estate Lease

There are number of considerations for business owners involved in negotiating a commercial lease, not the least of which is the fact that the main objective of landlords is to maximize profits. By understanding the following fundamental concepts, it is possible to make a good deal.

Market Conditions

First, understanding the market conditions for commercial properties is crucial. Generally, pricing is based on square footage, but there is a difference between "usable" square feet and "rentable" square feet.

Rentable square feet is the actual measurement of the space that is being leased. However, rates are typically quoted based on usable square feet which combines the space with a percentage of common areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairways and elevators.

In addition, commercial leases are considered "triple net." This means that tenants are also required to pay for taxes, insurance, and maintenance for a unit as well as a percentage of these costs for the common areas. By understanding these market conditions and the rate other businesses are paying for similar units, it is possible to negotiate the appropriate rate.

The Term

There are a number of factors involved with the term of a lease. For some businesses, such as retail stores or medical professionals, having a stable location is essential for attracting customers and patients, respectively. With this in mind, the term should be long enough to minimize rental increases, but sufficiently flexible to avoid getting locked in. This goal can be accomplished by negotiating terms of one or two years with renewal options.

Repairs, Maintenance, and Build-outs

It is also important for a commercial lease agreement to establish which party is responsible for paying  repair and maintenance costs of the space, building and grounds. In some cases the tenant pays for insurance, custodial services and security costs unless the landlord agrees to pay for a portion or all of these expenses. In addition, if new space is being leased, landlords will often agree to pay for the costs of "buildouts" to customize the space, or offer the tenant a rental abate instead.

Options and Incentives

By establishing a track record of making timely rental payments, it is often possible to renegotiate the lease to obtain more favorable terms. Although a lease may contain renewal options, it may not be necessary to exercise them automatically. At times, market conditions may change, in which case a new lease should be negotiated.

The Bottom Line

In the end, business owners face a number of challenges, and negotiating a commercial lease can have a significant impact on the company's long term success. For this reason, it is essential to engage the services of an experienced real estate attorney.

 


Monday, October 16, 2017

What is Settlement Planning?


Settlement planning is a unique and expanding area of law that is designed to help individuals preserve benefits that have been received from a personal injury settlement, inheritance or judgment. The practice encompasses an array of legal services such as special needs planning, estate planning and financial planning. The objective is to assist clients with resolving claims and to create a structure to properly manage the funds.

Settlement planning is particularly designed for minors, individuals with disabilities, adults who lack capacity and individuals who are receiving public benefits. Without careful planning, those who receive a large settlement or other proceeds may have difficulty managing these funds.
Read more . . .


Monday, September 11, 2017

Why Your Business Needs an Email Policy

In the contemporary workplace, email is an essential and efficient form of communication. Whether it's used internally among staff members, or for exchanges with vendors and customers, email is a necessary business tool. At the same time, misuse of this technology can expose an organization to legal and reputational risks as well as security breaches. For this reason, it is crucial to put a formal email policy in place.

First, an email policy should clarify whether you intend to monitor email usage. It is also necessary to establish what is acceptable use of the system, whether personal emails are permissible, and the type of content that is appropriate. In this regard, the policy should prohibit any communication that may be  considered harassment or discrimination such as lewd or racist jokes. In addition, the email policy should expressly state how confidential information should be shared in order to protect the business' intellectual property.

By having employees read and sign the email policy, a business can protect itself from liability if a message with inappropriate content is transmitted. Further, it personal emails are not permitted, employees are more likely to conduct themselves in a professional manner. Because personal emails tend to be more informal and unprofessional, these messages pose a risk to the company's image if they are accidentally sent to customers. Lastly, email that is used for non-business reasons is a distraction that can adversely affect productivity.

The Takeaway

In order for a policy to be effective, it is necessary to provide training to all the employees, enforce it consistently and implement a monitoring system to detect misuse of the email system. Ultimately, establishing formal email policy and providing it to all employees will ensure a business remains productive and efficient. If an employee violates the policy, a company will also have the ability to take disciplinary action. Lastly, a well designed policy will ensure the company's image and brand is protected.


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