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Broome County Family Law Blog

3 tips for keeping a child custody journal

If you are thinking about divorcing your spouse, you are not alone. In fact, divorce filings tend to spike in the first few weeks of the year. While ending any marriage has its challenges, couples with children often face additional obstacles. That is, not only must you distribute marital wealth, but you also must address both legal custody and physical placement. 

In New York, family law judges consider the best interests of the child when settling custody matters. If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse cannot reach an acceptable agreement, you likely want to have a comprehensive record of important facts. Therefore, you may want to consider keeping a child custody journal. Here are three tips for doing so: 

Bankruptcy is often sparked by medical expenses

In New York and across the United States, one of the most common ways for people to find themselves in difficult financial circumstances is through medical expenses. For most people, these medical costs will lead to various attempts to keep from falling too far behind. One note to remember is that if the costs are too substantial to handle, an alternative to consider is bankruptcy.

Understanding the problem and potential strategies to avoid it might be useful. Consumer Bankruptcy Project conducted a study in 2019. It surveyed 910 people who moved forward with a bankruptcy from 2013 to 2016. Of that group, 65.5 percent had medical problems as a contributing factor. Up to 530,000 families might need to file for bankruptcy in part due to medical expenses.

Parenting plans based on child development

Many divorced parents in New York have trouble agreeing on a custody schedule. If they put the children's best interests first, however, the outcome will likely be better for everyone involved.

One thing parents may want to consider is the age of the child and the most recent research on child development. For example, it can be important for infants to spend most of their time with the main caregiver. However, they still need to have the opportunity to bond with the other parent. This might be a few hours on two or three days each week. Eventually, young kids can transition into overnight visits. Since small children often have trouble comprehending time, they may need to be reminded frequently about when they'll see the other parent. Preschoolers should be able to start spending two days and a night with the noncustodial parent.

Bankruptcy may not eliminate student loan debt

Many people in New York are struggling with massive student loan debt. Across the country, borrowers owe $1.59 trillion in student loans, and the issue has been raised in presidential campaigns and major media. While filing for bankruptcy can help people to deal with many types of overwhelming debt, including credit card bills, medical costs or car loans, student loans cannot be discharged with a personal bankruptcy filing in most cases. Congress actually passed legislation on multiple occasions making it more difficult for people to escape their student loan debt through bankruptcy.

Some people may still try to pursue a discharge of their student loan debts, but absent specific circumstances, they could face major challenges. In the first place, student loan debt can only be discharged through Chapter 7 rather than Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 is reorganization bankruptcy and is often used for those who are ineligible for Chapter 7 because they make too much money. In order to be eligible for Chapter 7, people typically must make at or below the median income for households of their size in their state.

How to pay medical bills without credit cards

Since 2009, medical expenses have increased 33%, which has outpaced the increase in median household income over the past 10 years. This has led some New York residents to put their medical bills on credit cards. However, there are ways to avoid using credit cards and paying the high interest rates associated with them. For example, it may be possible to negotiate a payment plan with a doctor, hospital or other service provider.

Most health care providers will work with patients to help them pay their bills in a timely manner. In some cases, it may be possible to pay over time without paying any interest or other fees. Those who have health insurance may pay less for hospital visits or other services that they need. Employers pften offer insurance plans, and policies may also be available through state or federal government agencies.

Study finds 137 million Americans overwhelmed by medical debt

Medical bills are a major problem for people living in New York and across the U.S. In fact, around 137.1 million Americans have endured financial hardship due to medical expenses in 2019 alone, according to a new study by TD Ameritrade.

Researchers from the financial services firm found that medical debt is the top reason that people of all ages consider tapping into their retirement savings. Meanwhile, a separate study found that 66.5% of all personal bankruptcies filed by U.S. adults are linked to medical debt. This is because medical emergencies can leave Americans with staggering bills. For example, one woman said that she blew through $20,000 in savings and racked up tens of thousands in medical debt when she lost her job, became uninsured and suffered a series of medical emergencies, including a heart condition that required surgery.

4 reasons divorce happens after the holidays

The period from Halloween to New Year’s Day is exciting for most families. After all, November and December provide many opportunities to connect with relatives and build memories. Unfortunately, January often brings more than just fresh snow. 

Recent research indicates that divorce filings tend to spike after the holidays. As such, if your marriage is on shaky ground, a winter divorce may be in your future. Here are four reasons divorces often happen immediately after the holidays conclude: 

Bankruptcies on the rise for older adults

Older adults in New York are more likely to have to declare bankruptcy than in previous decades. People 65 and older now make up 12% of people filing for bankruptcy compared to about 2% in 1991. Between 1991 and 2016, there was a 66% increase in people between the ages of 55 and 64 filing for bankruptcy. For people aged 65 to 74, it was a 204% increase.

The increase is largely due to medical bills. One 66-year-old retired handyman is a typical example. He had several injuries that led to medical expenses he could not meet, and he eventually had to declare bankruptcy. His focus was on trying to get his bank to agree to a loan modification that would let him stay in his home of 40 years. Many people lose their savings, and since they may be working less or not at all, they may be unable to recover financially.

Small business owners face challenges during a divorce

When New York couples decide to divorce, the financial consequences can be significant for anyone. However, when business owners with closely held companies are involved, the changes can be even more consequential, not only for each spouse's personal finances but for the future of the business. A divorce can have an impact on the company as a whole and could even lead to its sale or closure as a result of hard decisions during property division. In many cases, investors are requiring startups to show that all partners have prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements covering property division in case of a divorce.

A prenup is one way that people can avoid a severe dispute over a business during a divorce. This does not mean that the financial settlement in such divorces will not be substantial; however, the business itself and its shares may be excluded. In some cases, the company may be divided between both spouses. If they cannot work together or come to a buyout agreement, the company may need to be sold to settle the property division issue. Even when a buyout agreement is possible, the company itself may need to take on debt in order to pay the price for sole ownership.

Three factors that indicate a marriage is headed for divorce

Counseling has helped some New York couples save their marriage. Other couples decide that divorce is their best option. Most who have decided to go the route of divorce will say that it was not an easy decision, especially since there is usually not one single factor that caused the marriage to fail. There are usually red flags that show a marriage is heading toward its end.

Some couples decide that they will stay together because they think it is best for their children despite the fact that they have an unhealthy, combative, or disrespectful relationship. While divorce is not necessarily the solution, it is usually inevitable after the kids grow up and leave home if each partner does not work on the marriage in the meantime. There should be more to a couple's relationship than just the children.

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