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Columbus Ohio Family Legal Blog

How forgetfulness may lead to bankruptcy

Most people in Ohio have experienced unpleasant moments of forgetfulness, from leaving a wallet at home to forgetting they needed to put gas in the car. But what about forgetting to pay an important bill? Although most people think it probably could not happen to them, many individuals struggle with remembering to pay their debts on time, which could ultimately push them further into debt and in need of relief through bankruptcy. 

NerdWallet conducted a survey to find out why so many adults struggle with paying their credit card bills on time. They asked more than 2,000 U.S. adults if they had ever missed a credit card due date and if so, why? Of the respondents, 56 percent who had missed a payment said they struggled to pay by the due date because they spent too much on items considered nonessential. The second most common reason for missed payments was blamed on larger debts, such as car or student loans. There was some overlap with responses, with many adults reporting multiple reasons for late payments, including those listed above as well as easier credit approval and stagnant wages. 

The decision to divorce is not one to make lightly

Every relationship has its ups and downs, but lately, you may have felt like your marriage only consists of the down moments. Where you once had love and laughter, you may now only face arguments and hostility. Unfortunately, this type of scenario affects numerous married couples.

Because you want to make the best decision for your situation, you may want to consider various aspects of divorce before coming to a conclusion on whether it suits your case. In the end, if it does seem like the most feasible route to make your life better, you have legal options available.

Does shopping addiction contribute to bankruptcy?

From just browsing to picking out the perfect item, shopping can be a fun experience. For some people, though, it can also be addictive. Shopping addiction is a real and serious affliction that affects many people, including some in Ohio who may find themselves in need of debt relief through bankruptcy. 

Personal debt is at an all-time-high in the United States. Student loans recently topped out at $1.5 trillion, and credit card debt now totals more than $1 trillion. Experts believe that all consumer debt -- including student loans, credit cards, personal loans and car loans -- will hit $4 trillion before the end of 2018. For some people, unexpected bills, medical emergencies and other financial disasters will contribute to those personal debts. For others, it will be uncontrollable spending. 

Will a budget help my post-divorce finances?

Does the average person in Ohio know how much debt they have? Although most people think they have a firm grasp on what they owe and to whom, a survey revealed that this might not be the case. Many women are hit hard by their financial situation when they file for divorce. 

Around 50 percent of women under the age of 55 told an online marketplace survey that they were faced with unknown financial information during divorce. Many had no idea that their marital debt was so large and included so many different debts, such as car loans, student loans, 401(k) loans and more. Divorcees usually have to divide these debts regardless of who took them on during the marriage, although there may be exceptions in some cases. 

Could growing personal loans contribute to future bankruptcy?

Taking out a mortgage to purchase a home or getting an auto loan for a vehicle is common practice for most Ohio consumers. But what about personal loans? Although these types of loans dropped in popularity over past decades, there has been a recent surge in consumers seeking them out. They are now the fastest growing section of debt in the United States, which could ultimately contribute to new bankruptcy filings.

If used wisely, these unsecured loans can be helpful for certain people. Some consumers realize that they can take out a personal loan at a lower interest rate than their credit cards, which is useful for debt consolidation. All borrowers have to do is pay off their credit cards with their personal loan, then repay the loan at a lower interest rate.

Dragging your feet through divorce? Here's why you should hurry

By now you probably already know that significant changes are coming to the tax code in 2019. But did you know that those changes can affect your upcoming divorce?

If you are waiting to file divorce papers or are already slowly moving through the process of ending your marriage, it might be a good idea to speed things up. If you finalize your divorce before the end of the year, you can protect yourself from some big changes coming this way.

Waiting to file bankruptcy? You may need to rethink your plans

Most people in Ohio spend much of their lives waiting for that big break around the corner -- that new job, a well-earned raise or the promotion they never even applied for. For those facing the potential of bankruptcy the hope of a big break can lull them into false certainty that better times are soon ahead, even if all evidence points to the contrary. When facing insurmountable debts, these breaks rarely -- if ever -- come, and debtors often end up in even worse financial straits.

Wait-and-see is a common tactic when facing any problem. After all, things could get better! Unfortunately they can also get much worse. Individuals who wait two years or longer to file for bankruptcy have far fewer assets when compared to those who filed sooner. They also have a ratio of debt-to-income that is 40 percent more than debtors who sought bankruptcy protection early on in their financial troubles.

Will I have to give up my dog during property division?

Whether couples carefully selected a breeder and the pick of the litter or went down to their local animal shelter to bring home a pet on the short list for euthanasia, there is little denying how much pets mean to their owners. Unfortunately, this deep love of pets complicates divorce. In fact, many divorcing couples in Ohio are surprised to learn that their animals are handled during property division and not in a process similar to child custody.

No matter how much a person loves a dog or treats it like a child, this does not change how the law views the animal -- as property. And like any other type of property, a beloved cat or dog is subject to property division in divorce proceedings. One person might ask for ownership of the dog and the other party could agree. Another might end up going to war over who should retain ownership of the animal. In some cases, feuding couples may even be ordered to sell their pet and split the profits.

Lack of credit card education could play role in bankruptcy

Credit cards are a ubiquitous part of American financial culture. These financial tools are so readily available that many stores in Ohio even offer consumers that opportunity to sign up for a new line of credit while checking out. For how common these little rectangles are, few people are rarely taught the proper way to use them. Unfortunately, this could potentially be a contributing factor in many bankruptcy filings.

Nearly half of all Americans owe between $1,000 and $5,000 on their credit cards. How quickly can these consumers expect to pay back their debts? There's a good chance that they are not sure. A recent survey found that 45 percent of people never received education regarding credit cards. Of those who were educated on these tools, 8 percent learned about them in middle school and 22 percent in high school, meaning that they may not have retained the information by the time they were old enough to receive their own credit card.

Women increasingly responsible for post-divorce payments

Alimony and child support payments are common payments that one partner takes on after the marriage ends. Historically, Ohio men have largely shouldered this financial responsibility. However, as society continues to change, many women find themselves responsible for these payments after a divorce.

The Pew Research Center reports that mothers are either the sole or primary financial provider in about 40 percent of families in the United States. This increase in female breadwinners seems to be responsible for the 45 percent of lawyers who say they have witnessed a significant uptick in the number of female divorcees shelling out alimony. Another 54 percent note that the number of mothers responsible for child support is also on the rise.

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