July 2013 Archives

What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Takes a New Lover

M_Id_63683_Extra_marital_relations.jpgYour divorce is finally over; you've divided your property and settled on a spousal support amount. You think that all issues related to your divorce and custody have been discussed, argued about, and settled.

You pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine and finally sigh with relief. Despite the animosity of the divorce, the threats about the children, the suspicions about income being hidden from you, you and your ex-spouse finally came to an agreement and decided that it would be best to always appear congenial in front of your children.

You toast to how smart you've been and to the fact that you can finally get on with your life.

Or can you?

Post-Divorce Scenarios You Never Imagined

You can't litigate your future relationship with your former in-laws or their relationship with your children. How do you feel about your kids spending weekends or longer periods at their home? Did you consider that when you were signing your divorce final decree.

Then there's the question of how to handle your ex-spouse's new significant other. Are you ready to even deal with that scenario?

You need to decide quickly because how you relate to your ex-spouse's special friend or lover will impact your children.

Continue reading "What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Takes a New Lover" »

Abusive Debt Collection Tactics Are Under Fire

bigstock-Tax-Man-898892-300x199.jpgAre you being harassed by a debt collector? You now have a formidable advocate on your side: President Barack Obama.

Obama's consumer protection agency, angered by the tactics of some debt collectors, is on a mission to teach consumers how to battle abusive attempts at debt recovery.

From Home Loans to Credit Cards

Not so long ago, federal regulators began targeting the debt collection practices of some mortgage lenders. Unfortunately, some of those same, harassing tactics are now being used in the credit card business as they attempt to recoup delinquent debt.

It's been reported that national banks and large department stores sometimes relentlessly pursue consumers who are delinquent in their payments even though this debt collection method is restricted under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act prohibits collection firms from committing deceptive or abusive acts or practices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is using this regulation to curb the efforts of collection firms by teaching consumers how to protect themselves.

If you are being targeted by a collection firm and feel that its actions against you border on being abusive or deceptive, you can use a letter the CFPB created to send to your bank or other collection agency to stop the abusive tactics.

The CFPB also has letters to let collection firms know that you need additional information before proceeding with payment. In addition, there are templates for informing collection agencies that you dispute the collection amount and that it needs to stop contacting you until it can provide evidence proving that you're responsible for the subject debt.

The CFPB is also educating consumers about the little known fact that consumers have the right to tell collection agencies to stop harassing them with their incessant phone calls.

Continue reading "Abusive Debt Collection Tactics Are Under Fire" »

Aftermath of the Supreme Court Rulings on Same-Sex Couples

gay-marriage-supreme-courtjpg-503aea83cb8efbb0.jpgTwo weeks ago, I wrote about the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on two pivotal cases involving same-sex marriages. Today I'll talk about what has happened during the weeks since that ruling.

A Recap of the Court's Rulings

On June 26th of this year, the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a 5-4 decision. The law had denied same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits, which are available to heterosexual couples.

In addition, the Supreme Court ruled that the traditional marriage activists who put Proposition 8 on California ballots in 2008 did not have the constitutional authority or legal standing to defend the law in federal courts.

What's Happened Since the Rulings

Soon after the rulings, the Obama administration made health, vision and dental benefits available to all same-sex spouses and children of legally married federal employees. However, it was reported on July 8 that the Obama administration would not extend federal-worker benefits to domestic partners who were not married.

What this means is that same-sex couples living anywhere in the U.S. will qualify for federal-employee benefits as long as their marriage licenses were obtained from any one of the 13 states that recognize same-sex marriage and the District of Columbia.

It is still unknown how the Obama administration will handle same-sex couples with respect to Social Security and veterans' benefits. Those agencies have yet to issue any guidance on their policies.

Continue reading "Aftermath of the Supreme Court Rulings on Same-Sex Couples" »

The Taxman Cometh: When Ex-Spouses Lie about Their Income

tax man.jpgDo you fudge the numbers when you file your IRS tax returns? If your answer is yes, you're not alone. The IRS estimates that unreported income costs the U.S. Treasury $250 billion or more a year in unreported taxes.

Guess who is likely to lie? Yes, the maligned CEOs in this country. However, other people tend to lie on their taxes too, including business owners, who can inflate expenses; people with rental properties, who can inflate repair costs; and people with investments.

Everyone else who files taxes and works for an employer must submit an employer-verified W-4, which notes your income and taxes paid. Employees have little occasion to lie to Uncle Sam.

Beware of the Angry "Ex"

If you think the IRS discovers tax evasion through their network of detectives, you are somewhat correct. However, the IRS often discovers unreported income or inflated expenses from estranged ex-wives still looking for revenge, or angry ex-husbands who might be unhappy with the fact that the ex-wife's lover is living with the couple's children.
As Shakespeare said, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Or in some cases, like a very angry ex-husband.

Community Property in California

Continue reading "The Taxman Cometh: When Ex-Spouses Lie about Their Income" »

Same-Sex Marriages and the U.S. Supreme Court Rulings

20526385_BG1.jpgIn a surprising decision last week, the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a 5-4 decision. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined with Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayer and Elena Kagan to overturn DOMA.

DOMA was originally passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate and then signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The law denied same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits, which are available to heterosexual couples.

In addition, The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the traditional marriage activists who put Proposition 8 on California ballots in 2008 did not have the constitutional authority or legal standing to defend the law in federal courts.

What the Rulings Mean

Gay rights activists and others who challenged the legality of Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, hoped the Supreme Court would rule in favor of same-sex marriage. But it didn't. The court based its decision on legal standing.

Advocates for DOMA hoped for a win for the traditional view of marriage. Again, the court didn't do that. The court based its decision on due process and 14th Amendment equal protection rights.

Despite the celebrations in the streets, neither decision by the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed same-sex marriage.

Now, it will be up to the Obama administration to implement the court's decision on DOMA and decide how and whether to apply a uniform, federal agency-wide marriage definition.

Continue reading "Same-Sex Marriages and the U.S. Supreme Court Rulings" »