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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How to Protect Yourself against Creditor Harassment in Arizona

If you are far behind on a loan payment, you can expect the collection calls to start. However, if the collection calls are very frequent and disrupt your life, or the calls are threatening in any manner, then it can be considered harassment. Many indebted Arizonians face harassing calls and other harmful collection efforts from creditors. Here are several steps you can take to stop the abuse.

Try to Negotiate with the Creditor

The easiest and cost-free solution you can take is to try to negotiate with the creditor to settle the debt. Instead of not picking up the phone, in which case the creditor will find other ways to reach you, or ignoring calls, talk to the creditor directly. If your finances are too tight to pay back your loans, discuss it with your creditor and you may be able to come to new terms. Depending on your negotiating skills, and the creditor’s willingness, you may be able to get a payment extension, a reduced interest rate or a waiver or both.

If the creditor is particularly abusive, it is probably best not to engage should the behavior gets worse on the part of the creditor.

Call a Lawyer Immediately

It’s highly recommended to call a bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale or your local area to put a legal stop to harmful third party collection efforts. There are attorneys who specialize in providing relief to those who suffer from abusive creditors. No matter how much you owe, creditors cannot harass you as a part of their collection efforts. There are both federal and Arizona state laws to protect debtors against harassing creditors.

Protection is granted to consumers under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The law outlines personal rights when it comes to debt collection practices. You can consult with a lawyer to find out whether any of your rights under FDCPA has been violated. The lawyer will be able to tell you if the behavior you have endured from the creditor can be considered a legitimate collection effort and what remedies you may have under the FDCPA.

You Can Sue if You are a Victim of Abusive Practices

If you know that you have been subjected to illegitimate collection efforts or practices that can be considered harassment, you can sue the creditor in question with the help of an attorney. The collection practices in question may be considered a violation of either state or federal law.

Harassment, in general,  that involves constant phone calls, multiple phone calls on the same day, auto dialing calls and calling without leaving messages can be considered unfair practices. If the debtor calls your friends, family, employer or another third party regarding your finances, then it is a violation of the law.  Other common creditor harassment practices include the use of threats, such as a threat to call the police on you, charging even more in addition to the debt such as late fees, not validating the debt or continuing to contact you after you have clearly stated your intent to refute the debt. If you have been subjected to any of these, you can take your case to court.

Additionally, filing for personal bankruptcy can relieve you of harassing debt collection efforts literally overnight.  Speak with a seasoned bankruptcy attorney to evaluate your many options. Call us at 480-240-0040 for more help on these issues.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Child Custody in Arizona

Custody in legal terms refers to the person a court has appointed as the parent or guardian of a child. The person retaining child custody manages the well-being of that child. The legal custodial parent will have the right to make decisions about the child’s education, religious teachings, and healthcare. There are different types of custody, but courts in Arizona do not favor one over the other. The decisions will be based on what’s ultimately good for the child. If you are a parent currently seeking custody of the child, or if you are already a custodial parent, here are answers to some of the questions frequently asked on the subject:

What is the different between “sole,” “joint,” and “legal” decision making authority?

These are three ways in which a court can grant custody of a child. Sole Legal Decision Making means that one single parent has complete legal custody of the child’s legal decision moving forward. The court has granted this parent the express authority to make major decisions regarding the child’s life. Parents can discuss these issues together, but the sole Legal Decision Making parent will always have the final say.

In contrast, in Joint Legal Decision Making situations, both parents have legal decision making authority over a child. However, in order to reach a final decision, both parent must agree—or divert the case to mediation or back to the court if no agreement can be reached. 

Can the court declare one parent’s rights superior to another’s in a Joint Legal Decision Making case?

No. Generally, when a court grants joint Legal Decision Making authority, both parents have equal rights to make decisions regarding the child’s well-being. No one parent is deemed superior to another. However, in special cases, one parent may get the sole right to make decisions regarding a certain aspect of the child’s life if the court decides it’s the best for the child. You should refer to an attorney to seek more family law and child custody information with regards to your situation.

Is there a difference between legal decision making powers and physical custody?

Absolutely yes.  Legal Decision Making authority relates to granting a parent the authority to make decisions about the child’s wellbeing, e.g. where the child goes to school. Physical custody, also called Parenting Time, determines where the child lives from day to day. A parent can have legal custody, but not physical Parenting Time, although this is rare. If a child is to live with both parents for equal amounts of time, then the court will have to grant both parents joint physical Parenting Time. Some parents may prefer for the child to live in one place without moving around, and have one parent with physical virtually all Parenting Time. But both parents, in this case, can have legal custody as well. Refer to Family Law help in Scottsdale, or your local area, for specific information.  Legal assistance is recommended to navigate these complex legal channels. 

Are court custody orders final?

The court decides custody when the parents cannot agree upon themselves, how to share custody of a child. A court may grant early custody orders when divorce or separation filings are in process. Once the divorce or a legal separation becomes final, the court may make modify prior orders which are dramatically changed at the time of trial. This custody decision by the court will stand, subject to certain exceptions, for at least one year, or upon a showing of a substantial and continuing change of circumstances thereafter.

If you want a custody ruling to be modified after trial, you can petition the court to make changes to the order. You will have to present strong evidence that the changes requested are in the best interest of the child. You are very likely going to need the able assistance of legal counsel at that time. 

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Divorce Tips from Attorneys

Getting a divorce can be a messy affair, financially and emotionally speaking. Contested divorces can be particularly hard on both parties, as experienced divorce attorneys will quickly point out. Divorce has a way of bringing out the worst in even the nicest people. While emotions can play a role, it’s critical to maintain clear emotions when dividing assets in a divorce and reaching a custody agreement if there are any children. Here are several tips for Arizona divorcing couples from divorce lawyers who have seen it all:

Keep Your Feelings out of the dispute

Divorce can be a very emotional affair, no matter how hardened one tries to be during the process. It’s very important to keep personal feelings out of it when dividing assets and negotiating during divorce proceedings. Emotions can unnecessarily complicate the process. You must aim to get the best out of divorce proceedings to ensure your long-term well-being. Getting caught up in petty fights in the moment will not go well for either party.  Let your lawyer do their job, stand back and watch, and ideally everything will be handled.

Pick Your Battles Wisely

According to a divorce lawyers in Scottsdale, some people pay attorneys a lot of money to recover assets that do not matter. For example, it makes no financial sense to get your divorce attorney to send a letter to retrieve a $100 piece of furniture from the ex, especially when attorney letters can cost as much as $500. Divorce can be costly. So wise petitioners pick battles that are worth spending money to win.

Assets in One Spouse’s Name Can be Divided

In divorces, basically everything can be divided between the spouses. This includes assets that are specifically under either spouse’s name. Debt, extra income, royalties, a lottery win—all of these and much more can be divided in divorce proceedings. Divorce attorneys warn clients not to assume that assets under one’s own name are not up for grabs. The only protection against dividing assets is a prenup or a postnup agreement. But these agreements should be handled early on in the marriage.   Even if you signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it could be deemed void by the court depending on the circumstances during which you signed such paperwork. Consult an experienced lawyer to determine your rights. 

Be Careful of Generous Income Reporting Before Divorce

It’s common for people to overstate incomes in credit card or loan applications. A spouse that discovers such generous disclosures of income can present these documents in court in a divorce case. Under those circumstances, the court could assume that you make as much money as you boasted in your loan application under penalty of perjury in a prior loan application, warns a divorce attorney in Scottsdale. On the other hand, if you find similar overstatements by your spouse, you can be the one to use them in court against them.

Take Time to Gather Evidence for the Divorce

Divorce lawyers advise clients not to walk out the door before proceedings begin, unless an abusive situation is present. It’s highly advantageous to stay behind and gather evidence for the divorce, such as photographing assets, property and gathering documents. Make copies of account statements of the spouse as well to present your case with solid evidence once the proceedings begin.

Divorcing is not easy on anyone. But following the above suggestions will help you present the best case in court.  Hiring a seasoned legal professional to guide you through this complex process is self-evident.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

When you file for bankruptcy in Arizona, you are bound by state as well as federal laws. Before you file for bankruptcy, you need to know whether you actually need to. Most people who are deep in debt opt to file for Chapter 7, which provides a certain degree of debt relief, asset protection and management of existing debt. However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can only be used once every seven years. So, you really need to know whether you want to file for bankruptcy now or seek alternative solutions.

When it comes down to it, it will be up to you to decide whether you should file for any form of bankruptcy. A credit counselor may be able to help you. Before you make up your mind, here are several tips on filing for bankruptcy in Arizona:

Take Advantage of Arizona’s Exemption Laws

Arizona’s Exemption Laws allow a certain degree of protection against repossession of assets by creditors who have provided unsecured debt. For example, if you are neck deep in credit card debt, you don’t need to fear that the credit card company might show up and demand your house or car. Credit card debt is mostly dischargeable under Arizona law. Likewise, if you want unwanted collection calls to stop, you can simply do so by informing the creditor that you have filed for bankruptcy. Consult an attorney in your local area, for example, a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale, to know whether you can benefit from exemption laws and avoid filing for bankruptcy, or hastily seek to file.

Income may Only Qualify You for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your household income must be below the state median income for households of your size. If you fail this “means test,” you may have to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Moreover, a bankruptcy judge can later examine whether your income is sufficient to repay debt under Chapter 13, rather than file under Chapter 7.

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have to repay your existing debt in part under a strict household budget. Your finances will be closely watched by a court-appointed Trustee. If you fail to meet any of the court-mandated obligations, then the Chapter 13 filing could later result in sanctions or “conversion” to another type of bankruptcy under the code. Having competent legal counsel at your side at all times is critical.

Moving on with the Proceedings

If you have made up your mind to file for bankruptcy, you will have to go to a court at the zip code you have lived in for at least 91 of the past 180 days. If you haven’t lived at your current address for this amount of time, you should use the court relevant to your old zip code address. Expect most of the proceedings’ paperwork to be distributed through via snail mail. With or without counsel, you will have to go to the bankruptcy court in person at least once. Go online to find information about your court and to download important documentation.  Appearing in a federal court house is often easier to digest with a competent licensed attorney by your side.

Cost

There are a number of fees associated with filing for bankruptcy in Arizona. In addition to paying for a lawyer, you will have to pay fees for things like mandatory pre-filing credit counseling, filing forms, making copies, and other similar tasks. Fees for different things will vary. For example, getting counseling can cost between $25 and $100.  Costs can be as little as $400 for preparing documentation. However, hiring a lawyer may cost as much as $5,000.  Every case is different.  Be careful agreeing to the “lowest cost” bankruptcy attorney who later calls you demanding thousands more in fees to continue with your case.  Like anything in life, lowest price does not mean highest value.   

If your income is too low, some of these costs may be waived off or you might only have to pay a portion of the fees. Filing for bankruptcy is not free, so do expect to pay as you go through the federal proceedings.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Tips on Filing for Bankruptcy

Many people opt to file for bankruptcy when their income isn’t sufficient to repay creditors. Certain types of bankruptcy filings can lead to elimination of at least some or all debt and a halt for collection calls. While bankruptcy can be devastating emotionally, it does have many benefits. If you are planning on applying for bankruptcy, here are several useful tips to know about:

Learn About the Different Types of Bankruptcy

There are several different types of bankruptcy. The two main types many people know about are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 eliminates virtually all debt, especially from unsecured loans. Chapter 13 is used to come up with a court-approved plan to partially repay all debt in 3 to 5 years. You will have to learn about what each type entails and which type of bankruptcy is best suited for you. Before you file your case, you will have to learn about the law a bit first.

Hire a Lawyer

It’s virtually impossible to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer. The body of law in this area is muddled and complicated so you will really need an experienced attorney. Hire a lawyer from the county you live in, for example a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale. It’s best to consult with an attorney before you decide to proceed with a court filing. Your attorney will tell you how to fill out the legal documents and what evidence to present in court. Attorneys are necessary because, in some cases, creditors have the right to sue you back. A lawyer may be able to intervene and reduce the risk of this.

Understand Your State Laws

Bankruptcy law differs from state to state. How many of your assets you can keep, or how much debt will be discharged will depend on the law in your state. Therefore, it’s very important that you understand the rules and guidelines set forth in the state of your residence. You can get expert help too. For example, you can ask a local bankruptcy lawyer in Scottsdale for state laws in Arizona.

Bankruptcy Does Not Get Everyone off the Hook for Debt

Filing for bankruptcy often removes the obligation of a single debtor to a creditor. This does not apply to others responsible for the same debt, such as the other joint account holder or a co-signer. If there’s credit card debt, then all the people formally responsible for that account will have to pay. When you file for bankruptcy, the other person could end up being solely responsible for the debt. You may want to think in advance to avoid this scenario. Ask your lawyer for the best course of action.

Inform All the Creditors

You will have to inform all your creditors that you are filing for bankruptcy, not just the creditors responsible for the overwhelming debts. In some states, it’s required by law. When you are in the process for filing for bankruptcy, you must inform all debt collection callers of the situation and provide the name of the attorney handling the case so the calls can stop.

Bankruptcy need not be expensive and emotionally draining. Follow the above tips to make it less so.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Family Law and Child Custody Information

Determining the custody of a child when divorcing is not easy. Child custody and the related laws are largely determined by state law, though certain federal policies may apply. Here are some basic facts to know about child custody if you are filing for a divorce:

Working out the Custody of a Child

There are two ways to decide which parent gets custody: by trial or private mutual negotiation outside of court. Some parents who divorce amicably can discuss among themselves regarding with whom the child may live after the divorce, and who can visit and when. Divorcing couples can also hire a third party mediator to ensure that these discussions go well. If the parents are unable to reach a mutual agreement, then the case would go to trial where a judge (not a jury) will decide custody and visitation rights.

Types of Custody

There are different types of custody family courts grant.

Physical custody: Also known as “parenting time”, this is the type of custody that decides which parent the child lives with majority of the time. Courts usually grant physical custody to both parents on a joint and equal basis absent parental fitness issues. 

Legal custody: Also known as “legal decision making”, if the court has already appointed a physical custodian, then the other parent might get legal custody. It’s the right of a parent to make decisions about the child’s welfare, education, health, religion even when the child is not living with him or her.

Joint custody: This is an arrangement where the child spends equal amounts of time with both parents following a divorce. There are both proponents and detractors of this type of custody. It’s ultimately something the divorcing parents have to decide. Getting joint custody requires showing cooperation between the divorcing couple and the willingness to make decisions about the child’s welfare together.

Split custody: If the divorcing parents have multiple children, the court may decide to “split” up the custody of the children among the parents. For example, if there are two children, the court may grant custody of one child to only one parent. Courts, however, do not usually separate siblings in this manner.

To determine the type of custody best suited for your case, you will need an attorney’s help. Hire a local attorney from your county, for example family Law help in Scottsdale if you live in Arizona.

Unmarried Parents

Not only divorcing parents need to decide the custody of the child. There are different laws that determine the custody of the child if the parents are unmarried. Most states have laws requiring the granting of physical custody to the biological mother of the child as long as the mother is fit to be a good parent. Unmarried fathers often do not get custody of the child, but Fathers are typically preferred for custody over other relatives like grandparents, or prospective foster or adoptive parents.  Unmarried parents can sometimes be awarded 50/50 custody.  Every case is different. 

How Custody is Granted

The courts take into account various factors when granting custody. Mainly, the court will decide which parent is best suited to be a child’s main caretaker. The child’s wellbeing is always considered above the desires of the parents or others who have filed for custody.

Different states evaluate the “best interest” standard differently. But, most take into consideration the mental and physical fitness of the parents, the child’s relationship to parents or others in the household, the need for a stable home, religious or cultural issues at play, the child’s treatment at the hands of parents, possible history of abuse, and so on. If the child is old enough, his or her wishes will also be taken into consideration.  Each state has different rules of how old a child must be before his or her ‘wishes’ regarding custody will be heard by the Court. 

The parents in any case should hire a good attorney to prove to the court that they are the most fit to be the child’s primary caretaker. It will be up to you to protect your parental rights, as the courts will prioritize the child’s.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Preparing for Divorce in the New Year

The Scottsdale divorce lawyers at Canterbury Law Group have represented hundreds of clients in Scottsdale divorce cases.  Although every case is unique, there are certain steps that every potential divorcee should take:

  • Do not try to hurt your soon-to-be ex –   Do not let your emptions get the best of you.  Especially if you and your spouse have children together, you need to try to take the higher road and attempt to part on decent terms. The court may frown upon any type of negativity or drastic misconduct against the other spouse. 
  • Confidently know your joint finances – It is estimated that 40% of divorce proceedings are about money. Be well informed in advance about your shared accounts.  Specifically, you should know all online passwords to bank accounts, which accounts have automatic payments and where money is invested, including the names of all accounts, the account numbers and the investment advisors.  Many times one spouse knows everything and the other spouse knows nothing about finances.  The law provides that both spouses be provided 100% financial disclosures while the divorce is pending. 
  • Find a trusted legal team – A lawyer who is knowledgeable in family law in your state can likely get you a better settlement because they understand the state-law nuances and understand local judges’ tendencies and opposing lawyers. If you and your spouse have complicated family assets, you likely need a legal team with additional expertise.  Take into consideration every possible avenue and plan accordingly.
  • Know your future living expenses – Your future financial well-being should be your top priority.  Thoroughly understand your current cost of living before the divorce proceedings start, so you can ask for a fair amount in the divorce settlement.
  • Also remember that anything written online about an ex-spouse will exist forever—when the children are old enough to read.  Although you may be hurt now, you don’t want to hurt your children even more in the future.  Texts and emails can also be used against you at trial.  Think twice before hitting ‘send’ on that nasty message to your spouse. 

The Scottsdale divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have represented women and men, young and old, in their complicated and simple divorce cases.  To discuss your options in a Scottsdale divorce, call today to schedule a consultation.  480-240-0040.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Obtaining a Restraining Order in Arizona

The Scottsdale family law attorneys at Canterbury Law Group have expertise on Arizona protective orders. According to our state law, protective orders can be issued against a person for reasons including making repeated unwanted phone calls, emails, texts, physically injuring a person, threatening physical injury, trespassing on a person’s property or sending a person unsolicited and constant messages.

If you are in need of a restraining order, call us immediately.  If someone you know may need protective help, here is some information to consider:

  • Restraining orders are often issued to abusers that have recently lived in the household of another or who have lived in the same household as the victim in the past. Household members could be but are not necessarily limited to ex-spouses, ex-partners, past boyfriends or girlfriends, siblings, children or parents.
  • There is a legal procedure for obtaining a restraining order in the state of Arizona including requiring the victim to complete legal forms. Canterbury Law Group helps clients navigate these often- tedious legal forms. Afterwards, a hearing is conducted to determine if a restraining order is indeed necessary.
  • Arizona restraining order laws cover a wide variety of issues. Some are more temporary than others, and the exact length of time of each order which is granted depends upon the severity of the facts of the case.
  • According to Arizona restraining order laws, it is possible for another person to file a restraining order on a victim’s behalf. This can be done if the victim is incapacitated as a result of injury not necessarily directly related to the abuse and/or if the victim is a minor and the parent or guardian wishes to file. A person can file for another person if the person desiring the order is in some other way temporarily or permanently unable to file for the order.

If you are dealing with a restraining order or are thinking of filing for one, contact Canterbury Law Group today. Our dedicated litigation attorneys in Scottsdale will ensure thorough preparation for your restraining order and help you navigate the legal issues that arise.  If you seek to quash an order issued against you, the firm is equally well versed in defending protective orders.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Tips to Avoid Losing Money in the New Year

The Scottsdale lawyers at Canterbury Law Group are authorities in bankruptcy matters.   As we enter the New Year, we realize that many Scottsdale residents are trying to improve their financial affairs. Unfortunately the world is full of opportunities for you to give up your hard-earned money unwisely. Becoming an informed consumer is a big step toward avoiding these minefields—and developing the financial power that will keep you out of debt troubles.

Here are some tips for today on how to avoid money traps.

Avoid the “Free” Trial Offer – Ever wonder why businesses are willing to offer that free trial? Sure, it may build customer loyalty and maybe you’ll happily become a repeat buyer. But companies know that many of us will never read the fine print and the vendors typically make no attempt to remind us when the free period is over. Instead your “free” subscription or service converts to a paid one. You are left with an unwanted monthly expense and now they have a steady revenue stream.  It is often challenging, if not impossible, to terminate these subscriptions.

Skip upgrades and add-ons – Upgrades at fast food, electronics, retailers and car dealerships make for huge profits so companies really push them. To avoid this trap, do your homework. Know ahead of time what you really want. For example, quiz your insurance agent about how much your own insurance covers you in a rental car. If you later decide an extended warranty or other add-on is appropriate, fine. If not, just say NO. And stick to it.

Don’t co-sign for others – Remember,  your best friend or family member can lose their job, and when they do that car will be repossessed and the bank will be coming after you—for the entire unpaid balance.

Filing bankruptcy can seem overwhelming.  However, at Canterbury Law Group, we will represent you through the entire process and fight diligently to secure your fresh financial start. Call us today to schedule your consultation. We can put you on the path to reach financial success!

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Growing Trend of Prenups in 2017

The family law attorneys at Canterbury Law Group suggest soon-to-be married couples hire counsel and obtain a prenuptial agreement before saying “I Do.” Prenups are actually very common amongst all ages and classes of Americans, and they are set to increase in popularity even more through 2017.

Prenuptial agreements are a smart investment as they can provide important advantages for both spouses. Thanks partially to the drama in Hollywood, many people think negatively when they hear the term “prenuptial agreement.” However, this is not always an accurate portrayal. In fact, prenups are used by both parties in a marriage to plan for the future and arrange things legally that can be mutually beneficial to both spouses. Whether you have a business, inheritance or children to protect, a prenup is the best bet.

If you may be interested in getting a prenup, here are expert tips from our law team:

Do not wait until the last minute – Begin the prenuptial agreement process six months to one year before your actual wedding date to ensure that both parties have ample time to review it and to retain separate legal counsel. Last-minute contracts are much harder to enforce later. It may also make your soon-to-be spouse nervous if you wait too long to discuss these options.

Do not let your emotions lead. The emotions of falling in love can alter reality, so be sure to work with trusted legal advisers on the agreement. You must protect yourself and your future from possible hardships.

Make your prenuptial agreement realistic and legal. The goal is to have a contract that is enforceable and provide each spouse with an understanding of what they will get if the marriage ends. A good legal team will help you understand all aspects and options.

Research your state’s law regarding marriage and property. Marriage property laws are different from state to state. Canterbury Law Group can help you understand the laws in Arizona, Nevada and California for prenuptial agreements.

If you need prenuptial agreement help in Scottsdale, Contact Canterbury Law Group today to schedule a consultation. We can help you secure your future.

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