Phyllis Law - May 2020

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Protecting Bright Futures

MAY 2020

Bright Futures Bulletin

The two most common bankruptcies filed by consumers are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is a liquidation of assets, whereby the trustee gathers the debtor’s nonexempt assets to pay the creditors. From start to finish, a Chapter 7 case takes about four months unless someone objects to discharge. Chapter 13 is much more complicated. It requires a repayment plan over a five-year period. A complicated formula is used to determine the monthly payment. Often, the court sets a monthly payment higher than what the debtor can pay. That is why 75% of Chapter 13 plans fail. To qualify for Chapter 7, debtors must pass a means test. If disposable income is too high, debtors will not qualify and will have no choice but to file Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is the preferred bankruptcy, and it makes sense for a couple to collaborate when possible to maximize their chances of passing the means test. After all, if you want to get support payments from your spouse, you are much more likely to receive payments on time if your spouse is not drowning in debt. It is important for divorcing couples to seek advice regarding bankruptcy before they file for divorce. Timing is key. A bankruptcy attorney and a divorce attorney can collaborate to decide which case to file first. Sometimes, debtors are more likely to pass the means test if they file together before divorcing. Couples are not required to live together to file bankruptcy together. They can file as married but separated and claim expenses for a second household. That can help couples with high income to pass the means test. Sometimes, it makes more sense for just one spouse to file alone, and that can happen before or after divorcing.

WhenBankruptcy andDivorce COLLIDE

I participated in my first webinar last month, “Bankruptcy and Divorce.” My friend and colleague Bill Gentry of The Gentry Firm organized the webinar and invited me to be the guest speaker. Bill weighed in as the expert on divorce, and I was the bankruptcy expert. I encourage you to check it out on my YouTube channel (search for Phyllis Collins). This article is a preview of that webinar. There are a few basics to understand about bankruptcy and divorce. When a bankruptcy petition is filed, an automatic stay goes into effect immediately. The automatic stay is an injunction that stops actions by creditors (with limited exceptions) making collection actions. In most divorce cases, parties have property that must be divided. Therefore, the stay is going to apply to the divorce case. Usually the spouse who did not file worries that theywill not get their child support and/or alimony payment if a bankruptcy is filed. However, those debts are nondischargeable in bankruptcy. So, while payment may be delayed, it will not be avoided.

If you are considering separation or divorce and one or both spouses have crippling debt, call me for a free

consultation. It is better to explore all your options before acting. Do not wait until you are in the middle of a divorce to talk to a bankruptcy attorney.

–Phyllis Gingrey Collins

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Make Museums Fun for Your Kids

3 Tips to Make Your Visit More Kid-Friendly

Visit exhibits thatwill interest your kids. Whether you’re at your local history museum or the Louvre, don’t try to rush through as many exhibits as you can. That will just make your kids (and you) tired and cranky! Instead, pick out a few exhibits that your kids will find interesting, like dinosaurs or electricity, and just visit those. That way, your museum adventure will be a lot more fun and relaxing. Make the visit interactive. Just meandering about reading placards all daywill leave even the most studious children watching the clock. If you want your kids to enjoy the museum, then you’ve got to make your visit engaging. Try looking at the museum’s exhibits online before going and creating a scavenger hunt for your kids to followwith fun directions, like “Find a painting with two babies making silly

Editor’s Note: While museums may be closed for the foreseeable future, we wanted to share this guide in honor of International Museum Day on May 18 to help you plan future adventures. Please check with your local museum for updates and safety precautions before visiting. School is out for the kiddos, which means that for the next few months, they’ll have six extra hours in the day and no idea what to do with them. Why not set aside some of that time for an educational and fun adventure? International Museum Day comes this month on May 18, making it the perfect time to plan your next visit for when the local museums open their doors again. Your kids might think museums are boring, but we’ve got you covered. Here are some ways to make their next museum visit fun and exciting.

faces,” or “Tell me howmany pterodactyls you can find in the dinosaur exhibit.” Your kids will be way more engaged in the exhibit, and they might learn something to boot. Take a food break or visit the gift shop. If your kids aren’t too excited about visiting a museum, a little incentive to get them to go — like taking them to the museum’s food court or purchasing them a keepsake from the gift shop — never hurts. Even if that’s the only thing they enjoy about the museum, theywill still have positive memories associated with their visit.

A Dangerous New Trend

But I must warn you about a new trending phenomenon. I am getting calls about kids who are 13–18 years old having virtual drinking parties during the pandemic. The protocol is to wait for parents to go to sleep, then sneak alcohol from their stash. The kids are hanging out virtually on apps like House Party or Zoom. Some have been making videos and distributing them to friends. The long-term impact of that could be devastating, so be on the lookout for this behavior. Over half of Americans between the ages of 12–20 have experimented with alcohol. Sadly, 1 in 5 teenagers becomes a heavy drinker. Common reasons for underage drinking include kids thinking it is cool, wanting to fit in, wanting to feel more comfortable around

friends, proving oneself to others, feeling pressure, and battling anxiety and depression.

Kids are struggling to cope in this environment. Change is hard for everyone. They are used to seeing their friends every day, and many of them were involved in sports and other extracurricular activities. Now, they are faced with boredom. That leads to trouble. I encourage you to talk to your kids about this now. Do not wait for something bad to happen. Ask them if they have heard of kids doing this and talk about all the reasons this is a bad idea.

During this pandemic, my husband, Jerry, and I have been struggling to take care of our four kids while also trying to keep our businesses afloat. We both own small businesses that we are now running from home. I am the sole owner and operator of my law firm, PhyllisLaw.com. Jerry is the sole owner and operator of a CPA firm. For the most part, we have trusted the kids to get their schoolwork done and go to bed by 11 p.m., as we simply cannot watch over them 24/7. I knowmany of you are in the same boat, and I think it is okay to take that approach, given the circumstances.

We are here for you and your family during this difficult time. Together, we will get through this.

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SUDOKU BREAK Solution on Pg. 4

Best Bankruptcy Attorney IN COBB COUNTY T hank you to my clients, former clients, friends, and colleagues for voting us Best Bankruptcy Attorney in Cobb County for the second year in a row. We would also like to thank Cobb Life Magazine and the Marietta Daily Journal who sponsored the contest. We are humbled by the support we have received in our community. Our firm’s mission is to broker second chances for those in financial crisis. For some of our clients, that comes in the form of bankruptcy protection, and sometimes, it comes in the form of debt settlement negotiations. Each debtor is unique, and we approach every case with fresh eyes and tailor solutions to individual needs. Sometimes we begin by attempting to negotiate with creditors to reach a resolution that both parties can live with. If that plan fails, we can always pivot to bankruptcy protection if necessary. Timing is very important in dealing with these issues. We consider a client’s current financial situation, as well as what we think their financial situation will be in the short-term and long-term future. Often, it makes sense to wait to file. However, those facing garnishment or repossession must file immediately to stop those actions. Unfortunately, many people have found themselves in financial crisis as a result of COVID-19. We are fully prepared to help clients navigate the process of seeking financial peace during this unprecedented time. We are in uncharted territory right now, but we are here to help clients explore all their options, including SBA loans, the Paycheck Protection Plan, unemployment benefits, loan forgiveness, loan forbearance, debt settlement, bankruptcy protection, mortgage modification, and more. At PhyllisLaw.com, we want to help our clients help themselves. This pandemic has placed people in financial peril through no fault of their own. We want to help our clients utilize all the benefits available to them under the law. Contact us today if you would like a free consultation.

Springtime Cacio e Pepe

Inspired by Eating Well

Nothing is more comforting than a big bowl of cacio e pepe , which is Italian for cheese and pepper. This dish combines a wholesome flavor profile with fresh, seasonal ingredients to satisfy any craving.

Ingredients

• • • • • • •

● 6 oz multigrain spaghetti

● 8 oz fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

● 1 tbsp olive oil ● 1 tsp lemon zest

● 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

● 1/2 tsp black pepper ● 1 cup baby arugula

Directions

1.

Heat oven to 425 F.

2. In a large pot, cook spaghetti until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of water before draining and put spaghetti in a covered pot to keep warm. 3. Line a 15x10-inch baking pan with foil and toss in asparagus and olive oil. 4. Cook asparagus for 5–7 minutes and sprinkle with lemon zest. 5. Add 3/4 cup of the reserved water, Parmesan cheese, and pepper to the spaghetti. Stir until creamy. 6. Toss in asparagus and arugula before serving.

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www.PhyllisLaw.com | 404.514.3397 278 N. Marietta Pkwy NE | Marietta, GA 30060

Solution from Pg. 3

Inside This Issue

When Bankruptcy and Divorce Collide 1

Make Your Museum Visit Fun for the Kids!

A Dangerous New Trend 2

Best Bankruptcy Attorney in Cobb County

Springtime Cacio e Pepe 3

What Is Gardening Good For? 4

HealthBenefits of FamilyGardening

Give Your Kid the Gift of

Yes, there will always be football season, basketball season, and soccer season, but right now, it’s gardening season. That means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and play in the dirt. If you’ve been searching for a way to get the kids away from technology and engaged with the real world, gardening is the perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy. Not only is it fun, but it’s also beneficial for your kids’ development.

gardening improves a child’s attitude toward fruits and vegetables and may make them more likely to choose them as snacks. Gardening helps kids identify with where their food is coming from, and nothing tastes better than a freshly picked strawberry or pea pod they grew themselves. Jack Gilbert, a scientist at the University of Chicago and a parent himself, and his co-author, Rob Knight, emphasize the health benefits of garden time in their book, “Dirt Is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child's Developing Immune System.” The two found that exposure to different microbes, like those found in a garden, strengthens a child’s immune system and makes them less likely to develop allergies. If this is your first time gardening, you don’t need much to get started. Grab a few shovels, a pair of gloves for each family member, and fresh potting soil, and you’ll be set. Then, you can decide together which plants you’d like to grow! Carrots are fun because of the surprise factor — just imagine your child discovering that the part they eat grows below the ground! Peas are tasty and fairly easy to grow, as are strawberries. The options really are endless. Depending on the growing season in your area, you can choose to buy seeds or opt for rooted plants.

a Green Thumb

For example, gardening can improve your children’s analytical abilities. As Dr. Wendy Matthews says, “Gardening exercises important reasoning, initiation, planning, and organization skills.” Furthermore, several studies, including one at Texas A&M University, suggest that

Last but certainly not least, the best part of gardening as a family is the healthy, fresh produce you’ll get to enjoy all summer long!

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