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Debt Defense

2022-06-05T20:27:06+00:00August 16, 2021|Bankruptcy|

The coronavirus pandemic has hurt many people financially, and some have found themselves buried in debt. 

Some creditors have not been generous with repayment flexibility. Of course valid reasons exist for not paying off a credit card or other debt, and many are defensible under the law. 

The attorneys at DeZayas Law Group are experienced in defending clients against lawsuits or judgments from creditors. Debt defense takes different forms for each client, but we can often help negotiate settlements, resolution of the debt, or a reprieve for heads of households. It’s always advisable to contact an attorney to evaluate the creditor’s case against you and help identify the best steps for you.

As Floridians have struggled over the past year, credit card debt has become an even bigger problem. Credible, legal defenses when sued for credit card debt may include:

You have not been credited for a payment made.

If you have paid the debt, or a portion of it, and your records indicate you have not been credited for the payment, you can use this defense for not having paid.

You are disputing the amount owed.

Are you being sued for more than you believe you owe? In that case, it is the plaintiff’s (your creditor’s) responsibility to prove you owe the amount for which they are suing. This includes proving the principal, interest, collection and attorney fees are accurate, were specified in your agreement, and were legally charged to you. If those records aren’t presented, you can be relieved of the debt. 

You were a victim of identity theft or mistaken identity. 

Identity errors cannot be held against you in collection lawsuits. If someone has stolen your name and personal information to open credit cards or if your identity has been confused with a person with a similar name, you should notify the creditor but are not obligated to pay those charges. Again, to collect, the plaintiff must prove that you authorized every charge for which they are suing you. Seek legal advice, and do not agree to a settlement if your identity has been stolen or mistaken. 

You were an authorized user on an account but not the responsible party.

Are you listed as a co-signer or authorized user on someone else’s card? The difference is significant, regarding your obligation for it. If someone simply gave you permission to use their card, the credit card company cannot hold you responsible for the payment. However, if you are a co-signer on the card, you have effectively agreed to be jointly responsible for the debt. Be sure to know your legal status on the credit cards you use. 

The statute of limitations has run out on collection.

The statute of limitations is the time limit for a creditor to file a lawsuit against you, starting from the last time you made a payment. In Florida, the statute of limitations is usually 5 years. Once that time period has lapsed, the court system will not hold you responsible for repayment. However, even a small payment restarts the statute’s calendar, so you must know the date of your last payment before considering this defense. 

You have filed for bankruptcy.

If the debt for which you are being sued was part of a previously declared bankruptcy, you no longer owe it. (And if your debt situation warrants it, filing bankruptcy could be a separate option to discuss with your attorney.) 

You do not have a business relationship with the creditor. 

If you are being sued by someone who purchased your debt from the original creditor, you can challenge their right to sue you. The debt buyer may not have what is called “standing” to sue you, since you did not agree to a contract with them directly. To argue this successfully, the debt buyer must prove they have a contract that specifically mentions your debt. If they cannot produce this evidence, their lawsuit will be dismissed.

None of these situations are absolutes, and you will be best served by obtaining legal advice. The DeZayas Law Group is experienced in defending our clients against aggressive debt collectors. Court judgments against you never go away, so it’s important to address the problem by attempting resolution, without being forced into an unrealistic payment plan.

DeZayas Law Group is central Florida’s all-inclusive law firm offering professional services with the experience and track record you need to handle your legal representation. For more information or to learn more about our attorneys, call us at (863) 904-4710. 

Timesharing and Child Support in Florida

2021-03-12T20:13:42+00:00February 24, 2021|Family Law|

As divorcing parents work through the emotional costs of their parting, so too must they work through the tangible costs of maintaining two households and the responsibilities of caring for children. 

The state of Florida has clear laws on issues of timesharing (or visitation) and child support, which rightfully place the welfare of children above other issues. The attorneys of DeZayas Law Group will walk you through the process and advocate for a fair and equitable agreement with your co-parent.

While the old stereotype of mom getting custody of children and dad paying child support still lingers, the realities and configurations of divorce can be quite different and varied. Simply speaking, child support is typically a payment from the non-custodial parent to the parent with whom the children live most of the time. Support payments are designed to cover the cost of maintaining a household with children. Of course, in some cases, neither party is required to pay child support, such as in a shared parenting plan, with the children spending equal time with each parent.

Florida has specific guidelines to determine the amount of child support payments, and a worksheet must be completed and filed in all divorce cases that include custody arrangements. These guidelines account for child-rearing costs such as health insurance, medical expenses, taxes, and daycare, while rent, utilities, and food are considered essential and are not specified.

Another factor is the number of overnights (not after school or other day visits) the child or children will spend with each parent. Florida statutes allow child support amounts to be reduced if the paying parent keeps the child(ren) for more than 20% of nights (or 73) in a year. It’s assumed that parents who spend significant time with their children have higher expenses than those who see their kids less often. However, parenting for 20% of nights does not equal a 20% reduction in payments.

While the timesharing calculation is related to child support payments, Florida’s legal system attempts to encourage timesharing by maintaining a separation between the two. Falling behind in child support payments does not impact a parent’s visitation rights, as the courts place positive, healthy relationships between parents and children above the costs of support. Parenting plans also cover potential sticking points between parents, such as involvement in extracurricular activities, transportation needs, and other shared responsibilities. Our attorneys help clients reasonably address these issues and create parenting plans focused on the best interests of the children.

Divorce is never easy. DeZayas Law Group has handled family law cases involving various custodial, timesharing, and support issues. We provide personalized care and the professionalism you need in an emotional situation.

DeZayas Law Group is central Florida’s all-inclusive law firm offering professional services with the experience and track record you need to handle your legal representation. For more information or to learn more about our attorneys, call us at (863) 904-4710 or explore our website here.

Personal Injury: We Have Your Back

2021-01-13T15:48:43+00:00January 13, 2021|Personal Injury|

You’re stopped at a red light when the driver behind you slams into your car. Your neck jerks forward, then back, as your car is propelled into the one in front of you and your airbag explodes into your face. Your car is badly damaged, but your body might have suffered more.

Car accidents are the leading cause of personal injury cases in the United States, whether the drivers at fault were distracted, drunk, or otherwise impaired. However, many other types of accidental injuries can have long-term implications for those who were not at fault, such as slip and fall, product liability, pool drowning, or dog bite cases, among others.

If you are the injured party, or plaintiff, you deserve to be compensated for medical care, lost wages, and other expenses related to your injury. Personal injury, or tort, law is meant to protect those who are harmed through another’s action or failure to act. When successful, the person or company who caused the damages compensates the one who was harmed, physically or otherwise. Personal injury cases are more complicated than they may appear, and the timeline for filing and pursuing settlements requires strict adherence.

That’s when it’s time to contact DeZayas Law Group for an evaluation of your accident and the injuries or losses you’ve incurred. Our attorneys have proven success in representing victims in personal injury claims and achieving fair settlements. We are committed to protecting our clients and ensuring they receive the medical care and coverage they need.

If any of the following apply to your circumstances, you should seek an experienced attorney:

  • Broken bones, hospitalization, or long-term medical issues
  • A death caused by the incident
  • Missing time from work, school, or routine activities
  • Non-economic losses, such as emotional trauma or pain
  • Disagreement about who was at fault
  • More than one person hurt in the accident
  • Questions about accuracy of the police report or insurance paperwork
  • Insurance companies are not cooperating

Injured persons, or plaintiffs, are bound by time limits for filing a lawsuit, also known as a statute of limitations. States establish these timelines, which can vary based on the type of injury involved, but the statute of limitations often begins at the time the injury occurred or is discovered. DeZayas Law Group can ensure you meet these important deadlines and preserve your right to file suit and be compensated for losses.

With your attorney’s guidance, your case may result in a formal lawsuit, or civil complaint, asserting that the other person or business was careless or irresponsible, resulting in the accident or injury. However, many cases can be resolved through a settlement among those personally affected, their insurance companies, and the attorneys representing each side.

Our goal at DeZayas Law Group is to obtain the most appropriate medical services and compensation on your behalf. Sometimes this requires sending demand letters to the insurance company or managing all aspects of litigation to resolve your personal injury case successfully. We are strong, determined, and ready to win.

DeZayas Law Group is central Florida’s all-inclusive law firm offering professional services with the experience and track record you need to handle your legal representation. For more information or to learn more about our attorneys, call us at (863) 904-4710 or click here.

Estate Planning

2021-01-04T14:28:41+00:00December 30, 2020|Estate Law|

College – check. First adult job – check. Significant other – check. 401k with employer match – check. Congratulations. You’ve fully embraced adulthood. What’s missing?

You should probably start thinking about estate planning. That’s right – estate planning. It’s not just for your parents anymore; though if they haven’t done this, please share this article with them. In addition, estate planning is not just for those who are wealthy. Everyone benefits when clear plans exist for their finances to be taken care of after their death.

Estate planning is for adults of all ages.

Properly done, it comprises several legal documents, based on your specific needs. DeZayas Law Group can help you identify those needs, then ensure you and your finances are protected. As your assets and family grow, we’ll work with you to adjust your estate plan, as necessary. When you reach legal adulthood at age 18, your parents no longer have the right to make health care or financial decisions on your behalf. While no one likes to think about serious health issues, it’s important to talk with a lawyer about:

  • A Health Care Directive, which allows you to specify actions that you want (or don’t want) to be taken if you are rendered unable to make health decisions for yourself. This is similar to a Living Will but more detailed and precise.
  • A Power of Attorney, that designates who has the authority to make decisions for you if you can’t. While it may be the same person, you should consider naming a medical Power of Attorney for health-related decisions and a financial Power of Attorney for decisions involving money. Many individuals name a spouse, but sometimes it makes sense to name another family member or trusted friend who understands your wishes.

By the time you buy your first home and start a family, it’s time to consider other legal protections for your estate with these additional documents:

  • A Will details such wishes as who will inherit your assets and oversee the settlement of your estate.
  • A Trust designates someone to take ownership of assets you specify and manage them on behalf of your beneficiaries. Various types of assets can be included, such as property or retirement accounts. Trusts also take various forms, such as living trusts or revocable trusts, and it’s important to discuss the best option for your situation with your attorney.
  • Beneficiary designations will be needed for Wills and Trusts to be passed on to those you choose. Assets such as 401k accounts or life insurance policies can be passed directly to beneficiaries named on those accounts, so you’ll want to double-check consistency. Example: if your life insurance policy names a sibling as beneficiary, you won’t want to name a cousin as the beneficiary in your Will.
  • Guardianship designations come into play if you have, or are planning to have, children. This document expresses your wishes for who will care for minor children if you and your spouse die or become incapacitated.

Once you and your lawyer, and possibly your financial advisor, have established your estate plan, you will need to review and update the plan as your circumstances change. Significant life changes that would trigger a review include:

  • Divorce, or death of your spouse
  • A second (or more) marriage
  • Additional children
  • Disability (yours or your children)
  • Death of a Trustee or beneficiary
  • A move to a different state

In addition, estate laws vary by state and federal tax laws change. For example, Florida law requires your personal representative be related to you or be a Florida resident. DeZayas Law Group will help you keep your documents up to date with legal changes, to protect your interests and wishes. Not only will you have properly signed and notarized copies of your plan, but we will maintain copies in the event of emergency.

AARP reports that many Baby Boomers have not yet created complete estate plans. Adult children are often blind-sided by the overwhelming responsibilities of managing their parents’ estates and the probate process when proper legal steps have been overlooked. It’s not too late, or too early, for you or your parents to start.

DeZayas Law Group is central Florida’s all-inclusive law firm offering professional services with the experience and track record you need to handle your legal representation. For more information or to learn more about our attorneys, call us at (863) 904-4710 or learn more about us here.

Could Bankruptcy be the Right Move?

2021-06-16T16:44:02+00:00November 18, 2020|Bankruptcy, News|

The thought of declaring bankruptcy may have never crossed your mind. 

However, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge, many people are struggling to manage resources and pay their bills. In some cases, declaring bankruptcy may be the best option to resolve significant financial challenges. It’s a step not taken lightly, and DeZayas Law Group can help you determine if bankruptcy is right for your situation.

Job loss, medical debt, and divorce are among the biggest reasons for considering personal bankruptcy, and many cases result from a combination. COVID-19 has certainly contributed to a high rate of unemployment, health issues, and marital stress. If you can only pay your bills with a credit card, or are using one card to pay off another, it’s time to evaluate your options.

Explore your Options

The two major forms of personal bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Which one may be right for you depends on certain financial measures. Basically, Chapter 7 is for those who can’t pay their bills and earn less than the median income in their state, based on family size. Chapter 13 is for those who have a steady income but have incurred a certain level of debt. A “means test” is used to determine eligibility, and our attorneys can break down the differences with you.

Evaluate your Debt

Evaluating the type of debt you are facing is the first step in determining if declaring bankruptcy could help you. It’s important to understand that bankruptcy does not eliminate all types of debt. Debts that can’t be cleared include student loans, child support, alimony, income taxes, debts to government agencies, debts for personal injury caused by driving while intoxicated, and any court fines or penalties. Certain assets you may hold are exempt from creditor actions. These “judgment proof” assets include home equity, partial equity in a car, social security payments, pension plans, 401(k) retirement savings, disability benefits, veterans’ benefits, alimony, and child support payments.

We’re here to help…

All of this can be overwhelming, and it’s important to have a knowledgeable attorney to help you make the best decisions and file appropriately. The DeZayas Law Group attorneys have a great deal of knowledge and experience in interpreting the bankruptcy code. They’ll ensure your forms are filed correctly and deadlines are met.

It’s also important to feel comfortable discussing the details of your financial situation with the lawyer you choose. These conversations can be hard, and both parties must be committed to open, honest communication. At DeZayas Law Group, we work hard to create a welcoming, safe environment for our clients.

While declaring bankruptcy can resolve some of your debt, it can also affect your credit rating. Our attorneys will stand with you throughout the process, then help you reestablish your financial health and credit. Helping clients get back on their feet is part of our commitment.

DeZayas Law Group is central Florida’s all-inclusive law firm offering professional services with the experience and track record you need to handle your legal representation. For more information or to learn more about our attorneys, call us at (863) 904-4710 or click here.

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