Monday, November 10, 2014

Student Loan Borrowers in Default: Read On

By:  Carole L. Chiamp

New federal rules now in effect should make it easier for students who have defaulted on their government student loans to return them to good standing.

In the past, students could redeem themselves but many could not pay the new amounts necessary to get out of default and were confined by the definitions of what the new payment should be.

Many students “bury their heads in the sand” after default and the next thing that happens is garnishment of their wages and damaged credit ratings.

The new formula allows a payment of 15% of income after subtracting 150% of the federal poverty level.  For 2014 that is $17,505 for most states.  So a student with that income ($25,000 less $17,505) pays based on a reduced income of $7,495.  The payment calculated on that income is $94 per month.  Garnishments stop after a number of payments are made.

There is a good article on the subject with helpful information on various non-profits to help students.  A version of the article appeared on August 23, 2014 on page B6 of the New York Times with the headline: “For Student Loan Borrowers in Default, Redemption Just Got Easier”.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Questions to Ask Before a Custody Battle Over The Kids

By:  Carole L. Chiamp
I recently read an article about Larry Sarezky who is a divorce attorney.  He created a short film for parents who are in high-conflict custody fights.  Long before that, he created a list of questions for parents contemplating custody battles.  They are spot-on.  Having advocated for parents, mediated and arbitrated custody issues, I can say every parent should read the questions carefully.  I have litigated these types of cases many times and no one ends up a winner, especially not the children.

Larry Sarezky’s questions recently listed in the Huffington Post are:

1.    Do you want your children to endure months of anxiety and uncertainty as to where they will be living and whether they will have the relationship they want with each of their parents and their siblings?

2.    Do you want your children subjected to interviews by attorneys, mental health professionals and court personnel during which they may be frightened and conflicted, and will feel pressured to be loyal to both their parents?

3.    Do you want your children subjected to the possibility of inquiry by these professionals about the most personal aspects of their lives including their fears and frailties?

4.    Clinical studies have shown that high conflict between parents exposes children who witness it to serious psychological harm.  Do you want to risk your children developing emotional disorders as a result of your high-conflict custody battle?

5.    Do you want your inability to resolve your differences to serve as a model of parenting for your children?

6.    Do you want intimate details of your life to become a matter of public record?

7.    Do you want a stranger deciding how much you will see your children, and how you will make decisions concerning them?

8.    Do you want a substantial portion of your assets used for fees of attorneys and expert witnesses with no guarantee that you will be happy with the result?

9.    Do you want to give up attention to detail that a negotiated agreement will have but that a judge’s decision will not?

10.    Do you want to engage in costly, time-consuming and rancorous litigation that can make future cooperation between you and your co-parent extremely difficult at best, and the resumption of amicable joint parenting nearly impossible?

Questions like these should cause parents to want to avoid litigation.  Alternative dispute resolution is clearly a better solution.  If parents don’t think so, they need to keep looking for answers outside of the courtroom.