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Motions for Relief From Stay

When a bankruptcy case is filed there is an initial order from the Court that bars additional creditor collection activities.  This 'automatic stay' prevents foreclosure sales, garnishment of wages, judgment liens, and other creditor activity.  There are some instances in which the automatic stay does not apply at all.  Creditor offsets of deposits on hand is an easy example.  Additionally, in some instances a creditor may justifiably ask the court from relief from the automatic stay in order to continue their collection activity.  This is most commonly found in the realm of foreclosure where payments to the mortgage company are not being made after the filing of the bankruptcy petition. 

While there are other instances that can lead to relief it is important to speak with us about the status of any collection activity that is pending against you.  We can let you know what to expect if a creditor seeks to obtain relief from the automatic stay. 


Why Adoption Is Great

I practice quite a bit of adoption law.  I have always loved filing adoption cases for my clients.  If you are thinking about or looking to adopt a child then please contact my office.  I have personal experience with adoption that will help you guide through the process.

Ten years ago my wife, Ashley, and I adopted our daughter.  I rarely even consider that my daughter is not my biological child.  (We have one of each - biological boy and adopted girl).  The parenting relationship is so natural and so strong that the fact that there was a legal process is not even in the spectrum of things that matter.  Speaking from experience as an adoptive father, adoption allows for just as strong of a family relationship as any other way of parenting.  My daughter means the world to me.  I love her dearly.  I cannot imagine my family without her. I am grateful for being her parent.


The Death of a Supreme Court Justice

I have to say that when I read that Justice Antonin Scalia passed away I found myself with a lump in my throat. Supreme Court decisions affect everything that I do as a lawyer. That is not an exaggeration, everything from interest rates for chapter 13 debtors to the jurisdiciton of bankruptcy courts have been reviewed and decided by the United States Supreme Court. I did not have any particular love or hate for Justice Scalia but his death got me thinking immediately about who would be his replacement.

I have no desire to go through all of the ups and downs of the politics of Washington DC. I dislike the notion that things have become so polarized that before a replacement has been suggested there is a 'no' coming from one party or the other. To say 'we are not going to consider anyone' before a name is even put on the table is just so childish. In the end all that I hope is that we wind up with a new supreme court justice that is thoughtful in their review of cases, respectful of the position that they hold, and mindful of the fact that our legal system has never been perfect.

Someone once said that 'labels are for soup cans' and the whole notion of branding supreme court justices with labels is odd. Perhaps the most notable supreme court justice of all time is Earl Warren. Justice Warren was appointed by the conservative Dwight D Eisenhower but proved to be a justice willing to work compromise and make difficult decisions. Can't we find a justice like Earl Warren? Someone who looks at the case as it is presented? Someone who doesn't need to view a case with a particular set of ideological goggles? A middle voice? I hope we can...but time will tell.


Again with the IRS...

The IRS has been far more aggressive in recent months than they have been at any other time in the duration of my practice of law.  There is a 'no stone unturned' attitude to their collection activities and business owners are being subjected to far more scrutiny in the past.  I know that there are a number of outfits that advertise on the radio and during day time television about their ability to compromise IRS debt.  BUYER BEWARE!!!  While it is possible that some small tax matters are easily adjustable, a small tax matter can quickly spiral out of control.  Please contact us for a free consultation if you have questions about your tax matters.  We will provide you with perspective on what your situation may hold.


Joint Liabilities

We have recently had a high number of cases that have presented lots of unique issues about potential joint liabilities between business partners or spouses.  We have seen lots of co-signed student loans, debts arising from joint tax returns, judgments against one owner of a jointly owned property and unknown partnership debts.  These cases require extra caution on all sides and can encompass a variety of issues.

We have recently advised folks to partition real estate, amend joint tax returns, prepare a partnership agreement or seek administrative assistance with student loans.  There are other issues to consider that could reach to other forms of advice.  The common theme with all of the issues arising from joint liabilities is that you have to tread cautiously.  If one person has more to lose than the other then both sides need to discuss the issues and come to agreements as to how to proceed.  Nothing can ruin a relationship faster than if one joint debtor sinks the other by being careless.


Student Loans

The New York Times reported today that student loan debts are likely to top one trillion dollars this year.  That's right:  OVER ONE TRILLION DOLLARS in student loan debt exists in our country.  The article goes on to describe that parents will soon be paying their own student loans at the time that their kids are going to college and incurring student loans of their own.

Student loans can be particularly difficult to resolve in the context of bankruptcy.  A part of me would say that student loans are the single most difficult debt class to resolve.  Now, that is not to say that there are not ways to address the student loans in a bankruptcy context.  In fact, I am currently watching the progress of several cases that could have a dramatic effect on how Chapter 13 cases are used to 'adjust' student loan balances. 

If those cases are decided by the Courts in the way that they should then bankruptcy may wind up being the absolute best alternative for handling student loan debt.  I will keep you posted.


Business Debts With Personal Guarantees

We have noticed an upswing in the number of business cases that we are receiving in which the principal owner of the business has personally guaranteed the business debts.  These cases provide unique challenges in balancing the financial interests of the business against the financial interests of the personal guarantor.  If there is one thing that we want to say on this point immediately then it is this:  DO NOT LIQUIDATE RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS OR PENSION FUNDS TO PAY PERSONALLY GUARANTEED BUSINESS DEBTS.  The second thing that we want to say on this point immediately is:  DO NOT FAIL TO PAY TAXES THAT ARE DUE IN ORDER TO PAY OTHER BUSINESS DEBTS.

Now, with that said, the pressures on business owners to personal pay their business debts can be extreme.  There are solutions to these issues that often require technical review of each situation.  The legal work on this type of situation is often productive in finding solutions to the debt problems but, of course, each situation has to be independently reviewed.  Start from the point of view of the two comments above and then narrow the issues to produce an outcome that is manageable.


A few words on taxes in bankruptcy...

I have practiced bankruptcy law in the Northern Kentucky / Cincinnati area for nearly fourteen years.  My office has handled cases across a broad spectrum of businesses and personal situations.  An emerging trend that is far more prevalent now than ever before is the use of aggressive collection tactics by tax authorities.  I have seen more swift collection activity from the IRS, Kentucky Revenue Department and Ohio Attorney General than ever before.

Most of the clients that I talk with about tax problems in a bankruptcy context are surprised to hear that bankruptcy does offer a wide variety of remedies for tax debts.  The first and most important question is when a tax return was filed.  (If returns have not been filed then FILE THEM NOW!!!)  Filing tax returns is critical and most of the Bankruptcy Code is written to penalize people or corporations that do not file returns.

Chapter 7, depending upon the situation, can be used to discharge old tax debts and/or the liquidation process can pay off or decrease tax liabilities.  Chapter 13 gives a very wide variety of treatments for tax debts that often result in a better situation than an offer and compromise with the tax entity can give.

So, the bottom line is that if your tax issues are causing you to have serious problems then do not assume that bankruptcy is of no use to you.  The fact is that bankruptcy may actually be the best option for resolving tax problems.


Personal Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - the least that you need to know

Within the realm of bankruptcy law, Chapter 7 cases are probably still considered to be the 'classic bankruptcy' or 'total bankruptcy'.  The gist of the filing a chapter 7 case is that you list all of your assets, debts, income and expenses and, if all goes as planned, the United States Bankruptcy Court will discharge the debts that you wish to have discharged.

Yes, you can keep and maintain certain kinds of debts while going through a chapter 7 case.  Automobile loans are very commonly reaffirmed.  Mortgages are also very commonly reaffirmed.  There may be a hearing required by the Court to approve the keeping of these kinds of debts.

No, unless certain circumstances apply to you, you generally will not be able to discharge student loan debt, domestic support obligations and some kinds of taxes.

Yes, there are exemptions that apply to most classes of personal property.  These exemptions enable you to know what property you can keep during the chapter 7 process.

We have significant experience in handling chapter 7 cases for individuals.  Regardless of the complexity of your individual situation, we can find a solution that makes sense for you.



I grew up in a school district that very very rarely closed for snow.  I think that as a result of those school days trudging through snow to school, I developed the sense that snow is more of a bother than an amusement.  The funny thing about that is that now, as an adult, I find myself wanting to spend more time out in the snow with my kids than I ever wanted to spend as a kid.  Yesterday we built a snow fort.  Today I pulled out a sled for them and I did a little snowboarding in the side yard!

The fun part now is that technology allows me to continue working even when schools are out and my subdivision is iced over.  Technology has revolutionized the practice of law...and mostly for the better.

Have a great day everyone!