April 25, 2019

Five Essential Elements to Feeling Better, Single, Apart or Together!

When life throws a curveball, you may be overcome with feelings of sadness, confusion, pain or despair.   You may want your ex to change, your finances to be different, the betrayal to be undone, the law to be different. While venting and complaining may have emotionally protective value, ultimately they’re not  going to make you feel better.  And, focusing on the negative is not going to change the fundamental facts of your life.  However, there are simple perspective shifts that can help you navigate any adversity  and make all the difference in how you feel, how relate to yourself, with your family and in the world around you.

So, how can you start to feel better when everything involving your life seems to be falling apart? By exercising your own agency and starting to take ownership of your power to alter your thinking. The most powerful, and compelling part of each of our reality is informed by the stories in our minds.  That inner narrative informs all that you see, do and feel.  And, while it’s powerful, with some small shifts in perspective and tweaks to our inner narrative you can shift it slowly, and begin to feel better.  Your present circumstances do not define you.  Each moment is an opportunity to press re-set and begin to cultivate a new reality. Positive reframing the facts of your life will activate your ability to heal.

If you take a look at what I call the Five Essential Elements, you can begin to shift your internal narrative in a positive way.  Those five elements are: patience, respect, clarity, peace and forgiveness.  By focusing on just one of these five elements each and every day, you will become better equipped to move forward in a healthy way.

The Five Essential Elements allow you to press re-start from wherever you are so that your life can truly become better.

1) Patience

Patience through and beyond your difficult process is the key to your future. It opens the path to true feeling calm, and it gives you the strength to live in the present moment with mindful awareness. When you practice patience, you’re training your mind to transform what could be a catastrophe into an intentional and constructive future for your family and for you.

2) Respect

Self respect can be elusive and the most important to hold onto when you are going through shame inducing experience. Respect for yourself, your humanity, your pain, is important so that you can process and move through it.  When you notice you are feeling bad about yourself or your situation, consider whether you are exposing yourself  to people or circumstances that are feeding the negative loop.  For the moment, shelve the relationships that are not serving you.  Write yourself a letter naming all the people and experiences that lift you up.  Commit to spending more energy engaging in what allows you to best accentuate the positive.

3) Clarity

Clarity is your capacity to receive and respond with lucidity, taking nothing personally.    Getting clear on priorities is vital in order to negotiate best outcomes for your personal needs. Clarity activates your ability to make smooth, easy decisions. Part of being clear in your decisions depends on how much you can let go of blame and allow yourself to make, acceptance and compassion more accessible. Visualize and internalize specific goals. Keep your focus on positive, forward movement and interactions in order to dispel negativity and keep it out of your orbit.

4) Peace

Of course we all want inner peace.  One way to move toward practicing peace is to strive for neutrality, which keeps you free of tension in your mind, heart and body.   This freedom allows you to sustain your resources and keep yourself feeling nourished by your own attitudes and choices. Practicing peace helps you reconstruct your divorce or separation as a sanctuary of new possibilities.   Recognize that peace is a choice and takes effort.  Consciously remove yourself from a pointless argument cycle as you begin to welcome a pathway to peace.

5) Forgiveness  

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It’s a moment of letting go of what might have been and realizing that everything is just as it must be. Forgiveness allows us to release grudges and to feel truly free from the inside out. Remember, holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  Recognize that your present circumstances are not an indication of your future. Whether you feel wronged or have wronged another, forgiveness begins when you have compassion for yourself.

If you engage in the daily practice of focusing on one of each of these five essential elements, over time you can truly press re-set. This habitual mindfulness of your circumstance and relationship through the lens of patience, respect, clarity, peace and forgiveness will no doubt make your road forward smooth.  As the negative loop dissipates, you will begin to clear the path for possibility.  You have the POWER RIGHT NOW  to design your own elegant, satisfying story moving forward.  One re-framed story at time.

Gabrielle Hartley is an attorney, coach, mediator, consultant, speaker and author. She is known for a unique, non-toxic approach to divorce that she developed over two decades in practice. Gabrielle keeps 99% of her cases out of the courtroom and at the negotiating table as she effectively supports her clients to create a healthy, uplifted post-divorce life for them. Gabrielle served as court attorney for Judge Jeffrey Sunshine in NYC matrimonial court and is a member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation.  She currently resides in Northampton, MA with her husband and three sons. Visit Gabrielle at gabriellehartley.com to learn more about hiring Gabrielle for speaking at events, divorce coaching or mediation services.

Better Apart: The Radically Positive Way to Separate (HarperWave), by Gabrielle Hartley, with Elena Brower, is the first book to apply the life changing healing wisdom of meditation and yoga, combined with practical advice to help anyone going through the painful and seemingly intractable realities of divorce.  Using powerful, mind-body exercises and legal insight Better Apart shows you how to meaningfully shift your mindset and move forward through any-or all parts of this emotionally fraught process.

See What You Can Do Online During National Social Security Month

In April, we celebrate National Social Security Month by letting you know what you can do online with a my Social Security account. Last month we featured how you can replace a lost or stolen Social Security card, get a copy of your 1099 (SSA-1099), and check the status of your Social Security benefit application or claim. This month we share three more advantages.

If you already receive Social Security benefits, you can set up or change direct deposit information online with a my Social Security account. In most cases, you are required to receive federal benefits electronically, so when you choose direct deposit, we will electronically deposit your funds directly into a bank account. If you do not have a bank account, you can choose Direct Express® and your funds will be electronically deposited into a prepaid debit card account. Direct Express® has no enrollment fee or minimum balance requirement to open or use the account. We strive to provide online services that best suit when, where, and how you do business with us. You can set up direct deposit, or you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Visit our website to learn more about all of our online services.

Do you receive Social Security benefits (retirement, survivors, or disability) or are you enrolled in Medicare and getting ready to move?  You can change your address information online when you create a my Social Security account.

If you already receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you can create a  my Social Security  account and have instant access to your award letter or, as we call it, benefit verification letter.

Please know that securing your identity and personal information is important to us. We protect your information by using strict identity verification and security features. The application process has built-in features to detect fraud and confirm your identity.

Share with friends and family what you can do online with a my Social Security account.

Originally posted on by .

Re-posted by Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray of Consumer Legal Services, LLC.

This is no April Fools’ Joke: Means Test Numbers are Going Up as of April 1, 2019!

After your initial consultation, I will analyze your financial circumstances and perform your Means Test. A Means Test is an assessment used to determine if you qualify to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Before 2005 it was easy to file for bankruptcy; virtually anyone could do so. In 2005 Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA)1 and added the Means Test requirement to prevent abuse of the Bankruptcy process. Simply put if you “pass” the means test, you are a qualified candidate and can file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition. If you “fail” the means Test, you may not file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy but you may enjoy other alternatives such as a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

The Means Test primarily encompasses a two-step analysis:

STEP ONE: Your (the “debtor’s”) gross income is calculated on an average over a six month period prior to filing for Bankruptcy. Gross income for means testing purposes includes wages, salary, tips, bonuses, overtime and commissions. It does not include social security benefits. The figure derived from taking the average is than considered the Debtor’s Current Monthly Income which is then compared to the median income for your state and household size. If your current monthly income is less than the median income for your state and household size, than you “pass” the means test and are allowed to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition. If, however, your current monthly income is greater than the median income for your state and household size, you may proceed to Step Two.

STEP TWO: If your current monthly income is greater than the median income for your state and household size, there is, in technical terms, a “presumption of abuse.”2 In order to rebut the presumption, or in other terms, to pass the means test by using the second step, the means test’s second section allows you to subtract from your current monthly income certain allowable and deductible expenses.3 These allowed deductions include, but are not limited to, expenses for living (mortgages and property taxes), transportation (car loans and car taxes), health insurance and charitable donations. After the calculations are performed, and the allowable deductions are taken, and if you then have no disposable monthly income available, you will then have passed the Means Test and may file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. If, on the other hand, you do have remaining disposable income, you may consider a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

The discussion above is an overview of the Means Test in basic terms and is in no way intended as a specific analysis of your personal financial circumstances.

For an analysis of your own financial circumstances, please contact Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray, to schedule your free consultation today!

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1See: 11 U.S.C. § 707(b)

2See: 11 U.S.C. § 707(b)(2) and 11 U.S.C. § 707(b)(3)

3See: 11 U.S.C. § 707(b)(2)(A)

Wife, Mother, Attorney and…now, Author!

About a year ago, over the course of many months, in between taking care of my son and clients, I co-authored a book called “Tiger Tactics: Powerful Strategies for Winning Law Firms.”  Below is a sample.  Copies can be ordered on TigerTacticsBook.com.

Balance

They say when you have a baby, you should sleep when the baby sleeps. I say work when the baby sleeps.

Thirteen months ago I had a baby. I did not have a maternity leave. I emailed clients within one hour of having a C-section. When you are a solo, there is no other choice.

My son’s name is Chase. I now think of my life in two parts: (1) Before Chase (aka BC) and (2) After Chase (aka AC). Before he was born, I worked all the time. And I mean All. The. Time. I loved it. I know, I am weird. But I wanted to be a lawyer all my life and I love what I do……all aspects of it, working in the business as well as working on the business. My husband didn’t love it. But he adjusted BC and understood why I didn’t have many friends or hobbies, because I was always working and that was my passion.

After Chase, things were immediately different. I now have this little human that depends on me 24/7 and is the cutest, most fun little guy in the world, so of course, spending time with him has become my first priority, and my work has naturally taken a close second place.

My number-one piece of advice to any lawyer who has children or wants to balance their work and life, even if they don’t have kids, is this: Make a schedule and stick to it.

Easy to say and hard to do, I know. It’s the nature of our profession and one of the top reasons why I love it. No day is the same. Mondays I might spend all morning in court and all afternoon in client meetings, and on Thursdays I might spend all day doing networking, going to Rotary meetings, and meeting new referral sources. But the longer you practice, the more you will notice a rhythm to your practice and your schedule, so you can make a rough schedule and try to stick to it. That goes for home too.

When you have small children, they rule your schedule, and you have to adapt to them. That’s where the rule “work when the baby sleeps” comes in. But as they grow and organically create their own routine, you can work your business and personal responsibilities, tasks, and events into and around their routine…

To continue reading, head over to www.TigerTacticsBook.com.

MEANS TESTING: Census Bureau, IRS Data and Administrative Expenses Multipliers

“Most individual debtors filing for bankruptcy relief are required to complete a version of Bankruptcy Form 122. Official Form 122A-1 (Chapter 7 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income), Official Form 122A-1Supp (Statement of Exemption from Presumption of Abuse Under § 707(b)(2)), and Official Form 122A-2 (Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation) (collectively the “122A Forms”) are designed for use in chapter 7 cases. Official Form 122C-1 (Statement of Your Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period) and Official Form 122C-2 (Chapter 13 Calculation of Your Disposable Income) (collectively the “122C Forms”) are designed for use in chapter 13 cases. [The Official Bankruptcy Forms can be found on the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Web site.]

A debtor must enter income and expense information onto the appropriate form (i.e., the 122A Forms or the 122C Forms) and then make calculations using the information entered. Some of the information needed to complete these forms, such as a debtor’s current monthly income, comes from the debtor’s own personal records. However, other information needed to complete the forms comes from the Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This Web site reproduces the Census Bureau and IRS Data necessary to complete the 122A Forms and the 122C Forms. The source data reproduced here is also available directly from the IRS and Census Bureau…”

SOURCE: https://www.justice.gov/ust/means-testing

For more information and a FREE  Means Test Analysis, please contact Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray at 203-713-8877 or visit www.ConsumerLegalServicesLLC.com.

What to Expect at an Initial Consultation

THE FIRST STEP on your journey to a fresh start begins with a free and confidential consultation to learn exactly what your options are.  I offer initial consultations at various locations around the state of Connecticut (including Milford, Shelton and Wethersfield) and will strive to find a convenient time and place to meet with you.  I have day, evening and weekend appointments available and will even skype or facetime with you!

An initial consultation with a lawyer is a great opportunity for many reasons.  When you meet with me for the first time you will be treated with respect, dignity and compassion.  I understand the hardship you are facing and will give you my full attention.  The meeting will be an opportunity for you to interview me, just as much as it is an opportunity for me to interview you.  Always remember, when you hire an attorney, they work for you, and you must feel comfortable with them as you will have to trust your attorney to guide you through each and every step of the Bankruptcy process.

During our consultation I will ask pointed questions that are focused on painting a picture of your financial circumstances.  This inquiry will include questions pertaining to your income, assets and debts.  Through your answers I will be able to analyze your financial circumstances and offer you options.

Next I will show you various disclosure statements that I am required to give to you by the United States Bankruptcy Court under the Bankruptcy Code1.  These documents will explain the Bankruptcy process, the difference between the various chapters of Bankruptcy, what a Discharge is and what credit counseling services are, among other important things.  You will be asked to sign these documents, acknowledging that you received them.

Finally, if I determine that you are a likely candidate for Bankruptcy and you are interested in hiring me to file your Bankruptcy Petition, I will conclude my presentation by guiding you through a checklist of documents I will need from you to perform a Means Test.  A Means Test is a formal assessment used to determine if you qualify for Bankruptcy.  Do not be alarmed, it is not a test like the SATs and does not require you to pencil in any bubbles!  On the contrary, you will gather the documents and my staff and I will prepare the test for you as part of our package services.

Throughout the consultation and especially at the end, I will ask you if you have any questions.  I will be happy to answer all of your questions and you should not hesitate to ask any question or ask for clarification if something is unclear.

At the conclusion of the initial consultation I will give you a folder with all of my contact information and copies of all the documents you read and signed during the meeting.  A follow-up appointment will be made with you for either a telephone conference or an in-person meeting to go over any further questions you may have and to help you with the gathering of your documents.

The next part of this series will go into more depth about the specific documents you will gather so that we will be able to analyze your financial circumstances and prepare your Means Test.

To schedule your initial consultation, please call us at 203-713-8877 or visit our website at www.ConsumerLegalServicesLLC.com.
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111 U.S.C. §§ 101-1532

GOOD NEWS: Updated Census Bureau Median Family Income Data

March 14, 2019

The Census Bureau’s Median Family Income Data accessible through the “Means Testing Information” page has been updated. The U.S. Trustee Program will apply the updated data to all cases filed on or after April 1, 2019.

SOURCE: https://www.justice.gov/ust

Turn Your Tax Refund Into Debt Relief Today

“Leverage: the use of a small initial investment…to gain a very high return.”

— Dictionary.com

          I have been debating how to talk about this in a delicate manner and I simply could not figure it out. So, I will just come out and say it: People being crushed by debt can leverage their tax refunds to file Bankruptcy and get a Fresh Start. There, I finally said it.

          It may not sound kosher but it is. Instead of using your tax refund to pay off a portion of your debt, or to buy a big screen TV, people can pay for their legal fees to get out of massive amounts of debt if they qualify and it is the right thing for them to do based on their circumstances.

          If you are struggling with debt and want to explore this option, please contact my office and schedule a free and confidential consultation.

CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE

FAQ: Child Support Enforcement Services (Re-posted from Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

BANKRUPTCY COURT OPEN DURING PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

This firm is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief amongst other things, under the Bankruptcy Code.