parents discussing child support with joint custody

Do I Have to Pay Child Support If I have Joint Custody?

In Arkansas, joint custody refers to an arrangement where each parent shares substantial amounts of time with physical custody over their children. This arrangement allows both parents continuous as well as frequent interaction time with their children. The Arkansas Code Annotated empowers family courts in the state to award joint custody, but the guidelines make it clear that joint physical custody does not always mean that the parents will have equal amounts of time with the kids. Regardless, it seems that there has been a generally established, albeit misled, belief that having a joint custody arrangement in place means that there will not be any child support obligation in place. This, however, is not accurate. We will discuss why in more detail here.

Do I Have to Pay Child Support If I have Joint Custody?

To be clear, the Arkansas child support formula remains consistent whether there be a sole physical custody arrangement or a joint physical custody arrangement in place. Arkansas differs from many other states in the way that the state does not give any automatic parenting time credit to reduce a child support amount. In fact, the only way that parenting time can impact the child support payment amount you are obligated to pay or entitled to receive is if the family court decides that the reality of the visitations with the children are substantially in excess of those that are commonly approved by the court.

This means that there is a chance that more parenting time will mean a reduction in a child support payment obligation, but the court will only make such modifications on a case-by-case basis. It also means that your best chance at having an accurate child support order in place is by demonstrating the reality of the parenting time situation that is happening in your individual circumstances. You must be able to show that your parenting time far and away exceeds the standard for what your county’s courts would usually approve. This is because the law provides for courts deviating from standard child support guidelines in the event that the court finds “extraordinary time spent with the noncustodial parent, or shared or joint custody arrangements.”

Barring extraordinary circumstances, therefore, Arkansas courts do not account for parenting time in the child support calculation. Instead, child support is usually calculated using income only. In order for parenting time to become a factor, those extraordinary circumstances must be asserted. Most of the time, parenting time totals accounted for by the court are mere estimates. Because they are merely estimates, there can be major discrepancies between them and the actual parenting time arrangements. Accounting for the actual parenting time, however, can be a bit tedious and, thus, many times the inaccurate estimates stand. In order to assert that there should be a deviation from the calculated child support amount based on parenting time, you must be able to detail what parenting time actually looks like.

Jonesboro Family Law Attorney

Do you think that the calculated child support amount should be modified? Talk to The Law Office of Bryce Cook about your options. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.

wrongful foreclosure of home

Grounds for Challenging a Wrongful Foreclosure

Have you received notice of foreclosure on your home? This can be scary, to say the least. You should not, however, lose hope. First and foremost, not all foreclosure actions are legally sound. Many foreclosure actions can be challenged as wrongful. This is, in large part, because there are extremely detailed and precise requirements that must be met for a foreclosure action to be properly brought. Here, we will go over some of the ways that you can challenge a wrongful foreclosure.

Grounds for Challenging a Wrongful Foreclosure

As previously stated, there are extensive and specific requirements that must be met, much of which are procedural in nature, in order for a foreclosure action to be legally sound. Failure to comply with procedural requirements can be a strong strategy for challenging a wrongful foreclosure. Should a loan servicer or lender fail to follow procedural requirements of a foreclosure action, the borrower may be able to have the process reset so that the servicer or lender will have to start all over again.

A foreclosure action is a high-stakes action. This is because someone is at risk of losing a home. Due to the high stakes, courts are very serious about foreclosure actions and are strict in enforcing all of the requirements for a foreclosure action to be proper. This means that a servicer or lender must comply with state law, federal law, and the terms of the mortgage or deed of trust. Failure to do so may result in the termination of the foreclosure proceedings.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that servicers and lenders are required to do, and which items could result in a challenge to wrongful foreclosure if lenders fail to complete them:

  • Meet state-required pre-foreclosure loss mitigation measures: Many states have laws in place requiring servicers and lenders to inform homeowners of mediation options as well as providing contact information so that the homeowner is able to explore options that would help avoid foreclosure proceedings. Furthermore, there are sometimes requirements that homeowners be referred to housing counseling agencies and legal services programs that can assist them in avoiding foreclosure on their home.
  • Comply with state law notice requirements: While there are slight variations across state lines, most states remain consistent in requiring loan servicers or lenders to provide borrowers with sufficient and timely notice of a foreclosure action. More specific requirements will depend on state law as well as whether a judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure action is being filed. It is likely that certain documents will be required to be filed with the local land records office as well as serving notice of a foreclosure sale on the borrower.
  • Comply with federal mortgage servicing laws: In addition to state-level requirements, there are also federal laws that requiring lenders and servicers to take specific steps prior to foreclosure. These laws are intended to protect homeowners when it comes to foreclosure proceedings. Federal laws generally require the lender or servicer to get in touch with the borrower in order to evaluate ways that the borrower could avoid foreclosure. Furthermore, the lender or servicer should inform you of your options in writing as well as assign personnel to assist the homeowner in foreclosure avoidance. The lender or servicer is also required to wait until the borrower is over 120 past due on loan payments before initiating a foreclosure action.

Jonesboro Wrongful Foreclosure Attorney

Are you facing foreclosure? Do not go through this alone. The Law Office of Bryce Cook is here for you. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.

government building

Can I Bring an Injury Claim Against the Government?

Have you been injured on government property? Were you injured in a car accident caused by a government employee? If so, you may be wondering whether you can bring a claim against the government seeking compensation for the harm you have suffered. While it is possible to do so, the rules are incredibly specific and the procedural nuances and formalities must be properly observed.

Can I Bring an Injury Claim Against the Government?

All state governments enjoy what is called “sovereign immunity.” With broad historical roots reaching far into the past, sovereign immunity simply put means that the government is immune from being sued unless such immunity is explicitly waived. The Arkansas Code Annotated provides that the state waives sovereign immunity in order to be held accountable when the negligence of a state entity causes harm. This same body of law details the procedure for seeking damages in these cases, including when, where, and how an injured party can seek compensation for harm caused by the government. In fact, the Arkansas Code Annotated section which states that sovereign immunity is waived in negligence cases also specifies that government agencies, along with employees and subdivisions, are to have liability insurance to cover certain types of harm. An injured person may seek compensation pursuant to that liability insurance coverage.

For instance, the Arkansas Code Annotated requires that Arkansas state agencies and subdivisions carry auto insurance that complies with the state’s minimum requirements. If you are injured in a car accident that is caused by a government employee in Arkansas, you can seek compensation for injuries and property damage against this insurance policy. This includes compensation for medical expenses and the cost of future medical care, along with lost wages and loss of future earning capacity. Damages, however, will be limited to the total coverage that is provided by the applicable government insurance policy. Arkansas also prohibits awarding punitive damages in claims made against the government. This ban on punitive damages holds true even in cases where the government was grossly negligent or acted intentionally.

To file your claim, however, you must go through the Arkansas Claim Commission. Claims against the government in Arkansas cannot be filed in state court. The Arkansas Annotated Code grants local and municipal government bodies in the state the power to develop their own processes for handling claims brought against them. So, if you are injured by a local government worker, such as someone employed by the city or county, you should check to see what the local procedure is for bringing a claim against the local governing body.

Personal Injury Attorney

Have you been injured on government property or by the negligence of a government employee? The Law Office of Bryce Cook is here for you in what can be a very difficult and confusing time in your life. Our dedicated personal injury team is here for you throughout the entire personal injury claims process. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.

man with personal injury

What to Expect from Your Initial Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney

Have you ever met with an attorney before? For many accident victims, it will be the first time they meet with an attorney or have any kind of dealings with a law office. While retaining a personal injury attorney to handle your injury claim can be a critical step in protecting your legal rights and maximizing the value of your claim, it can be intimidating. Do not worry. Your attorney is on your side and is tasked with protecting your best interests. Furthermore, your attorney is there to relieve you of a huge burden. Being in an accident can throw off your life in a huge way. Your attorney will take on the legal fight to let you focus on yourself and your recovery. Here, to help ease your anxiety a bit, we will discuss some of what you can expect at the initial consultation with a personal injury attorney

What to Expect from Your Initial Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney

The initial consultation with a personal injury attorney is likely to be a balance of your attorney getting to know you and your situation and you getting to know the attorney and the personal injury claims process. All of these aspects will help lay the groundwork for your claim and your relationship with your attorney and his or her law office. It is a chance to tell your side of the story and detail how the accident has impacted your life. It is also a chance for you to get to know your attorney and find out what can lie ahead for you and your claim.

Your attorney will want to get down to the basics at this initial meeting. You will be asked about the accident and what happened. Details such as where you were going and where you were coming from as well as what you were doing at the time of the accident will help paint a clearer picture. If you spoke with any other driver after the accident or called anyone after the accident, this should also be mentioned. If you took pictures or got the contact information from any witnesses to the accident, you should provide these to your attorney as well.

Your injuries will obviously play a central role in your personal injury claim and you should be prepared to discuss them with your attorney at this initial meeting. While you may not be fully aware of the extent of your injuries at this point, as many details as you can give about your initial medical evaluations and treatments can be helpful. Be prepared to also discuss how the accident and your injuries have impacted your life. Have you missed work? Did you lose your job? Are you still able to carry out normal, everyday activities? Have you been forced to give up any hobbies or activities? 

Your attorney should also go over a bit about themselves and some background information. If you have any questions, be sure to ask them at this time. Your attorney should also give an overview of what you can expect going forward. This may include how you can get ahold of the office, best methods of contact between the two of you, what the next step in the claims process will be, when you will receive updates, etc.

Personal Injury Attorney

The Law Office of Bryce Cook is here to help. This is true from that first phone call to the initial meeting and beyond. Our dedicated personal injury team is here for you throughout the entire process. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.

children in child care

How Are Childcare Expenses Divided After Divorce?

Divorce can be expensive on a number of levels. The process itself can be costly, but so can the financial impact of going from one household with two incomes to one household on a single income. To minimize the impact and make for a smoother transition to the next chapter of your life, planning and budgeting can be key. Being familiar with the expenses you will be responsible for covering and which you may receive support for in the form of alimony or child support will be important. This is why being clear on things like how childcare expenses will be divided after divorce can minimize a lot of unnecessary headaches after your divorce is finalized.

How Are Childcare Expenses Divided After Divorce?

Child support usually covers expenses related to providing for a child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, and central. It will also generally cover medical care and educational expenses. For the purposes of calculating child support in Arizona, because of the high costs of childcare, childcare costs are considered separately from those other general costs of raising a child. The state courts address childcare costs as a “deviation factor.” This means that a judge may take the cost of childcare into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid. The judge, in turn, may raise the amount ordered in child support payments in order to cover the cost of childcare.

Prior to determining the amount of child support that will be due, the judge will first need to consider the custody arrangement. The parent who has custody of the child most of the time will be set to receive child support while the other parent will be responsible for making the child support payments. In cases where there will be joint custody, the parent who makes more money may be the paying parent or neither payment will pay child support as the arrangement may be considered equitable time and not necessitating child support payments.

For costs not covered by child support payments or in cases where there is no child support order established, you may wish to have a written agreement in place with your co-parent as to how other childcare costs will be divided. The more specific and detailed you are with such an agreement, the more manageable everyone’s expectations for the arrangement are likely to be. In the agreement, you can outline things like agreed-upon extracurricular activities for your children. The default is that no parent actually has an obligation to pay any portion of the expenses associated with extracurricular activities. As they are considered extra as opposed to mandatory, you will be on the hook for paying the whole bill on what can add up to be costly extracurricular activities without an agreement in place.

In your agreement, you can outline how you will divide specific childcare expenses, such as summer camp, sports, and other extracurricular activities as well as the purchasing of the necessary supplies. You can detail how the payments will be made to one parent or another. You can also specify when these payments should be made.

Family Law Attorney

Going through a divorce? Get trusted legal counsel at the Law Office of Bryce Cook. We will take every step to help ensure your best interests are always protected. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.

release of liability

What Is a Release?

You have been through a lot. You have been injured in an accident. You have gone to seemingly endless doctor’s appointments. Your life has changed. You have watched medical bills and other expenses pile up. You have waited patiently to get a good settlement offer. Finally, the process is wrapping up. You have reached an agreement with the insurance company. Now, you are being asked to sign a release in order to get this money. But, what is a release?

What Is a Release?

A release of all claims, also sometimes referred to as a “liability waiver form,” is often included in a settlement agreement by an insurance company. It is a legally binding document that provides for the agreement to resolve the differences between the two parties, dismissing any outstanding claim, and releasing the insurance company and the insured from further liability. In other words, it releases the responsible party, the person at-fault for causing the accident and the insurance company, from any liability and future obligation to pay you for damages you sustained as a result of the accident.

The release will detail things such as the accident that caused your injuries, what you are claiming in terms of property damage and bodily injury, the identities of the parties involved, the payment that is being made to settle the claim, and any relevant governing laws. Some of the key provisions of the release include:

  • An agreement that you release the liable party from future obligations to pay for any damages resulting from the accident. This release of the obligation to pay will still hold should you discover other damages or injuries later on. You are waiving your right to be compensated for these later discovered damages.
  • You will also be agreeing to waive your right to bring suit against the insurance company as well as the insured driver liable for causing the accident.
  • There is also likely to be a provision in the agreement providing that none of the parties are admitting fault for the accident as part of the settlement agreement.

As you can see, you are agreeing to some significant things in signing the release. Take care to review the release and discuss its implications with your attorney. Before the insurance company pays out a settlement, you will most likely be required to sign the release. In fact, the insurance company has the legal right to withhold payment of a settlement until it receives a signed release.

Jonesboro Personal Injury Attorney

Always approach a settlement agreement and release with trepidation. This type of agreement has important and potentially substantial legal ramifications. Some insurance companies will try to rush an injury victim into quickly settling and signing a release before they know what they are getting into. Before doing anything like this, talk to the trusted legal counsel at the Law Office of Bryce Cook. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.

expert witness in personal injury trial

The Role of the Expert Witness in a Personal Injury Trial

Unfortunately, it is likely that you know someone who has been injured in an accident and brought a personal injury claim seeking compensation for the harm they have suffered. What is much less likely, however, is for you to know someone whose personal injury claim has gone all the way to trial with a personal injury claim. That is because the overwhelming majority of personal injury claims end up settling out of court. Some claims do, however, necessitate going to trial to pursue full and fair monetary recovery for a claimant. If you have been injured in an accident, you are likely overwhelmed and want to get a sense of the possible road ahead for your claim. While the odds are that your claim will settle way before the need for a lawsuit ever arises, knowing what could happen at a personal injury trial should your claim be headed in that direction, can help you get a handle on the situation.

There are many moving parts in any type of trial. There are exhibits to prepare and witnesses to assemble and prep. There will be lay witnesses. These are people that have first-hand knowledge relevant to the case, such as those that were at the scene of the accident and saw it happen. Then there are expert witnesses. We will discuss more on what an expert witness is and what the role of the expert witness can be in a personal injury trial.

The Role of the Expert Witness in a Personal Injury Trial

While a lay witness is qualified to testify at a personal injury trial because of their personal knowledge regarding relevant facts of the case, an expert witness is qualified to testify at a personal injury trial because he or she possesses specialized education, experience, or training in an area that is relevant to the case at hand. Prior to giving testimony, an expert witness will be asked to relay his or her qualifications for speaking to a particular subject. He or she will then be asked to use that knowledge base to explain or clarify certain issues in the case.

Expert witnesses can be a critical part of a successful personal injury trial. The fact that these witnesses possess specialized knowledge and speak from a place of objectivity means that judges and juries tend to give their testimony great weight. Furthermore, when there are muddled facts or opinions surrounding a case, an expert witness can shed light and work to clarify some of the essential issues in a case. Are there questions about liability and how the accident actually occurred? An accident reconstruction expert witness can clarify this. Are there questions as to what injuries were caused by the accident and what were preexisting conditions? A medical expert can speak to this. Is it unclear as to how a person’s injuries impacted employability and job prospects? A vocational expert may be useful in such a situation.

The objective nature of the expert witness testimony can be a force in a personal injury trial. It can also be highly informative and persuasive on the outcome of the case. This is why the role of an expert witness in a personal injury trial is such an important one.

Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident, do not go it alone. Get trusted legal counsel at the Law Office of Bryce Cook. Our dedicated personal injury team is here for you throughout the entire process. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.

woman receiving alimony

Will I Still Get Alimony If My Ex Files for Bankruptcy?

Alimony can provide critical financial support. A divorce can have a more significant impact on a person’s finances than may be first considered. Starting a life on your own, carrying the full weight of monthly expenses can be difficult and expensive. Alimony helps with this. In fact, alimony’s purpose is to help parties to a divorce preserve the economic status that was enjoyed during the marriage. Arkansas has three types of alimony to help accomplish this in different ways. Temporary alimony is awarded before the final divorce decree is issued. Short-term alimony is established for a defined period of time and usually in order for one spouse to be able to pursue job training. Permanent alimony is awarded for an extended period of time.

With many spouses coming to rely on alimony payments to make life after divorce more manageable, it can be stressful to think that those payments may come to a sudden halt. As stated before, divorce can be difficult on a person’s finances. It is not uncommon for people to eventually seek bankruptcy at some point after divorce. How would bankruptcy impact your alimony award? Would You still get alimony if your former spouse files for bankruptcy? Here, we will discuss this situation.

Will I Still Get Alimony If My Ex Files for Bankruptcy?

First and foremost, if your spouse owes back alimony, know that it is considered to be non-dischargeable debt. Domestic support obligations such as spousal support and child support will not be discharged as a bankruptcy. Any alimony arrears that have accumulated due to non-payment will be a priority debt to be paid off in a way contingent on the type of bankruptcy filed. If Chapter 13 is filed, the alimony debt will be included in the structured payment plan developed for your former spouse. 

Filing for bankruptcy will not, in and of itself, impact an alimony award. Your former spouse will continue to be obligated pursuant to the previously established court order to make good on alimony payment obligations. You should be aware, however, that your spouse may try to seek a modification of the alimony support obligation.

While bankruptcy in and of itself may not trigger or merit a modification of an alimony award, things that can contribute to or lead to bankruptcy may be substantial grounds for modification of an alimony award. In Arkansas, an alimony award can be modified by the court if there have been any changes in circumstances. For instance, if a job loss occurred, this may be grounds for modifying alimony, it also may very well have been a contributing factor in the need to pursue bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court does not, however, handle modification of alimony awards. The request to modify must be made to the appropriate court for review.

Family Law Attorney

Do you have questions about alimony and other important issues related to divorce? The Law Office of Bryce Cook is here to provide you with trusted legal guidance and support. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.

shoulder injury

Car Accident Shoulder Injury? Here’s the Possible Medical Treatment in your Future

You may take for granted the ease and mobility of moving your shoulder until you sustain a shoulder injury in a car accident. A should injury can be extremely painful. It can also be very limiting as it can greatly impede mobility and use of your arm. If you have injured your shoulder in a car accident, getting immediate medical care and complying with doctor recommendations for follow-up care should be at the top of your list of things to do. Failure to properly address shoulder injuries can greatly jeopardize your chances of successfully recovering from your injury and can also lead you to needlessly suffer more pain. Furthermore, failure to get immediate medical care and receive consistent follow-up medical care can also jeopardize your right to recover full and fair compensation for your injury through a personal injury claim. Medical evidence will be of paramount importance to a successful injury claim and that means getting the treatment you need.

Car Accident Shoulder Injury? Here’s the Possible Medical Treatment in your Future

The force of impact in a car accident can have devastating consequences for your body. In a car accident, there are a number of shoulder injuries that are commonly sustained. For instance, shoulder dislocation is a commonly sustained car accident injury. The force of impact causes the shoulder to be forced out of alignment. To say that this can be painful may be a gross understatement. While a shoulder dislocation may not merit surgery, it is a possibility. If you are not a surgical candidate after a shoulder dislocation, it is likely that your shoulder will be popped back into place, and you will be ordered to use a sling to avoid exacerbating the injury or sustaining a new injury.

You may also have sustained a shoulder fracture as a result of a car accident. Fractures to the shoulder blade, upper arm bone, or collarbone can all be considered shoulder fractures as these bones play an integral role in the ability of a shoulder to fully function. More serious fractures may necessitate shoulder surgery. In some cases, an injury victim may need a complete shoulder replacement. In other cases, a car accident injury with a milder shoulder fracture may be ordered to use a sling to stabilize the area as the fracture heals, but will not need to undergo surgery.

In the treatment journeys of both surgical candidates and nonsurgical candidates who have sustained shoulder injuries in a car accident, there is likely to be physical therapy in order to increase the strength of the area as well as stretches encouraging flexibility and building back mobility to the area. Additionally, massage therapy may be recommended to aid in the healing process and reduce pain as well as swelling. It is also likely that prescription pain medication will be recommended to manage pain and reduce swelling.

Personal Injury Attorney

Have you sustained a shoulder injury in a car accident? Do not hesitate to get in touch with the Law Office of Bryce Cook to start pursuing your legal right to receive compensation for the harm you have sustained. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.

child support

How Can I Pay Child Support?

Regardless of being married, never being married, or being formerly married, both parents have an ongoing obligation to provide financial support for their children. Parents may enter into their own agreements regarding child support, but such agreements must still, at a minimum, meet state guidelines and receive court approval to be valid. These requirements are to protect the fact that the right to receive a certain level of support rests with the child, not the parents of the child. 

The amount of child support a parent will be obligated to pay to the custodial parent will be based on set guidelines established by the Arkansas Supreme Court for all courts in the state to follow. Through using the guidelines, the amount of child support a parent may be ordered to pay to the other will be calculated. While this may be how the amount of child support will be determined, you may have other questions such as, how can I pay for child support? This is important to be aware of as failure to pay court-ordered child support can have serious consequences.

How Can I Pay Child Support?

Child support payments can be made through several different means. You may make your child support payments through income withholding. In fact, the majority of child support orders provide for income withholding, which requires an employer to automatically withhold child support from the paycheck of the noncustodial parent. The Arkansas Department of Finance Administration (DFA), should you have an open enforcement case with them, will set up the income withholding by providing your employer with the court order and other necessary information. Even if you do not have an open enforcement case with DFA, DFA can still assist you in setting up income withholding. While you may shy away from income withholding at first, you should consider the benefit of having your child support automatically deducted from your wages. It significantly reduced the risk of forgetting to make your payment or from spending your wages prior to paying for child support.

You may also make child support payments via credit card or eCheck online by creating an account on MyCase. Once you have created a MyCase account, you can opt to make on-time child support payments. Alternately, you can choose to set up a schedule of recurring payments. MyCase will also allow you to check your case status as well as your balance and keep your contact information up to date.

Child support payments may also be made via MoneyGram, which is a money transfer service popularly provided at a variety of retail locations. To make a MoneyGram payment, you must visit a retail location that makes the service available. You must pay a fee to make the transfer and provide the receive code number as well as your child support case number.

You may also pay your child support by mail with a check, certified check or money order sent straight to the Arkansas Child Support Clearinghouse in Little Rock. Include your case number as well as the name of the custodial parent along with your payment. This will help ensure you are properly credited for your child support payment

Family Law Attorney

Do you have questions about child support? The knowledgeable team at the Law Office of Bryce Cook has answers for you. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.