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Losing Your Home to Foreclosure? Try Mediation.

The recent crisis in the mortgage industry has resulted in an increase of loan defaults and foreclosures.  This stems from the fact that many homeowners took out loans with low interest rates, but for short terms with a balloon payment to be re-financed.  As those balloon payments are coming due, the refinancing is not being done at rates which the homeowner can afford.  Other homeowners have mortgages that had low adjustable rates (ARM) early on in the loan, but then shifted to higher rates as time went on.  These lead to defaults on mortgages which is followed by foreclosure.

Mediation may be a good way to find a winning situtation for both the lender
and borrower.  By the time a foreclosure suit is filed, a homeowner has been
in default for several months.  Experts say that at that point, a homeowner usually is resigned to losing the house and doesn’t hire an attorney, or can’t afford one.  At the same time, lenders are not in a rush to foreclose on homes in a down market.

Foreclosures have reached an all time high in the third quarter of this year.  The court system in Ohio is strongly urging mediation in these cases to stem the crisis.

If you’re faced with foreclosure, try to negotiate a new arrangement with the lender.  If you can’t, try mediation.  Feel free to contact me for more information.

A Divorce Resource

People who are contemplating or facing a divorce often have many questions.  While my website contains a lot of information for divorcing couples in New Jersey, I found another website that you might find helpful.  It is Divorce360.

If you have any questions about divorce in NJ or want to learn more about divorce mediation, please contact me.

Danger: Avoid Death?

When I mediate commercial cases that are referred to me by the court, they range the spectrum of topics and subject matter.  I’d say that in most of the cases I get, the parties have legitimate claims and defenses.  The disputes are a matter of a loss of communication between the parties or it is simply a disagreement over how to interpret something ambiguous.

In a response to what they feel are extortionist lawsuits, the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (M-LAW) has instituted an annual contest for the Wackiest Warning Labels.  This year’s winner is a label on a small tractor that warns: “Danger: Avoid Death”.  Second place was for a label found on an iron-on T-shirt transfer that warns: “Do not iron while wearing shirt.”  Third place was for a label on a baby-stroller featuring a small storage pouch that warns, “Do not put child in bag.”

Honorable mentions: a warning label on a letter opener that says: “Caution: Safety goggles recommended.”;  and a warning found on Vanishing Fabric Marker which cautions users:  “The Vanishing Fabric Marker should not be used as a writing instrument for signing checks or any legal documents.”

“Predatory lawyers know they can file ridiculous lawsuits against innocent product makers and blackmail them into cash settlements — even in cases in which a user has ignored common sense,” said M-LAW President Bob Dorigo Jones. “The real issue is not the obvious warning labels, but the billions of dollars in litigation costs passed on to consumers — a kind of a “lawsuit tax” we all pay. That is why M-LAW urges judges and policy makers to support civil justice reform.”

Those who oppose the contest said that while some warning labels may seem silly, even dumb warnings can save lives.  “Warning labels save lives, so it’s shameful that this group would make fun of them in order to further its campaign to weaken our civil justice system,” said Kathleen Flynn Peterson, president of the American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers group.

If you’re looking for someone to mediate and help resolve your lawsuit, please give me a call at 732-963-2299.

Crackdown on Parents who fail to pay child support

The Bergen Record reports that authorities have arrested hundreds of people for failing to pay child support or who did not appear at court hearings.  A total of 1,020 people were arrested and $354,000 in back payments was recovered in the sweep that started last Tuesday.

Same Sex Divorce In RI

A same sex couple who got married in Massachussetts, then moved to Rhode Island, had their petition for a divorce in Rhode Island’s courts denied by their Supreme Court.  In answering the question, “May the Family Court properly recognize, for the purpose of entertaining a divorce petition, the marriage of two persons of the same sex who were purportedly married in another state?”  In a 3-2 decision, the RI Supreme Court decided that “well-established principles of statutory construction would lead us ineluctably to conclude that the General Assembly has not granted the Family Court the power to grant a divorce in the situation described in the certified question…the role of the judicial branch is not to make policy, but simply to determine the legislative intent as expressed in the statutes enacted by the General Assembly. In our judgment, when the General Assembly accorded the Family Court the power to grant divorces from ‘the bond of marriage,’ it had in mind only marriages between people of different sexes.”

Bill in NJ Legislature Dealing with Child Support

On November 19, Assemblymen Chris Connors (R-9) and Brian Rumpf (R-9) introduced bill A4557 in the New Jersey Assembly.  The bill, if passed into law, “prohibits permanent change of child custody during period of active military duty; provides that absence due to active military duty, by itself, is not sufficient to justify modification of a child custody or visitation order.”

I’ll track the bill and post any changes in its status.

Tweety, Donald ordered to appear in court

ROME (AP) — Tweety may get a chance to take the witness stand and sing like a canary. An Italian court ordered the animated bird, along with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and his girlfriend Daisy, to testify in a counterfeiting case.

In what lawyers believe was a clerical error worthy of a Looney Tunes cartoon, a court in Naples sent a summons to the characters ordering them to appear Friday in a trial in the southern Italian city, officials said.

The court summons cites Titti, Paperino, Paperina, Topolino — the Italian names for the characters — as damaged parties in the criminal trial of a Chinese man accused of counterfeiting products of Disney and Warner Bros.

Instead of naming only the companies and their legal representatives, clerks also wrote in the witness list the names of the cartoons that decorated the toys and gadgets the man had reproduced, said Fiorenza Sorotto, vice president of Disney Company Italia.

“Unfortunately they cannot show up, as they are residents of Disneyland,” Sorotto joked in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “It certainly pleased us that the characters were considered real, because that’s what we try to do.”

The Naples court will have to rewrite the summons, although this will probably delay the trial, said Disney lawyer Cristina Ravelli.

“Let’s hope the characters will not be prosecuted for failing to appear,” Ravelli quipped.

Calls seeking comment from Warner Bros. in Milan were not immediately returned. Phones at the Naples court were not answered Tuesday.