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Jun 2011

Bankruptcy Law Office Opening in Stafford Virginia

Posted by / in Virginia Bankruptcy / 6 comments

Stafford VA Bankruptcy Lawyer Robert Weed

I’m Virginia Bankruptcy Lawyer Robert Weed.  My Stafford office is at 300 Garrisonville Road, #201, Stafford, VA 22554.

I’m Virginia bankruptcy lawyer Robert Weed, announcing the opening my newest location, in Stafford County, Virginia.

Many people in Stafford have been hard hit by the current economic crisis.

Zillow shows the average home value in Stafford has fallen from $400,000 in July 2006 to $250,000 today.  A loss of 38%.

Stafford County, VA, has some of the longest commutes in America.  So people in Stafford have been hit harder than most when gasoline hit four dollars a gallon.

Stafford also has a low average age–fifth lowest in Virginia.  That low median age translates to mean, young families with children.  The folks hardest hit when there’s a loss of income.

I’ve helped hundreds of Stafford families get a new start–seeing them at my locations in Woodbridge and Manassas, Virginia.

Why am I opening in Stafford?  I know several good bankruptcy lawyers in Fredericksburg.  I’ve long recommended Dale Adams; and more recently I’ve gotten to know more about Jason Greenwood and Bob Barlow.

It’s a strain, though, being a bankruptcy lawyer in Fredericksburg, VA.  Why?  People south of the Rappahannock River, Spottsylvania County and Fredericksburg City, are under the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court in Richmond, VA.    North of the river, that’s Stafford County, is under the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court in Alexandria, VA.

A lawyer who has to be in Richmond and Alexandria the same day–or even back-to-back–can be stretched pretty thin.   All my locations, Sterling, Manassas, Woodbridge, and of course Alexandria, are in the jurisdiction of the Alexandria court.  That enables me to meet people at each of my offices, and serve them all efficiently.

My law firm has the experience of twelve thousand bankruptcies.  Three thousand now under the 2005 bankruptcy law.   No other bankruptcy lawyers in Stafford or Fredericksburg have done near that many.

I’m opening in Stafford, July 5, 2011.  If you want to see if I can help you, make an appointment, fill in my forms, and come on by.


I now have nearly a hundred five-star reviews from people in Stafford.  You can read them, here.


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May 2011

After bankruptcy: My house payments don’t show on my credit report.

Posted by / in Virginia Bankruptcy / 534 comments

One reason to file bankruptcy is to get back to good credit.  Once your credit has gone bad, bankruptcy, for most people, is the fastest way to fix it. I encourage all my clients to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy.

So you may be disappointed, and even angry, about how the credit bureaus handle your mortgage payments.  Making your after-bankruptcy mortgage payments on time doesn’t help your credit score one bit.  Those payments don’t show at all.

Instead your mortgage will just show “included in bankruptcy.”

“Hold on” people say, “I didn’t include my mortgage.”

Actually you did.  When you file bankruptcy, you “include” everything.  That’s the law.  You pick and chose what debts you want to keep paying–keep paying the house if you want to live there; keep paying the car if you need it to get to work.  But you don’t pick and chose what debts are covered.

(The bankruptcy covers–discharges–your credit cards, medical bills, debt collectors, bank loans, car payments, mortgages.  It doesn’t discharge student loans, most taxes, child support or alimony.)

Making your house payment on time after bankruptcy, gives you a place to live. But it does not help your credit score.

Even if you are keeping the house, the discharge is an important benefit to you.  If real estate values don’t recover–or drop again–and you can’t sell the house when you are ready to move, you are still protected.  You can move out and not owe them anything.  (Remember though to pay your home owners association!)  Also, after bankruptcy late payments don’t count against your after bankruptcy credit.

If you complain to the mortgage company about your credit report, they will tell you that “you should have reaffirmed your mortgage.”  Reaffirming takes the house out of the bankruptcy.

Is reaffirming a benefit to you?  Maybe you get back to good credit a month or two sooner than you would just be getting and paying new credit cards.  The disadvantage?  If you can’t pay or can’t sell the house, you get garnished for up to eight years.

That disadvantage is lots bigger than the benefit.

If the credit bureaus worked for you and me, rather than the creditors, we’d set it up something like this.  The credit bureaus would report your house payments as long as you are current, but they come off if you get behind.  Sorry, but we don’t have that choice.

After bankruptcy mortgage payments–current or late–don’t show on your credit.  That’s just the way it is.

(The same rule applies on car payments.)


PS  What the Bankruptcy Judge Here Thinks

In early 2020, I was in court and saw a lawyer asking the judge to approve reaffirmation on a mortgage.  The judge, who is usually very nice, chewed out the lawyer for even suggesting it.  “I will never approve a mortgage reaffirmation,” she said.  “Don’t ask.”

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Feb 2011

Bankruptcy exemptions in Virginia get better July 1.

Posted by / in Virginia Bankruptcy / 6 comments

Bankruptcy exemptions in Virginia got a little better effective July 1, 2011.

HB 1422, sponsored by Del Dave Albo (R-Springfield) increased the exemption for motor vehicles from $2,000 to $6,000.  It also exempts one family firearm valued up to $3,000.

Bankruptcy exemptions are important because the bankruptcy trustee is supposed to take and sell your non-exempt assets and use the money to pay creditors.   The last major revision of this law had been in 1992, and 20 years of inflation had taken a toll on what people are allowed to keep.

The purpose of exemptions is to allow people (who maybe losing their home to foreclosure), to keep enough to be able to start over.  A $6,000 motor vehicle exemption will about cover a seven year old Chevy Malibu–a reasonable car for someone to get to work or the grocery store and feel safe with the kids.

Virginia has a “homestead exemption” of $5,000.  That  goes back in Virginia law to 1919 and was originally intended to protect real estate equity.  Recently most people filing bankruptcy with paid for cars had to use the “homestead” to protect their cars.

Many bankruptcy lawyers this year worked very hard to get the General Assembly to update all the Virginia exemptions to reflect changes in the last twenty years.  That didn’t work out.  We got a lot less than we asked for.

The members of the Virginia House of Delegates who did the most to help people on this issue were Del. Mark Cole (R-Stafford, Spottsylvania) and Del. Robin Abbott (D-Newport News).

Fairfax Senator Chap Petersen

Fairfax Senator Chap Petersen helped improve Virginia bankruptcy exemptions. Legislation passed in 2011 allows families filing bankruptcy to protect a car such as a seven year old Chevy Malibu.

State Senator Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax) was our key supporter in the Virginia Senate.

Several Bankruptcy Lawyers worked very hard to persuade our elected officials to improve the Virginia exemptions.  Mitchell Goldstein, of Richmond, drafted our proposed legislation.   Darden Hutson, also of Richmond, coordinated the state-wide effort.  Daniel Press, of McLean, worked tirelessly and recruited Senator Peterson to help.  Bob Barlow, of Fredericksburg, talked to the legislators in that area.  Bob’s success recruiting Del. Mark Cole was key.

Other bankruptcy lawyers who worked hard include Jeanne Hovendon, Ellen Ray, and Jason Greenwood.

I should also mentioned Klinette Kindred, of my law firm.  (In 2011 she became a bankruptcy trustee and later moved to a law firm that doe primarily trustee work.)  She lives in Springfield VA, in the area represented by Del. Albo.  She made an appointment and asked him for support in December 2008.  That request from a local voter may have helped tip him over to us two years later.  Del Albo is the chairman of the committee that has jurisdiction over exemption law.

For my later blog on exemptions generally, go here.

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