| Read Time: 4 minutes | Divorce

Low-Cost Lawyer for Uncontested Divorce in Chicago

Yes, There Are Good Options for Hiring a Low-Cost Divorce Lawyer in Chicago Let’s face it—divorce can be a complicated topic.  Nobody goes into a marriage thinking it will result in divorce later on. Nevertheless, couples choose to end their marriages for a variety of different reasons.  Regardless of their reasons, parties often want to keep divorce proceedings as quick and cost-effective as possible. Hiring an attorney for your divorce can actually be one of the best ways to achieve these goals. Are you considering an uncontested divorce in Chicago or looking for affordable divorce lawyers in Chicago? If so, contact Vantage Group Legal today. Our team of professionals can help connect you with divorce attorneys in the area for one low monthly fee. Give us a call today to learn more about our unique services. Let’s discuss how we can help you save both time and money. Low-Cost Options for Divorce in Chicago, Illinois As with any other legal process, a divorce has the potential to be expensive and time-consuming. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. In fact, there are a few options in which a low-cost divorce might not be outside the realm of possibility.  File for Divorce Without the Assistance of an Attorney Of course, one way to achieve a cheap divorce in Chicago is to attempt to navigate the process on your own without the assistance of a divorce lawyer. However, this is generally not recommended.  The fact remains that a divorce is a legal process with specific requirements and deadlines. If you are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the process, you can miss key steps.  This could lead to the other party obtaining a more favorable outcome. And if the other party to divorce has an attorney, while you do not, this can make matters even more difficult.  Ultimately, proceeding without an attorney could result in a more costly divorce in the long run. Hire a Cheap Divorce Lawyer in Chicago Another low-cost divorce option is to hire a cheap divorce attorney to assist with your case.  This might be a better option than proceeding with a divorce without the assistance of an attorney whatsoever. However, be wary as you make your selection.  Don’t just select the first option that comes up after a quick internet search for “cheap divorce lawyers in Illinois.” By doing so, you may risk sacrificing valuable experience and quality, both of which are crucial in a divorce proceeding. So don’t limit yourself to only the cheapest divorce lawyers in the area—make sure to carefully vet your potential candidates first and select an attorney that has the skills and resources necessary to take on your case.  Use an Affordable Divorce Lawyer in Chicago to Help you File for an Uncontested Divorce Another great option to keep your divorce affordable is to file for uncontested divorce in Chicago. In situations where there is little to no animosity between the parties, an uncontested divorce might be a way to keep your divorce costs relatively low. If the parties agree on how to handle all aspects of the divorce, this can make the filing process much simpler and can reduce the amount of time and money required to finalize the divorce.  Of course, uncontested divorce in Chicago may not be a viable option in all cases. Speak with a divorce attorney today to discuss your options and see if an uncontested divorce might be right for you and your situation.  Uncontested Divorce in Chicago Sometimes, couples simply grow apart for one reason or another. And while the parties may agree that staying married is not the best decision moving forward, they may not have any animosity toward each other.  In these situations, an uncontested divorce in Chicago can be a great low-cost option. Looking for Affordable Divorce Lawyers in Chicago?  If you’re looking for affordable divorce lawyers in Chicago, contact Vantage Group Legal today.  When you work with our team, we will assign you to an experienced network attorney who fits your particular legal needs. Vantage Group Legal is not a law firm. Thus, you might be wondering, How does Vantage help you achieve a low-cost divorce?  Not all divorce lawyers in Chicago are low-cost and also experienced. However, our unique system at Vantage Group Legal can give you a way to achieve a low-cost divorce. And we can do it all for one low monthly fee.  With our subscription plans, you pay only one low monthly fee to be connected with a knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorney in your area who will handle all aspects of your case for the duration of your subscription plan. You will have access to Vantage Group Legal’s internal support team as well. For more information on our subscription services and how we can help you accomplish a low-cost divorce, contact Vantage Group Legal today.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Foreclosure

Foreclosure Help in Chicago: Resources for Homeowners

Facing foreclosure in Chicago? Start by reading this guide, then contact Vantage Group Legal for immediate help. Home foreclosure is the process by which you lose legal ownership of your property. Receiving a foreclosure notice can be overwhelming. This process occurs several months after months of missed mortgage payments.  Many Chicago area homeowners are devastated when they receive a foreclosure summons and do not know how to cope with the situation. If no action is taken, the bank can take your home and negatively impact your finances. Though this sounds like a difficult situation to overcome, you may have options to save your home and get foreclosure help in Illinois.  Foreclosure Resources for Homeowners There is foreclosure help in Chicago and the surrounding areas that you can take advantage of to guide you through the process of dealing with your potential foreclosure. Here is a list of some of the available resources to help you keep your home in Illinois. Illinois Housing Development Authority Foreclosure counselors from the Illinois Housing Development Authority are available to provide advice and services to help homeowners. These services include reviewing your mortgage and finances and discussing options to find a solution.  Hope Hotline 1-888-995-HOPE Develop a plan tailored to your unique foreclosure situation. Hope Hotline provides free one-on-one confidential and comprehensive financial and foreclosure prevention education.  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau‘s list of housing counselors. A housing counselor can offer independent advice on your mortgage and other financial housing issues.  Illinois Legal Aid Resources that explain the foreclosure process are available from Illinois Legal Aid, along with the necessary paperwork and filing timelines to guide you through the process. There are also helpful videos explaining how foreclosures work and what you can do.  Illinois Hardest Hit Fund Financial assistance is available through the Illinois Hardest Hit Fund for thousands of homeowners who meet eligibility criteria and have experienced at least a 15% income reduction due to qualifying hardships.  Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc. A certified homeowner counselor from Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc., can help identify foreclosure prevention options and solutions to make your home more affordable. They also offer additional homeowner advice and resources.  Illinois Attorney General At the Illinois Attorney General‘s website, you can learn about the steps you should take when facing a foreclosure, your legal rights and options, and what to beware of. This site also provides access to the attorney general homeowner helpline.  Chicago Urban League The housing and financial empowerment center of the Chicago Urban League is a counseling agency that provides professional assistance for low-to-moderate-income residents. Some of their services include mortgage delinquency and default resolution, pre-purchase counseling, homebuyer education, financial counseling, foreclosure prevention, and more.  Northwest Side Housing Center Certified counselors from the Northwest Side Housing Center work toward improving your housing situation through counseling, education, and advocacy. If you are unable to make your mortgage payment and trying to save your home from foreclosure, they can work with you and your bank to make keeping your home affordable. This organization focuses on residents in Belmont Cragin and the surrounding communities. Partners in Community Building (PICB) PICB’s foreclosure prevention department assists clients who are in imminent default, facing foreclosure, or in post-foreclosure. Help is offered through the various federal government, bank, and investor programs.  How Can an Attorney Provide Foreclosure Help in Chicago? If you would like to keep your home and believe you have a defense to the foreclosure, your best option is to seek help from an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about Illinois foreclosure laws. Most defenses are going to require navigating the legal system. Some valid defenses for foreclosure may include: Proper foreclosure procedures were not followed; The party foreclosing on your property cannot prove that it owns your mortgage loan; and The servicer made a serious error with your account.  If you choose to contest the foreclosure, there are several steps that you will need to take within the appropriate time frame.  Complete a Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer to Complaint This form lets the court know that you have been informed of the foreclosure summons and allows you to contest the information within the summons. You also have the opportunity to state any defenses you may have to the foreclosure and facts to support those defenses. An experienced attorney will ensure that this form is thoroughly completed and that your facts do support your defense.  Submit Documents to the Court Clerk The Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer Form should be submitted electronically to the court clerk in the county where you are filing the case against your foreclosure. This is usually the county where the property is located. Your attorney will do this on your behalf.  All Parties Are Informed of Your Answer The other parties involved must be made aware of the lawsuit. It is best to send these documents to the party’s attorney if they have one. Having your attorney ensure proper delivery will take this procedural aspect off your shoulders. Documents can be hand-delivered, mailed, sent by a third-party postal carrier, or filed electronically. Prepare for and Attend Court An experienced attorney is necessary to help you prepare for court. It is important to ensure you have all relevant documents and proof to defend against your property foreclosure. This may include all financial and payment history surrounding your home. You and your attorney should also review any potential questions that you may be asked by the judge and bring copies of all relevant documents. The judge and your attorney will direct you on how to proceed once you are in court.  Why Hire a Foreclosure Attorney? A Chicago foreclosure lawyer can help you formulate your arguments against foreclosure, navigate the rules of the court, and submit the appropriate paperwork at the appropriate time. It’s unlikely that you, as a homeowner, could mount a successful defense to property foreclosure without the help...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Foreclosure

Can a Bank Foreclose if Payments Are Current?

Foreclosure most commonly refers to a lender taking possession of a property for non-payment of a mortgage loan. However, the status of mortgage payments is just one cause of foreclosures. Other causes include the owner’s unpaid debt to other parties, a homeowner not meeting other aspects of the loan agreement, and payments misdirected to the wrong lender.  Therefore even when payments are current, there are several circumstances where the bank can still foreclose.  We Offer Affordable Debt Relief Solutions for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure. Our team is standing by to help. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 5 Reasons Foreclosure May Happen Even When Payments are Current 1. There Are Unpaid Property Taxes Local governments collect property taxes on homes. Sometimes those taxes are paid as part of  mortgage payments (usually under the term escrow). For taxes due separate from the mortgage payment, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to pay the taxes to the government. If they do not pay, the bank may pay the taxes owed. If a homeowner fails to reimburse the bank, the bank can foreclose.  2. Homeowners Insurance Not Up To Date Not having homeowners insurance can be a valid reason for a lender to foreclose on a property. Like property taxes, the mortgage contract likely includes a clause requiring a homeowner to maintain adequate homeowners insurance. Failure to maintain the coverage would violate the mortgage contract. 3. There Are Violations of Other Mortgage Contract Conditions Any mortgage contract term violated by the homeowner, not just failing to pay the mortgage, could be grounds for foreclosure. For instance, most mortgages require the homeowner to keep the property in satisfactory condition. If the homeowner does not do this, the bank can seek to foreclose. A contract violation, such as transferring ownership to another party, may also result in foreclosure.  4. Home Owner Association (HOA) Fees Are Past Due In more recent years, HOAs have become popular entities. An HOA is a community board that makes rules and regulations and provides the upkeep of the shared areas in a specific neighborhood. Homeowners in these neighborhoods are required to pay HOA dues. When a homeowner fails to pay their HOA dues or assessments, the HOA may seek court assistance to sell their home and collect the debt owed. This type of home loss can occur even if all mortgage payments are current.  5. Homeowner Paid Mortgage To Incorrect Bank A mortgage loan may be held by one bank initially, then taken over by another. While the homeowner’s records may indicate that they have been paying the mortgage, they may not have been paying to the right bank. The cause may be a clerical error on the homeowner’s part or that of one of the banks. Regardless, if the current lender is not getting the payments, foreclosure is possible. You Should Have Legal Help in a Foreclosure Case If you or someone you know may be facing foreclosure, look into hiring a lawyer immediately. An attorney will review your mortgage contract and all relevant documents, hear your side of the matter, and defend you in the foreclosure process. A foreclosure defense lawyer gives you the best opportunity to keep your home. Vantage Group Legal Services Will Defend You in a Foreclosure Case No matter the circumstances, Vantage Group Legal Services can assist you in a foreclosure  situation. As a unique company with a team of specialized Attorney’s in foreclosure defense, Vantage Group Legal Services connects you with an experienced network attorney and will give you a no-obligation, free consultation. Once you retain Vantage Group Legal Services, your assigned network attorney and Vantage’s internal support staff will handle all aspects of your case during your contract with them. Chicago foreclosure defense attorneys in Vantage Group Legal Services’ network are chosen because of their ability to win cases and achieve success for their clients. Contact Vantage Group by phone at (773) 938-4747 or online.

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| Read Time: 6 minutes | Foreclosure

Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law: What You Need to Know

Facing foreclosure in Illinois? Start by reading this guide, then contact Vantage Group Legal for immediate help. Anticipating or dealing with the process of foreclosure can be an angst-ridden time for anyone. Tendencies can be to ignore the possibility of foreclosure, try to handle the foreclosure case on your own, or be angry about the circumstance but not act. However, the most productive result is understanding the Illinois foreclosure process and seeking immediate help from an established legal service with expertise in Illinois foreclosure law. If you face foreclosure, you are taking a significant step in protecting yourself and your property right now by reading a bit about the Illinois foreclosure process. No matter what the circumstance, you have rights and options. Here’s a brief guide to help you get started on addressing foreclosure in Illinois. What Is Foreclosure? Let’s start with the basics. You’ve heard the term and maybe received a notice which references the term. But what exactly is foreclosure? Foreclosure is a process. It involves a lender taking a homeowner’s property because the homeowner failed to make agreed-upon payments or otherwise violated the mortgage contract. The Impact of Foreclosure in Illinois We understand the fear, desperation, and anger a foreclosure may be causing you. A foreclose can result in: A poor credit record, Difficulty in buying a home in the future, Financial upheaval, and  A change in living circumstances as you will have to vacate the property. There are also mental health tolls due to the stress of the circumstance. This legal process of foreclosure is indeed severe. As a result, individuals regularly consult Chicago foreclosure attorneys to help them avoid foreclosure. The Illinois Foreclosure Process There are various statutes in our state which address Illinois foreclosure law. Many legal terms can cause the statutes to be overwhelming to non-lawyers and even to lawyers who are not foreclosure experts. So let’s look at what some consider a typical home foreclosure process: A homeowner receives a warning that they are behind on payments or or have otherwise violated their mortgage contract; The lender sends the property owner a warning letter, notifying them that the lender may pursue foreclosure; A notification that the lender is filing for foreclosure is provided to the homeowner; and The judicial system provides notice that the lender has filed for foreclosure. The ending, without intervention, will be that the court allows the lender to take possession of the property and the now-former owner must vacate the property. No two foreclosure experiences are identical. But what will always be similar in every case is that a process that can end poorly without legal advocacy. What to Consider When Facing Foreclosure in Illinois It is incorrect ever to assume that foreclosure is the result of blatant irresponsibility. Guilt and embarrassment often plague those facing foreclosure. Even though a foreclosure notice may cause those emotions for the homeowner, a foreclosure warning in Illinois does not tell the story of the struggles the recipient has faced. Consider this scenario. A homeowner is a reliable, hard-working citizen. They have paid their mortgage on time for over 15 years. Due to Illinois unemployment and the economy, they lost their job and got far behind on their mortgage. Like many, they live paycheck to paycheck and don’t know where to get assistance. Feeling at fault, they do not contact the bank to explain their situation. Sadly, in time, they receive a foreclosure warning. This person may suffer the same fate as many others and lose their home.  The difference between those who end up in foreclosure and those who do not is often whether they sought help from an Illinois foreclosure lawyer. In the story above, if the person reached out to an attorney along the way, the attorney may have been able to help them avoid losing their home. Foreclosure in Illinois: It’s Possible Even If Your Mortgage Is Current Illinois mortgage foreclosure law also permits foreclosure even when a person is current with all payments. These cases may involve homeowners insurance, taxes, or the condition of your property. Many mortgage contracts require that you stay current on taxes and insurance and keep your property in a reasonably habitable condition. If you fail to do any of these things, you may violate your mortgage contract. The result? Possible foreclosure. In some cases, even HOA (homeowners association) violations can lead to foreclosure. You may be wondering, How long does foreclosure take in Illinois? The foreclosure timeline is varied and can depend upon the lender processing the foreclosure. It also may be based on the terms of your mortgage contract. Another factor may be legal protections given to homeowners to lessen, slow down, or even halt foreclosures because of COVID-19. It is never too late to try to fight a foreclosure. Stopping Foreclosure in Illinois There are many ways to fight foreclosure in Illinois. The first step is to hire a lawyer with experience in foreclosure defense. You want to do this as soon as you fear you may be at risk of foreclosure so that they can intervene swiftly to protect you. Foreclosure defense attorneys know how to fight Illinois foreclosure actions. They will review your specific circumstance and determine how best to advocate for you. Their legal strategies may include: Negotiating with your lender to allow for makeup payments;  Helping you submit the arrears amount, if you are able, to end the foreclosure process; Applying for state and federal relief to block the foreclosure; Battling the lender if they have unjustly started foreclosure; Addressing your extraordinary circumstances with the lender and seeking leniency of terms; and Negotiating for new terms of your mortgage contract. The above are just a few examples of the many strategies quality legal services can implement to fight for you. Each are good ways to resolve a foreclosure situation in a clients’ favor. You Have Options for Avoiding Foreclosure in Illinois It is rare that there are not some avenues available to try to avoid foreclosure....

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Foreclosure

Illinois Foreclosure Process and Timeline

Sometimes life can get a little hectic, especially with the current global landscape of uncertainty. Whether you forget to make your mortgage loan payment or lack the funds to do so, missing one payment is not the end of the world. Unfortunately, missing multiple mortgage payments can be a much more serious issue.  After 90 days without payment, your mortgage loan automatically defaults, and you may face foreclosure on your home. All foreclosures in Illinois are judicial foreclosures, which means that a lawsuit is required to foreclose on a property. Continue reading to learn about the Illinois foreclosure process and timeline, along with valuable information about the steps you can take to try and avoid property foreclosure. How Long Does a Foreclosure Take in Illinois? The time it takes from missed payments to having a home foreclosed on and sold can vary significantly depending on the individual case and whether you opt to contest the foreclosure. Without contesting the foreclosure, it can take up to 15 months before the property is no longer yours. Don’t start packing just yet. There are a lot of steps along the way. Here is the general Illinois foreclosure timeline: 30-60 days late: missed payments prompt contact from the lender. 60-120 days late: automatic mortgage loan default. 90 -120 days late: lender provides a breach letter.  120-175 days late: homeowner receives service of a mortgage foreclosure summons. 230 days late: without a response, the court enters default judgment. 260 days late:  right to reinstate the loan expires. 7 months after being served or 3 months after judgment (whichever is later): right to redemption expires. 10 days before sale: receive written notice. 15 days after property is sold: an eviction notice is entered. 30 days after property is sold: you may be forcibly evicted.  If you decide to contest the foreclosure, the timeline will change a little. The process will also include document filing deadlines and court proceedings. Reasons for Property Foreclosure Lack of payment leading to a mortgage loan default is the most common reason for foreclosures, but there are a few other things that could lead to foreclosures. Some of these include unpaid property taxes or homeowners association fees. Most mortgage contracts also require homeowners insurance to remain up to date and for the property to be maintained to a specific standard. These issues are all grounds for foreclosure. However, here we address how long a foreclosure takes in Illinois specifically with regard to mortgage loan default. Illinois Foreclosure Process and Timeline Going through foreclosure proceedings can be extremely stressful and hard on you as well as those you care about. This is especially true if you and your loved ones are living on the property in question. The help of an experienced foreclosure attorney could make the process a lot easier and potentially uncover ways that you could keep your home. It may be worth looking into getting professional legal help with your potential foreclosure.  Here is a breakdown of each step to better answer the question, How long does a foreclosure take in Illinois? Missed Mortgage Loan Payments Most lenders offer a grace period before assessing late fees on missed mortgage payments. The lender may even reach out to provide payment assistance programs to help you catch up. Life happens, and sometimes our finances change. Most lenders understand that, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take missed payments seriously. You certainly should not ignore lenders who may have options to help you out of debt.  Automatic Mortgage Loan Default In Illinois, your mortgage loan will automatically default after 90 days without payment. At this point, your lender will send a Notice of Default (NOD), which serves the purpose of informing you of their intent to foreclose on your property due to lack of payment. Once the lender sends this notice, your foreclosure becomes a public record. Beware of solicitation from creditors offering to help. It is best to work with your lender directly or a reputable debt management company.  Breach Letter Is Received Most mortgage contracts contain a clause that requires the lender to send a “breach letter” when the loan defaults. The lender should issue this letter 30 days before filing the foreclosure lawsuit, giving you, as the borrower, a chance to avoid foreclosure proceedings. Thirty days after the breach letter is sent and 120 days after the first missed payment, the lender may file a foreclosure complaint.  Served with a Mortgage Foreclosure Summons Despite what you may have seen in the movies, hiding in the bathroom or closet when the mailman knocks on your door will not prevent you from being served. The mortgage foreclosure summons is not something you should ignore. It is necessary to read the complaint to understand the allegations against you, find any discrepancies, and be notified of any important dates.  Default Judgment Is Entered If you choose to ignore or to intentionally not respond to the mortgage foreclosure summons, a default judgment will be entered against you. If you choose to respond and fight the foreclosure, this will change the Illinois foreclosure process timeline for your specific case. It is best to consult with a foreclosure attorney to assess your options prior to deciding whether to respond to the summons. Choosing not to respond means that you essentially agree with the complaint and the lender’s request for foreclosure.  Right to Reinstate Loan Expires In Illinois, you have 90 days from the date the lender serves you with the mortgage foreclosure summons to reinstate your mortgage loan, even after a default judgment has been entered. This means that you may bring your loan payments current along with other expenses that have occurred because of your late payments. Reinstatement after the 90 days may still occur if the lender allows it, but they are not obligated to do so. If the lender allows an extension past the 90 days, it could change how long the foreclosure takes in Illinois.  Right to Redemption Expires Up until seven...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | COVID-19

COVID-19 Forbearance

Legal and real estate professionals expect foreclosures to be on the rise in 2021. Fortunately, the federal government is aware many people are struggling due to COVID-19. Forbearance avenues, therefore, exists to assist homeowners.  If you are a homeowner genuinely unable to meet your mortgage obligations, you should explore all avenues of mortgage forbearance. COVID-19 or other life challenges may have led to your trials regarding your mortgage. Let Vantage Group Legal Services assist you in seeking forbearance help. The Meaning of Forbearance Forbearance is when your lender lets you pause or reduce your payments for a limited time. You will need to discuss forbearance options with the bank, finance company, or mortgage service agency that manages your home loan/mortgage. Usually, forbearance does not erase what you owe. There may be terms for you to repay payments you miss. But the forbearance is very beneficial if you temporarily need to pause your payments. Signs You May Need a Forbearance Many homeowners fall upon challenging times at some point. However, when hardships begin to impact your health, safety, and home, they can be devastating.  Regarding your home, you should take immediate efforts to seek a forbearance if you find it extraordinarily challenging or impossible to: Keep current on your mortgage payments; Have the finances to maintain your home in a safe and livable condition; or Pay your property taxes related to your mortgaged property. Each of the aforementioned are standard requirements in mortgage contracts. Do not wait until the rubber hits the road. If you are struggling to comply with the terms of your mortgage contract, you need a lawyer. If you have been impacted by COVID-19, forbearance lawyers should immediately be aware of that exceptional circumstance. Seeking Forbearance Mortgage lenders have dealt with many others who struggled to keep current on their mortgage just like you. While they may be willing to work with you to let you keep their home, their ultimate goal is to collect their payments, even by foreclosure if necessary. It is not the lender’s duty to tell you how to seek forbearance. However, our mortgage forbearance lawyers do have the desire to help you qualify and receive a forbearance. We are especially attuned to the upheaval individuals are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forbearance may not only be an option a bank can give you; it could be your legal right.  Forbearance Options Not Related to COVID-19  Mortgage holders who meet the criteria below may seek a forbearance under general non-COVID-19 forbearance terms. These criteria include: A good track record of timely payments, up until now; An unexpected change in financial status (sudden job loss, death of spouse or divorce leading to reduced income); and A commitment and clear plan to resume payments at the end of the forbearance. Each lender has a process for applying for forbearance and criteria regarding whether to grant the request. It is almost always better to request a forbearance than to default on a loan. COVID-19 Forbearance  If you are experiencing difficulty making on-time mortgage payments due to the national coronavirus emergency, a specialized forbearance may be an option for you. The government recognized the financial hardships many homeowners faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. Forbearance became a real need to aid families in keeping their homes.  As a result, the United States government created the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Under this law, the government gave homeowners with federally backed mortgages up to a year or more of forbearance on their mortgage payments. With CARES forbearance, homeowners could pay their mortgage at a lower payment or pause payments fully.  As of December 2020, CARES is still in place. The government may well extend it into 2021. Our foreclosure defense attorneys have all up-to-date CARES information. They can help you: Apply for CARES if applicable (it is not automatic, you must apply); and Review other state and private options for COVID-19 pandemic forbearance assistance if CARES does not apply to your situation. For as long as there have been mortgages, there has been a need for mortgage forbearance. COVID-19 is not the only reason for seeking forbearance, but it has created many of the situations people currently find themselves in when they seek forbearance.  Advantages of Legal Assistance in Seeking a Forbearance Understanding forbearance options is just a start. To have the best chance of getting a forbearance, you need an attorney who knows laws related to mortgage forbearance, COVID-19 protections for homeowners, real estate, and more. Specifically, here are things at which only foreclosure defense and mortgage forbearance lawyers will excel. Applying the Law to Protect You Forbearance is a contractual, legal issue. It involves more than a request to lessen or forgive mortgage payments. It involves numerous areas of law, including: Foreclosure law,   COVID-19 pandemic forbearance law,  Bankruptcy law,  Contract law, and Real estate law. To know your responsibilities, your rights, and the legal requirements of others, you need an attorney. Negotiation with and Utilizing Other Professionals The first step in seeking a forbearance may be contacting the mortgage company. That step is more than a phone call. Presenting the request in legal, professional, and complete terms is essential. Also, forbearance may involve reaching out to: Tax accountants,  Government tax officials,  Other attorneys, and The courts.  Vantage Group Legal Services attorneys know how to handle these interactions with professionalism and discretion. Most importantly, they do so while fully advocating for your interests.  Objectively Looking at All Options  The most important aspect of having an attorney is that they will objectively analyze your situation and explore all avenues to assist you. You likely have plenty to handle during the COVID-19 pandemic as it is. Forbearance is an item a lawyer can entirely focus on for you.  In seeking a lawyer, you need one who specializes in mortgage foreclosure and forbearance. These lawyers will be aware of the laws of mortgage forbearance, COVID-19 homeowner assistance, and foreclosure protection.  Your Rights During Forbearance If you...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Foreclosure

How to Respond to a Foreclosure Summons (Step by Step)

When determining how to respond to a foreclosure summons, your first step should be to avoid panicking. Do not start packing your bags or planning to move in with relatives just yet. The foreclosure process can take several months, and you may have options to avoid foreclosure. That being said, do not ignore the foreclosure summons.  What Is a Foreclosure Summons? The foreclosure summons document serves the purpose of informing you that a Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint has been filed against you. You must file an answer to the allegations if you wish to contest the foreclosure. The summons will also state how many days you have to file your response. If you don’t respond within the specified time frame, the foreclosure will occur according to the plan outlined in the complaint.  How to Respond to a Foreclosure Summons Though responding to your foreclosure summons may seem overwhelming, it is not an insurmountable task. Here are the steps you should take to respond to a foreclosure summons.  Step 1: Read the Summons You may be tempted to pretend that you never received the foreclosure summons. You might hide it in a desk drawer or shred it and use it as bedding for your child’s pet hamster. But none of those ideas are going to save your home. Your first step is to read the summons in its entirety. This will give you an understanding of the allegations and the deadlines you need to meet to properly respond to the foreclosure summons.  Step 2: Speak to Foreclosure Lawyer  Speaking to a foreclosure lawyer is the best way to clearly understand the options for your unique situation. The process for responding to a foreclosure summons involves forming a legal argument, filing documents with the court, and following rules of evidence. This can get complicated if you are not familiar with the legal system.  An experienced foreclosure lawyer will know how you should proceed to achieve the best result for your situation and provide peace of mind throughout the process.  Step 3: Decide If You Want to Contest In determining how to respond to a foreclosure summons, you should first decide if you want to contest the allegations. The benefits of contesting the foreclosure are that you could get the foreclosure dismissed and keep your home. At the very least you may get the foreclosure delayed and be able to spend more time in your home. If you have reason to believe that any of the information in the complaint is incorrect or that the plaintiff did not follow the law leading up to the foreclosure, contesting is a valid option.  Step 4: Prepare a Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer to the Complaint Filling out the Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer Form tells the court that you were made aware of the pending foreclosure. The form asks a series of questions that provide you with the opportunity to state whether you agree with or disagree with what was stated in the Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint. Note that if you find yourself agreeing with everything in the complaint, you may want to reconsider contesting the foreclosure or seeking legal help. Section C is where you will state any defenses you have to the allegations and supply facts to support those defenses.  Step 5: File the Form with the Court Clerk After you have completed the Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer Form, you must submit these documents electronically (e-file) with the court clerk in the county where the court case is filed. You may be exempt from e-filing if you are incarcerated and do not have an attorney, lack internet access, have a disability, or are not proficient in the English language. In any of those cases, you will need to fill out an exemption form. To file your documents electronically, you will need to set up an online account for filing with the court.   Step 6: Send a Copy of Your Answer to the Other Parties You must send a copy of your filed Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer Form to the other parties in the foreclosure lawsuit. If the party has an attorney, that is the best place to send the documents. The appropriate address should be listed under the attorney signature on the original foreclosure summons.  The documents can be delivered a number of ways, including: Hand delivery,  Regular mail,  Third-party postal carrier (FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc), or  Electronically through an approved e-filing service.  If the summons contains the party’s email address, that can also be used. Delivery confirmation is strongly recommended for whatever method is chosen.  Step 7: Prepare for Your First Court Appearance This is a lawsuit, and by contesting the allegations, you are essentially saying that your home should not be foreclosed on and you are willing to go to court to prove why. It is important to gather all relevant documents and any other forms of proof to defend against the complaint allegations. This may include things like your mortgage payment history, loan modification request and other related documents. Make a list of any questions you would like to ask the judge. Consider any questions that you may be asked by the court and have those answers prepared.  Step 8: Attend Your Court Date Upon filing your Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer to the Complaint Form, you should have received a court date and time from the court clerk. This may also arrive as a written notice. If you forget your court date information, contact the court clerk. It is a good idea to arrive at least 30 minutes early for your scheduled time. Sometimes finding the correct room can be a burden, so give yourself extra time.  Bring a copy of the Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint Summons and two copies of your answer form. When your case is called in the courtroom, you will walk up to the judge and introduce yourself. The judge will then direct you on how to proceed.  Choosing Not to Respond to the Foreclosure Summons...

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| Read Time: 6 minutes | Divorce

What Happens When You File for Divorce First?

When you file for divorce first, you become the plaintiff in the case. This means that you may have a bit more control over the case. For example, the plaintiff can drop the case as long as they do so before the defendant’s spouse files an answer. Timing Advantages of Filing First Assuming that your spouse is not also rushing to file for divorce, filing first can let you choose the timing of the divorce. If you want to contact a lawyer before you file, filing first can allow you to set up legal representation before the divorce proceeding is initiated. Hiring a lawyer before filing can prevent your spouse from using the tactic of “conflicting out.” This occurs when one spouse meets with several divorce lawyers about the divorce proceeding, creating a conflict of interest that prevents those lawyers from representing you. Obviously, this is a spiteful tactic, and it is not a common part of a divorce case. In addition, if you live in a major city, it is just not possible for your spouse to meet with enough attorneys to significantly limit your options for representation.  Hiring a lawyer before filing still has advantages. You will not feel rushed during the hiring process if a case has not yet been filed. This will allow you to take your time, ask your potential attorney questions, and find out if you really want them to represent you. Choosing Your Jurisdiction Filing for divorce before your spouse may give you some control over the jurisdiction of your divorce. While there are rules determining where you can file, if you and your spouse live in different states or if you have a secondary residence, you may have some options. Each state has its own divorce law, so there could be an advantage to choosing one state over another. For example, there are three different formulas that states use to determine the amount of child support payments. These different formulas can result in different sums of monthly child support. If you want to make sure your child receives the maximum possible financial support, you may want to file for divorce in a state that uses one particular formula. As mentioned, you will not have a full range of choices available for a filing jurisdiction. You or your spouse must have some sort of residential connection to a state to file for divorce in that state. Talking to a divorce attorney can help you choose the best available jurisdiction. An experienced lawyer will be able to tell you how the law of a particular state can affect your divorce case. An attorney will discuss the pros and cons of each jurisdiction with you and help you make an informed decision. Automatic Temporary Restraining Order In some jurisdictions, when you file for divorce, an automatic temporary restraining order (ATRO) takes effect. The ATRO prevents both parties from engaging in certain actions during the divorce proceeding. Each state is different, but there are several common types of actions that are prohibited under an ATRO. Property Transfers Neither spouse can sell or otherwise dispose of any property once an ATRO is in place. This applies to both property that each spouse owns separately and marital property that is owned in common. If you think that your spouse might try to empty your shared bank account before filing for divorce, you should consider filing first. The ATRO requires both spouses to agree in writing before any such property transfers occur. If your spouse transfers property in violation of the ATRO, there are legal consequences. Penalties can include a fine or imprisonment. Filing for divorce first is an important step toward protecting your assets if your spouse might try to pull a fast one. Child Custody The ATRO will prevent either spouse from removing any children from the state in which the divorce is pending. Only an agreement in writing between the spouses will allow one parent to move with the children. This prevents one parent from moving the children to a different jurisdiction to try to avoid a custody decision. Policy Coverage In some states, an ATRO prevents either party from changing the beneficiary on any insurance. This includes health insurance. If you rely on your spouse’s health insurance for coverage, an ATRO will make sure you remain a beneficiary while the divorce is pending. Filing first can make sure the ATRO is in place before your spouse can change the beneficiaries on any policies. Plaintiff Advantages When you file for divorce first, you become the plaintiff in the divorce proceeding. Being the plaintiff can be advantageous for a few reasons. Default Judgment Once you file for divorce, your spouse will be served with divorce papers. They then have a certain amount of time to file their answer. If they do not file within the specified time, you may be awarded a default divorce. In a default divorce, the divorce terms that you included in your original filing are more likely to be the legally binding terms of the divorce. It is important to note that default divorces are often overturned. Even if your spouse does not file a reply within the provided window, they have a set period of time to contest the default divorce. If your spouse gives a good reason for their failure to respond in time, the court will overturn the default judgment. This essentially starts the case over as if you had just filed your divorce papers.  Some people filing for divorce may calculate their filing so their spouse has a difficult time filing an answer in time. Tactics like filing while a spouse is on vacation and similar strategies are not common, but they do occur. It is not advisable to use one of these strategies because it is more likely that your spouse will be able to get a default judgment overturned if you filed your divorce papers in bad faith. First to Present Your Case As the plaintiff, if...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Divorce

I Need a Divorce Lawyer and Have No Money

Many people need a divorce lawyer but cannot afford to pay expensive legal fees. Fortunately, you may be able to find representation through a local legal aid society or volunteer lawyers organization. Many of these organizations provide low-cost or even free legal services to qualifying individuals. These organizations also offer additional resources that may help you with your divorce. Will I Be Appointed a Lawyer? It is required by the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that if you are facing criminal charges, the court must appoint you a lawyer if you cannot afford one. However, this does not usually apply in the divorce context. In custody cases involving minor children, some states will appoint a lawyer on behalf of your children. A judge will usually appoint a lawyer for a child if neither parent is representing the child’s best interests. Unfortunately, there are usually no state-funded, court-appointed attorneys for divorce cases. However, this does not mean that you cannot find free or affordable legal representation elsewhere. Courts in some states will appoint a lawyer to represent a parent in certain child custody cases. For example, if your parental rights are at stake, you may be appointed a lawyer under state law.  Where Should I Look for Help? Everyone knows that getting divorced can be expensive. There are court fees you must pay, and you may need to pay a professional custody evaluator or a mediator. The biggest expense by far is hiring a divorce lawyer. Luckily, various options exist if you are worried about your ability to pay for a divorce attorney. The availability of low cost legal services varies by state. All fifty states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico offer some form of legal assistance to people who are not able to afford to pay a lawyer.  Legal Aid Call the legal aid society in your local area to ask about the kinds of services they offer. Different organizations have different requirements. You may have to earn below a certain income threshold to qualify for services. Additionally, the need for free legal services is often much greater than what the local legal aid society can handle. There may be a waiting list for receiving pro bono legal services from your local legal aid organization. Local Bar Association Each state has a bar association that oversees the certification and qualifications of attorneys practicing in that state. Your state’s bar association may be able to suggest options for free or low-cost representation in your divorce.  Some bar associations can offer you a discounted consultation with an attorney. If your divorce case is relatively simple, this consultation may be all the legal advice you need. Not every divorce requires a lawyer to handle every step of the case. If you and your spouse agree on most of the divorce issues, a consultation may be all you need. However, a divorce with one or more contested issues and any divorce with contested child custody can get complicated. A consultation can still help. The consulting lawyer can help you weigh the pros and cons of representing yourself versus continuing to look for free representation. Once you know what the stakes are, you will be able to make an informed decision. Self-Help Tools Even if you do not qualify for free legal representation through a legal aid society, the organization may still be able to help you. Some legal aid organizations offer self-help tools for people facing legal issues. Self-help tools can include programs designed to help you fill out the forms that the court requires for your divorce. Legal forms in their standard format can be extremely confusing, especially if you don’t have prior experience dealing with the court system. Self-help programs offer a question and answer format to guide you through the process. You will answer the questions the program asks to the best of your ability, and the program will use your answers to fill out the forms.  Before you sit down to fill out your paperwork, take some time to get organized. You will need to know some basic information and some more detailed information about you and your spouse’s assets to complete the paperwork. Set aside some time to review your financial records such as bank statements and mortgage documents. This can help you take stock of the property that you and your spouse own, as well as which property you own jointly versus separately. Once you have gathered all the documentation you think you will need, you are ready to begin the process of filling out your forms. Low-Cost Legal Services Getting legal advice does not always have to involve an expensive law firm. Vantage Group Legal offers a subscription service that you can tailor to your needs. After an initial free consultation, you can opt to subscribe to Vantage Group Legal’s services. An attorney who is experienced in divorce law or other relevant matters will be assigned to your case. Vantage Group Legal offers a low-cost alternative to traditional law firms. What Are Some Other Options? If your spouse is easily able to afford an attorney and you are not, you may be able to petition the court to require your spouse to pay your legal fees. In many states, you can file a petition for interim attorney fees or order for counsel fees against your spouse. It is not a sure thing that the court will grant your motion. Your spouse can oppose the motion and respond with reasons why they should not have to pay your legal fees. Ultimately a judge will rule on the most equitable outcome. Some attorneys will want you to pay them for the time they spend filing and defending the motion for attorney fees. If they win the motion, they will then continue to represent you and will be paid directly by your spouse. Another somewhat unpopular option for paying an attorney is taking out a loan. Loans are risky and can leave you in a more difficult financial...

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| Read Time: 7 minutes | Foreclosure

How To Stop Foreclosure In Illinois

Facing foreclosure is stressful, legally complex, and a danger to your credit. If you have missed mortgage payments or your lender has filed a Notice of Default (NOD), you might feel like there is nothing you can do to prevent the loss of your home. But you are not without hope. In Illinois, there are legal avenues an experienced foreclosure lawyer can use to help you save your home.  Negotiating with the lender, using government relief avenues, and taking the lender to court are just some of the methods the lawyer can use to help you. If you have received or expect to receive a foreclosure notice, you should immediately contact an attorney. Let’s look at just a few ways an attorney can help you save your home and protect your credit. Negotiate with the Lender to Resume Payments If you can pay the money you owe to the lender due to missed mortgage payments, now or shortly, you may be able to save your home. Your mortgage is a loan. A bank is usually the lender of the mortgage. Foreclosure is the lender’s process for taking a homeowner’s property because the homeowner failed to make agreed-upon payments to pay back their loan. The lender forecloses to take the property and sell it.  The sale of the foreclosed property is the typical way the lender gets its money back. But suppose you can demonstrate your ability to pay the lender the money you owe and stay current with future payments. In this case, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the lender to stop your foreclosure. There are a couple of ways to do this. Pay the Amount Past Due in Full Now Your attorney can call your lender and determine precisely how much you owe the lender. If you can pay that full amount, the attorney will contact your lender immediately. They will make an offer for you to pay the full amount in arrears (the payment amount you are behind) and your next mortgage payment due in a timely manner. In return, they will ask that the lender end the foreclosure process.  For instance, if the amount in arrears is $3,000 on a mortgage payment of $1,000 per month, you must be able to fully pay the lender $4,000 (the $3,000 past due and the next due mortgage payment of $1,000) immediately. It would be best if you considered the impact this may have on other bills before your lawyer makes this offer to the lender. Also, be sure that you are prepared to continue and pay the standard monthly mortgage from now on. Get on a Payment Plan  Another option is to catch up on the arrears over time. Your lawyer can work with you to determine what amount you can pay beyond your standard mortgage amount. They can then negotiate with the bank for you to pay this additional amount until you catch up on your past due amount.  Let’s say you are behind $1,600 on a mortgage of $800 a month. You advise your attorney that you are now in a position to pay your full monthly mortgage of $800 a month, plus another $400 each month. The lawyer could negotiate a $1,200-a-month payment for four months. Under this agreement, you will be caught up on your mortgage at the end of four months and no longer at risk of foreclosure. If you are in a position to pay off your arrears and continue making your current payments, you could be able to avoid foreclosure. Remember, the lender wants their money. Hiring an attorney who can show the lender a reasonable way to receive the money they are due is usually the fastest and easiest way to stop a foreclosure. Request A Loan Modification If you have had an unexpected change in financial circumstances, a loan modification may be your best option. In this situation, your attorney will contact the lender and explain your circumstances and how they impacted your ability to make timely mortgage payments. Standard hardships lenders may consider, which often affect homeownership and finances, include: A recently contested divorce proceeding; An accident that caused significant injury or disability; Income decline due to an unexpected job loss; A salary reduction at a long-term current job or new job; Being the victim of fraud or another financial crime; A national crisis, such as a pandemic; Child support and custody issues; or A sudden death in the family. Lawyers will gather facts and proof of the incident(s) that relate to your financial change. They will then ask the lender for your loan to be modified (lower payment for a time, refinance to a longer mortgage term, or another option that will reduce your payments).  They may also ask the lender to forgive the past due amount or add it on to the end of the mortgage. With either approach, you will need to show that you now have a source of income and can make the agreed-upon new payments. A lender’s automated email and phone banks do not analyze or recognize hardships. However, specific workers for the companies can do so, especially if you have had a strong payment history up until this time. Your attorney will know to whom and how to make the case for a hardship loan modification. Seek Special Relief: CARES Act And COVID-19 Your local, state, or federal government may issue a mandate that will protect you from foreclosure in rare circumstances. Times of a nationwide recession, health crisis, or natural disaster may initiate laws to help homeowners. The relief may come in the form of: Forgiveness of missed payments; Forbearance (suspension) of payments; or A ban on foreclosures for a period of time. During the pandemic’s national health crisis (COVID-19), the United States government created the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. One purpose of the act was to help homeowners keep their homes during the pandemic’s health and financial crisis. The CARES Act: Gave a...

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