Addressing Frequently Asked Legal Questions And Concerns

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  • I was denied a credit card recently due to something on my credit report. Can I get a copy of my credit report without paying for it?

    Free credit reports

    Yes. While you are entitled to a free report every year from the three major credit agencies, you are also entitled to a free report when you receive a credit, employment, or insurance denial letter. You should receive a notice of this right after the denial.  You must ask the reporting agency (as noted on your denial) within 60 days of the notice.

  • Should I take photos of my car accident?

    Yes! If it is possible to safely get photographs, we highly recommend it. Photos can be used to help establish fault and can also be used as evidence of injuries or damage. If possible, get pictures of the entire accident scene from multiple angles, including damage to cars or property (fences, bushes, etc), skid marks on the road, traffic signs, any visible body injuries (bruises, scrapes), and anything you think might have contributed to the accident. 

    Woman taking photo with iPhone

     

  • Do I have to pay for my credit reports every time I request them?

    No. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three big credit agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) every 12 months.  You are also entitled to a free report when you receive adverse credit decisions (e.g. denied credit, employment, or home rental) that were based on your credit report information.  It’s best to request your free annual credit report with a written request. You can find the form here.  

    credit reports

  • Is there any difference between the big three credit reports? (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax)

    All three credit reports

    Yes. While the majority of information may be reported on all three agencies’ reports, there can be information damaging to your score on one that is not on another, as some creditors report to specific agencies and/or one of the agencies may pick something up on public records the others miss (or get wrong where should be different). It’s best to always get all three and review each thoroughly to determine if there are errors or fraudulent accounts. Even simple errors like previous addresses or employers can cause potential issues for you

  • Do I have to pay child support if the other parent won’t let me see the kids?

    Yes. Child support and visitation are separate issues. If the other parent won’t allow visitation, the courts are able to intervene. Contact your lawyer.

  • Should I settle my personal injury case from my accident last week?

    No. You should not settle until you have finished your medical treatment and the doctor says you are healed. You may not be fully aware of the extent of your injuries or how much medical treatment you will actually require. If you settle too soon, you take a risk that the settlement amount will not be enough to cover your needs. Keep in mind that in Virginia, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, so you have time to ensure everything is 100% done.  Consult a lawyer well before time runs out if you think treatment will take longer than 2 years.

    Personal Injury

  • I have accurate negative information on my credit report but it's 11 years old, doesn't this ever come off my report?

    Yes. A credit reporting agency can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years.  After the appropriate time period, as laid out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, has passed, the negative information cannot be reported anymore.

    Woman disputing credit error.

  • Can I change custody/visitation arrangements after the divorce is final?

     

    Mother and daughter sitting together in a field. Yes. Custody and visitation are always modifiable; however, you must prove a material change in circumstances before getting to any changes (which the court will then look at the best interests of the children as to any new arrangement).  What constitutes a “material change” varies widely and is case-specific, but some examples of likely qualifying changes are if the other parent has a substance abuse problem, is neglecting or abusing the children, has become seriously physically or mentally ill and is no longer able to care for the children, if there is a significant lack of supervision when with the other parent, or any major change in the situation requiring attention.  Do not settle for verbal agreements between the other parent, they are not legally valid.  Once a court order is in place, you need a modifying order entered by the court to make any changes enforceable by the court.  You can certainly agree to one-time or temporary changes to visitation or custody, but without a replacement order, the other parent can dishonor any agreement reached.

  • Can I change the child support requirements after the divorce is final?

    Yes – child support is always modifiable; however, you must prove a material change in circumstances before getting to recalculation. Qualifying changes vary widely but can include an increase or decrease in either parent’s income or a seriously ill child (physically or mentally) who needs treatment.  Do not settle for verbal agreements between the other parent, they are not legally valid.  Once a court order is in place, you need a modifying order entered by the court to make any changes to child support.

    Two children walking together on a dirt road.

     

  • I have disputed items on my credit reports, but the credit reporting agencies will not remove them, can I take legal action against them?

    Couple frustrated by credit report

    Yes. Inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information must be removed or corrected, usually within 30 days.  Under the Fair Crediting Reporting Act (“FCRA”), credit reporting agencies must investigate your dispute and unless verified by the reporting creditors (called “furnishers” under the FCRA), they must remove the items from your file.  The furnishers must investigate when contacted by the credit reporting agencies.  If either the agencies or the furnishers fail to do as required by the FCRA, you can sue them.