If you are seeking legal advice be sure to visit Law Office of Antonio B. Mari and schedule a free consultation.

The Law Office of Antonio B. Mari is located in downtown Cartersville, Georgia in the historic Bradley Building - just minutes from I-75. Weekend and evening appointments are available.

5 S. Public Square

Suite 301

Cartersville, Georgia 30120


Can I keep my house if I file bankruptcy in Georgia?

August 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Can I keep my house when filing bankruptcy in Cartersville?
Cartersville Bankruptcy Attorney Answers

In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the Bankruptcy Code and Georgia Law contain various exemptions that in most cases will allow you to keep all of your property, including your home. Individuals are allowed $21,500 in home equity and married couples $43,000 (as long as the couple is filing bankruptcy jointly). With the current real estate market, most people filing bankruptcy are underwater in their homes and do not have to worry about equity being an issue. I have resources to quickly provide you the current market value of your home and determine if the amount of equity is going to be an issue in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Another issue to consider is the status of your mortgage payment? If you are behind on your mortgage payment, you will likely need to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 payment plan will allow you to take whatever arrearage you have on your mortgage and finance it into the plan. This will often let homeowners who are facing foreclosure keep their homes. Be sure to keep in mind that even though the amount you are behind will be paid out in the plan, you will still immediately have to start making your monthly mortgage payments.

If you are facing foreclosure or are otherwise under financial stress, contact my today and lets get you on the right financial path.

Antonio B. Mari, Bankruptcy Attorney
5 S. Public Square, Suite 301
Cartersville, Georgia 30184

Categories: Uncategorized

Pricing Legal Services

June 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Pricing Legal Services
Have you ever hesitated to call a lawyer because you thought it would be too expensive? Often the perceived cost of hiring an attorney acts as a barrier to prevent people from fully protecting all their legal rights. In the long run people that don’t hire an attorney may end up costing themselves more money – only an attorney can help properly protect your rights and finances. What many don’t realize is there are several tips that can help you get the best price for a quality lawyer.
1. Don’t be afraid to call around and ask
Not all attorneys like giving price estimates over the phone. This is because they don’t want to give you a price only later to find out that your legal action is a great deal more complicated than you described. When you call an attorney always try to be as open as possible in describing your situation. If they don’t bring it up cost during your phone consultation, just ask. If they’re not willing the give you a price, you should be able to ask the attorney what is their hourly billing rate. This will give you a way to compare different attorneys.
2. Don’t be afraid to go with a newer attorney
Attorney pricing can be influenced by a variety of factors. Level of experience is directly related to price. A newer attorney, just a few years out of law school will likely charge less, than the veteran of 20 years. People often wonder, “If I go with the new attorney, will they be successful?” If you are looking at an uncontested divorce or basic will, you may be pleasantly surprised by the competency and the pricing you get from a newer attorney. These attorneys will likely work hard on your behalf as they are trying to prove themselves to their colleagues and their clients. Obviously, if you’re facing a murder charge or messy divorce you may want a more experienced attorney, but on more routine matters a newer attorney is likely to give you the greatest bang for your buck.
3. Call the solo attorney
As you shop around for an attorney, you should understand that big law firms charge big bucks. These big firms have big bills to pay. A huge ornately decorated office building with receptionists and paralegals cost a great deal of money. Going with a solo attorney can save you a great deal of money – they simply don’t have the overhead of the big firms and can afford to charge lower rates. Picking out a solo attorney is fairly simple. As your browsing attorney listings look for those that have just one name – although those sometimes can also be big firms under a recognized name. Not only does the solo attorney have lower overhead they may provide you with a more personal experience and are likely just as experienced as those attorneys at the big law firms.
4. Ask about payment plans
Only a handful of lawyers offer payment plans, but it never hurts to ask. Typically in a payment plan, you make smaller payments over the course of a month or two. When your total is paid, the attorney will swing into action. With payment plans, your payments may be nonrefundable and the attorney usually will not start on your case until payment is made in full. Make sure to pay attention to the terms of the contract.
5. If it is a personal injury, auto accident, malpractice claim you shouldn’t have to pay much up front
In these sort of cases, an attorney will often take their fee from the settlement and not require any payment upfront. Generally this fee is 33 1/3% of the total settlement. However, if you are shopping around for a newer or solo attorney, you may be asked to pay a small amount to cover things like filing fees, records fee and expert affidavits. This may be particularly true if your case will have a small settlement.
6. Ask about limited representation agreements for less complicated legal issues
A limited representation agreement serves to limit what the attorney is expected to do. By narrowing the focus of the representation, the attorney can charge a reduced fee. These types of agreements are most effective in matters like an uncontested divorce or those situations in which a letter from an attorney on your behalf might quickly resolve a matter.
7. Geography can matter
If an attorney practices in a downtown area of a major city, you can expect to pay higher fees than someone who practices out in the suburbs. Most attorneys have a geographic area that they are willing to travel to for clients. An attorney out in the suburbs or across town maybe able to give you a better deal.

Categories: Uncategorized

How you can afford a lawyer… payment plans for every budget.

October 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Paying for a lawyer can be a major expense. Often a person will delay or simply not hire a lawyer because of this expense. This delay or lack of counsel can have severe negative consequences as many matters are time sensitive.

If you are hoping to stop harassing bill collectors, a foreclosure or garnishment through a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, you need to contact our office today to get a payment plan set up. Waiting to take action can add unnecessary expense and negatively affect your financial situation.

The law office of Antonio B. Mari strives to make legal representation affordable to all citizens. To achieve this goal, our office is one of the few in North Georgia to offer a payment plan option.

How the payment plan works

At the conclusion of your free consultation, our office will provide you with a good faith estimate of what your potential legal matter will cost. You do not need to have any money at the initial meeting. Unlike many law firms, we will not pressure you to sign a retainer agreement that day. The good faith estimate represents what we expect your legal matter will cost and barring any change in your circumstances, our good faith estimates are valid for 7 days.

If you choose to move forward with representation, you will be required to put down a non-refundable initial deposit and sign an agreement. This deposit is generally 15% to 25% of the good faith estimate provided to you. Once you provide your deposit, our office will work within your budget requirements to develop a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly payment plan.

Uncontested Divorces and Chapter 7 Bankruptcies must be paid in full before any paperwork is filed. Chapter 13 and Contested Divorces can be started with only partial payments.

The payment plan option is frequently used by those seeking an uncontested divorce or bankruptcy. Contact our office today to schedule your free consultation and obtain a good faith estimate of the cost of your legal matter.

Categories: Uncategorized

When is an uncontested divorce the right solution?

July 23, 2010 Leave a comment

When is an uncontested divorce the right solution?

An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which the couple generally agrees on most key issues (especially any property division) and the couple desires to avoid courtroom litigation. Georgia allows a divorce without attempting to asses fault on one party or the other. This “no-fault” basis can open the door to civil and speedy negotiations.

The main advantage to an uncontested divorce is cost. As long as the parties can continue to communicate with each other, cost can generally be assessed on a flat fee basis. However, if communication becomes strained and the parties are forced to turn to litigation, the cost can quickly escalate. Open and straightforward communication is the key to a low cost and amicable uncontested divorce. Time can also be an advantage to an uncontested divorce. A contested divorce can take many months even years. An uncontested divorce without children can be completed in just over a month.

Before speaking with an attorney it is a good idea is to make a list of possessions and have a civil discussion as to who should get what. If this process can be completed, an uncontested divorce may be a practical solution. However, keep in mind that an uncontested divorce does not mean there will be no disagreements. The parties may disagree, but in the end they should be willing to negotiate and eventually resolve all issues.

While an uncontested divorce can often have a cooperative feel, the parties should understand that a lawyer cannot represent both of them and they should be wary if a lawyer promises to do that. In an uncontested divorce, a lawyer is ethically bound to only represent one client. The other spouse must proceed without a lawyer or hire their own attorney.

Occasionally, individuals will attempt to save money and file for an uncontested divorce with forms purchased online. This is generally not advisable and you may inadvertently give away some of your key rights or cause the matter to take longer than it should to resolve. Additionally, an uncontested divorce is more affordable than you might think.

Before considering and uncontested divorce ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are there open lines of communication between you and you soon-to-be ex?
2. Are your financial affairs straightforward?
3. Are you able to sit down and divide up personal property?
4. If a house is involved, are you able to decide who take possession of the property?
5. If children are involved, are you able to decide issues like custody and financial support?

If you answered yes to all those questions, you may be a good candidate for an uncontested divorce. Contact our local office to create an affordable solution that will best protect your rights.
Antonio B. Mari, Esq.

Categories: Uncategorized

Georgia Divorce Issues: When can a child decide?

June 27, 2010 Leave a comment


A question that comes up frequently in a divorce with children is, “when can a child decide which parent they want to live with?” Georgia law states that when a child reaches the age of 14 they have the right to decide which parent they would like to live with. However this decision is not binding to a judge. If the judge feels that the parent chosen would not be in the best interest of the child, the judge will essentially overrule the child’s wishes.

After a divorce a child over 14 can, through the parent seeking custody, ask the court to modify a custody order giving custody to the requesting parent. Under the right circumstances this change in selection may be sufficient to meet the statutory requirements.

A child age 11 to 13 can make their opinion known to the court, but the judge is guided by the child’s desires but also the educational needs of the child. The judge in these situations has complete discretion in making their decision and may or may not give weight to the child’s specific wishes. A judge’s is guided in these matters by the legal standard known as “the best interest of the child”.

As to a post-divorce change in custody, an 11 to 13 year old change in parent selection will not meet the statutory requirements to change custody.  

Georgia statutes do not mention the any rights to children younger than 11. Generally speaking a child under the age of 11 will not have his wishes given any weight by the court.

Categories: Uncategorized

New Blog focused on Georgia Divorce

June 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Please check out my new blog focused on Georgia Divorce. Lots of information and looking to add more. Also contains contact information and an updated fee schedule.


Categories: Uncategorized

What would happen to your pets if you could no longer take care of them?

June 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Welcome news has arrived for Georgia pet owners. As of July 2010, Georgia has joined the ranks of the many states to adopt “pet trusts”. Until now, Georgia residents had little recourse when it came to planning issues involving their pets and had to rely on the probate process and the good will of others. Pet owners should update existing wills or taking the time to create an estate plan as the new law offers a significant advantage.

The concerned owner now has several options to consider when taking care of their four legged (or even feathered) family members. The traditional route is to gift the pet to a trusted friend. Often this gift includes some language as to how the pet is to be taken care of and sets aside a small sum of money to help pay the costs of the pet. A second option is to leave the pet to an organization that will find the pet a new home. Both of these options have a serious disadvantage – they require the will to go through the probate process. This process can take weeks, maybe months – during that time your pets need immediate help and there is no guarantee that they will get it! Unlike your other loved ones, your pets can not take care of themselves during the probate process.

The pet trust helps correct this problem and offers additional advantages. Trusts pass outside of the probate process and become valid at the specified event included in the trust documents – generally your death or incapacity. With a pet trust, your loved ones can immediately be given to a specified person of your choosing. Other advantages include the ability to leave specific and legally enforceable instructions as to how you would like your pet to be treated and a secured source of funding that must be spent for the pet’s benefit.

Part of the purpose of creating a will and associated estate planning documents is to take care of your family and make any transition easier for them. For many, myself included, our pets are part of our family and as such you should make them part of your estate plan. Pet trusts offer a secure alternative to those of us with four legged family members. Please give serious consideration to this new option as generally the inclusion of a simple pet trust would not dramatically increase the cost of your estate planning services.

Feel free to contact me with questions or comments!

Antonio Mari, Esq.


Categories: Wills