Bankruptcy Lawyer in New Jersey
Many people are hesitant to open a discussion about filing for bankruptcy, because they worry that their credit will be permanently ruined, that they will be forced to surrender their possessions, or that they will be unable to make major purchases in the future. However, the truth is that personal bankruptcy is a powerful debt-fighting tool which, over the years, has allowed millions of New Jersey residents to regain control of their financial futures. If you need help getting your debt under control, turn to the experienced bankruptcy lawyers of Young, Marr & Associates for assistance filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 in New Jersey.
At Young, Marr & Associates, we have filed more than 5,000 bankruptcy cases during more than 20 years of experience serving debtors throughout the state. Over the decades, we have worked with thousands of individuals from all types of financial backgrounds, gaining countless insights along the way into how to make the bankruptcy process work more efficiently for our clients. For a free legal consultation about filing for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Jersey, contact Young, Marr & Associates online, or call our law offices at (215) 701-6519 to get started.
Filing for Bankruptcy in New Jersey
Filing for bankruptcy can seem like a complex and daunting process when you’re first learning about the subject. However, with the assistance of our seasoned and capable New Jersey bankruptcy attorneys, obtaining a successful discharge is within your reach.
Before you file for bankruptcy in New Jersey, you will be required to complete credit counseling, which can only be administered by a government-approved agency. Once you have submitted proof that you have completed credit counseling successfully, you may file for bankruptcy, provided you meet the residency requirements necessary to file in New Jersey. If this is your second time filing bankruptcy, you may be subject to certain waiting periods before you can obtain another discharge from the bankruptcy court.
The two most common types of consumer bankruptcy are called Chapter 7, or liquidation, and Chapter 13, or reorganization. The type of bankruptcy that you will file is, to some extent, determined by a mandatory financial evaluation called the means test, which looks at your financial resources over a certain period of time. The reason for this is that Chapter 13 requires debtors to enter repayment plans that last from three to five years. However, Chapter 7 does not have this requirement.
If the means test reveals that your income is too high – or too low – you may need to file for a specific chapter of bankruptcy. However, even if you earn a high level of income, you may pass the means test and qualify for Chapter 7 if your living expenses are also high.
Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13: Which Type of Bankruptcy Should I File?
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy process typically lasts from four to six months, though the timeline of each case varies. When you file for Chapter 7, the court will appoint a trustee to assess the “bankruptcy estate,” or assets that are part of the bankruptcy case. Depending on how much you owe and the value of your assets, the trustee may sell certain belongings to help repay your debts. However, most Chapter 7 debtors keep all or most of their property. Bankruptcy exemptions can protect certain property from being sold by the trustee, and additionally, the trustee may decide not to sell certain pieces of property if the proceeds would not be substantial.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a longer process that may take from three to five years, depending on your debts and disposable income. When you file Chapter 13, you must create a reorganization plan. As long as you make consistent payments and comply with the terms of your reorganization plan, you should be able to keep all of your property. Additionally, the reorganization plan gives homeowners an opportunity to catch up on missed mortgage payments, or “arrearages,” which can prevent foreclosure from occurring. If you’re worried about losing your home and want to stop foreclosure, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be one of your strongest options, depending on your financial circumstances and how far the proceedings have advanced. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine which chapter of bankruptcy is right for your situation.
What Types of Debt Does Bankruptcy Eliminate?
There are two categories of debt in a bankruptcy case: “dischargeable” debts, which are debts that can be wiped out by bankruptcy, and “non-dischargeable” debts, or debts that cannot be eliminated by bankruptcy. Fortunately for debtors who file bankruptcy in New Jersey, most debts are considered dischargeable, regardless of whether the debtor files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. In fact, Chapter 13 allows debtors to discharge several extra debts that are normally non-dischargeable in Chapter 7.
Some types of debt are almost always dischargeable, while others can only be discharged under rare and specific circumstances. Examples of debts that can usually be wiped out by bankruptcy include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Business debts
- Credit card debts
- Medical debts
- Personal debts (such as loans from friends and family)
Other types of debt can only be discharged if certain conditions are met. For example, tax debt is usually non-dischargeable, but certain tax debts arising from older, unpaid income taxes may be discharged by the bankruptcy court. To use another example, student loan debt is usually non-dischargeable, but may qualify for a discharge if the debtor can meet specific criteria, which is decided by the court.
While liability for most debts can be wiped away, the government has decided that some debts are too pressing to be eliminated by bankruptcy. Examples of non-dischargeable debts in bankruptcy include the following:
- Alimony/spousal support debt
- Child support debt
- Debt from certain court-ordered fines, such as criminal fines or victim restitution
After you file for bankruptcy, but before your debts can be discharged, you will be required to receive debtor education. Debtor education is a federal bankruptcy requirement, and, like credit counseling, providers must come from a pre-approved government list. The purpose of the bankruptcy debtor education requirement is to provide participants with the knowledge and information they need to help budget and manage their finances in the future, in order to avoid the need for another bankruptcy.
Do I Need an Attorney to File Bankruptcy in New Jersey?
If a debtor wishes to file on their own, it is perfectly legal to do so. The technical term for doing so is called filing one’s case “pro se.” However, while it is possible to file for bankruptcy without legal assistance, it is not in your best interests to do so. The state and federal laws pertaining to bankruptcy are complicated, dense, and ever-changing – and even a seemingly trivial error or omission in your paperwork can lead to delays, needless financial losses, or even the complete dismissal of your case, depending on the severity of the issue.
It is natural that many people considering bankruptcy are concerned about the cost of hiring an attorney. At Young, Marr & Associates, we completely understand that debtors seeking financial relief are often worried about legal fees and payments. That is why we work diligently to make quality representation affordable.
Don’t let fears about the cost of hiring a bankruptcy lawyer prevent you from taking control of your future. If you’ve been thinking of filing for bankruptcy in New Jersey, ask Young, Marr & Associates how we can help you through the process.
New Jersey Bankruptcy Lawyers for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13
Your debt isn’t going to disappear on its own. However, filing for bankruptcy can be the first step on your path toward financial freedom.
Take charge of your finances today. To set up a free, completely confidential legal consultation about Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Jersey, contact the bankruptcy firm of Young, Marr & Associates online, or call our law offices at (215) 701-6519 today.
☑ Been paying credit card balances that seem to never go down?
☑ Lost your job and are now having trouble keeping up?
☑ Attempted to work out a payment arrangement to no avail?
☑ Been notified of a mortgage foreclosure action?
☑ Been denied for a mortgage or other line of credit?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then bankruptcy may be an option that you should consider.