Over the many years, we have been assisting families and individuals who are in financial difficulty we have served people from all walks of life and from all over the State of New Jersey. Can I file for bankruptcy is a question I’ve heard from clients including doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, computer professionals, tradesmen, laborers, office workers, government workers, teachers, politicians and people from just about every occupation. We have helped retired people, disabled people, persons who are in jail and persons who are institutionalized. Congress has created the Bankruptcy Code to provide relief for the “honest, but unfortunate debtor”.

Our clients have come from all over the State of New Jersey, however, our office in the Green Brook New Jersey, at the meeting point of the Union, Somerset and Middlesex counties have proven to be very convenient from people who live within a 7 to 10-mile radius of our office. We have served individuals from Green Brook, Dunellen, Plainfield, North Plainfield, South Plainfield, Warren, Watchung, Middlesex, Bound Brook, South Bound Brook, Piscataway, Somerville, New Brunswick, South Brunswick, North Brunswick, Somerset, Raritan, Manville, Hillsborough and many of the other communities which are located within 15 to 20 min. of our office.

The current national financial crisis has forced many families and individuals into extraordinarily difficult economic situations. Many families who have previously never had a late payment are now facing substantial arrearages on their mortgages and an inability to pay their utilities and other debts as they come due. Many of these individuals and families suffer daily under a barrage of telephone calls from collection agencies and collection attorneys demanding payment of bills which it is impossible for them to pay.

 If you are being harassed by creditor phone calls at work or at home, if you are afraid to pick up the telephone for fear that there will be a rude collection agent on the other end then you need to speak with us as quickly as possible. A bankruptcy filing may allow you the peace of mind and a fresh start in your financial affairs which you are seeking.

 If you are feeling the crushing and relentless pressure of debt collectors and collection attorneys if you are faced with collection lawsuits, judgments, wage garnishments, or bank levies you need to speak with us as quickly as you can to determine whether or not a bankruptcy filing will bring you relief.

We believe that the answer is yes, however it takes carefully executed actions and plans to make this happen.  Click here to learn more about how to do this.   

When Congress amended the Bankruptcy Code in 2005 it added the term “Debt Relief Agency” to the definitions section of the Code.  It means any person who provides bankruptcy assistance to an “assisted person” in return for payment of money or other valuable consideration, or who is a bankruptcy petition preparer.  An “assisted person” is a person who has consumer debts and whose non-exempt assets are less than $150,000.  In English, an attorney who helps people file bankruptcies is a debt relief agent and most of the people we help are assisted persons. If you have financial problems like this, we strongly recommend that you call us. 

A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy allows an individual to propose a Plan to the Bankruptcy Court to resume regular monthly mortgage payments and to cure the arrears through payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee in a 36 to a 60-month plan. In order for the Chapter 13 Plan to be confirmed the homeowner must demonstrate to the Chapter 13 Trustee and the Court that they have sufficient cash flow in the house to carry all of the regular household expenses and demonstrate that there is enough surplus to fund the arrears cure through the plan.

As part of the Federal Governments rescue of the financial industry, many of the major mortgage lenders who received assistance from the Federal Government agreed to consider requests from Homeowners to Modify their mortgages. The most well known of these programs is the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) which requires participating lenders to try to reduce the homeowners’ mortgage payment to 31% of the gross income in the household. Homeowners can be considered for a HAMP modification both before and after a foreclosure is started and both before and after a Bankruptcy may be filed. Many of the mortgage lenders also offer their own Modification programs through their loss mitigation departments.

The State of New Jersey has created a Mediation Program for homeowners who are in a foreclosure case. Under this program, the lender is forced to send a representative to a mediation session at the Courthouse to discuss possible a possible modification of the mortgage with the homeowner. The mediator is certified by the Court and experienced in these matters and tries to bring the Mortgage company and the homeowner to a mutually agreeable resolution, including the possibility of a modification of the mortgage.

We recently received this question from a client in Watchung. There are prior cases in New Jersey Bankruptcy Courts that discuss this issue. It is our opinion that workers compensation payments for temporary disability and partial permanent disability are exempted in their entirety from the bankruptcy estate. This means that if you file bankruptcy and then receive a workers compensation settlement, that money is yours. Neither the bankruptcy trustee nor your creditors can reach it or use it to pay your debts.

Note: we cannot guarantee any results for any particular client or situation. To discuss your situation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, contact the office.

A client from North Plainfield recently asked us this question.

It is our opinion that a debtor’s expenses for cigarettes or other forms of tobacco use are legitimate debtor expenses in bankruptcy. However, as we had to explain to our client, bankruptcy trustees in New Jersey often object to the cost of cigarettes by asserting that the cost of smoking is an “unnecessary luxury” expense.

We have successfully overcome attempts to disallow the cost of cigarettes in a debtor’s bankruptcy budget. A prohibition on including the cost of cigarettes in smokers’ bankruptcy budget would raise due process and discrimination concerns. In fact, courts across the country that have closely examined the issue have held that the cost of smoking is a legitimate bankruptcy budgetary expense because if smoking costs were branded an unnecessary luxury then logically smokers could be either dissuaded or prevented from filing bankruptcy altogether unless they were willing to quit smoking, a notoriously hard thing to do.

Courts worry that to brand the costs of smoking as an unnecessary luxury expense could apply the force of law to a moral decision by the bankruptcy trustee or court and in effect enact a judicial prohibition on smoking for debtors in need of the protections of bankruptcy. Under the Constitution and Bankruptcy Code, such a ruling simply could not stand.

Note: we cannot guarantee any results for any particular client or situation. To discuss your situation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, contact the office.