Articles Posted in Automatic Stay

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debtWhen thinking about filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Jacksonville, Florida, not knowing or understanding the Jacksonville Bankruptcy Process can make filing bankruptcy seem very overwhelming and scary. Not only are Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorneys asked about what to expect after filing bankruptcy; they are also asked what clients should and should not do before filing for bankruptcy. In order to help you better understand the Jacksonville Bankruptcy Process, please see below for a general timeline of events you should be familiar with.

6 to 8 Years Before Filing a Jacksonville Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:

If you filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy before AND received a discharge of your debts, then you will not be eligible to file a new Chapter 7 Bankruptcy before eight years after you filed your previous Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

If you filed a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy AND received a discharge, you might be able to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy after six years if you paid a minimum of 70% of your unsecured claims.

1 Year Before Filing:

Your Bankruptcy Trustee can look back as far as one year for debts paid back to relatives or close business partners. What this means is that a payment made to a relative or business partner could be construed as a preferential payment over your other creditors. If this should happen, the Court could take the payment back from them in order to distribute it evenly to all of your other creditors.

This same concept holds true if you have tried to hide your assets from your creditors by transferring, destroying or hiding any of your property within one year of filing Bankruptcy. In this situation, the Trustee might deny a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharge and/or recover the property.

However, your Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney may prefer that you wait two years to ensure there are no issues when you do file. Continue reading →

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debt-collector-madCreditor Harassment During Bankruptcy

When you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, something called an automatic stay is put in place as soon as you file. This Automatic Stay prevents your creditors from continuing to try and collect a debt from you, but unfortunately your creditors will most likely not stop harassing you and trying to collect from you the moment you file for bankruptcy. This is because it takes the Bankruptcy Court a few days to prepare your Notice of Bankruptcy and to then mail it to all of your creditors. If, however, your creditors continue to harass you after a reasonable time has passed for them to receive notice of your bankruptcy from the Bankruptcy Court, then they are most likely in violation of the Automatic Stay, provided the debt falls into one of the very limited exceptions: criminal matters, child support, alimony, taxes, certain evictions, ect.

So what should you do if a creditor is still harassing you? The first thing you should do is to let the creditor who is harassing you know that you have filed bankruptcy. You can do this verbally over the phone, or by writing. For example, you can write that you filed bankruptcy on their bill and mail it back to them. Letting the creditor know you have filed bankruptcy stops the contact in the majority of instances. These initial contacts from your creditors shortly after filing bankruptcy are generally just mistakes, which is often due to the creditor’s system not having been updated with the Notice of Bankruptcy they received. It is not yet time to be alarmed, but it is important to keep a log of their contacts with you.

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Untitled-1What is Wage Garnishment and how does it work?

Wage garnishment is a court order that compels your employer to deduct a certain amount of money from each paycheck you receive and send it directly to your creditor until your creditor is paid in full. Luckily there are limits set by law on the amount of money that can be garnished from each paycheck.

Florida requires your creditor to first obtain a judgment from a court before they can request a wage garnishment. Once a judgment order has been obtained, your creditor files a Motion for Continuing Writ of Garnishment with the Court. The Court then provides a Continuing Writ of Garnishment Against Salary or Wages, which is served on your employer. Your employer then has 20 days from receiving it to file a response with the Court. Your employer’s answer must state whether or not they are in fact your employer, as well as the frequency of your pay periods and the amount of your salary and wages. The writ then directs your employer of where to send the withheld money and how much shall be withheld. The only instances where your paycheck can be garnished without a judgment from the court is when it is for debt owed for income taxes, child support, or student loans.

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FORECLOSURE-large570If you are deep in debt and facing the foreclosure of your home, bankruptcy might be able to help you save your home or relieve you of the debt depending on which type of bankruptcy you declare.

For those not familiar with foreclosure, foreclosure usually begins when a homeowner falls significantly behind on his or her mortgage payments. The lender then begins the legal process within the court system of obtaining a Judgment of Foreclosure, which allows the home to be sold through a public auction. The process is usually lengthy and includes many steps.

Since the foreclosure process generally does not begin until a homeowner has missed several payments, the owner may have some time to try alternative methods to foreclosure first. Alternative methods include but are not limited to a modification, loan forbearance plan, short sale, or deed in lieu of foreclosure. If these methods have already failed, it may be time to consider bankruptcy.

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child_supportFiling for bankruptcy can be a great way to finally get out of debt and start your financial life over. However, there are some debts that bankruptcy does not eliminate. For instance, a bankruptcy will not remove a debtor’s student loans or owed child support payments.  The good news is that a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy repayment plan may help a debtor bring their missed child support payments current.

Why are child support payments not included in a bankruptcy?

The federal government has decided that some debts are too important to be erased by bankruptcy.   Congress decided that it would be too fundamentally unfair to allow a person to get out of their obligation of paying child support by filing for bankruptcy. A child support payment is court ordered and the money is spent on a child’s welfare.

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A person who cosigns, or acts as a guarantor on a debt may be affected when primary debtor declares bankruptcy. There are a few ways to protect a cosigner or guarantor during a bankruptcy, but it is important to understand each person’s roll in the process.

A guarantor, or a cosigner, is essentially a person who is responsible for paying back another’s debt if he or she is unable to. Creditors will often require a person to have a cosigner or guarantor if they feel skeptical of the person’s ability to repay the debt. This is why most young adults and those with bad credit scores are required to have a cosigner.

Further, there is a difference between a cosigner and a guarantor. A creditor can pursue a cosigner at any time if payments are not being made. With a guarantor, creditors must usually attempt to collect from the primary borrower first before going after the guarantor. If bankruptcy is declared, there is no longer a distinction and both classifications will be obligated to pay back the debt.

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Tenants who are facing eviction may be able to continue living in their rental property longer and prevent eviction by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This depends on whether the landlord has already obtained a judgment for possession of the premises.

The act of filing bankruptcy enables the court to enact an automatic stay. The automatic stay goes into effect immediately upon filing, and prevents creditors from contacting the debtor or continuing their collection process. However, there are exceptions where a landlord can still evict a tenant.

In 2005, bankruptcy law was revised to add the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Consumer Protection Act to give landlords more power to evict tenants who file for bankruptcy. Before, if a tenant filed bankruptcy, the tenant would be granted an automatic stay even if there was already a judgment for possession. Under today’s bankruptcy law, when a judgment for possession is issued before a tenant files bankruptcy, the landlord does not have to comply with the automatic stay and may continue the eviction process. Another exception to the automatic stay rule is when a tenant is being evicted for endangering the property or using illegal substances on the rental property.

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People who are in debt are likely use to receiving constant phone calls and mailings from creditors. However, once a person files for bankruptcy this constant contact should come to a halt. If you still receive phone calls and mails from a creditor this, may be a form of harassment and you have certain rights.

Under U.S. Law, when a debtor files for bankruptcy one benefit he or she receives is creditors must stop all collection efforts against the debtor. Creditors who try to collect a debt during a bankruptcy or after a discharge is in violation of Federal bankruptcy law. When a bankruptcy is filed, an automatic stay prevents most creditors from continuing collection actions against a debtor. A debtor who continues to be contacted by a creditor, should contact their attorney’s office so the attorney can warn the creditor of a potential violation of the debtor’s automatic stay. The debtor should keep the mailing received or make a record of the phone call.

If the creditor continues to send notice of the debt to the debtor after being warned, the creditor can be dragged in front of a bankruptcy judge. This form of harassment is illegal, and no judge will be happy a creditor continued to contact a debtor after being notified of a bankruptcy filing. A judge will often order the creditor directly to stop.

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Payday loans are small, short-term, unsecured loans often known as cash advances. These loans usually rely on the consumer having previous payroll and employment records. Payday loans are risky. The default rate on these loans has been reported to be as high as 10-20 due to high interest rates. In most cases, debtors can discharge payday loans through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or a portion of the debt through Chapter 13.

Before a debtor files for bankruptcy due to a payday loan, he or she should ensure the loan came from a Florida Licensed lender. In Florida, there are a number of restrictions on these loans that include not lending more than $500, and not lending to a person who already possesses an outstanding payday loan. State statutes limit the fees charged on a payday loan to 10% of the total loan amount. This is the interest rate for the specific loan term, not an annual interest rate. If the borrower cannot pay back the payday lender, the lender is limited to demanding the original amount lent plus the 10% fee, simple costs, and any bad check fees imposed by the bank. The lender cannot charge the borrower any other costs unless a court rules otherwise.

Payday lenders may be able to successfully object to a borrower’s payday loan being discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy under certain circumstances. This usually happens if the borrower received a loan from the payday lender within 70-90 days prior to filing their bankruptcy. The lender may argue to the court the borrower took the loan with no intention of paying it back.

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Stop_HandSo you have already filed Bankruptcy and you were notified of an Automatic Stay. But what is an Automatic Stay and how does that benefit me? As a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney I strive to make sure my clients are fully informed as to the process and nuisances of filing a Bankruptcy. Very briefly, and I will go into more detail below, an Automatic Stay is a court order that protects you from certain actions by your creditors.

What does this mean for a person filing bankruptcy? What it means is most creditors must stop all collection proceedings. The most common types of creditor actions that will be stopped are: harassing telephone calls by debt collectors, threatening letters by attorneys, and lawsuits to collect on delinquent bills. Also, this stay in collection is automatic. Once you file for Bankruptcy it immediately takes into effect. Therefore, if your creditors continue to call, harass, or proceed in civil litigation you may be able to file a civil suit for violation of the Automatic Stay.

Unfortunately, an Automatic Stay does not stop collection of all types of debt. There are types of debt that survive a Stay. For instance, IRS tax liens or utilities in certain circumstances. In addition, an Automatic Stay does not affect Divorce and Child Support and Pension Loans.

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