May 23, 2019

GOOD NEWS: Updated Census Bureau Median Family Income Data

March 14, 2019

The Census Bureau’s Median Family Income Data accessible through the “Means Testing Information” page has been updated. The U.S. Trustee Program will apply the updated data to all cases filed on or after April 1, 2019.

SOURCE: https://www.justice.gov/ust

All About the [Connecticut] Lemon Law Program

The “Lemon Law” is a nickname for Connecticut General Statute Chapter 743b, “Automotive Warranties. It establishes arbitration as an informal process for resolving disputes between consumers and automobile manufacturers. The law defines a lemon as a new motor vehicle (passenger car, combination or motorcycle) purchased or leased in Connecticut which does not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty and which, after “a reasonable number of attempts” cannot be repaired. The Lemon Law covers all new passenger, combination passenger/ commercial vehicles and motorcycles purchased or leased in Connecticut:

  • Which do not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty;
  • Which have substantial defects affecting the use, safety or value of the vehicle AND
  • The repairs must have been addressed during the eligibility period*;
  • Have manufacturer’s defects that occurred during the first two (2) years from the original owner’s delivery date or the first 24,000 miles on the odometer (whichever period ends first).
*The time period involved may be extended when repair service is unavailable due to war, strike or natural disaster.
The eligibility criteria for the Lemon Law arbitration refers to occurrences / days that must be met within the specified time frame.  However, you do not have to apply within this time period.
Items NOT covered under the law include:
  • Defects not covered under the manufacturer’s express warranty
  • Defects caused by the consumer’s abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification of the vehicle
For a car to qualify, the same problem has to be subjected to a reasonable number of repair attempts and continue to exist after these attempts at repair. The law presumes that a “reasonable number” of repair attempts is four.  However, your car may be eligible if you have less than four repair attempts for the same problem and can justify this is a reasonable number of repair attempts, and repairs have been performed within the eligibility period.  
– OR –
  
When the vehicle has been out of service for repair at the dealership for a cumulative total of thirty days or more for any number of unrelated problems. These problems must occur within the eligibility period. 
– OR – 
In the case of a safety defect which is likely to cause death or serious injury if the vehicle is driven, the defect continues to exist after two or more attempts during the first year of operation or the term of the express warranty, whichever period end first.
How to Get Started
If you believe you are eligible and wish to pursue the Department of Consumer Protection’s Arbitration Program, please print the arbitration form from this website, complete it and return it by U.S. mail to the Department as soon as possible with the required fee.
Of course, you should report the vehicle’s problems immediately to the dealer or the manufacturer.  Check your owner’s manual/warranty booklet for the address and telephone number of the zone office designated to receive your complaint. The manual will also tell you if the manufacturer requires written notification of a claim requesting a refund or replacement vehicle.  If such notification is required, you must write to the manufacturer. Please send us a copy of your letter to the manufacturer when you submit your Lemon Law application.
If you lease your vehicle, you must advise the leasing company that you are applying for Lemon Law arbitration and if they wish to be a party to the proceedings, they must notify the Department of their intent within ten (10) days of their receipt of your letter. The letter to the leasing company must be sent certified or registered mail, and a copy of the letter and postal receipt must be included with your Lemon Law application to us.
If it is determined that your case does not qualify for arbitration, the fee will be returned to you. Additionally, the manufacturer is required to pay a fee.
Once your Request for Arbitration and filing fee are received, the Department will review your application to make sure all necessary documents have been submitted. If information has been omitted, your Request for Arbitration and filing fee will be returned to you along with a list of the information or documents required to complete the submission. If all documents and information have been included, we will complete an initial review of your case to determine whether basic eligibility criteria have been met. You will be notified within five business days of the results.
If the our review indicates your case is not eligible for arbitration, your filing fee will be returned to you with an explanation as to why your case did not qualify. You may file a written appeal with the Department if you do not agree with our findings.
If our review indicates your case is eligible for arbitration, the manufacturer will be notified and asked to submit a manufacturer’s statement and filing fee. An arbitrator and an Automotive Technical Expert comprise an arbitration panel.
The arbitration panel will make the final determination as to the eligibility of your case. It is possible for a case to be deemed ineligible by the arbitration panel even though it was initially deemed eligible by the Department.
Types of hearings
When you file your Request for Arbitration, you must choose between an “oral” or “documentary” hearing. The oral arbitration process generally results in a more expeditious rendering of a decision.
Oral Hearing:  If you choose oral arbitration, you and the manufacturer’s representative will be present at the scheduled hearing. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their case before the  arbitration panel. The hearing is informal and not structured like a court of law. Typically, the consumer is heard first, followed by the manufacturer. Either party is able to ask the other questions. The arbitration panel may also have questions and may order the Automotive Technical Expert to inspect the vehicle. If possible, bring the vehicle to the hearing to avoid scheduling an inspection for a later date.
Use your “Request for Arbitration” form as a guide when preparing for an oral arbitration hearing. The form contains much of the information you will need at the hearing.
  • Bring records of everything pertaining to the dispute including all correspondence, work orders, receipts, and warranties.
  • Organize your records – Putting them in chronological order will help guide you in presenting the history of the problem.
  • Prepare an outline of the major points you wish to present to help you remember relevant information.
Be prepared to discuss the problem in its entirety.  You should:
  1. State the specific nature of the defect;
  2. Restate any conversations with dealer’s or manufacturer’s representatives;
  3. Describe any new developments which may have occurred since you submitted your “Request for Arbitration” form;
  4. Describe any repair attempts or other actions taken;
  5. State your opinion as to what action would constitute a fair resolution of the dispute;
  6. State why you feel the vehicle is a “Lemon.” For example, how has the use, safety, and/or value been substantially impaired?
  7. Prepare a list of questions to ask the manufacturer’s representative.
  8. Prepare a final summary, which should briefly review the facts you have discussed, this should include a statement regarding your opinion of a fair resolution to the dispute.
Remember, the purpose of the hearing is to allow the arbitrators to gather facts, evaluate information presented by both sides and render a fair decision. Therefore, be prepared to offer SUBSTANTIAL PROOF of each point you make especially those you feel the manufacturer may dispute.
Documentary Hearing:  If you choose documentary arbitration, you and the manufacturer’s representative will be required to submit to the Department sworn statements and other evidence you would like the panel to consider. You will receive copies of each other’s statements and have the opportunity to respond to them in writing. The arbitration panel will meet and review the statements and responses. The panel will base its decision solely on documentation and materials submitted by the parties prior to the hearing. Parties cannot present oral testimony, but may observe documentary hearings. If the panel orders a vehicle inspection, one will be scheduled at a later date and the panel will reconvene to render their decision.
Use of an Attorney
The ”Lemon Law” Program is designed to be accessible to the lay person. Most consumers coming through the program do not use an attorney; however, you are free to use one if you so choose. If your attorney will be presenting your case, you must notify the Department of Consumer Protection no later than two (2) days prior to the hearing. Also, if anyone other than the purchaser of the vehicle will be presenting the case, you must also notify the Department no later than one (1) day prior to the hearing. If someone is going to accompany you and present testimony, no prior notification is required. You also have the right to have a third party assist you in your presentation or act as a consultant or interpreter.

Administration and Operation of the [Connecticut] Courts

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the head of the Judicial Branch. Its administrative director is called the Chief Court Administrator.

Judicial Functions
The judicial functions of the Branch are concerned with the just disposition of cases at the trial and appellate levels. All judges have the independent, decision-making power to preside over matters in their courtrooms and to determine the outcome of each case before them.

Administrative Operations
The Chief Court Administrator is responsible for the administrative operations of the Judicial Branch. In order to provide the diverse services necessary to effectively carry out the Judicial Branch’s mission, the following administrative divisions have been created: Administrative Services Division | Court Support Services Division | External Affairs Division | Information Technology | Superior Court Operations

 

Administrative Services Division – Provides a wide array of centrally conducted, statewide services for the benefit of all divisions within the Judicial Branch, such as data processing, financial services, personnel matters and facilities management.

Court Support Services Division

  • Office of Adult Probation – Conducts presentence investigations ordered by the Superior Court and supervises probationers in all cases except juvenile matters.
  • Office of Alternative Sanctions – Creates and sustains a full range of alternatives to incarceration for both pre- and post-conviction adult and juvenile populations.
  • Bail Commission – Interviews and investigates individuals accused of crimes to assist the Superior Court in determining terms and conditions of pretrial release.
  • Family Services Division – Assists the Superior Court in the resolution of problems and the adjudication of cases involving family relationships, family support, child protection and juvenile delinquency. Among the services provided by the Family Division are: mediation of domestic disputes, evaluation of child custody and visitation conflicts, juvenile probation services, divorce counseling, residential placement, restitution and community services.
  • Division of Juvenile Detention Services – Provides pretrial secure detention and programming services to juveniles accused of delinquent acts.

External Affairs DivisionCoordinates a variety of legislative, educational and informational activities designed to inform and educate the public and private sectors about the mission, activities and goals of the Judicial Branch.

Information Technology Division –
The Information Technology (IT) Division consists of:

  • The Commission on Official Legal Publications (COLP) – COLP prints and distributes all Judicial publications including such things as the Connecticut Law Journal, Connecticut Reports, the Connecticut Practice Book and official court forms.
  • Judicial Information Systems (JIS) – JIS is responsible for Applications Development and Support, Network and Systems Support, Architecture & Standards as well as Service & Delivery Support.

Superior Court Operations – The Superior Court Operations Division includes the following:

  • Administration – Provides support services and guidance to all segments of the Division by directing the administrative, strategic planning, staff training and business activities, and provides for court transcript services, interpreter services, and the preservation and disposition of seized property; and, the maintenance, retrieval and destruction of records.
  • Court Operations – Ensures that the Superior Court Clerk’s offices process all matters in accordance with Statutory, Practice Book and Judicial Branch policy provisions in an efficient and professional manner through the provision of technical assistance and support services including the Centralized Infractions Bureau and Jury Administration.
  • Judge Support Services – Ensures the prompt delivery of services and programs to Superior Court judges and Family Support Magistrates pertaining to law libraries, legal research, judicial performance evaluations, continuing education and support for technology; and manages grants program.
  • Legal Services – Determines legal issues and provides support services in the areas of attorney ethics, discipline and bar admission.
  • Support Enforcement Division – Enforces, reviews and adjusts family support orders in accordance with federal and state regulation, rules and statutes.
  • Office of Victim Services – Advocates for victims of crime, arranges services, provides assistance and financial compensation.

(Reposted from the Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

Role of the [Connecticut] Courts

Maintaining Order – The judicial system in Connecticut exists to uphold the laws of the state. Our courts help to maintain order in our society by:

  • determining the guilt or innocence of persons accused of breaking the law;
  • resolving disputes involving civil or personal rights;
  • interpreting constitutional provisions of laws enacted by the legislature and deciding what is to be the law of the state when none exists for certain situations. The court decision then becomes a precedent to be applied in like situations unless later overruled or modified by the Supreme Court or the General Assembly; and,
  • determining whether a law violates the Constitution of either the State of Connecticut or the United States.

Separation of Powers – Under our constitution, the courts are one of three branches of government:

  • The Legislative Branch (the Senate and House of Representatives) is responsible for creating new laws.
  • The Executive Branch (the Governor and executive branch agencies) is responsible for enforcing them.
  • The Judicial Branch (the courts) is responsible for interpreting and upholding our laws.

Relationship of Connecticut Courts to Federal Courts
In Connecticut, as throughout the United States, there are two judicial systems. One is the state system, established under the authority of the state constitution; the other is the federal system, established under the United States Constitution. Connecticut courts are courts of general jurisdiction. These courts handle most criminal matters and a variety of civil matters, including contracts, personal injury cases, dissolution of marriage and other legal controversies. In some instances, decisions of state courts may be appealed to the United States Supreme Court if a question of federal constitutional law arises.

Federal courts have jurisdiction over matters involving federal law, and over the following matters: cases brought by the United States, cases between two states or the citizens of two different states, cases between a state and a foreign state or its citizens, admiralty and maritime cases, and cases affecting ambassadors and other diplomatic personnel.

(Reposted from the Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

Organization of the Courts [In Connecticut]: Probate Court

In addition to the state-operated courts, Connecticut has probate courts, which have jurisdiction over the estates of deceased persons, testamentary trusts, adoptions, conservators, commitment of the mentally ill, guardians of the persons, and estates of minors.

Each Probate Court has one judge, who is elected to a four-year term by the electors of the probate district. There are 54 Probate Court districts and six Regional Children’s Probate Courts. State law requires that probate judges be attorneys, and they are paid through a statutory formula. Probate Courts are housed in municipal facilities, most often town and city halls.

(Reposted from the Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

New Bankruptcy Form, Rules Take Effect

Individuals filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 must use a new form that presents their payment plan in a more uniform and transparent manner, and creditors will have less time to submit a proof of claim, under new bankruptcy rules and form amendments that took effect Dec. 1.

By creating greater uniformity of where specific types of information must be entered, the new national Chapter 13 plan form will make it easier for creditors, lawyers and judges to ensure that all elements of a bankruptcy agreement reached under Chapter 13 comply with federal laws. Chapter 13, sometimes known as the wage earner’s plan, enables qualified individual filers to reschedule and make debt payments, allowing them to keep their homes and other property.

Bankruptcy courts previously had relied on local versions of Chapter 13 plans, which varied from district to district, in resolving Chapter 13 cases. They now must either use a new national Bankruptcy Form 113, or create a locally adapted form that contains key elements of the national form. In recent months, courts have been updating electronic filing systems and notifying local bankruptcy lawyers and filers of the pending changes.

The deadline for creditors to file a proof of claim was revised in an amendment to Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure 3002.

The new deadline will affect bankruptcies filed under Chapter 7, in which debtors liquidate assets; Chapter 12, which enables family farmers and fishermen to restructure their finances; and Chapter 13. Previously creditors had 90 days after an initial meeting of creditors was held. Now, a proof of claim must be submitted within 70 days of the filing of a bankruptcy petition.

Federal rules amendments typically follow a three-year process, which includes multiple layers of review and extensive public comment.

In April, the Supreme Court transmitted the new rules regarding bankruptcy, as well as amendments to Appellate and Civil Rules of Procedure, and Rules of Evidence, to Congress. The new rules took effect Dec. 1 when Congress did not act to prevent their implementation.

Find a full list of the new rules and form amendments and the Current Rules of Practice and Procedure. Find additional information about the bankruptcy process.

(Re-posted from http://www.uscourts.gov/news/2017/12/01/new-bankruptcy-form-rules-take-effect)

Role of the Courts [in Connecticut]

Maintaining Order – The judicial system in Connecticut exists to uphold the laws of the state. Our courts help to maintain order in our society by:

  • determining the guilt or innocence of persons accused of breaking the law;
  • resolving disputes involving civil or personal rights;
  • interpreting constitutional provisions of laws enacted by the legislature and deciding what is to be the law of the state when none exists for certain situations. The court decision then becomes a precedent to be applied in like situations unless later overruled or modified by the Supreme Court or the General Assembly; and,
  • determining whether a law violates the Constitution of either the State of Connecticut or the United States.

Separation of Powers – Under our constitution, the courts are one of three branches of government:

  • The Legislative Branch (the Senate and House of Representatives) is responsible for creating new laws.
  • The Executive Branch (the Governor and executive branch agencies) is responsible for enforcing them.
  • The Judicial Branch (the courts) is responsible for interpreting and upholding our laws.

Relationship of Connecticut Courts to Federal Courts
In Connecticut, as throughout the United States, there are two judicial systems. One is the state system, established under the authority of the state constitution; the other is the federal system, established under the United States Constitution. Connecticut courts are courts of general jurisdiction. These courts handle most criminal matters and a variety of civil matters, including contracts, personal injury cases, dissolution of marriage and other legal controversies. In some instances, decisions of state courts may be appealed to the United States Supreme Court if a question of federal constitutional law arises.

Federal courts have jurisdiction over matters involving federal law, and over the following matters: cases brought by the United States, cases between two states or the citizens of two different states, cases between a state and a foreign state or its citizens, admiralty and maritime cases, and cases affecting ambassadors and other diplomatic personnel.

(Reposted from the Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

History of the Courts [in Connecticut]

supreme_ct_of_errors1868

First Connecticut Judicial Proceedings
The first Connecticut judicial proceedings were probably held on April 26, 1636 at “A Corte holden in Newton” (Hartford) under the commission granted to eight leaders by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay.

In 1638, the General Court established the Particular Court (often called the “Quartet Court” because it was required to meet every three months). While the General Court, later called the General Assembly, controlled the administration of justice, the Particular Court was the principal judicial body until the union of the New Haven and Connecticut colonies and the granting of the Charter from Charles II in 1662.

In 1665, with the new Charter, the Particular Court was abolished and two new levels of courts were established: the Court of Assistants in 1665, and the county courts one year later. Separate probate courts were established in 1698 to handle such matters as wills and estates.

The Court of Assistants was abolished in 1711. Its powers of original and appellate jurisdiction were assumed by the newly created Superior Court, the forerunner of the sole trial court of general jurisdiction which exists in Connecticut today.

Creation of an Independent Judiciary
During the period between the Revolutionary War and the adoption of the Connecticut Constitution in 1818, significant developments in the direction of creating an independent judiciary took place.

In 1784, the Supreme Court of Errors was created as the highest appellate tribunal of the state, with the power to review lower court cases based on a writ of error, a power previously held by the General Assembly.

In 1818, the first Connecticut Constitution was adopted, setting forth the doctrine of separation of powers and establishing the three separate branches of government. This constitution created “… a Supreme Court of Errors, a Superior Court, and such inferior courts as the general assembly shall from time to time ordain and establish.”

County courts were abolished in 1855 and their functions were transferred to a strengthened Superior Court. As the volume of cases continued to increase, however, the General Assembly found it necessary to create a series of Courts of Common Pleas.

Justices of the Peace
Justices of the Peace have played a vital part in the judicial system, beginning in 1686. By the end of the seventeenth century, justices were commonly authorized to take jurisdiction over small actions. As towns were incorporated, the General Assembly authorized the creation of town and borough courts in order to handle small cases. Justices of the peace presided over these courts.

Twentieth Century Developments
In 1939, the trial justice system was enacted, vesting the limited criminal jurisdiction formerly within the power of all justices of the peace in specially designated trial justices.

In 1921, Connecticut’s first juvenile courts were established in several towns, and in 1942, a state-wide Juvenile Court came into existence.

In 1941, the General Assembly enacted legislation to establish a single Court of Common Pleas for the entire state with judges subject to periodic reassignment on a statewide basis. Prior to this legislation, judges sat only in the counties to which they had been appointed.

When the General Assembly abolished county government in 1960, the municipal courts and trial justice system were replaced by a state-wide Circuit Court. The three-level system of state, county and municipal courts was dissolved in favor of a completely state-maintained system.

On December 31, 1974, the Circuit Court was merged with the Court of Common Pleas. Circuit Court judges were elevated to the Court of Common Pleas. This consolidation was followed four years later by the merger of the Court of Common Pleas and Juvenile Court with the Superior Court on July 1, 1978. Common Pleas and Juvenile Court judges became judges of the Superior Court. The Superior Court thus became the sole trial court of general jurisdiction in the state, and Connecticut acquired the first unified court system in the country.

In 1982, the state Constitution was amended to establish the Appellate Court to help alleviate the caseload burden on the Supreme Court. – (History of the Appellate Court – PDF)

(Reposted from the Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

Process – Bankruptcy Basics

Article I, Section 8, of the United States Constitution authorizes Congress to enact “uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies.” Under this grant of authority, Congress enacted the “Bankruptcy Code” in 1978. The Bankruptcy Code, which is codified as title 11 of the United States Code, has been amended several times since its enactment. It is the uniform federal law that governs all bankruptcy cases.

The procedural aspects of the bankruptcy process are governed by the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (often called the “Bankruptcy Rules”) and local rules of each bankruptcy court. The Bankruptcy Rules contain a set of official forms for use in bankruptcy cases. The Bankruptcy Code and Bankruptcy Rules (and local rules) set forth the formal legal procedures for dealing with the debt problems of individuals and businesses.

There is a bankruptcy court for each judicial district in the country. Each state has one or more districts. There are 90 bankruptcy districts across the country. The bankruptcy courts generally have their own clerk’s offices.

The court official with decision-making power over federal bankruptcy cases is the United States bankruptcy judge, a judicial officer of the United States district court. The bankruptcy judge may decide any matter connected with a bankruptcy case, such as eligibility to file or whether a debtor should receive a discharge of debts. Much of the bankruptcy process is administrative, however, and is conducted away from the courthouse. In cases under chapters 7, 12, or 13, and sometimes in chapter 11 cases, this administrative process is carried out by a trustee who is appointed to oversee the case.

A debtor’s involvement with the bankruptcy judge is usually very limited. A typical chapter 7 debtor will not appear in court and will not see the bankruptcy judge unless an objection is raised in the case. A chapter 13 debtor may only have to appear before the bankruptcy judge at a plan confirmation hearing. Usually, the only formal proceeding at which a debtor must appear is the meeting of creditors, which is usually held at the offices of the U.S. trustee. This meeting is informally called a “341 meeting” because section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code requires that the debtor attend this meeting so that creditors can question the debtor about debts and property.

A fundamental goal of the federal bankruptcy laws enacted by Congress is to give debtors a financial “fresh start” from burdensome debts. The Supreme Court made this point about the purpose of the bankruptcy law in a 1934 decision:

[I]t gives to the honest but unfortunate debtor…a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement of preexisting debt.

Local Loan Co. v. Hunt, 292 U.S. 234, 244 (1934). This goal is accomplished through the bankruptcy discharge, which releases debtors from personal liability from specific debts and prohibits creditors from ever taking any action against the debtor to collect those debts. This publication describes the bankruptcy discharge in a question and answer format, discussing the timing of the discharge, the scope of the discharge (what debts are discharged and what debts are not discharged), objections to discharge, and revocation of the discharge. It also describes what a debtor can do if a creditor attempts to collect a discharged debt after the bankruptcy case is concluded.

Six basic types of bankruptcy cases are provided for under the Bankruptcy Code, each of which is discussed in this publication. The cases are traditionally given the names of the chapters that describe them.

Chapter 7, entitled Liquidation, contemplates an orderly, court-supervised procedure by which a trustee takes over the assets of the debtor’s estate, reduces them to cash, and makes distributions to creditors, subject to the debtor’s right to retain certain exempt property and the rights of secured creditors. Because there is usually little or no nonexempt property in most chapter 7 cases, there may not be an actual liquidation of the debtor’s assets. These cases are called “no-asset cases.” A creditor holding an unsecured claim will get a distribution from the bankruptcy estate only if the case is an asset case and the creditor files a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court. In most chapter 7 cases, if the debtor is an individual, he or she receives a discharge that releases him or her from personal liability for certain dischargeable debts. The debtor normally receives a discharge just a few months after the petition is filed. Amendments to the Bankruptcy Code enacted in to the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 require the application of a “means test” to determine whether individual consumer debtors qualify for relief under chapter 7. If such a debtor’s income is in excess of certain thresholds, the debtor may not be eligible for chapter 7 relief.

Chapter 9, entitled Adjustment of Debts of a Municipality, provides essentially for reorganization, much like a reorganization under chapter 11. Only a “municipality” may file under chapter 9, which includes cities and towns, as well as villages, counties, taxing districts, municipal utilities, and school districts.

Chapter 11, entitled Reorganization, ordinarily is used by commercial enterprises that desire to continue operating a business and repay creditors concurrently through a court-approved plan of reorganization. The chapter 11 debtor usually has the exclusive right to file a plan of reorganization for the first 120 days after it files the case and must provide creditors with a disclosure statement containing information adequate to enable creditors to evaluate the plan. The court ultimately approves (confirms) or disapproves the plan of reorganization. Under the confirmed plan, the debtor can reduce its debts by repaying a portion of its obligations and discharging others. The debtor can also terminate burdensome contracts and leases, recover assets, and rescale its operations in order to return to profitability. Under chapter 11, the debtor normally goes through a period of consolidation and emerges with a reduced debt load and a reorganized business.

Chapter 12, entitled Adjustment of Debts of a Family Farmer or Fisherman with Regular Annual Income, provides debt relief to family farmers and fishermen with regular income. The process under chapter 12 is very similar to that of chapter 13, under which the debtor proposes a plan to repay debts over a period of time – no more than three years unless the court approves a longer period, not exceeding five years. There is also a trustee in every chapter 12 case whose duties are very similar to those of a chapter 13 trustee. The chapter 12 trustee’s disbursement of payments to creditors under a confirmed plan parallels the procedure under chapter 13. Chapter 12 allows a family farmer or fisherman to continue to operate the business while the plan is being carried out.

Chapter 13, entitled Adjustment of Debts of an Individual With Regular Income, is designed for an individual debtor who has a regular source of income. Chapter 13 is often preferable to chapter 7 because it enables the debtor to keep a valuable asset, such as a house, and because it allows the debtor to propose a “plan” to repay creditors over time – usually three to five years. Chapter 13 is also used by consumer debtors who do not qualify for chapter 7 relief under the means test. At a confirmation hearing, the court either approves or disapproves the debtor’s repayment plan, depending on whether it meets the Bankruptcy Code’s requirements for confirmation. Chapter 13 is very different from chapter 7 since the chapter 13 debtor usually remains in possession of the property of the estate and makes payments to creditors, through the trustee, based on the debtor’s anticipated income over the life of the plan. Unlike chapter 7, the debtor does not receive an immediate discharge of debts. The debtor must complete the payments required under the plan before the discharge is received. The debtor is protected from lawsuits, garnishments, and other creditor actions while the plan is in effect. The discharge is also somewhat broader (i.e., more debts are eliminated) under chapter 13 than the discharge under chapter 7.

The purpose of Chapter 15, entitled Ancillary and Other Cross-Border Cases, is to provide an effective mechanism for dealing with cases of cross-border insolvency. This publication discusses the applicability of Chapter 15 where a debtor or its property is subject to the laws of the United States and one or more foreign countries.

In addition to the basic types of bankruptcy cases, Bankruptcy Basics provides an overview of the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, which, among other things, provides protection to members of the military against the entry of default judgments and gives the court the ability to stay proceedings against military debtors.

This publication also contains a description of liquidation proceedings under the Securities Investor Protection Act (“SIPA”). Although the Bankruptcy Code provides for a stockbroker liquidation proceeding, it is far more likely that a failing brokerage firm will find itself involved in a SIPA proceeding. The purpose of SIPA is to return to investors securities and cash left with failed brokerages. Since being established by Congress in 1970, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation has protected investors who deposit stocks and bonds with brokerage firms by ensuring that every customer’s property is protected, up to $500,000 per customer.

The bankruptcy process is complex and relies on legal concepts like the “automatic stay,” “discharge,” “exemptions,” and “assume.” Therefore, the final chapter of this publication is a glossary of Bankruptcy Terminology which explains, in layman’s terms, most of the legal concepts that apply in cases filed under the Bankruptcy Code.

Reprinted from http://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/process-bankruptcy-basics

CONTEMPLATING A BANKRUPTCY AFTER DIVORCE

Oftentimes Bankruptcy and Divorce go hand-in-hand.  If you are in the process of getting divorced, it would be wise to consult a consumer attorney to analyze your financial circumstances, ensuring all of your obligations will be accounted for in the Divorce Decree/Separation Agreement, and to determine if you can handle paying them once you go back to a single income after the divorce.  Bankruptcy may be a safe option once you are divorced if you find you cannot afford living on a single income.

If you will be taking the bulk of the debt once you separate and do not have the income to support it, you may consider filing for bankruptcy and starting over all together once the divorce is finalized.  Here are some topics that often arise from divorce when contemplating a bankruptcy or may lead you to file for bankruptcy after your divorce:

  1. Who will take the marital home and pay its related expenses?

If you are getting a divorce and taking over possession of the marital home, along with taking over the related expenses, especially the mortgage(s) on the home, be sure to have your Divorce Decree state the terms of this transfer accurately.

Also, making a budget before the divorce is final will help you determine if you will be able to afford to stay in the home.

If it is determined that you can, in fact, afford to live in the home after the divorce, then make sure the proper documents are recorded on the Land Records after the transfer.  This will give you a paper trial you may need to provide in your bankruptcy case later on.

  1. Will you be responsible for credit cards in your ex-spouses name?

If so, make sure the Divorce Decree/Separation Agreement spells out all debt you will be taking responsibility for once the divorce is final, along with the last four digits of any account numbers.  Once the divorce is final, be sure to contact each company in writing and have the accounts switched into your name.  Wait at least six weeks and then review your credit report(s) to ensure accurate reporting, so as not to inadvertently leave off a debt you are responsible for on your Bankruptcy petition, among other things.

  1. Will you be ordered to pay alimony or child support?

Keep in mind, that these particular types of “debts” are allowable deductible expenses in your Bankruptcy case; this means that they are taken into consideration when qualifying for Bankruptcy.  Also, it is important to note that court-ordered Alimony and Child Support are what is known in the Bankruptcy realm as “priority debts” and cannot be discharged in most cases.  (Taxes and loans involving the government are also included in the priority category.)  It is vitally important to have all obligations in this category fully defined and explained in your Divorce Decree/Separation Agreement, as you will likely be fulfilling these obligations regardless of ever filing for Bankruptcy.

Filing for bankruptcy after a divorce is not the end of the world.  In fact, it may be the best thing that ever happened to you, and will help you to move on and start fresh.

This firm is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief amongst other things, under the Bankruptcy Code.