July 20, 2018

Issue Focused Evaluation

Introduction

Raising children is not easy. However, caring for children when parents are no longer together can be even more difficult. Although parents may try to work out their differences regarding the care of their children, visitation schedules, or parenting responsibilities, this is not always possible. In some instances, the Court’s involvement is needed to help make the final decisions. Family Services offers the Issue Focused Evaluation (IFE) as a way of helping parents solve a specific concern through an evaluation that limits the extent and time the family is involved in the process.

For many parents, the evaluation process becomes a learning experience that helps them settle their differences without the need for a court hearing. This resolution also works towards the development of a healthy parenting arrangement that contributes to the positive growth and development of the children.

What to Expect

To take part in an Issue Focused Evaluation you must be referred from the Family Court. The Judge will enter an order defining the concern that will be evaluated and/ or the limits of what will be dealt with in the process. Because the the evaluation is limited, our involvement in the matter will be brief.

Shortly after the court referral, the case will be assigned to a Family Relations Counselor (FRC). A letter from the FRC will be sent scheduling the first appointment. In most cases, the first meeting is held with the parents together. This gives both parents a chance to share their concerns and proposals with the FRC and each other. NOTE: If you have safety concerns about meeting with your child’s other parent, you should contact your FRC when you get the appointment letter to talk about those concerns.

The FRC’s role in this process is to explore and assess the concerns of each parent and to make recommendations about a parenting plan that will benefit the children. To do this, the FRC will gather information from both parents and contact professionals involved with the family (such as teachers, doctors, therapists, and others) The IFE is not confidential, which means that this information will be shared with the parents, the attorneys, and Guardians Ad Litem (GAL) involved in the matter, and the Court.

So that information can be shared between the professional providers and Family Services, Authorization for Release of Information forms must be signed. If either party has copies of records/reports they may also submitted to the FRC. However, the person who wrote the record/report must be available to the FRC during the evaluation process to answer any questions the FRC may have about the report/record.

During the course of the IFE, the counselor may schedule additional individual appointments with one or both of the parents. Arrangements may also be made to meet with the children at one or both of the parents’ homes and/or the Family Services Office. This part of the evaluation process will be decided by the FRC based on the issue that was referred.

At the time the counselor’s work in the IFE in done, a final conference will be held with the parents and the attorneys/GALs in the case. When it is not possible to meet together, other arrangements will be made.

The final conference is when the FRC will share relevant information gathered during the IFE, present an assessment of the referred issue, and provide a recommended plan to resolve the matter. A written report summarizing the information shared in the final conference will also be handed out in this meeting and given to the Court.

If this information and report does not help the parents come to an agreement, the matter will most likely go to trial. At that time, the FRC’s recommendations and report may be used as evidence and the counselor may testify.

What Parents Need to Do

The participation and cooperation of the parents throughout the Issue Focused Evaluation process is essential. It is very important that a commitment be made to cooperate with the Family Services in the following ways:

  1. Keep scheduled appointments and arrive on time for all meetings.
  2. Do not bring your children to appointments that are scheduled for you.
  3. Fill out the Issue Focused Evaluation Questionnaire completely and accurately before the first appointment and bring it with you to the first appointment.
  4. Sign the necessary Authorization for Release of Information forms and bring all requested information to appointments.
  5. Make the children available, both at home and at the Family Services Office, if requested by the FRC.
  6. If your children are going to be interviewed, explain to them that the FRC wants to meet them, but let them know that they will not be asked to choose between their parents.

SOURCE: Connecticut Judicial Branch

The Role of Family Services

Our Role in Family Civil Court

The role of Family Services is to assist the Court and clients in the timely and fair resolution of family and interpersonal conflicts through a comprehensive program of alternative dispute resolution services, case management, evaluation and education. With this purpose in mind the Family Relations Counselors will utilize the Family Civil Intake Screen to identify the appropriate service to assist your family.

Alternative Dispute Resolutions Services:

  • Pre-trial Settlement Negotiations – In all Judicial Districts, Family Relations Counselors conduct pre-trial and final judgment settlement conferences with attorneys and litigants in conjunction with their attendance at Family Short Calendar and other Family Civil Court dockets.
  • Mediation – Family Relations Counselors mediate custody and access disputes for up to three 2-hour sessions. These efforts are geared toward assisting parents in resolving differences in a self-determining, non-coercive, and confidential manner.
  • Conflict Resolution Conference – This is a confidential, directive process utilizing negotiation and mediation techniques to resolve the primary issues of custody and access. Parents and attorneys participate in the conferences and information from professional sources may be included. The Family Relations Counselor may offer recommendations to the parents at the conclusion of the process if the parties are unable to resolve their dispute. These recommendations are not provided to the Court.

Case Management Services:

  • General Case Management – A Family Relations Counselor will be assigned distinct responsibilities to assist parties in resolving their parenting issues with a report back to the Court. Some components include gathering specific information regarding the family, monitoring compliance with court orders, facilitating settlement conferences to develop parenting plans, conducting home visits, or completing other court-ordered tasks.
  • Intensive Case Management – This service offers litigants in the early stages of post judgement court involvement the opportunity to enhance collaboration between the parents and formulate mutual decisions regarding the well-being/care of their children. The role of the Family Relations Counselor is to work with the parents as needed to reduce conflict, offer skills for enhanced communication, reinforce positive parenting, and report progress to the Court.

Evaluative Services:

  • Issue-Focused Evaluation – This is a non-confidential process of assessing a limited issue impacting a family and/or parenting plan. The goal of an Issue-Focused Evaluation is to explore the defined parenting dispute, gather information regarding only this issue and provide a recommendation to the parents and the Court. This evaluation format is limited in scope, involvement, and duration.
  • Comprehensive Evaluation – This is an in-depth, non-confidential assessment of the family system by the Family Relations Counselor. The information gathered by the counselor, the assessment of the family, and the resulting recommended parenting plan is shared with the parents and attorneys. This recommendation may be used to form the basis of an agreement. At the conclusion of the process, a report with recommendations is filed with the Court.

Education:

  • Parent Education Program (PEP) – Family Services contracts with community and private agencies throughout the state to provide this program. The PEP is a six-hour statutorily-mandated, psycho-educational course for separating and divorcing parents that provides information about the impact of family re-structuring on children.

Our Role In Criminal Court

The role of Family Services is to assist the Court and clients in the timely and fair disposition of family violence criminal cases through a comprehensive assessment and intervention plan to prevent, reduce, and stop the frequency and severity of violence against victim/complainants.

  • Family Violence Arraignment Proceedings – Family Relations Counselors conduct pre-arraignment family violence intake assessments and screen all family violence arraignment cases. This process includes:
  • Collecting demographic information
  • Reviewing criminal histories
  • Reviewing the Protective Order Registry
  • Screening for handguns and firearms
  • Screening for risk of continued violence
  • Interviewing the defendant and victim
  • Coordinating with Family Violence Victim Advocates
  • Recommending the level of Protective Orders
  • Recommending treatment/services
  • Family Violence Case Assessments – Family Relations Counselors assess all cases that are referred to Family Services subsequent to the arraignment process. Assessments include:

– In-depth victim interview

– In-depth defendant interview

– Coordination with the Family Violence Victim Advocate

– Preparation of detailed case assessment and recommendations for the Court

  • Pre-trial Case Management Services – Family Relations Counselors oversee diversionary programs for cases referred to Family Services and perform the following functions:

– Administrative monitoring/supervision

  • Monthly contact with the defendant
  • Coordination of the Family Violence Education Program (FVEP) and other court-ordered contracted and non-contracted services
  • Coordination with the Family Violence Victim Advocates

Family Services Administration and Staffing

Central Office Administrative Staff: An Executive Director oversees all aspects of the Court Support Services Division (CSSD). The Family Services Unit of CSSD is centrally administered to support field function/operations, coordinate initiatives, and oversee intervention/sanction programs, as well as contracted services providers. Family Services court-based staff includes Family Services Supervisors, Family Relations Counselors, and Family Intake Assistants/Clerical Support.

SOURCE: Connecticut Judicial Branch

Unemployment Insurance Frequently Asked Questions

– 1.  What is Unemployment Insurance?Unemployment Insurance is temporary income for workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and who are either looking for new jobs, in approved training, or awaiting recall to employment. The funding for unemployment insurance benefits comes from taxes paid by employers. Workers do not pay any of the costs. To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must have earned sufficient wages during a specified time (monetary eligibility). To collect benefits, you must meet certain legal eligibility requirements.
– 2.  What are the basic eligibility requirements to apply for unemployment?

  • Be fully or partially unemployed;
  • Be unemployed through no fault of your own [the law imposes disqualifications for certain types of separations from employment];
  • Be physically and mentally able to work full time*;
  • Be available for full-time work*;
  • Be registered with the American Job Center;
  • Be actively seeking work by making reasonable efforts to find employment each week;
  • Participate in selected reemployment services if you are identified as a dislocated worker by the profiling system;
  • File your weekly claims as directed.

*Individuals who cannot work because of a physical or mental impairment that is chronic or expected to be long-term or permanent may qualify for benefits if they are available for suitable part-time work.

– 3.  How do I file a new or reopened unemployment claim?A claim should be filed as soon as possible after you are separated from employment.

  • You may file your initial (new) claim or reopened claim 24/7 online using www.FileCTUI.com.
  • If you are unable to file a new claim online, please visit one of our American Job Centers locations. Go to our website at www.FileCTUI.com for office locations.Do not delay in filing a claim if you do not have your separation packet which includes a pink slip. Your claim will be taken without it. Your claim is effective the Sunday of the week in which you first file for benefits. Ordinarily, you do not get paid for the weeks prior to the week you filed your initial claim.
  • Have your Social Security card and separation packet, if one was provided. If you are separating from the military, have separation form DD214, Member-4. Federal employees should bring separation form SF-8 and a copy of their most recent pay stub. If you are not a US citizen, you must have proof that you are work authorized  in the USA. Do not delay filing a claim if you do not have these documents. Your claim can be filed without them, with the exception of those claimants that are required to provide proof of work authorization documents in this country. However, there may be a delay in payment until the document(s) are received.

– 4.  How do I file my weekly unemployment continued claims?You may file a weekly claim for benefits online or by our automated Telebenefits Line, in English or Spanish. If you file online, our web address is: www.FileCTUI.com. The automated Telebenefits Line can also be used for claim inquiries and provides general information on Unemployment Compensation Benefits.

Automated TeleBenefits Phone Numbers – filing weekly claims and claim inquiries
        Ansonia (203) 230-4939
        Bridgeport (203) 579-6291
        Bristol (860) 566-5790
        Danbury (203) 797-4150
        Danielson (860) 423-2521
        Enfield (860) 566-5790
        Hamden (203) 230-4939
        Hartford (860) 566-5790
        Interstate 1-800-942-6653 (from out-of-state) or
(860) 256-3900 (from in-state)
        Manchester (860) 566-5790
        Meriden (860) 344-2993
        Middletown (860) 344-2993
        New Britain (860) 566-5790
        New London (860) 443-2041
        Norwich (860) 443-2041
        Stamford (203) 348-2696
        Torrington (860) 482-5581
        Waterbury (203) 596-4140
        Willimantic (860) 423-2521
TDD/TTY Users Call: 1-800-842-9710.

– 5.  How much will I get?We look at wages for a 12-month period that is called the Base Period. The time is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the calendar quarter in which you initiated the claim. Individuals who cannot establish monetary eligibility using wages in the previously described base period will use an alternate base period.  The alternate base period consists of the four calendar quarters immediately preceding the quarter in which the claim is filed. To determine if a person has sufficient wage credits, the law requires that he or she must have total base period earnings that equals or exceeds 40 times the Weekly Benefit Rate. Normally, the maximum number of weeks of regular benefits payable is 26.
– 6.  What wages are used in determining monetary eligibility?Wages are drawn from a one-year period (four calendar quarters) to calculate eligibility. This one-year period is called the Base Period. By law, neither the quarter in which your claim is initiated nor the calendar quarter immediately preceding that quarter can be used for this calculation. Therefore, the Base Period normally will be the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the effective date of the new claim.

  • If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: January, February, or March
    The Base Period will be the first nine months (Jan-Sept) of last year and the last three months (Oct-Dec) of the year before last;
  • If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: April, May, or June
    The Base Period will be all twelve months (Jan-Dec) of last year;
  • If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: July, August, or September
    The Base Period will be the first three months of the current year (Jan-Mar) and the last nine months (Apr-Dec) of the last year;
  • If your claim is effective with any Sunday in: October, November, or December
    The Base Period will be the first six months (Jan-June) of the current year and last six months of the last year.

– 7.  How will my part-time job affect my benefits?If you are working part-time, your Weekly Benefit Rate will be reduced by an amount equal to two-thirds (2/3) of your gross wages for that week, rounded to the nearest dollar. To be eligible for this payment the law provides that:

  • You must be employed less than full-time; the number of hours you are working during the week is less than the number of hours customarily considered to be full-time for that job and/or employer;
  • You must be able to work and available for work as defined by law;
  • You did not refuse additional hours.

– 8.  How will my Pension Benefits affect my benefits?If you receive a pension, the law requires that the Weekly Benefit Rate be reduced by the pro-rated weekly amount of the pension that was contributed by the employer . A pension reduction of the Weekly Benefit Rate will increase the number of weeks for which Unemployment Compensation Benefits can be paid. You must still be able, available, and looking for full-time work to be eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits.

You can report your pension when you file your new claim. If you start to receive a pension after your new claim has already been filed, you must report your pension at www.filectui.com by selecting “receiving a pension”.

– 9.  Can I quit my job and collect Unemployment Insurance Benefits?The general rule is that a person who voluntarily leaves suitable work without good cause, attributable to the employer, is not eligible for benefits. However, there are a few non job-related reasons for quitting under which a person may be approved for benefits. These include quitting to care for a spouse, child, or parent with an illness or disability, and quitting to escape domestic violence.

For good cause to be attributable to the employer, it must relate to the wages, hours, or working conditions of the job. A change in conditions created by your employer or a breach of your employment agreement which is substantial and adversely affects you may be good cause to quit. Also, if the job itself adversely affects your health or aggravates or worsens a medical condition, it could be good cause to quit.

Regardless of the cause, in most cases, good cause attributable to the employer may only be found if you took reasonable steps to inform your employer of your dissatisfaction and sought to remedy the problem before you left. If you quit, it is your burden to prove that there was good cause for leaving. When applying for benefits, after quitting a job, you will be scheduled for a pre-determination hearing by mail to establish whether you had good cause for leaving. Your employer will be notified of this hearing and will be invited to also send in a written statement.

-10. I was just fired. Can I collect Unemployment Insurance Benefits?If you are fired or suspended, you may be disqualified for benefits if the employer can prove one of the following:

  • Willful misconduct in the course of your employment. The term wilful misconduct means deliberate misconduct in wilful disregard of the employer’s interest, or a single knowing violation of a reasonable and uniformly-enforced rule or policy of the employer, when reasonably applied, provided such violation is not a result of the employee’s incompetence. In the case of absence from work, an employee must be absent without notice or good cause on three separate instances within a 12-month period;
  • Conduct which is a felony under the law and occurred in the course of your employment;
  • Larceny of property or service whose value exceeds $25 in the course of your employment;
  • Participation in a strike which is illegal under law or regulations;
  • You were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 30 days or longer and had begun serving that sentence;
  • You were discharged or suspended because you were disqualified by law from performing the job for which you were hired as a result of a drug or alcohol testing program mandated by law;
  • If you are discharged, it is the employer’s burden to prove that there was wilful misconduct. When applying for benefits after being discharged or suspended from a job you will be scheduled to attend a pre-determination hearing to determine eligibility. Your employer will be notified of this hearing and will be invited to attend or to send in a written statement.

-11. My boss is doing … can he/she do that?The employer must pay you for work you have performed and in accordance with any contract or written policy. The employer can change the nature of a job in accordance with any contracts or written policies.

-12. I’m moving … what can I do about my Unemployment Insurance Benefits?If you move out of Connecticut, you may continue to file for Unemployment Compensation Benefits from out of state. This is called an Interstate claim. Connecticut will still be the paying state so you must continue to meet all Connecticut eligibility requirements.

-13. How do I file an appeal?Click here to obtain information on filing an appeal. -14. What other unemployment related programs are available?”(The Labor Department is not responsible for accuracy of the information provided by the following non-DOL programs)

National School Lunch Program (Conn. State Department of Education)
Children may become eligible for the free lunch program upon a change in a parents’ financial circumstances.-15. I will soon exhaust my Unemployment Insurance Benefits. Are there other services that may be helpful to me?▪ Contact United Way’s 2-1-1 infoline program. This is a free referral service, with information about workforce programs, community services, basic needs assistance, crisis intervention and much more. 2-1-1 is toll-free from anywhere in Connecticut and it operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The service offers multilingual operators and TTY access. You can reach this service by calling 2-1-1 or visit the United Way website at www.211ct.org.

CTHires, CT Department of Labor’s no cost on-line job bank, offers individuals the ability to search for jobs based on multiple search criteria such as location, occupation, employer, and more.  The Résumé Builder component of CTHires helps individuals build a résumé step-by-step, gathering essential background information and arranging skills, employment history, education and other essential information in an organized format for prospective employers to view.  In addition, the Virtual Recruiter component of the system allows individuals to save a job search and run it periodically to identify new job postings that match their search criteria. Job search results are sent to an individual’s email account. You can access CTHires at www.CTHires.com.

▪ Information regarding the Subsidized Training and Employment Program (Step Up), summer and seasonal jobs  at state agencies that are open to all jobseekers, and the Veterans Manufacturing Job Match program can be found on the main page of the Labor Department’s web site at www.ct.gov/dol.

SOUCRE

Medicare Program – General Information

Medicare is a health insurance program for:

  • people age 65 or older,
  • people under age 65 with certain disabilities, and
  • people of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant).

Medicare has:

Part A Hospital Insurance – Most people don’t pay a premium for Part A because they or a spouse already paid for it through their payroll taxes while working. Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) helps cover inpatient care in hospitals, including critical access hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities (not custodial or long-term care). It also helps cover hospice care and some home health care. Beneficiaries must meet certain conditions to get these benefits.

Part B Medical Insurance
– Most people pay a monthly premium for Part B. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) helps cover doctors’ services and outpatient care. It also covers some other medical services that Part A doesn’t cover, such as some of the services of physical and occupational therapists, and some home health care. Part B helps pay for these covered services and supplies when they are medically necessary.

Prescription Drug Coverage – Most people will pay a monthly premium for this coverage. Starting January 1, 2006, new Medicare prescription drug coverage will be available to everyone with Medicare. Everyone with Medicare can get this coverage that may help lower prescription drug costs and help protect against higher costs in the future. Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage is insurance. Private companies provide the coverage. Beneficiaries choose the drug plan and pay a monthly premium. Like other insurance, if a beneficiary decides not to enroll in a drug plan when they are first eligible, they may pay a penalty if they choose to join later.

SOURCE: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-General-Information/MedicareGenInfo/index.html

Basic Principles of the CT Child Support Guidelines

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“The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model. The Income Shares Model presumes that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income as he or she would have received if the parents lived together. Underlying the income shares model, therefore, is the policy that the parents should bear any additional expenses resulting from the maintenance of two separate households instead of one, since it is not the child’s decision that the parents divorce, separate, or otherwise live separately.

The Income Shares Model has proven to be the most widely accepted, particularly due to its consideration of the income of both parents. Thirty eight states follow the Income Shares Model. Four states and the District of Columbia have shifted over to the Income Shares Model since Connecticut last revised its guidelines in 2005. The other models used by states are “Percentage of Obligor Income” (ten states) and “Melson Formula” (three states). The Income Shares Model reflects presently available data on the average costs of raising children in households across a wide range of incomes and family sizes. Because household spending on behalf of children is intertwined with spending on behalf of adults for most expenditure categories, it is difficult to determine the exact proportion allocated to children in individual cases, even with exhaustive financial affidavits. However, a number of authoritative economic studies based on national data provide reliable estimates of the average amount of household expenditures on children in intact households. These studies have found that the proportion of household spending devoted to children is systematically and consistently related to the level of household income and to the number of children.

In general, the economic studies have found that spending on children declines as a proportion of family income as that income increases. This spending pattern exists because families at higher income levels do not have to devote most or all of their incomes to perceived necessities. Rather, they can allocate some proportion of income to savings and other non-consumption expenditures, as well as discretionary adult goods. This principle was reflected in past guidelines, since 1994, and is continued in these guidelines. Again, following the pattern of prior guidelines declining percentages at all levels of combined net weekly income begin outside the darker shaded area of the schedule. However, the commission had no economic data that supports a conclusion that this pattern continues when parents’ net weekly income exceeds $4,000. This commission therefore decided to not extend either the range of the schedule or the application of the concept of declining percentages beyond its current $4,000 upper limit.

Economic studies also demonstrate that a diminishing portion of family income is spent on each additional child. This apparently results from two factors. The first is economy of scale. That is, as more children are added to a family, sharing of household items is increased, and fewer of those items must be purchased. The second is a reallocation of expenditures. That is, as additional children are added, each family member’s share of expenditures decreases to provide for the needs of the additional members.

Based on this economic evidence, adjusted for Connecticut’s relatively high income distribution (as explained later in this preamble), the guidelines allow for the calculation of current support based on each parent’s share of the amount estimated to be spent on a child if the parents and child live in an intact household. The amount calculated for the custodial parent is retained by the custodial parent and presumed spent on the child. The amount calculated for the noncustodial parent establishes the level of current support to be ordered by the court. These two amounts together constitute the current support obligation of both parents for the support of the child. Intact households are used for the estimates because the guidelines aim to provide children the same support they would receive if the parents lived together. More than this, however, support amounts would be set unduly low if based on spending patterns of single-parent families, as they generally experience a high incidence of poverty and lower incomes than intact families.”

Source: The Connecticut Child Support Guidelines

For more information, please contact us here.

Alimony in Divorce & Bankruptcy

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In Divorce:
“In determining whether alimony shall be awarded, and the duration and amount of the award, the court shall consider the evidence presented by each party and shall consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, earning capacity, vocational skills, education, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties and the award, if any, which the court may make pursuant to section 46b-81, and, in the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability and feasibility of such parent’s securing employment.” -Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-82

In Bankruptcy:
Alimony is treated as ordinary income or a necessary expense (depending if you are receiving it or paying it) in Bankruptcy. Back-owed alimony is not discharge-able in Bankruptcy.

If you have questions about Divorce or Bankruptcy, please contact me here for a free consultation.

FREE INCOME TAX PREPARATION

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The following is summarized from the websites of the American Association of Retired Persons: www.aarp.org/ , the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS): www.ct.gov/drs/cwp/view.asp?a=1462&q=289046 and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS): www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc101.html

People needing free help to complete their federal tax forms have a number of options available to them. They can seek assistance at an IRS office, call IRS toll free numbers for forms or questions, or bring forms to a volunteer at a site offering AARP Tax-Aide program or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services. All options are free to the taxpayer.

TAX ASSISTANCE BY TELEPHONE AND ONLINE

  • Refund status information can be obtained four weeks after a claim has been filed, by calling, 800-829-4477. The following information must be given to obtain refund status: social security, filing status and refund amount.
  • Tax assistance for people with hearing impairments and TTY equipment can be obtained by calling: 1-800-829-4059, 24 hours, MondayFriday, 7:00am-7:00pm. People without TTY equipment may be able to obtain access through federal or state relay services.
  • If an individual believes that they may have been the victim of identity theft, they should dial 1-800-908-4490.

 

Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s), can be found at: https://www.irs.gov/refunds/tax-season-refund-frequently-asked-questions

TAX ASSISTANCE AT DRS OFFICE

  • The DRS offers in-person income tax filing assistance at the Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwich and Waterbury offices until April 15. DRS staff help taxpayers prepare Connecticut tax return forms only. Taxpayers must go to the office by 4:00pm and bring their completed federal tax return. No appointments are taken for tax assistance at the DRS office. Taxpayers can call (860) 297-5962 or 1-800-382-9463, MondayFriday, 8:30am-4pm for assistance over the phone.

AARP TAX-AIDE PROGRAM

  • AARP Tax-Aide volunteers offer free income tax assistance for low and middle income households at Tax-Aide sites during the tax season. Assistance to people ages 60+ is given priority. Local Tax-Aide sites can be found by calling the Tax-Aide Site Locator number: (888) 227-7669, using the Site Locator at the AARP website or going to the 2-1-1 database
    Note: Some sites are by appointment only; some are walk in only.

VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE (VITA)

  • Trained volunteers at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites offer free tax filing assistance from mid-January –April 18. (Dates and times vary by site) Anyone, regardless of age, can use a VITA site for assistance. VITA volunteers help taxpayers prepare basic tax return forms. The general eligibility for VITA assistance is income last year was less than $54,000. VITA sites are held at libraries, churches, senior centers and other community meeting places. Link onto the 2-1-1 website , to find a VITA site
    Note: Some sites are by appointment only; some are walk in only

FORMS TO BRING TO A TAX ASSISTANCE SITE

When visiting an IRS, DRS, Tax-Aide or VITA site, bring the following:

* Photo ID for Caller (and/or spouse, if filing jointly)
* If married filing jointly, both spouses must attend appointment
* Social security cards for every member of the family (if a card is lost, the taxpayer must contact the social security administration to replace card prior to having taxes prepared)
* W-2s and/or 1099’s from ALL jobs worked in 2016
* A check from the taxpayer’s checking account or a savings account number for direct deposit (NOTE: The taxpayer can open a bank account or cash card at the tax site for direct deposit if they do not have an existing account.)
* Interest statements from financial institutions (if applicable)
* Tuition and student loan information (if applicable)
* Documentation from daycare provider, if taxpayer paid for child care in 2015
* Any other income information or IRS notices received
* All 1095 forms
* Health Insurance Statements (including Health Insurance Exception Certificate, if received)
* Copy of last years tax return


SOURCES: 2-1-1 database; AARP website; Connecticut Department. of Revenue Services website; Internal Revenue Service website
INTERNET PAGE PREPARED BY: 211/pt
CONTENT LAST REVIEWED: December201

(Reposted from: http://uwc.211ct.org/freeincometax-assistance/)

Attorney for the Minor Child

1. What is an Attorney for a Minor Child (AMC)?
An attorney for a minor child, often referred to as an AMC and also called Counsel for the Minor Child is an individual the court appoints, either upon motion of a party or when the court determines an AMC is necessary to advocate for the best interests of the child. The court will consider the appointment of an AMC if the parties are unable to resolve a parenting or child related dispute. The AMC’s role is different from that of a guardian ad litem (GAL). The AMC represents the child’s legal interests and supports the child’s best interests, while the GAL represents only the child’s best interests.

2. Who can be an AMC?

Only an attorney who has completed the comprehensive training program required by Practice Book Section 25-62, which is sponsored by the Judicial Branch, is eligible to be an AMC. The AMC cannot be the same attorney that is representing either of the parents.

3. What is the role of an AMC?
In cases where the parties are unable to agree on a parenting plan or there is a child related dispute, the court may appoint an AMC to be the child’s attorney. The court will specify the role of the AMC in each case. Just as the parents may have their own attorneys advocating on their behalf, the AMC represents the child’s wishes and advocates on the child’s behalf. The AMC can speak in court on all matters pertaining to the interests of the child including custody, care, support, education and visitation. The AMC can also file motions and call witnesses on behalf of the child in court. Unlike a GAL, an AMC does not testify as a witness, but participates fully as a lawyer in the case.

4. What can a parent in a family court matter expect from an AMC?

The AMC is expected to avoid any conflict of interest, be courteous and professional and act in good faith. An AMC is bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys in Connecticut. The client, however, is not either of the parents, but the child. The AMC’s duty is to the child, and the parents should not expect the AMC to advocate or argue on their behalf.

5. Who pays the AMC?

The parties to the case pay the fees for the AMC. Each party is required to submit a financial affidavit to the court. The court will consider each party’s financial situation and order how such payment is to be split between them. In some cases, the parties may qualify for the appointment of an AMC that is paid for by the state. The parties must submit their financial affidavits to the court for review. If the parties meet the eligibility requirements of the Division of Public Defender Services, the court will appoint an AMC who is paid for by the state.

6. Can an AMC be removed from a case?

If a party believes that an AMC has acted improperly in a family case, he or she can file a motion to ask the court to remove the AMC from the case. After the motion is filed, the court may refer the motion to the Family Services Unit of the court. If the parties involved in the case cannot resolve the motion themselves, the court will have a hearing and decide the motion.

REPOSTED FROM: http://www.jud.ct.gov/faq/family.htm#1

BAPCPA Report – 2016

2016 Report of Statistics Required by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

Introduction

Under 28 U.S.C. § 159(b) (link is external), enacted as part of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA), the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) is required to submit an annual report to Congress on certain bankruptcy statistics detailed in 28 U.S.C. § 159(c) (link is external). Section 159(a) provides that clerks of the bankruptcy courts “shall collect statistics regarding debtors who are individuals with primarily consumer debts seeking relief under chapters 7, 11, and 13 of title 11.” The Director of the AO is required to compile this information, analyze it, and make it accessible to the public as well as Congress. This report is prepared to fulfill the statutory requirement. Tables in the report display data nationally, by circuit, and by district.

Summary of Findings

During calendar year 2016, nearly 750,000 bankruptcy petitions were filed by individuals with debts that are predominantly consumer in nature (“consumer cases”), 6 percent fewer than in 2015. Approximately 61 percent of the petitions, down from 63 percent in 2015, were filed under chapter 7, in which a debtor’s assets are liquidated and the nonexempt proceeds distributed to creditors. About 38 percent, up from 37 percent in 2015, were filed under chapter 13, in which individuals who have regular income and debts below a statutory threshold make installment payments to creditors under court-confirmed plans. One-tenth of one percent of petitions filed by individuals with predominantly consumer debt were filed under chapter 11, which allows businesses and individuals to continue operating while they formulate plans to reorganize and repay their creditors.1

Approximately 870,000 consumer cases were closed during calendar year 2016. Approximately 60 percent of the closed consumer cases included in the data analyzed for this report were closed under chapter 7, about 40 percent under chapter 13, and less than 1 percent under chapter 11.

Consumer debtors seeking bankruptcy protection under chapters 7, 11, or 13 during 2016 reported holding total assets in the aggregate amount of $72 billion and total liabilities in the aggregate amount of $191 billion. The total assets reported by consumer debtors fell 7 percent below the comparable 2015 amount. The total liabilities for the same set of cases increased 70 percent from the comparable data for 2015; however, this growth was primarily due to one debtor in the Western District of Washington (WA-W) who reported total liabilities of $85,122,168,563. Excluding the data for WA-W, the total liabilities decreased by 8 percent. (When considering the magnitude of these decreases, one should keep in mind that consumer filings in 2016 fell 6 percent over the previous year.)

The median average monthly income reported by all debtors was $2,668 (1 percent higher than in 2015), and the median average reported monthly expenses were $2,590 (less than 1 percent higher than in 2015).2 From filing to closing, chapter 7 consumer cases terminated in 2016 had a mean time interval of 209 days and a median time interval of 115 days. A total of 148,088 reaffirmation agreements were reported as filed in 105,469 chapter 7 consumer cases terminated during 2016. In 38 percent of the chapter 13 cases filed during 2016, debtors reported that they had filed for bankruptcy protection during the previous eight years, the same as in 2015.

Tables

In accordance with BAPCPA, the bankruptcy statistics in this report are itemized by chapter of Title 11 (the Bankruptcy Code (link is external)) and report only data in consumer cases. The tables noted in the list below have been created for this report as specified in 28 U.S.C. § 159(c).

BAPCPA Report Tables
Code Description BAPCPA Table
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(A) &
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(C)
Assets and Liabilities Reported by Debtors and Debts Discharged 1
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(B) Income and Expenses Reported by Debtors 2
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(D) Time Interval from Filing to Closing 3
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(E) Reaffirmation Agreements 4
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(F)(i) Property Valuation Orders 5
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(F)(ii) Chapter 13 Cases Closed by Dismissal or Plan Completion and Plan Modifications 6
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(F)(iii) Prior/No Prior Filings Reported by Debtors 7
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(G) Creditor Misconduct and Punitive Damages 8
28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(H) Rule 9011 Sanctions Imposed Against Debtors’ Attorneys and Damages Awarded 9

The naming convention used for the tables in this report provides that the alphabetic character immediately following the table number indicates the chapter⁠⁠(s) of the Bankruptcy Code associated with the cases included in the table. “A” indicates cases under chapter 7 only; “B” indicates cases under chapter 11 only; “D” indicates cases under chapter 13 only; and “X” indicates cases under chapters 7, 11, and 13 combined. For example, Table 1D reports assets and liabilities for cases filed under chapter 13. 3

Methodology and Data Limitations

Debtor-Provided Data

The U.S. bankruptcy courts send data to the AO when a case is filed, when certain motions are filed in the case, and when the case is closed. The data are then compiled annually for the purpose of this report. Many BAPCPA tables, particularly those reporting data on debtors’ assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, rely on data provided by debtors when they submit required forms, schedules, motions, agreements, and other filings to the court. Most of these data, as specified in 28 U.S.C. § 159(c), are provided exclusively by the debtors and are not validated either by the courts or the AO.

With respect to data collected from forms and schedules submitted at filing, debtors may fail to provide some or all of the data required for the BAPCPA tables. Therefore, analyses involving two or more columns in any table may overstate or understate differences. When all required data from a debtor are missing, either because of omission or delayed submission, analyses involving the data and the number of cases become unreliable. Therefore, caution should be used when analyzing columns of data or comparing any column of data to the number of cases filed.

Reliance on debtor-provided data may introduce other sources of error. One likely source of error arises when a debtor inaccurately reports assets, liabilities, income, or expenses at the time of filing. Those inaccuracies, if significant enough, may affect district, circuit, and national totals for the relevant fields in the tables in this report.

Data on Cases Filed and Closed

Another limitation relates to the first column of data in each table, which presents total cases. Some tables include reopened and transferred cases in the totals, but others omit these cases. Reopened and transferred cases are excluded when the data would be duplicative. For example, totals for assets and liabilities at the original filing of a case are the same for each reopening of that case. Counting the cases twice (once at filing and once at reopening) would distort the data on reported assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. In all other instances in which the duplication would not affect the results, these cases are included.

Transaction Data

Transaction data include reports of case-related events such as reaffirmation agreements, valuation orders, creditor misconduct, and attorney sanctions that occur during bankruptcy proceedings (see Tables 4, 5, 8, and 9). Such data are typically captured in the courts’ docketing activity.

In many instances, BAPCPA requires a report of the total number of cases in which a specific type of transaction has occurred. This affects the way that transaction data are reported. A case may have more than one occurrence of a particular type of transaction. For this reason, the case must be concluded before the AO can report whether the case meets the requirement to be counted and to ensure that no case is counted more than once. Thus, tables based on transaction data are based only on data from cases closed during the reporting period. These tables are subject to the same limitations noted in the section on cases filed and closed. Case activity that occurred prior to October 17, 2006, in a case that closed during the reporting period would not have been captured, causing transaction data to be underreported.

In addition, because a case may have more than one occurrence of a specific type of transaction, but the characteristics of each transaction may be different, the case must be counted in each column of a table whenever any occurrence meets the criteria for data in that column. If, for example, a debtor enters into three reaffirmation agreements, two of which include certification from the debtor’s attorney and one of which does not, the case is counted in the column representing “number of cases with agreements filed pro se” as well as the column representing the “total number of cases with agreements filed.” Furthermore, if, in the example above, the court approves one reaffirmation agreement and denies the other two, the case is also counted in the column representing the “number of cases with agreements approved.”

Because transaction data are captured from docket activity, the collection of accurate transaction data relies on debtors, their attorneys, and other case parties who file motions, agreements, and other documents with the courts to identify them appropriately. If a filer fails to note the correct court event at docketing, the data may not be reported accurately or at all. If the filer submits multiple matters under a single court event, the activities may be undercounted or not counted at all.

Assets and Liabilities Reported by Debtors

Tables 1A, 1B, 1D, and 1X set forth the assets and liabilities reported by debtors in total and by category of assets and liabilities, as well as the total net scheduled debt reported by the debtors on Official Bankruptcy Form 106Sum—Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information (B 106 Summary). All tables that report assets and liabilities (1A, 1B, 1D, and 1X) present data on cases filed during the reporting period by individual debtors with primarily consumer debt. The data for these tables are provided exclusively by the debtors and cannot be validated by the courts. These data typically are provided by a debtor at the time of filing or within 14 days thereafter as required by Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 1007 (link is external). They are not typically updated as the case proceeds. Data for reopened and transferred cases are excluded to prevent duplicate reporting.

“Net scheduled debt” is defined as the difference between the total amount of debt and obligations of a debtor reported on the schedules and the amount of such debt reported in categories that are predominantly non-dischargeable. Debt that is predominantly non-dischargeable may include, but is not limited to, domestic support obligations, taxes, student loans, and pension obligations. Thus, net scheduled debt approximates the amount of debt reported by the debtor at the time of filing that may be eligible for discharge (without regard to security interests) during the case and is referred to in 28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(C) as the “aggregate amount of debt discharged in cases filed during the reporting period.”

“Net scheduled debt,” however, overstates the amount of debt actually discharged by the amount of secured debt (e.g., mortgages on real property and many car loans) that remains after the discharge. A discharge in bankruptcy releases the debtor from personal liability for certain specified types of debts. Although a debtor is not personally liable for discharged debts, a valid lien secured by property that has not been voided in the bankruptcy case will remain in effect after the bankruptcy case has been closed as to that secured property. Therefore, unless the debtor continues repaying the discharged debt, a secured creditor may enforce the lien to recover the property that secures payment of the debt. In determining dischargeable debt, the statute does not provide for a deduction of either real or personal property valuations from the claims by creditors secured by such property.

Table 1X shows that individual debtors with primarily consumer debt seeking bankruptcy protection under chapters 7, 11, or 13 during 2016 reported holding total assets in the aggregate amount of $72 billion. Seventy percent of these assets were categorized as real property, and 30 percent as personal property. Apart from districts with fewer than 200 case filings each (the Districts of the Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam), debtors in the Southern District of California and the Northern District of California (CA-N) reported the highest average assets per petition at $344,000 and $224,000, respectively. Filers in the Western District of Tennessee (TN-W) reported the lowest average assets at $43,000.

Debtors reported total liabilities in the aggregate amount of $191 billion, with 32 percent of liabilities categorized as secured claims, 3 percent as unsecured priority claims, and 65 percent as unsecured non-priority claims. Overall, debtors categorized 94 percent of debts and obligations as dischargeable debt. Excluding districts with fewer than 200 case filings each, debtors in WA-W reported the highest average liabilities per filed petition at $8,348,000,4 and filers in TN-W had the lowest average liabilities at $65,000.

Income and Expenses Reported by Debtors

Tables 2A, 2B, 2D, and 2X present data on the income and expenses as reported by debtors on Official Bankruptcy Form 106Sum—Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information (B 106 Summary). Current monthly income data reflect income from all sources. Average monthly income data reflect total income for the last full six months prior to the bankruptcy filing, divided by six. The data for these tables are provided exclusively by the debtors and are not validated by the courts. A debtor typically provides the data at the time of filing or within 14 days of filing as required by Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 1007 (link is external). Only data provided during the initial filing of each case are counted in Tables 2A-2X. Data for reopened and transferred cases are excluded to prevent duplicate reporting. Median values are calculated only when 10 or more cases are reported.5

Table 2X shows that 747,117 consumer cases were filed in 2016 under chapters 7, 11, and 13 across the nation and 690,108 debtors completed the forms needed to include their data in these tables. 6 The median current monthly income7 of debtors who completed the relevant forms was $2,934, slightly more than the $2,886 median current monthly income reported in 2015. The median average monthly income8 was $2,668, a 1 percent increase from 2015, and the median average expenses9 were $2,590, a decrease of less than 1 percent from 2015. CA-N had the highest median current monthly income with $4,032, and the District of Puerto Rico (PR) had the lowest median current monthly income with $1,740. Filers in CA-N had the highest median average monthly income with $3,500, and filers in PR had the lowest median average monthly income with $1,848. Filers in the District of Connecticut had the highest median average expenses with $3,520, and filers in TN-W had the lowest with $1,720.

Time Interval from Case Filing to Closing

In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(D), Table 3 reports the mean time interval between case filing and closing of consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, under chapters 7, 11, and 13 and terminated during 2016. The median time interval also has been included to provide perspective on the mean value by reducing the effect of data outliers, although median values are calculated only when 10 or more cases are reported.10 Reopened cases are excluded from this table because most reopened cases are filed and closed relatively quickly to settle administrative matters and do not proceed in the same way as original filings.11 For transferred cases, the mean and median time intervals are calculated from the date the case is received at the new location to the closing of the case at that location.

During the 12-month period ending December 31, 2016, a total of 844,549 consumer cases opened on or after October 17, 2006, were closed under chapters 7, 11, and 13, with a mean time interval from filing to closing of 592 days and a median time interval of 156 days. The higher mean closing time (relative to the median time) reflects particularly long-running cases. The mean is 1 percent higher than that for 2015, and the median is 3 percent greater than in 2015.

Of the 504,951 chapter 7 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, and closed in 2016, the mean time interval from filing to closing was 209 days, and the median time interval was 115 days. By comparison, the mean time interval in 2015 was slightly higher at 215 days, and the median held steady at 115 days. The District of Wyoming had the highest median of any district at 312 days, and the Southern District of Iowa had the lowest median at 97 days.

A total of 996 chapter 11 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, were closed in 76 districts during 2016. The mean time interval from filing to closing was 760 days (up from 752 days in 2015), and the median time interval was 590 days (down from 625 days in 2015). Only 21 districts had 10 or more chapter 11 cases closed in 2016. Of those 21 districts, the District of Nevada had the highest median at 912 days, and the Eastern District of New York (NY-E) had the lowest median at 268 days.

A total of 338,602 chapter 13 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, were closed during 2016. The mean time interval from filing to closing was 1,162 days (down from 1,181 days in 2015), and the median time interval was 1,255 days (down from 1,284 days in 2015). The Northern District of West Virginia had the highest median at 1,961 days, and NY-E had the lowest median at 99 days. However, the median and mean do not accurately convey the time required for a typical chapter 13 case; rather, they are proxies for the percent of chapter 13 cases closed by plan completion, as plan completion typically takes much longer than dismissal.12

Reaffirmation Agreements

A debtor may enter into a reaffirmation agreement with a creditor to continue paying a dischargeable debt following bankruptcy. This may occur when, for example, a debtor wants to keep an automobile and continue making payments on it. If an attorney represents the debtor during the bankruptcy, the debtor’s attorney may or may not represent the debtor during negotiation of a reaffirmation agreement. For purposes of this report, a reaffirmation agreement is considered “pro se” if it was submitted without the certification of an attorney contained in Part IV of Director’s Bankruptcy Form 2400A—Reaffirmation Documents (Form B2400A), regardless of whether the debtor was otherwise represented in the case by an attorney.

Table 4 reports only on reaffirmation agreements filed in cases under chapter 7.13 Varying local practices govern the procedures for approving and denying reaffirmation agreements filed with the courts. In many districts, the court does not issue orders with respect to reaffirmation agreements filed with certification by debtors’ attorneys. In these instances, the reaffirmation agreement between the debtor and creditor is implicitly accepted without further court action and may or may not be recorded or otherwise noted in court documentation of the case. As a result, the difference between the number of reaffirmation agreements filed and the number of reaffirmation agreements approved does not represent the number of reaffirmation agreements denied. Moreover, sometimes multiple reaffirmation agreements are submitted together, some with and others without attorney certification, and a court order may fail to specify decisions of the court on the individual reaffirmation agreements. For these reasons, the data reported for approved reaffirmation agreements may not be representative of the total number of valid reaffirmation agreements executed by the parties.

As Table 4 illustrates, a total of 148,088 reaffirmation agreements were reported as filed in 520,925 chapter 7 consumer cases closed during the 12-month period ending December 31, 2016. The Northern District of Illinois had the highest total number of cases in which reaffirmation agreements were filed (5,899), followed by the Central District of California (CA-C) (4,572 cases) and the Eastern District of Michigan (4,327). Nationwide, 20 percent of chapter 7 cases closed had at least one reaffirmation agreement filed, up 1 percentage point from 2015. The Northern District of Florida reported the highest percentage of cases closed that had at least one reaffirmation agreement filed (41 percent). In 10 percent of cases with reaffirmation agreements filed, one or more agreements were submitted without attorney certification (pro se). The District of Kansas (KS) had the highest number of cases in which at least one pro se reaffirmation agreement was filed (1,112 cases). At least one pro se reaffirmation agreement was filed in 2 percent of chapter 7 cases closed. The Middle District of Alabama (29 percent of cases) and KS (26 percent) had the highest percentage of chapter 7 cases closed in which one or more pro se reaffirmation agreements were filed.

One percent of cases in which a reaffirmation agreement was filed had at least one reaffirmation agreement approved by order of the court. However, as described above, this does not indicate that reaffirmation agreements were denied in 99 percent of the cases. In 2016, MT reported the highest percentage of cases in which at least one reaffirmation agreement had been approved (88 percent), followed by the District of Colorado (CO) (27 percent), and the Southern District of Illinois (20 percent). These three districts accounted for 56 percent of the cases in which at least one reaffirmation agreement was approved.

Property Valuation Orders

In some cases, motions are made to the court to determine the value of property securing an allowed claim under 11 U.S.C. §§ 506 (link is external) and 1325 (link is external) and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 3012 (link is external). Table 5 shows the number of cases closed in 2016 in which final orders were entered determining the value of property securing a claim in an amount less than the amount of the claim, as well as the number of final orders entered determining the value of property securing a claim. Additional columns of data were added to provide further perspective on the required data.

A total of 345,058 chapter 13 consumer cases were closed in 2016. Final orders determining the value of property securing a claim were entered in 14,887 of the cases. In 9,151 cases, the value of property was reported in one or more final orders; in 6,053 (66 percent) of those cases, at least one final order valued the property at less than the full amount of the claim.

A case may have more than one final order determining the value of property securing a claim. In total, 18,525 final orders were entered in the 14,887 cases. Determinations of the value of property were reported in 11,756 final orders, of which 7,529 (64 percent) were valued below the amount of the claim. The Southern District of Florida (FL-S) reported that 4,613 final orders had been entered determining the value of property securing a claim, the highest total of any district. Seventy-three percent of the final orders determining the value of property securing a claim (13,559 final orders) were entered in five districts (FL-S, the Eastern District of California, the Middle District of Florida, the District of South Carolina, and CO); 48 districts reported no final orders determining the value of property securing a claim.

Chapter 13 Cases Closed by Dismissal or Plan Completion

Table 6 shows the number of cases in which plans were completed in chapter 13 consumer cases, separately itemized by the number of modifications made to the plans. Table 6 also reports the number of chapter 13 consumer cases dismissed, the number dismissed for failure to make payments under the plan, and the number refiled after dismissal. For purposes of this table, a chapter 13 consumer case is counted as “refiled after dismissal” if the case was filed during the reporting period by one or more debtors who were party to a separate chapter 13 consumer case that was dismissed no more than 180 days prior to the filing date of the current case. Cases that are reopened are not included in the total for cases refiled after dismissal.

A total of 344,852 chapter 13 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, were closed by dismissal or plan completion in 2016. Table 6 illustrates that 165,238 of these cases were dismissed. In 52 percent of the cases closed (179,614 cases), the debtors were discharged after completing repayment plans, down from 54 percent in 2015. Among districts with at least 10 closed cases, the District of Vermont had the highest percentage of cases (82 percent) closed by plan completion, followed by the District of Guam (78 percent) and District of Maine (77 percent). Of the 179,614 chapter 13 consumer cases in which debtors completed repayment plans, 38,571 (21 percent) had plans that were modified at least once prior to plan completion, the same percentage as in 2015.

Nationwide, failure to make plan payments was cited in 53 percent of cases as the reason for dismissal, down from 54 percent in 2015. Among districts with at least 10 closed cases, the Eastern District of North Carolina had the greatest percentage of dismissals (89 percent) that were for failure to make payments. MT had the lowest percentage of its dismissals made for failure to make payments (5 percent), followed by CA-C (10 percent). Table 6 shows that 20,141 cases were refiled after dismissal.

Prior Filings Reported by Debtors

Table 7 reports the number of cases in which individual debtors with primarily consumer debts filed for protection under chapter 13 during the reporting period and stated on the voluntary bankruptcy petition (Official Bankruptcy Form 101) that they previously had filed a case under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code during the preceding eight years (“prior filings”). For this table, data are captured at the time of filing, and only data on the initial filing of each case are counted. Data on reopened cases are excluded to prevent duplicate reporting. The data for Table 7 are provided exclusively by the debtors and are subject to the limitations described in the section above on debtor-provided data.

In 38 percent of the 287,556 (110,202) chapter 13 cases filed in 2016, debtors stated that they had filed a bankruptcy petition during the previous eight years. In the remaining 177,354 cases, debtors stated that they had not filed for bankruptcy during the previous eight years. In 2016, the District of Utah recorded the highest percentage of cases with prior filings at 59 percent, followed by District of Idaho (58 percent). The districts with the lowest percentage of cases in which debtors indicated prior filings were the District of Alaska (prior filings were reported in 13 percent of cases) and District of North Dakota (16 percent).

Creditor Misconduct and Punitive Damages

28 U.S.C. § 159(c)(3)(G) requires the Director of the AO to report on “the number of cases in which creditors were fined for misconduct and any amount of punitive damages awarded by the court for creditor misconduct.” Creditor misconduct, however, is not a specific cause of action under the Bankruptcy Code. At least five violations of the Bankruptcy Code could be considered creditor misconduct:

At least six other activities related to litigation procedures could also be considered creditor misconduct under certain circumstances:

What may be reported as creditor misconduct in one district may not be reported in another. In addition, because a creditor may be reprimanded or penalized for misconduct in many ways, many of which may not be explicitly recorded on a court’s docket as a sanction, this table does not provide a comprehensive picture of sanctions imposed against creditors in bankruptcy courts. Moreover, a sanction imposed for creditor misconduct is likely limited to what is sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. Although sanctions may consist of or include directives of a nonmonetary nature, an order to pay a penalty into court, or an order directing payment to the movant of some or all of the reasonable attorneys’ fees and other expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation, the Bankruptcy Code and Bankruptcy Rules do not permit the award of punitive damages for every violation classifiable as creditor misconduct. However, only punitive damages are reflected in the Table 8 series.

Table 8X shows that creditors were fined for misconduct in 164 consumer cases closed during 2016 and that orders to pay punitive damages totaling $106,173 were issued in 17 of those cases.

Rule 9011 Sanctions Imposed Against Debtors’ Attorneys

Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9011 (link is external) provides that attorneys may be sanctioned for improper or frivolous representations to the court submitted in any petition, pleading, written motion, or other paper. The rule states that “[a] sanction imposed for violation of this rule shall be limited to what is sufficient to deter repetition of such conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated.” Any “sanction may consist of, or include, directives of a nonmonetary nature, an order to pay a penalty into court, or . . . an order directing payment to the movant of some or all of the reasonable attorneys’ fees and other expenses incurred as a direct result of the violation.” Fed. R. Bankr. P. 9011(c)(2). The Table 9 series captures only misconduct by debtors’ attorneys that rises to the level required for sanctions under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9011. Because a debtor’s attorney may be reprimanded or penalized for misconduct in other ways, this table does not provide a comprehensive picture of sanctions imposed against debtors’ attorneys in bankruptcy courts.

Table 9X shows that of the 867,282 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006, and terminated in 2016, sanctions were imposed against debtors’ attorneys in 40 cases, with damages totaling $48,640 awarded in 34 cases.

Notes

1Consumer cases filed under chapter 11 are relatively infrequent and are generally believed to result when debtors exceed the debt restrictions of 11 U.S.C. § 109(e), which in calendar year 2016 restricts chapter 13 to debtors with less than $394,725 in noncontingent, liquidated, unsecured debts and less than $1,184,200 of noncontingent, liquidated, secured debts.

2Debtors calculate their average monthly incomes and average monthly expenses and report them to the courts on line 10 of Official Bankruptcy Form 106I—Schedule I: Your Income (B 106I) and line 22 of Official Bankruptcy Form 106J—Schedule J Your Expenses (B 106J). The AO then calculates the median of the average monthly incomes reported by debtors for all districts and circuits.

3 “C” is reserved for cases filed under chapter 12, which does not apply to consumer cases.

4 Three debtors—one each in WA-W, the Western District of Oklahoma, and the District of Montana (MT)—each reported liabilities exceeding $1 billion, skewing the averages. Excluding those three districts, the District of New Jersey had the highest average liabilities per completed petition at $277,000. Excluding those three debtors, total liabilities in the aggregate amount for the nation equaled $102 billion.

5 It is not meaningful to calculate medians when the number of cases is small. For this reason, the AO does not calculate medians for fewer than 10 cases at any aggregate level (e.g., district, circuit).

6 The number of cases with completed schedules differs between the Table 1 series and the Table 2 series because those tables draw data from different parts of the summary of schedules. If a debtor completed all necessary fields for inclusion in the Table 1 series, but not the Table 2 series, then that case and its data were included in the appropriate tables in the Table 1 series but not in the Table 2 series, and vice versa.

7Current monthly income is provided by chapter 7 debtors on line 11 of Official Bankruptcy Form 122A-1—Chapter 7 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income (B 122A-1), by chapter 11 debtors on line 11 of Official Bankruptcy Form 122B—Chapter 11 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income (B 122B), and by chapter 13 debtors on line 11 of Official Bankruptcy Form 122C-1—Chapter 13 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period (B 122C-1).

8See note 2.

9 See note 2.

10 See note 6.

11Tables 4, 5, 6, 8A-8X, and 9A-9X include reopened cases, whereas Table 3 does not include reopened cases. Accordingly, the total for cases closed in Table 3 may differ from the total in other tables

12 See Table 6.

13 Although reaffirmation agreements are technically possible under other chapters of the Bankruptcy Code, they are found almost exclusively in chapter 7 cases. Because no modification of a secured creditor’s rights may be obtained under chapter 7 without consent of the creditor, a debtor who wishes to retain collateral securing a claim must negotiate a reaffirmation agreement acceptable to the creditor. In contrast, under chapters 11, 12, and 13, subject to certain restrictions, the terms of a secured claim may be altered to allow the debtor to retain use of the collateral, thereby obviating the need for a reaffirmation agreement.

REPOSTED FROM: http://www.uscourts.gov/statistics-reports/bapcpa-report-2016

Divorce without an Agreement

While it is always preferable if you and your spouse can work out the terms of your divorce, if you are unable to do so, a judge will make the decisions that will impact your family, such as:

  • who will have custody of your children
  • how to divide your property and assets
  • how to pay your debts
  • whether either spouse gets alimony

Note: This information also applies to dissolution of civil unions performed in a foreign jurisdiction.

REPOSTED FROM: The Connecticut Judicial Branch Website.

For more information, please contact Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray at 203-713-8877.

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