July 20, 2018

Frequently Asked Connecticut Bankruptcy Law Questions

Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray

Q: What is bankruptcy?

A: Bankruptcy is a legal process for people who cannot afford to pay their bills, and offers them a fresh start. The right to file for bankruptcy is granted by federal law, and all Connecticut bankruptcy cases are handled in federal courts located in New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford.

Q: How can Bankruptcy help me?

A: Bankruptcy can eliminate unsecured debt, end collection harassment, stop foreclosures, prevent repossessions, stop wage garnishments and bank executions, and/or restore utility service.

Q: How often can I file bankruptcy?
A: You can file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy every eight (8) years. Chapter 13 Bankruptcies can be filed every six (6) years.

Q: What is the difference between a consumer bankruptcy and a corporate bankruptcy?

A: A consumer bankruptcy is for individuals or married couples that have personal, and not business, debt. A corporate bankruptcy is for a corporation, or non-human entity.

Q: What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?

A: A Chapter 7 results in a total discharge of most unsecured debt. A Chapter 13 is a repayment plan. Please see our Laws Page for an extended discussion on this topic.

Q: What does it cost to file for Bankruptcy?
A: We charge a fee for our services which will be quoted at our initial consultation. In addition to our fee for services, the bankruptcy court also charges filing fees.

Q: How can I pay for my Bankruptcy?

A: We offer affordable payment plans and accept all forms of payment, including cash, check, and debit cards from the person filing for bankruptcy. If a non-filer wishes to pay for our fees for their family member or friend, we will accept a credit card from that person. We honor MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express.

Q: What property can I keep?

A: You may keep all “exempt” property like your home, car, wedding rings, home furnishings, etc. All property that is not exempt is subject to liquidation and the resulting monies used to pay back your creditors. Do Not Be Alarmed: we strive to maximize your exemptions and protect all of your property.

Q: Will bankruptcy wipe out all my debts?

A: Yes, both Chapter 7 and 13 are designed to give you a fresh start with a clean slate.

Q: What is a discharge?

A: A discharge is a court order that says you do not have to repay your debts, but there are some exceptions, such as child support.

Q: Will I have to go to court?
A: Yes, in a Chapter 7 case, you will have to attend a proceeding once which is like a “court hearing,” although, it is very informal and presided over by a trustee and not a judge. A Chapter 13 case may require more than one court appearance, usually two or three.

Q: Will bankruptcy affect my credit?

A: Yes, but there are easy ways to rebuild your credit in a relatively short period of time following your final discharge.

Q: Will I be able to keep any credit cards?

A: No, you will have to fully disclose all of your debts and accounts, which will be closed and discharged. Bankruptcy is an all or nothing process. Full disclosure of your assets and liabilities is required and subject to penalties of perjury.

Q: Can I keep and use my debit card?

A: Yes, a debit card is not a credit card.

Q: Can I get a credit card after bankruptcy?

A: Yes, and you will be counseled on how and when to apply, and which type of card works best to rehabilitate your credit.

Q: Are utility services affected?
A: Current services will not be affected if the account is current or near current. Requests for new services after a bankruptcy may result in the utility company requiring a deposit.

Q: Can I be discriminated against for filing bankruptcy?

A: Absolutely not. Filing bankruptcy is a right given and protected by Federal Law.

Q: I am married, can I file by myself?

A: Yes, you may file as a married individual.

Q: If I am married and I file individually, will my spouse’s credit be affected?
A: No, your spouse’s credit will not be affected if he or she does not file.

Q: Can filing bankruptcy stop bill collectors from calling?
A: Yes, they will be prohibited from harassing you.

Q: Can I discharge my student loans by filing bankruptcy?

A: Generally student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. There are a few exceptions to this general rule.

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

Mindful Money Management: 3 Strategies for Financial Success | By Caroline Wetzel, CFP®, AWMA®

How do you feel when you think about your financial situation? If you experience anxiety, uncertainty, or other unpleasant symptoms, you are not alone. Finances are a significant concern for many people. A 2017 study by Guardian Life Insurance Company of America entitled “Mind, Body, and Wallet,” found that money is cited as the #1 source of stress for a majority of American workers. The same survey showed that worry about personal finances is the leading cause of emotional stress and contributes to lower physical wellness.

But managing your money does not have to be an upsetting experience that negatively impacts you. Applying mindfulness techniques to your finances can help you cultivate a deeper awareness of your total financial picture, enabling you to approach your financial decisions with greater conviction and calculated risk.

What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an intentional focus on the present moment. It has evolved over time to become a secular, psychological practice of developing and sustaining attention to thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and environmental stimuli that impact our experience of “now”.

Non-judgmental awareness of each moment is cultivated through mindfulness. Practitioners challenge themselves to attain a heightened sensitivity to the present through a variety of techniques including, but not limited to, meditation, pauses, and gentle movements. The impact of mindfulness on physical, mental, and social well-being is documented widely through scientific and academic studies.

Strategy 1: Create Space
Mindfulness promotes a consistent, ongoing process of using our senses to become more attuned to what is going on inside our bodies and outside us in our surrounding environment. This disciplined activity of “creating space” on a regular basis enables practitioners to experience feelings of groundedness and centeredness in the midst of racing thoughts and life’s busyness.

Try incorporating this strategy of “creating space” to your approach to your finances. Do you think about your finances beyond just paying the next bill that’s due? Do you know what you save and spend and check your statements? Do you review your insurance policies and ensure they continue to make sense for your needs?

Consider dedicating time – it can be as brief as a few minutes, or as long as 30 minutes, as long as it’s recurring – to pay your bills and consider questions like this as part of understanding your total financial picture. Formally reserve this time in your calendar and don’t cancel the appointment.

In the same way you go to the gym on a regular basis to take care of your physical health or ensure that you get a certain number of hours of sleep for your mental health, “create space” in your lifestyle to take care of your financial health.

Strategy 2: Plan with a Purpose
Mindfulness emphasizes awareness and non-judgment. Through mindfulness, we discover that our thoughts are narratives that we create as a result of our own unique perceptions and life experiences. Repeated practice of mindfulness empowers us to let go of the constant chatter – especially the negative thoughts – that monopolize our focus, and just be.

Adopt this same open, curious awareness to your financial situation. Without worrying about how you’ll do it, ask yourself “What do I want to do with my money?” Reflect on this question repeatedly during the spaces that you have created in your schedule, and observe what bubbles up for you. If the same priorities emerge each time you reflect on this question, these could be the goals that form the foundation of your unique financial plan.

When you are able to articulate clearly without judgment what is important to you and what you want to do with your money you can formulate a purpose-filled financial plan comprised of actions and behaviors that you can implement to make your financial goals a reality.

Strategy 3: Invest with Intention
Mindfulness facilitates sustained focus. It enables practitioners to cultivate greater clarity and improve their capacity to tune out distractions. As a result, mindfulness facilitates the ability to make decisions.

Apply this objective, intentional focus to your investment strategy. Do you know what you have invested your money in? Do you know why you chose the investments you selected? Are your investments in line with your values, comfort level with risk, and do they consider your tax situation?

When you invest with intention, you know what you invest your money in and why. This disciplined approach provides comfort and structure when the financial markets – and life – inevitably surprise us.

When you apply techniques promoted through mindfulness to manage your money, you can obtain greater control over your finances, confidence with your financial goals, and comfort that you are taking steps to realize your financial dreams.

By Caroline Wetzel, CFP®, AWMA®

Disclosure:

Caroline Wetzel is a Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) and Vice President, Private Wealth Advisor with Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC.  Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC and Procyon Institutional Partners, LLC (collectively “Procyon Partners”) are registered investment advisors with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). This article is provided for informational purposes only and for the intended recipient[s] only. This article is derived from numerous sources, which are believed to be reliable, but not audited by Procyon for accuracy. This article may also include opinions and forward-looking statements which may not come to pass. Information is at a point in time and subject to change. Procyon Partners does not provide tax or legal advice.

For more information:

Caroline Wetzel, CFP®, AWMA®

Vice President

Private Wealth Advisor

Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC

1 Corporate Drive. Suite 225  |  Shelton, CT  06484

M: (844) Procyon |  D: (475) 232-2713 |  F: (475) 232-2736

cwetzel@procyonpartners.net   |  www.procyonpartners.net   |  https://www.linkedin.com/in/caroline-wetzel/

Federal Tax Refunds During Bankruptcy

You can receive tax refunds while in bankruptcy. However, refunds may be subject to delay or used to pay down your tax debts. If you believe your refund has been delayed or offset you can check on its status by going to Where’s My Refund tool or by contacting the IRS’ Centralized Insolvency Operations Unit at 1-800-973-0424. The unit is available Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. eastern time.

Discharge: If you successfully complete your bankruptcy plan you will receive a discharge of debt. A discharge releases you (the debtor) from personal liability for certain dischargeable debts. Some taxes may be dischargeable. Whether a federal tax debt may be discharged depends on the unique facts and circumstances of each case. Consult your bankruptcy attorney to determine which tax debts may be discharged.

SOURCE: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/other-types-of-bankruptcy-chapters-9-12-15

Not an April Fools Joke: Means Test Numbers Going Up!

2Means Test Numbers April 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find out if you qualify for FREE:

Qualification for Bankruptcy is based solely on income. It is calculated using your last six months of income. The Means Test used to determine qualification allows you to make up to certain amounts of money based on your state and household size. We’re excited about the new Means Test Numbers (above) as they are going up, therefore allowing many more people to file for Bankruptcy relief.

Please click here to schedule your free consultation which includes a FREE Means Test.

New Medicare Cards Start Mailing in April 2018

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be removing Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards to prevent fraud, fight identity theft and keep taxpayer dollars safe. They will mail the new Medicare cards from April 2018 through April 2019. Learn how they will mail the new Medicare cards in phases by geographic location below.

New Medicare Card Mailing Strategy

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to remove Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards by April 2019. A new, unique Medicare Number will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on each new Medicare card. Starting April 2018, CMS will begin mailing new Medicare cards to all people with Medicare on a flow basis by geographic location and other factors.

These mailings will follow the sequence outlined below. Additional details on timing will be available as the mailings progress. Starting in April 2018, people with Medicare will be able to check the status of card mailings in their area on Medicare.gov.

New Medicare Card Mailing Waves Wave States Included Cards Mailing
1 Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia April – June 2018
2 Alaska, American Samoa, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon April – June 2018
3 Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin After June 2018
4 Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont After June 2018
5 Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina After June 2018
6 Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming After June 2018
7 Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virgin Islands After June 2018

 

SOURCE: CMS.GOV

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.

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

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.

Nisi Period (Latin for “Cooling-Off Period”)

Divorce

Please be aware that in Connecticut, all parties must wait 90 days to obtain a divorce, unless the parties are eligible for a nonadversarial (simplified) divorce or unless the parties have an agreement on all terms of the divorce and ask the court to waive the 90-day waiting period.

Connecticut law provides individuals with options when filing for a divorce.

The following are the different types of divorce processes:

Nonadversarial (simplified or “non-ad”) divorce
This type of divorce is a simplified process by which eligible parties may obtain a divorce within days without having to appear before a judge.
Divorce with an Agreement (or “waive 90”)
If you and your spouse have an agreement as to all issues, you may ask the court to waive the 90-day waiting period that is otherwise required by law, and get divorced at almost any time you choose.
Divorce without an Agreement
It is always preferable for you and your spouse to agree on the terms of your divorce. However, if you are unable to do so, a judge will make decisions regarding alimony, custody and visitation.

(Reposted from the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

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)

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