Frequently Asked Questions

BANKRUPTCY

WHAT IS BANKRUPTCY?

Bankruptcy is a legal way for people or businesses who owe more money than they can pay to either have their debts wiped out (Chapter 7), or repaid in part or in full over time (Chapter 11, 12 or 13). The type of bankruptcy which may be filed depends on the amount of assets, and the current income of the party seeking to file bankruptcy. Each person's situation is different so it is imperative to consult with a bankruptcy professional in order to determine, which type of bankruptcy is available under your specific circumstances. Regardless of which Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code you file under, once the bankruptcy petition is filed, the Bankruptcy Code provides that creditors must immediately stop all collection efforts against you.

In 2005 the Bankruptcy Code was changed to provide that you must fall below certain income guidelines in order to file bankruptcy. You must also now take two credit counseling classes, one before you are allowed to file for bankruptcy and the second class before your case is finished. Classes may be taken in person, on the telephone or on the internet.

Please refer to the links page for further information on the income guidelines and course providers as this information is subject to change.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON FORMS OF BANKRUPTCY AVAILABLE TO CONSUMERS?

CHAPTER 7

Chapter 7 is the liquidation chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 7 cases may be filed by an individual, corporation, or a partnership. Under chapter 7, a trustee is appointed to collect and sell all property that is not exempt and to use any proceeds to pay creditors. In the case of an individual, the debtor is allowed to claim certain property as exempt. The exemption laws in New York are very liberal, and even homeowners with substantial equity in their homes may file for bankruptcy and keep their home. New Jersey follows federal exemption laws which are not nearly as liberal. Generally an individual may still keep a car worth less than the guidelines amount, their cell phone, computer, and certain household goods. In both states funds in a qualified retirement plan may be kept as well. Please see the links page for the most current exemption laws.

CHAPTER 13

Chapter 13 is the debt repayment chapter for individuals with regular income whose debts do not exceed statutory limits, or who's income exceeds the statutory amount for Chapter 7. Debtors can generally have up to five years to repay all or a portion of their outstanding debt. The amount of debt which must be repaid (usually between pennies on the dollar and 100% of the amount you owe) varies with each case can only be determined after consultation with a bankruptcy professional.

WHAT DOES IT COST TO FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY?

In addition to the fee charged by Mr. Canter for his professional services, there are filing fees payable to the Court. These fees currently are as follows:
• Chapter 7 - $299.00
• Chapter 11 - $1,039.00
• Chapter 13 - $274.00

DIVORCE FAQS

WHAT IS A DIVORCE?

A divorce is the legal termination of marriage. All states require a spouse to identify a legal reason for requesting a divorce when filing the divorce papers with the court. These reasons given are referred to as the grounds for divorce. In 2010 New York joined the rest of the country in allowing "no-fault" divorces.

DOES ONE HAVE TO GO TO COURT TO OBTAIN A DIVORCE?

Yes. A court of law is the only place where one can obtain a divorce, legal separation or other form of dissolution of marriage. Other than terminating the marriage, the court also has jurisdiction to resolve the other issues which are intertwined in the existing marriage such as custody and visitation, division of marital property, spousal support, and child support. If both parties are in agreement it is sometimes possible to submit paperwork to the Court to obtain a divorce without ever appearing before a Judge.

HOW ARE CUSTODY AND VISITATION ISSUES DECIDED?

No area of family law brings to the courtroom the tension, anxiety, hostility, volatility and raw emotion of child custody and visitation litigation.. Most often a judge will take great pains to get parents themselves to come to a mutually acceptable custody agreement. If the parties cannot agree on any of these matters, the Court will decide for them. The decision made by a stranger (the Judge) is rarely satisfactory to the parties. An earnest attempt to resolve these issues with the assistance of counsel is highly recommended if at all possible.

WHAT IS CHILD SUPPORT?

While it is the legal obligation of BOTH parents to support their children, what is generally thought of as child support is a payment by the non-custodial parent to the other parent for the support of their common children. It is in the best interest of a child for both parents to be obligated to pay for the support of that child.

WHAT IS CHILD SUPPORT USED FOR?

Child support is intended to provide for a child's needs, during the growth and formative years. In addition to child support, a non-custodial parent may be required to contribute towards child care and unreimbursed medical expenses for their child.

HOW LONG MUST CHILD SUPPORT BE PAID?

The child support obligation of both parents is set forth by statute. The income of both parents is combined, and a child support amount is set based upon such combined income, in accordance with a formula set forth in the law. The amount of money the non-custodial parent is required to contribute to this set support amount is based upon that parent's percent of the combined parental income.

As a general rule, in New York a non-custodial parent can expect to pay seventeen (17%) percent of his or her GROSS income (less limited deductions) as and for the support of one child, twenty-five (25%) percent of his or her GROSS income as and for the support of two children and twenty-nine (29%) percent of his or her GROSS income as and for the support of three children.