Bankruptcy in Mercer County, New Jersey is a court proceeding through which a person or business who is unable to pay their debt is able to have some of their debt legally eliminated, or "discharged." This theoretically allows the debtor to move on with a clean slate. However, bankruptcy should not be treated as a way to avoid debt that one simply doesn't feel like paying. It is meant to be a safety net for people or businesses who are truly unable to pay off their debts. Because bankruptcy is not without negative consequences (such as a severely damaged credit rating for many years afterward), it should be viewed as an option of last resort.
Therefore, it is prudent to consult with an experienced Mercer County, New Jersey bankruptcy attorney, who can advise you of the costs and benefits of bankruptcy. Because the decision to file for bankruptcy depends very heavily on the facts of each individual case, the advice of a Mercer County bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in Mercer County, New Jersey
In Mercer County, New Jersey, there are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most commonly used. They are known as Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Being a product of federal law, the procedural rules governing bankruptcy in Mercer County, New Jersey will be very similar to those in any other part of the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the debtor to liquidate some of his or her assets in order to pay off as much debt as possible. Once the sale of the assets is complete, and the proceeds handed over to the creditors, the debt is viewed as discharged. Liquidation is basically selling assets to the highest bidder. Not all of the debtor's assets will need to be sold, and many types of property are totally or partially exempt, including homes, cars, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. This means that the debtor can keep them. It should be noted that some types of debts are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, criminal fines, taxes, and child support payments. Even when the bankruptcy process is complete, these debts will have to be paid in full.
The other commonly used bankruptcy system in Mercer County is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows a debtor to repay most or all of their debts in a structured manner. It reorganizes the debt into lower periodic payments that, with a bit of frugality, the debtor should find manageable. This allows the debtor to continue to earn a living, and allows the creditors to eventually collect what they are owed. Once a repayment plan is approved by the bankruptcy court, creditors are legally barred from seeking repayment under the terms of the agreements that gave rise to the debt in the first place, and will instead have to accept payment under the new plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is usually a better option for people who have a steady income. Though Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be used by individuals, it is almost exclusively used by businesses. Similar to Chapter 13, Chapter 11 involves restructuring of debts, rather than complete discharge. The debtor is required to come up with a restructuring plan that lays out how it plans to cut costs, streamline operations, and pay its debts. The plan must then be approved by a vote of participating creditors.
A main advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that businesses can continue their operations while going through the process. Also, they can continue to buy and sell their stock.
How Can a Mercer County Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in Mercer County is not one to be made lightly, and it certainly should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an experienced Mercer County bankruptcy attorney.