Florida Divorce by Attorney Mark A. Seff

Mark Seff Divorce Attorney Home Page About the Law Offices of Mark Seff Learn What You Can Do about Bankruptcy Description on What We Do with Family Law Directions on How to Get to Our Law Office Multiple Ways to Get in Touch with Us

Mark A. Seff
Attorney At Law
601 S. Federal Highway
Hollywood, FL 33020
PH: (954) 920-9220
Fax: (954) 929-2440
Mark Seff Divorce Attorney Home Page About the Law Offices of Mark Seff Learn What You Can Do about Bankruptcy Description on What We Do with Family Law Directions on How to Get to Our Law Office Multiple Ways to Get in Touch with Us


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Florida Divorce handled by Attorney Mark A. Seff
Florida divorce attorney Mark A. Seff

Do you have questions about Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Laws?

Broward County Miami Florida Bankruptcy Attorney Mark A. Seff Can Help!

Before considering Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or any other bankruptcy as an option, you should always consult Chapter 7 bankruptcy laws explained by Mark A. Seffwith an attorney who knows how to handle bankruptcy claims, and make sure that you are getting what is best for you. Broward county bankruptcy attorney, Mark Seff will consult with you on an individual basis, and determine what is the best option for your specific situation.

Following is a hypothetical initial bankruptcy conference with a potential client and Mark Seff...

Mr. Seff: How can I help you?

Client: Last year I lost my full-time job and while waiting for a new job, I've been working on a series of temporary jobs the last year. In the meantime, I have credit card debt for about $25,000.00 and I have just been sued. I had hoped to begin paying down on this debt but the new job I thought I was getting didn't come through. I am making less money and I'm falling behind on the payments. Now I'm getting harassing phone calls from collection agencies. I understand you can file a bankruptcy and it will stop creditors from suing you. Can you help me?

Mr. Seff: Yes, I think I can. First of all, let me give you a brief background about bankruptcy. The United States Constitution created the bankruptcy law and Congress created different types of bankruptcies that are divided into chapters. You may have heard of a chapter 7, 11, or 13. There is a chapter 12 designed specifically for farmers. A chapter 11 is a business reorganization. Most consumer debtors file a chapter 7 or chapter 13, with a chapter 7 being most prevalent. A chapter 13 is a wage earner's plan which means that a person earning regular weekly or monthly income is eligible to reorganize and file a plan to pay off all or a portion of their debt in a three to five year period of time. It is most often used in a situation where the consumer has fallen behind on their mortgage payments and the bank is either threatening or has filed foreclosure. The filing of a chapter 13 bankruptcy in Florida stops the foreclosure suit and forces the bank to accept the payments described under the chapter 13 plan. As long as the plan payments are being made, the debtor gets to keep all of his or her property.

A chapter 7 is used to discharge credit card debt and other unsecured debts, like medical bills. There are no plans of repayment and it's over three to five months after filing, instead of three to five years in a chapter 13. A chapter 7 debtor does not get to keep all of their property like a chapter 13 debtor does. A chapter 7 debtor only keeps property the law says is exempt. Nonexempt property is sold to pay off creditors. So, the key to determining whether a chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida is right for you is to determine what property you own is exempt and what is nonexempt.

Property that is exempt in Florida in a bankruptcy means that you can keep the property and don't have to turn it over to the bankruptcy trustee. Let's talk about specific exemptions. The most important exemption in Florida is the homestead exemption. This is not tax homestead; the home you live in Florida is exempt from being attached by creditors, with some limitations. Of course, you have to keep making payments on your mortgage.

You indicated that you own a townhouse and that you have a mortgage but are behind on the payments. How far behind are you?

Client: I am about 2 months behind on my mortgage payment. I received a letter from them. I called them and I am trying to work it out.

Mr. Seff: Have you been making any payments on the credit card debt?

Client: I've been struggling to make the minimum monthly payments but I can't do it anymore because my job fell through.

Mr. Seff: Well, if we can file the bankruptcy so that you won't have to make the monthly payments anymore, can you bring the mortgage current?

Client: Oh, yes, it won't be a problem.

Mr. Seff: OK, then a 13 is not the way for you to go. Let's talk about other exemptions. In addition to the homestead exemption, you have a $1,000 motor vehicle exemption. You get to keep $1,000 equity in your car. What is the value of your car and how much do you owe on it?

Client: I think it's worth about $16,000 and I owe $15,000.

Mr. Seff: Well, that makes it easy. That means the car is worth $1,000 after the lien is paid off so that we can exempt your car. Of course, you have to keep making payments to the finance company. So far, so good. The next important exemption is your personal property exemption. You get to keep a $1,000 worth of personal property that includes household furniture, clothing, jewelry and things of that nature. How much do you think the furniture in your townhouse is worth?

Client: Well, it's old stuff and I don't think I can get more than $500.00 for it. I only have costume jewelry and nothing else of value.

Mr. Seff: OK, I think we are in good shape because it falls within the $1,000 personal property exemption, and therefore, you get to keep all your property.

Client: I do have some money in a 401K plan. Do I lose that?
Mr. Seff: No. There is an unlimited exemption for ERISA 401K plans and retirement plans. So, it looks like all of your assets are exempt. Therefore, your case is known as a no asset case. In other words, you get to keep all your property and you'll discharge all your credit card debt.

Client: Great, but I have been sued by one of the credit card companies. What will happen?

Mr. Seff: The filing of a chapter 7 bankruptcy acts as an automatic injunction against any further collection efforts. That means that the Plaintiff credit card company can't pursue this law suit anymore. They will get notice of the filing of the bankruptcy and that will be the end of their suit. It's as simple as that.

Client: Oh, that's great. Thank you so much. I'm ready to get started.

Mr. Seff: Any questions?

Client: Can I ever get credit again?

Mr. Seff: Sure. The filing of a bankruptcy remains on your credit report for 7-10 years. During that time, though, you may still be able to get credit depending on your personal finances.

Miami Bankruptcy Attorney Mark A. Seff will be happy to answer any of your chapter 7 bankruptcy or other bankruptcy questions!
The Florida Bar | Florida Law Professor