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Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota Blog

Christopher J. Balala

Recent Posts

Business Chapter 7 Bankruptcies

Sometimes businesses just fail. The debt can become overwhelming and creditors can begin exercising their rights for repossession of equipment (leased or financed), levies on bank accounts, and enforcement of personal guarantees against the business’ shareholders/members.  An insolvent business has two bankruptcy options: Chapter 11 and Chapter 7. 

Chapter 11 is a good option for businesses looking to restructure their debts under a plan of reorganization, while continuing to operate during that process.  Chapter 7 is a good option for businesses who choose to close, liquidate their assets, and dissolve the corporate structure.  

Validity of Arbitration Clauses in New Jersey

Many larger contracts contain an arbitration clause or arbitration agreement, wherein the parties to the contract agree to settle their dispute outside of court, through the arbitration process.   The clause is considered a forum selection clause since it may dictate the specific jurisdiction where the arbitration is to occur.  Not all arbitration clauses are valid, simply because they are contained within a contract signed by the parties. 

Tax Liability: Offers in Compromise

Many individuals have significant tax liabilities that they cannot afford to repay.  Tax liability can arise from not having enough tax withheld from your paycheck, withdrawing monies from retirements, bad investments, filing a return incorrectly and later having it audited, or failing to pay quarterly estimated business taxes.  This list is not exhaustive and there are numerous other instances that can result in owing money to a taxing authority, including the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and State of New Jersey Division of Taxation. 

Tax liability is defined as the total amount the taxpayer owes, including taxes, penalties, interest, additions to tax, and additional amounts required by law.  This article will deal with reducing tax liability with the IRS through a process called “offer in compromise” (“OIC”).

New Jersey Superior Court Service of Process

In New Jersey, after you file a lawsuit or other legal document naming another party in the action, you must provide the defendant with a copy of the filed document. This is called service of process.  This is an extremely important step in any lawsuit.  Without proper service the defendant can easily defeat the moving papers, or the court will refuse to entertain the relief requested in the moving papers.  After service is completed, the server will fill out an affidavit which will be filed with the court. The affidavit of service describes the date, place, time and how the paperwork was served.  

Retaining Counsel or Other Professionals in New Jersey Bankruptcy

It is not uncommon for an individual to need the help of multiple attorneys at the same time.  Many individuals who are involved in a bankruptcy case are also involved in other litigation, which may include: personal injury, contract disputes, and marital/child support lawsuits.  In addition, business debtors usually have a Certified Public Accountant or some other professional bookkeeper who manages the accounts and records for the business.  The hiring of these professionals are subject to Bankruptcy Court approval.

Small Claims Court in New Jersey

Small Claims is a division of the Special Civil Part Court in New JerseyThe Small Claims Section is a forum where a person can sue another person or business to attempt to collect a small amount of money.  The proceedings are truncated and cases are usually resolved quickly without incurring a large expense.  The cap on damages in Small Claims is $3,000.  An exception of $5,000 is reserved for suits premised on the return of a tenant’s security deposit.  A person seeking to file suit in Small Claims must be 18 years of age or older, otherwise the suit must be filed by a parent or guardian.    

What to Expect at Your 341(a) Meeting of Creditors

The meeting of creditors, also called the 341 hearing, is a required appearance by all debtors in a bankruptcy case.  The debtor’s appearance is required pursuant to section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code.  Within a reasonable time after the bankruptcy case is filed, the United States trustee will convene and preside at a meeting of creditors.  See, 11 U.S.C. §341(a).  Normally, the meeting takes place approximately 30 days after the bankruptcy petition is filed.  There is no judge at the meeting of creditors, although the debtor is placed under oath and is asked a series of questions.  The meeting usually takes 10 minutes but can vary depending on the complexity of the case.  Debtor’s counsel is present with the debtor during the meeting. 

What Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Can’t Do

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an extremely helpful legal proceeding for those drowning in debt.  It is useful to eliminate credit card debt, medical bills, and unsecured personal loans.  There are certain debts that cannot be eliminated in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case and would simply remain due and owing after the case is discharged.    

Potential Title Problems in a New Jersey Foreclosure

Real estate foreclosure in New Jersey has many technical requirements and many different time frames to keep track of whether or not you are the lender or the borrower.  Sometimes when title defects are discovered during the foreclosure process, it is sometimes best to dismiss the action without prejudice and re-file to ensure clear title.   A clear title is a property title without any kind of lien or levy from creditors or other parties and poses no question as to legal ownership.  However, not all errors will necessarily cause the foreclosure to be defective.  This post describes some, but not all, of the potential issues that may arise as well as some solutions to these problems.

A New Jersey Foreclosure Attorney Explains the Foreclosure Process

Foreclosure is the action of taking possession of a mortgaged property when the mortgagor (borrower) fails to keep up with their mortgage payments.  The collateral is ultimately put up for sale by the creditor.  Foreclosures vary from state-to-state and can be initiated either judicially or non-judicially.  To be non-judicial, there must be a clause in the mortgage that provides for sale of the property in the event of default.  In a non-judicial foreclosure, the lender will complete the foreclosure without the court system.  In a judicial foreclosure, a civil lawsuit is filed against the borrower to obtain a court order to foreclose.  Judicial foreclosures eventually end with the property being sold at a sheriff sale to the highest bidder.  New Jersey is a judicial state. 

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