I represent individuals in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases filed in the Northern District of Georgia, which includes Atlanta, Newnan, Gainesville and Rome. I publish several informative web sites, including https://www.atlanta-bankruptcy.com and an Atlanta bankruptcy blog, https://www.thebklawyer.com/thebkblog. Please mention Bankruptcy Law Network when you call.


Author: Jonathan Ginsberg, Esq.

06 Aug Accident Injury Claims and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

bankruptcy special counselWhen I meet with a potential Chapter 13 client, I always emphasize that the five year term of a repayment plan can be a very long time and that something unexpected will almost certainly happen. One of the more common unexpected events may very well be injury claims of some type. If you have ever watched daytime television you know that there is no shortage of lawyers ready, willing and able to help you pursue injury claims for money damages if you are injured in a car accident, at work, due to a product defect, or if you need to file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. What happens if you need to pursue one of these accident injury claims after you have started your Chapter 13 repayment plan?
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06 Jul Attorney’s Fees Awarded in a State Court Support Proceding: Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

alimony, child support and attorneys fees in bankruptcyThe United States Bankruptcy Code clearly states that domestic support obligations such as alimony and child support are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Section 523(a)(5) excepts from discharge a "domestic support obligation." But what about attorney’s fees awarded to the spouse who is awarded this support? Often, when a state court awards child support or alimony it also awards attorneys fees to the prevailing spouse. Should this attorney fee award also be non-dischargeable, or are attorney’s fees a separate category of debt, and treated like any other unsecured debt? Section 523 of the Bankruptcy Code does not address the fate of this class of attorney’s fees but bankruptcy judges have weighed in. In the 11th Circuit, where I practice, attorney’s fees arising from a post-dissolution custody [or alimony] action constitutes support for the former spouse where the award is based on ability to pay.
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06 Jun Octomom’s Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Dismissed – Why and What Does it Mean?

Chapter 7 dismissed for incomplete filingsYou may have read news reports that Nadya Suleman, otherwise known as “Octomom,” recently filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, only to have her case dismissed because she failed to file the required financial disclosure schedules. Ms. Suleman, as you may recall, made headlines in 2009 for giving birth to 8 children following fertility treatments, and adding to her existing family of 6 kids. Octomom is both unmarried and without any regular source of income. Ms. Suleman has been living in a four bedroom, three bath home she had purchased in 2009 from a gentleman named Amer Haddadin. Ms. Suleman’s purchase agreement was with Mr. Haddadin - he remained the sole borrower on the mortgage note, and she agreed to pay him $3,000 per month, which he would, in turn, use to pay the mortgage company. When Ms. Suleman failed to make her mortgage payments to Haddadin for 11 months, the mortgage lender initiated foreclosure proceedings. This pending foreclosure apparantly prompted Ms. Suleman to file Chapter 7 and thus stop the foreclosure.
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06 May Increase in Homestead Exemption Good News for Georgia Bankruptcy Filers

Georgia homestead exemption increasedGeorgia bankruptcy filers got two pieces of good news this past week - the Governor has signed Senate bill 117 increasing the bankruptcy homestead exemption from $10,000 to $21,500, and the median income tables for Georgia families has been adjusted upwards, reversing a steady downward trend. By far, the new homestead exemption is the most significant of these two events. Georgia, like several other states, has opted out of the federal exemption statute, substituting in its place Georgia Code Section 44-13-100. For the past 10+ years, Georgia permitted bankruptcy filers to shelter or exempt $10,000 of equity in real estate ($20,000 for a married couple filing jointly).
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06 Apr Repo Alert: Are You at Risk?

Last year, a potential client called me to say that her car had been repossessed and that she needed help. I explained that one option would be to file a Chapter 13, then a Complaint for Turnover as a means to get the vehicle back. We would argue to the bankruptcy judge that my client’s vehicle was necessary for her to fulfill the terms of her plan, and thus the judge should order the lender to “turn over” the vehicle immediately. In this case, however, I felt that Chapter 13 might be premature. Instead, I called the lender’s customer service number and after being transferred from department to department, I finally spoke to someone in the default department. I explained that I was a bankruptcy lawyer who was prepared to file Chapter 13 on behalf of my client and I suggested that everyone might be better off if the bank returned the vehicle voluntarily in exchange for my client’s payment of all missed payments + finance charges.
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03 Feb Child Support Delinquency Will Hold Up Chapter 13 Discharge

All payments made to Chapter 13 trusteeIt is a real accomplishment to complete your Chapter 13 case. In an environment where jobs come and go, unexpected expenses can pop up and more than two-thirds of all Chapter 13 plans fail, anyone who fulfills the terms of his Chapter 13 plan should take pride in this milestone. Be aware, however, that making trustee payments for five years may not be enough to get your Chapter 13 discharge. As I previously wrote on this blog, every Chapter 13 debtor must obtain a Financial Management certificate and submit through counsel a certificate of completion for this post-filing educational course. If you do not submit the certificate, your case will be closed without the issuance of a discharge thereby potentially leaving your exposed to post-bankruptcy collection actions. If you choose to ask the court to reopen your case so that you can file the financial management certificate you will incur additional time and cost. A second possible hurdle arises from Bankruptcy Code Section 1328. This Code Section precludes the judge from issuing a discharge if you do not certify that all domestic support obligations that have come due during the pendency of your case have been paid. In the Northern District of Georgia, where I practice, every Chapter 13 debtor receives a Section 1328 certificate to complete as their case winds down.
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