Written by Canterbury Law Group

Understanding Bankruptcy Reorganization Plans

Creditor Objection to Chapter 13 Plan

Discover the four chapters that enable debt restructuring for bankruptcy filers.

There are two bankruptcy systems available to assist people and businesses with astronomical debt. The first option, Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy, is for people who lack the resources to pay their debts. The second system offers a way for people and companies with some disposable income—but not enough—to manageably restructure their debt. In essence, a reorganization plan is the budget that a debtor who files for bankruptcy (debtor) proposes to use to pay creditors.

The Four Reorganization Bankruptcy Chapters Depending on the specific situation, debtors may elect to reorganize under Chapter 9, 11, 12, or 13. According to filing frequency, a summary of each is displayed.

Individuals and Couples in Chapter 13

This chapter permits individuals who are single or married to contribute their discretionary income—the sum left over after covering living expenses—to a plan for a period of three to five years, but not businesses other than sole proprietorships.

Your plan will last 60 months if your family’s income is higher than the median income for your state. When income is below the median, 36 payments are necessary; however, if necessary, you can propose a plan that spreads out the required payments over 60 months. (Click on Means Testing Information on the U.S. Trustee website to view the median income for your state.)

What Happens to Debts During the Plan Period?

Some debts are given a higher priority under bankruptcy law, and the debtor is required to pay them in full over the course of a three- to five-year plan. These are some examples of priority claims:

Recent income tax debts, past-due alimony and child support obligations, as well as overdue payments on secured debts like house notes (you don’t have to pay off the entire mortgage within the plan, but you must make progress toward it).

The majority of your other debts, including credit cards and medical expenses, will be classified as general unsecured debts and won’t necessarily receive any payment. Only if you have extra cash after paying all of your higher priority claims will they receive something. Even then, the unpaid claims may only receive pennies on the dollar. At the conclusion of the case, the outstanding debt is discharged.

Making a Secured Debt More Affordable Through the Plan

The ability of a Chapter 13 plan to cram down (reduce) a secured debt that isn’t a mortgage on your home or a recently bought car is another intriguing feature. You can propose to pay just the asset’s value plus interest that is one or two points above prime if the collateral (the asset used to secure the debt) is worth less than what you owe. This can help you save thousands of dollars if you have high-interest loans that are in default.

Regrettably, not all secured loans are crammed down. It is not available for home mortgages or auto loans that are less than 2.5 years old at the time your case is filed. Additionally, for high-value property like vacation rentals, you must be able to pay off the entire cram down sum over the course of the plan, which is something many people are unable to do.

Although you cannot cram down your home mortgage, you may be able to remove a junior mortgage through a Chapter 13 plan if the value of your property has fallen too low to pay off your primary mortgage. (This was frequently used during the housing crisis; however, due to rising property values, its availability is constrained.)

Chapter 11: Organizations and People

The best-known benefit of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it helps keep big businesses from going out of business. Due to the costs associated with filing a Chapter 11 case, small businesses use it less frequently, and occasionally, individuals whose debt balances exceed the Chapter 13 debt limitations will do so.

In many Chapter 11 cases, creditors actively collaborate with the debtor to assess the debtor’s financial situation and choose the most effective strategy for paying off the debt. Renegotiating loan terms is just one aspect of this collaboration, though it is a significant part of the overall strategy.

The parties carefully examine a number of aspects of the business during the initial months of a Chapter 11 case. Choosing to carry out one or more of the following actions is possible:

Change the leadership, sell off underperforming assets, or restructure the business to be more productive.
The debtor then suggests a strategy for repaying its obligations. Not only must the bankruptcy court approve a Chapter 11 plan, but also the creditors who are owed the most money. A creditor (or the trustee, if one has been appointed) may offer a plan that will be put to a vote by the creditor body in the absence of a confirmable plan from the debtor. Once a plan is approved, the debtor can take years to implement its provisions.

Operation of Farms and Fishing in Chapter 12

You’ll probably decide to file for Chapter 12 bankruptcy if farming or fishing is your main business. While Chapter 12 bankruptcy offers more flexibility due to its recognition of the seasonal nature of the farming and fishing industries, Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases follow a similar procedural framework.

A plan lasting between three and five years must be proposed by the Chapter 12 debtor within 90 days of filing the case. The Chapter 12 plan may permit one-time payments during certain seasons as opposed to the monthly payments mandated by Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Almost any secured debt, including mortgages on homes and farmland, may be crammed down under the plan, and the modified secured debt payments may go beyond the five-year plan limit.

Chapter 9: Local Government

Municipalities and other governmental entities like utilities and taxing districts are the only ones permitted to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 9. Chapter 9 bankruptcy plans and the procedure for approving them are comparable to Chapter 11 plans. In a Chapter 9 case, creditors cannot make a plan proposal; however, both taxpayers and creditors may object to a plan.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Bankruptcy Exemptions:

How Do Bankruptcy Exemptions Work

Exemptions from bankruptcy play an important role in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions are used in Chapter 7 bankruptcy to determine how much of your property you get to keep. Exemptions in Chapter 13 bankruptcy help you keep your plan payments modest. Learn more about bankruptcy exemptions and how they work by reading on.

What Are the Different Types of Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Exemptions allow you to keep a specific amount of assets, such as a cheap car, professional tools, clothing, and a retirement account, safe in bankruptcy. You don’t have to worry about the bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case taking an asset and selling it for the benefit of your creditors if you can exclude it.

Many exclusions cover specific property kinds up to a certain dollar value, such as a car or furnishings. An exemption can sometimes protect the asset’s total worth. Some exemptions, known as “wildcard exemptions,” can be used on any of your properties.

Is it okay if I keep my baseball cards? Jewelry? Pets?

The goal of bankruptcy is to give you a fresh start, not to take away all of your possessions. You’ll probably be able to protect other items as well, such as religious literature, a seat in a building of worship, or a burial plot, in addition to the fundamentals. Chickens and feed are even exempt in some states. However, you should not make the mistake of assuming that everything will be well.

  • Items of high value. There are no exemptions for boats, collections, pricey artwork, or holiday homes. Instead of filing for bankruptcy, owners with such valuable assets often sell the property and pay off their debts.
  • Jewelry. Many states provide protection for wedding rings up to a certain value. Don’t expect to preserve your Rolex, diamond necklace, or antique broach collection, though.
  • Pets. The dog or cat you rescued from the shelter is unlikely to fall into the trustee’s hands. Why? It’s not that you’ll have a specific exemption to protect it; rather, the trustee would have to pay more to sell it than it’s worth in most circumstances. However, if you own a valuable show dog or a racehorse with high breeding costs, you may be forced to sell it or pay for it in bankruptcy.

Exemptions: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Whether you’re filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, exemptions play a significant role.

Bankruptcy under Chapter 7

A liquidation bankruptcy is one in which the appointed trustee sells your nonexempt assets to satisfy your creditors. Because the bankruptcy trustee cannot sell exempt property, exemptions assist you protect your assets in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your state offers a $5,000 motor vehicle exemption and you only own one automobile worth $4,000, for example, you can keep it. See Exemptions in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for more details.

Bankruptcy under Chapter 13

You can keep all of your property and rearrange your debts with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (which can mean paying less on some of them). The amount you must pay specific creditors, however, is still determined by how much property you can exclude. Unsecured creditors who are not priority (such as credit card companies) must be paid an amount equal to your nonexempt assets. Exemptions assist keep your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan payments modest by lowering the amount you must pay creditors. See Exemptions in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for more details.

Bankruptcy Exemptions at the State and Federal Level

There are bankruptcy exemptions in each state. A series of exemptions is also provided by federal law. (See The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions for further information.) Some states force you to use their exemptions, while others allow you to choose between their exemptions and the federal system (you cannot mix and match the two).

The state exemption rules you’ll be able to use will be determined by where you lived in the previous two years (called the “domicile requirements.”). Read Which Exemptions Can You Use In Bankruptcy? for more information on the distinctions between state and federal exemptions and domicile requirements.

Nonbankruptcy Exemptions in the United States

In addition to state and federal bankruptcy exemptions, there are a number of federal nonbankruptcy exemptions. These exemptions work in a similar way to bankruptcy exemptions in terms of preserving your assets. Nonbankruptcy exemptions from the federal government are only available if you use your state’s exemptions (you cannot combine the federal bankruptcy and nonbankruptcy exemptions). You can use nonbankruptcy exemptions in addition to state exemptions if you are using state exemptions. See The Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions for further details.

If You File for Bankruptcy, What Can You Keep?

The purpose of bankruptcy isn’t to strip you of all of your belongings—it’s to give you a fresh start. Most people can keep the basic items needed to work and live.

However, if you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, you might be wondering, “Can I keep my baseball cards? Jewelry? Pets? The simple answer is that it depends.

You’ll likely be able to protect other things, like religious texts, a seat in a house of worship, or a burial plot. Some states even exempt chickens and feed. But you shouldn’t assume that everything will be safe.

  • Luxury items. Exemptions for yachts, collections, expensive artwork, and vacation homes don’t exist. Owners of such valuable assets often sell the property and pay off debt instead of filing for bankruptcy.
  • Jewelry. Many states protect wedding rings up to a particular dollar amount. However, don’t count on keeping a Rolex, diamond necklace, or antique broach collection.
  • Pets. The dog or cat you rescued from the shelter is probably safe from the trustee’s clutches. Why? It’s not that you’ll have a specific exemption to protect it, but rather that in most cases, it would cost more for the trustee to sell it than what it would be worth. If, however, you own an expensive show dog or a racehorse that fetches sizeable breeding fees, you might have to turn it over—or pay for it—in bankruptcy.

Find out what you can protect by reviewing your state’s exemptions.

How Do Bankruptcy Exemptions Work?

Exemptions always protect the same amount of property regardless of the chapter filed. However, what happens to “nonexempt” property you can’t protect with a bankruptcy exemption will depend on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Exempt Assets

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation bankruptcy where the appointed trustee sells your nonexempt assets to pay your creditors. Exemptions help you protect your assets in Chapter 7 bankruptcy because the bankruptcy trustee can’t sell exempt property.

For example, suppose your state has a $5,000 motor vehicle exemption, and you have one car worth $4,000. In that case, the exemption will cover all of the car’s equity, and you can keep it. For more information about keeping a car in Chapter 7 and other property, see Exemptions in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Exempt Assets

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to keep all your property while paying some or all of your debt in a three- to five-year Chapter 13 repayment plan. But this benefit comes at a cost. You’ll have to pay nonexempt creditors for the property you can’t protect with an exemption.

Nonpriority unsecured creditors, such as credit card issuers, must receive at least as much as the value of the property you can’t exempt. So in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, being able to exempt all or most of your property helps keep your monthly plan payment low.

Learn more about exemptions in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

State and Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

Each state has a set of bankruptcy exemptions, and federal law provides a federal bankruptcy exemption set, too. Some states require you to use the state exemptions, while others allow you to choose the state or the federal bankruptcy exemption set. But you must choose one or the other–you can’t mix and match exemptions from two sets.

The state’s exemption laws you’ll qualify to use will depend on where you lived during the last two years, called the “domicile requirements.” For more information about the differences between state and federal exemptions and domicile requirements, read Which Exemptions Can You Use In Bankruptcy?

Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions

A second set of federal exemptions called “federal nonbankruptcy exemptions” can be used along with your state’s exemptions. For more information, see The Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

When Is a Bankruptcy Claim Contingent, Unliquidated, or Disputed?

The bankruptcy procedure requires you to categorize your debts or “claims” as contingent, unliquidated, or disputed. You’ll need to be familiar with these phrases in order to properly identify and categorize your debts on the various bankruptcy forms.

In a bankruptcy, You Must List All Debts or “Claims”

You describe your financial condition to the court, trustee, and creditors on your bankruptcy filings. Your financial information will be disclosed, along with your monthly budget, real estate and personal property holdings, debts or “claims” you owe, income, and recent real estate transactions.

When listing claims in your documentation, you must include the name, address, and amount owed to each creditor. Find out how to fill out bankruptcy forms.

Not Every Bankruptcy Debt Is Conditional, Unliquidated, or Contestable

Because the label is only necessary if it is unclear whether you owe the loan, the majority of debts won’t require a contingent, unliquidated, or contested label. There will almost always be no doubt that you owe the money. You won’t need to describe the claim as contingent, unliquidated, or contested if you don’t have a defense to use to avoid paying the debt.

Consider the scenario when you have a car loan that is past due. The claim would then be for the remaining sum. Other common responsibilities, like credit card debt, would follow the same rules.

Types of Creditor Claims in Bankruptcy: Secured, Unsecured & Priority explains additional claim classifications that you should be aware of.

When a Contingent, Unliquidated, or Disputed Debt Will Arise

Sometimes it’s difficult to determine how much money you owe a creditor. Each of the labels—contingent, unliquidated, and disputed—identifies a specific problem that must be fixed before the claim may be paid.

Maybe how much you owe will rely on what someone else does, or maybe it won’t. Alternatively, you and the creditor may differ on the amount you owe.

If there is an issue, you should note it when filing the claim on your bankruptcy papers under the relevant heading of contingent, unliquidated, or contested claim (the form provides checkboxes for these designations).

A contingent claim is what?

Payment of the claim is subject to a future occurrence that may or may not take place. For example, if you cosigned a secured loan (like a mortgage or auto loan), you aren’t liable for paying it until the other cosigner defaults. Your responsibility as a cosigner depends on the default.

An Unliquidated Debt Is What?

There are times when you owe money but are unsure of how much. Although the precise amount of the debt hasn’t been established, it might exist. Let’s take the example of a lawsuit you filed against someone for injuries you had in a car accident. Your attorney has accepted the case on a contingency basis; if you win, the attorney will receive a third of the recovery; if you lose, the attorney will receive nothing. The debt owed to the attorney is unpaid. The amount of the attorney’s fee won’t be known until the case is settled or won at trial.

A Disputed Debt Is What?

You will tick this box if there is a discrepancy between the amount you owe and what you owe, if anything at all. Consider a scenario in which the IRS has an involuntary tax lien on your property and claims that you owe them $10,000. On the other hand, you think you just owe $500. You should state that the claim is disputed and include the total amount of the lien rather than the amount you believe you owe (you can clarify how much you believe you owe in the notes).

In Bankruptcy, You Must List All Claims

For a variety of reasons, it’s typical for someone to desire to exclude a claim from the bankruptcy petition. You cannot succeed. All claims, including those you believe you owe and those that others think you owe, must be listed.

It’s ideal for you to do that. Even if it would typically be considered a dischargeable debt, if you don’t list a claim, it might not be eliminated or “discharged” in your situation.

Claims Payment in Bankruptcy

Following the payment of creditors, the following will take place:

Creditors will be notified by the bankruptcy trustee assigned to the case that it is a “asset case.”
In order to get a portion of the available funds, a creditor must submit a proof of claim form by a specific deadline.
The claims will be examined by the trustee, who will then pay them in accordance with bankruptcy law’s priority payment system.
But keep in mind that every circumstance is different. Consult with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer if you are unclear about what will happen to the claims in your bankruptcy case.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Ideas When Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The most common form of bankruptcy in the United States is Chapter 7. At Canterbury Law Group, we constantly work with clients to file Chapter 7, which allows individuals to extinguish all debts which are “dischargeable” under the Bankruptcy Code. In a Chapter 7, all of the debtor’s non-exempt assets on the petition date are liquidated through the priorities set forth in the bankruptcy code. At the time of filing, the bankruptcy code establishes the creation of your “debtor’s estate” which includes all “non-exempt assets.” As a Debtor you have various duties and obligations, including significant duties of co-operation, which are owed to the Bankruptcy Trustee. These obligations are designed to assist the Trustee in the administration of your bankruptcy estate.

The Scottsdale bankruptcy lawyers at Canterbury Law Group will counsel you regarding these duties, which if followed, will make your case run smoothly. Unfortunately, many debtors who are not fully informed of these obligations run the risk of not receiving a full discharge of some or all or their debt. If you’re thinking of filing Chapter 7, here are some recommendations from our lawyers:

1. Complete the Mandatory Credit Counseling – Before you can file chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is essential to complete credit counseling. It is a mandatory step before you can file and often requires paying a fee. Otherwise, your filing will not be allowed to continue.

2. File All Chapter 7 Paperwork – Complete and file all necessary paperwork in court. Make sure all of your paperwork is accurate. Determine any fees associated with your filing.

3. Meet With Your Creditors – Approximately one month after filing the petition, you will need to meet with your creditors, an arrangement made by the court. During this important meeting, your creditors will question you regarding your finances and property. Typically this meeting involves only a few people connected with the credit card companies to whom you owe your debt. Your lawyer can certainly be present to aid you through this process.

4. Attend the Personal Financial Management Instruction Course – In addition to your credit counseling course, a personal financial management course generally costs about $30 and is necessary for completing your filing of chapter 7. If you skip the money management course, you risk dismissal of your case.

Having a trusted legal team on your side is critical during bankruptcy. Call Canterbury Law Group today to schedule your consultation. 480-744-7711.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Arizona District Attorneys

The prosecuting officer in a criminal case, or the individual who represents the state in the prosecution of criminal acts, is a district attorney (D.A.) or county attorney. In other words, the D.A. is the lawyer who will work to have you convicted of the charges at your trial if you have been charged with a crime.

In most states, there is a county prosecutor’s office, and in Arizona, the County Attorney who is in charge of bringing cases to trial is elected to that post. As a result, the district’s voters’ interests can have an impact on the local prosecutor’s office, which may therefore choose to prioritize some offences above others in its prosecutions.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Speaking with the DA

This can occasionally be advantageous for criminal defendants, particularly when negotiating a plea deal. This can sometimes work against defendants, particularly if the prosecution is looking to “make an example” of them because of the allegations they are up against. It is common for defendants to discover about the county’s prosecutors for the first time during their own case, thus they might not be aware of the prosecutor’s office’s procedures and preferences.

Speaking with prosecutors might be challenging. Since they are actively compiling evidence against you, anything you say or admit runs the potential of being used against you at trial. However, knowing more about the prosecution’s approach and readiness to settle your case before to trial may help your case. But before you do, you should be certain that you are well-informed about your situation and aware of how to safeguard your legal rights.

Attorney General of Arizona

The state attorney general represents the state in court, as opposed to the district or county attorneys who represent their individual jurisdictions. Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office prosecutes cases on behalf of injured Arizonans and enforces consumer protection statutes.

Collaborating With a Lawyer

You can get help from a criminal defense lawyer in dealing with the prosecution. The prosecutors in their county are better known to local criminal defense lawyers, and some of them may even have a solid working connection. This can be advantageous for their clients during any pre-trial proceedings. You can develop your defense plan based on the evidence in your case with the assistance of a defense attorney as well.

Most significantly, in contrast to a prosecutor, a criminal defense lawyer is in charge of making sure that your rights are upheld throughout the criminal justice process. Consult with a knowledgeable defense attorney before approaching the prosecutor’s office if you’re considering doing so.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

When Is it a Bad Idea to File Bankruptcy Without an Attorney?

Almost often, hiring legal counsel to represent you in bankruptcy is a wise decision. Here are two scenarios where legal counsel is always necessary.

You’ve Got a Difficult Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

You’ll probably want a lawyer if you operate a small business, make more money than the average resident of your state, have a sizable quantity of assets, priority debts, nondischargeable debts, or creditors who can sue you for fraud. This is why.

A Chapter 7 case cannot be automatically dismissed by the filer. The bankruptcy court may reject your case or liquidate assets you believed you could keep if you make a mistake. A bankruptcy case could potentially be brought against you to decide whether or not a debt should be dismissed. If you lose, the debt will still need to be paid after filing for bankruptcy.

What Are Nondischargable Debts and Priority Debts?

A great tool for many people who are drowning in debt to get back on their feet is bankruptcy. However, it might not completely discharge your debt. In addition to being non-dischargeable, many “priority” debts also have the advantage of being paid off first if funds are available to pay creditors.

Child support, spousal support, or another domestic support duty, fines, penalties, and restitution imposed as punishment for breaking the law, some taxes, and impaired driving obligations are among the top debts you’ll still be accountable for after filing for bankruptcy.

You’ll still be liable for the following debts:

Retirement plan loans can be utilized to pay off debts that were deemed non-dischargeable in a prior bankruptcy as well as non-dischargeable tax debt (for example, if you used your credit card to pay a tax bill).
Unless you can demonstrate that completing your payments would put you in difficulty, a student loan won’t be forgiven either. The majority of people, however, fall short of the requirement. The lawsuit that is required to establish the case may also be expensive to file and defend.
Additionally, any creditor may seek the court to identify a debt that shouldn’t be dismissed in your case by filing a nondischargeability complaint.
The creditor will have to demonstrate one of several scenarios in order to prevail.
You lied about your income on a credit application or wrote a bad check, for example, to commit fraud.
Less than 90 days before you filed for bankruptcy, you charged a luxury item.
You harmed or destroyed someone else’s property on purpose.
You stole money or embezzled money.
In your bankruptcy petition, you omitted a list of all your creditors.
It’s usually not a smart idea to represent yourself if you think you might have nondischargeable debts or that a creditor would sue you.
You must submit a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings are preferable than Chapter 7 filings for a variety of reasons. If you want to keep your home, you might wish to apply for Chapter 13 bankruptcy to pay off mortgage arrears. Alternatively, you might choose to pay off your second mortgage, “cram down” or reduce a car loan, or repay a debt over time that won’t be discharged in bankruptcy, such back taxes or support arrears.

Even if your main reason for filing for Chapter 13 is that your income is too high to qualify under Chapter 7, most Chapter 13 cases are too complicated for an individual to file on their own.

Why Filing a Chapter 13 Case Without a Bankruptcy Attorney Is Too Difficult

You must prepare a proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan outlining how you would pay creditors over a period of three to five years in addition to filling out the bankruptcy paperwork.

Without the pricey software that most attorneys use, it is difficult to develop a plan due to the numerous bankruptcy requirements you must follow. Additionally, particular measures like paying off a car debt in full or stripping your second mortgage will necessitate submitting additional bankruptcy motions and paperwork with the court.

The vast majority of Chapter 13 cases filed without counsel are dismissed by the court due to the complexity involved. Therefore, it is a good idea to hire an experienced attorney if you intend to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Medical Bankruptcies

What Happens to Liens in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Medical debt can be discharged in bankruptcy, but you should first look into nonbankruptcy options.

If you have decent credit and are having difficulties paying a significant medical bill, you might want to look into alternative possibilities before declaring bankruptcy.

It is true that declaring bankruptcy would probably result in a decline in your credit, albeit it might not last as long as you believe. However, you can be in an even worse situation if you can’t pay the medical expense and don’t declare bankruptcy.

Here is what to anticipate.

You’ll initially start getting reminders of late payments. The medical provider could eventually sue you and win a financial judgment. Then you might not be able to undo some of the effects of bankruptcy, such as wage garnishment, a bank levy, or the placement of a lien against your property.

Options Other Than Bankruptcy for Medical Debt

If you have strong credit, you might be able to use one of these methods to pay off your hefty medical cost.

Talk a Deal With the Health Care Provider

To begin with, confirm that all insurance payment difficulties have been resolved. Consider settling with the creditor after you have obtained all applicable insurance coverage. The medical provider may deduct a portion of the fee if it was for uninsured medical expenses. Many hospitals and other healthcare organizations often waive or reduce bills for patients without insurance.

Inquire Regarding Assistance Programs

Depending on your economic level, most hospitals have assistance programs that, if you qualify, will give you free or reduced hospital care. For instance, the Hospital Care Assurance Program (HCAP) will pay costs for procedures that are deemed medically necessary in several jurisdictions. Additionally, federally tax-exempt non-profit hospitals may have to be lenient with you and other patients who are in financial need when it comes to medical billing. This may be relevant to you. To learn more and apply for the necessary coverage, get in touch with the financial aid counselor at your hospital.

See Managing High Medical Debts for further information on these and other choices.

Bankruptcy for Medical Debt

Your good credit may suffer since a collection action will appear on your credit report if you are unable to pay the debt and it appears that the creditor may pursue you for payment. Additionally, if the provider sues you and wins, it may garnish your pay or pursue other forms of recoupment.

In addition to erasing your debt, filing for bankruptcy will put you back on the path to financial recovery as quickly as possible.

Medical debt and Chapter 7

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the best option for you if you have low income and assets with little to no equity. You are not need to have a certain amount of debt. On a single, sizable debt, you may apply for Chapter 7. Medical debt will be eliminated in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, along with the majority of other unsecured debt (debt that isn’t secured by security).

Healthcare Debt and Chapter 13

You can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you don’t meet the requirements for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or if you own assets that you might lose in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You will pay back the percentage of the medical debt you can afford through your repayment plan in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. At the conclusion of the case, the court will discharge (wipe out) the remainder.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Domestic Violence Law: Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

The 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), with additions passed in 1996, outlined grant programs to prevent violence against women and established a national domestic violence hotline. In addition, new protections were given to victims of domestic abuse, such as confidentiality of new address and changes to immigration laws that allow a battered spouse to apply for permanent residency.

The key provisions of the Violence Against Women Act are:

  • Full funding of rape kits and legal/court fees for domestic violence protection orders
  • Victim protection orders are recognized and enforced in all state, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions within the U.S.
  • Implementation and funding of special domestic violence crime units in local communities
  • Special domestic violence and sexual violence training for law enforcement officers
  • Ability of tribal courts to try non-Indian spouses or intimate partners of Indian women in domestic or dating violence cases
  • Provision allowing undocumented immigrants who are the victims of domestic violence to apply for a green card in exchange for helping law enforcement officials prosecute their abusers
  • Misdemeanor Conduct

According to the VAWA Act, a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, “has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.” (Section 921(a)(33)(A)).

Under these guidelines, an intimate partner is a spouse, a former spouse, a person who shares a child in common with the victim, or a person who cohabits or has cohabited with the victim.

Traveling Restrictions

Another area this act addresses is interstate traveling for the purposes of committing an act of domestic violence or violating an order of protection. A convicted abuser may not follow the victim into another state, nor may a convicted abuser force a victim to move to another state. Previously, orders of protection issued in one jurisdiction were not always recognized in another jurisdiction.

The VAWA specifies full faith and credit to all orders of protection issued in any civil or criminal proceeding, or by any Indian tribe, meaning that those orders can be fully enforced in another jurisdiction. Other states recognize orders of protection issued in other jurisdictions.

Landmark Cases on Interstate Provisions

There are several landmark cases that have been decided under these interstate provisions. For example, in United States v. Rita Gluzman (NY), the defendant traveled from New Jersey to New York with the intention of killing her estranged husband. The weapons she took with her were used in the murder. The Second Circuit upheld the VAWA provision over the defendant’s constitutional challenge, and Gluzman was convicted for this crime.

VAWA originally allowed victims of domestic abuse to sue for damages in civil court. However, this part of the VAWA was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Morrison (2000), wherein the court held that Congress did not have the authority to implement such a law.

VAWA Impact on Domestic Violence Arrest Policies

Another goal of the Violence Against Women Act was to influence state legislators, particularly in regard to arrest policy for domestic situations. In order to receive federal funding, states must adopt certain responses.

The Act authorizes grants to states, “to implement mandatory arrest or pro-arrest programs and policies in police departments, including mandatory arrest programs and policies for protection order violations.” VAWA has had a profound effect on state laws governing domestic abuse.

Questions About Federal Domestic Violence Law? Talk to an Attorney

If you or someone you know has been accused of domestic violence, whether interstate abuse, stalking, or something else, you should strongly consider speaking with an attorney. Furthermore, if you’ve been the victim of domestic violence, you’ll likely have many legal questions moving forward. Start the process by contacting an experienced family law attorney today.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Filing A Domestic Violence Lawsuit

For those who have been wrongfully damaged by another party, tort law offers civil legal remedies, typically in the form of monetary compensation or injunctive relief (the court directing one party to perform certain acts or refrain from performing others). Continue reading to discover more about bringing a civil action for domestic abuse.

Criminal Cases Do Not Preclude a Victim from Filing a Civil Lawsuit

It’s a prevalent fallacy that a person cannot be tried in civil court for the same claim after being tried in criminal court. That is untrue. Consider the Goldman v. Simpson case. Although Ron Goldman’s murderer O.J. Simpson was found not guilty in a criminal trial, Goldman’s parents successfully sued Simpson in a civil court for monetary damages.

You can still file a civil lawsuit against your abuser even if they have already been found guilty of a crime or you have a restraining order against them. Only when there are several criminal charges for the same offense does the idea of double jeopardy apply; this is not the situation in civil proceedings.

A family member being sued

Historically, courts have prohibited family members from bringing tort claims against one another. Concerns about the breakdown of the family were the driving force for this statute. Today, the majority of state courts have abandoned this practice on the grounds that if family members have tort claims against one another, the family structure has likely already disintegrated and the aggrieved parties should be allowed to present their case in court.

Currently, Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. that still forbids spouses from suing one another, with certain exceptions. Spouses may, nevertheless, bring deliberate tort claims against one another. Any intentional wrongdoing that results in injury to another person is referred to as an intentional tort. Due to the fact that many types of domestic violence are intentional torts, such as battery, assault, and psychological abuse, they may give rise to legal claims even in jurisdictions where family-related lawsuits are typically prohibited. If the abuser was stalking, threatening, or causing property damage, another tort action called intentional infliction of emotional distress may also be brought.

Prior to filing a domestic violence lawsuit, things to think about
Victims of domestic violence are frequently deprived of their sense of control and their means of expressing their emotions. Suing you can give your abuser emotional relief and a sense of control. Victims of domestic violence may be eligible for the following forms of damages:

Lost income
Medical costs
Distress and suffering
Punitive damages, which are only permitted in particular states.

Remember that any lawsuit involves a huge lot of stress. Due to the pressure on familial ties, lawsuits involving family members can be considerably more unpleasant. For victims, it is frequently difficult enough to simply call the police or request a restraining order against their abusers. It might be as difficult to prosecute the abuser in court. Victims may, however, be prepared to fight back if they become aware of their predicament. Taking their abuser to court may provide victims with some measure of closure—a means to put the past behind them and begin again.

It can be highly expensive to litigate. But courts have the power to order the abuser to cover your costs. Although it is uncommon in these kinds of situations, lawyers may accept contingency fees in claims involving monetary damages. You won’t have to pay an attorney under this fee agreement if you hire them to represent you if you win the lawsuit. To put it clearly, it matters if your abuser has the financial means or other assets necessary to cover damages when deciding whether to pursue a domestic violence lawsuit.

Written by Canterbury Law Group

Understanding Domestic Violence

The attorneys at Canterbury Law Group help clients obtain orders of protection in Scottsdale. We also assist in determining if your domestic violence case is a civil or criminal case.
In domestic violence situations, there may be both civil and criminal matters occurring at the same time as a result of the same violent act. You may want to pursue both civil and criminal actions for maximum protection. The major differences have to do with who takes the case to court, the reason for the case, and the possible penalties.

  • Civil Law – In a civil domestic violence action, you are asking the court to protect you from the person abusing you. You are not asking the court to send that person to jail for committing a crime. However, if the abuser violates the civil court order, s/he may be sent to jail for the violation. In a civil case, you are the person bringing the case against the abuser and (in most circumstances), you have the right to withdraw (drop) the case if you want to. A Scottsdale order of protection is requested in civil court. Once granted, they usually are valid for a period of one year and they sometimes can be renewed by the person originally obtained the order of protection.
  • Criminal Law – In stark contrast, the criminal law system handles all cases that involve violations of criminal law such as harassment, assault, murder, theft, etc. As such, only the government, via the local prosecutor or grand jury can make the final decision to “bring charges” against the bad actor who has engaged in bad acts.
    A criminal complaint involves your abuser being charged with a crime. In a criminal case, the prosecutor (also called the district attorney) is the one who has control over whether the case against the abuser continues or not. It is the county/state who has brought the case against the abuser, not the victim. It is possible that if you do not want the case to continue (if you do not want to “press charges”), the prosecutor might decide to drop the criminal charges but this is not necessarily true. The prosecutor can also continue to prosecute the abuser against your wishes and can even issue a subpoena (a court order) to force you to testify at the trial live under oath.

Domestic violence used to be a secret to be “kept in the family” or swept under the rug. But it’s now more prevalent in news and media than ever before. As a result, a lot of people are thinking about what constitutes domestic violence. Why do people stay in abusive relationships? How can family and friends help a loved one leave an abusive partner?

This Domestic Violence section provides resources for victims of domestic abuse and those who love them. If you need immediate help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Findlaw’s Domestic Violence section is divided into four parts.

  • An overview of domestic violence: These articles define the different types of abuse and how to recognize signs of abuse. There are articles that explain battered women’s syndrome and why some victims recant after finally speaking out. It also provides the history of legal intervention.
  • Domestic violence laws: These articles cover the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, and state domestic violence laws.
  • How to stop domestic violence: These articles can help victims file for a restraining order and file a domestic violence lawsuit. They explain who is a mandatory reporter and who you can turn to for help. You will also find a guide to stop domestic violence.
  • Domestic violence resources: In this section you will find a list of domestic violence organizations and hotlines. At the state level, this listing includes domestic violence programs and state forms to file for a protective order.

Domestic Violence, Legally Defined

Domestic abuse is a top public health concern. Homicide by an intimate partner is one of the leading pregnancy-associated causes of death, according to research. And yet many people do not understand the scope of abusive behavior. Early in their intimate relationship, victims may not realize they are experiencing domestic violence. They fail to take action and then it escalates.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines domestic abuse as “a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one person to gain or maintain control over another person in an intimate relationship.”

The victim is often a spouse (male or female). But they can also be a dating partner, a child or parent, a family member, or a roommate. It is a person with whom the abuser is in close proximity.

Most people think of domestic abuse as battering or assault, but there are several types of abuse:

  • Physical abuse is most likely to be seen by coworkers or health care providers. Victims often find ways to hide the evidence of the abuser’s violent behavior. But physical violence can lead to physical injury requiring medical care.
  • Sexual abuse may not be understood by the victim as abuse until it becomes sexual violence. Non-consensual sex, even within marriage, is sexual assault. Young people, in particular, need to be educated about dating violence.
  • Emotional abuse causes the victim to feel intense emotional distress. The abuser may verbally demean and socially humiliate their victim. They may engage in name-calling. Emotional abuse damages the victim’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Stalking, harassment, and threats are forms of emotional abuse; They are designed to instill fear in the victim.
  • Psychological abuse is controlling behavior that damages the victim’s mental health. They may think they are going crazy. They may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Economic abuse or financial abuse is an extension of the abuser’s need for control. They may prevent a spouse from earning money or from having access to money. An abuser may steal money from an elder parent with whom they live.

Punishing Domestic Violence

While law enforcement once turned a blind eye to intimate partner violence, state laws now require an arrest and mandate penalties. Restraining orders are easier to get, at least initially. And federal and state laws are in place to prevent abusers from owning guns.

Survivors of domestic violence can sue their abusers in civil court to recover damages for their injuries.

Unfortunately, these remedies are only available after the abusive behavior or physical violence has already occurred.

Preventing Domestic Violence

Nationally, there is a loud call to end domestic violence.

Domestic abuse nonprofits and governmental agencies exist in every state. They provide information and training on how to identify the warning signs of abuse. They provide practical resources to help survivors of domestic violence create a safety plan to exit dangerous relationships. They provide referrals for safe places to shelter and offer victim hotlines in a variety of languages. And they undertake legal advocacy.

Help is a phone call away. But as many victims know, that phone call and those first steps can be extremely dangerous. Their lives are often at stake. If the U.S. wants to end the scourge of family violence, it needs to provide human services resources and physical and financial support to help victims break free once and for all.

The prevalence of domestic violence is arguably one of the top health concerns in the country. Understanding its definition can help you to take more effective action against its many manifestations of abuse.

In some cases, abusers may not even realize that they’re inflicting domestic violence on someone else. On the flip side, victims may not take action against their abusers if they don’t realize that the behavior they’re experiencing is indeed domestic violence.


Moreover, friends and loved ones of victims are in a better place to help if they understand what domestic violence looks like. Therefore, it’s important that people understand the definition of domestic violence and the many forms it can take.

This article provides helpful information about domestic violence. If you or someone you know are suffering from domestic violence, get immediate access to resources here.

Definition of Domestic Violence: Types of Abuse

According to the United States Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, the definition of domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner. Many types of abuse are included in the definition of domestic violence:

  • Physical abuse can include hitting, biting, slapping, battering, shoving, punching, pulling hair, burning, cutting, pinching, etc. (any type of violent behavior inflicted on the victim). Physical abuse also includes denying someone medical treatment and forcing drug/alcohol use on someone.
  • Sexual abuse occurs when the abuser coerces or attempts to coerce the victim into having sexual contact or sexual behavior without the victim’s consent. This often takes the form of marital rape, attacking sexual body parts, physical violence that is followed by forcing sex, sexually demeaning the victim, or even telling sexual jokes at the victim’s expense.
  • Emotional abuse involves invalidating or deflating the victim’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. Emotional abuse often takes the form of constant criticism, name-calling, injuring the victim’s relationship with his/her children, or interfering with the victim’s abilities.
  • Economic abuse takes place when the abuser makes or tries to make the victim financially reliant. Economic abusers often seek to maintain total control over financial resources, withhold the victim’s access to funds, or prohibit the victim from going to school or work.
  • Psychological abuse involves the abuser invoking fear through intimidation; threatening to physically hurt himself/herself, the victim, children, the victim’s family or friends, or the pets; destruction of property; injuring the pets; isolating the victim from loved ones; and prohibiting the victim from going to school or work.
  • Threats to hit, injure, or use a weapon are a form of psychological abuse.
  • Stalking can include following the victim, spying, watching, harassing, showing up at the victim’s home or work, sending gifts, collecting information, making phone calls, leaving written messages, or appearing at a person’s home or workplace. These acts individually are typically legal, but any of these behaviors done continuously result in a stalking crime.
  • Cyberstalking refers to online action or repeated emailing that inflicts substantial emotional distress on the recipient.

Definition of Domestic Violence: Victims

Definitions of domestic violence recognize that victims can include anyone, regardless of socioeconomic background, education level, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence was formerly referred to as wife abuse. However, this term was abandoned when the definition of domestic violence was changed to reflect that wives are not the only ones who can fall victim to domestic violence. The definition of domestic violence now recognizes that victims can be:

  • Spouses
  • Sexual/Dating/Intimate partners
  • Family members
  • Children
  • Cohabitants

Many people think that a victim of domestic violence can only obtain a protective order against a spouse. This is actually a myth. Most states allow victims of abusive cohabitant lovers to obtain protective orders (also referred to as temporary restraining orders or emergency protective orders). Some states allow victims of abusive adult relatives, roommates, or even non-cohabitating partners to obtain protective orders. The laws in each state are different, so check the most updated laws in your state.

Dating Violence

Dating violence is another form of domestic violence. The Violence Against Women Act defines dating violence according to the relationship between the abuser and the victim. Dating violence is committed by a person in a social, romantic, or intimate relationship with the victim. The existence of such a relationship is determined using the following factors:

  • The length of the relationship
  • The type of relationship
  • The partners’ frequency of interaction

Does the Definition of Domestic Violence Apply to Your Situation? Ask an Attorney

A complete definition of domestic violence encompasses many forms of abuse and negative behavior. Domestic violence is a destructive crime that carries life-altering damage to everyone involved.

Legal Help for Victims of Crime

If you feel unsafe in your home or relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or call 911. An experienced family law attorney can assist you with everything from talking to the police to filing for protective orders and a civil lawsuit.


It is essential to contact an attorney to evaluate and invoke your rights when dealing with domestic violence either when allegations are brought against you, or where you bring them against another. Contact our Scottsdale lawyers today to schedule your consultation. 480-744-7711.

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