Bastarrika, Soto, Gonzalez & Somohano, L.L.P.

Paterson Legal Issues Blog

Make sure tech doesn't dominate in criminal pretrial matters

The 2002 movie, "Minority Report" tells the story of a future in which a special police force uses psychics and technology to arrest individuals on the basis of predicted crimes, rather than crimes committed. It's science fiction, but in the view of some, New Jersey's current methods for deciding whether a criminal suspect is released or detained pending trial comes disturbingly close to that reality.

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Backlog of immigration applications for prospective citizens

The wait time to hear back on a citizenship application can vary. As of the end of 2017, there were 725,000 people waiting to become U.S. citizens, including over 30,896 in New Jersey. Many people are taking a second look at the current immigration process to understand the reasons behind this backlog.

The majority of people with pending citizenship applications in New Jersey are legal residents with green cards looking to become permanent residents. One study found that the processing of these application can take up to 20 months. According to the most recent data, New Jersey has the fifth highest number of pending applications. 

What to do with student loans when facing bankruptcy

One of the most difficult types of debt to manage is student loans. This is because student loans are typically not dischargeable in bankruptcy. However, New Jersey debt holders may see this change in the future.

Over 44 million borrowers in the U.S. have outstanding student loans adding up to a collective $1.5 trillion in debt. In 2016, the average student owed $37,172 upon graduation. Unsurprisingly, this is the second highest consumer debt category and often a concern of those considering bankruptcy.

What is the difference between Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy?

Many people looking for a fresh financial start can be confused by the different types of bankruptcy available and the laws associated with each. New Jersey individuals typically file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It is important for individuals to look carefully at the qualifications, benefits and drawbacks of each to decide which is right for them.

The main difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is what happens to the debts following the filing. Under Chapter 7, the unsecured debt would be discharged. Under Chapter 13, payments are still made on debts pursuant to a court-approved plan. There are certain conditions to each, and often the one that is chosen depends on a person's financial situation upon filing.

Financial aid unrestricted by immigration status in New Jersey

Policy regarding what types of public services undocumented immigrants can access vary from state to state. Recently, a change to New Jersey law was passed that allows for undocumented immigrant students to apply for financial aid as students. Under the new policy, students will be able to receive loans, grants and scholarships regardless of immigration status.

There are a few requirements for any student applying under the new law. First, they must have graduated from a high school in New Jersey after attending high school in the state for at least three years. Male students must also register for Selective Service. Finally, students must sign an affidavit committing to file an application to legalize their immigration status if and when they are eligible to do so.

Debtors must be aware of post bankruptcy collection efforts

Anyone who files for bankruptcy protection expects that the bothersome creditor calls and letters will stop. After all, that is one of the legal protections guaranteed through the automatic stay that comes with all bankruptcy filings. Indeed, most creditors follow the law and cease any further collection efforts. However, there are some who claim to be ignorant of any bankruptcy filings and continue to press debtors into paying up.

Despite the law requiring creditors to refrain from further collection efforts, large banks and big companies that buy packaged debt are infamous for defying federal law when it comes to contacting debtors who have filed for bankruptcy protection.  The same could be said for those who pursue debtors who have had their debts discharged. These creditors operate under the assumption that most creditors, especially those for who English is not their native tongue, are not going to complain to authorities about being contacted during an automatic stay. Even worse, some creditors believe that if they call or text enough times, a frustrated debtor will just give in simply to make the calls stop. 

How to improve your credit score after bankruptcy

Many people talk about debt management and the possibility of filing for bankruptcy, but what options await after the dust has settled for those who take this step. Many individuals who file for bankruptcy in New Jersey and across the United states worry that filing will result in a forever damaged credit score and an inability to ever take out loans again. While bankruptcy certainly hits a person's credit score hard, recovery and measured future debts like car loans are not as impossible as they may seem. 

New data from Lending Tree reveals how peoples' credit scores actually recover after filing for bankruptcy. According to their data, over 40 percent of Americans' credit scores will reach other 640 just one year after filing. Furthermore, 65 percent maintain or improve this score three years after the fact.

Is there an ideal time for bankruptcy protection?

Constantly dealing with debt can be emotionally draining. Just when you think there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel of debt, it is only an oncoming train loaded with more expenses that you are not ready to deal with. The continuous creditor phone calls, the warnings in the mail and the threat of further creditor action may make you wonder if bankruptcy is right for you.

At the same time, you don’t like the idea of being labeled a deadbeat, and you wonder if bankruptcy may ruin your chances of ever having good credit again. Because of these fears, you may also wonder if there is an ideal time to seek bankruptcy protection. This post will give you some insight.

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