FAQ's. Common Concerns about Personal Injury, Bankruptcy & Real Estate matters.
Going through something as difficult as a major legal event can leave you filled with questions about the past, present, and what to expect in the future. Get answers to some of the top questions I receive about Illinois personal injury, real estate and bankruptcy matters to help put your mind at ease. Check back often for even more answers to your legal questions. Better yet, give us a call to see how we can help.
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If I go through divorce mediation, do I still need a lawyer?
Mediators do not take the place of lawyers and cannot give you legal advice or represent you, even if your mediator is (like myself) a practicing lawyer. At least one lawyer will also be needed to prepare the legal documents and present them to the court for approval.
I really like how you are mediating my divorce. Can I hire you as my divorce lawyer?
Thanks. Many people who decide to mediate their divorce before they file ask me if they can hire me to also be their divorce lawyer. As much as I would love to help you and appreciate the compliment, once I have started to work with you and your spouse as a mediator, I cannot switch roles and be your legal advocate in your divorce. It would be a conflict of interest. However, I may be able to recommend a few attorneys who I think might be a good fit for you.
Can you guarantee that mediation will settle our divorce completely?
No. Beware of anyone who tries to guarantee a successful outcome. Whether or not all of the terms of your divorce can be settled in mediation is, in large part, dependent on you and your spouse. What I can guarantee is that you will have a trained divorce mediator, that you will be heard, that you will be treated with the utmost respect, and that you will be given a neutral place, conducive to effective communication, working towards a common goals of avoiding litigation of the issues.
Is Divorce Mediation right for Everyone?
No, divorce mediation isn't suited for everyone. Obvioulsy, I am a huge believer in mediation but the reality is just that some couples should not mediate. I don't want to waste anyone's time or money. We have processes in place to try to weed out couples for whom mediation would probably not be successful, as in cases where there are domestic violence or abuse issues. That being said, acceptance of your mediation case is not a guarantee...
Can I file for bankruptcy on parking tickets?
People with unpaid parking tickets sometimes want to know if they can file bankruptcy on the parking tickets. Bankruptcy is not something that you file a particular debt "on" or "against", a bankruptcy is a bankruptcy and you don't get to pick and choose what to "include". That being said, however, the answer is no- you cannot eliminate parking tickets via bankruptcy. Unpaid parking tickets is sometimes a symptom of other financial difficulties for which bankrtupcy might be option, which could then free up some of your cash to pay those parking tickets before they keep accruing fines and penalties. Not sure if bankruptcy is right for you? Be sure to claim your free book "Bankruptcy Myths Exposed" to learn more about debt relief.
Should I wait to file for Bankruptcy?
If you are wondering if you should wait before filing for bankruptcy, either you want to wait in the hopes that your situation will change, making bankruptcy un-necessary, or else you have been advised that for strategic reasons- it is better to wait (for example, you have too much recent credit card usage which could be a problem).
If you are hoping that things will get better but there is no real reason to believe that your situation will change (for example, you are about to start a better job or get married), then you are probably living in denial about your situation and you need to face the facts now. That does not mean file for bankruptcy now, but at least you need to learn more by having an honest discussion with a bankruptcy lawyer, before things get worse. If you still aren't ready for that- request a free copy of my book "Bankruptcy Myths Exposed". And remember, a good lawyer isn't going to try to "sell" you on filing for bankruptcy but rather should be able to lay out your options for you.
Can I get my Repossessed Car back after filing for bankruptcy?
Yes. If your car has been repossessed and you then file for bankruptcy, the creditor who took your car has to give it back. The creditor needs to be notified that you have filed for bankruptcy protection (something that your lawyer can take care of). Once they have been notified of the bankruptcy, if they refuse to give you your car back, they are in violation of the automatic stay and are breaking the law. This works because the law provides that if a creditor continues to exercise control over property of the bankruptcy estate (ie: the repossessed car), it is a violation of the stay for which they can be penalized.
Are there any debts that I cannot eliminate in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
While most debts can be elmiated, or "discharged" in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are certain kinds of debt that are normally nondischargeable (some very limited exeptions do exist for some). They are:
- student loans
- child support
- obligations of spousal support (called maintenance in Illinois)
- debts that are owed to a government (for instance: fines, tax, court costs, parking tickets, etc)
- post petition Homeowners association and condo fees
- money damages due as the result of your DUI (drunk driving)
If you are obligated on any of these non-dischargaable debts, it does not mean that a bankruptcy can't help you. Do you have other debt such as credit card bills, loan, or medical debt that you struggle with? If you do, a bankrutpcy may elimiate other debt for you which can make it easier to meet your obligations on the non-dischargeable debt. If you have been financially struggling for a while, stop wondering and start planning. Schedule a consultation with our office to find out what your best options are.
My Car is paid off in full. Will I lose it if I file for Bankruptcy?
There are many different ways that cars can be dealt with in bankruptcy, depending on what chapter you file for, how many cars you have, what you want to happen to your car, the car’s value and condition, and whether or not money is still owed on the car. If your car is paid off in full, what you can do comes down to something called bankruptcy exemptions. Simply put, exemptions are items that you can keep up to a certain dollar value. So the first thing that you will want to know is how much is your car worth. To answer that question, you should know what model your car is, the mileage, and overall condition. Sites like Kelly Blue Book can then help you determine a realistic value. In Illinois, automobile exemption is $2,400 as of January 1, 2015. If your car is worth more than that, don’t worry- you might have other options for protecting it. If you are married and own the car jointly with your spouse who will also file for Chapter 7 with you, the exemption can double to $4,800 and there is also a “wild card” exemption that you may want to use to stack on top of your automobile exemption. In Chapter 13, the un-exempt equity in your car factors into how much money you are repaying to the court each month. It can get confusing and dealing with exemptions in bankruptcy is where many people get it wrong and really hurt their case, which is one of many reasons that you should be working with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Give our office a call to set up a consultation to see how we can help you decide if bankruptcy is a good option for you.
Where will my Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Creditors Meeting be held?
Where your 341 Meeting of Creditors will be held depends on what county you live in and what Chapter of Bankruptcy you filed under. You will receive an official notice in the mail informing you of the name of your trustee and the date, time and location for your creditor's meetings. In the greater Chicago area, your 341 Chapter 7 bankruptcy meetings may be held here:
- Cook County: 219 S. Dearborn Ave. Chicago IL (downtown)
- DuPage County: (Courthouse) 505 North County Farm Road Wheaton IL
- Kane County (the "old courthouse") 100 S. Third Street Geneva IL
Don't forget to bring your photo ID and proof of social security number!