13350 West Colonial Drive
Winter Garden, Florida 34787
Firm: Winter Garden-Clermont-Orlando Bankruptcy Law Center
Bankruptcy is a legal vehicle that provides relief to individuals and businesses in serious financial trouble and protects their creditors to the extent possible. Generally, the bankruptcy process assesses the debtor's assets and liabilities and provides a structure within which the debtor is allowed to keep some, and in most cases, all property and ordered to satisfy as many eligible debts as possible, according to an order of priority established by law. Remaining debts are discharged, except those of certain types, like domestic support orders, debt obtained by fraud and most tax debt.
The long time held view of the stigma of filing bankruptcy has long since faded away. Bankruptcy is now viewed as a â€œfresh startâ€ or â€œdo overâ€ or hitting the â€œreset buttonâ€ on life after a time of unexpected trouble. Most bankruptcy debtors do not think of ways to go into to debt with the thought of filing bankruptcy. Rather many have experienced an unexpected and extreme financial shock, such as loss of a job, business failure, death, divorce or serious illness which has left them being unable to meet their financial obligations. Very few bankruptcy petitioners file bankruptcy to â€œabuseâ€ the system as has been the cry from the financial, credit card and banking industries for years.
In such cases, filing bankruptcy may be the right answer. If you are facing serious financial challenges, it is very important to seek the counsel of an experienced bankruptcy attorney to help you to assess your legal options.
Bankruptcy law is primarily federal and administered by the federal courts. However, the various states' consumer and commercial laws do play important roles in certain bankruptcy issues and some circumstances. That is why you should speak to an experienced bankruptcy lawyer about your options. Contact our office today for your free initial evaluation.
Bankruptcy is an available option for individual consumers, businesses, farmers and municipalities. There are two major bankruptcy types: liquidation and reorganization. For practical purposes, many debtors have so-called no-asset cases where all of the debtors' property is exempt from the liquidation requirement and eligible debt is discharged without any property being sold
Chapter 7 - Liquidation Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code governs liquidation bankruptcy, available to individuals and businesses. Upon the filing of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, the bankruptcy court issues an "automatic stay" that stops most collection proceedings against the debtor. A bankruptcy trustee is responsible for gathering the debtor's nonexempt property, if any, liquidating it and distributing the proceeds to the creditors in order of legal preference. This process often leaves some creditors' debts unpaid when there are not enough assets to cover liabilities.
For an individual consumer debtor, these remaining debts are discharged and no longer the responsibility of the debtor; however, certain types of debt are non-dischargeable and survive the bankruptcy, such as alimony or child support. For a business debtor, the liquidated business does not survive the bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 - Reorganization Bankruptcy
A reorganization bankruptcy is more appropriate where there is ongoing income that can be used to pay creditors, at least in part. Chapter 13 covers individual consumer debtors with lower debts. Farmers and commercial fisherman can file for reorganization under Chapter 12.
Filing for reorganization also generates an automatic stay of most collection activity. The debtor then develops a repayment plan to pay debts over a three- to five-year period through a bankruptcy trustee. At the successful conclusion of the payment plan, if certain conditions are met, remaining dischargeable debt is cancelled. However, it is important to understand that if the debtor fails to make payments which are required under the plan or fails to make alimony, child support or certain tax payments, the court may either dismiss the case or convert the reorganization to liquidation. In those situations where the court dismisses the case, the debtor may be obligated to pay the full amount of the debt owed, plus any interest which accrued during the stay of the bankruptcy case. Therefore, if a debtor is considering Chapter 13, the debtor or consumer should be prepared to make payments under the plan for a period of 3 to 5 years.
Bankruptcy law can benefit debtors and creditors alike, depending on the circumstances. If you feel that a bankruptcy proceeding may benefit you, Contact our office today. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help their clients get out from under formidable debt and retain as many assets as possible.
Mark P. Cressman is a graduate of the University of Florida and earned his law degree from Nova Southeastern University. In his final semester of law school at Nova Southeastern University's Shepard Broad Law Center, Mr. Cressman was permitted to practice law as an Assistant Attorney General in Knoxville, Tennessee. As a prosecutor, Mr. Cressman successfully tried criminal matters in the criminal courts of Knox County Tennessee.
Following his return to South Florida Mr. Cressman began defending individuals involved in automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, trucking accidents, nursing home abuse matters, and slip and falls. As a trial attorney he began to specialize in handling medical malpractice matters. In 2002, Mr. Cressman relocated his practice to Central Florida where he continued to defend hospitals, physicians, and nurses in and around Central Florida. At the same time, Mr. Cressman was one of a select few attorneys who were permitted to represent the physicians and staff at the University Of Florida School Of Medicine.
In 2006, Mr. Cressman began exclusively representing individuals, not insurance companies, in an attemtp to help those in the community who may need legal assistance but may not be able to afford the high cost of legal fees. He routinely works with clients and allows clients to pay their fees through payment plans as opposed to requiring significant retainers from the clients in order to begin representing them in thier legal needs.
Mr. Cressman actively assists clients in avariety of legal needs including an active bankruptcy practice where he helps clients get out of debt through the bankruptcy process. Even when the credit card companies and bill collectors try to convince and scare debtors into a fear of Bankruptcy, Mr. Cressman is here to help his clients stand up to bill collectors, listen to client's concerns and offer them an alternative to a life of servitude to credit card companies and bill collectors. This done while never passing judgment on the client or making the client feel like they are the ones who have done something wrong or that bankruptcy is something to be ashmaed to be filing.
In addition, Mr. Cressman also actively represents clients in a range of civil litigation matters including the violation of civil rights of prisoners, wrongful employment terminations, false imprisonment, sexual assault of students by school employees, automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, trucking accidents, medical negligence and slip and fall accidents to an active bankruptcy practice in which he helps his clients get out of debt by filing voluntary bankruptcy petitionsassisting clients
Mr. Cressman is an active member of the Florida Bar, Orange County Bar Association, American Association for Justice as well as the Florida Justice Association. He is also licensed in all the Federal Courts in the State of Florida and is admitted to practice befofore the Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. He has also volunteers his time as part of the Justice at Stake campaign to keep America's courts fair, impartial and free from political interference.
Los Angeles, California
Kelly Barcia Nuñez
Bruce D. Fox
Winter Park, Florida
Richard C. Hannegan
Estate Planning & Business Law (949) 794-4000