You Tube

Contact Us

Law Offices of Seymour Wasserstrum
205 W Landis Ave
Vineland, NJ 08360

1040 Kings Highway North
Suite 404
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

Phone: 856-696-8300
Toll Free: 1-888-845-4533
Fax: 856-696-3586

Free consultations • Credit cards accepted • Evening and Weekend appointments available • Open 8 am to 8 pm

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy


Chapter 13 is often a godsend for people in financial difficulty. People who have one or more of the following legal issues are usually best suited for Chapter 13:

(1) If you are behind in your mortgage payments, Chapter 13 can get you up to five years to pay back mortgage arrears. Most of the time, you can pay back your mortgage without any interest or penalties. It's almost like getting a loan for five years, interest free.

(2) If your house is in foreclosure, you can usually stop the foreclosure. Even though you might not be able to pay back your mortgage over the five year period permitted by law, you can often get time to sell your home and hopefully walk away with some money in your pocket.

(3) If your house is listed for a Sheriff's Sale, you can usually stop that Sheriff's Sale and get up to five years to pay back your mortgage arrears. In certain situations you can still save your home even after a Sheriff's Sale has taken place.

(4) If you are behind in your car payments, Chapter 13 can give you the opportunity to take up to five years to catch up on your car payment arrears.

(5) If you are paying high interest on a car loan, you can generally reduce your car loan interest rate to somewhere in the vicinity of 8.5%. You can also take up to five years to pay back the balance of the car loan.

(6) If your car has been repossessed and has not yet been sold at an auction, you can probably get your car back and pay it off in five years or less, often at a reduced interest rate, and sometimes at a reduced value as well.

(7) If you have owned your vehicle for more than 2 ½ years (910 days), and your vehicle is worth significantly less than what you owe to pay it off, you may be able to reduce your vehicle payments to a much lower monthly payment . Your new monthly payment will be based upon the actual fair value of your vehicle. If you qualify, this procedure could save you a lot of money.

(8) If your landlord is taking you to court to try to evict you because you are behind in your rent, you can usually stop an eviction if you file a Chapter 13 before your court hearing is held. If the landlord has already gone to court and obtained a judgment for possession against you, you may still be able to stop the eviction, however, once you have reached that point, it becomes more complicated and more costly.

(9) If you owe money for taxes that have to be paid, you can often pay back the taxes over a period of five years, without interest, and without incurring any additional interest or any additional penalties.

(10) If you have Court fines, in many cases you can pay them back over the course of five years. There are some exceptions because some Municipal Court Judges don't permit this procedure, although generally speaking many judges do permit you to do this.

(11) Credit card bills and other unsecured debts - Chapter 13 is very powerful and can accomplish a lot more than Chapter 7. In addition to doing some of the things set forth above, in most cases our clients can completely wipe out their credit card bills, personal loans, medical bills, utility bills such as gas, electric, and telephone, surcharges on their driver's license, stop wage executions, stop freezes on their bank accounts, and stop law suits.

(12) You can wipe out your utility bills, and a public utility such as Atlantic City Electric, Verizon, and Public Service Gas must continue to give you service in the future. Cell phone bills can be wiped out, although cell phone providers are not legally required to continue to provide cell phone time for you. If your cell phone company doesn't let you have additional cell phone time in the future, there are many other providers that are usually willing to give you service, and you can keep your same phone number. You can usually save substantial money when you wipe out your utility bills and your cell phone bills.

(13) If unpaid surcharges are the only thing that is keeping you from getting your driver's license, you can often get your driver's license back by filing for Chapter 13.

(14) If you have income taxes that are more than three years old and you filed them more than three years ago, there's a good chance you can wipe them out completely.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Get a Fresh Start. Get Debt Relief and Stress Relief

Remember that one of the main purposes of Chapter 13 is to help you get a fresh financial start, put the past behind you, and deal with your bills in the way that is best for you. Chapter 13 gives you an opportunity to catch up on bills that you have to pay and wipe out bills that you can legally wipe out.

There is no shame or stigma attached to filing a Chapter 13. About 1.5 million people file for Bankruptcy every year, on the average, in the United States. If done properly, it can be a very positive experience that will help you have a much brighter financial future.

Obviously, there is a lot of financial stress when you've got a lot of bills. Keep in mind that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In most situations our clients get substantial debt relief, and they also obtain substantial stress relief. We can teach you how to stop collection agents from calling you, writing to you, and harassing you. We will show you how.

You can get started in a Chapter 13 with our office by paying $540 towards the legal fee plus Court costs of $310, for a total of $850. There are also two credit counseling sessions that you must do to file for Bankruptcy and get your discharge. Each session costs $50. You must do the first counseling session before you file for Bankruptcy. You normally do the second counseling session after your case has been confirmed. If you don't do the second session you won't get a discharge and it defeats the whole purpose of the Bankruptcy.

The first counseling session can be done by the internet or by telephone and usually takes between 30-60 minutes. The second counseling session can actually be done for free if you attend a debtor education class that is conducted by the Chapter 13 trustee. That session might take about two hours, and it is normally very helpful.

The following section sets forth the easy steps that are involved in preparing, processing, and completing a successful Chapter 13 case. The object is to get a discharge and wipe out as many debts as we can. If certain bills have to be paid, we will work to get you as long as five years to pay them, without interest in many cases.

Step One

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is started by the filing of a document called a petition. This is about 35 pages long and it requires that we meet with you for approximately one to two hours in order to complete the necessary documentation. The case officially begins when the Chapter 13 petition is filed with the Bankruptcy Court and the $310 filing fee is paid to the Court. Bankruptcy petitions are now electronically filed by our office. The Court immediately assigns a case number to your case. At that point your case is officially started, and you normally obtain complete protection from your creditors.

Our office can immediately notify any creditors that need to be notified of the bankruptcy filing by calling them and mailing, faxing or hand delivering a filed copy of your petition to that creditor. If a creditor takes action against you after being informed that you have started your bankruptcy, that creditor can be sanctioned by the Bankruptcy Court.

The Bankruptcy Court notifies all of the creditors listed in your petition that your bankruptcy has been filed. You will be getting copies of the same notices that your creditors get. Therefore, when you get your notice in the mail you know that your creditors should have already been notified by the Bankruptcy Court. If someone needs to be immediately notified of the bankruptcy filing, before they get the official notice from the Court, we can notify them as stated above.

Here are some examples of the types of creditors that can be notified of your bankruptcy filing:

(1) We can notify utility companies so your utilities are not shut off. If your utilities have been shut off before the bankruptcy filing, the utility companies will be required to turn your service back on.

(2) We can notify mortgage companies so that foreclosure proceedings or sheriff sales are immediately stopped.

(3) We can notify car finance companies so that there will be no vehicle repossessions. If your vehicle has been repossessed, it would normally have to be returned to you once we submit proof of full coverage automobile insurance.

(4) If your landlord is trying to evict you we can stop the eviction.

(5) If the IRS is withholding your refund or taking other action against you, that usually has to stop upon filing of bankruptcy.

(6) If anyone is trying to attach your wages, they will have to stop. If anyone already has a wage attachment against you, that will have to stop. If any money is taken out of your wages after your bankruptcy has been started, it will have to be returned to you. Sometimes we can get you money back that has been taken from your salary within 90 days before your bankruptcy filing.

(7) If anyone has frozen your bank account, that will have to stop.

(8) If you are trying to get your driver's license and you have surcharges, once the MVC is notified of your bankruptcy they must stop all surcharge collection activity. You can meet with the MVC representative in West Deptford to make arrangements to get your driving privilege reinstated. Once we have a copy of your complete driver's abstract from the MVC we can work towards getting your driver's license back.

(9) If anyone is suing you for just about anything, that lawsuit will have to stop unless the Bankruptcy Court gives the creditor or any other party that is suing you permission to continue with the case against you.

Step Two

The Court immediately assigns a case number to your case. We can provide you with your case number shortly after the case has been filed. If you need to contact the Court Clerk for any questions, you can call 856-757-5485 extension 331. You will receive a copy of the case number in the mail within about a week after your bankruptcy case has been filed.

You will also receive a document from the Bankruptcy Court called the Notice of Chapter 13 Case. Your creditors also receive this document. That document is the official notice from the Bankruptcy Court that you have started your case and listed them as a creditor. Please review that document carefully because it gives you information as to when and where you need to appear for your bankruptcy meeting. The meetings take place in either Cherry Hill or Northfield, depending on where you live. They are scheduled about four to five weeks after your Chapter 13 has been filed with the Court.

You will also get a series of letters from the Bankruptcy Court and from Isabel Balboa, the Chapter 13 trustee. Some of these letters may be confusing because they are general letters that give you a lot of information, but much of that information might not even apply to your case. Other letters are specific to your case and will give you exact information such as the date and time of your meeting with the trustee, Isabel Balboa, and the amount of your monthly trustee payment. If you ever have any questions about any of the letters you get, please call us. You can also contact Ms. Balboa's office at 856-663-5002, extension 123, 137, or 125.


If you live in Cumberland County, Gloucester County, Salem County, or Camden County, your meeting will take place at Isabel Balboa's office in Cherry Hill. If you live in Cape May County or Atlantic County, your meeting will take place in Northfield.

Many people are afraid of the Chapter 13 meeting. The truth is that the meeting is a very simple procedure that normally takes 10 minutes or less. In fact, Ms. Balboa's office usually schedules about 25 cases per hour. Although your meeting may only take 10 minutes, please expect to be there for at least one hour since the meetings often run behind schedule.

We will fully prepare you for the meeting, and you actually already know almost all of the answers to all of the questions you will be asked without the need for preparation because the questions are very simple. For example, you will most likely be asked the following questions:

1. Where do you work? If you don't work, what is your source of income?

2. Have you filed all of your tax returns? If you have not filed your tax returns as required, you will be required to file all of your income tax returns up to date. There is a law that your bankruptcy cannot proceed and will be dismissed if you have not filed all of your taxes within approximately four months after your bankruptcy has been filed.

3. You will be asked whether you owe any money to the IRS or to the State of New Jersey for taxes. If you owe back taxes, you can pay them through your bankruptcy

4. If you own a house, state when the house was purchased, what the purchase price was, what it is worth now, and how you determine what the present value of the house is. Ms. Balboa usually requires that you bring a copy of the real estate tax assessment.

5. Who lives with you? If you share expenses with another individual, either a spouse, friend, or significant other, you will need to disclose the income of that other person and provide proof of income for that other person, even though that individual is not a part of the bankruptcy. The reason is that there is a bankruptcy rule that says if you live in the same household with another person and share your income and expenses, full disclosure of all such information must be made to the court.

6. Do you receive child support for any children you have? If you do, you will need to provide documentation to show how much child support you receive.

7. Does anyone help you pay your bills? If someone contributes to your income or helps with your expenses, Ms. Balboa will require a signed statement from that person to verify the amount of financial assistance that they give you on a regular basis.

8. Have you reviewed your bankruptcy papers before signing them? Did you meet with an attorney before signing the papers? Is everything correct or do you want to make any additions or changes? If you need to add new creditors that were not previously listed, there is an additional attorney fee and court costs that need to be paid.

9. You will need to show Ms. Balboa a recent pay stub or other proof of income. When you bring a pay stub, do not bring something with overtime unless you normally work overtime. Bring something that indicates your normal weekly or biweekly earnings. If you get social security, welfare, unemployment, food stamps, child support, disability or any other type of income, you will need to provide proof to Ms. Balboa. You can bring us a copy of your next check since that is a good way to prove what you receive. If Ms. Balboa needs any supplemental information or documentation, she will give us additional time to provide it.

10. What caused you to file for bankruptcy?

11. Have you inherited any property or do you have any potential to inherit property in the near future? This question is asked because any property that you are expecting to inherit as a result of someone who has already died, or any inheritance you obtain in the six months after you filed your bankruptcy must be reported. This inheritance can be considered as an asset that has to be disclosed by you.

12. Do you have any safe deposit boxes? If you have any safe deposit boxes, then the Trustee will probably ask you what is in your safe deposit box. If you have a safe deposit box and have anything valuable in it, let us know because it needs to be disclosed.

13. If you have filed for Chapter 13 before, you will be asked how things are different now. In other words, if your first bankruptcy did not succeed, you will need to show some sort of change in your circumstances to indicate what went wrong the first time, and why you believe this case will succeed. You can't just keep filing one bankruptcy after another because Ms. Balboa will think you might be trying to abuse the system. If you have filed a previous Chapter 13, you need to demonstrate how this case is going to work when the others did not.

If this situation applies to you, we will review with you in detail to make sure you are fully prepared for answers to questions concerning any previous bankruptcies that you have filed. Please make sure to tell us about any previous bankruptcies that you have filed.

14. Ms. Balboa has three other attorneys that work with her. Their names are Jane McDonald, Roger Yehl, Donna Wenzel. Mrs. McDonald, Mrs. Wenzel and Mr. Yehl help conduct the meetings. However, it really does not matter who conducts the meeting since we will be there with you and all of the attorneys are very nice. They are not there to give you a hard time. Instead, the purpose of the meeting is to make sure that all of the paper work has been done properly, to find out if there have been any changes since the bankruptcy was filed, to make sure you understand the Chapter 13 process and your responsibilities, and to make sure that you are doing what you are required to be doing, including making all of your trustee payments on time.

They will check the records to make certain that you are up to date in your trustee payments. If you are behind in your payments, they will normally inform you that your case will be in jeopardy of being dismissed unless you bring your payments current. If your case is dismissed, all creditors have a right to pursue you again, and you lose the protection of the Bankruptcy Court.

15. You will probably be asked whether you own a time share. Please make sure that you let us know whether or not you own a time share or are making payments on a time share. If you are making car payments directly to a finance company or to a buy here pay here dealer, you will be asked when your last car payment is due. The reason is that Ms. Balboa figures once your last car payment has been made, you will have extra money. She wants to know what you intend to do with the money that you will no longer be using to pay off your car. If this situation applies to you, please make sure to let us know so that we may prepare you for the questions you will be asked.

16. If you are involved in your own business, the case becomes more complicated. You must fill out a detailed business questionnaire statement, you must supply detailed financial records including a profit and loss statement, and you must prove you have adequate insurance. Please make sure to let us know if you are running your own business, either full time or part time, so we can fully prepare you for the type of questions you will be asked.

17. Keep in mind that you are required to make a payment to Ms. Balboa on the first of every month starting with the first month after the month your bankruptcy petition was filed with the Court. You have a right to be a little late in your payments, but the best policy is to make sure that the payment is sent in on the first of the month. Please make sure to send in the payment by money order, and write your name and your case number on the money order. The payment should be sent by regular mail to:

Isabel Balboa, Trustee PO Box 1978 Memphis, TN 38101-1978.

In many cases, the best thing to do is to let your employer send in your trustee payment for you. This is called a wage order. The Bankruptcy Court can order that your employer take a little bit out of each paycheck and forward that money to Ms. Balboa. This makes it a lot easier for you and assures that payments will be made on a timely basis. If this is something you are interested in, ask us and we will tell you what needs to be done. This is a very simple procedure.

If something unexpected happens and you cannot make a payment on time, please notify our office. There is a procedure where we can request a temporary suspension of payments to Ms. Balboa as long as there is a legitimate reason.

If you have filed for bankruptcy once before or more than once, you will be asked certain special questions concerning your previous bankruptcies. The law requires that there be some sort of change of circumstances to permit you to file another bankruptcy. You cannot simply keep filing, have your case dismissed, and file again so you can stop the creditors from harassing you. The Court might consider something like this as an abuse of the bankruptcy system. You therefore need to demonstrate some sort of change of circumstances. In other words, if your previous bankruptcy failed, what is different now that is going to make this bankruptcy succeed?

We will fully prepare you in this area if it applies to you. Make sure to tell us about all previous bankruptcies so we can fully prepare you for questions concerning previous bankruptcies. If there is going to be any change in your employment situation, income, expenses, or any other significant changes, you are required to notify us and to notify Ms. Balboa. In fact, before you start your meeting, you sign a paper indicating that you will notify Ms. Balboa of any changes in your circumstances.

Normally, you cannot take on additional debt or sell property without the previous consent of Ms. Balboa or the Bankruptcy Court. Obtaining approval is usually a relatively simple procedure. If you intend to make a major purchase, incur major debt, or sell something of significant value, you must notify Ms. Balboa and the Bankruptcy Court, so please inform us of any such circumstances if they occur in the future.


When you go to your meeting, you must bring your social security card and a government approved photo ID. If you do not bring these items, you will have to come back.


After you have had your meeting with Ms. Balboa, you are required to do the following:

1. Continue to make regular monthly payments to Ms. Balboa. If you are behind at the time of the meeting, you need to catch up if you want your case to continue. The only exception is if we have obtained a court order to suspend trustee payments because of some unexpected event that has prevented you from being able to make regular payments.

2. You must notify our office of any significant change in your financial circumstances or other circumstances that would somehow affect your case.

3. If you have a mortgage and you want to keep your house, you must continue making regular mortgage payments. If something unexpected happens that prevents you from making any mortgage payment on time, notify our office. There are procedures where the Court can temporarily suspend the requirement to pay your mortgage on time if you can show good cause.

After your meeting, the next step is the confirmation hearing which takes place at the Bankruptcy Court in Camden. Normally you will not have to attend the confirmation hearing unless there is a very serious objection to your case by the trustee or by one of the creditors. Such a situation is unusual so do not plan to be present at the confirmation hearing unless we advise you to be there.


As stated above you normally will not have to come to the confirmation hearing. The confirmation hearing is usually scheduled by the Court for a date about 2 months after your case was filed. At the hearing Isabel Balboa reviews the entire case to determine the following:

1. Whether you have been making every single payment on a regular basis to the trustee.

2. Whether any creditors have objected to your plan.

3. Whether any creditors have filed claims in a larger amount or a different amount than we had filed in our plan.

4. To see whether a wage order is appropriate, meaning that she wants payments to be taken out of your paycheck in the future. This may be required because you have not been making payments on time, or for some other legitimate reason that she may have.

5. To determine whether you have supplied all requested information that was asked for by her at the meeting.

6. To calculate the correct amount of monthly payments to be made in the future in the event it is necessary to change your monthly payments under the plan.

7. To determine whether you have the financial ability to make the payments that are required.

Ms. Balboa will determine a final figure which represents the monthly payments in your confirmed case. The figure could be lower or higher than the one we have submitted, or it could be the same. It depends on a lot of factors including whether any of your creditors are claiming that you owe them larger amounts of money than we had listed.

Ideally, our goal in most cases is to wipe out your unsecured debts. There may be situations where this is not possible due to the amount of your monthly earnings or monthly expenses. In certain cases Ms. Balboa requires that some payment be made to unsecured creditors. In the vast majority of cases, however, we normally obtain approval for a 0% payment (meaning no payment at all) to unsecured creditors.

Once we have a definite figure for your payments as determined at the confirmation hearing, you are required to make monthly payments to Ms. Balboa in that amount until your plan payments have been completed. Most plans for clients that deal with our office normally run the maximum period of 60 months. You can make your plan payments over a period as short as 36 months; however that would normally require the monthly payments to be larger. Payments can normally be made over any period between 36 months and 60 months.


After the case has been confirmed, you are required to make regular monthly payments to Ms. Balboa for the amount that was determined at the confirmation hearing. If for some reason you cannot make a payment on time, let us know. There are procedures which give you the opportunity to suspend payments if you cannot make a payment because of some unforeseen reason such as a layoff or loss of employment, medical problems, or things of that nature. If you are making regular mortgage payments or car payments and something unforeseen occurs that prevents you from making mortgage or car payments on time, let us know because there are also procedures available where we can request court approval for a suspension of mortgage or car payments.

If you do not make all payments as required, and you do not get the permission of the court to suspend payments, Ms. Balboa can make an application to the Court to dismiss your case. If you get such an application, you need to let us know immediately because there are still things that can be done to protect your rights. Therefore it is important to stay in touch when you hear anything from the Court or from Ms. Balboa that raises some questions in your mind.

You normally would not want your case to be dismissed because once it is dismissed you no longer have protection from your creditors. On the other hand, if a case is dismissed, under the present state of the bankruptcy law you do have the right to refile a new bankruptcy petition as long as you are acting in good faith.

If for some reason you fall behind in your payments, Ms. Balboa may write you a letter to advise you as to how far you are behind, and she might give you an opportunity to catch up within 30 days. If you do not catch up, she will normally file a request to dismiss your case. If you get such an application to dismiss, please make sure to notify us immediately because there is only a 5 day time period to object to a proposed dismissal. We want to help you make sure that your case succeeds.

We have been designated by the federal government as a debt relief agency. We have been helping people wipe out their bills since 1973. We proudly help people file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 of the new Bankruptcy Laws.

Feel free to contact us any time you have any questions. We are here to help you. I have been practicing as an attorney in New Jersey since 1973. I enjoy helping people get out of debt, and I have done so for literally thousands of people. Visit our website at for complete information on how bankruptcy can help you get a totally fresh start.

You should be entitled to a fresh start, and you may be able to completely turn around your financial situation with a change in attitude towards money and spending habits. Money management is the key. We would like to help you increase your knowledge about finances, and about utilizing a spending plan, so that you can start on the road to wealth creation in the future. I also do a live radio program, Bankruptcy University, on Thursday nights at 8 pm on FM station WVLT 92.1. Feel free to listen and call in during the show for live discussions.

Contact the Law Offices of Seymour Wasserstrum for a free consultation with an experienced Chapter 13 Bankruptcy lawyer in New Jersey.