Differentiating Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Most people know that in the event they can no longer meet their financial responsibilities, they can opt to file for bankruptcy to relieve the burden. However, some people do not fully grasp what bankruptcy law entails. The most common misunderstandings come about when people are thinking of Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcies. This is why it would be essential to enlist the services of a lawyer to walk you through the different bankruptcy options available to you. Here are some of the different ways that Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcies differ.

Bankruptcy Eligibility

Before filing for bankruptcy, one has to be eligible. With Chapter 7 bankruptcy, individuals as well as businesses and corporations would be eligible to file for bankruptcy. With this type of bankruptcy, the individual or the business gets to have some debts eligible for elimination. This option is the most common type of bankruptcy that people will file for. It is allowed for individuals or businesses that are at the median income or below that median income of the state that the debtor resides in to file. To determine if one qualifies for this, a “means test” would have to be conducted. 

With Chapter 13, individuals that are receiving a regular income are those that will be eligible. The Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan gives the debtor a chance to propose a payment plan for the debts owed and, depending on how much they earn, a time period will be set in which the debts can be repaid in installments. Chapter 13 is best suited for people who will be financially capable of paying off the debts while still maintaining their living expenses.

Mode of debt repayment 

One of the major differences between Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcies is the mode in which the debts will be repaid. As aforementioned, with Chapter 7 bankruptcy there are some debts that can be simply eliminated from the debtor’s record. With Chapter 13, the debtor is required to formulate a payment plan so as to ensure that the creditors get back what is owed to them. This payment plan is court ordered; thus, they make the assumption that you will be able to pay off your debts during a specified period of time. 

With Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor is not required by law to formulate any type of payment plan and that is why some debts can be eliminated. However, this does not mean that all the debt can be eliminated. One would still be liable to pay off debts such as taxes, child support, student loans, criminal fines and the like.

When can recorded materials be submitted in court?

There is a growing number of Family Court cases which use illegally recorded materials as part of the evidence. The growing sophistication of smartphones as recorders, as well as the smaller size or surveillance cameras and recorders, has made it much easier to capture phone calls and personal interactions. Here are some guides as to when and how recorded materials can be used in court. 

Can the person expect that they are being recorded?

If your staff work in a retail environment, for example, they can expect to be recorded if the workplace is signposted that security cameras are in place. Whilst the primary use of the cameras may be to record customer behaviour any illicit behaviour by staff that is caught on camera can be used in disciplinary action, and in any subsequent court action. As many commercial recording systems discard recordings after a certain period it’s a good idea to copy any footage that you use as proof to discipline staff to a separate format so that it can be stored and accessed later if there are any disputes over what has occurred. 

How probative (relevant) is the information being recorded?

Family Court recordings are often used to record suspected physical or sexual abuse of children. As this cannot be easily proven by other means, in some cases parents are willing to bypass the legalities of illegally recording a spouse to get direct proof of this issue. The court will consider the nature of the recording. Recordings that directly prove that the child is in physical harm may result in contact being supervised while the matter is being investigated. 

Conversations that are manipulated to try and achieve a result will not often be allowed, particularly where children are involved. The court views both the actual circumstances being recorded as well as the situation around getting the recording when considering how to treat the evidence. In some cases obtaining and submitting the recordings can reflect poorly on the person submitting the recordings, particularly if they have attempted to manipulate the child or their ex-spouse. 

If you are not sure whether you can use recorded materials to support an upcoming court case, it is wise to get advice from a lawyer. They can help to review relevant case law in the area and advise on the best way to build a case and maximise you chances of a successful result. 

A Safe Haven For Asylum Seekers Who Get To Australia By Boat

If you are planning to seek asylum in Australia, you will need a visa to keep you in the country. Asylum seekers are always at a disadvantage when it comes to visa application; they are hardly given permanent visas. But thanks to Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEV), asylum seekers who get to Australia by boat can now manage to live in Australia and enjoy certain social amenities like the locals. Even though it is still not a permanent visa, it surely feels like one.  

Why Should You Go For Safe Haven Enterprise Visas?

If you want to stay in Australia, a SHEV is what will keep you in the country for the next five years. And it not only gives you protection but also certain benefits like access to jobs, Medicare, short-term counseling for trauma and torture, and access to Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). AMEP offers 510 hours of English tuition so that you can be able to learn the English language as well as settlement skills; learning about language and skills will help you to contribute economically and socially in the society.

Another benefit of a SHEV is that if you have been granted one, you can later apply for other visas except a permanent protection permanent visa. All that is required of you is to meet what is called the SHEV requirements; the requirements state that you must be a SHEV holder and you must have been studying or working (or both) in regional Australia (Tasmania and New South Wales) for forty two months.

Are You Eligible For A SHEV?

You may be eligible for a SHEV under certain conditions. One is if you have been invited to apply for one. Another is if one or at least one of your family members has the will and intention of working or studying in a regional area. He or she must also not apply for Centerlink payments. Centerlink is a government agency that offers a wide range of services including unemployment benefits to people who live on low income or without an income at all.  

Are There Any Limitations If You Are A SHEV Holder?

As an asylum seeker, there are things you can’t do even if you have been given temporary protection in Australia. One is that you cannot go back to the country that you are running from. Another limitation is that you cannot sponsor any of your family members with a visa.

Although a SHEV does not cover for all the services one may wish for, it is really helpful if you are an asylum seeker. For more information, contact a migration lawyer.

What to do when served with a business litigation summon and complaint

Business ownership comes with certain legal risks. Generally, businesses are prone to the dangers of being served with business litigation summons and complaints at any moment. Customers can infer all manner of reasons to file a lawsuit against your business. While some complaints are legitimate, others are not. In this regard, business owners should take some specific steps to protect themselves and their businesses when served with these summons and complaints. Read on for more insight.

Summons and complaint

A summon is a notification sent to the accused or defendant in a case brought in front of the court. It basically informs you when and where you’re supposed to appear to answer to the summons. Additionally, the summons also contain the name of the individual or petitioner that’s suing your business. Moreover, the summons also feature a warning regarding a default ruling being automatically sustained if you fail to file a response. Usually, you have a certain timeframe to file your response.

The complaint informs the business owner of the reasons why the petitioner is seeking legal course of action against the business. By way of example, if the petitioner is claiming a contravention of contract or fiduciary duty of the part of the accused person, this will be recorded in the complaint. Additionally, complaints must also specify the cause of action as well as the components of each cause. The key function of the complaint is to inform the defendant about the lawsuit against them and the reasons why.

When served with a legal summon and complaint, here are two steps you should immediately take.

  • Hire a lawyer

In the case of a business litigation summon, read when the response is due and get in touch with your business lawyer. If you don’t have a lawyer, the day you’re served is the day you should actually retain one. The lawyer will help you file a response to the issued summons within the specified response timeframe. Lawyers need time to come up with an effective strategy for your defense so it makes sense to contact them immediately.

  • Gather all relevant paperwork

It’s crucial to gather all the relevant paperwork related to the situation that lead to the lawsuit. Collect any written communication you’ve previously had with the petitioner, including sent and received emails and letters. Hand them to your lawyer. The more details you reveal to your lawyer the better. Additionally, any recorded conversations between you and the petitioner should also be handed over to your lawyer. The documents can reveal the transaction details and will assist your lawyer devise the best possible legal defense.

Every young person needs a will

There’s a common misconception among the young and single population that there’s no great need to have a will or estate plan, because at this moment in their young lives, a will serves no worthwhile purpose. The assumption is that they are either too young or own little assets to require a will. Additionally, they also assume a will is expensive. For a young single individual with little assets, a modest will including healthcare, financial powers of attorney as well as an advanced healthcare directive will provide them with an adequate, affordable and effective cover at this moment in their lives.

Advance health care directive

In the will, you can specify the degree of life sustaining treatment you wish to receive if you’re in a terminal medical condition or permanently unconscious and unable to speak for yourself. For example, you can choose whether or not to be kept in life supporting machines if you have no chance of ever rising out of a coma.

Health care power of attorney

If you’re not stuck in an end of life scenario but cannot communicate, you can appoint a trusted person to act on your behalf in making medical decisions rather than leaving those judgments up to strangers who have no clue regarding what you would have desired.

Financial power of attorney

Note that social media accounts are thought of as property. Through a financial power of attorney, you can appoint an agent who will take responsibility of managing your social media accounts and what’s to be done with them if you become incapacitated or otherwise incapable of managing them at any duration in your lifetime. With a will, you actually choose who you want to manage your social media accounts and what you would prefer done with them in the aftermath of your death. Due to the lack of proper will planning, there have been a number of cases in which friends or relatives of the deceased took control of deceased’s social media accounts and shared confidential information or posted stuff the original account owner would never have permitted or which inflicted needless distress to family members and friends.

Personal effects

Though to you they may be of paltry monetary value, those photos, high school yearbooks, personal diaries and other personal effects can be of tremendous sentimental value to your family and friends. By specifying in your will who gets what, you can make sure your personal effects end up in the hands of the right people.  

How to Start Getting Your Affairs in Order

Regardless of your age, you need to get your affairs in order. This helps to protect your loved ones in the event of your passing, letting them know how to handle your estate and what your wishes were in regards to your assets. Here are some tips for getting started with the process.

Get Your Documents Together

You probably have a lot of financial, personal, and legal documents scattered around or filed in various places. Make sure you have copies of these documents in one place and let someone know where they are. This helps your loved ones figure out what your wishes were and how to find important documents after you pass. Otherwise, it can make arrangements more difficult and cause confusion and chaos during a time that is already difficult for them. You can either tell a spouse, close friend, or your lawyer where these documents are. It should include documents like your will and testament, living will, power of attorney, financial power of attorney, medical directive, social security card, marriage certificate, and financial documents.

Write a Will

A will is very important, and too often is only done by older adults who feel their time left is short. No matter how old you are, there is a chance you could get a fatal illness or be involved in a serious car accident. Protect your loved ones by having a will written up now. It should name a beneficiary and include information about what happens to your different assets, such as giving your spouse the home you live in and your children a certain amount of financial assets when they reach adulthood. The will also names a guardian for your children if something happens to both you and your spouse. Your lawyer can help you get the will written and will present it to your family after you pass.

Make a Master List of Locked-Up Items

When your family arrives at your home after you pass, they might be looking for certain items. For example, they might not know where your valuable jewelry is or have questions about your birth certificate. Items that are locked up separately from your other documents should be listed on a master list that is given to just one trusted person. That way, if they need to find these items and get the key to unlock the safe deposit box or home safe, they can do so after you pass.

Speaking to a lawyer beforehand can help you with getting your affairs in order, whether you need to have a will written up or gather important financial records for your family. 

4 mistakes to avoid just after getting injured at your place of work

A workplace injury or disease can wreak significant havoc on your career and personal finances. If you are injured on the job, then you are entitled to workers’ compensation. However, there are actions and inactions that can have an effect on the sum of compensation you receive following your workplace injury. As your compensation lawyer will tell you, avoid the following 4 mistakes just after getting injured at your place of work.

Failing to notify your boss or supervisor

According to state law, you should notify your employer or supervisor of your workplace injury or disease as soon as possible. A timely notice allows your employer enough time to inform the workers’ compensation insurance company about the impending claim. If you don’t notify your employer of your illness or injury immediately, they can use this excuse as a legal defense against your compensation claim.

Not seeking medical treatment

If you suffer injury at work, you should seek out treatment from a reputed hospital as soon as possible. Any delays in seeking treatment can make it quite difficult for you to prove your wounds are work-related. In that regard, do yourself a favour and see a doctor immediately after your workplace injury.

Not adhering to your doctor’s prescriptions

The failure to adhere to the treatment orders may be as detrimental to your claim for compensation as if you had not even sought medical treatment in the beginning. Not adhering to your doctor’s prescriptions is deemed to mean either your wounds are not severe as you purport them to or you exacerbated the extent of injury due to not following practical treatment directions. As a result, your workers’ compensation benefits may be adversely impacted.

Not providing timely responses to genuine requests from the insurance guys

The insurance company responsible for your workers’ compensation is entitled to ask certain details from you concerning the events surrounding the workplace accident. Additionally, the insurance company may also ask that you agree to a medical assessment by a medical practitioner of its own preference to substantiate the conditions for which you’re pursuing compensation. Not providing timely responses to these genuine requests can lead to denial of your benefits or even protracted delays. If you’re not sure whether a specific request from the insurance guys is genuine, speak with your compensation lawyer first before answering any questions. This will help you avoid falling into any traps set out by the insurer which may affect your claim.


How to get your witnesses to appear in court to give testimony

Many people are unwilling to appear in court due to fear or a lack of acquaintance with the court system. Also, due to the protracted nature of court cases, potential witnesses fear losing time off their work or businesses if they are to attend the court sessions. Therefore, if you are facing criminal charges and have witnesses to prove your innocence, then the key question revolves on how to get the testimony from these witnesses to help in your criminal case. With the help of a criminal attorney, here are several ways you can go about getting witness testimony.

Ask the potential witness

Not everybody is hesitant about testifying. For instance, a relative may opt to act as a witness in a separation case. A day care worker or teacher may be available to say who picks up the kids or assists with homework in a child custody court case. Neighbors can be willing to freely testify to an offense that they saw in the neighbourhood. With the help of your criminal attorney, you can explain to the witness the importance of their testimony in the case and whether they are ready to testify.

Subpoena the witness

A court has the power to force a possible witness to give evidence by issuing a subpoena. A subpoena is basically a court order that instructs an individual to come in front of the court to give evidence or provide testimony regarding a given case. Therefore, the accused person through their criminal lawyer will petition the court and indicate valid reasons why the subpoena is important in the case. When summoned to court through a subpoena, the witness cannot refuse to obey. If they do so, the court may charge the witness with being in contempt of court.

Pay the witness

You can also offer to pay a fair sum to cover the travelling expenses of the witness as well as sum representing payment for the witness’ loss of time incurred resulting from him or her having to appear in front of the court. The sum of money paid will depend on the distance of the court, the duration of the witness’ attendance in court and what specific losses the witness is bound to suffer. Settling on a suitable amount requires open dialogue as on one hand leaving the witness out of pocket may cause him or her to be less cooperative while on the other hand, a generous amount poses the risk that you are actually attempting to buy the witness’ testimony. Be sure to consult with a lawyer like Russo Lawyers before offering the witness money.

Finding a Lawyer When You Have Low Funds

Often the time that you need legal assistance is the time that you have the least money to get legal assistance! Here are some ways you can access free or low-cost legal services

Legal aid

The first stop for many people is the legal aid system. This provides legal support to defendants regardless of their ability to pay, but this is often limited by how much time and capacity the legal aid system in each state has. They have criteria that govern the cases that they can take to the court, including something called the merit test, which evaluates whether a case has a reasonable chance of success. As a result, they are less likely to provide support if there is a low chance of success in court.

In minor matters, such as claims in small claims court where a lawyer may not be required, legal aid can help you to form your own case and file documents with the court.


If you have an employment-based issue, such as unfair dismissal or pay disputes (including failure to pay in accordance with the minimum wage), unions can often help to provide legal support from both internal union lawyers and from larger firms on an overflow basis. These services are available in most unions, although the exact process to follow can depend on your local union chapter. 

Pro bono

Many large legal firms have a pro bono department which will take on worthy cases, such as human rights issues or supporting the work of not-for-profits. They will only take on work that aligns with their goals, so it’s always worth calling and asking which priority areas each firm focuses their pro bono efforts on, so you can best direct any queries. 

Payment plans

The final option may be to look at payment plans. This can include “no win-no fee” arrangements, where the lawyer takes a larger percentage of any settlement that you reach, as well as payment plans where you pay back your legal fees on a fixed payment arrangement each pay period. These options can be very useful for personal injury suits and property-based disputes where you expect a large payout. 

Even if you don’t have the money to pay for a top-tier lawyer straight away, there are many options to obtain quality legal advice for your legal issues. Obtaining legal advice can often help to maximise the chances of a successful resolution to your problem. 

3 Questions For The Conveyancing Solicitor

Legal fees payable to a conveyancing solicitor are perhaps the best example of the hidden/indirect costs of home ownership. Below are answers to three important questions that a prospective homeowner should ask a conveyancing solicitor in a bid to cut down on costs.

How About A Flat-Fee Arrangement?

More often than not, conveyancing solicitors quote an hourly rate of payment for their services. However, these professionals fully understand the cost implications of home ownership and as such, they’re often flexible when it comes to the mode of payment.

A flat-fee arrangement means that prospective homeowners and their preferred solicitor(s) settle on a specific amount to be paid at the end of the transaction. Flat-fee arrangements are preferred over hourly billing rates for the fact that there is no possibility of spiraling legal costs. Spiraling costs are common with hourly billing rates because it may take longer to finalize the property transaction than the prospective buyer had anticipated.

Which Conveyancing Searches Will Be Carried Out?

Some conveyancing searches are mandatory while others are optional for prospective homebuyers. For example, the water and drainage conveyancing search is mandatory in a large number of jurisdictions and so is the local authority conveyancing search. Water and drainage conveyancing searches often have these two objectives:

  • The location of water mains within residential property
  • Establishing the distance between the property and public sewer utility lines as well as establishing the location of sewer lines within the residential area.

Local authority conveyancing searches seek to establish the proximity of residential property to public infrastructure (e.g. railway lines and super highways) and how this may affect the construction of a new home. The higher the number of (non-mandatory) searches that a conveyancer has to undertake, the higher the conveyancing fee will be at the end of property transaction.

What’s The Cost Of Falling Through?

Various factors may contribute to a homeowner’s inability to eventually purchase a piece of residential property. For example, the results of a local council conveyancing search may reveal that the property in question is located in a protected area on which the construction of residential settlements is prohibited.

In such a case, the property transaction is said to have “fallen through”. Conveyancing solicitors often charge their clients for services rendered before the stage at which the transaction fell through.

The cost of “falling through” is not necessarily static with some solicitors. Prospective homeowners should find out if they can bargain on this charge just in case things don’t go as planned.

As it is in the current real estate market, the cost of a house in itself is overwhelming for a large number of average citizens. Work with your solicitor to see how you can set a budget or payment options. Click here to read more.