Prior to the filing of any bankruptcy case, an individual must obtain debt / credit briefing, within 180 days prior to the filing. The briefing or counseling session is a specific kind of counseling that is tailored for bankruptcy. The briefing must be provided by an agency that has been approved by the Federal Court of the District in which the person is filing for bankruptcy protection. At present, there are about 67 approved agencies, by the State of New Jersey.
After the briefing, the agency will provide a certification indicating the agency’s name, the counselor’s name, and the name of the individual(s) who completed the counseling. This certification must be filed with the court, together with the bankruptcy petition. The court allows a very limited excuse for non-compliance, due to exigent circumstances.
At the commencement of the counseling, the counselor must be notified that the purpose of the briefing is for bankruptcy. This should not be confused with debt consolidation counseling, which is an attempt to reduce one’s debt or monthly debt payments.
The Agency should offer the briefing by telephone and internet and permit both spouses to obtain the briefing together, at the same time. The entire session should last about one to two hours.
The counseling consists of the following. The counselor asks for detailed financial information, the individual’s household income, expenses, and liabilities. The representative may complete a budget and explain how an individual could reduce their expenses. Also, the counselor should provide information as to where one can find coupons and businesses, where a consumer may save money.
Please call Attorney Robert Manchel at 1 (866) 503-5655, if you have questions about debt and what bankruptcy means.