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     In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the U.S. Trustee seeks to liquidate the debtor's "nonexempt" assets to use the proceeds to pay the debtor's creditors.   The debtor may be allowed to keep certain "exempt" property.  The goal is to discharge the debtor's debt to provide a fresh start.
     In Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the debtor files a repayment plan that must be approved by the U.S. Trustee.  The plan's payment term (3 to 5 years) depends upon the debtor's income and debt owed. The goal is to keep the debtor's property while all or part of the debt is paid in installments over time.
     New Jersey is a "judicial foreclosure" state.  This means that if the debtor defaults on the mortgage, then the mortgage lender must go to court in order to repossess the home.  Although a foreclosure may begin when a debtor stops paying his/her mortgage payments, a lender may not file a complaint until certain requirements have been met.  Some key steps within the process include a Notice of Intent to Foreclose sent to the debtor (homeowner), filing an answer to the foreclosure complaint and the homeowner's right to redeem the property after it has been sold. 
     When a home is being sold and purchased, the law of real property is implicated.  Important issues must be addressed during the negotiation process including, but not limited to, the following: preparation and review of the purchase agreement, brokerage commissions, tax consequences, property boundaries, defaults found upon inspection, down payment, title searches & property emcumbrances, and closing statement review.  The success of the closing depends upon the appropriate resolution of these matters and more.
     Negotiating contracts between parties has traditionally been based upon the "arm's length" principle. This means that the parties to the transaction are independent and are on equal footing.  However, in reality, this may not always be the case as one of the parties may have more experience and practice in contracting.  In addition, the small print and legal jargon on most standardized forms can be confusing.  Successfully navigating through such issues, including contract disputes, may require legal assistance.  

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