The Law Offices of Paul J. Winterhalter, P.C.
Paul J. Winterhalter is joining Offit Kurman, one of the region's fastest-growing, comprehensive legal service providers. Effective October 31st, Mr. Winterhalter will relocate to Offit Kurman’s offices in Philadelphia, where he will work alongside an accomplished group of legal practitioners.
As a member of Offit Kurman's Bankruptcy and Restructuring practice group, Mr. Winterhalter will continue representing businesses and individuals in bankruptcy matters, commercial litigation, and related disputes. He joins a diverse team of bankruptcy, finance, and business attorneys active in Philadelphia and surrounding markets such as New York City, the Baltimore–DC metro area, and northern Virginia. Through this affiliation with Offit Kurman, Mr. Winterhalter's clients can also benefit from services and guidance provided by over 125 attorneys in an extensive array of legal categories including estate and trusts, labor and employment, real estate transactions, intellectual property, and more.
Founded in Maryland in 1987, Offit Kurman has grown into a leading firm throughout the mid-Atlantic. Our offices in Philadelphia continue to expand with the addition of several new local practitioners in 2016. Learn why prominent Philadelphia attorneys are joining Offit Kurman, and what you can expect from working with the perfect legal partner, at offitkurman.com.
Since 1983, Paul J. Winterhalter has been representing businesses and individuals in bankruptcy matters, commercial litigation proceedings, and a variety of other engagements involving sophisticated legal representations. It is his mission to provide every client, regardless of size or stature, with the most exacting and attentive legal representation possible. With an emphasis on providing excellence in legal representation on a cost-effective basis, Mr. Winterhalter never loses sight of financial implications for his clients on any action he recommends, and understands that clients' interests and goals are the priority.
Paul J. Winterhalter focuses his practice predominantly on business, financial, and bankruptcy issues. Mr. Winterhalter has been practicing in these areas for over 25 years, arguing matters before the United States Supreme Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, numerous times before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and in many State Appellate proceedings. Mr. Winterhalter has separately tried cases in a variety of Courts and Jurisdictions including complex litigation in the U.S. District Courts, many Federal Bankruptcy Courts, and in various State Courts throughout the counties of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This multi-faceted experience has enabled him to provide his clients with nothing short of superior legal representation.
Mr. Winterhalter believes that to be successful in representing a client's legal interest, one must possess the courage to take a case to trial. He is also mindful, however, that even litigation involving what might be perceived as the best or easiest of matters may not produce the most cost-effective result. Keeping the economical consequences of legal actions in mind, Mr. Winterhalter prioritizes your bottom line. He approaches every tactical decision holding your interests paramount.
Federal bankruptcy law governs the procedures for debt relief in bankruptcy court. Once a bankruptcy petition is filed, there is an "automatic stay" in place that stops all collection activity—from phone calls to foreclosure proceedings.
There are essentially four different categories of bankruptcy:
Chapter 7—This is sometimes referred to as "straight" bankruptcy. It allows the debtor to keep property up to a certain amount, called "exemptions," and any property over that limit is sold by the Bankruptcy Trustee to pay creditors. Generally, debtors who file Chapter 7 do not own property over the exemption amount.
Chapter 13—This is usually referred to as the "wage-earners" plan. A schedule of debts, assets, and income is prepared and a plan is prepared for the debtor, who must have a steady income, to pay back the some or all of the debt. The payments are overseen by a Chapter 13 Trustee.
Chapter 11—Commonly understood to be the "reorganization" type of bankruptcy, it is generally utilized by businesses to restructure their debt. Such cases are very complex.
Chapter 12—This type of bankruptcy is reserved for family farmers and fishermen.
The filing of a bankruptcy petition suspends the normal operation of rights and obligations between debtors and creditors. Whereas general civil litigation may affect two or a few parties at most, bankruptcy cases may affect hundreds of scattered creditors and equity interest holders. Perhaps the most significant feature of bankruptcy jurisdiction is that it extends to all or most issues relevant to a debtor and contemplates participation by any party having an interest in any issue relating to the debtor.
Since the bankruptcy laws were reformed in 2005, many people incorrectly believe that Chapter 7 liquidation is no longer possible. However, for many individuals, Chapter 7 "straight" bankruptcy remains a viable option. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, or have any questions about these subjects, Paul Winterhalter is ready to sit down with you and discuss all your options.
Dischargeable Debt in Chapters 7, 11, and 13
In bankruptcy, when the debtor receives a "discharge," he is she free from any obligation to repay certain debts. The scope of the discharge is different in each chapter. Taxes, family support, student loans, drunken driving judgments, criminal fines or restitution, or debts incurred by fraud or intentional wrongdoing generally are not dischargeable. Most other types of debts will be dischargeable, including loans, credit card debts, judgments, and medical bills. Secured loans, liens, and mortgages usually survive bankruptcy. As to home mortgages and often automobile loans, many debtors choose to "reaffirm" the debt and maintain their payments in order to keep the family house or car.
Chapter 11 is known as "reorganization" and discharge is granted when a plan for repayment is confirmed. When the debtor is a business entity, all debts are discharged and the only obligations the debtor has are those outlined in the plan.
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, commonly known as "wage earner" bankruptcy, only family support, fines, student loans, and drunken driving judgments are non-dischargeable. The Bankruptcy Code makes the Chapter 13 discharge more encompassing, to encourage individuals to use Chapter 13 to repay a portion of their debts. However, the Chapter 13 plan must provide for payment in full of priority taxes and past due support. Debts incurred by fraud or intentional wrongdoing may be discharged if the debtor can demonstrate the plan is proposed in "good faith." To file a petition under this chapter, the debtor will need a stable income with disposable income after the necessities are paid.