Welcome to the Christian M. Sternat, Attorney at Law website.
Bankruptcy is intended as a financial fresh start for people and businesses who find themselves too burdened with debt to recover without extraordinary measures. We expect that those who have accessed this website are suffering from financial pressures that threaten their homes, businesses and families. Bankruptcy is only one alternative to the accumulation of burdensome debts. Although Bankruptcy may be the appropriate solution to the problems brought on by unemployment, medical debt, mortgage arrears, or accumulated credit card debt, Bankruptcy should not be the first option chosen for solving these problems. If other means of debt resolution have not provided an answer to your personal difficulties, you may need to consider filing for relief under the United States Bankruptcy Code.
Christian M. Sternat is a knowledgeable Bankruptcy attorney, with over twenty years of experience in this field. With offices in Houston, Texas, Mr. Sternat has been board certified in Consumer Bankruptcy by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1988. Mr. Sternat has represented both debtors and creditors in matters before the United States Bankruptcy Courts.
Bankruptcy is a legal concept that is much older than the credit card banking practices of the late twentieth century. The founding fathers of this country, when drafting the United States Constitution, specifically designated that Bankruptcy should be a federal law. Hence, all the Bankruptcy Courts are federal courts. There are five different kinds of Bankruptcy that offer relief to the overburdened debtor.
CHAPTER 7 is a liquidation of debt. Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will allow an individual debtor to discharge his debts and retain the assets that the Texas and Federal laws designate as "exempt."
CHAPTER 9 is a municipal Bankruptcy. Yes, cities can file their own form of Bankruptcy.
CHAPTER 11 is a business reorganization. This is a form of Bankruptcy designed to offer protection to the business organization while it continues in operation and prepares a plan for reorganization.
CHAPTER 12 is a restructuring Bankruptcy for family owned farms and ranches.
CHAPTER 13 is a wage earners plan of repayment. Only people can file a chapter 13. Corporations and other business entities may file for relief under other chapters of the Code, but only people may file a Chapter 13. This form of Bankruptcy offers the wage earner consumer an opportunity to make his own plan to repay his debts and preserve certain assets that might be lost in a Chapter 7.
The kind of Bankruptcy that suits your needs depends upon your circumstances and goals. We strongly recommend that you consult an experienced attorney before deciding to file for any form of Bankruptcy relief.
Initial Consultation: There are several things that you should bring to your first meeting with Mr. Sternat. These include:
- A list of all your debts. Do not assume that some of your debts should not be listed, or that some debts are not dischargeable. Bring a list of all your debts.
- Your last three years of tax returns. The rules for taxes in Bankruptcy are complex and an understanding of your tax filings will help to resolve issues in any possible Bankruptcy filing.
- If you have owned a home or any real estate in the past six years, bring all the paperwork you have on the house or land and any mortgage.
- If you have any vehicle loans, bring the purchase and loan papers.
- If you have been divorced in the past six years, bring a copy of the divorce decree or any other papers from the divorce case. There are numerous issues that may arise in conflicts between divorce and Bankruptcy.
- If you have a judgment outstanding against you or if any lawsuit is pending, bring a copy of the judgment, petition, or other court papers filed in the suit.
- Copies of your last two paycheck stubs. If you are self-employed, copies of any profit and loss statements for your business for the past year.
In accordance with the provisions of the United States Bankruptcy Code, this attorney is required to advise you that he is a "debt relief agent" as that term is defined in the Code. Counsel provided by Mr. Sternat may include information regarding rights and remedies under the various chapters of the United States Bankruptcy Code.