BankruptcyOur attorneys have a combined 150 years experience practicing before the United States Bankruptcy Courts. We have filed tens of thousands of bankruptcy cases for consumers. We have the experience to see to it that whatever situations arise during your case, you are represented by an attorney with the tools to bring you the best result.
When you are unable to meet your obligations the burdens of debt can be destructive. Filing bankruptcy is a way to discharge your debt and get a fresh start. Nearly all of our clients find that they can keep their home, cars, retirement savings, and their other assets. Bankruptcy just allows them a fresh start and peace of mind.
Many people with debt problems find that the need to file bankruptcy is only part of their legal problems. Our representation of our bankruptcy clients is not limited to filing the bankruptcy. We routinely file lawsuits against creditors who harass our clients before, during or after a bankruptcy is filed. We work with our clients to insure that their credit reports are accurate after their bankruptcy is complete. Whatever problems you are having with a creditor before, during or after a bankruptcy can be handled by our firm.
When You File BankruptcyYou can choose the kind of bankruptcy that best meets your needs (provided you meet certain qualifications):
- Chapter 7 - A trustee is appointed to take over your property. Any property of value will be sold or turned into money to pay your creditors. You may be able to keep some personal items and possibly real estate depending on the law of the state where you live and applicable federal laws.
- Chapter 13 - You can usually keep your property, but you must earn wages or have some other source of regular income and you must agree to pay part of your income to your creditors. The court must approve your repayment plan and your budget. A trustee is appointed and will collect the payments from you, pay your creditors, and make sure you live up to the terms of your repayment plan.
- Chapter 12 - Like Chapter 13, but it is only for family farmers and family fishermen.
- Chapter 11 - This is used mostly by businesses. In Chapter 11, you may continue to operate your business, but your creditors and the court must approve a plan to repay your debts. There is no trustee unless the judge decides that one is necessary. If a trustee is appointed, the trustee takes control of your business and property.
What Is a Bankruptcy Discharge and How Does It Operate?One of the reasons people file bankruptcy is to receive a discharge. A discharge is a court order which states that you do not have to pay most of your debts. Some debts cannot be discharged. For example, you cannot discharge debts for:
- most taxes;
- child support;
- most student loans;
- court fines and criminal restitution; and
- personal injury caused by driving drunk or driving under the influence of drugs.
It is important to list all your property and debts in your bankruptcy schedules. If you do not list a debt it is possible the debt will not be discharged. The judge can also deny your discharge if you do something dishonest in connection with your bankruptcy case, such as destroying or hiding property, falsifying records, lying, or if you disobey a court order.
You can only receive a Chapter 7 discharge once every eight years. Other rules may apply if you previously received a discharge in a Chapter 13 case. No one can make you pay a debt that has been discharged, but you can voluntarily pay any debt you wish to pay. You do not have to sign a reaffirmation agreement (see below) or any other kind of document to do this.
Some creditors hold a secured claim (e.g., the bank that holds the mortgage on your house or the loan company that has a lien on your car). You do not have to pay a secured claim if the debt is discharged but the creditor may take the property.
To find out more about the different chapters of bankruptcy, click here.