The Bankruptcy Process in Florida
What to Expect When You Plan to File
Taking the first step to pursue bankruptcy can be unnerving. How can you know if this is the right option for you? What will happen to your credit score? Will you ever be able recover financially? While all very common questions, the best place to start for answers is to consult with a seasoned bankruptcy lawyer. The Golden Law Group can provide the guidance you need during this complex and often overwhelming time.
When you reach out to the firm, they make sure you are given the reliable, trustworthy, and personalized support you deserve.
What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal process by which a debtor (someone owing money) can file for court protection from creditors seeking repayment of loans. Bankruptcy laws in the United States trace their origins back to bankruptcy laws in England, as far back as 1542, under Henry VIII. The earliest U.S. Congress enacted bankruptcy laws to protect Americans in the new republic from creditors seeking to reclaim property, often under very harsh terms of loan agreements. As a nation, we have always placed a priority on helping people get a fresh start and a second chance.
As bankruptcy laws evolved and changed over the past 200 years, creditors such as banks and private lenders (including credit card companies) have sought to place a stigma on people who have needed to take advantage of court protection. Naturally, creditors don't want to willingly give up their right to collect on the money they have loaned, but collectors often went too far, leading to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) of 1977, in an effort to regulate a collections industry that was beginning to use harsh harassing tactics to scare debtors into paying their bills.
It is important to remember that bankruptcy is a legal process, involving the U.S. federal court system and an appointed judge and trustees. That means that both sides are guaranteed equal protection under the law. When you are filing for bankruptcy, you are petitioning the court to eliminate or consolidate your debts, to protect you from further legal action by your creditors.
The court must review your petition and decide whether your case has merit to proceed, just like any lawsuit. Your petition is not an automatic approval to walk away from your debts. Your creditors will work equally hard to protect themselves from losing the money they loaned you. Yes, they will have their day in court, too (known as the Creditors' Hearing for Chapter 7 debt elimination bankruptcy and the Plan and Confirmation Hearing for Chapter 13 debt consolidation).
Before you begin the process with the firm, review the steps below:
- Step #1: Set up your free consultation with the firm and discuss whether or not bankruptcy is the right option for your financial situation. During this time, you can ask questions, share your story, and find out what chapter of bankruptcy or debt solution may be best for your case.
- Step #2: If it is determined that bankruptcy is the best option for your case, you can move forward with The Golden Law Group. They will provide you with a packet of forms and information that you can review and fill out at home. One of their legal assistants will go over your paperwork with you to ensure it is correct.
- Step #3: Before anything is submitted, your lawyer from the firm will carefully review the documents and make sure that everything is in order and nothing is overlooked. Once any necessary changes or updates have been made, you can sign your papers and move towards the next step.
- Step #4: Once you have signed the papers, your official petition for bankruptcy will be filed with the court.
- Step #5: Sometime in the next 10 days, you will get a response from the court. This will include a date for a meeting with your creditors and the bankruptcy trustee. During this meeting, you may be asked questions about your income, debts, and expenses. Creditors also have the option to protest your filling.
- Step #6: If you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there will be a 30-day period in which the trustee may object and a 60-day period during which your creditors may object. If they fail to make any objection before the deadlines pass, your approved debts will become discharged. In Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the trustee will make sure the proposed plan is realistic and all information is accurate before approving. If the trustee or any of your creditors find it unreasonable, they may object.
Understanding the Types of Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the preferred petition for people wishing to discharge their unsecured consumer debts, such as credit card debt. But not everyone qualifies. In response to an increase of Chapter 7 filings over the past decade, laws were passed to ensure that only individuals who meet a strict eligibility requirement will qualify. Petitioners must complete a means test to determine if Chapter 7 will be permitted. (If the debtor is found to have disposable income under the means test, abuse of the system will be assumed and it is unlikely that the debtor will be able to file for Chapter 7.)
Many people file Chapter 13, which allows the petitioner to consolidate all debt, including student loans and government debt into a restructured monthly payment plan, supervised by the court. Chapter 13 is often the preferred option for people who can meet their debt obligations, but are hampered by excessive interest rates, late fees and penalties. Chapter 13 debt consolidation is typically a three or five-year plan that can save the petitioner thousands of dollars in total repayment. It is also possible to discharge some debt under Chapter 13.
Contact a Bankruptcy Lawyer Today
When you hire a bankruptcy lawyer from The Golden Law Group to guide you through the bankruptcy process, you can rest assured knowing that your case is in good hands. Not only do they go above and beyond to help you restore your financial situation, but they also offer a free credit report follow-up 90 days after your debt has been discharged to ensure your profile has been accurately updated. That is truly client-centered service.
Do not hesitate to schedule your free consultation with the firm if you are ready for the bankruptcy process.