You don’t have to face to bankruptcy alone. A Tampa bankruptcy attorney can help you understand your rights as well as the process for properly filing bankruptcy. Before you get another nagging creditor phone call or spend another month behind on your bills, learn more about how bankruptcy works below.
What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy provides a legal way for you (the debtor) to file paperwork with the bankruptcy court and get protection from creditors, as well as ask the court to eliminate your debt. This paperwork is called a petition and outlines information about your personal and financial situation. The bankruptcy process, when done correctly, can provide people with a “fresh start”.
The bankruptcy discharge is the ultimate goal of bankruptcy. This is the court order that officially eliminates your debts. The majority of people just like you that file for bankruptcy receive a discharge. But it is not guaranteed. The court must review your petition and decide whether your case has merit to proceed, just like any lawsuit.
What Happens to My Creditors in Bankruptcy?
It is important to remember that bankruptcy is a legal process and involves the U.S. federal court system. Creditors do have some rights in bankruptcy, but they are often minimal. It seems logical that creditors don’t want to give up their rights to collect money you owe. However, bankruptcy affords you protection. Once you file your petition, the automatic stay goes into effect immediately. This prevents your creditors from contacting you, collecting on unsecured debt or continuing lawsuits and garnishments. In most cases the stay lasts for the duration of your bankruptcy. Creditors may try to file court papers to stop the stay, but your Tampa bankruptcy attorney will know how to handle these matters. Once you receive your discharge, creditors are forever barred from contacting you about it.
Do I Have to Go to Court?
After you complete and review your petition with your Tampa bankruptcy attorney, you will file it with the court. The court will then schedule a hearing called the Meeting of Creditors. This is a hearing that you must attend. You will meet with your the trustee assigned to your case and answer questions about your personal and financial information contained in your petition. You will be very prepared for this meeting because your Tampa bankruptcy attorney will explain the process to you and attend the meeting with you.
What Is the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?
There are two types of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 debt elimination bankruptcy and Chapter 13 debt consolidation. Chapter 7 is the quickest, and often preferred, choice for those that want to discharge consumer debt quickly. There is a disposable income qualification test called the means test that will determine if you qualify for Chapter 7.
Chapter 13 consolidation is used for individuals that have too much disposable income to file Chapter 7 or have other needs, such as stopping a foreclosure. Chapter 13 requires debtors to submit a 3-5 year plan to the court which outlines what you will pay and what may be discharged upon completion of the plan. The plan requires court approval.
To determine what type of bankruptcy might be best for you, contact our firm for a free consultation to discuss your options with a Tampa bankruptcy attorney.
Consult With a Tampa Bankruptcy Attorney
At The Golden Law Group, we work with our clients to help them understand bankruptcy and what it means for you. We look forward to speaking with you and being your chosen Tampa bankruptcy attorney.