When you’re faced with financial hardship, you may consider filing for bankruptcy. While it’s not for everyone, and there are some negative connotations associated with it, it may be your best option at this point. Understandably, you probably have a lot of questions. The following are four common questions and answers about bankruptcy.
What Is the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
As you go to file bankruptcy, you may begin to hear terms you don’t understand. “Chapter 7” and “Chapter 13” might be some of those terms, so which should you choose?
- Chapter 7 – This type of bankruptcy is for individuals whose monthly expenses are higher than their monthly income, whose income is lower than the state’s median family income or who do not have assets they’re intent on keeping. With Chapter 7, many debts are discharged and eliminated because there’s no way they could get paid back.
- Chapter 13 – This type of bankruptcy is for individuals whose monthly expenses are lower than their monthly income. With Chapter 13, individuals are required to make a plan that will get their debts paid back within 60 months.
Do I Have to Go to Court?
People who file for bankruptcy will need to attend court. At the First Meeting of Creditors, a bankruptcy trustee will preside over the meeting. He or she will ask a lot of questions about your situation and your creditors will be allowed to ask questions at this hearing as well. If you have filed Chapter 7, often times creditors do not show up, and this is also often the only hearing you’ll have to attend. If you have filed Chapter 13, you’ll be responsible for returning to court to appear before a bankruptcy judge.
Can a Judge Dismiss My Petition for Bankruptcy?
Judges do have the authority to dismiss your petition for bankruptcy. If a judge determines that your income or assets are enough to repay your debts, and you have filed Chapter 7, he or she may instead convert the filing to Chapter 13 and accept the petition. A judge could also dismiss the case due to a previous case dismissal or a previous Chapter 7 discharge within the last eight years.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Yes! Having a lawyer by your side is one of the best ways to ensure your case is handled appropriately. Your lawyer can help you collect evidence and present your case in court. If you are faced with bankruptcy, contact a chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer like The Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, P.L., to see what you need to do to get the process started.