1. Deadlines are critical in bankruptcy court. The regulations for this process are very complex, can be technical, and all case deadlines must be met. Failing to file the appropriate forms or documentation on time could result in your case being dismissed or delayed. If your case is dismissed you could lose your filing fees and have to start over again from the beginning.
2. New federal regulations passed in 2005 make it harder to qualify for complete debt elimination. The Bankruptcy Code was changed in 2005 to make it more difficult for consumers to wipe out debt completely if there are resources available to pay these obligations. Many consumers who would have qualified for a Chapter 7 discharge before these changes must now use Chapter 13 instead, which involves repayment of some of your debts. This is determined using the Means Test.
3. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy includes a repayment plan that must be filed with the bankruptcy court. The court will determine exactly what income and expenses you have, and then calculate the reasonable expenses and monthly repayment amount for your case. This plan must be submitted to the court and confirmed.
4. Representing yourself in bankruptcy court can be a big mistake. The laws regarding bankruptcy can be very confusing, and many common errors could cost you a chance at a new financial start. An experienced attorney can help you determine the right exemptions, represent you at hearings and meetings with creditors, and get the best results possible for you.
5. Bankruptcy court is a court which exclusively deals with bankruptcy cases. These courts are located around the United States, and they only handle bankruptcy cases and matters related to this legal area.
6. The bankruptcy court will appoint a trustee in your case. This trustee will be responsible for overseeing your specific case and ensuring that all of the documentation is filed. The trustee is not in favor of either the consumer or creditors, but is an officer of the court instead.
7. Choosing the right attorney to represent you in bankruptcy court is important and can affect the outcome of your case. You want a lawyer who will aggressively defend you and work hard to overcome any objections that may be presented by your creditors or the trustee. Experience is also important, so you want an attorney who is very knowledgeable in bankruptcy law.
8. The penalties for lying or hiding assets in a case can be severe. The bankruptcy court judge has the authority to dismiss your case, order fines and penalties deemed appropriate, or even have perjury or other criminal charges filed against you. It is essential that you are completely honest in all your dealings with the court to avoid any sanctions or penalties.
9. The exemptions you claim in bankruptcy court will affect whether or not your property can be seized and sold to pay creditors. The laws of each state are different. An experienced attorney can help you determine whether to use the federal or state exemptions, or whether a combination of these two are better in your specific case.
10. A discharge is the order issued by the bankruptcy court when your case is completely finished and closed out. Usually any debts that have not been repaid are eliminated in the process unless you have reaffirmed your obligation.
Call Firebaugh & Andrews for your free evaluation, with over 50 years combined experience they can make sure you make the right decision.