As in any court, individuals have a right to represent themselves before the Bankruptcy Court. However, bankruptcy is a complex area and involves many considerations, including whether to file, the election of the appropriate chapter, use of exemptions, understanding all protections of the Bankruptcy Code and using them to your advantage. The right decision for you depends on an evaluation of your family status, your assets, your obligations and other factors. An attorney can explain to you how the process works and can help you reach an intelligent decision. Our attorneys have the necessary experience, knowledge, and skill in this area of Florida law.
Bankruptcy is a process by which consumers can eliminate or repay some, or all, of their debts under the protection of the federal bankruptcy court. Generally, bankruptcy takes one of two forms — liquidation or reorganization.
In the short term, bankruptcy prevents continued efforts by creditors to collect debts. In the long term, bankruptcy can eliminate repayment obligations or provide for a restructuring of the debtor’s obligations, thus enabling the debtor to obtain a fresh start.
It is often said that bankruptcy should be a “last resort” for financially troubled consumers. This advice is oversimplified. In some cases, legal rights can be lost by delay. It is especially important to get early advice about bankruptcy if you are hoping to use the bankruptcy process to help save a home or a car.
Many consumers are able to obtain credit after filing bankruptcy. You also may be concerned that you may be discriminated against for having filed bankruptcy. However, in most cases “governmental units” are not permitted to discriminate on this basis. Further, private employers may not terminate employment or discriminate with respect to employment based upon a bankruptcy filing or discharged debts.
What bankruptcy can and cannot do
Bankruptcy may make it possible for you to:
- Eliminate the legal obligation to pay most or all debts. This provision is called a “discharge,” which is designed to give the debtor a fresh financial start.
- Stop foreclosure on a home and allow you an opportunity to cure a default.
- Prevent repossession of an automobile or other personal property.
- Stop wage garnishment, debt collection harassment and other similar collection activities.
- Lower monthly payments on some debts, including some secured debts such as mortgages or car loans.
Bankruptcy, however, cannot cure every financial problem. In bankruptcy, it usually is not possible to:
- Modify certain rights of secured creditors. Although you can force secured creditors to take payments over time in the bankruptcy process to cure a default, some secured creditors are afforded protection from other modifications of the loan terms.
- Discharge certain types of debts singled out by the Bankruptcy Code for special treatment, such as child support, alimony, most student loans, court restitution orders, criminal fines and most taxes.
- Protect all co-signers on their debts. When a relative or friend has co-signed a loan and the debtor discharges the loan in bankruptcy, the co-signor may still have an obligation to repay all or part of the loan.
- Discharge debts that are incurred after bankruptcy has been filed.
Types of bankruptcy:
There are six basic types of bankruptcy cases provided under the Bankruptcy Code. The cases are traditionally given the names of the chapters that describe them. Determining which type of bankruptcy to file is based upon analysis of numerous factors, including income, assets, debt, type of debt and the consumer’s goal in filing bankruptcy, among other factors. Most consumers, however, will file bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Please contact us for a free consultation with our dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys to help you with your legal needs. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at (305) 442-1439. To reach us via email, please fill out our online contact form available under the “Contact Us” tab, and a member of our staff will contact you promptly. We look forward to serving you.