What is the difference between Bankruptcy and Debtor's Court?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is what most people are thinking of when they talk about Bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, a debtor can discharge (eliminate) some or all debts.
Debtor's Court is the name for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It is a type of bankruptcy in which debt is consolidated and paid back over a period of up to 5 years.
Do I have to put everything in a bankruptcy or Debtor's Court?
In either type of bankruptcy, all of your debts must be disclosed. However, in a Chapter 7, if you are wanting to keep a secured item (like a house or a car) you may be able to do this by coming to an agreement with the creditor in what is known as a reaffirmation agreement.
In a Chapter 13, it may be possible to list the item, but still pay for it outside the plan. Contact us to set up a free consultation and discuss your issues in detail.
Will I lose everything if I file a Chapter 7?
The answer to this question depends on your situation. Most people do not lose everything. There are "exemptions" which allow you to keep some personal property. Often debtors will be able to keep a house and/or cars by signing a reaffirmation agreement with the creditor. Contact us to set up a free consultation and discuss your issues in detail.
Can anything stop me from filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
Yes, there are several things that could prevent you from being able to file. Some of these are:
- Failing the means test (a test that compares your income to that of others in Alabama)
- Receiving a discharge in a previous Chapter 7 case in the past 8 years
- Receiving a discharge from a previous Chapter 13 case in the past 6 years
- Trying to cheat your creditors
If you cannot file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may still qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (Debtor's Court). Contact us to set up a free consultation and discuss your issues in detail.
Do I have to have a Credit Counseling Course before I file?
Yes, you will have to take a course before you file. However, you do NOT need to take the course before you come to see us. (The court does not accept every course out there. We will help you take the course from an approved agency).
Will I have to go to court?
Yes, you will have to go to court. In either type of case you will have to go to court at least one time about 30 days after your case is filed. In a Chapter 7, there is usually only one court appearance. In a Chapter 13, there are usually 2 court appearances, but this could vary depending on the issues in your case.
How long does a case usually last?
A Chapter 7 case usually lasts about 4 months from the time your case is filed until the time you get your discharge (the paper indicating the case is over).
A Chapter 13 case can last up to 5 years. When you come in for a free consultation, we will determine the appropriate length of your case.
What will happen to my credit rating?
A Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. However, after the bankruptcy is over, most people can re-establish their credit within about a year and a half to 2 years.
What documents do I need to bring with me to my free consultation?
- Pay stubs for the last 90 days for you and your spouse. (Even if only one spouse is filing, we will need the stubs for both spouses so that we can determine your income).
- Tax returns (or a transcript) for the last 2 years.
- If you own a home or other real property, a copy of the tax assessor's statement.
- A copy of the most recent bill or statement for each creditor.
- Copies of lawsuits, judgments, or garnishments.