Brief Comments on Consumer Bankruptcy
WHY FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY?
A new start for the honest debtor is the stated purpose for bankruptcy. Income is far less stable than debt. My experience has taught me that optimism about the future is a primary cause of bankruptcy. But there is nothing wrong with optimism, even if things didn't happen as expected. If you can benefit from a fresh start, call today to begin a life without creditor calls, late payment fees,wage garnishments, foreclosure proceeding, and most importantly, the stress that accompanies financial instability. We are here to facilitate the process for you, giving you the time to enjoy your debt-free life.
THE AUTOMATIC STAY
The first usual benefit of filing a bankruptcy petition under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the law which requires an automatic stay, which stops most collection efforts while the bankruptcy case is pending. As the name implies, the stay is automatic and comes into existence immediately upon filing the petition.
An automatic stay usually STOPS:
- Creditor Phone Calls
- Law Suits
- Repossession Efforts
- Acts to perfect a lien
- Driver's license suspension under FL. financial responsibility law.
The automatic stay is temporary, assuming there hasn't been any prior court orders or bankruptcy filings affecting the stay, and that the bankruptcy filing is valid. The stay provides protection from most creditors during the bankruptcy process. If and when a discharge is entered, the stay is replaced by a permanent injunction against attempts to collect debts that have been discharged.
If a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Petition is filed, a Trustee will be assigned to the case. An important function of a Trustee is to administer the bankruptcy estate. In a Chapter 7, that means liquidating the non-exempt assets, if any, and paying creditors their share with the funds from liquidation. In a Chapter 13, the Trustee collects the Chapter 13 Plan payments and distributes the funds to the creditors pursuant to a confirmed plan.
The Trustees do have other functions and may file various motions in the case. The Trustees working the cases in the Tampa Division are, in my opinion, good people who attain to be fair and unbiased. But they have a job to do, and their view of what should be done may be different from the Petitioner's (your) view. Consequently, a Trustee in bankruptcy can be like a built-in adversary. An experienced attorney is usually able to resolve issues with the Trustee, and more importantly, prevent issues from arising in the first place.
A discharge in bankruptcy terminates the legal obligation to pay the debts that are discharged. It also prevents creditors from making any attempts to collect discharged debts. However, liens are not discharged. It is only the personal obligation to pay that may be discharged.
If you are considering arranging your own affairs or filing a bankruptcy petition on your own behalf, consult with an attorney that deals with bankruptcy issues on a regular basis. We offer free consultations. Mistakes can be costly and may exceed the fees charged by an attorney. What may seem to be good bankruptcy planning by one may be called bankruptcy fraud by another.As the old adage goes, the client who represents him/herself has a fool for a client.
An attorney admitted to practice in the Bankruptcy Court where you file will represent you in court and at the meeting of the creditors. A non-lawyer bankruptcy petition preparer cannot represent you.
A good place to start researching bankruptcy is the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Several links are provided below. Please bear in mind that bankruptcy research requires far more than you will find here, or from any single source. We believe in education, but advice should come from a competent lawyer after consultation. We provide this information at no cost to you at your initial consultation.
Links to the Court and Applicable Codes
United States Bankruptcy Court Middle District of Florida
Bankruptcy Court Local Rules Middle District of Florida
The U.S. Bankruptcy Code, Cornell University
The U.S. Bankruptcy Code, American Bankruptcy Institute
The Bankruptcy Code, BAPCPA, redlined version PDF
Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure
Median Income Table, U.S. Trustee Program
Statistics of bankruptcy filings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida