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What to Know Before Filing for Bankruptcy

  • Although it might sound unbelievable, there is an associated charge to file for bankruptcy. 

  • When you file for bankruptcy, there is a public record kept, although this will not be published in the newspaper. 

  • You will have to attend court, as a part of the process, but it is highly unlikely that your creditors will turn up. 

  • Not all of your debts will be discharged, as certain debts such as court fines are exempt from bankruptcy. 

  • The majority of people who go through bankruptcy are allowed to keep their house and car. 

  • A bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years 

  • There are different types of bankruptcy, read more below this page.

  • Bankruptcy does not and is not intended to give you good credit. The purpose of bankruptcy is to clear out your bad credit. 

  • It will be a long hard process to rebuild your credit following a bankruptcy, but it can be done. 

  • There is nothing to be ashamed of, many people have been through bankruptcy before you, and many more will follow. 

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Types of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy takes many different forms, all of which have positive and negative consequences. It is important that you understand the different types of bankruptcy so that you can make an informed decision about which type best suits your individual situation.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is designed for consumers who are on a limited income. It is one of the most severe options, as it normally entails your possessions, including potentially your home and car being sold to repay your debts. It is sometimes referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy for this reason. If you would prefer to try to hold on to your home and car, or if your income is considered to be too high to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, then an alternative is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy differs from a Chapter 7 in a number of critical ways. It is often referred to as a wagearners or reorganization bankruptcy. This is because the main aim is to set up a repayment plan which will slowly eliminate any debts owed, versus selling off your assets. It is normally the preferred option for debtors whose income exceeds the limits imposed by a Chapter 7. This bankruptcy normally takes between three to five years to settle, as this is the normal time frame that most debtors propose to their lenders. There are, however, strict rules and eligibility requirements under Chapter 13. Businesses are exempt from filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy; it is only available for individuals or married couples. People filing for a Chapter 13 must follow certain procedures including filing all of the required documentation with the local bankruptcy court, paying the necessary filing fee, and then keeping up with the payments in accordance with the agreed repayment plan.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is typically filed by corporations who need to find a way to restructure their debts and assets. Businesses normally file Chapter 11 in order to give them some breathing space to restructure their debts. The aim is to give the business a fresh start, but entering into a Chapter 11 places strict obligations on the business which must be met.

Chapter 9 Bankruptcy

A chapter 9 bankruptcy, is one of the lesser-known forms of bankruptcy, but is an important option, for any establishments that are required to instigate it. Chapter 9 applies to cities and towns, counties, taxing districts such as hospital taxing authorities, municipal utilities, and school districts. As with most bankruptcies, the idea is to give the debtor more time to reorganize their finances. Options include the ability to extend the amount of time allowed to repay the debt, refinance, or potentially reduce the principal or interest.

Chapter 12 Bankruptcy

Chapter 12 Bankruptcy, is a type of bankruptcy, that is only available to family farmers or fishermen. It shares many traits with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but due to the fluctuations of the two industries involved is considerably more flexible than a Chapter 13. Chapter 12 is also much less complicated and cheaper to file for than Chapter 13.

Chapter 15 Bankruptcy

Chapter 15 essentially deals with foreign debtors. Its purpose is to give a foreign debtor who needs to file for bankruptcy in another country, a regulated method of gaining access to US Bankruptcy Courts. The purpose of this is to help them administer assets, and take action against any debtor who is resident in the United States. Chapter 15 is effectively the adoption by the United States of Uncitral (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law), which was created to deal with international bankruptcy issues.

Debts Not Eligible for Discharge Through Bankruptcy

  • Spousal Support Payments

  • Child Support Payments

  • Some Forms of Tax Debt

  • Student Loan Debt

Only File for Bankruptcy as a Last Resort

Many people are of the perception that filing for bankruptcy is a get out of jail free card, that allows people to simply wipe away their debts, and start again without any long-term consequences. This is simply not the case, as filing for bankruptcy can and does have some severe implications. A bankruptcy can appear on your credit file for up to ten years; it will seriously damage your credit rating and can prevent you from getting a mortgage for many years. It can also cause employment issues, and some people have even struggled to rent a property to live in as a result. Bankruptcy is one solution, and it is an excellent option for anyone who has exhausted all other avenues, but it is important to understand that it should be viewed as a last resort when all else has failed.

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