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Our Orlando Lawyers Answer Your Bankruptcy Questions

If you are considering bankruptcy, you know you need help, but you probably have many questions. Here, we’ll answer some of the basics to help you get started. When you are ready to talk to a lawyer, we offer a free initial consultation.

Attorney Jeffrey Badgley brings 35 years of legal experience to your case. He can answer all your questions and properly file your bankruptcy petition to help you make the most of this opportunity to get out from under your debts. Call our Orlando office at 407-686-1819 to make an appointment.

  • A Chapter 7 filing provides a clean slate so the debtor can begin rebuilding their finances afresh.
  • Wages earned and property acquired after a bankruptcy filing are shielded from creditors and the court-appointed trustee.
  • You get immediate protection from wage garnishment and creditor collection actions
  • It’s quick. A discharge is usually received within three to six months of filing.

The disadvantages:

  • Nonexempt assets are taken over by the trustee and sold.
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy can only temporarily prevent home foreclosure.
  • Co-signers of your loans may be required to continue repaying the debt unless they, too, file bankruptcy.
  • You cannot file another Chapter 7 bankruptcy until eight years after receiving a discharge.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Chapter 13 filing?

The advantages:

  • A Chapter 13 filing allows you to keep both exempt and nonexempt property.
  • It gives immediate protection from wage garnishment and creditor collection actions.
  • Debt co-signers are immune from creditors if the plan is geared toward full payment.
  • You are protected from home foreclosure as long as you stick to the plan.

The disadvantages:

  • It ties up your income and provides little flexibility over the course of the repayment plan.
  • It’s more complex than Chapter 7 and thus involves higher legal fees.
  • Your debt is not discharged for at least another three years.
  • You are under the supervision of the bankruptcy court for the next three to five years.

For Chapter 13 filing, our team at Badgley Law Group may allow our attorney fees to be paid as part of the bankruptcy repayment plan in case you cannot afford to raise the funds right after filing. This flexibility is vital since the bankruptcy proceedings are already a marker of your financial strain. The last thing you need is even more monetary pressure.

There is no legal obligation for married couples to file either joint or individual petitions. Both are acceptable. It is, however, important to note that filing jointly does not exempt either partner from fulfilling all requirements.

For the vast majority of bankruptcy cases, the debtor’s only appearance in court will be attending the brief and one-off 341 meeting. This is supposed to be a meeting with the trustee and creditors, though, in reality, creditors rarely attend. However, if there’s a dispute over the facts of the case, a judge may require you to appear before them at a hearing. You will be notified of the date and time of the hearing.

Bankruptcy proceedings prohibit creditors from harassing you. However, even before you file for bankruptcy, certain creditor actions are prohibited under federal and state law. For instance, creditors are barred from using or threatening violence, using abusive language, publishing or threatening to publish a “deadbeat list” that includes you, communicating to you with unreasonable frequency, contacting you between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., communicating with you while knowing you are now represented by an attorney, etc.

When you file bankruptcy, it is best that you notify all creditors in writing and providing them with the case details, including case name, number and filing date. The court does send out notices to creditors. This may take a couple of weeks, though. If a creditor continues with collection measures, you can pursue legal action to obtain a specific court order prohibiting them from any further activity. If this does not stop them, either, the court would judge the creditor to be in contempt of court and fine them accordingly.

Yes. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that bankruptcy be reflected in the consumer’s credit report for 10 years after the filing. This is three years more than the seven years mandated for other types of credit default information. Your credit score will certainly be impaired. Nevertheless, this will not necessarily prevent you from accessing credit. Lenders will usually assign greater weight to your current financial circumstances. Actually, persons who file bankruptcy often have serious credit problems already due to missed payments, repossessions, judgments and collection accounts. Therefore, your credit score may improve not long after filing. Some or all the overdue debts will be discharged and credit reporting agencies will be advised that they are no longer outstanding. A foreclosure is a much bigger impediment to your ability to buy a home in the future than bankruptcy is.

That is unlikely. A bankruptcy filing is not a secret document. However, it is not easy for someone to find it unless they are actively searching for it and know exactly where to look. The court database is not crawled by major search engines such as Google and Bing. This means a Google search for your name will not bring up your bankruptcy as part of the results. That would only happen if you are a famous person and a news website or Wikipedia page reported on it.

Your credit report will be available to potential employers (only with your permission, nevertheless). In addition, some of the debts you may be requesting to be discharged of could have been provided or arranged by your employer. That could raise concerns of discrimination by a current or future employer.

Fortunately, most government arms are prohibited from treating persons who have filed for bankruptcy differently. In addition, private entities cannot fire or otherwise discriminate against an individual for filing bankruptcy or being discharged of their debts.

A creditor workout is a formal, negotiated debt modification that doesn’t involve a bankruptcy filing. It is an agreement between a debtor and his or her creditors on debt repayment. Workouts may be compositions, extensions or both. Compositions are contracts in which the creditor accepts partial payment in exchange for the complete satisfaction of their debt claim. Extensions extend the period within which the debtor may make payment for their claim.

The key disadvantage of credit workouts is that they are voluntary, which means creditors who do not agree with the terms can still continue to pursue collection action. This is unlike bankruptcy, where all creditors must abide by the orders of the bankruptcy judge.

Regrettably, the debt management industry has been infiltrated by agencies that make unfounded claims. Most credit repair services lack the authorization to practice law. Unlike bankruptcy proceedings, credit repair depends on the voluntary agreement of creditors to accept a lump sum in exchange for reducing the overall debt. This means that the creditors can still continue with collection action.

Credit repair services may not be worth it, especially when you consider that they may actually cost more than hiring an Orlando bankruptcy lawyer right off the bat.

A reaffirmation agreement allows you to keep secured debt such as a car loan or mortgage. It is a commitment by a debtor to their creditor that they will pay part or all the money owed despite filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The creditor, in turn, commits to not repossess the debt’s collateral as long as payments are being made. To qualify for a reaffirmation agreement, your repayments for the specific secured debt must be current.

Delayed or failed payment under a Chapter 13 repayment plan can happen. If you anticipate that you cannot make a payment on time, contact the trustee immediately by phone and in writing. Indicate what is the cause of delay and your assessment of whether the problem is temporary or permanent. If the problem is temporary, advise on when and how the delayed payment will be made. If the trustee is fine with it, that should settle the matter as long as you pay on or before the agreed date.

On the other hand, if the problem is long-term and you no longer have the ability to pay in accordance with the plan, the trustee will request of the bankruptcy court a dismissal of the case or conversion to another bankruptcy chapter (usually Chapter 7). You may also request a modification of the repayment plan to accommodate your new circumstances.

There are no required qualifications or standards for paralegals and petition preparers. Only an attorney is allowed to offer legal advice, represent a debtor in court and write legal documents on the debtor’s behalf. Orlando has many bankruptcy paralegals and petition preparers who, oddly, may levy even higher retainers than lawyers.

It depends. If you have received a discharge under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you cannot file Chapter 7 bankruptcy for the next eight years or Chapter 13 bankruptcy for the next four years. If you have received a discharge under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you cannot file Chapter 7 bankruptcy for the next six years or Chapter 13 bankruptcy for the next two years.

Some debts cannot be discharged, including alimony, child support, student loans, most taxes, liability for DUI death or injury, criminal fines, court restitution orders and debts from fraud, embezzlement and breach of trust. There are rare exceptions. For instance, a court may discharge a student loan if the debtor shows that repayment will impose serious hardship on themselves and their dependents.

At the end of each month, compare your expenses against your total income. If the expenses exceed your income or if the difference is too small to help you accumulate a significant savings buffer over time, identify expenses that are unnecessary and that you need to cut back on. You can also contact a professional financial adviser or get in touch with a reputable, not-for-profit organization such as Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS).

More Questions? Arrange A Free Consultation.

Our lawyers can address your specific questions about debt relief through bankruptcy. We serve Orlando and central Florida. Schedule your free initial consultation at 407-686-1819 or contact us by email.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.