Is Bankruptcy the Answer?
The bankruptcy laws are designed primarily to help individuals, farms or businesses repay debts over time, or receive a discharge of certain debts and start fresh. Every situation is different, so bankruptcy does not work the same for everyone. There are many events which trigger the need for bankruptcy. The most common are, loss of a job, injury or illness which require large medical expenses, divorce or separation. It is important to realize that some circumstances are beyond our control. What we can control are ways to help ourselves repair our damaged financial situation. The law affords a certain amount of protection from creditors while the mending occurs.
Bankruptcy can help you eliminate your obligation to pay most or all of your unsecured debts. This is called a "discharge" of debts. It is designed to give you a fresh financial start. Unsecured debt is debt that is not backed up by property (like a mortgage or a car loan).
It can stop foreclosure on your house or mobile home and allow you an opportunity to catch up on missed payments. See Chapter 13. Bankruptcy does not, however, normally eliminate mortgages and other liens on your property without payment.
You may prevent repossession of a car or other property, or force the creditor to return property even after it has been repossessed. Bankruptcy can stop wage garnishment, debt collection harassment, and similar creditor actions to collect a debt. Once a bankruptcy is filed, creditors may not take any action to collect a debt, or taking control of your property. If a creditor deliberately violates this stay, you may request that the Court stop them.
Bankruptcy cannot, however, cure every financial problem. Nor is it the right step for every individual. In bankruptcy, it is usually not possible to:
- Eliminate certain rights of secured creditors. A secured creditor has taken a mortgage or other lien on property as collateral for the loan. Common examples are car loans and home mortgages. You can force secured creditors to take payments over time in the bankruptcy process and bankruptcy can eliminate your obligation to pay any additional money if your property is taken. Nevertheless, you generally cannot keep the collateral unless you continue to pay the debt.
- Discharge certain types of debt, such as child support, alimony, certain other debts related to divorce, some student loans, court restitution orders, criminal fines, and most taxes and debts incurred to pay taxes.
- Protect cosigners on your debts. When a relative or friend has co-signed a loan, and the consumer discharges the loan in bankruptcy, the cosigner may still have to repay all or part of the loan. In a chapter 13 case, the creditor will be prevented from collecting on a consumer debt during the plan. See Chapter 13.
Call 1-802-388-1156 for more information.