Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules have become much more complicated in recent years. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law in 2005, strengthened existing laws and created some new Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules. |
It is a good idea to understand just what this type of case can and cannot do for your burden of debt. Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules require that you either earn less than your state's annual median level or you prove your insolvency through a formula designed by the federal government to test your financial means. No type of debt relief can get rid of future bills, child support, alimony, recent tax bills, most student loans, bills charged right before you formally declared yourself as bankrupt, court fines, or any debts related to your criminal actions such as driving while intoxicated or committing embezzlement.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules require you to attend two sessions of credit counseling; one session must be completed through a federally-approved firm before you or your attorney can even file paperwork asking for you to be declared as bankrupt. The second session, which also must be completed through a federally-licensed credit counseling company, is required before a judge will finalize your request to go bankrupt.
You still do not need a lawyer, but it is always a good idea to try to get some type of legal assistance. Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules have always been complicated even for seasoned attorneys; the situation has only worsened since the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act became law. Even if you retain an attorney, you must attend at least one hearing at your nearest federal courthouse. The 341 hearing or meeting of creditors gives those people to whom you owe money a chance to object to your claim that you cannot pay them as promised. In most cases, no one shows up to protest a debtor's financial situation at a 341 hearing.
Once you get past the meeting of creditors, it could take a few weeks to a few months for a judge to finalize your request. Unless you lied about your assets and liabilities or made mistakes in the paperwork, a judge will likely approve your request. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules, you want your case discharged and not dismissed. Discharged means the judge eliminated your legal obligation to pay the debts you included in your case paperwork. Dismissed means the judge denied your request and you will have to start the process again if you still want to go bankrupt.
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