Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition and going through the stages of making payments and discharging your debt can be overwhelming without the assistance of a legal professional. A Chattanooga bankruptcy lawyer could guide you through this process and ensure that you meet the requirements for every step. It can be crucial to engage legal representation long before you actually file a petition, so if you are currently debating making a bankruptcy claim, you may benefit from consulting an attorney as soon as possible.
For any bankruptcy case, the first thing that an individual should do is to sit down with a lawyer and determine which chapter of bankruptcy is right for them. A knowledgeable attorney could lay out all of the debtor’s options and offer the advantages and disadvantages of each, depending on their specific circumstances.
For example, a debtor may be in a financial crunch because they have assets at risk, and then an emergency bankruptcy has to be filed. If the case proves to be a normal bankruptcy and there is not an emergency, the most important thing to do is collect the fees and all of the documentation that has to be submitted with the petition, such as pay records and tax returns.
It will also be important is to start putting together a plan that will make sense pursuant to the bankruptcy code. For example, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy essentially requires the debtor to pay back their debt within either three or five years. In this case, the debtor and their lawyer have to decide what is reasonable and what payment amount the debtor can actually make. Once they start making those payments, they have to make them every single month or their case can either be dismissed or the bankruptcy trustee may recommend conversion to a Chapter 7, which costs more money.
Assuming that everything is in order and the court accepts the petition, the first thing that happens after a debtor files for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that all the creditors are notified. An automatic stay is imposed, which prevents the creditors from harassing the debtor about their outstanding debts. Then, the court will set a date for a meeting of creditors. In Chapter 13 case, after the meeting of creditors, the court will decide whether to accept, reject or modify the plan that has been proposed by the debtor.
A meeting of creditors typically happens between four and six weeks after filing a petition, but this time frame can be affected by outside factors such as the number of filings that the court has received in that period. An experienced attorney in the area could walk a debtor through the bankruptcy process after the initial petition has been filed and help them solidify their payment plan if the court accepts it.
The process of filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition can be complicated and time-consuming, and it is important to have someone who is familiar with this area of law at your side while you are going through this step. A Chattanooga bankruptcy lawyer could help you get your petition filed efficiently and improve your chances of the court accepting it, so you can begin making bankruptcy payments and regain control of your finances. Call today to schedule a consultation.