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Our Orange County Bankruptcy attorneys are here to help eliminate your debt. Whether you qualify under a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13, our bankruptcy lawyers will represent you every step of the way.

Is bankruptcy right for you?

Federal bankruptcy law helps individuals get a handle on their debt by allowing them to request a complete liquidation under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code or a repayment plan under a Chapter 13 or a Chapter 11.

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    Summary of Available Bankruptcy Options

    Chapter 7

    A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation proceeding available to consumers and businesses. Those assets of a debtor that are not exempt from creditors are collected and liquidated (reduced to money) and the proceeds are distributed to creditors. A consumer debtor receives a complete discharge from debt under a Chapter 7, except for certain debts that are prohibited from discharge by the Bankruptcy Code. To be eligible for a Chapter 7, debtors need to meet certain requirements.

    Do I qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

    Chapter 11

    A Chapter 11 bankruptcy provides a procedure by which an individual or a business can reorganize its debts while continuing to operate. The vast majority of Chapter 11 cases are filed by businesses. The debtor, often with participation from creditors, creates a plan of reorganization under which to repay part or all of his/her debts.

    Chapter 13

    A Chapter 13, often called wage-earner bankruptcy, is used primarily by individual consumers to reorganize their financial affairs under a repayment plan that must be completed within three or five years, depending on your income level. To be eligible for Chapter 13 relief, a consumer must have regular income and may not have more than a certain amount of debt, as set forth in the Bankruptcy Code.

    pay debts with bankruptcy

    Bankruptcy Process Explained

    Bankruptcy Basics Video Series

    "Bankruptcy Basics" is a series of brief but informative videos prepared by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, providing helpful information on the various phases of the bankruptcy process.


    Frequently Asked Bankruptcy Questions

    Answers to Nagging Bankruptcy Questions

    Often, those considering bankruptcy have many of the same concerns. For your convenience, we’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions our office has received regarding the bankruptcy process. Click here.

    Preparation of Petition and Schedules

    What documents and information do I need to start the bankruptcy process?

    documents for bankruptcyA Chapter 7 bankruptcy begins with the debtor(s) filing what is called a “petition” with the bankruptcy court serving the area where the individual lives or where the business debtor is organized or has its principal place of business or principal assets. In addition to the petition, the debtor must also file with the court:

    1. Schedules of Assets and Liabilities;
    2. A Schedule of Current Income and Expenditures;
    3. A Statement of Financial Affairs; and
    4. A schedule of any then-existing contracts and unexpired leases.

    The debtor(s) must also provide the Trustee assigned to their case with a copy of the tax return or transcripts for the most recent tax year as well as tax returns filed during the case, including tax returns for prior years that had not been filed when the case began. Individual debtors with primarily consumer debts have additional document filing requirements. A husband and wife may choose to file a joint petition or individual petitions.

    Automatic Stay

    Can I get protection from my creditors?

    The moment you file for bankruptcy, an injunction known as the “automatic stay” goes into effect, which prohibits most creditors from initiating or continuing their collection efforts, including lawsuits. If a credit card company has already filed a lawsuit against you to collect its debt, it cannot proceed any further while the automatic stay is in effect without receiving permission from the bankruptcy court. This is something for which they normally don’t have legal grounds. This is a powerful law that makes any further collection activity by the creditors illegal. Specifically, the automatic stay:

    • will stop any further collection activity, including phone calls, foreclosure, repossession, lawsuits, wage garnishment and utility shut-offs.
    • is automatic and goes into effect the instant your bankruptcy is filed.
    • is temporary. The stay remains in effect until your case is closed or dismissed. Also, if a debt was discharged through bankruptcy, the creditor is forever prevented from any further attempts to collect on the debt.
    • applies to debts that existed at the time you filed for bankruptcy.

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    Mandatory Bankruptcy Courses

    I have heard that I need to take some courses prior to filing bankruptcy. What are they?

    Mandatory Credit Counseling Course

    Prior to filing any bankruptcy case in southern California, one must now complete a credit counseling course online or over the phone. They generally cost around $50.00 and must be given free of charge if you don’t have the ability to pay for one. The mandatory credit counseling course usually lasts 45 to 60 minutes, and can be taken usually 24/7. A certificate will be issued upon completion and must be provided to our office as a condition of filing your case. Failure to timely file the certificate of completion results in an automatic case dismissal. Most of our clients have indicated so far that they have found the course very enlightening and educational. South Orange County Bankruptcy will help arrange for you to comply with this requirement.

    Mandatory Debt Management Course

    Just as with the credit counseling course, a debtor is now required to undergo a Debt Management Course after the bankruptcy case is filed. It has been our experience that this is one of the most beneficial aspects of a bankruptcy, according to our clients.

    Bankruptcy Exemptions

    Can I protect any of my property when I file a bankruptcy?

    keep possessions during bankruptcyThe bankruptcy laws are designed to afford the honest debtor a fresh start. So that you can truly have a fresh start after you file bankruptcy, you do not have to give up all of your property and assets. You get to keep a certain amount of property and assets, as well as your personal items and personal effects. What and how much you get to keep when you file bankruptcy is determined by your bankruptcy exemptions.

    Exemptions are a set of laws that spell out what assets and how much home equity you are allowed to keep when you file for bankruptcy relief. Just what are bankruptcy exemptions, how do they work, and how are they applied to bankruptcy cases?

    Top 10 Myths About Bankruptcy

    If you are considering filing a bankruptcy, perhaps you have been bombarded with false information from well-intentioned friends and family members. Here are some of the most persistent myths that we’d like to shatter:

    FALSE – In cases where both husband and wife have a lot of debt, it makes sense and saves money for both to file, but it is never a requirement. In fact, in many cases, only one spouse files, and if you don’t have any joint debt, your filing will have no direct impact on your spouse’s credit.