The Florida Bankruptcy Process — Explained

Filing for bankruptcy helps you reduce debts and undo contracts between you and creditors like credit card companies, mortgage and loan lenders, and medical bill collectors when you cannot make payments. If you can’t pay your monthly bills, are behind on house or car payments, and receive daily collection calls, bankruptcy may help you get a fresh financial start. Learn more about filing for bankruptcy here. 

Inventory Current Debts and Assets 

The first step to filing for bankruptcy is assessing your current financial state. This includes gathering detailed information about the debts you currently owe, contact information for creditors, and how far behind you are on payments. You’ll also need to assess your current income and monthly expenses, including a list of the current value of your property and possessions. While this information is required to file for bankruptcy, it helps you understand your current finances to determine whether filing for bankruptcy is the right choice. 

Attend Credit Counseling  

Anyone filing for bankruptcy must take credit counseling within 180 days before filing. During credit counseling, a credit counseling agency will discuss the different types of bankruptcy and repayment plan options to determine if bankruptcy is the best solution to reduce your debt. You must present a credit counseling completion certificate from your selected agency with your bankruptcy filing paperwork.  

Petition to Declare Bankruptcy 

Once you’ve completed credit counseling and determined that bankruptcy is the best option, you can file for a specific type of bankruptcy. A bankruptcy attorney will help guide you through the process and decide which option works best for your situation. Individuals and small business owners are commonly eligible for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy helps you eliminate most of your debts by selling non-exempt assets and properties to repay creditors. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to keep select assets and pay back your creditors through a monthly repayment plan, which typically takes three to five years. Once you decide which chapter to file and gather the necessary paperwork, you can file your bankruptcy petition with the federal bankruptcy court in your area. If you live in Central Florida, you’ll file with the US Middle Florida bankruptcy court.   

Meeting of the Creditors  

Also known as a 341 Meeting, a meeting of the creditors is typically scheduled 20 to 40 days after filing for bankruptcy. You’ll be required to attend, along with your bankruptcy trustee and lawyer. Creditors may come to the meeting (although rare) and must file their claims with the bankruptcy court by the meeting date. At the meeting, your trustee will ask you questions about your income, living expenses, owed debts, and whether debts are eligible for discharge to determine whether to grant your bankruptcy petition. 

Bankruptcy Declaration  

After the 341 Meeting, a bankruptcy judge will determine whether to grant your bankruptcy discharge, which releases you from personal liability for specific debts. If filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your payment plan will be approved, and you’ll be required to start making payments.  

What Happens After You File For Bankruptcy  

Once your bankruptcy is discharged, you won’t be held liable for the debts you incurred before filing. Creditors won’t be able to collect debts or try to sue you. Filing for bankruptcy typically takes one to six months.  

Badgley Law Group: Orlando Bankruptcy Attorneys  

While filing for bankruptcy may seem complicated and stressful, staying in a current debt situation with no way out is also stressful. At Badgley Law Group, we help Central Florida residents seek debt relief through bankruptcy filings. Contact our office at 407-781-0420 to learn how we can help you get out of debt by filing for bankruptcy. 

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