Across the country, many people are struggling with significant financial debt that prevents them from remaining hopeful about the future. Living with debt can cause chronic stress and anxiety as you wonder how you will ever be able to climb out of this deep hole. Although many people living in debt feel alone in their struggle, it’s essential to recognize that financial difficulties are very common. If you are ready to take control of your financial situation, enlisting the guidance of an experienced and compassionate New York bankruptcy attorney can give you the support you need to move forward with confidence. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief may be your best option, but it’s natural to have questions about this process. Below is a brief overview of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing process and how marital status may affect your decision regarding the type of filing you choose to pursue.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Basics
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, allows petitioners to clear away many types of unsecured debts within a relatively short time frame. It often provides relief for those who have fallen far behind on their bills and cannot afford to make monthly payments and cover living expenses. However, you must meet specific criteria to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief.
Qualifying for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Relief
To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass what’s known as the means test. If your monthly income falls below a certain threshold, you may be eligible for Chapter 7 relief. Those who have previously filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the last eight years are not eligible, nor are those who have filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy within the previous six years. Additionally, if you attempted to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the court dismissed your case, you must wait at least 181 days before you initiate a new filing. If the court determines that you are making the filing in bad faith or you are trying to defraud your creditors, they will likely dismiss your case.
Initiating the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing Process
Once you have met all the requirements for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should complete an individual or group credit counseling course from an approved credit counseling agency within 180 days before moving forward with the filing. When you file, the court will issue an automatic stay on your current debts, preventing creditors from harassing you for payments, garnishing your wages, foreclosing on your home, repossessing property, evicting you, or cutting off your utilities. The court will assume legal possession of your property and appoint a bankruptcy trustee to oversee your case. The trustee will assess your financial situation and sell any nonexempt property, using the proceeds to repay your creditors.
Obtaining a Chapter 7 Discharge
The trustee will arrange and facilitate a creditor meeting where you and your creditors will appear in court to address questions about your filing. Most Chapter 7 cases take between four to six months to conclude. At the end of this period, the court will discharge your remaining debts (except for some obligations that are not dischargeable, like child support, alimony, court fees, and certain tax debts). Once you receive the discharge, you can start to slowly and steadily rebuild your credit and regain control of your financial future.
Filing for Chapter 7 Without Your Spouse
Many people do not recognize that they have the choice to file for bankruptcy independently or with their spouse. Those who decide to pursue a Chapter 7 filing without their spouse may need additional support throughout the process, so it’s helpful to enlist the guidance of a trusted New York bankruptcy attorney who can answer your questions and address your concerns along the way.
When It May Make Sense to File Independently
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without your spouse works best when most of the household debt and any corresponding assets occurred before the marriage. Essentially, if your financial situation is negatively impacting your marriage, you may consider filing for bankruptcy without your spouse—as the debt is legally your responsibility. However, you should make sure to correctly distinguish between non-marital and marital assets before you proceed.
Caring and Compassionate Legal Guidance When You Need It
Bankruptcy offers many people the opportunity to regain control of their financial situation and feel hopeful about the future once more. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding bankruptcy persists, making it difficult for people to take steps toward financial freedom. Before you succumb to the thought of remaining in debt for the foreseeable future, consider reaching out to a compassionate New York bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options. Together, you can assess your situation and determine the most strategic path forward.
Call Grady BK, PLLC today at (315) 299-9005 to speak with a dedicated and supportive New York bankruptcy attorney.