Bergen County Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer
Getting You the Bankruptcy Information You Need
The consumer bankruptcy process can be extremely complicated and it is our job as your attorney to ensure that you understand what is happening the entire time. At The Law Offices of Susan S. Long, we will personally work with you through the duration of your case – giving you the bankruptcy information you need to make educated decisions.
A Brief Overview of the Personal Bankruptcy Process
- At your first client meeting, we will analyze your financial situation. We will review your credit report, past paystubs, income tax returns, and any bills or collection accounts. We will also tally your current income versus your expenses. We will determine whether bankruptcy is right for you.
- Once a line of action has been determined and agreed upon by you, the first step in filing either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the completion of a credit counseling course. This course can be completed on the telephone or online. You will receive a certificate of completion which will be filed with your bankruptcy petition.
- A petition for relief is then filed with the court. We will work with you in order to compile the required information, including the petition, schedules and necessary documentation. Filing the petition invokes the Automatic Stay. This protects you from foreclosure, lawsuits, garnishments and other creditor actions. Protection begins at the moment of filing and continues until discharge of the debt, including the time during the three to five year Chapter 13 repayment term.
- Soon after filing your petition, you will be required to attend a meeting of your creditors called a “341 meeting.” This is an informal meeting presided over by the trustee, an impartial administrator overseeing your case. You will be required to attend this meeting and answer questions regarding your bankruptcy under oath. As your bankruptcy law firm, we will represent you at this meeting, as well as prepare you beforehand as to the questions you can expect to be asked of you.
- The bankruptcy process following the 341 meeting depends upon which chapter of bankruptcy you filed. In a Chapter 7 ‘no assets’ case (where all the assets are exempt), if the trustee has no objections, your debts will be discharged approximately sixty to ninety days thereafter. In a Chapter 13, the next step is a confirmation hearing where the court either approves or disapproves the debtor’s repayment plan. Unlike a Chapter 7, the debtor does not receive an immediate discharge. The debtor must complete the payments required under the plan before the discharge is received.
- The final step under either bankruptcy chapter is to complete a financial management course. Your certificate of completion will be filed with the court. The court may deny your discharge in a Chapter 7 or 13 case if you fail to do so.
Although a bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for ten years, many individuals obtain or are offered new credit relatively soon after discharge. Nonetheless, your greatest ally in rebuilding your credit and financial life will be budgeting and money management.
For additional answers to commonly asked questions, please visit the common bankruptcy questions section.