Harrisonburg Bankruptcy Lawyer
At MartinWren, P.C., each Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer residents trust has seen how much people’s lives have been impacted by financial instability. For many, living costs are equal to or exceed their living expenses, making it difficult to pay off any debts they have accrued. Filing for bankruptcy in Virginia may seem like an intimidating option. However, for those who fit the criteria, it can set them on track towards recovering financially in the long run. If you have not talked with a lawyer yet about whether bankruptcy is the right option for you, we encourage you to reach out today to receive a brief, free initial consultation.
Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
There are six bankruptcy chapters: Chapter 15, Chapter 12, Chapter 11, Chapter 9, Chapter 3, and Chapter 7. But in most cases, a person is going to apply for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is often called “liquidation” bankruptcy, as it can discharge your unsecured debts, such as credit cards and personal loans, through selling off certain belongings. Before being approved for bankruptcy, it will be necessary for you to pass a “means test,” which confirms you are eligible.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is commonly referred to as the “reorganization” bankruptcy chapter. In this option, you will establish a plan for repaying at least a portion of your debts over several years. Your property will not be liquidated to pay off your debts, but you will have to commit to a 3-5 year repayment plan based on what you can afford. After that, the rest of your debts may be discharged.
Bankruptcy Will Impact Your Credit
As your lawyer for bankruptcy in Harrisonburg may tell you, filing for bankruptcy will likely affect your credit. One of the biggest deterrents to a bankruptcy filing is that it will cause your credit score to go down, in addition to a bankruptcy status remaining on your credit report for around ten years. You may also be required to declare a bankruptcy filing to employers in the future on related medical forms and other types of government or state reports.
Most lenders and landlords will look at your credit score when approving your application, so it is crucial to understand how this may impact your opportunities in the years to come. With all that being said, it may still be worth filing, depending on the circumstances.
Many consumers assume that bankruptcy means that they will automatically have their debts eradicated. This assumption is not entirely correct, as in most cases, the debtor will have to pay at least a portion of their obligations back. It is possible to have all of your debts discharged, but this is less common and is not the general outcome.
If you require more information about bankruptcy, please call MartinWren, P.C. to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer in Harrisonburg today.
Understanding the Advantages and Disadvantages of Bankruptcy
As a trusted Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer will tell you, it will be necessary to carefully consider whether the bankruptcy process is the right step for you. For many struggling with debts, experiencing constant calls from creditors, and managing the emotional weight and stress debt can have on a person, bankruptcy may be met with some sense of relief. At Martin Wren, P.C., we want to help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of bankruptcy by presenting you with your options and assisting you in making critical financial decisions for your future.
Advantages of Bankruptcy
While many people with debts can manage their finances without taking further action, others may need to consider bankruptcy for the many advantages it provides. In cases of Chapter 7, bankruptcy offers those filing with a fresh start, free from the overwhelming debts they have managed. Typical benefits of bankruptcy are:
- The Automatic Stay: Once a debtor files for bankruptcy, the automatic stay will be granted. This means creditors must halt all efforts to collect debts. Meaning, all phone calls, letters, wages garnishments, home foreclosures must come to a stop. Creditors cannot resume these efforts until the automatic stay has been lifted or after the bankruptcy has been resolved.
- Discharge Some of Your Debt: While you won’t eliminate all of your debt through bankruptcy, you will no longer be responsible for the dischargeable debt. Our bankruptcy lawyer in Harrisonburg shares that this would include credit cards, mortgage payments, car payments, and personal loans.
- Exemptions: One of the benefits includes the exemptions that are allotted in the bankruptcy process. While it’s essential to keep in mind that this can vary depending upon the state where you live and the type of bankruptcy you file, having the ability to retain some of your assets can be a significant advantage. Keep in mind that bankruptcy intends to help people manage their debt, not leave them destitute.
Keep in Mind There Are Disadvantages
With advantages, there are also disadvantages to bankruptcy. In some cases, these can have a significant impact on your future. However, be aware that, while there are many disadvantages, bankruptcy can give you the opportunity for a fresh start:
- Your credit score will decline, and it will take time to rebuild
- A bankruptcy will remain on your credit for 7-10 years depending on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
- It may be challenging to obtain a mortgage loan
- Your ability to access credit through unsecured credit cards or personal loans will be impacted
- Many of the credit cards you hold will likely be canceled
- Some of your debts cannot be discharged through bankruptcy
When weighing your options, there are a variety of things to consider. Timing is critical, and you won’t want to pursue bankruptcy as an option if you could have otherwise resolved debts on your own. The last thing any person wants is to lose property they would have been able to keep if they were to pursue a different process. Additionally, the bankruptcy process can be very complicated, and choosing the right type of filing will be critical to receiving the most favorable outcome possible. To learn more about our Harrisonburg, Virginia bankruptcy lawyer and how we can help, contact Martin Wren, P.C. to get started.
Most Common Bankruptcy Chapters
Bankruptcy is declared in a number of different ways, but there are a couple of bankruptcy chapters that are more often used than others. Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 are a few of the most common types of bankruptcy that you will probably be looking into for yourself and your bankruptcy needs. These bankruptcy types have a couple of different functions that could be beneficial to you or your company. While bankruptcy can certainly be something that causes you stress and possible shame, these chapters can help get you back to where you want to be financially and assist you with possible affairs at your company.
A chapter 7 bankruptcy is generally used by those who are looking to settle debts quickly by liquidating their assets. Individuals generally can benefit more from these than companies as different chapters like chapter 11 can benefit large companies and organizations more. Chapter 7 is used to settle debts with creditors and get you back to being as debt free as possible. Properties and other items that you no longer wish to keep or need to sell can be liquidated to settle some of that debt that you owe. This chapter is generally the most commonly used and is also quite quick compared to chapter 13, which may take up to 5 years. Speak with a Harrisonburg Bankruptcy lawyer from MartinWren, P.C., today to learn more about the stipulations and other rules that you must follow in order to file for chapter 7.
A chapter 11 bankruptcy is generally used for companies and organizations that are looking to restructure themselves. That restructuring entails the company’s finances and finding new ways to handle them. Negotiations with agreements in place can be re-negotiated and the company is also protected from litigation for as long as it is in chapter 11 or under whatever agreement that the company and lenders make. The thing that really makes chapter 11 useful is that the company does not have to shut down and stop its operations but can continue on functioning quite normally. Contact a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer today to learn more about which bankruptcy steps that you and your company should take.
This bankruptcy type is similar to chapter 7 in that it is more often used by individuals rather than companies or organizations. It does have a major difference from chapter 7 though, in that chapter 13, you generally do not sell off belongings and liquidate assets. You will instead have to prove that you make a steady income and after proving this, you will then be put on a repayment plan where you seek to repay your debts over a 3-to-5 year period. Chapter 13 is useful for those who do not have the assets to settle as in a chapter 7 plan. Contact a MartinWren, P.C. attorney today to learn more about chapter 13 and how it may help you.
Divorce and Bankruptcy
Many times, divorce and bankruptcy share common circumstances. It is not difficult to imagine that in a household struggling with financial issues and feeling the pressure of exponential debt, divorce is usually an unfortunate byproduct. In fact, many divorcing couples cite financial issues as one of the main causes of their marriage breaking up. Alternately, divorcing couples may be considering bankruptcy due to the financial cost of obtaining a divorce and settling their personal property issues. No matter which scenario caused the other, it is certainly a difficult and stressful situation to be in. If you are considering bankruptcy while also considering divorce, a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer from our firm can help.
Timing Is Important
Whether you file for bankruptcy before or after you file for divorce can have a significant impact on the state of your finances going forward. If you and your spouse are in agreement about filing for bankruptcy before you file for divorce, you will likely be able to resolve your debt issues and seek relief prior to your divorce. The issue of your debt will not have to be addressed in connection with the property division and other financial matters that arise during your divorce.
It is also advantageous to file for bankruptcy before filing a petition for divorce if only one spouse of the couple has to be named in the petition for bankruptcy. If bankruptcy is not filed until after the divorce, it is likely that each spouse would have to file separately, depending on the nature of the debts incurred. If that were the case, both parties would be responsible for separate fees and costs associated with the bankruptcy petition.
Additional Issues to Address
A Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer understands that not all legal issues are straightforward, especially those that may arise between adversarial parties. Many individuals facing both divorce and bankruptcy have many questions about both processes and how they interrelate. Some common issues that may arise in a situation involving both divorce and bankruptcy are:
- Child support and alimony payments after filing for bankruptcy.
- The status of marital debts and their repayment in the case of filing for bankruptcy before and after divorce.
- Avoiding foreclosure on the marital residence after divorce.
Qualities to Look for in a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you plan on filing for bankruptcy soon, it’s in your best interest to work with a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer. However, if you’ve never hired a bankruptcy lawyer before, you might not know what to look for. Here are a few qualities you should consider:
- Specific Experience: You shouldn’t just hire anyone with a law degree to take your bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy laws are very complex and changing all the time, so it’s important to find a lawyer who has several years of experience handling bankruptcy cases. Additionally, you should try to find a lawyer who has experience in the type of bankruptcy you want to file. If you, for example, want to file Chapter 13, you don’t want to hire a lawyer who only has experience handling Chapter 7 cases.
- Good Listener: A good bankruptcy lawyer also takes the time to listen to his or her clients’ needs and wishes. Your lawyer should make the effort to hear what you say and then give you advice based on what the law requires. During your first consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer, pay attention to how he or she listens and responds to you. If the lawyer just seems to be going through the motions and isn’t really listening to what you have to say, you may want to hire someone else.
- Compassionate: Dealing with financial difficulties is tough and can cause a lot of stress. Making the decision to file for bankruptcy also isn’t easy. That is why it is important to have a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer who is compassionate. He or she should understand that you’re going through a difficult time and talk you through it. Although your lawyer shouldn’t make any promises, he or she should tell you that he or she will try hard to achieve successful results for you. When you know your lawyer cares and is on your side, it can make you feel more at ease.
- Available: Filing for bankruptcy takes a lot of time. It’s important to hire a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer who actually has the time to provide you with regular updates about your case. If your lawyer takes days to respond to your messages, it can add to your stress and make things more difficult. During your first meeting with a lawyer, ask about his or her preferred method of contact. Does he or she preferred to be contacted through phone or email?
Why You Should Consult with a Bankruptcy Attorney
An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you address these issues and advise on what to expect in filing for both divorce and bankruptcy. The legal team at MartinWren, P.C. can work with you to properly and strategically plan and file for bankruptcy during your divorce. Our firm also handles family law matters, so we are also well-versed in Virginia divorce law and how bankruptcy could affect any distribution of marital assets, property, and debt. We can help you obtain debt relief and provide closure and guidance during a turbulent time. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation with a Harrisonburg bankruptcy lawyer and find out how we can help.