FAQs

Struggling with debt can be extremely difficult. Whether you run a business or have personal financial problems, you may have a number of questions about your legal rights and options moving forward. In order to provide our clients and potential clients with the information they need, the Raleigh bankruptcy lawyers of the Bradford Law Offices, PLLC have compiled the following list of frequently asked questions and their answers relating to issues concerning bankruptcy and similar legal issues.

If your question isn’t here, or you would like to speak directly with a qualified member of our legal team, please contact our offices today by calling (919) 758-8879.

Can I keep my home if I file for bankruptcy?

When people are facing financial difficulty and thinking of filing for bankruptcy, one of the most common questions is whether or not they will lose their home. This question can sometimes be hard to answer because it depends on the individual case. Every case is unique and will depend greatly on what chapter of bankruptcy you file. For the most part, you will have a greater chance of keeping your home through Chapter 13 bankruptcy than Chapter 7; however, there are property exemptions available for debtors under Chapter 7.

To learn more about keeping your home and other property when filing for bankruptcy, contact a Raleigh bankruptcy attorney at the Bradford Law Offices, PLLC, at (919) 758-8879 today.

Can I rent a home or apartment after filing for bankruptcy?

If you have filed for bankruptcy, one of your first concerns may be whether or not you will be evicted from your apartment or be unable to rent an apartment in the future. Fortunately, most landlords will renew your lease without an updated credit check. However, if you are applying for a new lease, you may run into some difficulties. Because bankruptcy damages your credit report, it may concern many landlords that you will be unable to pay rent. One suggestion may be to offer extra money upfront to help convince the landlord you are financially stable and won’t miss payments.

Do I need a bankruptcy lawyer?

Although it is not required by law to hire a legal representative to handle your bankruptcy case, taking on a bankruptcy proceeding on your own can be extremely complicated. Typically, bankruptcy candidates do not have the legal knowledge or experience necessary to handle a bankruptcy case alone. A skilled legal representative can assist you with filing out the necessary paperwork and also represent you against creditors or other problems you may face during your case.

Do I still have to pay child support if I file for bankruptcy?

Whether you do or do not have custody of your children, it is important to understand how bankruptcy affects child support payments. Bankruptcy does not discharge child support payments; therefore, the payer is still responsible for making these payments. If one files for bankruptcy and fails to make required child support payments, the custodial parent has the right to pursue the unpaid support.

Does my spouse have to file for bankruptcy if I do?

It’s completely reasonable to be concerned about the finances of your spouse if you are considering filing for bankruptcy. But it’s important to know that your spouse does not necessarily have to file for bankruptcy just because you do. If you both have separate finances (even if you share some of them), your spouse may be able to avoid bankruptcy.

How do I decide which type of bankruptcy is best for my family?

There are a number of debt relief options available to those struggling with overwhelming levels of debt, and depending on your unique situation, some might be better for you than others. Most individuals can benefit greatly from filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or by pursuing debt negotiation. To find out which of these options is best for you and your family, you should discuss your situation and all of these opportunities with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.

A Raleigh bankruptcy attorney at the Bradford Law Offices, PLLC is here to help you find the solutions you need to your financial problems, so call us today at (919) 758-8879.

How does bankruptcy affect my credit score?

If you are facing considerable financial distress and are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you’re not alone. Thousands of people across the U.S. have found themselves overwhelmed by debt with their credit scores plummeting. While bankruptcy will initially affect your credit score as well, it can be a much better financial option than disregarding your finances and allowing your credit to be destroyed. Additionally, although bankruptcy will be factored into your credit score, it will give you the opportunity to rebuild your finances and, thus, your score.

If I file for bankruptcy, can I keep my business open and operating?

There are bankruptcy options available to those that qualify which allow a business to stay open while their debts are restructured and paid off. Although not everyone will qualify for this type of debt relief, with the help of a qualified attorney, you and your business may be able to work through this difficult period while remaining in operation.

Is there a limit on the number of times I can file for bankruptcy?

The short answer is “no,” but there are a number of restrictions on how long you must wait between bankruptcy filings. These time restrictions vary depending on what chapter you previously filed for as well as the chapter you intend on filing. The times restrictions are:

  • Two years between two Chapter 13 filings
  • Four years between a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filing
  • Six years between Chapter 13 and Chapter 7
  • Eight years between two Chapter 7 filings

If you have any questions about the above time restrictions, make sure you contact a Raleigh bankruptcy lawyer of the Bradford Law Offices, PLLC, at (919) 758-8879 today and schedule a free consultation.

Should I file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

It is important to understand the difference between these two types of bankruptcy before filing to ensure you make the best decision for your individual case. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor must first qualify according to an income restriction before he or she can have their debts discharged. These debtors may also have to liquidate personal property in order to pay back creditors. This chapter is generally for those in much more serious debt or financial turmoil. On the other hand, Chapter 13 bankruptcy gives debtors the chance to create a repayment plan they can pay off over a period of three to five years. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is easier to qualify for and is typically for those who can still make payments on their debts.

What is a Chapter 13 repayment plan?

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debtors have an opportunity to create a repayment plan for all of their outstanding debts that is better suited to their financial situation than their previously-existing payment requirements. In a successful Chapter 13 filing, debtors will typically be able to pay back their debts over a 3-5 year period and secure a fresh, financial start.

What is an automatic stay?

Before filing for bankruptcy, you may be plagued with harassing phone calls from creditors at home or your place of work. Fortunately, these phone calls and other actions are stopped after filing for bankruptcy. Once you file for bankruptcy, the court will issue an automatic stay on your debts, forcing creditors to stop any collection efforts. This includes phone calls, letters, or direct contact. In many cases, the automatic stay can also halt or delay the foreclosure process on your home.

If you are facing financial difficulty due to an overwhelming debt load, a successful bankruptcy filing can help you to gain a fresh start. To learn more about the automatic stay, contact a Raleigh bankruptcy lawyer of the Bradford Law Offices, PLLC, at (919) 758-8879.

What is the difference between unsecured and secured debts?

Debts are generally classified as either unsecured or secured. Unsecured debts are any debts that are not backed by any form of collateral. These types of debts include medical bills, credit card debt, and other personal loans. Unsecured debts can typically be discharged through bankruptcy.

Secured debts are those which are backed by collateral or which are non-dischargeable under the law. These include student loans, car loans, some tax debts, home loans, and other types of debt. A bankruptcy filing can delay or restructure the terms of repayment for these but it is unlikely to eliminate the debt.

Who is informed about my bankruptcy filing?

Because of the social stigma often associated with bankruptcy, you may be concerned with who will be told about your bankruptcy filing. However, not only is this stigma incorrect, but you should not fear people being told about your filing, as the only parties who are informed about your bankruptcy filing are your creditors, the bankruptcy court, and the IRS. This means that your employer will not necessarily be informed about your bankruptcy filing.

Will future employers be told of my bankruptcy?

Many people who file for bankruptcy wonder if they will have to tell future potential employers about their bankruptcy case. While this is completely up to you in many cases, it could show up on a background or credit check. If you neglect to be up front about a bankruptcy filing in this situation, that could potentially cause you more harm than simply informing the employer initially. Often, by providing your reasons and the factors that made it necessary to file for bankruptcy, you will not be harmed by disclosing this information.

Why Is Borrowing from Your Family Is a Bad Idea?

When you need money, your family and friends may seem like the best people to turn to for help. These people care about you and may be more willing to help you out than a bank. However, if you ever file for bankruptcy protection, borrowing from your loved ones could hurt the well-being of your family as well as your bankruptcy filing.

Preference

When you file for bankruptcy protection, the court wants to ensure all of your creditors receive equal treatment and that none are paid back earlier due to a personal relationship. Parents, grandparents, siblings, and other people with whom you have a close relationship are going to face higher scrutiny because they are seen as having preference. Preference means you would elect to pay these people back before other creditors.

Repaying People with Preference

Suppose you borrow from a friend and decide to pay him back a month before filing for bankruptcy. This is a preference payment. The court will be extremely wary of preference payments and can actually decide to take back that money from your friend. The court can actually recover payments to a family member for a full year after you make them. The estate trustee can sue your family to get the money back, exposing your relatives to a lawsuit.

Property Transfers

Another way to expose your family to hardship is by transferring ownership of property to them before your bankruptcy filing. For example, if you worry your car will be sold to pay off creditors then you may consider transferring it to a relative before filing in an attempt to keep it. It is best to avoid transferring property before your bankruptcy filing. Otherwise, the asset can be taken away from the family member to whom you transferred it. The court wants to prevent you from hiding assets from creditors, which is why they will thoroughly examine every transfer of ownership you made before your bankruptcy filing, including gifts.

Contact a Raleigh Bankruptcy Lawyer

Filing for bankruptcy protection is a complicated and time-consuming process, but you don’t have to go through it alone. If you are suffering from an overwhelming financial burden, you should contact the Bradford Law Offices, PLLC immediately. Our experienced consumer bankruptcy attorneys will work with you to determine the right course of action. Please don’t hesitate to contact our Raleigh offices at (919) 758-8879.