Bankruptcy FAQS

Filing either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes careful preparation and understanding of complex legal issues. Misunderstandings of law, missing a form, or making mistakes in the process can affect your rights and eligibility to declare bankruptcy. Hiring a lawyer can be beneficial for your bankruptcy case because a lawyer can:

  • Advise you on whether bankruptcy is appropriate for your unique financial circumstance.
  • Advise you as to which chapter of bankruptcy to file under.
  • Advise you on whether your debts can be discharged.
  • Advise you on what property will be exempt from your bankruptcy proceeding and subsequent sale.
  • Advise you of the tax consequences that come along with filing for bankruptcy.
  • Advise you on whether you should continue to pay your creditors, and if so, which creditors to pay first.
  • Explain the complex nature of bankruptcy law and procedure in federal court.
  • Assist in the completion and filing of your bankruptcy forms.

Frequently Asked Questions ("FAQs") about Bankruptcy

What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a type of legal process that enables many of your debts to be discharged and forgiven. Bankruptcy is designed to help individuals and small businesses become financially stable and create a plan for repaying current debts. After filing for bankruptcy, creditors can no longer contact you and harass you, nor may they seize your property or continue legal actions against you or your business.

What Types of Bankruptcy are There?

There are six different types of bankruptcy chapters that individuals, businesses, or entities can file under. For the purposes of this page, only two will be addressed. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filings pertain mostly to individual consumers and small businesses. An attorney could accurately determine which chapter is more appropriate for your financial circumstance.

Chapter 7: This is the most common type of bankruptcy filing and it applies to most consumer and business debts. Once you or your attorney files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an automatic stay is put in place. An automatic stay ends most creditors' ability to call, threaten, and harass you. Shortly after filing for Chapter 7, the Court will appoint a "Bankruptcy Trustee" to gather and sell all your non-exempt property. The Trustee will then distribute the proceeds of the sales to your creditors.

Chapter 13: Chapter 13 filings are less common for individual consumers and it is often called a "reorganization." Under a Chapter 13 filing, the Court will allow you to create a three to five-year plan to repay your outstanding debts and obligations. Chapter 13 filings are often used by individuals who do not qualify for Chapter 7 and wish to maintain assets such as their homes and car(s). After creating your bankruptcy re-payment plan, Chapter 13 requires a party to make payments in affordable installments in order to efficiently pay off their debt.

Will Bankruptcy Wipe Out All of My Debts?

No, even if you successfully petition for and go through the bankruptcy process, you will still owe some sort of debt. Certain debts cannot be discharged through either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Non-dischargeable debts include:

  • Back child support, alimony obligations and other debts dedicated to family support.
  • Debts for personal injury or death caused by driving while intoxicated.
  • Student loans, unless the Court would deem the payments to be an undue hardship.
  • Fines and penalties for violating the law (traffic and criminal restitution).
  • For a further list of non-dischargeable debts, click here or ask your attorney.

What Does it Cost to File for Bankruptcy?

The fee associated with your bankruptcy filing depends on which chapter you and your attorney file under. Below are the fees associated with Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filings:

  • Chapter 7: Total Cost $335.00
  • $245.00 Filing Fee
  • $75.00 Administrative Fee
  • $15.00 Trustee Fee
  • Chapter 13: Total Cost $310.00
  • $235.00 Filing Fee
  • $75.00 Administrative Fee

How Often Can I File for Bankruptcy?

A party may not receive a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing if they have received a Chapter 7 discharge within the last eight (8) years or a Chapter 13 discharge within the last six (6) years.

A party may not receive a discharge in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing if they have received a Chapter 7 discharge within the last four (4) years or a Chapter 13 discharge within the last two (2) years.

Will Bankruptcy Affect my Credit Score?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. What is known is that your bankruptcy filing will appear on your credit for a period of ten (10) years. Since an individual who is filing for bankruptcy is likely already behind on various debts, there is a likelihood that their credit score is already poor. However, because bankruptcy will wipe away a significant portion of that person's debts, the individual is now in a better position to pay their current bills and improve their credit score.

Will Filing for Bankruptcy Stop Creditor Calls?

Yes. Once a creditor or bill collector becomes aware of a bankruptcy filing, they must immediately stop all collection efforts. This includes phone calls, coming to your home, and a bankruptcy filing can even stop creditors from repossessing your property. Once you or your attorney file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is put in place. This means that most, if not all, creditors must wait for the court to assess your financials and appropriately disperse certain assets to the appropriate creditors.

Can I be Discriminated Against for Filing Bankruptcy?

No. 11 U.S.C. §525 prohibits governmental units and private entities, such as employers, from discriminating against you simply because you filed for bankruptcy. If you find that you are being discriminated against because of your bankruptcy case, please contact your attorney immediately.

Can Bankruptcy Help Get My Ohio Driver's License Back?

Yes. If you have lost your license because you could not pay court-ordered damages caused in an accident, bankruptcy will allow you to get your license returned to you.

Where Do I File for Bankruptcy?

If you are seeking to file bankruptcy in the State of Ohio, you must have lived in the state for 91 of the last 180 days. Which county you reside in determines which Bankruptcy Court you will need to file in.

  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District of Ohio Columbus Divisional Office, 170 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215 (Phone No. 614-469-6638) encompasses the following counties: Franklin, Fairfield, Licking, Knox, Morrow, Delaware, Union, Logan, Madison, Pickaway, Fayette, Ross, Pike, Hocking, Vinton, Jackson, Gallia, Meigs, Athens, Washington, Morgan, Perry, Muskingum, Coshocton, Guernsey, Noble, Washington, Monroe, Belmont, Harrison or Jefferson.
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District of Ohio Dayton Divisional Office, 120 W. Third Street, Dayton, Ohio 45402 (Phone No. 937-225-2516) encompasses the following counties: Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Champaign, Miami, Shelby, Drake, Preble, Warren or Clinton.
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District of Ohio Cincinnati Divisional Office, 221 East Fourth Street, Atrium Two Suite 800, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 (Phone No. 513-684-2572) encompasses the following counties: Butler, Hamilton, Clermont, Highland, Brown, Adams, Scioto, or Lawrence.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer to File Bankruptcy?

While bankruptcy can be done on your own and without an attorney, this is not recommended. Bankruptcy law and proper procedure is complex and requires detailed knowledge of the rules. Making a mistake or not filing the proper forms can lead to your bankruptcy case being dismissed, further complicating your financial situation.

If you would like to speak with an attorney regarding your financial circumstances and desire to file bankruptcy, the attorneys at Rittgers & Rittgers would be happy to assist. Our office firm helps clients in Cincinnati and across Ohio. During your free consultation, we can walk you through the process and explain which chapter of bankruptcy, if any, is right for you. If you are facing insurmountable debt and troubling financial times, please call us at 513-932-2115 and Rittgers & Rittgers would be happy to assist you.