Faced with mounting debt consumers search for a way out. Personal bankruptcy is the best solution for some, but others are better off working out their debts with their creditors, or even taking no action at all. There is no one size fits all solution. The best solution for each family and each individual depends on the specific circumstances – including the debtor's age, type of debt, income, and assets.
There are two types of personal bankruptcy -- Chapter 7, and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is liquidation bankruptcy in which a consumer can liquidate and discharge certain debts. The outcome is that the consumer no longer owes the discharged debts at all. In Chapter 13 the debtor sets up a payment plan to repay their debts within a certain time period.
Many of our FALDP members prepare bankruptcy petitions for consumers. Please contact your petition preparer directly to find out about specific services and methods of doing business. Some of our document preparers have bricks and mortar stores, and others are completely virtual businesses.
Bankruptcy petition preparers charge a few hundred dollars. for the documents required in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Personal Bankruptcy petition. As with any other process, a petition preparer may not give you legal advice, and may not represent you in court.
Your preparer is not allowed to tell you which type of bankruptcy you should file. Please educate yourself on this site and elsewhere to find out whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is in fact appropriate for your situation.
One of the ways for a consumer to determine whether Chapter 7 is appropriate is by using the "Means Test". A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (BPP) is allowed to help a consumer with the math portion of the means test, providing the BPP does not advise the consumer on which type of bankruptcy to file.
"Section 707(b)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code applies a "means test" to determine whether an individual debtor's chapter 7 filing is presumed to be an abuse of the Bankruptcy Code requiring dismissal or conversion of the case (generally to chapter 13). Abuse is presumed if the debtor's aggregate current monthly income (see definition above) over 5 years, net of certain statutorily allowed expenses is more than (i) $10,950, or (ii) 25% of the debtor's nonpriority unsecured debt, as long as that amount is at least $6,575. The debtor may rebut a presumption of abuse only by a showing of special circumstances that justify additional expenses or adjustments of current monthly income."
Article I, Section 8, of the United States Constitution authorizes Congress to enact "uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies." Under this grant of authority, Congress enacted the "Bankruptcy Code" in 1978. The Bankruptcy Code, which is codified as title 11 of the United States Code, has been amended several times since its enactment, most recently modified in 2005. It is the uniform federal law that governs all bankruptcy cases.
The procedural aspects of the bankruptcy process are governed by the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (often called the "Bankruptcy Rules") and local rules of each bankruptcy court. The Bankruptcy Rules contain a set of official forms for use in bankruptcy cases. The Bankruptcy Code and Bankruptcy Rules (and local rules) set forth the formal legal procedures for dealing with the debt problems of individuals.
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