A Guide on Filing Bankruptcy in Ohio Under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13

Should a person file bankruptcy? This a personal decision greatly influenced by the amount of serious debt and your ability to meet the original payments or pay the full amount. Being hassled by creditors when you are broke is nerve wracking for starters. Secondly, the decision to file should not be made solely to stop demanding creditors. Though filing temporarily stops creditors from engaging in out-and-out enforcement lawsuits, secured creditors can apply for “relief from the stay” and then continue their efforts to repossess or foreclose. Furthermore certain kinds of debts among them, student loans, alimony and support obligations, drunken driving restitution, and debts incurred through fraud can’t be discharged in bankruptcy.

Depending on your circumstances, bankruptcy may or may not make sense for you. If after the bankruptcy you will be no better off than you were before, why do it? The decision as to whether and when to file a bankruptcy petition should be based upon the facts of your individual case.

New bankruptcy laws are expected to limit the value of the homestead exemptions. Also, new Ch. 7 restrictions will prevent anyone earning over the state median income from filing, Ch. 13 payments will be increased, and judges will lose judicial discretion imposing mandatory sanctions upon debtors in many new circumstances. These new laws narrowly missed passage each year since 2001, and may become effective at any time. Now, more than ever, timing and planning are critical.

Most Ohio bankruptcy attorneys who special in consumer/debtor cases offer free initial consultations. Virtually all private attorneys welcome opportunities to meet qualified potential clients. After debtors become familiar with current requirements, initial consultations offer an excellent opportunity to explore options and receive free legal advice, before deciding upon any course of action. If you have considered filing, make a detailed list of questions. Meet with several lawyers. By comparing costs, benefits and options without obligation, your most profitable path will become clear.

There are specific chapters of the federal bankruptcy law. US bankruptcy Court proceedings for individuals are usually files under Chapter 7 which is known as straight bankruptcy, and involve taking most of the borrower’s property. Basically, the court appoints a trustee to sell off the assets and distribute the cash among the creditors. Proceedings under Chapter Thirteen (known as wage earner’s bankruptcy) involve the borrower proposing a plan for repaying a portion of the debt in installments from the borrower’s income.

Once the US bankruptcy court process ends, the borrower is no longer liable for their debts. This occurs when the bankruptcy court enters a discharge order in a Chapter Seven case or the borrower has paid the debts due to the credit granters according to a plan in a Chapter Eleven or a Chapter Thirteen case. What this means is that the court has discharged the borrower from the debts that they incurred. The borrower then starts over again with a clean financial slate, but the record of the bankruptcy will remain on the borrower’s credit record for up to ten years; which can cause problems with some creditors and lenders.

Bankruptcy may be the best or only, solution for those suffering from extreme financial hardship. However, it should be utilized exclusively as a last resort, since it always has long lasting consequences. Be sure to consult a bankruptcy lawyer before resorting to filing bankruptcy as a means of solving your economic troubles because it is not a good to ever go into US bankruptcy court representing yourself as you are not as familiar with bankruptcy laws as lawyers are.

While it is possible to file a bankruptcy case without the assistance of an attorney, it is extremely difficult to do so successfully. Hiring an attorney is recommended. The court is not able to give legal advice or help you fill out the forms.

You are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney in order to determine the rights and obligations that apply to your individual situation. Those considering bankruptcy should be aware of the following: Filing for bankruptcy protection is not free. How much does it cost? The filing fee for a Chapter 7 is $200.00 .The filing fee for a Chapter 13 is $185.00.

Not all debts are dischargeable. Such as Secured creditors retain some rights which may permit them to seize property, even after a discharge is granted. Spousal and child support obligations and most tax debts are not dischargeable.

Within 15 days of the filing of a bankruptcy petition, schedules of the debtor’s assets and liabilities must be filed. Failure to timely file the appropriate schedules may result in dismissal of the bankruptcy and the barring of the debtor from filing again for 180 days (six months).If a case is not dismissed and a discharge is entered by the court, the debtor is prohibited from being granted another discharge under chapters 7 and 11 within six years. Fraudulent information or acts by the debtor are grounds for denial of a discharge and may be punishable as a criminal offense.
Married people file a joint petition. A joint filing is the filing of a single petition by an individual and the individual’s spouse. Only people who are married on the filing date may file a joint petition. Unmarried persons, corporations and partnerships must each file a separate case. If you are an individual and have a business which is not a partnership, corporation, or business trust that is a registered entity in a state or foreign country, you should list the business as a “dba” (doing business as) on your petition. However, yours will not be considered a joint petition because the business is not an independently-recognized legal entity.

If you need to start your case quickly, you can file only those documents indicated as minimum documents required for filing. All additional documents must be filed within the time indicated. Your failure to timely file additional required documents or seek an extension of time to do so may result in dismissal of your case, denial of discharge, or the imposition of sanctions.

The clerk’s office does not supply Official Bankruptcy Forms or sample plans. However, Official Bankruptcy Forms may be purchased at local stationery stores or downloaded from this web site http://www.uslegalforms.com under bankruptcy forms.

Type the information on the forms, if possible. A response is necessary for every question. If your answer is “none,” and there is no “none” box to check, put “N/A.” Use continuation pages when you run out of room. Sign each form where required. If filing a joint case, make sure that your spouse signs too.

Prepare your creditor matrix (a mailing list of all your creditors) according to the matrix format instructions. The clerk’s office uses an Optical Character Reader to scan matrices and if you do not follow the instructions exactly, the scanner will not be able to read the matrix properly. Mailing matrices MUST be typed.

After a debtor has filed for bankruptcy protection, creditors are notified of the filing and the existence of the automatic stay by the bankruptcy court. Creditors will be given information regarding the 341 meeting, as well as deadlines for filing proofs of claim. The hearing is not presided over by a judge but an administrator. Creditors will be allowed to ask a few questions but more detailed interrogations are not permitted and must be reserved for discovery or a hearing presided over by a judge. The proper place to file for bankruptcy is the local bankruptcy court where the debtor resides or owns property.

The length of time needed to complete a bankruptcy depends upon the type of case filed. In a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, a discharge will granted after the time period allowed for challenging the discharge has elapses, usually sixty days after the first date set for the 341 meeting. This usually means a discharge is granted about four months after the petition for bankruptcy is filed. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, because the bankruptcy plan is usually anywhere from three to five years, the discharge is granted after the plan has been completed.

The Ohio Bankruptcy System is divided into 2 federal districts. Each of these districts are subdivided into divisions which serve specific counties

The Ohio Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District is comprised of five divisions serving 40 counties. Toledo Division covers the counties of Williams, Defiance, Paulding, Van Wert, Mercer, Fulton, Henry, Putnam, Allen, Auglaize, Lucas, Wood, Hancock, Hardin, Ottawa, Sandusky, Seneca, Wyandot, Marion, Erie, and Huron County. Cleveland Division covers the counties of Loran, Cuyahoga, Lake, and Geauga County. Youngstown Division covers the counties of Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana County. Akron Division covers the counties of Medina, Summit, and Portage County. Canton Division covers the counties of Crawford, Richland, Ashland, Wayne, Holmes, Stark, Tuscarawas, and Carroll County.

The Northern District provides copies of records, local rules, schedules and official filing instructions. The instructions provided are general, and are not a substitutive for legal advice. For instance, the information provided does not adequately explain the benefits and burdens of each chapter for debtors or the long term effect of filing. The Code is specific: judges, clerks and personnel are prohibited from providing what may be construed as legal advice. This rule of law applies equally to debtors, creditors and parties in interest. With new laws looming on the horizon, now, more than ever before, qualified legal advice is a necessity before initiating any suit. County bar associations all typically provide referrals to local attorneys.

The Ohio Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District maintains three offices which serve 47 counties. The southern District maintains offices in Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton. The Courts jurisdiction extends over the counties of Darke, Preble, Butler, Hamilton, Shelby, Miami, Montgomery, Warren, Clermont, Logan, Champaign, Clark, Greene, Clinton, Brown, Union, Madison, Fayette, Highland, Adams, Delaware, Franklin, Pickaway, Ross, Pike, Scioto, Morrow, Knox, Licking, Fairfield, Hocking, Vinton, Jackson, Lawrence, Coshocton, Muskingum, Perry, Morgan, Athens, Meigs, Calla, Guernsey, Noble, Washington, Harrison, Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson County.

The Southern District provides examples of petitions, schedules, forms, local rules and official instructions that may be useful when filing. Be aware that instructions provided are general, and are not a substitutive for legal advice which may provided by a qualified attorney. The Code prohibits judges, clerks and personnel to provide debtors with information that may be construed as legal counsel. This provision applies equally to debtors, creditors, and parties in interest. Individual filing pro se may call trustees and inquire about case status. Trustee offices generally explain the basis of all objections filed.

The majority of courts allow either electronic filing or paper filing. A small number of courts only allow electronic filing. Likewise, a small number of courts only accept paper filings. The trend however is clear: all courts will eventually accept only electronic filing and will probably continue to accept diskettes at the clerk’s office rather than requiring only online submission. The goal adopted by the U.S. Court system apparently requires the elimination of paper documents by 2010.

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