In Birmingham, Alabama, bankruptcy is a court procedure in which a person or business has some or all of their debts absolved (or "discharged"), theoretically allowing them to commence with a clean slate, and move on with their lives no longer drowning in debt (and hopefully having learned to better manage their use of credit in the process). Of course, one should never view bankruptcy as a "get out of debt free" card, allowing someone to be discharged of their requirement to pay their debts just because they don't want to. It is meant to serve as a lifeline, preventing uncontrollable debt from resulting in complete financial ruin. Accordingly, it is best treated as an option of last resort, because it can carry with it significant negative consequences, which must be weighed against the possible benefits. For example, filing for bankruptcy can heavily damage a person's credit rating.
Therefore, it is a good idea to talk with an veteran bankruptcy lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama. They will be able to advise you on the likely legal and financial consequences of filing for bankruptcy, and help you determine if it's the right option for your. Because this determination depends heavily on the facts of each distinct case, the counsel of a Birmingham bankruptcy attorney cannot be replaced.
Types of Bankruptcy in Birmingham, Alabama
In Birmingham, Alabama, there are 3 types of bankruptcy in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Because bankruptcy is a result of federal law, the procedures governing bankruptcy in Birmingham, Alabama will be similar everywhere else in the U.S. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the debtor to liquidate some of his or her assets in order to pay off as much debt as possible. Once the sale of the assets is verified, and the proceeds handed over to the creditors, the debt is perceived as discharged. Liquidation is basically selling assets to the highest bidder. Not all of the debtor's assets will need to be sold, and many types of property are entirely or partially exempt, including homes, cars, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. This means that the debtor can keep them. It should be noted that some types of debts are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, criminal fines, taxes, and child support payments. Even when the bankruptcy process is complete, these debts will have to be paid in full.
The other form of bankruptcy most frequently used in Birmingham is Chapter 13. It allows a person to pay off their debt over an extended period of time, often consolidating it into one periodic payment. In this system, the amount of money the debtor owes is not actually reduced, but the payment of the debt is made far more manageable. This gives the debtor some breathing room, allowing him to continue to earn a living while slowly paying down his debts, and gives some security to creditors that they will eventually collect all or most of what they're owed. Although it can be used by individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is used almost always by businesses. Not unlike Chapter 13, Chapter 11 focuses on restructuring of debt, rather than discharging it. Chapter 11 requires that the debtor come up with a reorganization plan designed to reduce debt and cut costs. Before being enforced, this plan must be approved by a majority vote of participating creditors.
One advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows a business going through it to continue operating, and to trade its stock.
How Can a Birmingham Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankrtuptcy in Birmingham is an influential decision with costs and benefits that must be weighed carefully. Before filing, it would be a good idea to speak with a seasoned Birmingham bankruptcy attorney.