In Contra Costa County, California, bankruptcy is a court procedure in which a person or business has some or all of their debts cleared (or "discharged"), theoretically allowing them to begin 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). Remember, though, that bankruptcy should not be viewed as a proper way to get out of debt that you don't feel like paying back. It is meant to serve as an option of last resort for people and businesses faced with debt that they will probably never be able to pay back. The decision to file for bankruptcy can result in negative consequences, such as damaged credit ratings, which must be seriously weighed against the possible benefits.
Accordingly, you should speak with a good Contra Costa County, California bankruptcy lawyer. Your Contra Costa County bankruptcy lawyer can inform you of the costs and benefits of filing for bankruptcy, and give his or her professional advice as to whether or not it's a good option, given your individual circumstances.
Types of Bankruptcy in Contra Costa County, California
There are 3 bankruptcy options that are typically used in Contra Costa County: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, so the procedures in Contra Costa County, California are very similar to what they will be anywhere else in the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the debtor to liquidate some of his or her property, and use the funds to pay creditors. While this doesn't sound like much of a relief at first glance, the upshot is that once the qualifying property is sold, and the proceeds directed to the creditors, all of the debtor's eligible debts are deemed paid in full, regardless of how much the creditors actually ended up getting. Not all of the debtor's property has to be sold off - the debtor will normally be allowed to keep things like a house, at least one car, some types of personal property, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. It should be noted that some debts are not dischargeable, and will have to be paid in full even if the debtor files for bankruptcy. This includes student loans, taxes, and criminal fines.
The other typically used bankruptcy system in Contra Costa County is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows a debtor to repay most or all of their debts in a structured manner. It reorganizes the debt into lower periodic payments that, with a bit of frugality, the debtor should find manageable. This allows the debtor to continue to earn a living, and allows the creditors to eventually collect what they are owed. Once a repayment plan is authorized by the bankruptcy court, creditors are legally barred from seeking repayment under the terms of the contracts that gave rise to the debt in the first place, and will instead have to accept payment under the new plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is normally a better option for people who have a steady income. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is almost always used by businesses, but there is nothing that legally prevents it from being used by individuals, and its use by individuals is very rare. Chapter 11 bankruptcy requires the debtor to come up with a restructuring plan - telling the court how they propose to cut costs, fix their operations, and pay down their debts. The plan has to be approved by a majority vote of participating creditors.
While going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a business can continue operating, and its stock can continue to be traded.
How Can a Contra Costa County Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankruptcy in Contra Costa County is a very important decision, and should not be made easily. Before filing, one should consult with a seasoned Contra Costa County bankruptcy attorney for help.