Bankruptcy in Florida is a legal procedure through which some of the debts of an individual or a business are discharged (excused). You should not view bankruptcy as an opportunity to eliminate your debts just because you don't feel like paying them - it can be a long and difficult process. Bankruptcy is designed to be a last resort to prevent complete financial ruin, while allowing creditors to collect at least some of their debts in an orderly fashion. Filing for bankruptcy can have major negative effects on one's credit score, which will make it more difficult to get loans in the future.
Accordingly, if you are considering bankruptcy as an option, you need to thoroughly examine the costs and benefits. A good Florida bankruptcy attorney can advise you as to the pros and cons of bankruptcy, and give his or her expert opinion about whether or not bankruptcy is a good option, based on the facts of your distinct case.
Types of Bankruptcy in Florida
Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, so the procedures in filing for bankruptcy in Florida will be the same as anywhere else in the United States. There are 2 basic types of bankruptcy that consumers typically use: Chapter 7, and Chapter 13, owing their names to where they are found in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Additionally, there is a form of bankruptcy normally used by businesses called Chapter 11. Chapter 11 is available to individuals, but it is rarely the best option for them.
In Florida, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is known as "liquidation." When a person files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed by the bankruptcy court to do an accounting of the debtor's property. The trustee then decides what pieces of property, if any, should be sold off to pay off the debts. Many types of property are exempt from forced sale up to a certain dollar amount, including houses, cars, and retirement accounts. Once the property is sold, any remaining dischargeable debt is eliminated. Chapter 13 bankruptcy normally reorganizes, rather than discharges, one's debts. Basically, the court will come up with some type of repayment plan, independent of the terms of the agreements that created the debt in the first place (superseding any acceleration clauses). This is meant to give the debtor some breathing room, allowing them to repay their debts over time, without facing financial ruin in the process.
Normally, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is used by businesses as opposed to individuals. Much like Chapter 13, Chapter 11 involves the reorganization, as opposed to discharge, of a debtor's obligations. However, it is up the to the debtor to come up with a repayment plan, and once this happens, the plan is submitted to the participating creditors, who must approve it by majority vote.
How Can a Florida Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Because bankruptcy is a huge financial and life decision, it is not one to be made without as much information as possible. A Florida bankruptcy lawyer can help give you this information, and advise you as to whether or not bankruptcy is a prudent course of action, given your specific situation.
Interesting Facts About Florida
Florida is located at the very southeastern tip of the United States. Its official nickname is "The Sunshine State", on account of its tropical climate and beach/peninsula culture. Florida's state capitol is Tallahassee, and it is the fourth most highly populated state in the U.S. It has an extensive state university system and is largely driven by the tourism and vacation industries.
Until the year 1973, Florida had a very complex and sometimes confusing trial court system. Later on, the Florida trial court system was redeveloped to make it much simpler. Currently, Florida operates a two-tiered trial court system consisting of County Courts (a.k.a., "People's Courts") and Circuit Courts. Higher-level claims and some appeals are heard in one of Florida's District Courts, or at the Florida Supreme Court. However, the majority of legal claims and Florida originate at the County and Circuit Court levels.
Florida is also known as the "Fishing Capital of the World". Thus, many of Florida's laws involve regulation of coastal waters and various other marine issues. Florida is also known for several unique laws, covering distinct issues such as potable water, mandatory auto inspections, and prohibitions on the open-carrying of handguns.
Lawyers in Florida study diligently to learn the specific laws and regulations enforced in the state. This allows them to meet the community's legal needs in a manner that is thorough and efficient. As Florida is also national border state, many attorneys in Florida are familiar with broader international legal issues.