In Escambia County, Florida, 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). However, bankruptcy should not be treated as a way to avoid debt that one simply doesn't feel like paying. It is meant to be a safety net for people or businesses who are honestly unable to pay off their debts. Because bankruptcy is not without negative consequences (such as a heavily damaged credit rating for many years afterward), it should be viewed as an option of last resort.
Accordingly, you should speak with a good Escambia County, Florida bankruptcy lawyer. Your Escambia 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 Escambia County, Florida
In Escambia County, Florida, 3 types of bankruptcy procedures are in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. Being governed by federal law, the procedures involved in filing for bankruptcy in Escambia County, Florida will be roughly the same as everywhere else in America. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of part of the debtor's assets to pay off as much of his or her debt as possible. Once the liquidation is fulfilled, and the proceeds given to the creditors, the rest of the debt is discharged. Liquidation is essentially selling assets to the highest bidder. Only some of the debtor's assets have to be sold, and various classes of property are exempt, meaning that the debtor can keep them, including homes, cars, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. It should be noted that certain types of debt cannot be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, child support payments, criminal fines, and recent taxes.
The other largely used bankruptcy system in Escambia 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.
A major advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that businesses can continue their operating while going through the process. Also, they can continue to buy and sell their stock.
How Can a Escambia County Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankrtuptcy in Escambia County is a huge decision with costs and benefits that must be weighed carefully. Before filing, it would be a good idea to speak with a seasoned Escambia County bankruptcy attorney.