Bankruptcy is a legal procedure that allows an individual or business to have some or all of their debts discharged. It is typically considered as an option of last resort, because while it can stave off financial disaster, it has some substantial long-term consequences warranting careful consideration of the costs and benefits. Being a product of federal law, bankruptcy will go through federal courts. Accordingly, the procedure for filing for bankruptcy in Florida is basically the same as the procedure anywhere else in the United States. However, individual courts in Pinellas County, Florida will have distinct rules for exemptions, so you should speak with a local attorney before filing.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Pinellas County, Florida
In Pinellas County, Florida, there are 2 commonly-used forms of consumer bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 involves liquidation of some of a debtor's assets. It requires that a certain percentage of the debtor's property to be sold to pay off as much debt as possible. The majority of property that most people own, however, is exempt. This typically includes homes, vehicles, retirement accounts, and others. These are not available to creditors.
Once the non-exempt property is sold, the rest of the dischargeable debt is absolved. Some types of debt, however, is non-dischargeable, including student loans, criminal fines, and others. If most of your debt in Pinellas County, Florida is not dischargeable, Chapter 7 may not be the best option.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Pinellas County, Florida
In Pinellas County, Florida, Chapter 13 is substantially different from Chapter 7. Chapter 13 may or may not be the best choice for you; this depends on the facts of your specific situation. Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not absolve debt, it restructures it. This involves a court coming up with an adjusted repayment plan designed to be manageable for the debtor. This new plan sets aside the terms of the original arrangements that created the debt in the first place. This creates a new payment structure, typically involving a single monthly payment, that the debtor should find manageable.
Which Type of Consumer Bankruptcy Should I File in Pinellas County, Florida
Whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the right choice for you depends heavily on your distinct situation. If you have a steady income stream, and a lot of non-exempt property, Chapter 13 might be right for you. If you don't have a steady income, and most of your property is exempt, Chapter 7 might be a better way to go.
In any case, it would be a good idea to consult a local bankruptcy Attorney in Pinellas County, Florida. Your Attorney can make an educated judgment as to what your best option is, and advise you accordingly (of course, the choice to file for bankruptcy is ultimately yours).