In Valdosta, Georgia, bankruptcy is a court procedure in which a person or business has some or all of their debts excused (or "discharged"), theoretically allowing them to start 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). Bankruptcy should be treated as an option of last resort, and should not be viewed as a convenient way to get out of debt that you just don't feel like paying. Bankruptcy can have severe consequences, including but not limited to damage to your credit rating. A bad credit score can impact your ability to receive loans in the future, to rent an apartment, and possibly even your ability to get hired at some jobs (as some employers now run credit checks on prospective employees).
Accordingly, you should speak with a good Valdosta, Georgia bankruptcy lawyer. Your Valdosta bankruptcy lawyer can inform you of the costs and benefits of filing for bankruptcy, and give his or her professional opinion as to whether or not it's a good option, given your particular circumstances.
Types of Bankruptcy in Valdosta, Georgia
There are 3 bankruptcy schemes that are normally used in Valdosta: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, so the procedures in Valdosta, Georgia are very similar to what they will be anywhere else in the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of many of the debtor's assets in order to pay off as much of the debt as possible. This sounds harsh, but there is an upside: once the liquidation is complete, the debts are legally viewed as having been paid in full, whether or not the full amount was covered by the liquidation. Liquidation involves selling some personal property, and using the proceeds to pay off debt. Many types of property are exempt from liqudiation, and therefore may not need to be sold. They include homes, cars, and insurance policies, among others. You should know that some types of debt cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including taxes, student loans, and child support.
The other recognized bankruptcy scheme used by consumers in Valdosta is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In this system, debt is not discharged. Instead, it is restructured. This allows the debtor to have the terms of the agreements that gave rise to their debts in the first place thrown out, and replaced with new terms that call for a structured repayment plan, designed to allow the debtor to survive on whatever income they have, and allowing the creditors to get paid back eventually. Once a payment plan is approved, creditors are not allowed to attempt to collect payment under the original agreements. Though available to individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is mostly used by businesses. Like Chapter 13, Chapter 11 requires the restructuring of debts. Under this system, the debtor must come up with a plan to reduce debt, cut costs, and improve operations. Once this plan is proposed, it is submitted to the participating creditors, who must approve it by a majority vote before it can be implemented.
One main advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows businesses to continue their operations while the process plays out. Furthermore, their stock can still be bought and sold.
How Can a Valdosta Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to weigh all the options and consider the costs and benefits of filing for bankruptcy in Valdosta cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Valdosta bankruptcy attorney beforehand.