In Fort Dodge, Iowa, 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 Fort Dodge, Iowa bankruptcy lawyer. Your Fort Dodge 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 Fort Dodge, Iowa
In Fort Dodge, Iowa, there are 3 types of bankruptcy in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Because bankruptcy is a creation of federal law, the procedures governing bankruptcy in Fort Dodge, Iowa will be similar anywhere else in the U.S. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of some of the debtor's assets to pay off as much of his or her debt as possible. Once the liquidation is complete, 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 varied 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 popular bankruptcy system in Fort Dodge is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Under this system, the debtor's debts are restructured, instead of discharged. This involves creating a new repayment plan that the debtor will find manageable, given his or her income, and that will result in the creditors being paid in a reasonable amount of time. When a repayment plan is approved by a court, creditors are legally barred from attempting to collect under the original terms of their agreement with the debtor. 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 Fort Dodge Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
One should not make the decision to file for bankruptcy in Fort Dodge lightly. Before making any such decision, it would be highly advisable to contact an experienced Fort Dodge bankruptcy attorney.