Bankruptcy is a legal procedure that allows an individual or business to have some or all of their debts discharged. It is usually considered as an option of last resort, because while it can stave off financial disaster, it has some significant long-term consequences warranting careful consideration of the costs and benefits. Since it's a product of federal law, bankruptcy is handled in federal courts. Therefore, the rules and procedures governing it in Iowa will be the same as anywhere else in the country. Individual courts in Polk County, Iowa will have some unique rules, however, so you should consult with a local lawyer before you file.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Polk County, Iowa
In Polk County, Iowa, 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 usually includes homes, vehicles, retirement accounts, and others. These are not available to creditors.
Once eligible assets are sold, and the money turned over to the creditors, most remaining debt is discharged. However, there are certain types of debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, including student loans, taxes, child support, and criminal fines. If most of your debt is non-dischargeable, it may not be a good idea to file for bankruptcy in Polk County, Iowa.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Polk County, Iowa
In Polk County, Iowa, Chapter 13 is quite different from Chapter 7. Chapter 13 may or may not be the best choice for you; this depends on the facts of your particular situation. Chapter 13 does not eliminate any debt, but it creates a new payment plan that should give the debtor some breathing room. Usually, all of the debts are consolidated into 1 periodic payment. While this might make it take longer to pay off the debt, if the debtor is willing to make a few sacrifices, the plan should be manageable.
Which Type of Consumer Bankruptcy Should I File in Polk County, Iowa
Which Bankruptcy type to file under depends heavily on the facts of each individual case. If you have a steady stream of income (enough to make a payment plan manageable), and a large amount of non-exempt property that you don't want to part with, Chapter 13 may be best for you. If you don't have a steady income or large amounts of non-exempt property, you may be better off filing for Chapter 7.
Whatever your situation, you should speak with a local Polk County, Iowa bankruptcy attorney. Your lawyer will be able to advise you of your options and their likely consequences, which will help you make a more educated decision.