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 creation of federal law, bankruptcy is handled in federal courts. Therefore, the rules and procedures governing it in Illinois will be the same as everywhere else in the country. Individual courts in Cook County, Illinois will have some unique rules, however, so you should consult with a local lawyer before you file.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Cook County, Illinois
In Cook County, Illinois, there are 2 main types of commonly-used consumer bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 liquidates part of the debtor's assets. It requires a certain percentage of the debtor's assets to be sold off to pay as much of his or her debt as possible. However, many forms of property that most people own are exempt, meaning that they don't need to be sold. This often includes houses, vehicles, insurance policies, and essential personal items, like clothing. These assets 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 Cook County, Illinois.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Cook County, Illinois
In Cook County, Illinois, chapter 13 is extremely different from Chapter 7, and may or may not be the best option for you, depending on your situation. Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not discharge debt. Instead, it restructures it. This involves the bankruptcy court coming up with a new payment plan that supersedes the terms of the agreements that gave rise to the debt in the first place. This results in a new payment plan that the debtor should find manageable, if he or she can make a few sacrifices.
Which Type of Consumer Bankruptcy Should I File in Cook County, Illinois
Which Bankruptcy type to file under depends strongly on the facts of each individual case. If you have a stable 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 stable income or large amounts of non-exempt property, you may be better off filing for Chapter 7.
In any case, you should talk with a local Cook County, Illinois bankruptcy lawyer. Your lawyer can advise you of your options and inform you of their likely consequences. This will make it much easier for your to make an informed choice.