Bankruptcy in Santa Fe County, New Mexico is a court procedure through which a person or business who is unable to pay their debt is able to have some of their debt legally cleared, or "discharged." This theoretically allows the debtor to move on with a clean slate. However, bankruptcy should not be treated as a way to avoid debt that one simply doesn't feel like paying. It is meant to be a safety net for people or businesses who are truly unable to pay off their debts. Because bankruptcy is not without negative consequences (such as a heavily damaged credit rating for many years afterward), it should be viewed as an option of last resort.
Accordingly, you should speak with a good Santa Fe County, New Mexico bankruptcy lawyer. Your Santa Fe County 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 Santa Fe County, New Mexico
In Santa Fe County, New Mexico, there are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most commonly used. They are known as Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Being a product of federal law, the procedural rules governing bankruptcy in Santa Fe County, New Mexico will be very similar to those in any other part of the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of part 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 numerous 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 typically used bankruptcy system in Santa Fe County is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows a debtor to repay most or all of their debts in a structured manner. It reorganizes the debt into lower periodic payments that, with a bit of frugality, the debtor should find manageable. This allows the debtor to continue to earn a living, and allows the creditors to eventually collect what they are owed. Once a repayment plan is authorized by the bankruptcy court, creditors are legally barred from seeking repayment under the terms of the agreements that gave rise to the debt in the first place, and will instead have to accept payment under the new plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is usually a better option for people who have a steady income. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is almost always used by businesses, but there is nothing that legally prevents it from being used by individuals, and its use by individuals is very rare. Chapter 11 bankruptcy requires the debtor to come up with a restructuring plan - telling the court how they propose to cut costs, fix their operations, and pay down their debts. The plan has to be approved by a majority vote of participating creditors.
A major advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that businesses can continue their operating while going through the process. Also, they can continue to buy and sell their stock.
How Can a Santa Fe County Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in Santa Fe County is not one to be made easily, and it definitely should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an experienced Santa Fe County bankruptcy attorney.