Bankruptcy in Cleveland, Ohio 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. Bankruptcy should be treated as an option of last resort, and should not be viewed as a proper 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 acquire 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 Cleveland, Ohio bankruptcy lawyer. Your Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer can inform you of the costs and benefits of filing for bankruptcy, and give his or her professional advice as to whether or not it's a good option, given your individual circumstances.
Types of Bankruptcy in Cleveland, Ohio
In Cleveland, Ohio, there are 3 types of bankruptcy in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Because bankruptcy is a result of federal law, the procedures governing bankruptcy in Cleveland, Ohio will be similar everywhere else in the U.S. 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 funds to pay off debt. Varied 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 popular bankruptcy system in Cleveland 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 decent amount of time. When a repayment plan is authorized by a court, creditors are legally barred from trying to collect under the original terms of their contract with the debtor. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is usually used by businesses, though it can be used by individuals (which is quite rare). Chapter 11 bankruptcy requires that the debtor come up with a reorganization plan - basically telling the court how they propose to cut costs, streamline their operations, and pay their debts. This plan must be authorized by the participating creditors through a simple majority vote.
One advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows a business going through it to continue operating, and to trade its stock.
How Can a Cleveland Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to consider all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Cleveland cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Cleveland bankruptcy attorney beforehand.