Bankruptcy is a legal process allowing an individual or business to have some or all of their debt absolved. It is almost always considered as a last resort because it can have some negative long-term consequences which must be considered, even if you ultimately decide that they are outweighed by the benefits. Bankruptcy is governed by federal law and handled in federal courts, so the procedural and substantive rules involved in Pennsylvania are often the same as anywhere else in the U.S. However, individual bankruptcy courts have slightly different rules for items such as exemptions, so it would be a good idea to consult with a local Allegheny County, Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyer beforehand.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
There are 2 main types of bankruptcy in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. They are known as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. 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 normally includes homes, vehicles, retirement accounts, and others. These are not available to creditors.
Once all non-exempt assets are sold, and the money from the sales turned over to the creditors, most remaining debt is absolved. But some types of debt cannot be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. These include child support payments, student loans, and criminal fines, among others. If most of your Allegheny County, Pennsylvania debts are not dischargeable, you might want to consider options other than bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania is very different from Chapter 7. Whether or not it is a better option is highly dependent on the facts of each particular case. 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 contracts that gave rise to the debt in the first place. This results in an altered 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 Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
This depends entirely on the facts of your individual case. If you have a decent amount of steady income, and a large amount of non-exempt property which you don't want to part with, Chapter 13 might be the best option for you. If most of your property is exempt, and you don't have much steady income, Chapter 7 might be the best option.
In any case, you should talk with a local Allegheny County, Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney. Your attorney can advise you of your options and inform you of their likely outcome. This will make it much easier for your to make an informed choice.