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 eventually decide that they are outweighed by the benefits. Bankruptcy is controlled by federal law and handled in federal courts, so the procedural and substantive rules involved in Pennsylvania are often the identical as everywhere 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 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney beforehand.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
There are 2 main forms of bankruptcy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. They are known as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Chapter 7 involves liquidation of part 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 the non-exempt property is sold, the rest of the dischargeable debt is excused. Some forms of debt, however, is non-dischargeable, including student loans, criminal fines, and others. If most of your debt in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is not dischargeable, Chapter 7 may not be the best option.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania differs substantially from Chapter 7. It might be a better option than Chapter 7, depending on the facts of your 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 a 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 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the right choice for you depends heavily on your particular situation. If you have a stable income stream, and a lot of non-exempt property, Chapter 13 might be right for you. If you don't have a stable income, and most of your property is exempt, Chapter 7 might be a better way to go.
Whatever your situation, you should speak with a local Bethlehem, Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyer. Your attorney will be able to advise you of your options and their likely outcomes, which will help you make a more educated decision.