Bankruptcy is a legal process allowing an individual or business to have some or all of their debt excused. 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 proceeds in federal courts. So, the process for filing for bankruptcy in Pennsylvania will be very similar to the process everywhere else in the U.S. However, individual bankruptcy courts have different rules for exemptions, so it might be a good idea to consult with a local lawyer in Northampton, Pennsylvania before filing.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Northampton, Pennsylvania
In Northampton, Pennsylvania, there are 2 commonly-used types of consumer bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of some of the debtor's assets. It requires some percentage of the debtor's property to be sold in order to pay off as much of his or her debt as possible. However, the majority of property that most people own is exempt. This typically includes homes, vehicles, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. These do not have to be sold.
Once the non-exempt property is sold, the rest of the dischargeable debt is cleared. Some forms of debt, however, is non-dischargeable, including student loans, criminal fines, and others. If most of your debt in Northampton, Pennsylvania is not dischargeable, Chapter 7 may not be the best option.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Northampton, Pennsylvania
In Northampton, Pennsylvania, Chapter 13 is substantially different from Chapter 7. Chapter 13 may or may not be the best choice for you; this depends on the facts of your specific situation. Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not absolve debt, it restructures it. This involves a court coming up with an adjusted repayment plan designed to be manageable for the debtor. This new plan sets aside the terms of the original arrangements that created the debt in the first place. This creates a new payment structure, typically involving a single monthly payment, that the debtor should find manageable.
Which Type of Consumer Bankruptcy Should I File in Northampton, Pennsylvania
Which Bankruptcy type to file under depends strongly on the facts of each distinct 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, it would be a good idea to consult a local bankruptcy lawyer in Northampton, Pennsylvania. Your lawyer can make an educated judgment as to what your best option is, and advise you accordingly (of course, the choice to file for bankruptcy is ultimately yours).