In Cleveland, Tennessee, bankruptcy is a judicial process in which the debts of a person or business can be eliminated or restructured. This allows the debtor to climb out of a financial hole, and move on with a clean slate, which is sometimes more economically efficient than requiring the debtor to pay off everything they owe. Remember, though, that bankruptcy should not be viewed as a convenient way to get out of debt that you don't feel like paying back. It is meant to serve as an option of last resort for people and businesses faced with debt that they will probably never be able to pay back. The decision to file for bankruptcy can result in negative consequences, such as damaged credit ratings, which must be seriously weighed against the potential benefits.
Accordingly, you should speak with a good Cleveland, Tennessee bankruptcy lawyer. Your Cleveland 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 Cleveland, Tennessee
There are 3 bankruptcy schemes that are commonly used in Cleveland: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, so the procedures in Cleveland, Tennessee are very similar to what they will be anywhere else in the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or "liquidation," requires the debtor to sell some of his or her property to the highest bidder, and using the proceeds from the sale to pay down as much debt as possible. Once the sale is complete, all dischargeable debt is deemed paid in full, whether or not the sale was able to raise the entire amount owed. You should note that some property (usually the types of property deemed essential) is fully or partially exempt from liquidation, meaning that the debtor gets to keep it. This includes houses, cars, and retirement accounts, among others. Some types of debts, however, cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, including taxes, child support, and student loans.
The other common bankruptcy scheme used by consumers in Cleveland is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In this system, debt is not discharged. Instead, it is restructured. This allows the debtor to have the terms of the agreements that gave rise to their debts in the first place thrown out, and replaced with new terms that call for a structured repayment plan, designed to allow the debtor to survive on whatever income they have, and allowing the creditors to get paid back eventually. Once a payment plan is approved, creditors are not allowed to attempt to collect payment under the original agreements. Though Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be used by individuals, it is almost exclusively used by businesses. Similar to Chapter 13, Chapter 11 involves restructuring of debts, rather than complete discharge. The debtor is required to come up with a restructuring plan that lays out how it plans to cut costs, streamline operations, and pay its debts. The plan must then be approved by a vote of participating creditors.
A main advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that businesses can continue their operations while going through the process. Also, they can continue to buy and sell their stock.
How Can a Cleveland Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankruptcy in Cleveland is a very important decision, and should not be made lightly. Before filing, one should consult with a good Cleveland bankruptcy attorney for advice.