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. Since it's a creation of federal law, bankruptcy is handled in federal courts. Therefore, the rules and procedures governing it in Texas will be the same as everywhere else in the country. Particular courts in Harris County, Texas will have some unique rules, however, so you should consult with a local lawyer before you file.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Harris County, Texas
There are 2 common forms of consumer bankruptcies in Harris County, Texas: 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 qualifying property is sold, and the funds transferred to the creditors, the dischargeable debt is cleared. Some forms of debt, however, can't be absolved in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Harris County, Texas. These include student loans, criminal fines, and taxes, among others. If most of your debt can't be absolved, Chapter 7 may not be the best choice for you.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Harris County, Texas
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Harris County, Texas is very different from Chapter 7. Whether or not it is a better option is very dependent on the facts of each particular case. Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not excuse debt, it restructures it. This involves a court coming up with an altered repayment plan designed to be manageable for the debtor. This new plan sets aside the terms of the original contracts that created the debt in the first place. This creates a new payment structure, normally involving a single monthly payment, that the debtor should find manageable.
Which Type of Consumer Bankruptcy Should I File in Harris County, Texas
The answer to this question depends strongly on your particular situation. If you have enough stable income to manage a payment plan, and a lot of non-exempt property that you are unwilling to part with, Chapter 13 may be a good option. If you don't have much stable income, and most of your property is exempt, Chapter 7 might be better.
Of course, you should always seek the counsel of an accomplished local Harris County, Texas bankruptcy attorney before you make the decision to file. He or she will be able to advise you of your options, and suggest the best possible course of action for your individual situation.