Consumer debtors have two options when filing for bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Anyone who files that they are bankrupt will have to undergo the means test. This test looks at the income of the filer and when they have an above median average salary (at least in the State where they files), they will be forced to submit to the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process. This involves a repayment plan that the court will decide on and mandate the consumer to follow.
But if the filer is found to be qualified for Chapter 7 after the means test, that could lead to all their debts being discharged. This means they do not have to pay cash towards any of the debts included in the bankruptcy filing. To better discuss Chapter 7, here is the usual process involved.
First is the professional consultation. This is very difficult to do on your own. A bankruptcy lawyer is required to help you understand all the legal details. There are various documents to be submitted and it can be quite confusing. Bankruptcy is not something that you can make a mistake and just apologize so just hire the lawyer to keep it from happening.
Your lawyer will require you to submit a lot of information and you need to comply. Do not withhold any details - even your properties and valuable assets will have to be declared. If you keep some assets and they are discovered, it will cause you some punishment from the bankruptcy court. Give them a list of your assets and the value of each. This can be placed in a Statement of Intention that will also indicate the assets that you want to keep.
You also have to give them your income details and also that of your employment. Lastly, you will be asked to list down your creditors and the amount you owe each of them.
Before the actual filing, you will be required to undergo a credit counseling program. You need to enrol with an agency or company that is approved by the courts or the US Trustee. This is needed within 6 months prior to the filing. It is the effort of the court to educate filers about other bankruptcy alternatives.
Once accomplished, the lawyer you hired will file the petition. All the creditors on your list will be notified anytime during the first 15 days after the filing. At the same time, a bankruptcy trustee will be assigned to analyze your finances. They will be in charged of scheduling any meetings with the creditors and court hearings. One of the meetings is known as the 314 meetings wherein the creditors have the chance to question or object the bankruptcy petition.
You also have to undergo Debtors Education that aims to give you the knowledge that will keep you from another bankruptcy situation. This is another requirement before the completion of the bankruptcy process.
If the creditors all have no complaints or objections, the court will decide the properties that will be liquidated, who will get the proceeds and so on. If there are no properties to discharge, then you will proceed to the discharging of the debt.
All of these take about 2 months to complete. Once that is accomplished, your next step is to start rebuilding your credit score - which should have gone through a significant negative impact since you filed for bankruptcy.