Chapter 7:

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation of all the debtor’s non-exempt assets. It has the effect of canceling most, if not all, types of debt that an individual or a company may incur. Chapter 7 bankruptcies can be very beneficial to individuals without extremely valuable assets who have very high debt amounts without the ability to repay. It is very common that an individual may keep all of their possessions while wiping out most, if not all, of their debt obligations with the asset exemptions allowed in the state of Florida. However, if an individual, for example, multiple homes, cars, or extreme valuables that they wish to retain, perhaps a chapter 13 would be more beneficial.

Chapter 13:

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a good solution for people who need time to pay off certain debts. Unlike a Chapter 7, a Chapter 13 is not a liquidation of your non-exempt assets. In a Chapter 13 individuals will get to keep all of your property, regardless of its value, if you so chose. However, your attorneys will have to develop a payment plan with all of your creditors at a reduced amount over several years.
If you are facing foreclosure on your home, Chapter 13 may be an option of interest. You can keep your home by proposing a feasible repayment plan that includes your missed payments, as long as you stay current on your mortgage. Furthermore, if you have a more than one mortgage on your property, you may be able relieve yourself of payments or your second or third mortgage depending on the value of your home.

Chapter 11:

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy is reserved mostly for corporations that need to restructure their debts and assets in order to continue operating its business. It is also an avenue for individuals who may desire to file a Chapter 13 but do not qualify due to the high amount of debts and assets they posses. Cuenant & Nazareth, PA, works with some of the best and most experienced Chapter 11 law firms in South Florida to ensure the best possible outcome in these kinds of proceedings.
Which bankruptcy is right for me?
The decision whether to file bankruptcy and under which chapter to file depends entirely on your particular circumstances. Each filing is different as every individual/company have different circumstances. Please contact us for a more in depth analysis of your particular financial situation and we will be more than happy to assist you.
What happens when a bankruptcy petition is filed?

Creation of the Estate:

The commencement of a bankruptcy case creates an “estate.” The estate technically becomes the temporary legal owner of all of the Debtor’s property. The estate consists of all legal or equitable interests of the Debtor in property as of the date the case is filed, including property owned or held by another person if the Debtor has an interest in the property. The estate is managed by a court appointed official called the “Trustee”. The Trustee is in charge of determining which assets are exempt from creditors and which debts are to be discharged in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Automatic Stay:

Once a petition is filed, an “automatic stay” is invoked instantly which prohibits creditors from taking collection action against the Debtor or the Debtor’s property without Bankruptcy Court approval. The Court issues a notice of commencement advising all interested parties of the filing of the bankruptcy case. This notice provides the case number, trustee, date of the meeting of creditors, deadline to file a proof of claim (if applicable), and deadline to file an objection to the discharge (if applicable).

341 Meeting of Creditors:

Within 4-5 weeks after your attorneys file your petition for bankruptcy, a meeting of creditors called the “341″ will be held at the federal courthouse in your county. The 341 is a chance for the Trustee and any other creditors who you may owe to ask you questions about your debts, how they incurred, and why it is you are filing for bankruptcy.

Confirmation (Chapter 13 Only):

Since Chapter 13 debtors propose a payment plan to creditors, it must be confirmed and accepted by the court and your creditors. If the creditors believe that they are receiving a sufficient amount in lieu of bankruptcy and they have no objections, your plan will be confirmed by the court and you will be required to pay a fixed monthly amount to the trustee, who will then distribute the funds as per the plan to the various creditors.

Before filing:

Bankruptcy Intake Forms
At Cuenant & Nazareth, PA, we strive to make the filing process go as smoothly and as quickly as possible for our clients. To do this, it is essential that our clients give us the upmost details about their debts and their assets. This is why we require all clients to fill out the intake forms in the below link.

Credit Reports:

By law, we are required to pull a credit report on all individuals before filing to ensure we have the most accurate details on the debts owed and to whom. Our credit reports are catered specifically for bankruptcies which will not only show a client his current credit score, but also the estimate score they will have after discharge.
Use of Credit Cards before Filing
Do not use any credit cards after an attorney consultation or once you have decided to file bankruptcy. Usage may be construed as an abuse which could give the credit card companies the ability to object to the discharge of your debts to them.
Mandatory Credit Counseling
Before you can file for bankruptcy, you must consult a nonprofit credit counseling agency. To qualify for bankruptcy relief, you must show that you received credit counseling from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee’s office within the 180-day period before you filed. For more information follow this link:

Bankruptcy Counseling Information>>

Debt Collectors

You should be aware of The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which prohibits unfair collection of consumer debts. A debt collector may not use unfair or unconscionable means to collect or attempt to collect any debt. If the debt collectors intentionally and repeatedly violate The Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act before or after you retained your bankruptcy attorney, you may be able to recover damages. The following is a summary of a few prohibited debt collection practices:
1. Contacting you directly after you told the creditor you have retained an attorney to represent you.
2. Calling you at inconvenient times before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. local time. 3. Contacts to friends, family, and employers, other than to obtain your contact information 4. Telling your employer or co-worker that you owe money to the creditor. 5. Calling you at work after you have told them not to. 6. Intentional and continuous harassment or abuse in connection with a debt. 7. Using profane or abusive language when attempting to collect a debt.
8. Publishing you name in a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debt a creditor’s representative falsely representing that he is an attorney when in fact he is not licensed to practice law.
9. Threatening you with arrest or imprisonment for failing to pay a debt.
For More information click this link.

Before Consultation with Us:

Although it is not essential for you to prepare for your initial consultation with us, it will greatly help if you have a general grasp of your financial situation. By this we mean the amount of debts you owe and to whom do you owe as well as a general list of assets that belong to you or the individual who is considering bankruptcy.
If you wish to get a head start on the process, click the link below for our Bankruptcy Intake Guide which assists our firm in gathering the necessary information prior to filing.

WHAT’S DISCHARGABLE

While filing for bankruptcy can relieve individuals and corporations of most, if not all of their debts, some debts may not be affected. Some of these may include:

1. Debts not listed in your bankruptcy forms – If the debt is not listed on the forms and the potential creditors are not notified of the bankruptcy any debts owed to those creditors may not get discharged.

2. Recent Credit Purchases / Cash advances – Consumer debts owed to a single creditor for luxury goods or services if they total more than $500, and they are incurred with 90 days of filing the bankruptcy. Cash advances of more than $750 obtained with 70 days of filing the bankruptcy are presumed to be non-dischargeable.

3. Court-imposed fines and restitution – You cannot discharge fines, penalties or restitution that a federal, state, or local government has imposed to punish you for violating the law.

4. Unpaid back child support and alimony debts – These debts are known as Domestic Support Obligations and debts of this kind that accrue before on or after the day of the bankruptcy is filed will not be discharged.

5. Student Loans – Typically not dischargeable unless you can prove that paying the loan would impose an undue hardship…(very difficult to prove).

6. Income Tax Debts – Property Taxes are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Income Taxes are not dischargeable if you did not file a return or you were intentionally avoiding your tax obligations.

7. Debts you owe because of a civil judgment if the judgment against you arises out of your willful or malicious acts, or for personal injuries or death caused by drunk driving.

QUALIFYING FOR CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPCTY

The Means Test:

The Chapter 7 means test is a formula applied to determine whether or not the consumer should have enough money available to make some minimal payment to creditors.
The calculation can be complex, not only because of the numerous steps that may be involved, but because it requires an understanding of the rules concerning how your income is calculated for means test purposes and which debts are classified as unsecured and non-priority.
It is a two step process:

1 – Median Income Comparison

The first step in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test is simple: it compares your income to the median income of a Florida family the same size as yours.
If your income is higher than the median income, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy; it just triggers the second step in the test.

2 – Calculating Disposable Income and Unsecured Debts

The second step is a bit more complicated. Your “disposable income” needs to be calculated. Certain allowable expenses (determined by IRS guidelines) are subtracted from your income to find your “disposable income.” Depending upon what this number is will determine if Chapter 7 is right for you.

1. What happens when a bankruptcy petition is filed?

The commencement of a bankruptcy case creates an “estate.” The estate technically becomes the temporary legal owner of all of the Debtor’s property. The estate consists of all legal or equitable interests of the Debtor in property as of the date the case is filed, including property owned or held by another person if the Debtor has an interest in the property. The “automatic stay” is immediately invoked at the instant of the filing of the bankruptcy case, and it prohibits creditors from taking collection action against the Debtor or the Debtor’s property without Bankruptcy Court approval. The Court issues a notice of commencement advising all interested parties of the filing of the bankruptcy case. This notice provides the case number, trustee, date of the meeting of creditors, deadline to file a proof of claim (if applicable), and deadline to file an objection to the discharge (if applicable).

More information can be obtained by clicking here: http://www.flsb.uscourts.gov/. Local libraries may also have bankruptcy reference material. Further information about the federal judiciary may also be found by clicking here: United States Courts website.

2. Do I need an attorney to represent me in my bankruptcy case?

Each Debtor filing an individual bankruptcy has a right to represent him or herself (Pro Se Debtor); however, the use of an attorney is recommended. Ignorance of the law may cost an individual far more than an attorney’s fee. By law, a Corporation is required to have an attorney. Note: Individuals who choose to represent themselves will not be able to obtain legal advice from court personnel or from the trustee appointed to their case.

3. What is a Pro Se Debtor?

A Pro Se Debtor is one who files bankruptcy without an attorney. A Pro Se Debtor is responsible for all proceedings of his/her case. Failure to comply with the Bankruptcy Code and Rules or with court orders may cause dismissal of the Debtor’s case. It is recommended that all Debtors seek legal advice before filing bankruptcy.

4. Where can I obtain the necessary forms for filing bankruptcy?

The Court cannot supply forms. Forms are available from office supply stores or legal stationery stores. Forms are also available for printing by clicking here: Official Bankruptcy forms.

5. What are the current filing fees for filing bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 $ 299.00
Chapter 7 – To Reopen $ 260.00
Chapter 9 $1039.00
Chapter 9 – To Reopen $1000.00
Chapter 11 $1039.00
Chapter 11 – To Reopen $1000.00
Chapter 12 $ 239.00
Chapter 12 – To Reopen $ 200.00
Chapter 13 $ 274.00
Chapter 13 – To Reopen $ 235.00
Chapter 15 (known as foreign proceeding (§304) prior to October 17, 2005) $1039.00
Chapter 15 – To Reopen $1000.00

The prescribed filing fee, if paid by the Debtor, must be in the form of exact cash, cashier’s check, or money order made payable to Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court..

6. Can the Court waive the bankruptcy petition filing fee?

28 U.S.C. 1930(f)(1) provides that the court may waive filing fee in a case under Chapter 7 for an individual if the Court determines that such individual has income less than 150 percent of the income official poverty line applicable to a family of the size involved and is unable to pay that fee in installments. The Bankruptcy Rules do provide for individuals to pay the filing fee in installments. To pay the fee in installments, you must submit an application, and the application must be approved by the Court.

7. Why do I need exact change?

The policies of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts do not allow the Clerk’s Office to provide change.

8. What will happen to my case if I filed bankruptcy in the past and failed to pay the entire filing fee?

A Bankruptcy Judge may take any of the following steps when the entire filing fee has not been paid in a prior case and the Debtor tries to file another case within 180 days of the entry of the dismissal order: (1) dismiss the case being filed, (2) refuse to allow the Debtor to pay the filing fee in installments for the current case, (3) make the Debtor pay the filing fee from the previous case, or (4) take any other action that is appropriate.

9. What chapter is right for me?

Your decision whether to file bankruptcy and under which chapter to file depends on your particular circumstances. In general, Chapter 7 is appropriate when the Debtor has insufficient income to pay a portion of his/her debts, and the Debtor is not seeking to keep non-exempt property. Otherwise, if the Debtor has an income or property and can afford to repay at least some of his/her debts, Chapter 11, 12 or 13 may be appropriate, depending on whether the Debtor is an individual, partnership, corporation, or family farmer. The decision whether to file a bankruptcy case and under which chapter is an extremely important decision and has tremendous financial impact. Consequently, this decision may require expert advice from a bankruptcy attorney. You may contact The Florida Bar, Legal Aid, or the local Lawyer Referral Service found in your local telephone directories to obtain legal representation. You may also research the Court’s website by visiting http://www.flsb.uscourts.gov/.

10. What must I do before I file my case?

Pursuant to section 109(h)(1) you must complete and obtain a certificate from a approved non-profit budge and credit counseling agency during the 180-day period proceeding the date of filing.

11. What is the difference between a chapter 7, 13 and 11?

Chapter 7 – In a Chapter 7, Debtors are permitted to retain certain “exempt” property, while the remaining assets are liquidated by the trustee. The trustee will distribute the funds from the liquidation to holders of claims (creditors) in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. Accordingly, potential Debtors should realize that the filing of a petition under chapter 7 might result in the loss of non-exempt property.

Chapter 13 – Chapter 13 is designed for individuals with regular income to repay a portion or all of their debt over an extended period of time. Chapter 13 may be appropriate for Debtors who seek to retain certain assets through a repayment plan.

Chapter 11 – Chapter 11 allows corporations, partnerships, and certain individuals who do not qualify under Chapter 13, to reorganize without having to liquidate all assets. As in a Chapter 13, the Debtor (called the “debtor-in-possession” because a trustee is not normally assigned) is required to present a repayment plan. If the plan is accepted by the creditors and subsequently approved (“confirmed”) by the Court, this allows the Debtor to reorganize his/her/or its personal, financial, or business affairs.

12. Where can I get more information about bankruptcy and bankruptcy procedures? Is there a place I can get free or inexpensive legal advice before I file?

The easiest way to get free or inexpensive bankruptcy advice is to make an appointment with a private attorney. Some firms such as ours offer a free initial consultation. You may also consider contacting Legal Aid for inexpensive bankruptcy advice. Inexpensive help in typing your petition and other forms is available from “bankruptcy petition preparers.” “Paralegals” and “typing services” are considered bankruptcy petition preparers and not attorneys. They are not employed or supervised by attorneys and cannot represent you in your bankruptcy. Only a licensed attorney can give you legal advice. Bankruptcy petition preparation services are listed in the telephone book.

13. What services can a bankruptcy petition preparer provide?

Services of petition preparers are limited to the typing of forms. Petition Preparers are not authorized to practice law and therefore cannot provide debtors with legal advice.

14. How is a debt classified as secured, unsecured, priority, or administrative?

A secured debt is a debt that is collateralized by property. A creditor whose debt is “secured” has a right to foreclose or take property to satisfy a “secured debt.” For example, a mortgage loan is likely “secured” by a Debtor’s home. This means that the lender has the right to foreclose upon and take the home if the Debtor fails to make the loan payments.

An unsecured debt arises when you promise to repay someone a sum of money at a particular time, but you have not pledged any property as collateral for the debt.

A priority debt is a debt entitled to priority in payment, ahead of other debts. Please refer to 11 U.S.C. §507 of the Bankruptcy Code for a listing of such priority claims.

An administrative debt is a category of priority debt. Generally, it is created when someone provides goods or services to your bankruptcy estate after you file your petition. An example of an administrative debt is the fee charged by an attorney or other authorized professional for services rendered after the bankruptcy case has been filed.

15. When do I receive a discharge of my debts?

The Notice of the Section §341 Meeting of Creditors reflects a date by which all complaints objecting to discharge or dischargability of debts must be filed. If the debtor has complied with all of the filing requirements, paid the filing fee in full and pursuant to section 727(a) (10) completed an instructional course concerning personal financial management, and has filed the proper certification reflecting completion, your discharge will be entered in due course after the expiration of the date stated earlier.

16. What debts are dischargeable?

Generally, all debts listed on the petition are dischargeable. However, certain types of debt listed in 11 U.S.C. §523 are not dischargeable. The non-dischargeable debts listed in §523 include, but are not limited to:

a. Certain taxes and fines;
b. Debts arising from certain fraudulent conduct;
c. Debts not listed in your bankruptcy petition;
d. Alimony, child maintenance or support, and certain other related debts arising out of a divorce decree or separation agreement;
e. Debts caused by the Debtor’s willful and malicious injury to another;
f. Government guaranteed student loans;
g. Debts caused by a death or personal injury related to your operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated; and
h. Post-bankruptcy condominium or cooperative owner’s association fees.

This list includes only examples of non-dischargeable debts; see 11 U.S.C. § 523 for a complete list. Under § 523, a creditor or party in interest may also file a complaint to have their debt declared nondischargeable.

In a chapter 13 case, the discharge is broader under 11 U.S.C. § 1328(a).

For more information on discharges under chapters 7 & 13 visit: http://www.flsb.uscourts.gov/

17. How do I change or correct information in the petition, schedules, and statements I already filed with the Clerk’s Office?

The information contained in your petition, schedules, and statement of affairs is submitted under penalty of perjury. Therefore, you must be certain that it is correct when you sign these documents. If, however, you later discover that something is inaccurate, the documents may be corrected by the filing of an amendment with the Clerk’s Office. New schedules or statements must be filed showing the corrected information along with a certificate of service. A fee of $26.00 must be paid when amending schedules D, E, or F (or any list of creditors or mailing matrix). All amendments must be served upon the United States Trustee and case trustee, and certain amendments must be served upon the creditors affected by the amendment. The amendment must also contain an original signature.

18. What is a bankruptcy discharge?

It releases the Debtor from personal liability for discharged debts. Thus, it prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any action against the Debtor to collect the debts. Most, but not all, types of debts are discharged if they existed on the date the bankruptcy case was filed and were listed on the schedules. Some of the debts that are not discharged are discussed in question 15. Bankruptcy law regarding the scope of a discharge is complex, and Debtors should consult competent legal counsel prior to filing.

19. Can a discharge be denied?

Under certain circumstances, 11 U.S.C. § 727 provides the Debtor’s discharge may be denied in a chapter 7 case. Grounds for denial exist when the Debtor: (1) failed to keep or produce adequate books or financial records, (2) failed to satisfactorily explain any loss of assets, (3) committed a bankruptcy crime such as perjury, (4) failed to obey a lawful order of the bankruptcy court, or (5) fraudulently transferred, concealed, or destroyed property that would have become property of the estate. Refer to § 727 for a complete list.

20. What is the difference between a discharge being denied and a debt being declared nondischargeable?

The court can deny the Debtor’s discharge of all debts, or determine that a particular debt or debts are nondischargeable. If the court denies the discharge of all debts, then the Debtor will still be legally responsible for all the debts as if no bankruptcy petition had ever been filed. If only certain debts are ruled nondischargeable, the Debtor will still receive a discharge order. However, the Debtor will remain legally responsible for those nondischargeable debts. For a discharge to be denied, either as to a particular debt or as to all debts, someone must file an adversary proceeding (lawsuit) with the court. That party must then prove one of the grounds for denial of the discharge or for a debt to be declared nondischargeable. If your discharge is not withheld or none of your debts is declared to be nondischargeable, then all the debts listed in your petition will be discharged upon the entry of the order granting your discharge (meaning your personal liability for the debts will be eliminated).

21. How do I obtain information about a case?

You can visit the courthouse and view a file between the hours of 8:30am and 4:00pm, Monday through Friday. For addresses, phone numbers and locations, please visit: http://www.flsb.uscourts.gov/. Information about a case may be obtained by providing the Debtor’s social security or tax identification number or the Debtor’s name. The following information is available: whether a case has been filed, when it was filed and under which chapter, the judge assigned to the case, Debtor’s attorney and phone number, trustee and phone number, and date and time of the meeting of creditors required under Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. For further information on the VCIS, click here Voice Case Information System.

NOTE: Case information may not be available for cases filed prior to a certain date. Information for such older cases can only be obtained through the Archive’s Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Copies can be requested directly from the Archive Center, but certain information will be needed from the Court. Please contact the Clerk’s Office where the case was filed for availability of the file or for instructions on ordering archived information.

22. May I review my case file?

Yes, files maintained by the Clerk’s Office are public records. You may review your case, but you may not remove original documents from the Court files nor take the files from the Clerk’s Office. Copies of documents can be made by the Court at $.50 per page up to five pages. Anything over five pages must be copied by the Court’s contract copy serviceFor further information concerning the photocopying service, click here: Judicial Research & Copy Service.

23. Who can I call if I have a question about a pending case?

Call the Clerk’s Office or the case manager. Phone numbers for all offices are available by clicking on one of the following:

24. Can I view records through the Internet?

Yes. Access to electronic court records via the Internet or by direct dial-up modem is available by registering with PACER. To obtain a password contact the PACER Service Center at 1-800-676-6856 or click here: Pacer Service Center.

25. What is the role of a Trustee assigned in a chapter 7 or 13 case?

Under Chapter 7, an impartial trustee is appointed to administer the case by collecting and liquidating the Debtor’s non-exempt assets in a manner that maximizes the return to the Debtor’s unsecured creditors. Under Chapter 13, an impartial trustee is also appointed to administer the case. The primary roles of the chapter 13 trustee are to determine the feasibility of a Debtor’s repayment plan for the court and to serve as a disbursing agent, collecting payments from Debtors and making distributions to creditors.

26. What is the function of the U. S. Trustee?

The office of the U. S. Trustee is an agency of the Department of Justice, with responsibilities that include monitoring the administration of bankruptcy cases and detecting bankruptcy fraud. It is also responsible for appointing and supervising interim trustees to administer Chapter 7 cases, overseeing the Debtor-in-Possession, and appointing a standing Trustee in Chapter 13 cases.

27. What is a 341 meeting?

This meeting is referred to as the “meeting of creditors.” All creditors are notified so that they may attend, but their attendance is not required. Debtors have a duty to appear and testify under oath and answer questions by creditors. This meeting is presided over by the trustee assigned to the case and is held approximately 40 days after the petition is filed. Debtors are required to provide photo identification and proof of social security number to the assigned trustee. A Debtor’s failure to appear may result in dismissal of the case. If a continuance or change in the hearing date is sought, the trustee assigned to the case must be contacted.

28. If I file for bankruptcy, will it stop an eviction?

The Clerk’s Office is prohibited by federal statute from providing legal advice. Questions pertaining to how a bankruptcy filing affects enforcement of an eviction proceeding should be directed to a bankruptcy attorney.

29. How long does a bankruptcy filing remain on my credit report?

A maximum of ten years under provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

30. How do I get a bankruptcy filing removed from my credit report?

The Bankruptcy Court has no jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 6 U.S.C. § 605, is the law that controls credit-reporting agencies. The law states that credit reporting agencies may not report a bankruptcy case on a person’s credit report after ten years from the date the bankruptcy case is filed. You may contact the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Education Division, Washington, D.C. 20580; their phone number is (202) 326-2222. That agency can provide further information on reestablishing credit and addressing credit problems. You can also directly contact the credit bureau(s) reporting the information – e.g., Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.

31. What can I do if I disagree with an order entered in a case?

You can either file a motion for reconsideration of the order or file a notice of appeal. The person fiing the notice of appeal becomes an “Appellant” and the other party, the “Appellee.” When an appeal is filed, the matter is referred to the United States District Court. The filing fee is $250.00 to Docket the Appeal and $5.00 for the Notice of Appeal.

32. What is an adversary proceeding? What do I need to file when filing an adversary proceeding with the Court?

An adversary proceeding is a lawsuit arising in or related to a bankruptcy case. It is commenced with the filing of an adversary proceeding cover sheet, complaint, summons, and the filing fee of $250.00, if applicable.

33. What can I do if a creditor keeps trying to collect money after I have filed bankruptcy?

You should immediately notify the creditor in writing that you have filed bankruptcy, and provide them with the case name, case number, and filing date, or a copy of the petition that shows it was filed. If a creditor continues to attempt to collect, the Debtor may be entitled to take legal action against the creditor to obtain a specific order from the court prohibiting the creditor from taking further collection action. However, a formal motion must be filed, in accordance with the Bankruptcy Code and applicable Rules. If the creditor is willfully violating the automatic stay, the Court can hold the creditor in contempt of court and fine the creditor. Any such legal action brought against the creditor will be complex and will normally dictate representation by a qualified bankruptcy attorney.

4. What should I do if I cannot make my Chapter 13 payment?

If the Debtor cannot make a chapter 13 payment on time pursuant to the terms of the confirmed plan, the Debtor should contact the chapter 13 Trustee by phone and by letter advising the Trustee of the problem and whether it is temporary or permanent. If it is temporary, the Debtor should advise the Trustee of the time and manner in which the Debtor will make up the payments. So long as the Trustee agrees, the payments can be made up over time. If the problem is permanent and the Debtor is no longer able to make payments under the plan, the Trustee will request that the case be dismissed or converted to another chapter, or the Debtor may seek to modify his or her plan. The determination of whether to modify the plan or dismiss or convert a case requires legal analysis. The Debtor should seek counsel from a qualified bankruptcy attorney before attempting to make a decision how to proceed in their case.

35. My ex-spouse has filed bankruptcy. He/she has listed me as a co-signer on a scheduled debt. What can I do? Does my divorce decree protect me?

If you are a co-debtor with your ex-spouse on a debt, the creditor can require the entire payment of that debt from your share of the marital property, even though the divorce decree assigns the debt to your ex-spouse. Depending on the terms of your divorce decree, you may be able to have certain support obligations determined to be nondischargeable by the bankruptcy court or in state court. You should seek legal advice for a thorough explanation of your rights and obligations in this area as soon as you find out that your ex-spouse has filed bankruptcy.

36. A company has filed for bankruptcy and owes us money. What do we do?

If you have been listed as a creditor in a bankruptcy case and you received a proof of claim form from the bankruptcy court, make sure to complete the form and file it with the court by the required date. You must attach any documentation that supports your claim. If you wish to have a conformed copy returned to you, please enclose an extra copy and self-addressed, stamped envelope. If you were not listed as a creditor, you may obtain a claim form from the bankruptcy court or you can download a claim form by visiting the “Forms” section at: http://www.flsb.uscourts.gov/.

NOTE: Information regarding when a claim will be paid should be directed to the trustee assigned to the case, whose name and telephone number can be found on the 341 meeting notice.

37. How can I access court dockets by computer?

The PACER system allows you to access docket sheets for bankruptcy case proceedings if you have a computer and modem. The fee for accessing the PACER service via the Internet (Web PACER) is 7 cents per page. To register for PACER, contact the PACER Service Center at 800-676-6856. For further information on PACER, click here PACER.

38. How do I obtain a proof of claim form?

Proof of claim forms can be obtained at the Clerk’s Office of the Bankruptcy Court. You may send a written request with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the Clerk’s Office. If you have access to the web you can download the form now by clicking Proof of Claim form. Please read all instructions found on page two before submitting your claim.

39. What is a reaffirmation agreement?

A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement between the Debtor and a creditor that the Debtor will pay all or a portion of the money owed, even though the Debtor has filed bankruptcy. In return, the creditor promises that, as long as payments are made, the creditor will not repossess or take back its collateral. This means that the Debtor will remain personally liable on that debt.

Refer to 11 U.S.C. § 524 Bankruptcy Code for detailed information.

40. What is a Motion?

A motion is a written formal document in which the party, the movant, who is requesting an action, sets forth his grounds for the action requested. The party against whom the action is requested is the respondent.

41. How do I obtain copies or certified copies of documents?

Copies may be obtained directly from the Court at a fee of $.50 per page (maximum of 5 pages at one time) and certified copies at $.50 per page (maximum of 5 at one time) and a $9.00 certification fee. For copy requests exceeding these limits, customers are referred to contract copy services vendor, Judicial Research and Retrieval Services, Inc. Files that are no longer housed in our courthouse facilities are archived at the Archive Center in Ellenwood, Georgia to retrieve files through the mail; the requestor must include the case name, case number, and $26.00 search fee for the archived information.

However, there is no charge for this information to customers who come to the Clerk’s office. The Clerk’s office will first verify the case was filed in that particular division. The clerk’s office will then provide the “Request for Bankruptcy Case File” form, with the accession number, box number, and location number. Once you receive this information, you may contact the Archive Center in Atlanta, Georgia, for copies. The telephone number for the center is (404) 763-7474, fax number is (404) 763-7815, and their website is: National Archives Center. Please note that the Archive Center requires a fee for this service.

42. How do I get a hearing date?

It is not necessary to contact the Court for a hearing date. Upon receipt of properly filed documents, a hearing will be set automatically, and proper notice of the hearing date and time will be given to interested parties.

43. May I receive notice from the court via electronic transmission (i.e.: internet e-mail)?

Only debtors filing bankruptcy without representation (pro se) may elect to receive electronic notice by e-mail whenever a filing is made with the Court. Please

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