Is there anything I should consider before filing bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy should be considered as a last resort.  Many other alternatives should first be considered, including working with creditors to arrive at a payment plan within your budget or an assignment of assets pursuant to Florida statute.  If there are assets that would normally be surrendered or distributed as a part of the bankruptcy process, an assignment of assets pursuant to Florida Statute may also be considered.

It is important to get the advise of legal counsel; it will help prepare you to make proper financial decisions and avoid unforeseen consequences while working with creditors.

Can organizations that promise to erase bad credit help me?

There are companies that promise to erase accurate negative credit reporting from your credit report for a fee.  These are scams.  Reporting must be in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Can credit repair organizations help me?

 Again, reporting must be according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Your credit does not get "repaired" because you send someone money. This is an activity you can easily do yourself for the cost of postage. The Federal Trade Commission has very good advise on how to accomplish this task on their website. I hope to have information on this website soon for the DIY person. However, please note, this does not relieve you of any legal responsibility you may have to creditors.

How will bankruptcy effect my credit?

Many people that file bankruptcy actually have their credit improved upon discharge, although the filing of bankruptcy is in itself considered negative.  This is because through bankruptcy, most debts are usually discharged.  Suddenly you do not owe these creditors any money, and you can not get another discharge through bankruptcy for a statutory period of time.  Another way to say this is, you have an increased ability to pay outstanding debts in full because you owe money to fewer creditors.  It is generally accepted that the best way to improve your credit score is to pay all bills on time.

Do I need to file bankruptcy?

Only an attorney familiar with the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) can properly assess whether or not you need to file bankruptcy, and whether or not you qualify.  There are a multitude of hypotheticals that must be considered as they relate to BAPCPA, and must be considered on a case by case, or individual, bases.

What is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is commonly referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy, or a start-over-again bankruptcy.  It contemplates the organized liquidation of non-exempt assets of a bankruptcy estate, with the proceeds being distributed to creditors, in exchange for the discharge of dischargeable debts.  A more detailed discussion of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be found: http://www.uscourts.gov/bankruptcycourts/bankruptcybasics/chapter7.html.

What debts are not dischargeable?

There are numerous debts that may not be dischargeable.   Some may seem obvious, such as domestic support obligations, however, many are not so obvious.  Some debts may not be dischargeable given the facts and circumstances surrounding the debt.  If you have a question as to whether or not a debt is dischargeable, you should seek the advise of an attorney.

What is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is commonly referred to as a repayment plan bankruptcy, or personal reorganization.  This bankruptcy is designed for a debtor having regular monthly income, and is most often filed by a person in an attempt to repay creditors based on the debtor’s disposable income, to pay the arrearages of a secured asset (such as a house or an automobile) and retain the asset, or do not qualify to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  A Chapter 13 usually last from 3 to 5 years. A more detailed discussion may be found at:
http://www.uscourts.gov/bankruptcycourts/bankruptcybasics/chapter13.html

Are there other forms of bankruptcy an individual can file?

Yes.  Chapter 7 and 13 are the most commonly filed chapters by an individual.  There are also a Chapter 11 (Reorganization) and a Chapter 12 (Family Farmer or Family Fisherman Bankruptcy) that may be filed by an individual.

Where can I file bankruptcy?

You must file bankruptcy within the jurisdiction where you have lived for the last 180 days.  If your jurisdiction is found to be in Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Flagler, Hamilton, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, or Union you are in the Middle District of Florida, and you would file in Jacksonville. 

If you are planning on both filing bankruptcy and moving your residence, it is advisable to consult with an attorney to assist you in planning.  The move may effect the exempt status of your assets.