Ohio State Bankruptcy Laws

What Are The Ohio Bankruptcy Exemptions?

OhioOhio law protects all or a portion of your property from being seized by creditors or the bankruptcy trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are generally allowed to keep all of your assets and property. Certain exceptions may apply, so it’s wise to consult with an Ohio bankruptcy attorney to find which of your assets will be protected in a bankruptcy filed in Ohio. In general, the major Ohio bankruptcy exemptions include:

GENERAL OHIO EXEMPTIONS
Real Estate (the Homestead Exemption)
Up to $5,000 of equity in real or personal property can be protected.
Automobiles
One Up to $1,000 of equity in one motor vehicle can be protected.
Other Property
$200 in clothing, beds, and bedding; $300 in one cooking unit and one refrigerator; $400 in cash on hand, money due and payable, money to become due within ninety days, tax refunds, and money on deposit with a bank, savings and loan association, credit union, public utility, landlord, or other person; $200 in household furnishings, household goods, appliances, books, animals, crops, musical instruments, firearms, and hunting and fishing equipment; $600 in one or more items of jewelry.
View the complete list of Ohio bankruptcy exemptions

Please remember that this page provides general information only, and is not intended to provide legal advice. The information is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified bankruptcy attorney. If you need legal assistance, consult an attorney.

Which state’s exemption laws apply in your bankruptcy?

OhioGenerally, the laws of the state in which you lived for the 730 days (2 years) prior to filing a bankruptcy petition will apply in your bankruptcy.

If you have not lived in the same state for the 2 years immediately prior to filing your bankruptcy petition, the laws of the state in which you lived for the majority of the 180-day period preceding the 2-year period will likely apply.

If application of the preceding general rules renders you ineligible for exemptions under any state’s laws, you may be allowed to choose the federal exemptions applicable in your bankruptcy.

Is Ohio a Community Property State?

No, Ohio is not a community property state. Because it is not a community property state, you will be responsible for your spouse’s debts only if you voluntarily assumed those debts by, for example, co-signing on a loan given to your spouse. In a non-community property state, one spouse can file for bankruptcy and be eligible to eliminate all of their unsecured debts without the involvement of the other spouse.

How did your senator vote on the new bankruptcy laws?

Following years of intense lobbying by creditors, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). How did your Senators vote on these largely pro-creditor provisions?

DeWine (R-OH) — YEA
Voinovich (R-OH) — YEA

Ohio Bankruptcy Court Locations:

411 U.S. Courthouse
1716 Spielbusch Avenue
Toledo, Ohio 43604
(419) 213-5600

Howard M. Metzenbaum U.S. Courthouse
201 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114-1235
(216) 615-4300

Nathaniel R. Jones
Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse

10 East Commerce Street
Youngstown, Ohio 44503-1621
(330) 746-7027

455 U.S. Courthouse
2 South Main Street
Akron, Ohio 44308
(330) 252-6100

Frank T. Bow Building
201 Cleveland Ave SW
Canton, OH 44702
(330) 489-4426

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Southern District of Ohio
Cincinnati Divisional Office

221 E. Fourth Street
Atrium Two Suite 800
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(513) 684-2572

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Southern District of Ohio
Columbus Divisional Office
170 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
(614) 469-6638

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Southern District of Ohio
Dayton Office

120 West Third Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402
(937) 225-2516

Note: You may not have to actually go to one of the above bankruptcy courts. Trustees often conduct your meeting at a local venue.

Although bankruptcy is federal law, the bankruptcy courts in each jurisdiction have local rules that must be followed. A local bankruptcy attorney will be familiar with the specific rules in your area.

Ohio Bankruptcy Attorney Locations:

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Explaining the Bankruptcy Petition

One of the most important parts of the bankruptcy process is the completion and filing of the bankruptcy petition. It is, put simply, the official form required to file a bankruptcy in the United States. A bankruptcy petition can range from a dozen pages to hundreds of pages in length depending on the specific financial situation of the debtor. Each section of the petition is referred to as a “schedule.” Even if you hire an attorney to help you with your bankruptcy it is still vital that you understand, as the debtor, what your petition must include. Below is an explanation of 5 of the most important parts of the bankruptcy petition:

  1. Schedule D – In this section of the bankruptcy petition your secured creditors will be listed. A secured debt is one that is tied to a specific tangible item. This list can include your mortgage lender, the company who holds your car loan. Just because these creditors are listed does not mean that the items they are associated will be taken from you. In most cases you can keep your secured items safe by remaining current on the payments.
  2. Schedule E – This section of the petition involves listing your unsecured creditors. Unsecured debt is the most common type of debt in America and can include things like credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, payday loans, judgments, etc. In order to accurately list all of your unsecured creditors your bankruptcy lawyer may recommend pulling an up to date credit report.
  3. Schedule I – This schedule is a comprehensive list of the debtor’s household income. Even if your spouse is not filing a joint case with you, it is likely that the bankruptcy court will want to see his/her income as well.
  4. Schedule J – This schedule is a comprehensive list of the debtor’s monthly expenses. This list includes life’s necessities such as rent, car payment, utilities, clothing, groceries, and others. You will create this list with your attorney by estimating what you spend each month. Using this schedule in connection with Schedule I (income) the court will determine whether or not you qualify to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  5. Signature Page – On the final page of the petition the debtor(s) must sign their name agreeing that to their knowledge the petition is correct and does not involve fraudulent statements. Without a signature on this page your bankruptcy could be thrown out.

As you can see the petition involves lots of detailed information. It may seem overwhelming to you, but that is why hiring a bankruptcy attorney is recommended. Bankruptcy attorneys see petitions every single day and have an understanding of exactly what information needs to be on each schedule. Before signing the petition your attorney should go over the information with you and answer any questions you may have about the information you see.

What Are the New Bankruptcy Laws?

On October 17th of 2005, a new bankruptcy law entitled the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act ”(or “BAPCA”) went into effect on a national scale. The law was created and passed by President George W. Bush and our 109th Congress. Critics argue that the new bankruptcy laws are a result of Congress giving in to the demands of wealthy creditors who have aggressively lobbied for bankruptcy law changes for many years.

Bankruptcy - What are the New Bankruptcy Laws

The new bankruptcy laws affect all bankruptcies filed, but recent studies show that approximately 80% of past filers who would qualify previously under the old laws would still qualify to file under the new bankruptcy laws. They would be eligible to eliminate substantially the same debts as before.

The changes that BACPA made to the previous Bankruptcy Code are all encompassing. The new law greatly impacted how bankruptcy law is practiced and what procedures must be followed.

Determining Eligibility to File Chapter 7

The new bankruptcy law set forth a new eligibility test called the “Means Test.” Instead of looking at your actual budget to see if you can afford to repay your debts, the Bankruptcy Court now looks at an average budget and income in the state and county you live in to see if you should be able to afford to repay your debts.

Using this average budget instead of your real budget means some people who would have qualified for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy under the old laws won’t necessarily qualify under the new law. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may still be available even if you don’t pass the means test. However, for most people, the law change won’t affect their ability to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and may even make eligibility easier to demonstrate.

If your household makes less than your state’s median income for a family of your size, you are “presumed” not be abusing the Bankruptcy Code and you can file Chapter 7 rather painlessly. The new law’s budget criterion (or the Means Test) also takes into account the inflated cost of living in high-cost living areas that you find in many major cities and metropolitan areas across our country. The Means Test gives you a reasonable allowance for paying rent, utilities, food, clothing and transportation based on where you live and how large your household is. The more expensive the area you live in, the higher your allotted allowances is. So for people living in high-cost of living areas, this means that the new law doesn’t necessarily restrict eligibility for Chapter 7 — it makes it easier.

Under the new law, you are automatically eligible to wipe out your debts with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you are below the average median income for your family size in the state that you live in.How Does the New Bankruptcy Law’s “Means Test” Work?

Under the new law, you are automatically eligible to wipe out your debts with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you are below the average median income for your family size in the state that you live in.

Your income is based on your household size and is calculated on the last 6 months prior to the filing date of your case.

If your total household income is below your state’s median income for a household of your same size, you pass the Means Test and you have automatic eligibility to wipe out your debts with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If your income is over your state’s median income of by a little, it is still relatively easy to get approved for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your income is significantly over your state’s median income, it may mean you may need to file a Chapter 13 Repayment Plan, unless you can show an unusual factor, like an on-going medical situation or a high court-ordered support payment.

In determining whether the median threshold has been reached, the law looks at the number of people in the filing person’s household. The census bureau defines “household” to mean “all the people occupying a dwelling unit.”

The trustee or any of your creditors can bring a motion to dismiss your case if your income is greater than your state’s median income. “Abuse” is presumed if your current monthly income — except for any secured payments (like a house or car) divided by 60, any priority debts (like tax repayment or child support) divided by 60, any allowed expenses permitted by the IRS, and certain other allowed expenses — is greater than $100 per month.

If the amount leftover in your monthly budget is higher than $100 and meets this new standard, your only option under the new Bankruptcy Law may be a 5-year repayment plan in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

If your income falls below the state median, the Bankruptcy court may still find abuse but the creditors do not have the standing to file the motion.

The presumption of abuse may only be rebutted by you or your attorney if you can demonstrate “special circumstances that justify additional expenses or adjustments of current monthly income.”

Was the New Bankruptcy Law a Positive Change?

Many experts in the Bankruptcy field don’t think so. The new law was vehemently opposed by everyone from Bankruptcy Judges and trustees to credit counseling agencies and law-school professors.

The new law leaves no way for a small percentage of people who really need a fresh-start to obtain one via a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Some of the more unpopular changes include the creation of more types of non-dischargeable debts.

These include any debts that were ordered to be paid in a divorce or separation agreement; and any debts incurred at a “for-profit” educational institution (most trade schools fit this description). The new law is also much tougher on people who owe old income taxes.

Due Diligence Requirements

The new law put in place additional document and credit counseling requirements that everyone who files a Chapter 7 or 13 must now satisfy to be able to receive a successful discharge of their debts.

Document Requirements

Please keep in mind that these requirements vary on where you live and who your Bankruptcy trustee is.

The new bankruptcy law requires you to produce your last 6 months of pay stubs and any other proof of income, and your last 4 years of tax returns for your trustee to review.

Tax Returns

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, all four previous tax returns must be produced for the trustee, which means if you haven’t filed taxes for those years, you need to do so or your case may be dismissed after filing.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are only required to produce any of the last four years of tax returns that you have filed. So, if you haven’t filed for all previous four years preceding your Chapter 7 filing, you may not be required to file those tax returns.

Credit Counseling Requirements

In addition to the new document requirements, you need to pay for and complete two counseling sessions.

The pre-filing credit course must be completed before you file a bankruptcy and is often referred to as the Credit Counseling briefing.

The second class is done after the filing of your bankruptcy, but before discharge, and is often referred to as the Debtor Education or Financial Management briefing.

Credit Counseling Briefing

Within 180 days before filing bankruptcy, you must receive a credit counseling briefing from an approved nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency.

This counseling briefing is a question and answer session with an approved non-profit credit counselor who tries to help you see if there is a way you could repay your debt and avoid bankruptcy.

The briefing usually takes around 45-90 minutes and can be done via telephone or online. If the course is not completed within the 180 days prior to filing your bankruptcy, your case is dismissed.

Debtor Education/Financial Management Briefing

To be able to receive a Chapter 7 Discharge, you must complete your post-petition financial management course within 60 days after your 341 Meeting. For Chapter 13 Discharges, you must complete your post-petition financial management course before the completion of your case. This course is of an instructional nature and is tailored around managing your personal finances after bankruptcy. The class takes approximately two hours and can be done over the telephone or online. If the briefing is not completed within the allotted time period, you may not receive a discharge.

The 21 Biggest Changes to the Bankruptcy Law

  1. Means Test for Chapter 7 Eligibility
    The Means Test is based off of your state’s Median Income. If you and the other members of your household make less a year than your state’s median income for your household size, you qualify to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy without having to pass the Means Test. If your household earns over your State’s Median Income for your household size, you must take and pass the Means Test to qualify to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your household income is too high and you don’t pass the Means Test, you may be eligible to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcyTo determine what your income is for the Means Test, you must calculate your average gross income over the past 6 months prior to the filing of your case. This calculated income is often very different than what your present actual income is at the time you file your Chapter 7. Fixed costs like taxes, mortgage and car payments, health insurance, support payments and child care are subtracted from your gross income. Necessities like rent, utilities and transportation costs are set forth in your county’s IRS’s Collection Standards as fixed amounts and are deducted from your gross income as well. The amount that’s left over after those allowable expenses is your disposable incomeIf your household is over your state’s median income, that monthly disposable income amount is then multiplied by sixty (60) to determine how much total disposable income you’ll have over the next five years.
    “Abuse” is presumed if your current monthly income — minus any secured payments (like a house or car) divided by 60, any priority debts (like tax repayment or child support) divided by 60, allowed expenses permitted by the IRS, and certain other allowed expenses — is greater than $100 per month. If the amount leftover in your monthly budget is higher than $100 and meets this new standard, your only option under the new Bankruptcy Law may be a 5-year repayment plan in a Chapter 13.
  2. Mandatory Credit Counseling
    Within 180 days before filing bankruptcy, you must receive a credit counseling briefing from an approved nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency. This counseling briefing is a question and answer session with an approved non-profit credit counselor who tries to help you see if there is a way you could repay your debt and avoid bankruptcy. The briefing usually takes around 45-90 minutes and can be done via telephone or online. If the course is not completed within the 180 days prior to filing your bankruptcy, your case is dismissed.
  3. Mandatory Debtor Education
    To be able to receive a Chapter 7 Discharge, you must complete your post-petition financial management course within 60 days after your 341 Meeting. To be able to receive a Chapter 13 Discharge, you must complete your post-petition financial management course before the completion of your case. This course is of an instructional nature and is tailored around managing your personal finances after bankruptcy. The class takes approximately two hours and can be done over the telephone or online. If the briefing is not completed within the allotted time period, you may not receive a discharge.
  4. Time between Chapter 7 Discharges
    You cannot receive a Chapter 7 discharge if you received a prior Chapter 7 discharge within 8 years (rather than the 6 years under the former law) of the new filing.
  5. Serial Filings (Chapter 20)
    If you’ve received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge within 4 years of your Chapter 13 filing, you are not eligible for a discharge under Chapter 13. You may still file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy within this 4-year period if you’d like to repay your debt under the supervision of the Bankruptcy Court or want to save your house from foreclosure, but you do not receive an official discharge of your debt.
    If you’ve received a Chapter 13 discharge within 2 years of a second Chapter 13 filing, you are not eligible for a discharge under the second Chapter 13. You may also file a Chapter 13 within this 2-year period if you’d like to repay your debt under the supervision of the Bankruptcy Court or want to save your house from foreclosure, but you do not receive an official discharge of your debt.
  6. Residency Requirement
    You may claim your state’s bankruptcy exemptions if you have lived in that state for a 2-year period (730 days) prior to the filing of your bankruptcy. If you lived in multiple states during that 2-year period, you must use whatever state’s exemptions you resided in 6 months (180 days) before the 2-year period. In other words, where you lived 2.5 years before your Bankruptcy was filed.
  7. Homestead Exemption
    No matter the amount of your state’s homestead exemptions, you may only exempt up to $125,000 of equity in your homestead if you acquired it within a 1,215-day period (approximately 40 months) prior to the filing of your bankruptcy.
  8. Reaffirmations
    New disclosures are now required detailing your rights to reaffirm your secured debt. These disclosures must specify the amount of debt to be reaffirmed, interest rates, and when your payments begin. They must also include the language that you have a right to rescind the reaffirmation and must certify that the reaffirmation agreement does not impose an “undue hardship” on you. In other words, it must be shown that you have the ability to make your future reaffirmation payments to the creditor that you wish to reaffirm with. A hearing may be held in some jurisdictions where you or your attorney have an opportunity to prove this to the court.
  9. Limit on the Automatic Stay in Regards to Serial Filings
    The new law limits the application of the automatic stay that goes into effect when your case is filed. With regard to serial filings (multiple filings in a fixed period of time), the new law provides that the automatic stay does not go into effect in those circumstances where the most current filing would indicate bad-faith or abuse. In a situation where you have filed a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy within 1 year after the dismissal of a prior case under either Chapter, the automatic stay terminates after 30 days. However, you and your bankruptcy attorney may file a motion to extend the automatic stay if you can show that your latest bankruptcy petition was filed in good-faith.
  10. Dismissal for Failure to Provide Additional Documents
    In addition to all the required schedules and document of the bankruptcy petition, you must also provide:
    a. a certificate of credit counseling
    b. 60 days of paystubs from immediately prior to the filing of your case
    c. statement of monthly net income and any anticipated increase in income of expenses after filing
    d. tax returns or transcripts for the most recent tax year (possibly the most recent four years)
    e. a photo IDYour failure to provide the above required documents within 45 days after the petition has been filed (with a possibility of a 45-day extension) results in the automatic dismissal of your case after the time period has passed.
  11. Statement of Intention in Chapter 7s
    Within 30 days after the filing of your Chapter 7 petition, you must file your Statement of Intention. This document is also part of the Chapter 7 petition and indicates whether you are surrendering or reaffirming any debt that is secured by collateral, such as a car or a house. If you plan to keep your secured property, the Statement of Intention needs to indicate whether you intend to: (1) reaffirm the debt and continue to make the payments under the same terms of the original agreement, or (2) redeem the property by paying the fair market value of the secured property to the original creditor. Any difference owed to the original creditor above and beyond the fair market value of the property is discharged in your Chapter 7, or (3) surrender the property back to the creditor and eliminate the resulting debt.
  12. Duration of Chapter 13 Plans
    If your household income is greater than the state’s median income, your proposed Chapter 13 Repayment Plan must be for 5 years. In addition, your attorney must file a new statement of income and expenses for those five years on the same date of the year that the case was originally filed.
  13. Domestic Support Obligations in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
    If you fail to remain current on your support payments after the filing of your Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your case may be dismissed. You must also be current on any post-petition support payments for your Chapter 13 Repayment Plan to be confirmed by your Bankruptcy Judge. You also do not receive a discharge in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy unless all your support payments are paid in accordance with the terms of your Chapter 13 Repayment Plan.
  14. Limit on Auto Lien-stripping in Chapter 13
    If you have a creditor that holds a security interest in a car you purchased from them within 2.5 years (910 days) of the filing, your Chapter 13 plan must provide that your creditor retain its lien on the car until the entire debt is paid off. This eliminates the ability to “cram-down” payments on cars bought within the previous 2.5 years of filing.
  15. “Superdischarge” in Chapter 13 Reduced
    Any tax debt in which you never filed returns, filed them late or made a fraudulent return; debts not listed on the bankruptcy petition; domestic-support payments; student loans; drunk-driving injuries; criminal restitution; and fines and civil restitutions rewarded for willful or malicious personal actions causing personal injury or death can no longer be discharged in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  16. Tax Returns Mandatory in Chapter 13s
    In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, all four previous tax returns must be produced for the trustee, which means if you haven’t filed taxes for those years, you need to do so or your case may be dismissed after filing. In Chapter 7 bankruptcies you are only required to produce any of the last 4 years of tax returns that you have filed. So, if you haven’t filed for all previous 4 years preceding your Chapter 7 filing, you may not be required to file those tax returns.
  17. Luxury Goods and Cash Advances
    Debts owed to a single creditor totaling more than $500 for luxury goods incurred within 90 days of filing are presumed non-dischargeable. Credit card cash advances of $750 within 70 days are also presumed non-dischargeable.
  18. Student Loans
    Student loan non-dischargeability was expanded by the new law to include to “for-profit” educational institutions and non-governmental entities. This includes most trade schools. Therefore, if the debt was incurred for an educational purpose, it is probably not dischargeable in a bankruptcy filing.
  19. Attorney Verification Required
    Your Bankruptcy attorney must make a “reasonable inquiry to verify that the information contained” in your bankruptcy petition and schedules are “well grounded in fact.” This requirement places an additional burden on your attorney to research your asset and liabilities prior to the filing of your case.
  20. Attorneys as “Debt Relief Agencies”
    Bankruptcy attorneys must use the following language in any advertising: “We help people file for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.”
  21. Notice to Creditors
    All notices of the filing of your bankruptcy to creditors must include account numbers. The notice must be to the registered address designated by your creditor. This address can usually be found in communications from the creditor like monthly statements, or by the creditor’s preferred address as provided to the bankruptcy court.

What are the Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions?

What are the Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions?

GeorgiaGeorgia law protects all or a portion of your property from being seized by creditors or the bankruptcy trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are generally allowed to keep all of your assets and property. Certain exceptions may apply, so it’s wise to consult with a Georgia bankruptcy attorney to find which of your assets will be protected in a bankruptcy filed in Georgia. In general, the major Georgia bankruptcy exemptions include:

GENERAL DELAWARE EXEMPTIONS
Real Estate (the Homestead Exemption)
Up to $10,000 of equity in real or personal property can be protected ($20,000 if property owned by a married person).
Automobiles
The debtor’s interest, not to exceed the total of $3,500.00 in value, in all motor vehicles can be protected.
Other Property
$1,500.00 in value, in any implements, professional books, or tools of the trade of the debtor or the trade of a dependent of the debtor; $300.00 in value in any particular item, in household furnishings, household goods, wearing apparel, appliances, books, animals, crops, or musical instruments that are held primarily for the personal, family, or household use of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor (maximum of $5,000.00 in total value); and $500.00 in jewelry.
View the complete list of Georgia bankruptcy exemptions

Please remember that this page provides general information only, and is not intended to provide legal advice. The information is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified bankruptcy attorney. If you need legal assistance, consult an attorney.

Which state’s exemption laws apply in your bankruptcy?

GeorgiaGenerally, the laws of the state in which you lived for the 730 days (2 years) prior to filing a bankruptcy petition will apply in your bankruptcy.

If you have not lived in the same state for the 2 years immediately prior to filing your bankruptcy petition, the laws of the state in which you lived for the majority of the 180-day period preceding the 2-year period will likely apply.

If application of the preceding general rules renders you ineligible for exemptions under any state’s laws, you may be allowed to choose the federal exemptions applicable in your bankruptcy.

Is Georgia a community property state?

No, Georgia is not a community property state. Because it is not a community property state, you will be responsible for your spouse’s debts only if you voluntarily assumed those debts by, for example, co-signing on a loan given to your spouse. In a non-community property state, one spouse can file for bankruptcy and be eligible to eliminate all of their unsecured debts without the involvement of the other spouse.

How did your senator vote on the new bankruptcy laws?

Following years of intense lobbying by creditors, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). How did your Senators vote on these largely pro-creditor provisions?

Chambliss (R-GA) — YEA
Isakson (R-GA) — YEA

Georgia Bankruptcy Court Locations:

United States Bankruptcy Court
433 Cherry Street
P.O. Box 1957
Macon, GA 31202
(478) 752-3506

United States Bankruptcy Court
901 Front Avenue
One Arsenal Place
P.O. Box 2147
Columbus, GA 31902
(706) 649-7837

75 Spring Street South West
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Clerk’s Office:
Room 1340
(404)215.1000

18 Greenville Street
Newnan, Georgia 30263
Clerk’s Office Second Floor
(678)423.3000

600 East First Street
Rome, Georgia 30161-3187
Clerk’s Office Room 339
(706)378.4000

121 Spring Street South East
Gainesville, Georgia 30501
Clerk’s Office Room 120
(678)450.2700

US Bankruptcy Court Clerk
933 Broad St
Augusta, GA 30901
(706) 724-2421

United States Bankruptcy Court
Southern District of Georgia

801 Gloucester Street
Brunswick, Georgia 31520

US Bankruptcy Court Clerk
125 Bull St # Fr2
Savannah, GA 31401
(912) 650-4100

Note: You may not have to actually go to one of the above bankruptcy courts. Trustees often conduct your meeting at a local venue.

Although bankruptcy is federal law, the bankruptcy courts in each jurisdiction have local rules that must be followed. A local bankruptcy attorney will be familiar with the specific rules in your area.

Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney Locations:

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Debt Collection Violations Rampant

ABC’s popular television show 20/20 ran an interesting investigative report exposing the sometimes abusive and illegal practices of debt collection. The report featured recorded abusive debt collection phone calls and exposed the often unethical practices of the debt collection industry. These recordings can be heard at ABC News.

It came as no surprise to me to hear some of the abusive language and illegal tactics used by debt collectors. Over the years, I’ve heard countless similar stories from my bankruptcy clients who are often hounded on a daily basis for debts that they simply cannot afford to repay. Often, it is these abusive phone calls that motivate people to file bankruptcy. To be fair, some debt collectors are courteous and act in a professional manner, but clearly something needs to be done to clamp down on the rampant abuse throughout the industry.

Consumers do have protections available for violations of the The Fair Debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA), but the damages are often statutorily limited to as little as a $1000 for violations. To most large collection agencies, the potential fines are so small compared with their profits, that they don’t have the motivation to make fair and ethical practices a priority.

In my opinion, Congress needs to impose tougher fines and increase the statutory damages limits. They need to send a message to the debt collection industry that unethical or illegal collection methods will not be tolerated. Only then will consumers receive enough protection to rest assured that they will not be illegally harassed by debt collectors in their time of financial distress.

Arkansas State Bankruptcy Laws

What are the Arkansas Bankruptcy Exemptions?

ArkansasArkansas law protects all or a portion of your property from being seized by creditors or the bankruptcy trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are generally allowed to keep all of your assets and property. Certain exceptions may apply, so it’s wise to consult with an Arkansas bankruptcy attorney to find which of your assets will be protected in a bankruptcy filed in Arkansas. In general, the major Arkansas bankruptcy exemptions include:

GENERAL ARKANSAS EXEMPTIONS
Real Estate (the Homestead Exemption)
1/4 acre in an urban setting or 80 acres in a rural setting with an unlimited value may be protected.A provision in the new bankruptcy law caps the homestead exemption at $125,000 if you have not lived in the state for at least 40 months prior to the time you file a bankruptcy petition. In some situations, the cap may be permanent. You should consult with an Arkansas bankruptcy attorney for specific information.
Other Property
All clothing, regardless of value may be protected. An additional $500 for all other property for those that are married or head of household and an additional $200 for all other property for those that are single may be also be protected. In Arkansas, you have the choice of electing the federal exemption statutes rather than the Arkansas state exemptions. Consult with an Arkansas bankruptcy attorney for more details.
View the complete list of Arkansas bankruptcy exemptions

Please remember that this page provides general information only, and is not intended to provide legal advice. The information is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified bankruptcy attorney. If you need legal assistance, consult an attorney.

Which state’s exemption laws apply in your bankruptcy?

Arkansas FlagGenerally, the laws of the state in which you lived for the 730 days (2 years) prior to filing a bankruptcy petition will apply in your bankruptcy.

If you have not lived in the same state for the 2 years immediately prior to filing your bankruptcy petition, the laws of the state in which you lived for the majority of the 180-day period preceding the 2-year period will likely apply.

If application of the preceding general rules renders you ineligible for exemptions under any state’s laws, you may be allowed to choose the federal exemptions applicable in your bankruptcy.

Is Arkansas a community property state?

No, Arkansas is not a community property state. Because it is not a community property state, you will be responsible for your spouse’s debts only if you voluntarily assumed those debts by, for example, co-signing on a loan given to your spouse. In a non-community property state, one spouse can file for bankruptcy and be eligible to eliminate all of their unsecured debts without the involvement of the other spouse.

Did your senator vote in favor of the new bankruptcy laws?

Following years of intense lobbying by creditors, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). How did your Senators vote on these largely pro-creditor provisions?

Lincoln (R-AR) — YEA
Pryor (R-AR) — YEA

Arkansas Bankruptcy Court Locations:

Office of the Clerk
U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse
300 West 2nd Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 918-5500

Divisional Office
Federal Building Room 316

35 E. Mountain Street
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(479) 582-9800

Note: You may not have to actually go to one of the above bankruptcy courts. Trustees often conduct your meeting at a local venue.

Although bankruptcy is federal law, the bankruptcy courts in each jurisdiction have local rules that must be followed. A local bankruptcy attorney will be familiar with the specific rules in your area.

Arkansas Bankruptcy Attorney Locations

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Delaware State Bankruptcy Laws

What are the Delaware Bankruptcy Exemptions?

DelawareDelaware law protects all or a portion of your property from being seized by creditors or the bankruptcy trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are generally allowed to keep all of your assets and property. Certain exceptions may apply, so it’s wise to consult with a Delaware bankruptcy attorney to find which of your assets will be protected in a bankruptcy filed in Delaware. In general, the major Delaware bankruptcy exemptions include:

GENERAL DELAWARE EXEMPTIONS
Real Estate (the Homestead Exemption)
Up to $50,000 of equity in your principal residence can be protected.A provision in the new bankruptcy law caps the homestead exemption at $125,000 if you have not lived in the state for at least 40 months prior to the time you file a bankruptcy petition. In some situations, the cap may be permanent. You should consult with a Connecticut bankruptcy attorney for specific information.
Automobiles
There is no specific automobile exemption in Delaware.
Other Property
A vehicle and/or tools of the trade in the amount of $15,000; $25,000 in fair market value of other property can be protected.
View the complete list of Delaware bankruptcy exemptions

Please remember that this page provides general information only, and is not intended to provide legal advice. The information is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified bankruptcy attorney. If you need legal assistance, consult an attorney.

Which state’s exemption laws apply in your bankruptcy?

DelawareGenerally, the laws of the state in which you lived for the 730 days (2 years) prior to filing a bankruptcy petition will apply in your bankruptcy.

If you have not lived in the same state for the 2 years immediately prior to filing your bankruptcy petition, the laws of the state in which you lived for the majority of the 180-day period preceding the 2-year period will likely apply.

If application of the preceding general rules renders you ineligible for exemptions under any state’s laws, you may be allowed to choose the federal exemptions applicable in your bankruptcy.

Is Delaware a community property state?

No, Delaware is not a community property state. Because it is not a community property state, you will be responsible for your spouse’s debts only if you voluntarily assumed those debts by, for example, co-signing on a loan given to your spouse. In a non-community property state, one spouse can file for bankruptcy and be eligible to eliminate all of their unsecured debts without the involvement of the other spouse.

Did your senator vote in favor of the new bankruptcy laws?

Following years of intense lobbying by creditors, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). How did your Senators vote on these largely pro-creditor provisions?

Biden (D-DE) — YEA
Carper (D-DE) — YEA

Delaware Bankruptcy Court Locations:

824 North Market Street
3rd Floor
Wilmington, Delaware 19801
(302) 252-2900

Note: You may not have to actually go to one of the above bankruptcy courts. Trustees often conduct your meeting at a local venue.

Although bankruptcy is federal law, the bankruptcy courts in each jurisdiction have local rules that must be followed. A local bankruptcy attorney will be familiar with the specific rules in your area.

Delaware Bankruptcy Attorney Locations:

Looking for a Delaware bankruptcy attorney?
Looking for a Dover, Delaware bankruptcy attorney?
Looking for a Wilmington, Delaware bankruptcy attorney?

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Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage allows you to receive money in exchange for the equity in your home without requiring you to make monthly payments. The loan will not have to be paid back until you (or any co-owner) no longer lives in the home.

Bankruptcy - Reverse Mortgages 2

The total debt becomes due when you sell your home, move to another principal residence, or pass away. Unlike a regular mortgage or home equity loan, no monthly payments are required, and you are able to turn your equity into income. The main disadvantage in a reverse mortgage is that the equity in your home will decrease as you borrow more money because the creditor has a lien on the property in the amount of the money that you borrow, as well as the interest that the money you borrow accrues. Over the years, you can end up depleting all of the equity in your home, leaving your heirs with no choice upon your passing but to sell the property to satisfy the loan.

The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage

The most popular form of reverse mortgages is a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which is a federally guaranteed loan. To be eligible for a HECM, you must be 62 years old or older, and own a home. A HECM does not have income requirements or restrictions on how you use the money you borrow. The loan proceeds are quite flexible, and can be paid in a lump sum payment, multiple monthly payments, or applied to a line of credit. The amount of money that you may be eligible to borrow depends on your age, the value of your home, and the existing interest rate. Because equity is required for eligibility, your home must either be paid-in-full, or have an existing mortgage balance that is small enough to be paid off with the proceeds of the loan. If the house is sold or refinanced by your heirs, any money available after repayment of the loan will go to the heirs of the estate. Because HECM loans are federally guaranteed, HUD (The Department of Housing and Urban Development) will pay the lender any shortfall should the house be sold for less than the total amount owed on the loan at the time of sale.

The homeowner is still responsible for paying all property taxes and homeowners insurance, and the creditor may be able to require repayment of the loan if you are not able to fulfill these obligations.

Reverse mortgages can benefit someone who meets the eligibility requirements and needs to turn their equity into a lump sum payment or a steady monthly income. They are particularly effective for individuals who intend to stay in their homes for a long period of time, and don’t mind if their house must be sold upon their death.

The Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages

PROS
Turns Equity into Income
A reverse mortgage is one of the few ways in which somebody with little or no income is able to obtain a loan. The homeowner is able to borrow money against the equity in their home.
Doesn’t Count As Income
In most cases, the income from a reverse mortgage does not adversely affect Social Security or Medicare benefits. However, if you are on Medicaid, any reverse mortgage proceeds must be used immediately. The loan proceeds are typically tax-free because the loan will have to be repaid at some point.
No Income Restrictions
Most reverse mortgages do not have any income requirements, and you can have little or no income and still qualify for a reverse mortgage.
Flexibility
How you receive the loan (monthly, in a lump-sum, or through a line of credit) and what you use the money for (home repairs, debt repayment, living expenses, etc.) is generally up to you.
CONS
Heirs May Lose Out
Since the loan must be repaid upon the death of the last surviving borrower, heirs will be forced to sell the home if they can’t repay the loan any other way.
Rising Debt, Falling Equity
The equity in your home will decrease every time money is borrowed against it.
Eligibility Requirements
For a federally guaranteed HECM reverse mortgage, you must be at least 62 years of age and living in your home as a principal residence. Your home must either be paid-in-full or have a relatively small outstanding mortgage.
Fees and Costs
As with most loans, you will be responsible for a variety of costs and fees when obtaining a reverse mortgage. You will also have to pay the lender interest on the loan.

Consider a Reverse Mortgage If…

  • You are 62 years of age or older
  • You are a homeowner
  • Your home is either paid-in-full or has a small mortgage
  • Your budget shows that you don’t have enough income to meet all of your expenses
  • You don’t have enough income for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and have too much equity in your house for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
  • You intend to stay in your home for a long period of time.

California State Bankruptcy Laws

What are the California Bankruptcy Exemptions?

CaliforniaCalifornia has a list of certain types of property that are protected from your creditors when you file bankruptcy and cannot be taken in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You are typically allowed to keep all of your assets and property in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Certain exceptions and interpretations may apply, so it’s wise to consult with a California bankruptcy attorney to find out if your assets would be protected in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Generally, the California bankruptcy exemptions are:

GENERAL CALIFORNIA EXEMPTIONS
Real Estate (Homestead)
Exemption is $75,000 for family member living with one or more non-owner family members; $150,000 for a person who is 65 or older, disabled, or who is 55 or older with an annual gross income of $15,000 or less if single or $20,000 or less if married. Up to $50,000 of equity can be protected for all other persons.A provision in the new bankruptcy law caps the homestead exemption at $125,000 if you have not lived in the state for at least 40 months prior to the time you file a bankruptcy petition. In some situations, the cap may be permanent. You should consult with a California bankruptcy attorney for specific information.
Automobiles
Up to $2,300 of the equity in all automobiles can be protected.
Other Property
Household furnishings, appliances, provisions, wearing apparel, and other personal effects are 100 exempt if they are ordinary and necessary. $2,300 of the aggregate equity in one or more automobiles is exempt. $6,075 each for jewelry and personal property used in the debtor’s trade or business is exempt.
View the complete list of California bankruptcy exemptions

Please remember that this page provides general information only, and is not intended to provide legal advice. The information is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified bankruptcy attorney. If you need legal assistance, consult an attorney.

Which state’s exemption laws apply in your bankruptcy?

California FlagGenerally, the laws of the state in which you lived for the 730 days (2 years) prior to filing a bankruptcy petition will apply in your bankruptcy.

If you have not lived in the same state for the 2 years immediately prior to filing your bankruptcy petition, the laws of the state in which you lived for the majority of the 180-day period preceding the 2-year period will likely apply.

If application of the preceding general rules renders you ineligible for exemptions under any state’s laws, you may be allowed to choose the federal exemptions applicable in your bankruptcy.

Is California a community property state?

Yes, California is a community property state. Because it is a community property state, you are responsible for any debts that your spouse incurred while you were married. You are therefore equally liable for your spouse’s debts even if you did not voluntarily assume liability for them by, for example, cosigning for a loan given to your spouse.

Did your senator vote in favor of the new bankruptcy laws?

Following years of intense lobbying by creditors, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). How did your Senators vote on these largely pro-creditor provisions?

Boxer (D-CA) – YEA
Feinstein (D-CA) – YEA

California Bankruptcy Court Locations:

United States Bankruptcy Court – Central District of California
Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and Courthouse

255 E. Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 894-3118

United States Bankruptcy Court – Central District of California
3420 Twelfth Street
Riverside, CA 92501-3819
(951) 774-1000

United States Bankruptcy Court – Central District of California
Ronald Reagan Federal Building and
United States Courthouse

411 West Fourth Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701-4593
(714) 338-5300

United States Bankruptcy Court – Central District of California
1415 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 884-4800

United States Bankruptcy Court – Central District of California
21041 Burbank Boulevard
Woodland Hills, California 91367
(818) 587-2900

501 I Street, Suite 3-200
Sacramento, California 95814
(916) 930-4400

1130 12th Street Suite C
Modesto, California 95354
(209) 521-5160

2500 Tulare Street, Suite 2501
Fresno, California 93721-1318
(559) 499-5800

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
1300 Clay Street
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 879-3600

United States Bankruptcy Court
1000 South Main, Room 214
Salinas, CA 93901
(831) 757-7420

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
235 Pine Street, 19th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 268-2300

United States Courthouse, Room 3035
280 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95113-3099
(408) 535-5118

99 South “E” Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 525-8539

The Jacob Weinberger U.S.Courthouse
325 West F Street
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 557-5620

Note: You may not have to actually go to one of the above bankruptcy courts. Trustees often conduct your meeting at a local venue.

Although bankruptcy is federal law, the bankruptcy courts in each jurisdiction have local rules that must be followed. A local bankruptcy attorney will be familiar with the specific rules in your area.

California Bankruptcy Attorney Locations:

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Bankruptcy and Student Loans

Can student loans be discharged in a bankruptcy?

Student loans can be discharged in a bankruptcy if you are able to demonstrate an “undue hardship” on you or your dependents. You have to prove to the bankruptcy judge that you are physically unable to work and your situation is unlikely to change for the remainder of the term of the loan.

Unfortunately, the majority of bankruptcy courts have interpreted the “undue hardship” standard very unfavorably towards debtors, and it is rare that student loans are successfully discharged. You must file a separate motion with the bankruptcy court to attempt to have your student loans discharged, and the exact laws can vary depending on the jurisdiction.

Many bankruptcy lawyers are reluctant to take on these cases because they can be complex and difficult to win. In a catch 22, the debtor is often left in a situation where they must prove that they cannot make any meaningful payments towards their student loans, but also have to pay a bankruptcy attorney for assisting them with such a time-consuming matter.

If you are unable to demonstrate an “undue hardship” and discharge your student loans in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy , a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may provide you with short-term relief. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy generally allows you to include your student loans in your monthly trustee payment. You may be eligible to pay back as little as 10% of the student loan over a 3-5 year period, but you will be responsible for the remaining 90% once the bankruptcy is discharged.

Consult with a local bankruptcy attorney to discuss if Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can assist you with your student loans.

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