If you live in or near Dayton, Ohio, and you find yourself overwhelmed with debt, harassed by creditors, and considering bankruptcy as an option, what do you do? What types of bankruptcy are there, and how do you even know if bankruptcy is right for you? Can you do it on your own, or should you have legal assistance?
The decision to file for bankruptcy is a difficult one and not to be taken lightly. However, if your financial situation has become so bad that you are facing foreclosure, repossession of your property, and garnishment of your wages, filing for bankruptcy may be the best way to stop these procedures and give you a fresh financial start.
Because each situation is different, it pays to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer who knows the intricacies of the courts, the judges, and the system. The skilled and compassionate Ohio debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand that financial difficulties can happen to anyone and have helped thousands of families in the Dayton area. We know what you are going through and offer a free consultation to evaluate your financial situation and develop a plan that is best for you.
To start, you need to understand what bankruptcy is and whether you qualify. There are two major types of personal consumer bankruptcy — Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
Chapter 7 is the most common form of bankruptcy, and it will eliminate most or all debts, but you can use it only once every eight years. It’s quick — over in a few months, so you can begin rebuilding credit. There are exemptions listing types of property that are protected in a bankruptcy, but it is advisable to consult with an attorney to confirm that your particular property is protected. Exemptions can include clothing, cars, equipment used for work (like tools) and household furnishings. If you do not own a great deal of property, your possessions may all be exempt, qualifying you for a “no asset” case.
Not everyone is eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Your income and debt will be subjected to something called a “means test” to determine whether you qualify. The means test takes into account:
If your average monthly income for the past six months is below the Ohio median for your size household, you meet the requirements (section 707(b)(2)) to qualify for Chapter 7. You can review the median income levels at https://www.justice.gov/ust/means-testing.
If you are not eligible for Chapter 7, filing for Chapter 13 is an option. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can consolidate payments to repay some or all of your debt affordably over a three- to five-year period. This plan is best for those who don’t qualify for Chapter 7 and who want to keep an asset such as a car or a house. Harassing calls and letters from creditors stop, and once you successfully complete the payment plan, dischargeable debts covered by the plan are eliminated.
Be aware that exemption laws do not protect all property; a bankruptcy filing does not discharge all types of debts, and there are some creditors that may be able to seize your property. The attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand each of these distinctions and can provide the best legal advice to protect your assets and provide financial freedom.
Dayton residents who are considering filing for bankruptcy may be tempted to try to save money by doing it alone, but this can actually cost more in the long run. The bankruptcy process is complex, and if you make a mistake, it can result in losing nonexempt assets, denial of discharge of debt, or, even worse, lead to criminal charges for fraud. You still have to pay all the filing and court fees, and even the simplest bankruptcy cases require completing extensive forms, researching exemption laws, and following all local court rules within certain time limits. The right attorney can ensure that everything is done properly and correctly and that you will wind up in the best financial situation for your individual circumstances.
Many attorneys offer free consultations, and since they understand that you are in dire financial circumstances, they structure fees accordingly. Your best bet is to schedule a free consultation where you can discuss affordability, fee structure, what type of customer service you can expect, and the attorney’s past results with bankruptcy cases.
A good attorney has to be knowledgeable, competent, efficient, and suit your individual needs. The attorney you choose should be located in the Dayton area, since you will have to make several trips to the office. The attorney should be someone you feel comfortable with, who is compassionate and understands your individual circumstances, and who can determine the type of bankruptcy that is right for you. The attorney should have extensive experience in bankruptcy, and specialize in bankruptcy, debt relief, and related matters. The attorney should have enough backup staff, paraprofessionals and legal assistants to prepare your case properly and in a timely manner. And the attorney should be affordable and structure fee payments that you can manage.
At Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer, we understand that financial problems can happen to even the most well-intentioned people. We take a personal interest in all our clients and work to find the debt-relief solutions that best fit their individual circumstances. When you hire one of our attorneys, he or she will be the primary person working on your case and will be available to you for questions. Although our attorneys are backed by a competent staff, we refuse to cut corners or hand off your case to a paralegal or petition preparer.
When you come to our Dayton office, we will thoroughly explain the different types of bankruptcies and the fees involved and then walk you through each step of your bankruptcy process to make sure everything is done properly. Our fee structure takes into consideration our clients’ financial situation and is reasonable enough to prevent you from sinking deeper in debt. We offer a free consultation to evaluate your entire financial picture and determine which debt-relief solutions and payment plans will work best for you.
Bankruptcy is not for everyone, but if it is right for your situation, you need a qualified attorney that can help put you on the road to financial freedom. The bankruptcy lawyers at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer are dedicated to assisting people through bankruptcy in Dayton and have a complete understanding of Ohio Bankruptcy law.
The filing fees you will have to pay when filing for bankruptcy in Dayton are the same as in the rest of the state and in all states of the country. Costs for an attorney are additional, but they vary according to the individual attorney, which Chapter you file under and how complicated your case is. Usually, attorneys charge more for Chapter 13 cases, which are more complex, and for cases with special issues additional motions need to be filed.
Attorneys sometimes will charge a flat fee for cases that are relatively simple, or they may charge by the hour. You should find out how your attorney charges and get an estimate of what your total bill for the case should be before you hire your attorney. While people struggling with debt may be reluctant to pay attorney fees, our experienced bankruptcy attorneys can anticipate, identify, and avoid potential problems that may result in having to spend thousands of dollars later to fix mistakes.
Ohio exemption laws do not protect you from every debt or creditor. There are “nondischargeable” debts that may include child support, most student loans, most tax debts and debts incurred as a result of fraud or theft. Also, secured property used as collateral, such as for a car loan or house mortgage, can still be taken.
Debt is putting more pressure on Americans, causing problems with not only finances, but touching on all areas of their lives. When debt mounts up, it creates enormous stress. You’re likely to be less productive at work, and your family life is likely to be affected. Financial pressures lead to arguments over money and become a major cause of divorce. And adding to the stress is the accompanying harassment by creditors and the fear of repossession of your property and foreclosure on your home.
In Ohio, the most common sources of debt are:
If you have a combination of these debts, it can certainly take over your financial life.
If you live in or near Dayton and are contemplating filing for bankruptcy, you don’t have to face this complicated process alone. The Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer offer a free consultation to help you find the right plan for eliminating or repaying your debts, and we will guide you through each step of the process. Take the first step towards relief and CONTACT US TODAY FOR A FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION THAT will:
We provide you with a personalized case evaluation and counsel regarding debt-relief options that you qualify for, including Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 debt reorganization, debt settlement negotiations with creditors, and foreclosure defense for mortgage holders. We will work with you to know your options and help you decide on the path to a brighter future that makes sense in your individual case.
Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or email today to set up your free consultation so we can determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.
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