If you’re living in or near Cincinnati and struggling with your finances, let a Cincinnati bankruptcy lawyer at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer give you the help and guidance you need.
Bankruptcy is a way to get a “fresh start” for individuals who are struggling with debts that become unpayable. Often people are already having financial difficulty and then are hit with additional problems, such as losing a job, facing uninsured medical expenses, or divorce. Debts mount up, and harassment by creditors becomes overwhelming.
Our bankruptcy lawyers know that financial problems can happen to even the most well-intentioned people.
We believe that attorney fees should take into consideration an individual’s circumstances and be reasonable enough to prevent debtors from sinking deeper into debt. That’s why we provide affordable bankruptcy services to our clients, in addition to free initial consultations.
The Most Common Types of Bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is over quickly and allows you to eliminate many types of unsecured debt, such as medical bills and credit cards. It requires that you liquidate your assets, except for those that are exempt. However, there are Ohio exemptions that may allow you to keep most of your property, which may include cars, work-related tools, and basic household furnishings.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to reorganize assets and consolidate your payments to avoid fees and fines and repay some or all of your debt affordably over a three- to five-year period. Chapter 13 bankruptcy lets you repay a portion of your unsecured debts, and you may be able to save your home from foreclosure and your vehicle from repossession. A trustee distributes money to your creditors so you no longer have to deal with them. If you successfully complete the court-approved payment plan, the debts covered by the plan are discharged and you can keep most assets. Also, Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to pay a portion of your attorney fees through the repayment plan.
Ohio has an automatic stay that prohibits most creditors from collection activity such as harassing phone calls, lawsuits, garnishments, repossessions, and foreclosures. However, there are some “nondischargeable” debts that bankruptcy will not eliminate, including child support, most student loans, and most tax debts.
Once you file, both types of bankruptcy provide protection from your creditors.
Common Sources of Debt
Student Loan Debt
This is especially burdensome for millennials, who also have the pressure of wanting to buy and furnish a home and start a family. And those with student loan debt are more likely to take out a car loan another large debt burden.
A major medical problem can cause bills to mount up even if you have insurance, and since people often take on additional credit card debt to cover medical bills, debt increases rapidly.
Credit Card Debt
People often buy more on credit than they can afford and wind up just paying the minimum balance. Unpaid credit card debt carries a very high interest rate that rapidly creates more debt that becomes unpayable.
Owning a home is an integral part of the American Dream. To finance that dream most homeowners have a mortgage, which can easily become a financial burden. In fact, the top source of debt for people in Ohio is mortgage debt.
Be aware that exemption laws do not protect all property; a bankruptcy filing does not discharge all types of debts; and there are different classes of creditors that may be able to seize your property. The Cincinnati bankruptcy 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. If debt is making your life unmanageable, consider the relief and fresh start that filing for bankruptcy can bring.
Not completing the pre-bankruptcy credit counseling class within the 180 days before your bankruptcy filing or not filing a certificate of completion with the court. If you cannot afford to pay credit counseling fees, you must request a fee waiver from the counseling organization before the session begins.
Not filing required bankruptcy forms with the Ohio bankruptcy court.
Not paying court filing fees to start a bankruptcy case or getting court approval for a fee waiver or an installment plan.
Not providing requested documents such as tax returns, pay stubs and mortgage statements within the specified timeframes.
Not appearing at the creditors meeting in front of the bankruptcy trustee.
Not making your Chapter 13 plan payments on time or not making alternative arrangements with the bankruptcy trustee to catch up.
When debt mounts up, it creates enormous stress that creeps into other areas of your life. 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. Making the situation worse is the bombardment of collection activities from creditors, including harassing phone calls and threats of lawsuits, garnishments, repossessions, and foreclosures and the fear of losing your job, your vehicle, and your home.
Could Your Bankruptcy Filing Get Dismissed?
Ohio bankruptcy laws are complex, and even the simplest Chapter 7 cases require completing extensive forms, researching exemption laws, and following all local court rules. If you fail to comply with Ohio bankruptcy requirements, you risk losing your nonexempt assets or having your bankruptcy case dismissed without discharging your debts.
Understanding Bankruptcy in Cincinnati
People who file for bankruptcy typically have large amounts of credit card and other debt, and then have bad luck such as losing a job, going through a divorce, or being hit with uninsured medical expenses. Interest and penalties mount up until they can’t pay their debts. An affordable bankruptcy can give you a chance for a “fresh start” on life under the protection of the federal bankruptcy court. However, the more complex your bankruptcy situation, the more you need the help of a bankruptcy attorney.
Why It’s Best to Have a Bankruptcy Lawyer on Your Side
It makes sense to have a qualified bankruptcy lawyer on your side who knows the intricacies of the courts, the judges, and the system. You can go through the bankruptcy process effectively and keep costs at a minimum. The skilled and seasoned Cincinnati bankruptcy lawyers at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand what you are going through and offer a free consultation to evaluate your financial situation and find the debt-relief solutions and payment plans that will work best for you.
Consulting a Cincinnati Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help You Avoid Costly Mistakes
Many who are considering filing for bankruptcy lack a full understanding of the process and outcomes. They may ask:
How do I even know if bankruptcy is right for me?
Will all my debts be forgiven?
Where do I start?
What forms are required?
What type of legal assistance do I need when filing?
In short, an answer to each question can be provided in a free consultation with one of the bankruptcy lawyers at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer. Below, we explain why filing for bankruptcy without legal representation could cause unnecessary added costs or even a dismissal of your filing.
Why You Need a Cincinnati Bankruptcy Attorney
Cincinnati residents who are considering filing for bankruptcy may be tempted to try to save money by doing it alone, but beware – doing so can cost more than you think. 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 bankruptcy process is complex; and the more complicated your situation, the more you need the help of an attorney. Mistakes can not only be costly — they can result in loss of nonexempt assets, denial of discharge of debt or, even worse, lead to criminal charges for fraud. It makes more sense to have an attorney’s help to ensure that everything is done properly and correctly.
Since most attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy understand that you are struggling financially, they will not only provide a free initial consultation, but structure your fees accordingly.
At your free consultation, you will be able to discuss how fees will be paid and how to structure payments so they are affordable. You can also ask questions about what type of assistance and customer service you can expect, the attorney’s past results with bankruptcy cases, and what debt relief solutions will work best for you.
Know What Is Involved Before Filing Bankruptcy in Cincinnati
To start, you need to understand what bankruptcy is and determine if you qualify. There are two major types of consumer bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
Filing Bankruptcy Under Chapter 7
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 that can protect certain types of property, 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 all your property is exempt, you may qualify for a “no asset” bankruptcy.
The Means Test
Ohio requires that you pass something called a “means test” to determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7. This formula takes into account your average monthly income for the past six months (which must be below the Ohio median for your size household) your debts, and other aspects of your financial situation.
Filing Under Chapter 13
If you do not qualify for Chapter 7, you may still be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, under which 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 have equity in an asset that they want to protect. Harassing calls and letters from creditors stop, and once you successfully complete the payment plan, qualified debts covered by the plan are discharged.
Be aware that exemption laws do not protect all property; a bankruptcy filing does not discharge all types of debts. Cincinnati bankruptcy 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.
How to Find a Good Bankruptcy Attorney in Cincinnati
A good bankruptcy attorney should be knowledgeable, competent, efficient, and suit your individual needs.
The attorney you choose should be located in the Cincinnati area, since you will have to make several trips to the office.
The attorney should be someone you feel comfortable with, who is compassionate, understands your individual circumstances, and who can determine the type of bankruptcy that is right for you.
The attorney should have the appropriate certifications, have extensive experience in bankruptcy, and a practice that is limited to 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.
The Cincinnati bankruptcy lawyer should be affordable and structure fee payments that you can manage.
Prepare and assemble your bankruptcy papers. There are 50+ pages of forms detailing current debts, assets, income, and expenses, and your intentions regarding loans secured by collateral
Make copies of forms and assemble them according to Cincinnati local court rules
File forms with the court
Pay the required filing fee
Attend your hearing with the bankruptcy court trustee (341 Meeting). At this meeting, the trustee can ask you questions about the information on your forms. Creditors can object to or challenge exemptions you are claiming
File motions to eliminate liens and respond to objections from creditors
Complete a mandatory Debtor Education course once your case has been filed. This needs to be completed in order to receive your discharge
Because the process is so complicated, it makes sense to take advantage of our free consultation offer. Contact the experienced and compassionate Cincinnati bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer for help, information, and support through this process. We will evaluate your entire financial situation, discuss 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 our Cincinnati office today: 877-645-5297. We also have conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus) and 937-222-7472 (Dayton). Contact our bankruptcy lawyers today to set up your free consultation so we can determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.
Should You File on Your Own?
If you are weighed down by debt to the point that you are considering filing for bankruptcy, the last thing you need is attorney fees you cannot afford. However, you need to be careful, as trying to deal with insurmountable debt or going through bankruptcy on your own may actually wind up costing you.
Filing bankruptcy on your own brings the same filing and court fees as using an attorney, but doing so incorrectly could result in paying more or having your bankruptcy dismissed. Worse yet, you may end up without having your debts forgiven.
If you try to avoid bankruptcy by taking out payday loans, or using debt consolidation or similar services, high interest rates and fees can add to your debts without resolving the issues.
There is a lot of paperwork that must be completed when filing. It is not worth the risk to file on your own and end up with additional expenses. Bankruptcy paperwork can include fees for:
Mandatory pre-filing credit counseling
Court filing fees
Mandatory debt management ‘education’
Advice and information
Preparing, copying and assembling forms
Other court procedures
Where to File for Bankruptcy in the Cincinnati Area
If you have lived in Butler, Hamilton, Clermont, Brown, Highland, Adams, Scioto, or Lawrence County for the better part of 180 days, your bankruptcy attorney will file on your behalf at the Ohio Southern District Bankruptcy Court. In Cincinnati, the address is:
221 E. Fourth Street, Atrium Two Suite 800, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Phone: (513) 684-2572
How Our Bankruptcy Lawyers in Cincinnati Can Help
The experienced and compassionate staff at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer know that life brings unforeseen events and that financial problems can happen to even the most hard-working and well-intentioned people. While bankruptcy is often the best way to put debt behind you and get a fresh start, we will work with you to find the debt-relief solutions that best fit your individual circumstances.
When you hire one of our attorneys, you will get personalized attention.
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. Your attorney will be the primary person working on your case and will be available to you to answer questions and concerns.
When you come to our Cincinnati 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 your financial situation into consideration and is designed 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.
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