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Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy. Also known as a “fresh start” bankruptcy, it enables you to discharge (eliminate) most or all consumer debts. It is over in a few months, so you can begin rebuilding credit quickly.

With this type of bankruptcy, if you are current on your home mortgage payments at the time of filing and all of the equity you have in the property is exempt under state or federal laws, you may be able to keep your house. Similarly, if you are current on your car loan payments (or if you own the vehicle outright), then it is likely that you will be able to retain the vehicle.

Chapter 7 may be your best option if your income is too low to pay credit card bills, medical bills, utilities, payday loans or personal loans, or if you are facing court action or collection activities by creditors. Our bankruptcy lawyers can advise whether you qualify for Chapter 7.

If you do not qualify for Chapter 7, have a steady income and financial problems that are temporary, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a viable option for you. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also recommended for individuals in Ohio who may be facing foreclosure or repossessions.

Chapter 13 provides a court-approved reorganization plan for you to repay some or all of your debt affordably over a three- to five-year period. You are protected from harassment by creditors, and if you successfully complete the plan, the remaining unsecured debts covered by the plan are discharged. A Chapter 13 repayment plan can help you keep your home or car if you are behind on payments or if there is unprotected equity in an asset.

The cost to hire an Ohio bankruptcy lawyer depends on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and it also reflects the complexity of the case. We strive to make filing bankruptcy as affordable as possible for our clients, as we understand the financial hardships you are facing. We offer a free consultation so that we can review your entire financial situation and give you an exact fee quote. For more specific information about the cost of a bankruptcy, call us at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati).

Although there will be an initial setback in your credit rating, credit starts to rebound quickly after a bankruptcy, and you will typically wind up with an improved credit score.

– Chapter 7 bankruptcies stay on a person’s credit record for up to 10 years.
– Completed Chapter 13 bankruptcies remain on an individual’s credit record for up to 7 years.

After bankruptcy, you may be in a better position to get credit, because most or all of your debts will be eliminated and you reduce your debt-to-income ratio. The experienced Ohio bankruptcy lawyers from our firm can advise you about the best ways to begin rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy.

Your Social Security benefits cannot be lost by filing for bankruptcy, as this is a protected asset. These benefits will not be considered as income to pay your creditors, though the court may consider your Social Security benefits when determining your ability to pay some debts. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will calculate your Social Security benefits when determining whether you have the ability to make the payments required by your repayment plan.

Generally, retirement accounts like 401(k)s, IRAs and defined-benefit plans are protected during bankruptcy, though the amount protected may be capped. If you have a pension when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, typically you can exempt at least some of your pension.

If you are married, you can file for joint bankruptcy with your husband or wife, or you can file bankruptcy as an individual. However, even if you file as an individual, your bankruptcy may affect your spouse. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, and deciding whether you file an individual or joint bankruptcy will depend on your unique situation and whose name each debt is in. For a more complete explanation of how bankruptcy affects spouses, contact our skilled bankruptcy attorneys for a free consultation.

Attorney Tom Fesenmyer

Attorney Thomas M. Fesenmyer (Tom) is dedicated to helping his clients solve their financial issues in a timely and cost-effective manner. Tom has personally filed several thousand cases and has the expertise to achieve immediate results for his clients, including stopping Foreclosures, Repossessions, Wage Garnishments, Law Suits, Utility Shut-offs, Creditor Harassment, Bank Attachments, and Pay-Day Loans. Tom’s goal for all of his clients is asset protection and debt elimination.[ Attorney Bio ]

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