Bankruptcy court is often the most intimidating aspect of filing for bankruptcy. Someone who might be willing to file for bankruptcy if it were only a matter of filling out paperwork might choose a different path because the thought of “going to court” is just too overwhelming.
The good news is bankruptcy court is not nearly as frightening as it might seem and it is nothing like courtroom scenes that show up on TV crime dramas. Having an experienced bankruptcy attorney at your side can make the entire experience much easier.
What should you know about bankruptcy court?
First and foremost, an appearance in court is mandatory for those who file for bankruptcy. Failing to appear will result in the dismissal of your case. You can find the location of your bankruptcy court here.
The ironic thing about the first, and in most Chapter 7 cases, the only bankruptcy appearance, is that it is called a Meeting of the Creditors . . . and creditors almost never show up. In most every case you will simply be interviewed by the bankruptcy trustee confirming information in your petition. The questions aren’t surprises and an experienced bankruptcy attorney will run down the usual questions asked with you prior to the appearance. Most of these meetings last only a few minutes.
In the rare event a creditor does show up to ask questions, it will usually be brief and your attorney and court officials will step in to make sure it is not harassing. Bankruptcy court is a professional environment and everyone is expected to treat it as such. Again, the likelihood of a creditor showing up is extremely rare. Most creditors are credit card companies and unless there were suspicious charges or indication bad faith, they simply close your account and move on.
How Often Must I Go to Court during Bankruptcy?
Chances are you will only need to make one court appearance during your bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7, you appear for the one trustee meeting, which in most cases is only a few minutes and that’s it. If you elect to keep your car in bankruptcy and there is a loan, you may decide to re-affirm the debt and be required to make one more simple appearance.
In a Chapter 13 repayment plan, you will have that initial meeting, the same as a chapter 7. Then, in most cases, you will only appear one more time to have your re-payment plan approved. This is a simplification, as a Chapter 13 might involve other issues, but in most cases it truly is this simple and routine.
The point to remember is the process is not some dramatic heart-wrenching ordeal that the public has been accustomed to seeing in the constant legal television shows. Your bankruptcy filing is treated more like a transaction and not a full blown adversarial trial.
You would only encounter an adversarial atmosphere with hearings and trials if there was some issue being contested. In most bankruptcy cases, it’s straight-forward and there are no disputes. It’s just a person or couple starting fresh and trying to relieve themselves of debt they cannot pay back.
Bankruptcy is a fantastic tool for renewing your financial life. It can help you get control of your current situation and make a fresh start. The process is organized and routine and in a good way impersonal. You do not have creditors or trustees harassing you. This is hard for some to understand because prior to filing they were harassed by the credit collection companies.
Bankruptcy puts an end to that awful behavior. In bankruptcy, it’s simply business now. If you qualify for the bankruptcy you are filing, your case gets closed and debts discharged. While this can seem cold and impersonal, it also means you do not need to worry about personal attacks during your bankruptcy.
The key to a successful bankruptcy is to work with an attorney who is compassionate to your personal situation, and who understands the process and can guide you through it. If you would like to know more about using bankruptcy to deal with your debt, or you need to speak with someone about filing, contact the law office of Frank J. Laperch, PC.