If you are worrying about money and debts, you have come to the right place. Below you will find an overview of bankruptcy law explained by Jacksonville and Gainesville bankruptcy lawyers as it applies to Florida residents.
Call us at (352) 376-3601 if you need to set up a free bankruptcy consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Gainesville on Newberry Road and in Jacksonville near the corner of Atlantic and University Boulevard South.
Bankruptcy comes in several flavors called "Chapters,” named after different chapters of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Most people file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A smaller number file Chapter 13. The law provides that if you can't afford to make any payments to your creditors, then you may file a Chapter 7. However, if you have the ability to make at least partial repayment to your creditors, then you should pay what you can in a Chapter 13. Businesses reorganize their debts in a Chapter 11. Farmers can file Chapter 12, but this type of filing is extremely rare. About 2/3 of all cases filed are Chapter 7, about 1/3 are Chapter 13, and only 1% are Chapter 11. Chapter 12 cases don’t even make up a single percentage point (On average, just one Chapter 12 case is filed in each state per month.)
Bankruptcy is popular because is so beneficial to debtors. Care to guess how often a bankruptcy case is filed in the U.S. each hour? On average 2,337 cases are filed each hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s a new bankruptcy case about every ½ second. Data source: United States Courts Federal Judicial Caseload Statistics, for the three-month period ending June 30, 2017.
Data for year ending September, 2014, from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, home to about 10 million of Florida's 18 million inhabitants.
For 99% of people filing bankruptcy, the choice of bankruptcy chapters comes down to Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Their choice will usually be based upon their income levels measured over the past 6 months before they file. The Bankruptcy Code income tests will usually decide whether you will be allowed to file a Chapter 7 case, which most people prefer over Chapter 13. We provide a chart showing a comparison of Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13. About 2/3 of the time, Chapter 7 is filed; about 1/3 of the time it is a Chapter 13. In cases where people file a Chapter 13 the motivation is usually either (a) to save a home from foreclosure or (b) because their income is so high they can afford to make some payment to creditors and can’t qualify for Chapter 7. Learn more about Chapter 13 bankruptcy law.
In trying to get a grip on bankruptcy law, you need to be familiar with some bankruptcy “lingo.” In bankruptcy language, you are called the “debtor” (pronounced “det-or” – the b is silent). The accounts you owe are called your “debts.” The people you owe money to are your “creditors.” Things that you own, or are in the process of buying, are called your “assets” or your “property.” Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy law, you are allowed to keep (or “exempt”) certain assets in the bankruptcy case and the assets you can keep are collectively called your “exempt assets” or "exempt property"; see our list of Florida bankruptcy exemptions. On some of your loans, you may have signed a contract giving the creditor a right to seize (“repossess” or “foreclosure on”) one of your assets if you break (“default on”) your contract to pay on time. Common examples of these kinds of contracts are car loans and house mortgages. That is, if you miss payments, then the car is repossessed or the house mortgage is foreclosed. The asset (the car or house) you have made reachable by the creditor is called the “collateral” or “security” on the loan, and a creditor who has a contractual right to seize collateral upon a default is classified as a “secured creditor.” That’s enough lingo to get you started.
The following factors help to shape your bankruptcy case:
If you know anyone who has filed bankruptcy and you feel comfortable talking about it with them, do so. The vast majority of those who have filed bankruptcy are glad they did; their only regret is that they did not do so sooner.
Why hold on to stress if it can be relieved? Learn more about life after bankruptcy.
If you make the decision to file bankruptcy, your next decision will be choosing a bankruptcy lawyer. The bankruptcy "reform" act was intended to close loopholes, but also had the effect of adding a lot of additional work to the bankruptcy process—making filing for bankruptcy more challenging than it had been.
At Ruff & Cohen, we have a first-rate reputation; read our Google reviews and our professional awards. We are bankruptcy lawyers in Jacksonville who is rated AV® (highest lawyer rating) by Martindale-Hubbell. Each lawyer in our firm has been practicing bankruptcy law for over 30 years. We are easy to reach and remain readily available for our clients. You can call us at (352) 376-3601, email us, or complete an online consultation form. It takes only a few moments to set up your free consultation with our dedicated Gainesville bankruptcy attorneys. We look forward to helping you. Our offices are conveniently located in Gainesville on Newberry Road and in Jacksonville near the corner of Atlantic and University Boulevard South.