Gainesville Bankruptcy Lawyer | Gainesville Bankruptcy Attorney | What is Bankruptcy? | How to file Bankruptcy | Bankruptcy 101
In the best of times, Gainesville, Florida, is a good place to live. The median value of a house in Gainesville is about $86,300 and the median household income is around $28,164. The Gainesville population of just under 95,447 people boasts a home ownership rate of approximately 47.7%, an unemployment rate of about 5.9%, and less than 25.9% of citizens below the poverty rate. Weekend editions of the The Gainesville Sun and The Independent FL Alligator offer highlights of some of the fun and interesting sites to see and things to do in the 'Hogtown' (as Gainesville is known), such as the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Harn Museum of Art, Common Grounds, Butterfly Rainforest, Matheson Museum, Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park, Miller's Ale House-Gainesville, or Salty Dog Saloon.
Whichever Gainesville neighborhood you live in – whether it is Appletree, Bartram Woods, Black Acres, or some other neighborhood – financial hardship can slowly catch up with you or strike unexpectedly through misfortune, an accident, or personal tragedy. It will make even the best city seem like an unbearable place to live. The Sunshine State had more than 1,02,787 bankruptcy filings during the 12-month period that ended on March 10, 2010. Only a small percentage of those filings were for businesses; the majority of these were individual bankruptcy filing and some might of, unfortunately, been your neighbors. The bankruptcy laws involve an intricate set of Bankruptcy Rules and Bankruptcy Laws that even a lawyer that is unfamiliar with them will defer to a competent and experienced Gainesville Bankruptcy attorney. You should not try to handle your Gainesville bankruptcy alone.
Getting Out of Debt
Bankruptcy tends to be a last resort for most people, but, in fact, it was designed to offer a fresh start from overwhelming consumer debt or business debt. More than 100 years ago, the United States Supreme Court said:
Bankruptcy laws "are designed to relieve the honest debtor
from the weight of indebtedness which has become oppressive,
and to permit him to have a fresh start ..."
Wetmore v. Markoe, 196 U.S. 68, 56 (1904)
One of the interesting things about bankruptcy law is that it is Federal law and, therefore, the same law applies if you are in Gainesville or in Los Angeles. It was designed this way so the law would not change from Gainesville to Ocala or from Gainesville to Brunswick. In the law, this is called "comity".
Unfortunately, out of desperation, many Gainesville residents try everything they can to avoid having to file bankruptcy (and they do so without first consulting a Gainesville bankruptcy attorney). They might try a "short sale" of their home to stop a foreclosure or a deed in lieu of foreclosure; they might sign up for debt consolidation or debt settlement; they might return cars to the creditors; or they might even cash out their 401(K) plans.
Sometimes these efforts actually hurt their legal position. Qualifying for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can depend upon particular circumstances, some of which might have been eliminated by a person trying to "fix things" themselves. In other words, by not seeking representation from a Gainesville bankruptcy attorney or from a Gainesville bankruptcy law firm, you can actually reduce your chances to clear your debt.
It is best to consult with a Gainesville bankruptcy lawyer before taking action that might jeopardize your eligibility to file for a certain chapter of bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy Laws Provide Debt Relief for Gainesville Residents - Can I File for Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can put a stop to the collection agency calls. It can stop a wage garnishment and possibly return some of the money garnished prior to filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can stop a foreclosure. It can stop repossessions and protect your property and belongings. Gainesville Bankruptcy law can discharge your debts, offer you a fresh start, and allow you to get back on your feet again.
Before You File for Bankruptcy
|You're Overwhelmed||Collection Agencies are Calling||You're Facing Foreclosure|
|You're Facing Repossession||Your Wages are Garnished||There's Not Enough Money|
After You File For Bankruptcy
|Stop Repossessions||Begins Your Fresh Start||Stays All Lawsuits|
|Stop Foreclosures||Stop Collection Agency Efforts||Stop Garnishing Wages|
It seems like there's no hope.
In 2005, the bankruptcy laws were substantially amended. Under the new laws, those who have the ability to pay are required to pay back at least some of their debts (Ch. 13). But for others, if their income is less than the median income (average income) for their state, they may not be required to pay back all of their debts (Ch. 7). This is a very simple explanation — but there are lots of ifs, ands, or buts to consider. There are some debts that cannot be discharged. A Gainesville bankruptcy lawyer is essential to help you figure out how you can benefit from the bankruptcy laws and obtain the debt relief you need.
Making a Decision About Filing for Bankruptcy
There are many causes of financial troubles that will bring you to consider bankruptcy as a possible solution. In the Gainesville and Alachua County areas, some of the more common causes of bankruptcy are "underwater" mortgages (also known as "upside down" mortgages) or being drastically behind on mortgage payments; escalating medical bills; loss of income and overwhelming personal debt. Loss of income can be everything from losing a job; to business failure; and the loss of a spouse's income through death or divorce. Once you fall behind in a competitive market like Gainesville, it can seem impossible to get back up on your feet.
Whether or not a Gainesville bankruptcy filing is the best solution for you depends on what you want to accomplish. An experienced Gainesville bankruptcy lawyer can review your situation and help you determine the best course of action.
- Are you trying to save your house (stop a foreclosure)?
- Are you trying to save your car (stop a repossession)?
- Are you trying to eliminate debt (bills that you just can't pay)?
- Do you just need a fresh start?
A Gainesville bankruptcy lawyer is the best person to help you figure this out. They will review the debts you owe, the property you own, and other financial factors. Then, based on what you want to accomplish, your Gainesville bankruptcy lawyer will recommend whether you should file for Gainesville Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Gainesville Chapter 13 Bankruptcy (in rare cases, Chapter 11 or Chapter 12).
Common causes leading to financial troubles:
Mortgages and Foreclosure:
In our current economy, one of the main reasons people consider bankruptcy is because they are behind in their mortgage payments, possibly facing foreclosure, and very likely underwater on their mortgage. It is important to know the fair market value of your home. Check with a local realtor, like the ones listed below, for comparison values of similar homes in your neighborhood.
Century 21 John Merrill, Inc.
Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish
Loss of Income
Perhaps you or your spouse worked for one of these Alachua County companies, but lost your job due to cuts or layoffs.
Motel 6 Gainesville Univ. of Florida
Chris Doering Mortgage
You may have received excellent care from one of the hospitals in the Gainesville or Alachua County areas, but now you are facing medical bills beyond anything you could ever imagine. Many people who file for bankruptcy do so because of huge medical bills.
North Florida Regional Medical Center
Shands at the University of Florida
Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center
Credit card debt usually makes up a large portion of the average person's debt. But there are many other types of debt: personal loans from banks, rent-to-own furniture, and gambling debts to name a few. Your Gainesville bankruptcy law firm will explain which of these debts can be 'forgiven' in a bankruptcy case.
Counseling for Gambling:
Many small business owners are struggling in today's economy.
What are the different "chapters" of bankruptcy and which chapter is right for you?
Bankruptcy is federal law and governed by Title 11 of the U.S. Code. Most people refer to Title 11 as the "Bankruptcy Code." Title 11 is divided into chapters. Chapters 1, 3, and 5 address general provisions, case administration, and creditors, debtors, and the estate; these chapters apply to all bankruptcies.
Chapters 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, and 15 of the Bankruptcy Code address specific types of bankruptcies and govern who can qualify for them and how they will be handled by the Court. Every bankruptcy case filed is done so under one of these specific chapters and so they are referred to as a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, etc.
It is not necessary to know or understand these different chapters, because a qualified Gainesville Bankruptcy Attorney will review your situation and advise you of which chapter will produce the best results for you.
Chapter 7 Gainesville Bankruptcy – The Liquidation Bankruptcy
The basic concept of a Ch. 7 bankruptcy is that the values of all of your belongings are added up, the amounts of any debts you owe and loans against your property (like a car loan) are subtracted, and the amounts you are allowed to keep (exemptions allowed by Florida) are also subtracted. What is left over, in theory, will be liquidated and paid to creditors. For most people, there is nothing left over and they have what is called a "no asset" case; they will keep their property and belongings and their debts will be discharged (forgiven).
A Chapter 7 Alachua County Bankruptcy Lawyer will also provide advice about whether to keep or surrender assets such as homes, cars, boats, etc. which still have loans against them. Keeping the asset generally means keeping the loan. But a chapter 7 bankruptcy provides Gainesville residents with the opportunity to surrender these assets and "walk away" from the loans free and clear.
Chapter 13 Alachua County Bankruptcy – The “Home Saving / Car Saving” Chapter
A Ch. 13 bankruptcy is used to set up a plan that will allow a Gainesville resident to pay back some or all of their debts over a 3 to 5 year period. This is a chapter used by people who have assets they want to protect, have regular income, but may have fallen behind on mortgage or car payments. There are also some debts that cannot be discharged in a Ch. 7, they can be discharged a chapter 13. This is something your Gainesville bankruptcy attorney will help you figure out.
Chapter 13 is also used by people who are not eligible for a Ch. 7 bankruptcy.
Chapter 11 Gainesville Bankruptcy Lawyer for Reorganization
There is a common belief that Chapter 11 bankruptcies are only used by businesses. It is correct that Chapter 11 is mainly used by businesses, but it can also be used by Gainesville, Florida residents. In some cases, a person might not qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy because their debts exceed the Chapter 13 limits. For those people, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing may provide an alternative.
A Chapter 11 bankruptcy is known as a reorganization bankruptcy. It is very similar to a Ch. 13 in how the case is filed, but the proposal of how debts will be paid is very detailed.
Chapter 12 Alachua County Bankruptcy - Family Farmers and Fishermen
A Chapter 12 bankruptcy is very similar to a Chapter 13: the debtor may repay some or all of his debts over a period of time. While a ch. 13 repayment plan can run as long as five years, a ch. 12 will not last longer than three years.
The biggest difference between the chapter 13 and chapter 12 is that the ch. 12 is only available to family farmers or fishermen.
Chapter 9 Bankruptcy - Municipality
Chapter 15 Bankruptcy - Cross-Border Cases
These two chapters of bankruptcy will not apply to Gainesville residents as they are not "consumer" bankruptcies. But if you've been watching the news lately and see the reports about towns, cities, counties, and even states that are contemplating filing for bankruptcy, you will begin to hear more about Chapter 9 bankruptcies!
Gainesville Bankruptcy Law Firms can review your situation and give you the advice you need to get a fresh start!
Serving clients throughout Northern Central Florida, including Alachua, Archer, Arredondo, Beckhamtown, Beville Heights, Branford, Bronson, Chiefland, Copeland Settlement, Earleton, Fellowship, Fremington, Gainesville, Hawthorn, LaCrosse, Lake City, Los Trancos Woods, McIntosh, Micanopy, Ocalla, Orange Lake, Reddick, Rocky Point, Starke, Wacahoota, Waldo, Williston, areas in the vicinity of Gainesville Regional Airport, and other communities in Alachua County.