If you are considering bankruptcy, you need to be aware of the recent drastic changes in the bankruptcy laws. It used to be that a person could file bankruptcy almost on a whim, simply to get out from under a huge burden of financial obligations. Then that person would start over, and a couple years later file bankruptcy again. This type of scenario is no longer possible for the most part due to the new bankruptcy law.
The bankruptcy laws still vary from state to state but much of the common foundation within the bankruptcy law is still there in all states. The variations and changes that are state specific are, for the most part, fairly minor points. In addition, one of the effects of the new laws are that if you are going to file bankruptcy, you must do it in the state in which you are a resident, and you cannot go to another state to file bankruptcy just because they may have more lenient laws in some areas.
With the new bankruptcy laws, the person who is considering filing must go through a process known as a means test. The means test can be very complex and the results of that test could mean the difference between filing bankruptcy and even not be allowed to file bankruptcy.
What this means to you is that the court looks at your financial situation with a very fine tooth comb. The court can determine that you do not need to file bankruptcy based on your level of income and that you can indeed pay your financial obligations, which still being able to maintain your reasonable and necessary living expenses. This is where things really get sticky, because while a consumer may consider “reasonable and necessary” to be that beach front condo in Miami, it is highly unlikely that the court would agree with your definition of “reasonable and necessary”.
Another change in the bankruptcy laws is that the consumer who plans to file bankruptcy is now required in almost all states to attend credit counseling sessions. To a certain extent, this does not make sense since the underlying reason that a consumer may be considering bankruptcy would not be financial mismanagement, but could be host of other financial difficulties, like a job layoff, extensive medical debts, an ugly divorce case, and other things that are totally unrelated to financial mismanagement, and in fact, the consumer may be the sharpest person in the world in terms of finances. But that person still needs to attend the credit counseling sessions, this is mandatory.
Because of the many changes in the bankruptcy law, consumers who may have wanted to file under Chapter 7 bankruptcy may now need to file under Chapter 13 or even Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Much of this determines how much of your personal assets can be retained, or perhaps sold out to satisfy your debtors.
One thing that has become clear with the new bankruptcy laws is that bankruptcy is no longer a “do it yourself” process. One mistake in filling out the mountain of forms can cause your bankruptcy application to be dismissed. You should work with a good bankruptcy lawyer who understands the bankruptcy law and also the variations in your state so that you can file correctly with the least amount of personal damage.