Frequently Asked Questions

What is bankruptcy?

What can bankruptcy do for me?

What does bankruptcy not do?

Bankruptcy does not cure every financial need and may not be the right step for every individual. Generally, it is not possible to:

  • eliminate certain rights of secured creditors. A creditor is secured if it has taken a lien or mortgage on property as collateral for a loan such as a car loan or home mortgage. You can force a creditor to take payments over time in the bankruptcy process and bankruptcy can eliminate your obligation to pay on the debt if you choose to give the collateral to the creditor. However, you generally cannot keep the collateral unless you continue to pay the debt.
  • discharge or eliminate debt singled out by the bankruptcy law for special treatment, such as child support, alimony, most student loans, criminal fines, court restitution, and most taxes.
  • discharge or eliminate debt that arises after the bankruptcy has been filed.
  • protect co-signers on debt. When someone co-signs a loan and the loan is discharged in a bankruptcy, the cosigner may still have to repay all or part of the debt. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing offers some protection for co-signers on consumer debt; however, it does not protect co-signers on business debt.

What are the different types of bankruptcy available to individuals and/or small businesses?

Who will know about my bankruptcy?

Will my friends and/or relatives know I have filed bankruptcy?

Will my employer know I have filed bankruptcy?

Can I file bankruptcy on some creditors and not on others?

If I file bankruptcy, does my spouse have to file with me?

If I filed bankruptcy before, can I file again?

If I filed bankruptcy before, how long do I have to wait before I am eligible to file another bankruptcy and receive a discharge of my debts?

What happens if I filed bankruptcy before, need to file again and cannot wait until I am eligible to receive a discharge of my debt?

How will bankruptcy affect my co-signer?

Will I have to go to court?

Will bankruptcy wipe out all my debts?

Will I lose all of my property and belongings if I file bankruptcy?

What happens to my home and car if I file bankruptcy?

Will bankruptcy affect my credit?

How long will bankruptcy stay on my credit report?

What else should I know?

Are there alternatives to bankruptcy?

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M. Caroline Cantrell, Attorney at Law