Chapter 13 Laws And Atlanta Bankruptcy Lawyers

Chapter 13 laws in Atlanta, or for that matter, in the entire state of Georgia, are very complicated. That is the reason it is often helpful to use the services of Atlanta bankruptcy lawyers. When you choose an attorney, make sure that he/she is duly licensed, has god reputation as per Better Business Bureau, and is highly experienced in handling chapter 13 cases with a good success record. As per the Atlanta laws, this type of bankruptcy allows the debtor to continue his/her business operation and to keep most of the assets and properties while following a re-structured repayment plan as ordered by court. It is important for you to keep in mind that chapter 13 laws can also be forced on a debtor even if he/she does not file any such petition. This happens when creditors file a lawsuit in this regard. You are first given an option to suggest a plan that you think you can afford. If creditors agree with that plan, the case is over as long as you do not make further defaults. In a situation, where creditors do not agree with your plan, the court may ask the creditors to propose a plan, which after the court approval becomes a legal obligation on you. In general, the repayment plan is restructured in such a way that allows you (or force you) to be current with your payments and pay off all your past dues over a period of three to five years.

Who Is Eligible?

You may need the help of experienced Atlanta bankruptcy lawyers in order to determine if you are eligible for chapter 13 filing. The state laws have defined certain qualifying criteria that you must meet. In general, it is a 2-step process. First, you have to pass a means test – your regular monthly income (after deducting regular expenses) must be higher than the median income of the people residing in Georgia. Second, you must get a certificate from a state-approved credit counselor. The counselor reviews your financial situation thoroughly. If they get convinced that you can regain control of your finances provided the repayment terms are made a little easier, they may recommend “wage earner’s plan”, which is just another term for chapter 13 filing.

Marital Status

Even if you are married, you can file your petition under chapter 13 individually with the help of Atlanta bankruptcy lawyers. If you owe certain debts where your spouse is a co-signer, there will be a special payment class in your restructured repayment plan, as per which you will have to pay all those debts in full.

Debt Limit

The chapter 13 laws in Atlanta have made certain provisions regarding the debt limit as well. For example, you can qualify for this type of filing only if the unsecured debts do not exceed $336,900 and the secured debts do not exceed $1,010,650. It is very important for you to keep in mind that the figures regarding debt limits change over every three years. The current figures are applicable since 2009.

Court Proceedings

Once your petition is filed, you will have to attend a Section 341 hearing. In general terms, it is a meeting with the creditors under the presence of authorities appointed by the court. The first meeting is often scheduled around 30 days after filing. In most cases, it is the lawyers only who talk on behalf of their clients in these meetings.

The court also orders an “automatic stay” after your petition is accepted. This automatic stay protects you from creditors, as it becomes illegal to make collection calls or make any attempt to recover the debt. Having the best Atlanta bankruptcy lawyers on your side may also make things a little easier for you.