Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How often can I file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

A person can file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy eight years or more from the date of filing a previous Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case in which that person received a discharge, or six years or more from the date of filing a previous Chapter 13 case in which that person received a discharge.

  1. How long does the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy process take?

In most cases, it takes approximately 3 to 4 months to complete and receive a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharge.

  1. What is a first meeting of creditors or Section 341 meeting?

The first meeting of creditors or Section 341 meeting occur approximately 30 to 45 days from the date of filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. The meeting lasts for 10-15 minutes and take place before a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy trustee who administers your case. The trustee will swear you in and ask you several questions under oath about your finances. The first meeting of creditors or Section 341 meeting take place at 36 East Seventh Street, Suite 2050, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.

  1. How much does it cost to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

The court filing fee for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is $335.00. Attorney fees for filing for bankruptcy can vary greatly depending on the complexity of each particular case. While money is obviously an issue when a person files for bankruptcy, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor about whether to hire an attorney. It’s better to be comfortable with a particular attorney who will do a great job on your case rather than saving some money on attorney’s fees and going with a bankruptcy preparer who doesn’t spend a sufficient amount of time on the case. If you call The Southard Law Firm, you’ll always speak directly with an attorney so your questions are immediately answered. The Southard Law Firm also offers free, no-obligation consultations and payment plans to make filing for bankruptcy affordable to everyone.

  1. Can I file by myself if I’m married?

Yes, but unfortunately your spouse will still be liable for any joint debts because there is no “co-debtor protection” in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. If most or all of the debts are individually yours, then it makes sense to individually file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. However, if most or all of the debts are joint debts with your spouse, then it might make sense to jointly file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or for you to individually file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy which provides for “co-debtor protection” on joint debts.

  1. Can filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy stop wage garnishments, foreclosure lawsuits, or other collection activity against me?

Yes, whenever a person files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, or for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for that matter, an Automatic Stay goes into effect and by law stops all actions to collect debts from that person.

  1. Can I get rid of my student loans by filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

In general, student loans are not dischageable in bankruptcy unless paying the student loan will “impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor’s dependents.” This is a difficult standard to meet and requires a bankruptcy attorney willing to advocate for your rights in an adversary proceeding before the bankruptcy court. The Southard Law Firm under

  1. Will I be able to keep my house if I file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

If you are current or only a few payments behind on your home mortgage, you can generally keep your home if you file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. If you have equity in your home that you live in, you can exempt (protect) up to $132,900.00 of equity for an individual bankruptcy filer and up to $265,800.00 for a married couple jointly filing bankruptcy.

  1. What happens to my car if I file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

There are three options for a car in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: (1) reaffirm; (2) redeem; or (3) surrender. If you are current or only a few payments behind on your car, you can reaffirm (make a new promise) to keep your car by signing a reaffirmation agreement with the car loan company. If you can afford to pay the fair market value of the car to the car loan company, you can redeem the car and the remaining balance of the car loan is wiped clean by the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. If you do not wish to keep the car or if you cannot afford to keep the car, you can surrender the car to the car loan company and you will not be liable for the car loan.

  1. Can I get my Ohio driver’s license back if I file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

If you caused a car accident, that didn’t involve alcohol or drugs, and a court ordered you to pay damages to the victim, then you can file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to discharge that civil judgment. Then you can have the BMV reinstate your driver’s license.

  1. What are exemptions?

Exemptions are federal or state laws that protect any equity in property that a bankruptcy filer may have. For more information regarding exemptions, contact Southard Law Firm at (513) 441-7770 and speak with a Cincinnati bankruptcy attorney now.

  1. How long does a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy stay on my credit report?

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filings stay on credit reports for 10 years.

  1. Will I be able to obtain a car loan, home mortgage, or credit cards after filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

After receiving a discharge, many Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filers receive a lot of credit card offers and most will likely be able to get a car loan too. However, the credit card offers will likely be for credit cards with high interest rates and fees.

  1. Can Chapter 7 Bankruptcy help improve my credit score?

Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is not good for anyone’s credit score. However, it could improve your credit score in the long run because Chapter 7 Bankruptcy provides filers with a fresh start that wipes out most types of debt. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filers can then begin to rebuild their credit by making payments on time and only incurring debt that they can afford to pay back.

One way to boost your credit score after filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is to get a “cash backed” credit card from your bank. Basically, you put money onto a credit card and that amount of money is the limit of the credit card. The bank will report that credit card to the credit bureaus and you will never be able to spend more than the amount of cash that you put onto the credit card.

Bankruptcy



Phone: (513) 441-7770

Email Arthur Southard