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What Happens After Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy In Florida

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida can be a difficult decision to make, but it may provide you with the fresh start you need. 

What happens after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and what happens next? 

In this blog post, we will discuss what happens after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and what you can expect. Keep in mind that every case is different, so speak with a bankruptcy attorney to get specific advice for your situation.

What Happens Immediately After Filing Chapter 7?

Automatic Stay

After you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect. This means that creditors are not allowed to contact you or take any actions to collect a debt. The automatic stay offers temporary protection from creditors and gives you some breathing room as you go through the bankruptcy process.

Bankruptcy laws dictate that a debtor can bring a civil lawsuit against creditors that violate the automatic stay.

Although it is uncommon, in some cases, the automatic stay may be lifted. If you find yourself in this situation and creditors are still pursuing you, it may be best to seek counsel from a bankruptcy attorney. You may be eligible to file a lawsuit and recover damages.

Pro Tip: File a Suggestion of Bankruptcy when you have a pending legal action. The Suggestion of Bankruptcy is a document filed in the court where the lawsuit is pending (different than Bankruptcy court). It advises all parties that the legal action cannot continue. 

It is very common to file a suggestion of bankruptcy in a foreclosure case with an upcoming sale date. In Florida, if you do not file the Suggestion prior to the sale date, the clerk of court will not know that you filed for bankruptcy and may proceed with the foreclosure sale of your property.

Bankruptcy Trustee Assignment

After you file for Chapter 7, the bankruptcy court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee to oversee your case. The trustee’s job is to review your paperwork and make sure that everything is in order. They will also take control of your non-exempt assets and sell them off to pay back your creditors. 

The Trustee can also seek to recover pre-bankruptcy transfers of property that were not properly perfected and pursue state law claims such as fraudulent conveyances.

341 Meeting of the Creditors

You will be required to attend a meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 hearing. This is a meeting between you, your bankruptcy trustee, and your creditors.

Prior to the meeting, you are required to provide documents to the Trustee which provide an insight into your income, property, and all of your debts.

During the meeting of creditors, your bankruptcy trustee will ask you questions about your bankruptcy petition and what led you to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Your creditors may also have the opportunity to ask you questions. 

While your creditors are allowed to show up for the hearing, in many cases they don’t. 

Credit Counseling Courses

One of the requirements of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that you must complete two credit counseling courses.

The first credit counseling course, or your pre-petition credit counseling, must be completed no longer than 180 days before you file for bankruptcy.

Second, your post-petition financial management course must be completed after your bankruptcy case has been filed and before your case is closed.

The purpose of these courses is to educate you on money management and help you develop a budget. Both courses must be completed for the bankruptcy court to discharge your debts or offer you any type of debt relief.

While the thought of taking a credit counseling course may seem daunting, it can be very helpful. Financial management courses can teach you how to better manage your money and avoid getting into credit card debt in the future.

Discharge of Debts

After you have completed all the requirements of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, unless some issue comes up, your debts will be discharged. This means that you are no longer legally responsible for repaying your debts. 

However, there are certain types of debts that cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing such as alimony, child support, marital settlement obligations, student loans, and most taxes.

Some reasons why the bankruptcy court may deny the debtor a discharge: 

  • The debtor committed a bankruptcy crime such as perjury
  • The debtor failed to cooperate with the Trustee
  • The debtor destroyed, concealed, or transferred property that would be part of the bankruptcy estate. 
  • The Debtor failed to complete the post-petition financial management course.

Pro Tip: Complete the Financial Management Course immediately after filing your case. Many people forget and their case is closed without a discharge.

Chapter 7 Discharge Timeline

The average time it takes to discharge a chapter 7 bankruptcy is about four months. However, this can vary depending on the individual case. Speak with a bankruptcy attorney to better understand how long your specific case will take.

Below is the typical timeline after your forms are filed:

Day 13 to 33: Deadline to Provide Tax Returns to the Trustee. This is 7 days before your Meeting of Creditors.

Day 20 to 30: Deadline to File Statement of Intention. This is 30 days after filing or before the first date set for the Meeting of Creditors, whichever comes first.

Day 20 to 40: Your 341 Meeting of Creditors. The Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case will contain the time and place. 

Day 50 to 70: Deadline to Perform Statement of Intention. This is 30 days after the original Meeting of Creditors date.

Day 80 to 100: Deadline to Complete Financial Management Training Course and file Form B423.

Day 80 to 100: Reaffirmation Agreements 

Discharge Granted

What Is Not Discharged in a Chapter 7 Filing?

What happens after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy depends on the outcome of the bankruptcy case and the types of debt relief offered by the bankruptcy court hearing. Although, these types of debts are not usually eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge:

  • Taxes
  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Student loans
  • Criminal fines
  • Restitution

In certain cases, you may still be eligible for bankruptcy discharge. A bankruptcy attorney will be able to tell you whether or not your situation warrants a discharge.

After your debts have been discharged, you will be able to start fresh and rebuild your credit score. It is important to remember that filing bankruptcy should only be used as a last resort. If you are struggling with debt, there may be other options to pursue before you should resort to filing bankruptcy.

If you’re not sure whether you’re a good candidate to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida, contact a qualified bankruptcy lawyer. A bankruptcy attorney will be able to guide you throughout the filing process.

Post-Filing FAQ: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Can tax debt be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

In most cases, no. However, if all of the following circumstances are met, the bankruptcy court may choose to offer debt relief:

  • They aren’t property or income taxes
  • You did not commit willful evasion or fraud
  • The debt is at least 3 years old
  • You file your tax returns
  • The IRS assessed the income tax debt at least 240 days before you filed your bankruptcy petition or has not yet been assessed

Can a bankruptcy court discharge my student loan debt?

In general, no. However, if you can prove that paying back your student loan debt would cause an undue hardship on you and your dependents, the court may discharge your debt.

What are the consequences of not completing credit counseling courses?

If you do not complete the required credit counseling courses, your bankruptcy case may be dismissed.

What is considered nonexempt property?

Nonexempt property is any property that can be used to pay off your creditors. This includes things like jewelry, cars, and houses.

Read More: Complete List Of Florida Bankruptcy Exemptions

Read More: What Property Can You Keep In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Can I file for bankruptcy if I’m not a U.S. citizen?

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to file for bankruptcy in Florida. 

However, there are circumstances unique to this situation that make it particularly difficult to navigate. If you wish to file bankruptcy and are not a citizen, you should contact a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney.

What does a bankruptcy trustee do?

A bankruptcy trustee is an officer of the court who is responsible for administering your bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy trustee will review your paperwork, question you at the 341 Meeting, and oversee the distribution of your assets to creditors. Think of them as the representative of your creditors.

Can secured debts be discharged?

You can seek to discharge your personal responsibility concerning the debt, but the lender will still be able to take possession of the collateral. For example, if you have a car loan and you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can choose to give the car back to the lender and have the debt discharged.

How long after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy will my case be closed?

Your bankruptcy case will be closed approximately 90 days after you file your petition.

What happens if I receive an inheritance or win the lottery after filing bankruptcy?

If you receive any type of windfall after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be required to turn it over to the Trustee to pay back some or all of your creditors. 

Contact a Bankruptcy Attorney in Florida

If you have questions about what happens after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy or need help with the bankruptcy process, contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney. They can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

For over 20 years, Stiberman Law firm has represented thousands of people in Miami, Hollywood, West Palm Beach, and across South Florida in filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and getting out of debt. Our bankruptcy attorneys are ready to represent you throughout the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing process and get your personal financial management back on track!

Call the Stiberman Law Firm at (954) 807-1562 or fill out the form below.

Written By:

Attorney Robert Stiberman

Robert is an experienced bankruptcy attorney with more than 13 years of experience in consumer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases. Robert regularly practices in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach Divisions of th... Read More

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