As mentioned earlier, personal bankruptcy can be filed for under Chapter 7(for almost complete elimination of debts) and the more conditional and restrictive Chapter 13 of the federal bankruptcy code. Basically, the provisions under personal bankruptcy allow a genuinely insolvent individual to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh beginning. If the case is bona fide and the proper procedure is followed, the debtor is guaranteed freedom from financial and mental harassment and by creditors.
People file for personal bankruptcy for various reasons. The most common ones are debt incurred by credit card misuse, divorce proceedings and eventual alimony/child support expenses, sudden illness entailing major medical expenses, accidents, etc.
Though it may often seem like the only feasible option, filing for bankruptcy should not be done without weighing all the pros and cons. No individual should consider filing for bankruptcy unless he/she has consulted with an attorney knowledgeable in US bankruptcy laws. Once filing has been decided on, all necessary forms and other documentation should be filled in consultation with an attorney.
Updated bankruptcy laws now require a person filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to undergo a credit counseling course within six months of actual filing. Counseling will be undertaken by officially appointed professionals. Undergoing credit counseling is compulsory and can be foregone only in cases specially exempted by the court.
Whether an individual should file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is largely decided by two factors - the personís income as compared to the average income for his/her state of residence, and the ratio of his/her debts against available income. Following the October 14, 2005 amendments, debts towards government units, fines and penalties under federal election law, tax debts, debts towards certain student loans and some others, are not eliminated by filing for personal bankruptcy.
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