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Answers To Frequently Asked Questions

Consumer Bankruptcy

Will my bankruptcy be published in the paper?

A bankruptcy is public record. However, most newspapers no longer publish bankruptcy information. While they still publish foreclosures and court actions, bankruptcy is a federal action and is generally only available on the United States Bankruptcy Court’s website.

Will I lose my vehicle?

If you have a loan secured by your vehicle and are up-to-date on your payments, your bank and the court may allow you to reaffirm the original contract on the vehicle. If you are behind on payments, you will need to get them up-to-date or possibly enter into Chapter 13 bankruptcy to cure any defaults.

If I surrender my home or vehicle, will I be responsible for the difference between the loan amount and the amount my home or vehicle sells for?

Generally speaking, outside of bankruptcy, you could be held liable for the deficiency or remaining debt. However, these deficiencies are discharged in bankruptcy, and you will not be responsible for repaying them.

Is there a court hearing?

You must go to what is called a Section 341 hearing. This hearing is also called a trustee meeting or a meeting of creditors. Generally, you will meet with the trustee for five to 10 minutes. Your attorney will be with you and as the name implies, creditors can attend and ask questions. The trustee will verify that you are who you say you are and put you under oath to answer questions concerning your bankruptcy filing. This meeting is generally where the trustee determines whether a case is an “asset case” or a “no-asset case.” Most cases are determined to be no-asset cases, which means the trustee determines that there is no property that can be sold for the benefit of the creditors.

Could I lose my job because I filed bankruptcy?

It is illegal to fire or discriminate against a person because he or she has filed bankruptcy.

What will happen to my credit score after I file bankruptcy?

Many factors go into determining your credit score, including filing for bankruptcy. A person’s credit score and credit report can fluctuate within the course of a week. Here are factors that influence your credit score:

  1. Payment history: This has the largest impact on your credit score. Missing higher payments has greater impact than missing lower payments. Delinquencies in the past two years have a greater impact as well.
  2. Outstanding credit balances: The ratio between outstanding balance and available credit is one-third of your credit score. Keep the ratio under 10 percent.
  3. Credit history: This is the length of time a credit line was established. A long record of consistent payments on older accounts is positive, while there are small penalties for closing old accounts.
  4. Type of credit: Auto loans and mortgages will have the highest impact on your score. A mixture is best, and store cards have minimal impact compared with bank credit cards.
  5. Inquiries: The number of inquiries on a consumer’s credit report within a six-month period will affect the score. The most a score can be reduced is by 50 points, which happens with 10 inquiries or more.

Will the trustee take my furniture, retirement or other personal assets?

You are required to disclose all your personal and real property and make a reasonable inquiry into the value of those items. There are federal and state exemptions that your attorney will go over with you to protect most, if not all, of the equity in your personal and real property.

Should I try to consolidate my debt first with a debt resolution firm or debt consolidation agency?

Be extremely cautious if you decide to work with one of these businesses. There are reputable ones out there, but most are frauds. Check with the Better Business Bureau and consumer protection agency in your state before sending them money.

Family Law

What do I do if I am served with divorce papers?

You have two options:

  • Do nothing and ignore the papers. The court will eventually proceed with your divorce by default, and you will not have a say in the matter going forward.
  • Enlist an attorney and respond to the papers. Your lawyer can include information regarding grounds for divorce, child custody, child support, property division and more as a starting point for either negotiations or litigation.

How much does a divorce cost?

While the fees to file for divorce in Wisconsin are under $200, the average cost of a divorce including lawyers’ fees is over $8,500. However, it is important to choose the right attorney for you who will provide information about costs upfront.

What is a legal separation?

If you and your spouse are legally separated, you are still married legally but maintain separate lives. A separation agreement between the two of you would stipulate financial and custodial rules, as in a divorce, but you would still be connected, marking “married” on forms and receiving the benefits that spouses do.

Am I able to take my former name back after a divorce?

Yes, you are able to take back your previous last name after a divorce. The name change request can be included in the divorce documents, but it also can be done after the divorce is finalized.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process through which a third-party neutral mediator works with both parties in a divorce to find workable solutions for everyone. It is a more cooperative process and may be beneficial to spouses who are divorcing but are not arguing over any of the issues.

Contact Us

Contact Steinhilber Swanson LLP to learn more. Call our office  at 866-381-4391.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.