Bankruptcy - Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of bankruptcy?

Filing for Bankruptcy is meant to provide individuals in financial distress some relief and a chance to start over. It is a legal procedure to discharge debt that one who will not be able to repay the debts or does not currently have the means to repay the debts.

The two most common types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

  • Chapter 7: With a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are not responsible for paying back the debt owed.

  • Chapter 13: With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are required to pay back a portion of the debts that you own through a debt repayment plan.

Will I lose all of my property if I file for Bankruptcy including my house and car?

You do not lose all of your property when filing for bankruptcy. There are bankruptcy exemptions that prevent bankruptcy trustees from seizing certain property even if you file bankruptcy. Depending on the specific exemptions, you may be able to keep your house, car, clothing, jewelry and other belongings even if you file for bankruptcy.

Can I get fired from my job if I file for bankruptcy?

No. Your employers cannot discriminate against you for filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws protect you against this kind of discrimination.

Will filing for bankruptcy get rid of all my debt?

No. Filing for bankruptcy will not eliminate all your debts. Some examples of debts that will not be eliminated are: some taxes, student loans, alimony and child support.

How long will filing for bankruptcy stay on my credit report?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for ten (10) years and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven (7) years.

By: Stephanie Lessard Harris, Attorney at Law

Common Myth #3: The Magical Age

When does a child reach an age to have certain rights?  When can a child be “emancipated” and make decisions for him/herself. Some people say 12 or 13 and some say 16. 

               Neither is correct.

               The truth is that there is no magical age for a minor to make decisions for him or herself.  When people talk about that magical age, they imagine a golden age in which a minor is suddenly enough of an adult that he/she can tell a court, “I want to live with Mom” or “I want to live with Dad” and the court will make it so, but Ohio does not have such a rule. 

               There is no magical age until age 18, when the minor becomes an adult.  Until age 18, the minor is bound by any court-issued agreement concerning him/her , and so are his/her parents.  If Mom has custody of the kid, the kid does not get to demand of the court, “I don’t want to live with her anymore” just because he’s turned 13 or 15 or 16.  It will take more than just this idea of a magical age to change a custody determination. 

               When a minor reaches age 18, he/she is no longer considered a minor.  At that point, he/she can make his/her own decisions and live where he/she chooses—but not before then.

By: Alexandra E. Winters, Attorney at Law

Common Myth #2: I Can Always Just Drop the Charges, The Criminal Case Will Go Away, and We Don't Need to Go to Court

So one party calls the cops after an argument and then they feel remorse later on and want to drop the charges.  They are then astonished to find that there is now a case that looks something like: “State of Ohio vs. John Doe.”  “Wait,” they say, “We didn’t want that!  We’ve made up, we came to an understanding, I want to drop the charges!”  A lot of people think that they can do that and then they won’t have to go to court.

It doesn’t work like that.  You’ll notice, it isn’t you who is the complainant.  It is the State of Ohio.  That means you can’t just “drop the charges”.  The minute the police came to your door, the State became involved and a criminal case was born.  The fact that one of you wants to drop the charges isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference anymore. 

There will be a court date for the defendant and the defendant needs to go, because otherwise he or she is likely facing a warrant for arrest.  Explaining that “It’s all okay now” or “I just wanted to teach him/her a lesson” will not get you out of it.   Go to court!

There will also be some kind of consequence for the crime—it might not be jail time or anything so severe, but this isn’t going to just vanish either and some sort of penalty will be imposed.  This is one reason why it’s important to seek representation by an attorney, because an attorney can advise you on your options in this situation.

    By: Alexandra E. Winters, Attorney at Law 

Common Myth #1: The 3-Day Right of Rescission

              Many people believe that if they sign a contract or buy something from a store, they have three days to change their minds and get out of that contract or return that item.  Unfortunately, that’s not quite true, and relying on this common myth can get you into trouble.

               In Ohio, there is no overall right to rescind or cancel a service or purchased good. Cancellation rights are given to consumers only for certain types of contracts.  Three day cancellation periods are granted to consumers in:

1)      Prepaid entertainment contracts

2)      Door-to-door sales

3)      Home equity loans and mortgage refinancing plans

4)      Credit/debt counseling services

               Longer cancellation periods are given for hearing aid sales (30 days), telemarketing sales (7 days), and business opportunity ventures (5 days). 

               It’s important to think carefully before signing a contract or spending thousands of dollars on an item.  Depending on the type of contract or item, you may not be able to change your mind later. 

              By: Alexandra E. Winters, Attorney at Law

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