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Affiliated Attorneys, LLC Blog

Monday, January 28, 2019

Will I Have To Go To Trial For My Bankruptcy?

Most individual debtors will file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Whether you have to appear in court will depend on the type of bankruptcy you submit.

However, in either type of bankruptcy, having to actually participate in a contested trial is rare. You may have to go to court, but most court appearances in individual bankruptcies are quick and painless.

Going to Court in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which involves liquidation of most of the individual’s assets, is the most common. It is also a quick process—you can be done with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in just a few months. In most Chapter 7 cases, you will never even see the judge that forgives your debts at the end of your case.

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must create a repayment plan to make payments to your creditors over a period of up to five years. Your bankruptcy attorney will work with you and your creditors to create a plan that works for you and meets the requirements of the bankruptcy code. The judge must approve your Chapter 13 plan before it can be put into place.

In some cases, the judge will want to meet with you in a hearing to confirm your Chapter 13 plan. These situations may only arise if the trustee or someone else objects to your proposed plan, however. As a result, it is much more likely that you will go to court in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.

Nonetheless, this type of appearance is very different from what you may see on TV. It will take far less time and is often not confrontational. In many situations, you will not even be required to testify. Your attorney will present information and legal arguments on your behalf.

The Meeting of Creditors

There is a “meeting of creditors” or “341 meeting” in every bankruptcy. In this meeting, the trustee will ask you questions about your bankruptcy filing. He or she will discuss specific assets or debts that you have listed in your bankruptcy petition. Although the trustee is not a judge, he or she acts as an “extension” of the court in these meetings. Creditors can come and ask you similar questions as well. In practice, however, most creditors choose not to attend 341 meetings.

For many debtors, the 341 meeting is the closest you will get to a hearing before the judge. However, these meetings are often not even held in a courtroom. They may be at the courthouse in a nearby area, or they could be at a completely different location altogether.

Trials in Bankruptcy Are Rare

Fear of going to court should not hold you back from filing bankruptcy if you are considering it as an option for your situation. While there certainly are circumstances where a trial may occur, the vast majority of debtors will never participate in a trial as part of their bankruptcy proceeding.

 


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Serving Southeastern Wisconsin, with offices in Milwaukee and West Bend, Affliated Attorneys, LLC represent clients throughout Milwaukee County, Washington County, Waukesha County, Dodge County, Ozaukee County, Racine County, Sheboygan County, Jefferson County, Fond du Lac County and Walworth County.



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