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I filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy about a year ago. OOHHH....GASP...BANKRUPTCY I went in knowing absolutely nothing about the process, all I knew was that I was $60,000 in debt. I had a mortgage company that wanted my default mortgage deed "paid in full". Nine credit card companies (they use to be so nice to me) that couldn't understand the concept of being "laid off". And a guy that came in the middle of the night and Repossessed my Ford Ranger. I'm not a lawyer and I'm NOT going to give any legal advice. I'm just going to relate my experience of the process to you so maybe you can learn a few things. First, My suggestion is to find a really good Bankruptcy Lawyer. I know. Depending on what your financial situation is you may feel like that isn't an option...don't make it an option....MAKE IT A PRIORITY! My total costs added up to $1,400 for the use of a good attorney....Let's see... I paid $1,400 and got $60,000 in debt completely erased. I'll have to admit, one of the better financial moves I've made in the last few years. I was in a bad place financially and with bruised pride had to ask for help from family and friends. Some of the Debts you CAN'T write off in a chapter 7 are: Debts for most taxes, Debts that are domestic support obligations, Debts for most student loans, Fines, penalties, or criminal restitution obligations, Debts that were not listed properly by the debtor The time span of Chapter 7: The Petition The first thing that happens is a petition is filed with the bankruptcy court. Once you submit a petition request for bankruptcy the courts order a "Meeting of Creditors" or a "341 meeting". This is usually 60 days after the petition has been filed and you're required to be at that meeting. Meeting of Creditors As stated above, you are REQUIRED to be at that meeting. You'll sit before a Trustee of the Court

(a judge), you and any creditors, or the creditors attorney's who feel they have reason to stop the discharge. You'll be the only one under oath while the judge and creditors' representatives ask you questions. Sounds scary don't it. Going into the 341 meeting I had this image of a stern court judge and five pitbull attorneys tearing me apart. As it turns out the judge, she was really nice and get this, NO CREDITORS SHOWED UP. This still doesn't discharge your debts, whether creditors show up or not they still have 45 days from the 341 meeting to appeal to the courts. In this time you may be asked for more documents showing proof of your financial status. Bank statements, more check stubs, last years tax returns. If all goes well, in around 60 days after the meeting of creditors, you'll receive your discharge papers in the mail. Discharging you from your debt. Naturally every case is different, and conclusions and outcomes may vary. But that's pretty much what happened in my case. Basically a petition was filed along with documentation of my complete financial status. 60 days later a Meeting of creditors. 60 days after that complete and total discharge of all my debts.

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