Even those who may have some familiarity with bankruptcy and what it can accomplish may not know what bankruptcy proceedings actually look like. As the bankruptcy filer, will you be expected in court to appear before the bankruptcy judge? Are court proceedings formal? Will you need to speak to them? The unknown can be stressful and the thought of personal involvement in formal court bankruptcy hearings can be intimidating, to say the least. Fortunately, many should be relieved to hear that the majority of individual bankruptcy filers will never have to go before the judge for a formal hearing. What, however, happens at the hearings that filers will have to attend?
What Happens at a Bankruptcy Hearing?
Again, most individual bankruptcy filers will never have to go before the bankruptcy judge. That being said, all filers are required to attend at least one official meeting during bankruptcy proceedings. This official meeting is the first Meeting of Creditors. This really is not a hearing as the judge is not present and it may not even happen in the courthouse but in a meeting room somewhere else. Every debtor must attend this meeting whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In both bankruptcy types, the court will assign a trustee tasked with administering your case. About a month after filing you will meet with the trustee at the Meeting of Creditors. While the Meeting of the Creditors does, of course, allow creditors to attend, as the name suggests, creditors rarely do. Instead, the trustee uses the meeting in order to clarify and verify the information you disclosed in your bankruptcy paperwork.
Beyond the Meeting of Creditors, a filer will only have to testify in court should certain issues come up in the bankruptcy case. Even in these cases, many of the issues end up getting cleared up prior to a hearing being actually necessary. Hearings in Chapter 7 cases are pretty rare as they are usually very straightforward and are wrapped up within 4 to 6 months. On the other hand, Chapter 13 bankruptcy tends to be more involved and will require the court to approve a repayment plan. Chapter 13 cases will usually last from 3 to 5 years.
Should you be required to actually attend a hearing, it will likely be a hearing on something like a Motion to Extend the Automatic Stay. This may occur if you are filing a new case shortly after dismissal of a previous case. The Motion is asking the court to extend the automatic stay, which works to prevent creditors from collecting from you, past the initial 30 days. At the hearing on this motion, the judge will ask you about why the court dismissed your previous case and what change in circumstances have occurred between the past and the present case.
Additionally, the judge may ask you about what you hope to accomplish with the bankruptcy and how to ensure the success of the new case.
Miami Valley Bankruptcy Attorneys
If you are considering bankruptcy, talk to the Miami Valley Bankruptcy attorneys. We can answer your questions about bankruptcy and about the details involved in bankruptcy proceedings. Contact us today.