For some Virginia residents, filing for bankruptcy can be a drastic step. For others, though, it can be a tool that will help them get back on their feet and start over with a clean slate. In addition to finding out if a person actually qualifies for bankruptcy, there are other things to consider when deciding if this is the right choice.
Bankruptcy could be an effective way for individuals in Virginia and elsewhere to get a handle on their finances. However, there are many factors an individual should consider before doing so. For instance, the type of debt a person has may determine if bankruptcy is right for that individual. If a person is unable to cover basic expenses each month, it may be time to file for protection from creditors.
Debt seems to be a way of life for many Virginia residents. In a perfect world, it would be better to first earn the money before spending it, but there is a general concept of what is considered "good" debt. A mortgage on a home, for instance, falls into that category because it is a long-term investment that not only is tax deductible but may be instrumental in earning money if the house appreciates in value over time. Student loan debt is also typically a positive debt but not if it becomes overwhelming to the debtor.
The effect that filing for bankruptcy has on a credit report varies based on the type of bankruptcy that is filed. For individuals who live in Virginia, the most common bankruptcy filings are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. A bankruptcy filing under Chapter 7 might stay on a credit report for up to 10 years while a Chapter 13 filing might be reported for seven years. However, the effect on the credit score will diminish as time goes on.
Military veterans in Virginia may face a difficult time adjusting to their time after service, especially when it comes to financial issues. As a result, many veterans face escalating debt and may be forced to file for bankruptcy. Under a 2019 federal law, the Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need Act -- the HAVEN Act -- disabled military veterans receive some additional protections during the bankruptcy process. This can be important in helping people decide to file and seek debt relief.
Debtors in Virginia and throughout the country who are struggling to keep up with their bills may be able to take advantage of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, there are limits to how many times an individual can file. In most cases, an individual will need to wait eight years after a Chapter 7 case is discharged before they can file another liquidation bankruptcy case. Those who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy must wait six years before filing for a liquidation bankruptcy.
Some people in Virginia who have unpaid debt might eventually face one or more lawsuits. This can be stressful, and individuals who have no money may be tempted to ignore them. However, there are steps people can take to defend themselves against these lawsuits and possibly get them dismissed. Furthermore, failing to respond can lead to a judgment by default, resulting in such actions as wages being garnished. In responding to the lawsuit, people should not admit that they are liable for the debt.
Every year, almost one in three Americans who file Chapter 7 bankruptcies are burdened by student loans. However, this kind of debt is not usually dischargeable in Virginia or any other state. When filers have these loans, they usually account for about half of their total financial obligations. These were two of the discoveries made by researchers who studied 1,083 Chapter 7 cases from the financial online marketplace LendEDU.
A growing number of people in Virginia are facing escalating credit card balances. According to the New York Federal Reserve, younger Americans traditionally steered clear of credit card debt. Many millennials came of age during the financial crisis in 2008 and became more thrifty as a result. However, credit card delinquencies for 90 days or more have risen the most among younger Americans. For people age 18 to 29, these types of delinquencies reached 8% of all credit card balances in the first quarter of 2019.
The Supreme Court ruled on June 3 that creditors in Virginia and around the country may be held in civil contempt if they pursue payment of a debt that has been discharged in a bankruptcy. The nation's highest court applied an objective reasonableness standard to decide a case involving an Oregon business center's efforts to collect a debt from a real estate developer who had filed for bankruptcy. This standard means that creditors can be held in contempt when they seek payment of a debt that they have no reasonable basis to believe is not included in a discharge order.