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How to File Bankruptcy with the new Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

Confused about how to file bankruptcy? You're not alone. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 made filing personal or business bankruptcy a difficult task. BAPCPA implements strict rules and regulations, places restrictions on the amount of secured and unsecured debts, and requires debtors to obtain credit counseling prior to petitioning the bankruptcy court.

Understanding the intricacies of how to file bankruptcy usually requires the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney. While BAPCPA does not require individuals to be represented by a lawyer, few people can undergo the process on their own. Doing so could place them at risk at having their bankruptcy filing rejected.

There are two personal bankruptcy chapters – Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 requires debtors to liquidate their non-exempt assets through the bankruptcy court. Creditor debts are discharged and the debtor is given the opportunity for a fresh start. Certain debts cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 including outstanding child or spousal support, back taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service, lawsuits, and government funded or guaranteed student loans.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a repayment plan which allows debtors to retain their assets. Payments are generally spread out over 3 to 5 years. The downside of Chapter 13 is many people who file this chapter fail out of bankruptcy within the first 18 months. When this occurs, creditors can request the bankruptcy court require the debtor to file Chapter 7 to liquidate their assets to repay outstanding debts.

The first step of filing bankruptcy requires obtaining credit counseling through an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee Program. Next, you will want to retain the services of a qualified bankruptcy attorney. If you decide to undergo the process without legal assistance, bankruptcy forms can be downloaded at

Once bankruptcy forms have been completed, your attorney will file your petition with the bankruptcy court. Shortly thereafter, you will be required to attend a 321 Creditor Meeting. Although creditors rarely attend these meetings, if the show up they will be allowed to ask questions regarding outstanding debt owed to them. If they do not appear, they have up to 30 days to present their claim to the court.

Finally, you must appear in front of a bankruptcy judge. The judge will review your case and ensure you have met all requirements including approved credit counseling. The judge will either discharge debt through Chapter 7, or approve, reject or modify repayment plan for Chapter 13.

Should you require additional information about how to file bankruptcy, we invite you to peruse our article database. In addition to bankruptcy articles, you can learn about bankruptcy alternatives such as debt consolidation and debt settlement.