Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Cleveland Chapter 7 Lawyer


If you are struggling with overwhelming debt, you may be wondering how you can regain control of your financial situation. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the right option for you to obtain debt relief.

At The Romano Law Firm, we provide empathetic, strategic bankruptcy services for couples, individuals, and small businesses in northern Ohio. We have been handling a wide variety of bankruptcy cases for more than 17 years, and we are prepared to use our knowledge and expertise to your advantage. We can help you determine if Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you.

We are very familiar with the personal, emotional, and financial difficulties that bankruptcy creates for our clients. We put a lot of time and effort into making sure you have peace of mind and healthy expectations throughout the bankruptcy process.

Get started today by scheduling your free consultation at our bankruptcy law firm in Cleveland. Contact us online or call (216) 621-7777 to reach a member of our team.

The Benefits of Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy gives you the option of liquidating your assets in order to pay off as much of your debt as possible. This is a relatively simple form of bankruptcy, allowing you to discharge or "wipe out" many unsecured and some secured debts.

Debts that are dischargeable in Chapter 7 include:

  • Credit card charges and fees
  • Medical bills
  • Personal loans
  • Past due amounts on utility bills
  • Back rent
  • Business debts
  • Tax penalties
  • Certain unpaid taxes

While you do not have control over what assets will be liquidated, certain assets are exempt from bankruptcy proceedings.

Ohio bankruptcy exemptions include:

  • Homestead, or a parcel of real or personal property used as a residence
  • Personal property, such as cash, motor vehicles, jewelry, and household goods
  • 75% of wages
  • Pensions, including IRAs, private pensions, and tax-exempt retirement accounts
  • Spousal or child support
  • Public benefits, such as disability assistance payments or worker's comp
  • Tools of the trade, or tools used in your occupation or business
  • A "wildcard," or a value in any property

You are allowed to exempt certain amounts of equity or value in these categories, updated every three years. There are also many other exemptions available for specific property. Our consumer bankruptcy lawyers can provide legal advice on this and any aspect of Cleveland bankruptcy law.

The Process of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy process beings when you file your initial paperwork. Filing for Chapter 7 starts an automatic stay, preventing further collection actions.

You will be scheduled for your 341 meeting of creditors hearing. This is the only court appearance required for a Chapter 7 filing. During this meeting the court will appoint an impartial, third-party trustee. The trustee will ask you several questions to assist in your case and, rarely, your creditors may also ask questions.

After your 341 meeting, you can then complete your financial management course. This must be completed within 60 days of the 341 meeting of creditors.

Your trustee will liquidate your nonexempt assets, divide the resulting funds, and give as much as possible back to your creditors.

  • First, the trustee will pay off your unsecured priority debts
  • After your unsecured priority debts are paid off, the trustee will use any remaining funds to pay off your secured debts
  • In the event that liquidating your assets does not generate enough funds to pay off your unsecured debts in their entirety, the trustee assigned to your case will pay your creditors proportionately.

The entire Chapter 7 process takes between four to six months to complete. Delays can result from not providing enough information, property issues, or a dispute over whether you should receive a discharge. An attorney can help ensure you provide the needed information and identify issues to avoid a delay in receiving your debt discharge.

Qualifications for Obtaining a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

You may be eligible to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 in Cleveland if the following are true:

  • You have completed credit counseling in the last six months before filing for bankruptcy; and
  • You pass the “means test,” which means that your monthly income is less than the median for a household of the same size in Ohio; or
  • You do not pass the “means test,” meaning that your monthly income exceeds the median in Ohio, but you have a certain low level of disposable income that may still make Chapter 7 bankruptcy feasible.

Reach out to Romano Law Firm Today!

Chapter 7 bankruptcy may sound good on its face but, ultimately, it may not be right for you. You might not qualify, or there may be a more effective way of resolving your specific debts. In order to make an informed decision, you must first consult a highly skilled bankruptcy attorney with years of experience.

At The Romano Law Firm, we are prepared to help you evaluate your options and make informed decisions about your financial future, starting with a complimentary, no-obligation case evaluation.

Schedule a Free Consultation