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Marathon County Bankruptcy Facts

Did you know that nearly 60,000 residents in western Wisconsin have filed for bankruptcy within the last ten years? If you are experiencing overwhelming financial hardship and don’t know where to turn, know that you are not alone. You likely have friends, neighbors, and community members in Wausau who share similar stories of financial hardship. Continue reading for a beginner’s guide to bankruptcy and to learn how having an experienced attorney on your side can result in better outcomes for both you and your family.

Bankruptcy Basics

The process of filing for individual bankruptcy allows debtors to make a case to a judge that they cannot, due to unforeseen circumstances, repay their loans or settle their debts. A bankruptcy judge will review a debtor’s financial histories and determine whether any outstanding debts may be discharged, restructured, or consolidated. Usually, there is some sort of prevailing issue that stands in the way of a debtor’s ability to honor the terms of these loan agreements.

Circumstances may include the following:

  • Home foreclosure
  • Identity theft
  • Marital separation
  • Revolving credit card balances
  • Unexpected medical debt
  • Wage theft or garnishment

While many bankruptcy filers share similar financial obstacles, no two cases are alike. Eligibility for bankruptcy is something that must be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all aspects of a person’s unique financial situation. Experiencing one of the above circumstances is not a guarantee that a person’s bankruptcy claim will ultimately be accepted by the court.

Many filers are surprised to learn how demanding the bankruptcy process can be, and how intricate the law surrounding bankruptcy is. It is recommended that debtors seeking to submit an individual bankruptcy claim first consult with an attorney with extensive experience filing initial claims and appealing unfavorable decisions. A trusted attorney can produce far better outcomes for clients who would have otherwise filed without legal representation.

Determining Which Debts Are Dischargeable

Contrary to popular opinion, bankruptcy is not a get-out-of-jail-free card and not all debts are dischargeable. Debts are broken down into primarily two distinct classes: secured and unsecured. Individual bankruptcy can primarily discharge a person’s unsecured debts, or debts that have no collateral backing—things like credit card balances, medical debt, and unpaid utility bills. Secured debts include items like a person’s house and vehicle. Debts like these cannot typically be eliminated through bankruptcy, though they may be consolidated or restructured.

A veteran bankruptcy attorney should be able to help a prospective filer determine which among his or her debts can be discharged through bankruptcy. An attorney may also be able to recommend an appropriate “chapter” of bankruptcy for a client’s unique financial situation. Furthermore, an experienced lawyer should be able to help a bankruptcy client retain possession of his or her house and vehicle and put a stop to future attempts to repossess these assets.

Chapter 7: Best For Debtors Experiencing Job Loss

Under Chapter 7, the debtor agrees to relinquish certain non-exempt assets like investment accounts and vacation homes to eliminate a portion of the remaining balance owed. In other words, the debtor’s nonessential assets are liquidated to pay back his or her creditors. For this reason, Chapter 7 is sometimes referred to as “liquidation bankruptcy.”

However, this doesn’t mean the debtor will be left with nothing. Many first-time Chapter 7 filers are pleased to learn they can usually stay in their homes and keep their cars while retaining the ability after bankruptcy to apply for credit cards, negotiate interest rates, and refinance car loans.

In order to pursue the best possible outcomes, it is imperative that folks looking to file for individual bankruptcy under Chapter 7 first meet with a trusted attorney. Bankruptcy lawyers have resources and expertise at their disposal that could make a marked difference in the outcome of one’s case.

A trusted attorney can:

  • End debt collection harassment
  • Exempt essential assets from being liquidated
  • Prevent home foreclosures
  • Protect your vehicle from repossession

Debtors who choose to file without legal counsel may be disappointed to learn that their bankruptcy claims were denied due to a failure to meet income eligibility requirements. An attorney can determine whether or not your case is likely to be thrown on the grounds that you earn too much, saving you both time and money. He or she may recommend Chapter 13 bankruptcy for individuals with gainful employment.

Chapter 13: Best For Debtors With Steady Income

In contrast to liquidation bankruptcy, Chapter 13 hinges on the restructuring and reorganization of a person’s debt load. The aim with this variety of bankruptcy is to provide debtors a more manageable, extended payment arrangement—allowing them to both repay creditors and keep their assets. As mentioned previously, this option is designed for debtors with steady jobs.

When the time comes to present a Chapter 13 claim in court, a trustee will serve as an intermediary between the debtor and his or her creditors. The trustee is responsible for collecting and disseminating a portion of the debtor’s monthly disposable income to creditors, as well as keeping the debtor accountable to the court-approved payment arrangement. This process of debt consolidation and repayment usually takes place over three to five years, after which any remaining debts will be discharged by the court.

Bankruptcy clients with families often prefer this arrangement when they don’t qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy because it allows them to provide for their loved ones while gradually paying down their debts. In other words, Chapter 13 is designed to be less disruptive to the everyday lives of people seeking to overcome substantial debts.

The Nicolet Law Experience

The experienced attorneys at Nicolet Law Office have proudly served bankruptcy clients in Wisconsin and beyond since 2007. With over 100 years of combined legal expertise and thousands of satisfied clients, our attorneys are prepared to go the distance for you and your unique financial challenges. Stop by our local Wausau office today. We would be happy to match you with an attorney who will give you the personal attention you need to make an informed decision.

Considering filing alone? Having a trusted attorney on your side can greatly improve outcomes for individual bankruptcy applicants, as a lawyer can petition for exemptions and negotiate more favorable terms related to payment arrangements. Before filing, consider contacting a trusted, local bankruptcy attorney with a track record of successfully litigating bankruptcy cases.

Contact An Experienced Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

If you are struggling with debt and are considering filing for bankruptcy, allow one of our seasoned attorneys at Nicolet Law Office to review your case and make certain you are getting the full range of relief available to you.

Our dedicated attorneys are available to discuss your case when and how it is convenient for you. We are fully equipped to meet with clients face-to-face, online, or over the phone. To get started, give our Wausau office a call at 715-377-2141, or take advantage of our secure contact form to request a free initial consultation today. Be sure to indicate how you would like to be contacted.


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