CHAPTER 7

Tucson Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer

Jeffrey Judge is the Tucson bankruptcy lawyer who can guide you through filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Helping Arizona Residents Resolve Overwhelming Debt

Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer Jeffrey Judge has devoted his career to helping people in difficult circumstances. He founded the Judge Law Firm to provide high-quality, personalized bankruptcy services to people whose lives are being negatively impacted by debt.

At the Judge Law Firm, we understand that bankruptcy isn’t something you choose lightly. But, if you’ve been unable to gain control of your debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the key to wiping the slate clean and building a stronger financial foundation. We’re here to provide the information and guidance you need to make the right decision for you, not to squeeze you into a one-size-fits-all solution.

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If your income is above the median, there are additional steps to determine eligibility. So, there’s a little more paperwork involved. But, depending on expenses and the amount of debt, even people with higher incomes may qualify for and benefit from Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The means test can be a bit confusing, since the allowed expenses aren’t necessarily based on your actual living expenses. An experienced Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer can walk through the means test with you and help determine whether you are likely eligible.

Who Files Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

People of all ages and from all walks of life file bankruptcy. Though it’s true that you have to “income qualify” for Chapter 7 through the means test, the calculation actually takes much more than income into account. Income qualification starts by comparing your income to the median income for a household of your size in Arizona. If your income is below the median, you can move right on to filing.

Median income figures are updated regularly. As of April of 2020, the figures for Arizona are:

  • Single earner: $52,319
  • Two-person household: $65,713
  • Three-person household: $71,704
  • Four-person household: $86,950

For each person beyond four, add $9,000.

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Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings are triggered in many different ways, including:

  • A serious illness or injury that results in large medical bills and/or lost work time
  • Payments on an adjustable rate mortgage jumping to an unmanageable level
  • Divorce, job loss, or the death of a spouse
  • Credit card and other high interest loan costs spiraling out of control

The best way to find out whether Chapter 7 might be the right solution for you is to talk with an experienced local bankruptcy lawyer. If you’re looking for a way to conquer debt and move forward with confidence, schedule a consultation with the Judge Law Firm right now. Just call 520-815-1000 or fill out the contact form on this site to begin educating yourself about your options.

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The automatic stay also prohibits creditors, collection agencies, debt buyers and other collectors from calling you on the phone, sending collection notice, or in any way trying to get you to pay the debt.

In some cases, you may even be able to undo actions such as utility disconnection or vehicle repossession.

How Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Help?

In a successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, many unsecured debts are discharged. In simple terms, that means that the bankruptcy petitioner is no longer legally required to pay those debts. That’s a huge relief for many people who have been struggling with debt.

In most cases, the relief starts long before the bankruptcy discharge. In most cases, an automatic stay is entered as soon as your Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer files the petition. The automatic stay is a court order that tells most creditors and debt collectors to stop collection action. That means an immediate stop to actions like:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Mortgage foreclosure
  • Automobile repossession
  • Debt collection lawsuits
  • Attachment of bank accounts

What is Unsecured Debt?

As we mentioned above, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is used primarily for discharging unsecured debt. Unsecured debt includes things like:

  • Credit card debt
  • Medical bills
  • Utility bills
  • Payday loans
  • Signature loans

There are many types of unsecured debt. The common thread is that they do not involve collateral--property that is offered as security for the loan. When a debt is secured, like a car loan or mortgage loan, you can’t just wipe out that debt in bankruptcy and keep the property. So, while Chapter 7 does offer some options for managing or freeing yourself from secured debt, the main benefit is the outright elimination of many types of unsecured debt.

Your Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer can explain in detail how each type of debt is handled, and what options you may have for addressing secured debt.

How Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Work?

Before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, individuals and couples must complete a credit counseling session with a provider approved by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). This requirement is intended to make sure a bankruptcy filer has explored other options and understands the pros and cons of bankruptcy. It’s a quick, low-cost, and relatively painless process, and can usually be completed online or over the phone.

Your Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer will file your certificate of completion along with your bankruptcy petition and schedules. The schedules contain detailed information about your income, your assets, and your debts.

Creditors are notified of your bankruptcy filing, and a meeting of creditors--also known as a 341 hearing--is scheduled. For most Chapter 7 filers, this meeting is the only live appearance. Creditors can come to the meeting and ask questions, but most don’t. The meeting is usually over in about 10 minutes.

After the meeting, creditors have a chance to file proofs of claim or to make objections. Usually, there are no assets to be distributed in a Chapter 7 case, and so many creditors won’t bother to file a proof of claim. Objections are unusual, too.

At some point after you file, but before you can be granted a discharge, you’ll be required to complete a financial management course. You may also see this course referred to as “debtor education.” The course can be completed online, and consists of a single session that lasts about two hours.

Then, assuming there are no objections from creditors or the bankruptcy trustee and everything else is in order, the bankruptcy court will enter a discharge order. If everything goes smoothly, the whole process can be completed in just 4-5 months.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer Jeffrey Judge is Here to Help

At the Judge Law Firm, helping people get out of debt is all we do. That wasn’t always the plan. When attorney Jeffrey Judge left the public defender’s office for private practice, he intended to represent small businesses. But, he found himself disheartened by the stories he heard from hardworking people struggling with debt--stories of debt collector harassment, illegal collection tactics, and the toll debt can take on every area of a person’s life. So, he switched his focus and built a team dedicated to helping people get back on their feet financially.

We know debt can be overwhelming and exhausting and can damage your health, your relationships, and even your job performance. We want to help you break free.

Just call 520-815-1000 to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you want to keep property like a home or a car and are behind on the mortgage or car loan payments, a chapter 7 probably will not be the right choice but you might qualify for a chapter 13 bankruptcy in Tucson. A chapter 7 bankruptcy does not eliminate the right of mortgage holders or car lenders to take your property to cover your debt.
If you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will not be required to pay back balances through a repayment plan. However, some of your creditors may have a “security interest” in your home, automobile or other personal property. This means that you gave that creditor a mortgage on the home or put your other property up as collateral for the debt. Bankruptcy does not make these security interests go away. If you don’t make your payments on that debt, the creditor may be able to take and sell the home or the property during or after the bankruptcy case. There are several ways that you can keep collateral or mortgaged property after you file bankruptcy. We can advise you on your options.
Yes! Many people believe they cannot own anything for a period of time after filing for bankruptcy. This is not true. You can keep your exempt property and anything you obtain after the bankruptcy is filed. However, if you receive an inheritance, a property settlement, or life insurance benefits within 180 days after filing for bankruptcy, that money or property may have to be paid to your creditors if the property or money is not exempt.
Most debts can be discharged but not all. Bankruptcy will not normally wipe out:
  1. Child support or Alimony;
  2. Taxes and government fines;
  3. Student loans;
  4. Debts not listed on your bankruptcy petition;
  5. Fraudulent debts;
  6. Debts resulting from “willful and malicious” harm;
  7. Debts related to driving while intoxicated;
  8. Secured debts (home or car loans) on property you plan to keep
In most bankruptcy cases, you only have to go to a “meeting of creditors” to meet with the bankruptcy trustee and any creditor who chooses to come. In most cases, no creditors show up. Generally, the meeting will be a short and simple procedure where you are asked a few questions about your bankruptcy forms and your financial situation. Your attorney will also attend to assist you if there are any complications.
There is no clear answer to this question. Unfortunately, if you are behind on your bills, your credit may already be bad. Bankruptcy will probably not make things any worse. The fact that you’ve filed a bankruptcy can appear on your credit record for ten years. But because bankruptcy wipes out your old debts, you are likely to be in a better position to pay your current bills, and you may be able to get new credit. If you decide to file bankruptcy, remember the debts discharged should be listed on your credit report as having a zero balance, meaning you do not owe anything on that debt.
Utility services--Public utilities, such as the electric company, cannot refuse or cut off service because you have filed for bankruptcy. However, the utility can require a deposit for future service and you do have to pay bills that arise after bankruptcy is filed. Discrimination--An employer or government agency cannot discriminate against you because you have filed for bankruptcy. Driver’s license--If you lost your license solely because you couldn’t pay court-ordered damages caused in an accident, bankruptcy will allow you to get your license back. Co-signers--If someone has co-signed a loan with you and you file for bankruptcy, the co-signer may have to pay your debt. If you file a chapter 13, you may be able to protect co-signers, depending upon the terms of your chapter 13 plan.
Although it may be possible for some people to file a bankruptcy case without an attorney, it is not a step to be taken lightly. The process is difficult and you may lose property or other rights if you do not know the law. It takes patience and careful preparation and Judge Law Firm has the expertise to guide you through the process. Document preparation services also known as “typing services” or “paralegal services” involve non-lawyers who offer to prepare bankruptcy forms for a fee. Problems with these services often arise because non-lawyers cannot offer advice on difficult bankruptcy cases and they offer no services once a bankruptcy case has begun. There are also many shady operators in this field who give bad advice and defraud consumers. In life, cheaper often does not mean better. This is particularly true in a complex and technical area of law like bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Court charges a $335 filing fee for bankruptcy protection under chapter 7, whether single or married. When it comes to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it’s important to select a Tucson bankruptcy lawyer who takes the time to understand your situation and guide you through a complex process. Judge Law Firm has the proven experience to secure your future through bankruptcy and beyond. Reach out and book your consultation today.

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Judge Law Firm is on your side.

Schedule your meeting today.

Are your debts a temporary setback or a roadblock to your family’s future? To learn more about how we can help, call 520-745-1500 right now, or fill out the form below.

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