What Happens at a Bankruptcy Hearing
Filing for bankruptcy tends to sound like an intimidating and shameful process. In reality, bankruptcy petitioners are often surprised to find how simple and even easy the process can be under the right conditions.
While filing for bankruptcy has its fair share of legal hurdles, bankruptcy hearings are often pretty tame. In many cases, petitioners only have to attend a select few hearings. These hearings might not be very complicated depending on which bankruptcy chapter you file under and whether any creditors dispute your petition. However, these hearings might be quite important and contentious if serious disputes arise. One of the most important hearings is actually more of a meeting. The 341 meeting with creditors might set the pace and tone of your case. Other hearings might include status, confirmation, and trustee hearings. Again, these hearings can be smooth and uneventful depending on how you file and whether there are many major disputes. Ideally, bankruptcy hearings should be quick. If your case is not properly prepared or creditors raise significant concerns, the process can be more time-consuming.
Schedule a review of your financial situation with our bankruptcy attorneys for no charge by calling Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 701-6519.
Do I Have to Go to Court for a Bankruptcy Hearing?
Before asking what goes on at bankruptcy hearings, you should figure out whether you even need to be present at a bankruptcy hearing. The first thing to know is that the bankruptcy process involves multiple hearings, not just one. There might be hearings to determine the status of your case, to work out disputes with creditors, and to finalize certain aspects of your petition, among others.
Petitioners are often not required at bankruptcy hearings, especially when the issues being heard pertain to procedural rules and details. Our bankruptcy lawyers are prepared to represent you at hearings in your absence. If you are needed at a certain hearing, your attorney should tell you. You should also receive advanced notice from the courts about the time and place of the hearing.
Most bankruptcy issues are worked out outside of court. Your petition and payment arrangements with creditors are often arranged well in advance of being finalized in court. Court hearings are, more often than not, formalities. If everything is in order before you get to court, the hearing should be smooth and quick.
Hearings only become more serious matters if there are major disputes in your case. For example, if creditors believe your bankruptcy claims are fraudulent, a court hearing might be required to settle the issue.
Attending a 341 Meeting with Creditors
The 341 meeting with creditors is where any major disputes might be raised, if any. The name of this meeting comes from the bankruptcy code section that requires the meeting. At this meeting, you, your attorney, and creditors to whom you owe debts may meet and discuss your situation. What happens at this meeting often forms the basis of other hearings and sets the tone for the remainder of your case. As such, it is important to work with an experienced attorney.
At the meeting, you should have documentation of your finances prepared for review. Creditors will also be given the opportunity to raise concerns over the debts they are owed. Often, creditors do not even attend these meetings. If no major issues are raised, your case may quickly move forward.
At this meeting, you might have to prove you qualify for bankruptcy. This often involves passing a means test. The means test measures your ability to pay your debts. If you earn too much money compared to your debts, you might be ineligible for bankruptcy. Your competency to follow through with the bankruptcy plans (e.g., liquidation, payment plans) may be evaluated.
Other Bankruptcy Hearings and Proceedings
There might be numerous hearings involved in the bankruptcy process. For example, quick status hearings might be arranged to determine whether your petition is ready to move on to the next stage. If it is, your case moves forward, and dates for future hearings might be scheduled. If not, you might be given a deadline by which you should be ready. Often, petitioners are not required at status hearings.
Confirmation hearings are common in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. These hearings are meant to confirm and finalize payment plans devised by petitioners. As long as payment plans are feasible and are not objected to by creditors, confirmation hearings should be fairly simple.
Trustee hearings are also held in many Chapter 13 cases. In such cases, a trustee is placed in charge of the case and makes sure petitioners adhere to the appropriate bankruptcy laws and procedures. If there are issues, your trustee might call a hearing. For example, if you have not submitted your proposed payment plan by the deadline, your trustee might arrange a hearing to find out why. If you cannot provide a valid reason for the delay, the trustee might file a motion to dismiss your petition.
How Long Are Bankruptcy Hearings?
The time it takes to get through bankruptcy hearings varies from case to case. Ideally, many hearings should be quick with little fanfare. If issues or disputes arise, hearings might be more involved and take longer. For example, a 341 meeting with creditors might be fairly quick if no creditors object to your petition. However, if creditors raise concerns over the debts they are owed, this heating might take a while.
On top of that, the duration of hearings is often based on how prepared you and your Philadelphia bankruptcy attorney are. For example, suppose you do not have any information about your debts, income, assets, or other important financial details ready before an important hearing. In that case, the hearing will likely be postponed, and your case may take longer to complete. Our team can help you get all necessary forms, paperwork, and information prepared well in advance of all your bankruptcy hearings.
Contact Our Bankruptcy Lawyers for Support with your Hearings and Proceedings
Arrange for an evaluation of your financial predicament with our bankruptcy lawyers at no cost to you by calling Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 701-6519.