Michigan Eastern Bankruptcy Court Court Locations: Bay City, Detroit, Flint Counties of Jurisdiction: Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Bay, Cheboygan, Clare, Crawford, Genesee , Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Iosco, Isabella, Jackson, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Midland, Monroe, Montgomery, Oakland, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon, Saginaw, Saint Clair, Sanilac, Shiawassee, Tuscola, Washtenaw, Wayne
Clerks: Sheila M. Tighe Clerk of the Court U.S. Bankruptcy Court 211 W. Fort St., 21 st. Floor 21st Floor Detroit, MI 48226 (313) 234-0068
Sheila M. Tighe Bankruptcy ClerkBankruptcy Clerk U.S. Bankruptcy Court 111 1st., P.O. Box 911 Bay City, MI 48707 (517) 894-8840
Sheila M. Tighe Bankruptcy Clerk Bankruptcy Clerk U.S. Bankruptcy Clerk 226 West 2nd. St. Flint, MI 48502 (313) 766-5050
Detroit Map & Directions
211 West Fort Street Detroit, Michigan 48226 (313)234-0065 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (M-F)
From the East
I-94 west to I-75 south to I-375 downtown. Exit I-375 at Jefferson East and turn right on Congress Street. Continue on Congress Street until you reach Washington Boulevard (three blocks past Woodward Avenue) and then turn right. The court is one block up on the right side of the street.
From the West
I-94 east to Lodge Freeway south. Exit from the left lane at Larned Street and turn left at the traffic light, which is Washington Boulevard. The court is two blocks up on the right side.
From the North
I75 south to I-375 downtown. Exit I-375 at Jefferson East and turn right on Congress Street. Continue on Congress Street until you reach Washington Boulevard (three blocks past Woodward Avenue) and then turn right. The court is one block up on the right side.
From the South
I-75 north to Lodge Freeway south. Exit from the left lane at Larned Street and turn left at the traffic light which is Washington Boulevard. The court is two blocks up on the right side.
Fort Washington Garage (On Washington Blvd. directly across from the court).
Chief Judge Steven W. Rhodes
Judge Marci B. McIvor
Judge Walter Shapero
Judge Phillip J. Shefferly
Judge Thomas J. Tucker
First Meeting of Creditors/U.S. Trustee Location:
211 West Fort Street Suite 700 Detroit, MI 48226
Judges: Hon. Thomas J. Tucker U.S. Bankruptcy Court 211 W. Fort St., 21st. Floor Detroit, MI 48226 (313) 234-0033
Hon. Steven W. Rhodes Chief Judge U.S. Bankruptcy Court 211 W. Fort St., Ste. 1800 21st Floor Detroit, MI 48226 (313) 234-0020
Hon. Marci B. McIvor 211 W. Fort St. Suite 1850 Detroit MI 48226 Courtroom Deputy, Patti O'Hara (313) 234-0014
Hon.Phillip Shefferly U.S. Bankruptcy Court 211 W. Fort St., Ste. 1950 21st Floor Detroit, MI 48226 (Courtroom 1975 Courtroom Deputy, John Moses (313) 234-0043
Western District Court Michigan Western Bankruptcy Court Court Locations: Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Marquette, Traverse City Counties of Jurisdiction: Alger, Allegan, Antrim, Baraga, Barry, Benzie, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Charlevoix, Chippewa, Clinton, Delta, Dickinson, Eaton, Emmet, Gogebic, Grand Traverse, Hillsdale, Houghton, Ingham, Ionia, Iron, Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Kent, Keweenaw, Lake, Leelanau, Luce, Mackinac, Manistee, Marquette, Mason, Mecosta, Menominee, Missaukee, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ontonagon, Osceola, Ottawa, Saint Joseph, Schoolcraft, Van Buren, Wexford
Clerks: Bankruptcy Clerk Gerald Ford Federal Bldg. 110 Michigan St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49501 (616) 456-2693
Marquette Clerk's Office 202 W. Washington St., Rm. 314 Marquette, MI 49855 (906) 226-2117
Judges: Hon. James D. Gregg Gerald Ford Federal Bldg. 110 Michigan St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49501 (616) 456-2264
Hon. Jo Ann C. Stevenson Gerald Ford Federal Bldg. 110 Michigan St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49501 (616) 456-2950
Hon. Jeffrey R. Hughes Gerald Ford Federal Bldg. 110 Michigan St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49501 (616) 456-2233
Also known as "Fresh Start" or "Straight" bankruptcy, Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows a person to eliminate most or all of his debt while being allowed to keep whatever property he may have.
In many cases, a person may keep their home or car (secured debt), provided that they continue to make current payments and are up to date on the loan.
Chapter 7 eliminates:
Credit Card debts
Personal loan debts
Judgments - Unless fraud or criminal related
Deficiency debts on repossessed autos and foreclosures
Some IRS Debts - many income tax debts are dischargeable.
Personal Injury Debts - except driving while intoxicated and criminal injury.
Chapter 7 is the most commonly filed bankruptcy and can allow for a new start. More and more Americans find themselves struggling with debt they cannot control. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows for their debt to be discharged and lets them get a hold of their financial situation with a fresh start.
Chapter 7 does not eliminate student loans except extreme hardship cases, debts from certain types of taxes, alimony maintenance or support payments, fines, penalties and criminal restitutions, or debts from personal injuries caused by driving while intoxicated.
Chapter 7 Overview Chapter 7 is the most common type of bankruptcy, it is sometimes referred to as "liquidation bankruptcy," or "straight bankruptcy." The basic purpose of chapter 7 is to provide you with a fresh start by wiping out all qualifying debts including credit cards, medical bills, repossession deficiencies, law suits as well as a variety of other debts. Bankruptcy lawyers can help with the process. In chapter 7 there is no repayment required for most unsecured debts, your debts are wiped out completely and permanently. In about 99% of chapter 7 cases, the consumer keeps all property, and eliminates most debts. The entire process usually takes less than 4 months to complete. After the bankruptcy is over, the consumer may choose to selectively pay back debts, such as debts to family members, however repayment is not legally required.
The Chapter 7 Process In chapter 7 the typical consumer only has one meeting with the bankruptcy trustee. The purpose of the meeting is to give creditors a chance to ask questions, although it is very rare that a creditor shows up; it is mostly handled by attorneys. The trustee may also ask you questions about particular items on your petition usually focusing on assets or income. Most meetings take only a few minutes. Some consumers feel some level of anxiety or fear leading up to the meeting with the bankruptcy trustee, but there is no reason to fear the trustee. The trustee is looking for people who are hiding assets or trying to defraud the system, they don't want to harass or scare the common consumer. The meeting will take place in an ordinary conference room, and the trustee is not a judge; the setting is informal. After the meeting, the first thing most people say is "...that's it?...that was easy." Once the meeting with the trustee is done, the only thing left to do is keep your address current with the court, complete a quick financial literacy course (can be done in our office or at home via computer or internet) and wait for your discharge to come in the mail.
When is Chapter 7 appropriate? Chapter 7 is appropriate for those who cannot afford to pay on their debts. While chapter 13 works well for those who can afford some kind of payment plan, chapter 7 is reserved for those who have no means to pay on their debts. In order to evaluate whether chapter 7 is the correct course of action, the attorney will need to review the person’s budget of income and expenses. If a budget analysis shows no ability to pay, after living needs are considered, then chapter 7 may be the best and only option to discharge debts. Chapter 7 may not be appropriate if there is property at risk, such as a home that is going into foreclosure or a vehicle that may be repossessed if the debtor cannot catch up in time. Chapter 13 is usually the only way to reorganize debts in order to catch up on missed payments for car and home loans. Also under chapter 7 a person is only allowed to keep a certain amount of assets free of the bankruptcy. “Exempt” assets may be retained but if assets exceed what the law allows a person to keep, these assets may be at risk in a chapter 7 case. Chapter 13 may be more appropriate for these individuals. Most cases involve little if any risk of losing assets because a qualified attorney should review what assets and property a person has before advising on what chapter to file. Our policy is to review the case thoroughly before a decision is made to file chapter 7 or chapter 13.
What debts are cancelled in chapter 7? Most debts are discharged or cancelled in a chapter 7 case. There are exceptions to the broad discharge of debts. Debts for most taxes and student loans are not cancelled. Debts or obligations under a divorce or support decree are not usually cancelled, and debts due to fraud, dishonesty or misconduct are not cancelled. Bankruptcy relief from debt can be denied to those who attempt to abuse the law to their advantage or are guilty of some kind of misconduct such as destroying, concealing or disposing of their assets or financial records. Criminal charges or sentences are not affected by filing bankruptcy. Unless a debt is excepted from discharge, it will be cancelled or discharged at the conclusion of the case. Most bankruptcy cases are routine as long as they are properly prepared and the client is honest in disclosing all financial information on the schedules. The attorney should guide the client through the process so that the case is presented correctly.
What property is at risk in a chapter 7? Property usually is not at risk when a qualified attorney advises you to file chapter 7 bankruptcy, but sometimes property can be taken by the bankruptcy official (trustee) and sold to pay on your debts. A person filing bankruptcy is called a debtor. When a debtor files chapter 7, all of the property owned must be disclosed or declared. A debtor is allowed to keep a generous amount of assets under chapter 7 as long as full disclosure is made. Most property in a typical chapter 7 is “exempt” from creditors in the bankruptcy. Exemptions are assets and property that a debtor may keep from the case, but if assets exceed the exemptions, they are risk and may be taken and sold to pay creditors. Only a qualified attorney can give up to date advice on what is exempt and what is not exempt. Preparing in advance for your interview includes filling out forms and listing the value of your assets. The biggest question will usually be “what is your property worth?” Whether your property is exempt may depend on its fair market value. If property has a mortgage, then the value of the asset to the owner is the equity. How much equity in a property will determine whether the property is at risk in chapter 7 bankruptcy. If property is at risk and is needed by the debtor, sometimes it is better to choose chapter 13 since there is little risk of losing assets as long as payments are made under the chapter 13 payment plan. Chapter 13 is also the only way to save a home from foreclosure or a car from being repossessed if the debtor is behind and cannot catch up in time to satisfy the creditor. Chapter 7 does not “reorganize” debts like a chapter 13 plan so under a chapter 7 one needs to stay current on mortgages and car loans in order to retain them, while under chapter 13, a debtor can stretch out the catch up process.
How do I keep paying on my home and car or truck? If you want to keep your home or vehicle, and have payments due on these items, it is normal to continue paying on these debts after the bankruptcy is filed. However, before the case is “discharged” or closed, you need to sign and file with the court an agreement to reaffirm or reassume these debts. This agreement is called a “reaffirmation.” If no reaffirmation agreement is filed requiring the debtor to keep paying, the debt is cancelled and the creditor may not accept payments on the account and may want to repossess or foreclose on the property. The attorney will work with the debtor and creditor to negotiate and sign the reaffirmation agreement, and there is normally a modest fee for doing so. This is done after the case is filed and must be completed and signed prior to discharge. Some people do not wish to retain their home or car, so they agree to surrender the property and discontinue paying. These debtors who do not wish to keep paying on these debts do not, of course, sign a reaffirmation.
What does it mean to “discharge” debt? A discharge of debt means that the debt is legally cancelled. Getting a discharge is the reason to file for bankruptcy. Most kinds of debts are discharged in a normal bankruptcy situation so we usually explain the concept by saying that most debts are cancelled but some are not and we go over what kinds of debts are not discharged. The debts which typically are not cancelled are special kinds of debts, such as child support, alimony, student loans, most income taxes, most student loans and debts relating to fraud, misconduct, intentional injury or crimes. Grounds for denying discharge also include hiding or concealing assets, filing false documents or the loss or destruction of financial records. The typical case does not involve these types of things, but the categories of debts which remain after bankruptcy should be reviewed with a qualified attorney. Also, running up credit just prior to filing bankruptcy is evidence of fraud as is transferring property to friends or relatives hoping to keep them out of the bankruptcy, and this type of behavior should avoided, as should any type of dishonesty or wrongful conduct.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is ideal for individuals with enormous unsecured consumer debt, such as credit cards. In a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, the debtor is allowed to keep important assets such as the home, vehicles, and household contents. However, if the wrong choice is made or the case is not prepared correctly, disastrous consequences may occur. In most instances, the debtor is allowed to keep all of their property. Upon completion of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, most debts are extinguished.
Some people attempt Chapter 7 bankruptcy alone, or with a legal document service. To be sure you are getting the maximum benefit available under the law, you should work with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.
To better assist our clients, we provide the following services:
· Free initial consultation · Free credit report with filing · Free budget analysis and means test analysis · Low-cost Chapter 7 filings · Evening appointments
Detroit Michigan - Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows a person to consolidate the debt while making convenient monthly payments to a trustee. A payment plan is proposed which repays the debt over a three to five year period. The amount of the monthly payment and the length of the repayment plan is based upon the following factors:
Monthly income of the person
Monthly expenses of the person
Amount and nature of the debt
The most common uses of Chapter 13 involve:
Repayment of mortgage arrears (back amounts owed) home
Restructuring of auto loans to save a vehicle
Secured debts are paid 100% on the dollar, while unsecured debts may be paid less than 100% on the dollar. A person receives a discharge under Chapter 13 once the payment plan is completed.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also referred to as a “wage earner” plan, is ideal for individuals with a reliable source of income. Under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, wage earners can enter into a payment plan with creditors, whereby they agree to repay debts over an extended period. Most Chapter 13 payment plans last three to five years. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan allows you to keep your property as long as you remain in the plan, and make your payments. Chapter 13 is ideal for stopping mortgage foreclosures, car repossessions, interest, and late fees. Most payments are reduced and consolidated in one monthly payment.
How does Chapter 13 work? Chapter 13 is a payment plan which is frequently called debt consolidation. The payment plan is usually MUCH LESS than what creditors are demanding! We can usually consolidate all debts at a payment that is affordable while protecting your wages and property. The harassment stops, no one can garnish wages, take property, repossess the car or truck, foreclose on the home, etc. But one needs to file a case in order to get the protection. Interest and late fees are often waived under Chapter 13 plans. Many plans provide for a percentage pay-back if the client cannot afford to pay all debts in full. This means that Chapter 13 will often be the best payment plan for you.
How are Chapter 13 payments calculated? In most Chapter 13 cases the payment is based on your budget....your ability to pay. That is why we need to go over your income from your pay-stubs and your living expenses in detail. Our office is unique in that we have a computer program which calculates your budget of income and expenses while you watch it on the computer monitor. You can see the income and expenses broken down as we type it in, and see just where your money goes each month. This enables us to calculate how much you can afford to pay toward your debts very quickly, while you watch us. You just need to know how much you make on average, and how much you spend on house payments, rent, utilities, insurance, groceries, gasoline, etc. House payments and rent are generally not included in the chapter 13 plan unless you are behind. If your mortgage is past due, a chapter 13 can help catch it up and stop a foreclosure from occurring if the case is filed on time. Car payments are usually included in the chapter 13 plan and the car is paid off as part of the plan. Generally, no one can repossess or seize your car or other property once your chapter 13 is filed. Your wages, earnings, bank accounts, and personal property are protected by the Chapter 13 “automatic stay” against creditors.
What is at risk under Chapter 13? If one waits too long, the property is lost for good. It is much easier for us to protect what you have than to try to get it back for you once it is seized by a creditor! So it is best to consult quickly. The risk in chapter 13 is waiting too long to do something! Also, the longer one waits, the more interest and late charges are added to balances. Chapter 13 stops interest and late charges on most debts, so prompt action is best.
Chapter 13 is a better option for many who may risk losing assets in a chapter 7 case. Where in chapter 7 a trustee is appointed to look for non-exempt assets to sell in order to pay debts, the chapter 13 trustee receives payments from the debtor and does not liquidate or seize control of any of the debtor’s assets. In this way a person with assets that might be at risk in a chapter 7 would select chapter 13 in order to safeguard all assets. The stipulation would be to maintain the payments provided for by the plan.
Chapter 13 plans are different for different clients. Only a qualified attorney with experience can draft a good plan that works well and meets the needs of the client. While some bankruptcy attorneys have little experience with Chapter 13 plans, we are experienced in this field and have filed thousands of cases in Michigan.
Stopping foreclosure: Chapter 13 is very useful in order to save a house from foreclosure. The plan will provide for the maintenance of the monthly payment on the house and then pay the lender a little extra each month so that the mortgage is caught up by the end of the plan. Once the plan is completed, the debtor will continue to pay the normal monthly mortgage. In the meantime, foreclosure is stopped while the default is cured over the life of the chapter 13 plan.
Stopping repossession: Chapter 13 is very useful to stop repossession of cars, trucks, automobiles and other assets that are needed by the debtor. Instead of paying the usual payment and meeting the demands of the lender to catch up missed payments, the chapter 13 plan can pay the loan off over a period of time at a reduced rate when combined with other debts that are owing. No one can take the debtor’s assets, property or vehicles while payments are maintained and the lender is protected by insurance on the property. The debtor is responsible for paying insurance.
Stopping interest, late fees and penalties: For those who can afford to pay on their debts but are drowning in interest, late fees or penalties, chapter 13 is useful for reducing payment on everything from credit card debts, signature loans, taxes and auto loans to medical bills, lawsuit claims and judgments.
We know that filing bankruptcy is stressful. Accordingly, we emphasize personal service in all our dealing with our clients. We offer many special services to assist our clients, including:
· Free initial consultation · Free credit report with filing · Free budget analysis and means test analysis · Low-cost Chapter 7 and 13 Bankruptcy · Evening appointments
As with other types of bankruptcy filings, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding provides debtors with the protection of the automatic stay. Once a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed, creditors are prevented from making any further attempts to collect a debt, whether through letters, calls, collection agencies or legal filings.
Is There More Than One Type Of Bankruptcy? Yes. There are three main types of bankruptcy. The most common is Chapter 7. This used to be called "straight bankruptcy," and is now referred to as a liquidation proceeding. If your income is below the median income of your state, you may qualify for Chapter 7 relief. Even if your income is above the median income in your state, you may still qualify for Chapter 7 if you can show special circumstances. Chapter is 13 is a reorganization proceeding for individuals and small proprietary businesses owners. Chapter 11 is a reorganization proceeding usually filed by larger businesses or individuals with significant assets or debts that exceed one million dollars.
Why Would I File Chapter 7? Most people file for Chapter 7 relief in order to get a "discharge" of their debts and have a "fresh start" in life. They can no longer afford to repay all their debts due to illness, unemployment, marital problems, unexpected medical expenses, over-extended credit or other large expenses. Not all debts can be discharged, however. For example, obligations to pay alimony, child support, and taxes that are less than 3 years old are non-dischargeable, or debt obtained by fraud.
What Is the Chapter 7 Process? Chapter 7 is called a liquidation proceeding. Each state has set a limit on how much property a debtor may keep after he or she files for bankruptcy. Some states use the federal exemption laws found in the Bankruptcy Code and others use their own state law. An Interim Trustee is appointed to administer the case. He or she questions the debtor at a meeting of creditors to determine whether the debtor has more property than the law allows. The vast majority of people filing Chapter 7 do not own more property than they are allowed to keep. Those who do own more than the bankruptcy law permits will have to turn over the non-exempt property to the Interim Trustee. The Trustee will then sell the property and use the proceeds to pay the debtor's creditors.
Why Would I File Chapter 13? Generally, people file Chapter 13 in order to keep property for which a creditor has a lien ("secured creditor"), such as a house or car, or for which payment is in default and the creditor is about to foreclose or repossess. The filing of Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop the foreclosure sale and allow the debtor 3 to 5 years to repay all the arrears. Some individuals and small business owners file Chapter 13 because they can only afford to repay some, but not all of their debt. Rather than wiping out their debts in a Chapter 7 proceeding, Chapter 13 allows them to "reorganize" and pay a certain percentage of their debt over a period of 3 to 5 years. The unpaid balance is discharged after the payment plan is completed.
What is the Chapter 13 Process? Chapter 13 is a reorganization proceeding. The Debtor formulates a plan to repay his or her creditors over a period of 3 to 5 years. The Debtor sends a monthly payment to the Chapter 13 Trustee who then distributes the payment to the debtor's creditors. The debtor must appear at a meeting of creditors where the Trustee confirms that the debtor qualifies for Chapter 13, that the debtor can afford to make the proposed plan payments, and that the proposed plan complies with the Bankruptcy Code. The debtor may also need to appear in Court before a Bankruptcy Judge for a confirmation hearing. At the confirmation hearing the Bankruptcy Judge will approve the debtor's plan if it complies with bankruptcy law and the debtor has also fulfilled his or her obligations under the law.
Can Anyone File For Bankruptcy? In order to qualify to file Chapter 7, the debtor must reside or have a domicile, a place of business, or property in the United States. The debtor must not have received a bankruptcy discharge within the last 8 years, or had a bankruptcy case dismissed for cause within the last 180 days. For a Chapter 13, the debtor must also have a steady source of income and cannot have secured debts that exceed $922,975.00 and unsecured debts that exceed $307,675.00. All debtors with consumer debts must also receive credit counseling from an approved counseling agency before filing the case.
If I Am Married, Does My Spouse Also Have To File Bankruptcy? No. However, the spouse that does not file will not get the benefits of bankruptcy. In other words, if the non-filing spouse is jointly liable on certain debts, he or she will remain liable for those debts if the filing spouse filed for Chapter 7, and will remain liable for any amount not paid in the filing spouse's Chapter 13 plan. On the other hand, the non-filing spouse will not have bankruptcy noted on his or her credit report.
Will Bankruptcy Stop A Wage Garnishment? Yes. Some of the money garnished may be returned. It depends on how much was garnished and when it was garnished. Your attorney will be able to advise you whether to expect any money to be returned to you.
Will Bankruptcy Affect My Job? No. Bankruptcy law prohibits governmental and private employers from discriminating or taking any adverse action against a debtor because of the bankruptcy filing.
Who Can Help Me File For Bankruptcy? The best person to help is an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy. That person is the most qualified to analyze your financial situation and determine whether bankruptcy is the appropriate course of action for you, and if it is which type of bankruptcy will meet your needs. The attorney will prepare all the documents needed to file for bankruptcy accurately and completely and will be able to represent you in Court if necessary.
What Documents Will I Need In Order to File Bankruptcy? Your attorneys will probably ask that you provide them with following documents before you file your case:
* six months of paycheck stubs of other documents regarding your income such as support payments, retirement benefits, rental income, etc. for you and your spouse
* copies fo your tax returns for the last 4 years
* copies of deeds to real property owned by you
* copies of the title to any vehicles you own
* copies of your credit reports
* copies of all your billing statements from your creditors, their collection agencies and attorneys
* copies of any law suits, tax liens, arbitration claims filed by or against you