According to the 2005 Bankruptcy Act, district courts must adhere to the federal regulations for bankruptcy in all 50 states. In Georgia, there are three districts with multiple court locations to file for Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 12 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 is an attractive option for those seeking to eliminate as much of their debt as possible. Those who are eligible can receive debt relief from almost all unsecured debt from sources like credit cards and many types of medical bills. Non-dischargeable debts such as student loans, taxes and child support are not removed from the petitioner's responsibility.
Another type of bankruptcy for individuals or married couples is Chapter 13. Filing for Chapter 13 provides more protection over the petitioner's assets and restructures debts so they may be paid off in a period of 3 to 5 years.
Chapter 11 is similar because it doesn't eliminate debt, but the code calls for restructuring of the financial responsibilities of a business while allowing the business to stay in operation. A particular code was written to protect the businesses and assets of family farmers and fisherman called Chapter 12.
Based on the 2005 Bankruptcy Act, all petitioners must receive credit counseling within 6 months before filing. If bankruptcy relief is still what the debtor wishes to pursue, they will do so with more information about how it will affect their financial future.
The next step is to conduct a means test. This test compares the last 6 months wages to the median income for the state of Georgia. If a petitioner is has lower income, he or she may file for Chapter 7, with income about the median, Chapter 13 is still an option.
Additionally, there are many documents required by the court for filing bankruptcy. Some of the paperwork required includes records of major financial transactions from the last 2 years, tax returns from 2 years, a list of all debts, a list of all possessions, loan information, vehicle titles and monthly living expenses.
These documents, along with necessary forms are compiled for what the court may refer to as "the schedule". Some petitioners choose to have legal counsel and representation at this time, while others prefer to file on their own. The cost for filing for Chapter 7 is $306 and Chapter 13 $281. Chapter 13 bankruptcies filers are also required to give the court a summary of how their debt could be paid off in 3 to 5 years for court and creditor approval.
Once the paperwork is filed, there is an automatic stay placed on the petitioner's debts which will stop any foreclosure proceedings and also redirect creditors to the court appointed trustee. It is the trustee's job to use the non-exempt assets to pay for outstanding debt and return information to the court.
Before a bankruptcy is complete, there is typically a 341 meeting for creditors to gather and negotiate terms with the debtor. If decisions are not agreed upon a judge will intervene to complete the proceeding. Lastly, a debtor must attend financial management education or training approved by the judge to finalize the petition.
George District Courts are located in three separate districts throughout the state. The Middle District has locations in Albany, Athens, Columbus, Macon, Thomasville, and Valdosta. Courts in Atlanta, Gainesville, Newnan, and Rome all are included in the Northern District. The Southern District is comprised of courts in Augusta, Brunswick, Dublin, Savannah, Statesboro, and Waycross.