Bankruptcy Hearings

Do I Have to go to Court if I File Bankruptcy in Atlanta, Georgia?

When you file bankruptcy in Atlanta, you are required to attend at least one hearing known as the 341 meeting of creditors. Most debtors are nervous about this hearing. However, the bankruptcy meeting of creditors for either a Chapter 13 or a Chapter 7 is relatively straightforward and quick. If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, then you may have to attend a second hearing known as the Confirmation hearing. There are other hearings that are frequently scheduled but not usually attended.

When is the Hearing?

The meeting of creditors is scheduled approximately 30 days after you file bankruptcy. Regardless of whether you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you must attend this hearing.

The confirmation hearing for a Chapter 13 is normally held about 60 days after you file your bankruptcy case. You may not have to attend this hearing if your bankruptcy attorney is able to resolve your case with the trustee and other creditors.

Where is the Hearing?

If you file bankruptcy in Atlanta, then your hearings will be downtown in the federal courthouse located on Spring Street. Bankrutpcy filers who live in most of metro Atlanta, including Marietta, Woodstock, Duluth, Decatur, Lithonia, Conyers, Douglasville, South Fulton, and North Fulton will attend court in the Atlanta division of the bankruptcy court.

If you live in areas that are a little further from Atlanta, such as Rome, Gainesville, and Newnan, each of those areas have separate bankruptcy court divisions for attendance of hearings.

Who is at the Hearing?

The 341 meeting of creditors is conducted by a bankruptcy trustee or one of the trustee’s staff attorneys. In addition, there will be other debtors whose hearings are scheduled on the same calendar as your bankruptcy hearing. Creditors are allowed to attend, but it is unlikely that creditors will come to the hearing. No judge is present at the 341 meeting.

If you file a Chapter 13 case, the Chapter 13 trustee or one of the trustee’s staff attorneys are present at the confirmaiton hearing. Creditors may also attend this hearing if they have any objections to your case, but that is unusual. Unlike the 341 meeting of creditors, the bankruptcy judge is present when there are unresolved matters that need to be decided at a confirmation hearing.

Will I Have to Speak at the Hearing?

Yes, you will have to answer questions at the 341 hearing. In a Chapter 7 case, the trustee’s job is to find out if you have any assets that can be sold to pay back creditors. Although most debtors’ property is fully portected in Chapter 7, the trustee will ask questions to see if any property has value or if any valuable property was improperly transferred before the bankruptcy filing. Most of the answers to the trustee’s questions in a Chapter 7 case will be yes or no.

In a Chapter 13 case, the trustee’s job is to make sure that all the creditors are treated as fairly as possible and that you are repaying the proper amount of debts for your income. Thus, the questions will revolve more around how much income you make, your household size and expenses, your retirement contributions, and your monthly payments to your mortgage or other required payments.

What Should I Bring to the Hearing?

When you attend a 341 meeting of creditors, you should bring your photo identification and a social security card. If you do not have a social security card, you can bring a W2 or a 1099 or any other document issued by a third party that has your social security number on it. The trustee also needs a copy of your most recently filed tax return, which your bankruptcy attorney usually sends to the trustee in advance of the hearing. However, it would be a good idea for you to also brnig your tax return.

Although it is rare that you will have to attend a confirmation hearing for a Chapter 13 case, if you do attend, you may have to bring documents that the trustee requests. Those documents could be anything from proof of payments to your mortgage company, payments to the trustee, tax returns, paystubs, bank statements, or documents showing the value of your property.

What Other Types of Hearings are Scheduled in my Bankruptcy Case?

Other hearings include motions for relief, motions to strip mortgage liens, and various other matters. Normally, if your bankruptcy case has a motion hearing, you do not have to attend unless your bankruptcy attorney informs you to do so.

If you file bankrutpcy in Atlanta, you will definitely have to attend one hearing, but it is usually short and easy, so you do not need to worry. For more information about filing bankruptcy in Atlanta, please call the Law Offices of Charles Clapp at 404.585.0040 for a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney.