Within a week of filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case, a notice will be issued to all of your creditors notifying them of your bankruptcy case filing. This notice will inform the creditors that they can no longer take any collection actions against you, and that they must cease any efforts to foreclose on your home, repossess an automobile, file suit on an account, or garnish wages. If at the time you file a Chapter 13 case there is a pending foreclosure, repossession or wage garnishment, we will immediately fax a notice to the creditor to stop those actions.
The Chapter 13 bankruptcy case notice will contain important information and dates that you must observe. The Chapter 13 case notice will provide the date on which your first hearing is held. This hearing is called the first meeting of creditors, and takes place at the Bankruptcy Court located at 600 James Brown Blvd, Augusta, Georgia 30901. You are required to personally attend that hearing, and bring with you a picture ID and social security card. You should plan to appear at the Bankruptcy Court fifteen minutes prior to your scheduled hearing time. Your attorney will meet you at the courthouse, and can answer any last minute questions you have.
The first meeting of creditors is generally held thirty days after the date you filed your petition. Your first Chapter 13 Plan payment is also due on the thirtieth day after the date your petition was filed. Therefore, if you have not made any Chapter 13 plan payments prior to your meeting of creditors, you should plan to bring that payment with you. You must make the payment in the form of a money order or certified check. The Chapter 13 Trustee does not accept cash, personal checks, or debit cards. In most cases, the Bankruptcy Court will issue a salary deduction order for plan payments to come directly out of your pay check. However, if these plan payments are not deducted from your pay check for any reason, you are responsible for making those payments. It is a good idea to keep all of your payroll records after filing your Chapter 13 case to make sure that all Chapter 13 plan payments have been credited to your case. You should also keep records of any payments that you make directly to mortgage companies, as those payments are sometimes mishandled.
At the meeting of creditors, the Chapter 13 Trustee will ask questions about the bankruptcy petition and schedules that you have prepared and filed. Any of your creditors are free to attend this meeting to ask questions about your bankruptcy schedules and your financial circumstances. However, the majority of cases move through without any creditor appearances.
Approximately sixty days after your bankruptcy case filing (thirty days after the first meeting of creditors), you will need to attend a hearing for the Bankruptcy Court to confirm your Chapter 13 Plan. This hearing will take place at the same bankruptcy court in Augusta, Georgia where you attended your first meeting of creditors. If any objections have been filed by either the Chapter 13 Trustee or any creditor, those objections will be resolved at or before the confirmation hearing. There are times when objections can not be resolved at the first confirmation hearing. If that happens, the confirmation hearing will be rescheduled at a later date, either thirty days, sixty days or ninety days after the initial confirmation hearing date. You are responsible for making all of your monthly Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan payments throughout the Chapter 13 process.
After you have filed your Chapter 13 case, you should not make any additional payments on any credit cards, student loans, medical bills, or any similar debts unless you first discuss it with your attorney. If you have a mortgage payment on your personal residence, you will continue to make that regular mortgage payment. However, all other credit payments should stop upon the Chapter 13 case filing. If you have any automatic drafts from your checking account on any unsecured debts, you should contact your bank to stop those drafts.
Once your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is confirmed by the bankruptcy court judge, your payments are set and will not change until all payments have been paid and your case is completed or you file a modification of your plan. It is possible to modify your Chapter 13 plan in the event of a significant change in income or other significant financial event. While you are under the protection of Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, you are prohibited from incurring additional debt without court permission. In the event you are required to obtain a loan to purchase a new vehicle or for any other reason, you must contact your attorney to determine the procedures for doing so.
The Chapter 13 Trustee has published a Debtor Handbook that should answer every question you have about being in a Chapter 13 case. You will receive a printed copy of that manual at your first meeting of creditors. Please consult with this handbook in the event you have any questions prior to contacting your attorney or prior to contacting the Chapter 13 Trustee's office.