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Overview of the Chapter 7 means test"

As this blog has discussed previously, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a great way for a struggling Gulfport, Mississippi, family struggling under the weight of debt get a fresh financial start. Many people in Gulfport prefer Chapter 7 since the process does not involve a repayment plan and can be resolved relatively quickly. Sometimes, a family does not even have to turn over any of their property after filing a Chapter 7.

Perhaps because of these advantages, a little over 10 years ago, the government made changes to push people toward Chapter 13 repayment plans when they can afford them. Now, Mississippi families who make over a certain amount of money may have to file a Chapter 13. It all depends on whether these families pass what bankruptcy experts call the means test, which is a financial assessment that almost anyone filing a Chapter 7 must take.

What can be negotiated during plea bargaining?

Mississippi defendants may be able to resolve their cases through plea bargaining. A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant on the charges, sentence or facts associated with the defendant's case. The goal of plea bargaining is typically to avoid trial, have charges dismissed or to receive a lesser sentence. The seriousness of the crime, the allegations and evidence and the chances of a guilty verdict are all factors.

There are generally three areas of plea negotiation: charge bargaining, sentence bargaining and fact bargaining. Charge bargaining involves the defendant's plea of guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for the dismissal of a higher charge. Sentence bargaining involves the defendant's plea of guilty to the charge against him or her in exchange for a lighter sentence.

3 signs it’s time to file bankruptcy

When you first opened your credit card account, you probably did not think that you would eventually be struggling to make payments. When you have to choose between putting food on the table and making a mortgage payment or a credit card payment, the choice seems obvious. Unfortunately, a combination of overwhelming debt and loss of income can lead to these kinds of circumstances. If you have found yourself in this position, you are not alone. Several of your Gulfport neighbors have more than likely found themselves in a similar situation.

When debt spirals out of control because of a sudden financial loss, such as divorce, job loss or an unexpected medical emergency, there are relief options available. For some people this might mean only completing a credit counseling course, for others, bankruptcy might be the best solution. Read further to find out if bankruptcy is right for you.

Court ruling: Mississippi woman's rights were violated

A Mississippi federal appeals court recently ruled that a woman's constitutional rights were violated when she was jailed for 96 days without seeing a judge. The woman is now entitled to sue the sheriff and county that wrongfully held her for so long.

The appellate court overruled the lower court's decision, holding that Mississippi sheriffs have the duty to make sure those jailed appear before a judge expediently. The sheriff states that it is not he, but rather the state court circuit's two judges and district attorney, who should be held accountable for the woman's lengthy jailing.

How the blended retirement system will affect military divorce

The Blended Retirement System (BRS) goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. It will make some changes to the military retirement system and other military laws. Many Mississippians believe the BRS will increase the complexity of military divorce cases, and these cases may have different results, depending on the state the divorce is filed.

Under the new system, eligible service members who serve 20 years or more will receive a reduction in their traditional military pension. They will also receive one percent automatic and four percent matching contributions to their Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), as well as mid-career continuation incentive bonuses.

Modifying a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan

A previous Mississippi post discussed debtors' obligations under Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Once the bankruptcy court confirmed a debtor's repayment plan, they must follow the repayment for either three or five years. However, certain circumstances may warrant a modification of the initial plan.

When debtors are no longer able to afford the payments under their initial payment plan, they must file a motion with the bankruptcy court to modify Chapter 13 plan payments. Debtors must explain why they are requesting modification and provide proof of changed circumstances, such as unemployment, reduction in income, increased expenses or unexpected emergencies. The court may then modify the plan.

What are my obligations under Chapter 13?

Mississippi debtors may decide that filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the best way for them to get a fresh financial start. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or reorganization bankruptcy, allows debtors to adhere to a structured repayment plan to pay off their debts. This is different from Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or liquidation bankruptcy, which allows debtors to have their debts forgiven in exchange for allowing a trustee to liquidate all their non-exempt property.

When filing for Chapter 13, debtors must pay a filing fee and an administrative fee, submit a credit-counseling certificate of completion, a copy of their most recent tax return, proof of filing for taxes for the previous four years and a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Debtors whose average income six months before filing is equal to or less than their state's median income may be allowed to repay creditors in a three-year repayment plan. Those whose income is greater than the state's median income must adhere to a five-year repayment plan.

What happens when I file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

A previous blog post discussed the eligibility requirements for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Mississippi debtors whose income falls below state median income requirements or who satisfy the means test will be eligible for Chapter 7. Several circumstances will render debtors ineligible for Chapter 7, such as if their debt had been discharged under Chapter 7 within the past eight years, the debtor did not satisfy the credit counseling requirement, or the debtor engaged in fraud.

Debtors who satisfy either the median income requirement or who pass the means test must attend U.S. Trustee Program-approved credit counseling within 180 days before filing and must complete an educational course on debt management. During counseling, debtors will discuss topics such as bankruptcy alternatives and individual budget plans. Once credit counseling is complete, debtors may file for bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you get back on your feet

It doesn't take long for a small issue to become a huge financial mess. Maybe you experienced a sudden medical event, like a stroke or a heart attack. Perhaps you got into a car accident. Sometimes, the death of a loved one could call you out of town or leave you unable to deal with the daily details of life.

Whatever the reason, if you miss a few payments to your mortgage, credit cards or other financial debt, you could find yourself in a really dangerous situation.

Do I qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Mississippians struggling with debt may want to consider their bankruptcy options. One option is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To do so, debtors must meet certain eligibility requirements. Applicants may qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if their income falls below the median income in their state. Debtors must participate in credit counseling within 180 days prior to filing for Chapter 7 and submit a certification of completion upon filing with the bankruptcy court.

However, if the debtor's income is higher than the state median, he or she may qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy under the means test. The means test evaluates the debtor's debt versus income for the previous six months to determine whether the applicant can repay his or her debts without filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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