Frequently Asked Questions About Bankruptcy

Our bankruptcy attorneys at Graham & Associates have the answers to commonly-asked questions about filing bankruptcy.

Who can file bankruptcy?

Almost any person, married couple, or company that owns property in the United States or has a permanent residence or business in the country is eligible to file bankruptcy, subject to the United States Bankruptcy Code and applicable rules and case law.  We invite you to contact our office to set up a free, no obligation consultation if you are unsure whether you are qualified to file a bankruptcy.

Do you need an attorney to file bankruptcy?

Although it is not legally necessary for anyone filing bankruptcy to have an attorney or legal representation to do so, it is highly recommended.  It is a complex legal filing in federal court with many requirements that may not be readily understandable or easy to figure out for someone not familiar with the process.  In addition, local courts may have specific requirements that are difficult to fulfill for a person not familiar with the process. 

If you file pro se (without an attorney), the court where you file is not permitted to assist you with legal advice to complete your case. It may be difficult to find representation after you have filed your case on your own, as many attorneys will not take on a case filed pro se.

Is it expensive to file bankruptcy?

At Graham & Associates, we strive to make the bankruptcy process affordable.  We understand that if you are having financial difficulty and considering bankruptcy, you may not have funds to hire an attorney readily available. That is why we have very competitive fees and always provide payment plan options that can fit almost any budget.

How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?

Each case is different and involves varying amounts of time and effort on our part, depending on the specific situation.  That is why Graham & Associates schedules a free consultation (either in person, by phone or video conference, depending on your preference and availability) with a qualified attorney before any fees are quoted.  Most of our fees are flat meaning that you know exactly what you will pay in total from the first free consultation with an attorney.

We can file some cases for only payment of the court filing fee  and deferral of the attorney’s fees. We file other cases for a very reasonable down-payment with a payment plan in place.  We completely understand that many of our clients who are contemplating bankruptcy do not have much money saved for an attorney or other fees. We work with you to provide help and assistance and can make bankruptcy affordable to almost every client. 

Beware of attorneys or law firms that offer advertised “fixed fees” (via internet, tv, billboard advertisements, etc.) without meeting with clients.  These are often misleading minimum fees that very few clients receive or do not include extra charges for additional services, which Graham & Associates include with our individual fee quote that we give after a thorough meeting with the client.  Our no-cost, no-obligation, no-pressure quotes are all-inclusive in most circumstances.

Do you offer payment plans to file bankruptcy?

Absolutely. Most of our clients take advantage of our payment plans, which are set up from the very beginning as an affordable payment plan that suits the client’s current budget.  

Do you have to owe a certain amount to file bankruptcy?

You do not have to owe a specific amount in current debt to be eligible to file a bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy eligibility depends more on your income, assets, and expenses. However, as a general rule, most people or couples who file bankruptcy have at least $3,000 of dischargeable debts. 

Do you have to be in default of your payments to file bankruptcy?

Absolutely not. There is no requirement that anyone who files a bankruptcy case must be in default on their payments prior to filing a bankruptcy case.  In fact, many of our clients choose to file a bankruptcy case before any default or the resulting collections or lawsuits take place.

What if you filed bankruptcy before?

Many of our clients have a prior bankruptcy (or more than one. Filing another bankruptcy is fairly common.  If it has been over eight (8) years since your last Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, then there is normally no issue in filing another bankruptcy.

If it has not been at least eight (8) years since your last Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you will not be eligible for another Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but that does not mean Graham & Associates cannot help you.  We can almost always file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to potentially greatly reduce the amount that you will have to repay.  Again, you must schedule a free, no obligation consultation with us to figure out what your best course of action is. 

Will you lose your house or car or other possessions if you file bankruptcy?

In most cases, Graham & Associates can protect your home, vehicles, and other possessions when you file either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If there is a potential issue with protecting an asset in your bankruptcy case, we can discuss your options at your initial consultation. There is almost always a solution that enables you to keep your possessions when you file a bankruptcy.  

Can you guarantee my bankruptcy will be successful?

Although we cannot guarantee that your bankruptcy case will be successful, we can guarantee that if you are honest and forthright with us, we will do everything in our power to make your case successful.  We do not take on a case if we do not think it can be brought to a successful completion.  If you meet with us,are honest with us and the Bankruptcy Court, and cooperate with our legal advice, you will very likely be very satisfied with the results in your case.  

Will bankruptcy ruin your credit forever (or for a long time)?

A bankruptcy does not normally ruin your credit.  It certainly will not ruin your credit permanently or for a very long time.  Most of our clients find that their credit begins to improve fairly quickly after their case is discharged, if they follow our post-filing advice.  Many of our clients are able to purchase vehicles or obtain unsecured credit almost immediately after their bankruptcy.  Additionally, many of our clients are able to obtain a mortgage to purchase a home within two (2) to four (4) years after their bankruptcy discharge.

What kinds of debts can you eliminate in bankruptcy?

As a general rule, most debts that our clients owe are dischargeable in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.   These include but are not limited to: 

  • Credit card debt
  • Unsecured loans including payday or internet loans
  • Medical bills
  • Utility bills
  • Bank account deficiencies and fees, including overdraft fees
  • Vehicle loan deficiencies, including repossession and voluntary surrender
  • Mortgage loan deficiencies or landlord rent deficiencies
  • Personal debts,) such as for services
  • Uninsured vehicle accident judgments and BMV reinstatement fees
  • Tax debts that qualify (generally over three (3) years old, with tax assessed over two (2) years ago, not including sales tax or payroll taxes
  • Secured debt on property that you have surrendered or are willing to surrender
  • Many other miscellaneous debts

What kinds of debts can’t you eliminate in bankruptcy?

There are some debts that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.  That does not mean that we cannot assist you with dealing with these debts, but just means that we cannot outright eliminate (or discharge) those debts.  We will discuss your best course of action at your free consultation.  These types of debts include but are not limited to:

  • Child or spousal support
  • Student loans
  • Tax debts that are less than three (3) years old or were not assessed in the last two (2) years, or any kind of trust tax, such as sales tax or payroll taxes, among others
  • Debts related to fraud or criminal fines and fees
  • Certain other debts that we will discuss with you as part of our representation

Will a bankruptcy stop a foreclosure or eviction?

In many or most cases, a bankruptcy filing will stop a foreclosure proceeding or eviction proceeding.  You need to have a consultation with our attorney to discuss your specific situation to see if and how we can assist you in your situation. But as a general rule, a bankruptcy filing will stop a foreclosure proceeding immediately unless a sheriff’s sale has already taken place and delay an eviction unless an eviction filing has already occurred.  Even if a sheriff’s sale has taken place or an eviction has been filed, we still may be able to assist you.  You should still call and schedule a free consultation with us.

Will a bankruptcy allow you to get your repossessed vehicle back?

If your vehicle has been recently repossessed and not re-sold at an auction, we may be able to get the vehicle back for you.  Recovering a repossessed vehicle is generally only possible with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, but you should contact our office and set up a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your options as soon as possible. 

Will a bankruptcy allow you to get your suspended driver’s license back?

If your driver’s license has been suspended for an uninsured accident involving a vehicle in your name, and you have no other suspensions on your driver’s license (such as DUI, 12-point suspension, or unpaid traffic tickets), we may be able to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to get both your judgment for the damages and your Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle Suspension Reinstatement Fee eliminated and get your driver’s license released to you. If you have other suspensions or court fines, however, you will have to deal with those outside of the bankruptcy process.

Do both spouses have to file bankruptcy together or can only one spouse file?

You can file together as married spouses, or only one spouse can file a bankruptcy alone.  However, if you are married and residing together, and only one spouse files bankruptcy, you still need to disclose and provide proof of the non-filing spouse’s income and expenses. 

Will a bankruptcy stop wage garnishment or bank account attachment?

In general, a bankruptcy filing stops a lawsuit, garnishment, or bank account attachment, among other collection actions.  A bankruptcy does not stop a wage deduction for child support or spousal support, or certain other restitution payments.  We welcome you to contact our office to set up a free, no obligation consultation to discuss any wage garnishment or bank account attachment issues that you may be experiencing or anticipating to see what we can do to assist you.

Can bankruptcy eliminate judgment liens on your home?

In many cases we can eliminate or prevent judgment liens on your home.  There are several factors that go into this determination. At your free, no-obligation consultation, we will determine whether we can assist you with your judgment lien issue.

Will you be able to purchase a car after bankruptcy?

In many of our cases, the client has been able to purchase a vehicle after the conclusion of their bankruptcy case.  In fact, many of our clients are able to purchase a vehicle even before their bankruptcy case has finished.  

Will you be able to purchase or rent a home after bankruptcy?

Most of our clients who rent have few issues renting a home or apartment after filing a bankruptcy.  As far as purchasing a home goes, typically our clients become mortgage eligible within two (2) to four (4) years after the conclusion of their bankruptcy case. 

How long does the bankruptcy process take?

A typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes approximately three (3) to four (4) months to complete from filing through discharge.  A typical Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes between three (3) and five (5) years to complete.  At your free initial consultation, your attorney will discuss what type of bankruptcy would be best for your situation and how long the process will likely take.

What happens after your bankruptcy case is finished?

If you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your case will most often discharge and close after approximately three (3) to four (4) months.  At that point, you have no financial restrictions and can begin to rebuild your credit and financial life immediately.  If you filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the case likely will take three (3) to five (5) years.  Although you will have to notify us and the Bankruptcy Court of any significant financial changes while your case is pending, you can begin to rebuild your credit and financial situation immediately on the filing of your case.   We invite you to contact our office and schedule a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your financial fresh start and future.  

Get the Fresh Financial Start You Deserve — Contact Youngstown, Canton and Akron Bankruptcy Attorneys In Ohio

At Graham & Associates, our experienced lawyers explain the bankruptcy process to you in detail. We focus on each client's individual case and pay attention to the client’s specific needs. You have access to your bankruptcy attorney and our staff throughout the duration of your case. We answer your questions and thoroughly describe all your options in plain English, not legal jargon.

Call us toll-free at 866-529-9010 or contact us online to arrange a free one-on-one professional evaluation. Weekend and evening hours are available by appointment. Payment plans are always available.


We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.