Federal vs. State Laws on Bankruptcy
For the most part, bankruptcy is a subject that is governed by laws at the federal level. The U.S. Congress in Washington D.C. enacts and modifies these laws, such as with the Bankruptcy Abuse and Prevention Act of 2005, which imposed a requirement that anyone filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 must first be able to pass a means test. Bankruptcy cases are heard in United States District Courts throughout the country, rather than being heard in the courts of the state government. There are, however, certain rules and laws in each state that modify the process in the local courts.
Bankruptcy cases in the local area are heard at the Jacksonville Division of the U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida. The courthouse is located at 300 North Hogan Street, though you may never have to set foot in the courtroom when you are represented by a Jacksonville bankruptcy lawyer from The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. Instead, you can meet with us at our office for your free initial consultation and throughout the process until the conclusion of the case.
Exemptions for Chapter 7 Liquidation
Perhaps the most important role that Florida state laws will come into play in your bankruptcy case is if you choose to file under Chapter 7. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court assigns a trustee whose function is to oversee the case and to attempt to liquidate some or all of the debtor’s assets. Federal law provides a number of different exemptions that may be claimed in order to safeguard the debtor’s personal estate against the efforts of the trustee, and in most states, it is possible to also claim exemptions that are available under state law.
In Florida, however, it is only possible to use the state exemptions, but fortunately these exemptions are among the most generous in the country. They include a potentially unlimited homestead exemption for the value of any equity you may have in your home; personal exemptions of up to $8,000 for items such as furniture, jewelry, and appliances; and exemptions for your automobile, your personal income, and other items. To learn more about the laws that may apply in your case, contact us now for a free consultation. We have more than a decade of experience and can guide you through the complex legal process toward a life with little or no debt.