As a leading bankruptcy law firm in Northern Virginia, we are frequently asked how to get out from under the burden of debt. Bankruptcy is often a tool our office recommends. However, We sit down and review our client’s financial situation, determine all options are available and look at whether bankruptcy is the right choice for our clients. If you are considering filing bankruptcy, make sure to talk to Fairfax County Bankruptcy Attorney Ashley F. Morgan. Our office is conveniently located in Herndon, Va, which is easily accessed by our Fairfax County bankruptcy clients. Our offices only two miles from Reston Town Center and only a short distance of off Fairfax County Parkway and Route 28. Our office also offers ample free parking.
Ashley F. Morgan Law, PC, is an experienced bankruptcy law firm in northern Virginia that is dedicated to helping you find a debt relief solution that works for you. Every month we help many Fairfax County residence file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases. We can eliminate your debt, get you back on track, and help you enjoy a fresh start on your financial well-being. For some people bankruptcy can help bring a fresh start and provide a way that can help manage their finances. One of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys will be able to review your situation and determine if bankruptcy is a viable option for you.
We understand bankruptcy is not always an easy decision; it also is not the right decision for everyone. Our job is to give you the pros and cons about all your options. We are not here to sell you on the bankruptcy process; we are here to educate and guide to make sure you make the right decision for your situation.
Bankruptcy is not a punishment or an admission of failure. It is a legal proceeding and a financial decision that relieves a debtor of some or all of their obligations to repay their debt, so they can afford to pay their basic living expenses. Although bankruptcy is not the best option for everyone, it an option for many people trying to manage substantial debt. Bankruptcy provides many people with the fresh financial start that they need to move forward.
Living in Fairfax County
Fairfax County can be a great place to live. There are great schools, diverse neighborhoods, and a profitable economy. In 2017, Reston was ranked 29th in the Best Places to Live in America by Money magazine. Other towns in Fairfax County have regularly ranked high for great quality of life. However, many individuals and families struggle with the high cost of living for this area. We understand the financial struggles in Fairfax County are different from the rest of the country.
The bankruptcy process
To qualify for Chapter 7, the court will look at your income for the last 6 months. If the debtor’s income is less than or equal to the state median, they can file for Chapter 7. This can mean it is more difficult for individuals to qualify for a Chapter 7. However, there is another way to qualify for Chapter 7 that involves using your income and subtracting out allowable expenses; the court uses a process called the Means Test. Important allowable expenses are usually car payments, court ordered support payments, non-dischargable tax debt, and various other things. Additionally, if your income is above the state median, we are able to take in consideration other allowable expenses for your county under Internal Revenue Service guidelines. Fairfax County has some of the highest allowable deductions in the country due to the high cost of living. Basically the court understands that making $75,000.00 in Fairfax County is not the same as making $75,000.00 in Oklahoma City. This means that expenses, such as rent, utilities, transportation costs are based on the average expenses for Fairfax County residence with your same household size.
If you cannot qualify for Chapter 7 or have substantial non-exempt assets, we can sometimes recommend a Chapter 13. If you decide the right option for you is a Chapter 13, the Means Test will also dictate the amount of a payment you may have in Chapter 13.
An experienced bankruptcy attorney also can make a difference when calculating expense. When people are paid bi-weekly, it is easy to calculate your monthly paycheck deduction as as x2; however the appropriate multiplier is x2.17 (bi-weekly pay and expenses means there is one extra pay cycle every 6 months). This small difference can sometimes make the difference in qualifying for a Chapter 7 or not (or make a Chapter 13 payment something that is feasible with your budget). Additionally, an experienced bankruptcy attorney will also review your tax withholding to determine if it is appropriate. If you are under withholding and owe the IRS regularly, then you should be adjusting the Means Test (and your paycheck) to ensure you are using the proper deduction.
Bankruptcy in Fairfax County, Virginia
Bankruptcy is a federal process, which means you file in a federal court. Most people file in the jurisdiction where you reside; if you live in Fairfax County, VA, you will usually file in the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia. There are other ways to determine where you can file, such as where your largest asset is located; however, it is usually easiest to file in the jurisdiction you reside.
Experienced Bankruptcy Attorneys Prevent Problems
Your bankruptcy petition is a 40 to 70 page document about your financial situation. The petition requires disclosures of assets, income, debts, expenses and much more. For example, payments to creditors over a certain period of time will be needed to be disclosed. Similarly, transfers of assets, like the sale of a house or car, must be disclosed within two years of the petition date. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will help you navigate those waters to figure out what information is necessary to disclose and what information is going to impact your case. For example, if you paid back your grandmother a substantial sum of money before filing, there may be an issue. Or if you sold your house 2 months before bankruptcy, there may not be an issue; it really depends on what you did with the money.
Other issues can be related to the timing of a filing. For some people, filing bankruptcy after a judgment is obtained does not cause an issue. For others, there are problems since a judgment can be a lien on your property. Knowing that the timing of a bankruptcy case matters can dramatically impact whether your case will go smoothly or not.
Most of our bankruptcy clients never go the bankruptcy courthouse; most cases only have one mandatory appearance at the Meeting of Creditors (or 341 hearing). In Alexandria, this hearing is in an office building in Old Town Alexandria. It that meeting you will meet with the case trustee about your petition, debts, and assets. This is usually a hearing that takes three to five minutes for your questions.
After the Meeting of Creditors, our attorneys continue to follow up with our clients. We want to make sure creditors are not violating the automatic stay by contacting them and to make sure they are on the right track. Ashley F. Morgan Law, PC follows up with clients involving improving their credit post bankruptcy. We provide handouts and guidance post-filing about improving your credit score. We want to make sure out clients feel supported and are able to best take advantage of their fresh start.
Attorney Ashley Morgan
Ashley F. Morgan Law, PC helps many individuals manage their debts every month. Attorney Ashley Morgan is an experienced Fairfax County bankruptcy attorney, and she has experience dealing with all types of debts. She understands bankruptcy is one of many tools available to her clients, and she wants her clients to completely understand all the tools at their disposal before taking action. Ashley tries to give her clients the best legal guidance possible. She also helps clients settle or negotiate debts if bankruptcy is not the right option. Ashley has helped hundreds of clients figure out the right way to manage their debt.