Article written by Columbia, SC bankruptcy lawyer Daniel Stone
Most debtors who file for bankruptcy protection in South Carolina are not required to attend bankruptcy court. In fact, I would estimate that only a very small amount of people who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy have to attend Court. The reasons for Chapter 7 clients to attend bankruptcy court include: a creditor files an adversary lawsuits to object to their debt being discharged, the Chapter 7 trustee objects, the United States Trustee objects to discharge based upon 11 USC 707 guidelines (707 guidelines), or relief the debtor is seeking on a particular issue. Please note this is just a small sample of examples. However, most debtors who file for chapter 7 bankruptcy do not have any of these issues arise in their case and do not have to attend bankruptcy court.
In Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, a higher percentage of debtors have to attend bankruptcy court for a few reasons. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debtors are seeking to have their chapter 13 plan approved by the bankruptcy court. In many instances, a debtor’s attendance at court is necessary in order to have the plan approved. In addition, debtors often seek different forms of relief in bankruptcy court during the 3-5 year plan period. An example of some of the forms of relief a debtor may seek are: motions to incur debt, motions for moratorium of payments, motions to reconsider, and objections to creditor claims. Even though some chapter 13 debtors attend bankruptcy court, most hearings are very quick and only require the debtor’s attorney to speak.
If you are required to attend a bankruptcy hearing, please follow these guidelines: (1) make sure you arrive early, (2) bring your driver’s license, (3) leave your cell phone in the car, (4) be respectful of the court and the court’s procedures. Finally, if you receive any documentation from the bankruptcy court about a possible hearing, make sure you call me to check to see if attendance is required. In many instances, only your attorney’s attendance is required.
Please note that ALL Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy debtors are required to attend a 341 creditors meeting. This meeting is located at the Strom Thurmond building in Columbia, SC. At this hearing, a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 trustee will ask the debtor questions about their bankruptcy petition. Some of the questions that may be asked at the bankruptcy hearing include, but are not limited to: confirmation of your name and address, have you filed for bankruptcy before, do you own real estate, what is the value of your real estate, confirmation of your employment, have you filed all required tax returns, and do you have child support obligations. Please note this is only a small sample of possible trustee questions. Please meet me at least 30 minutes prior to your trustee hearing to review all the possible questions.