Last updated July 28, 2017.
Yes, filing for bankruptcy will stop foreclosure in Ohio, or any other state for that matter, at least on a temporary basis. The minute a bankruptcy case is filed, an injunction known as the automatic stay springs in to place. The automatic stay is an order of the bankruptcy court that prevents creditors from continuing with collection efforts while the court oversees the bankruptcy case. Lawsuits, garnishments, collection calls, and yes even foreclosure, are absolutely prohibited while the automatic stay is in effect.
You can file a bankruptcy the day before a scheduled foreclosure sale and your bank will have no choice but to call it off. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind before planning to file for bankruptcy.
For more information on what happens before foreclosure and how to answer to a foreclosure complaint, check out our post: Defending Your Home Against Foreclosure in Ohio
How long does the automatic stay remain in effect?
Debtors should be aware that the automatic stay will not last forever. For example, if you file bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure sale of your home, but have no ability to catch up on past due payments, the mortgage company will ask the court for relief from the automatic stay and, in most cases, will be able to proceed with foreclosure. Similarly, you may benefit from the protection of the automatic stay for 3 to 4 months while your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is pending; however, once the case closes and the discharge is issued, you will need to once again continue making payments as agreed in your mortgage documents.
The bottom line is that filing for bankruptcy does not give you a free house. The automatic stay will disrupt the foreclosure process, and stop it for some time, but your lender will be able to foreclose if you can’t maintain normal mortgage payments.
See also: Is There Panic in the Mortgage Markets?
Will filing Chapter 13 stop foreclosure?
If you are capable of maintaining your normal mortgage payments, but simply don’t have the funds to pay back past-due payments in a lump sum, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a good option. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows debtors to pay back mortgage arrearages in manageable monthly payments over a 3- to 5-year period. Rather than being forced to come up with past-due amounts in one or two big checks, the past-due amounts are broken up over the life of the Chapter 13’s payment plan, which is much more manageable for most families and allows for many of them to keep their home rather than losing it to foreclosure.
A long as mortgage payments are maintained, the automatic stay will remain in effect for the entire lifecycle of the Chapter 13 case, usually 3 to 5 years.
Does Chapter 7 bankruptcy stop foreclosure?
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if you qualify through the bankruptcy means test, you won’t repay most of your debts. Instead, your slate will be wiped clean and you’ll get a fresh start to rebuild your finances. Chapter 7 is referred to as a “liquidation” bankruptcy because all your non-exempt property will be sold by a bankruptcy trustee to pay off your debt; however, most property is exempt in a bankruptcy. You can keep your home, your car, your pension, and more in Ohio.
Exemption amounts refer to the equity of your property, meaning what it’d be worth in a liquidation after any liens on the asset are subtracted. For example, if you have a home that is worth $150,000 but you owe $50,000, the equity of this home is $100,000 — and it would be protected in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you’re married, you can double your exemptions.
- Homestead: $136,925
- Vehicle: $3,775
- Household goods (furniture, clothing, etc.): $12,625 total, with a maximum of $600 per item
- Jewelry: $1,600
- Retirement/pension plans: Nearly all are exempt
- Wildcard: Up to $1,250 in any other property not covered by other exemptions
While Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are different, both can allow you to keep your home and wipe away lingering credit card and medical debts, making mortgage payments after bankruptcy that much easier. You’ll want to speak with a qualified bankruptcy attorney to see which type of bankruptcy is right for your situation.
Get Help with an Ohio Bankruptcy Case
Cope Law Offices, LLC is committed to helping Ohioans get out of debt while protecting their home, vehicle, and more. Our dedicated debt relief attorneys serve residents in Dayton, Springfield, Vandalia, Mason, and nearby communities. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review.
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