Filing for bankruptcy in South Carolina can be a complicated, confusing process. This is especially true if you need to appear in bankruptcy court. The amount of information you will need to prepare and present in court can be overwhelming. And if you make the slightest mistake, your bankruptcy application could be delayed or denied. That’s why you need to know how the process works before you step foot in a courtroom – and why you need an experienced attorney on your side.
Types of bankruptcy courts in South Carolina
Whether you’re filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, if your bankruptcy application goes to court, it will take place in a federal bankruptcy court because bankruptcy is governed by federal law.
There are three main levels of the federal court system that come into play in bankruptcy cases:
- Bankruptcy court – A federal bankruptcy court is the first place where your bankruptcy filing will be heard in South Carolina. In South Carolina, bankruptcy proceedings are held at the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina, which has three locations: Charleston, Columbia and Spartanburg.
- Appellate courts – If the district bankruptcy court denies your bankruptcy application, you have the right to appeal that decision. Here in South Carolina, appeals can be made to the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, and from there to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Some circuits in other parts of the country have convened a special panel known as a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) to hear bankruptcy appeals, but the Fourth Circuit has not done so.
- Supreme Court – In theory, the highest level of appeals for bankruptcy cases is the United States Supreme Court. However, appeals of individual bankruptcy matters to the Supreme Court are exceptionally rare.
What you need to do to prepare for bankruptcy court
In order to successfully file for bankruptcy, you will need to present evidence which demonstrates that your current financial situation justifies your bankruptcy filing. Such evidence may include:
- Regular paychecks
- Regular monthly bills
- Unique bills (including bills for medical expenses)
- Unpaid bill notices
- Foreclosure notices
The key takeaway here is that going to federal court on your own is just asking for trouble. The bankruptcy courts have complex rules and very exacting standards for what they will and will not accept. That’s why you need a bankruptcy attorney on your side.
How a bankruptcy lawyer can help you prepare
An experienced South Carolina bankruptcy attorney can help you compile all the critical evidence you will need when appearing in court. But that’s only the start of the process. How the evidence is presented in court can make a dramatic difference in the outcome of your case.
In addition, a good lawyer knows all the court deadlines which must be met when litigating a case in bankruptcy court. An experienced lawyer also knows federal bankruptcy law and all the different rules and regulations, which are regularly changed or amended.
Another important element is familiarity with the specific bankruptcy courts that have jurisdiction over South Carolina. Many judges expect attorneys to use certain language when filing for bankruptcy. Even the tone and demeanor of your lawyer can make a difference in such sensitive cases.
That’s why it’s important to hire a South Carolina bankruptcy lawyer who understands the system and can help you every step of the way in court. To learn more about how a bankruptcy attorney at Matthews & Megna, LLC can help you, simply contact us and schedule a free initial consultation today.