The Jernigan Law Firm
(504) 581-9322


Bankruptcy Counsel & Negotiated Workouts

     The Jernigan Law Firm serves individuals and businesses in all aspects of bankruptcy and workouts for debt resolution.

    Bankruptcy is a complex legal process.  We provide clear solutions to even the most complicated debt issues. We strive to make the bankruptcy process as understandable and as painless as possible so that debtors  can move forward.  We represent both consumer and small business debtors under all chapters of the bankruptcy code, except Chapter 9.


For individuals

     Individuals may file for bankruptcy in a federal court under Chapter 7 ("straight bankruptcy", or liquidation).

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the individual is allowed to keep certain exempt property.  Most liens, however (such as real estate mortgages and security interests for car loans), survive.  Many types of unsecured debt are  discharged by the bankruptcy proceeding, but there are various types of debt that are not discharged in a Chapter 7.  Common exceptions to discharge include child support, income taxes less than 3 years old and property taxes, student loans, and fines and restitution imposed by a court for any crimes committed by the debtor. Spousal support is likewise not covered by a bankruptcy filing nor are property settlements through divorce.  Despite their potential non dischargeability, all debts must be listed on bankruptcy schedules.

     Creditworthiness and the likelihood of receiving a Chapter 7 discharge are only a few of many issues to be considered in determining whether to file bankruptcy.  The importance of the effects of bankruptcy on creditworthiness is sometimes overemphasized because by the time most debtors are ready to file for bankruptcy their credit score is already ruined.  Also, new credit extended post-petition is not covered by the discharge, so creditors may offer new credit to the newly-bankrupt.

For businesses

When a troubled business is badly in debt and unable to service that debt or pay its creditors, it may file for bankruptcy in a federal court under Chapter 7.  A Chapter 7 filing can mean that the business ceases operations unless continued by the Chapter 7 Trustee.  A Chapter 7 Trustee is appointed almost immediately, with broad powers to examine the business's financial affairs. The Trustee generally sells all the assets and distributes the proceeds to the creditors. This may or may not mean that all employees will lose their jobs. When a very large company enters Chapter 7 bankruptcy, entire divisions of the company may be sold intact to other companies during the liquidation.

Fully secured creditors, such as collateralized bondholders or mortgage lenders, have a legally enforceable right to the collateral securing their loans or to the equivalent value, a right which cannot be defeated by bankruptcy. A creditor is fully secured if the value of the collateral for its loan to the debtor equals or exceeds the amount of the debt. For this reason, however, fully secured creditors are not entitled to participate in any distribution of liquidated assets that the bankruptcy trustee might make.

In a Chapter 7 case, a corporation or partnership does not receive a bankruptcy discharge—instead, the entity is dissolved. Only an individual can receive a Chapter 7 discharge (see 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(1)). Once all assets of the corporate or partnership debtor have been fully administered, the case is closed. The debts of the corporation or partnership theoretically continue to exist until applicable statutory periods of limitations expire.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 allows individuals to undergo a financial reorganization supervised by a federal bankruptcy court.  The Bankruptcy Code anticipates the goal of Chapter 13 as enabling income-receiving debtors a debtor rehabilitation provided they fulfill a court-approved plan. This is in contrast to the goals of Chapter 7 that offers immediate, complete relief of many oppressive debts.

Individuals typically file under Chapter 13 to save a house from foreclosure, a car from repossession, or if they earn too much money.

A Chapter 13 plan is a document filed with or shortly after a debtor's Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.

The plan details the treatment of debts, liens, and the secured status of assets and liabilities owned or owed by the debtor in regard to his bankruptcy petition. In order for plans to take effect, it must meet a number of requirements. These are specified in § 1325 and include:

  • providing that unsecured creditors will receive at least as much through the chapter 13 plan as they would in a chapter 7 liquidation [2]
  • either not be objected to, repay all creditors in full, or commit all of the debtor's disposable income to the Chapter 13 plan for at least three years (or five years for a debtor who makes an above median income) 
The Jernigan Law Firm
829 Baronne Street
New Orleans, LA   70130
(504) 581-9322
Fax (866) 703-7621
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