The coronavirus has impacted most aspects of daily life including issues involving the federal, state, and local governments. Courts have understandably adjusted their regulations in consideration of the pandemic, but there are still some obligations that people filing for bankruptcy should still make sure to meet. This article reviews some critical issues that anyone in the process of navigating bankruptcy should understand about the coronavirus.
Bankruptcy Court Closures
While some services for the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Middle District of Florida have been canceled or temporarily turned into fully digital or home-based services, bankruptcy courts in Florida are still open and the court is still allowing bankruptcy cases to be filed. Consider the following issues:
- Effective March 23, 2020, the bankruptcy court has closed the intake windows in all divisions.
- All in-person chapter 7, 12, and 13 section 341 meetings scheduled through April 10, 2020, in the Middle District of Florida are postponed to a later date, which has yet to be determined.
- Judges in all divisions are temporarily conducting all non-evidentiary hearings by telephone. Individual judges also might decide to continue evidentiary hearings and trials that are not time-sensitive at a later date.
- The court has requested that anyone who is sick stay at home even if they have a court date scheduled. Because the coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic carriers who do not have any visible signs of the illness, you should exercise a high degree of caution if you visit the courthouse.
Continued Obligations During COVID-19
Provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) mention financially distressed consumers. Fortunately, bankruptcy trustees will not seek any portion of economic relief payments, which are scheduled to be dispersed sometime in April 2020. That said, there are still some types of bankruptcy obligations that will continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Plan payments still must be made during the pandemic.
- Mortgage payments still must be made. Many mortgage lenders are even offering grace periods during this difficult time. As a result, bankruptcy courts still expect people to make mortgage payments. If you are not able to make your mortgage payments, your bankruptcy attorney can help create a voluntary repayment plan.
- Unless your bankruptcy case has been dismissed, your automatic stay will likely not be negatively impacted.
- Courts will likely provide notice about any changes to your bankruptcy filing to creditors. As a result, you should not attempt to contact creditors on your own.
Stay Up-to-Date with Paperwork and Payment Deadlines
While the COVID-19 pandemic has created many hardships, remember that all filing fees and paperwork must be submitted on time. Missing these deadlines can jeopardize the outcome of your bankruptcy case. Even though times are difficult, there is still no certainty that the bankruptcy court will be adequately lenient.
Speak with a Skilled Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy is a process that is almost always full of challenges. To successfully navigate bankruptcy issues, it can help to obtain the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact Adam Law Group today to schedule a free case evaluation.