FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions


 1) What is the difference between a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

             A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a bankruptcy case in which a bankruptcy filer (called a “debtor”) receives a discharge of debts that are permitted to be discharged in exchange for surrendering non-exempt property to a bankruptcy trustee for distribution to creditors. 

             A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a bankruptcy case in which a debtor commits a monthly payment to the Chapter 13 Trustee equivalent to the debtor’s monthly disposable income remaining after payment of all living expenses.  The Chapter 13 Trustee then makes proportionate payments to the debtor’s creditors according to the classification of the debt and on whether creditors have filed claims in the bankruptcy case.

 2) How long does a typical bankruptcy case last?

             A typical Chapter 7 case concludes within four or five months from the date a debtor files.  There are certain factors that our firm explains to clients that could cause the case to remain open for a longer period but such cases are a minority.

            In a Chapter 13 case, various factors are analyzed and reviewed at the beginning of the case to determine how long a Chapter 13 debtor will need to make a monthly payment to the Chapter 13 Trustee.  A Chapter 13 case lasts between thirty-six months and sixty months depending on the variety of factors that our firm discusses with our client during the preparation of the Chapter 13 petition.

 Family Law

 1) What is the difference between a divorce and a dissolution?

            A divorce is a lawsuit between spouses in which the person seeking a divorce is requesting that a domestic relations court terminate the marriage, divide marital property equitably, and determine issues of custody, parenting time and support in cases in which there are minor children.

             A dissolution is a proceeding in which spouses seek to terminate their marriage but have reached an agreement as to the division of marital property, the allocation of custody, parenting time and support in cases with minor children, and all other issues necessary to terminate the marriage.  In such a case, the spouses sign their agreement before opening a case at Court and then submit that agreement to the Court with a written request for a dissolution of marriage.

 2) Other than having an agreement before involving the Court, are there other advantages to a dissolution?

             A dissolution does have benefits in addition to the parties having already reached an agreement before they open a case at Court.   Under Ohio law, a dissolution must be completed within ninety days of opening the case whereas in a divorce, the case can last for many months and in some situations, several years.  Because of the differences in duration of divorce and dissolution cases, a dissolution is significantly less costly than a divorce.

 Estate Planning & Probate

1) What does the term “avoid probate” mean?

             Probate is a process in which an estate is opened in a probate court which then subjects the management of the estate to the Court for review and approval at various stages.  To avoid certain expenses and fees resulting from opening an estate in a probate court, an individual can take steps during that individual’s lifetime that would avoid the need to involve a probate court when the person dies.  Those steps and actions are commonly referred to as “avoiding probate”.

 2) Do I need a Will?

             The decision as to whether an individual needs a Will is personal to the individual.  However, having a Will provides an individual the ability to designate what happens to his or her assets upon his or her death.  Having a Will further allows an individual to set forth who should act as the executor of the estate.  Finally, in a case of an individual who has minor children, a Will enables the individual to designate a preference for a legal guardian for the children if one becomes necessary.

 3) What is a “Living Will”?

             A “Living Will” is a document that enables a person to set forth his or her wishes if determined to be in a certain medical condition by at least two physicians.  The Living Will allows an individual to determine whether he or she, if found to be in a certain medical condition, to designate whether he or she wants artificial nutrition and hydration supplied through a feeding tube, whether that person wants a respirator or other life support to be continued if in that particular medical condition, and allows certain other designations to be made for a person in the previously-mentioned medical condition.