The backlog of bankruptcy cases in Florida could take years to return to normal levels, but bankruptcy filings in the Tampa Bay area continue to fall from their peak in 2010. Since that time, bankruptcies have fallen approximately 20 percent in the last 12 months.

Budget cuts within the court system may continue to put a strain on the volume of bankruptcy filings that still need to get through the courts and if bankruptcy filings rise, it will take longer to get creditors paid and debtors the fresh financial start that they want.

Some feel that the decrease in filings is due to the efforts of mortgage companies modifying loans and trying to keep people in their homes.

In the United States, bankruptcy filings are down 14 percent from a year ago. Chapter 7 filings were down 16 percent and Chapter 13 filings were down 10 percent. While this is good news in Florida, the court system is still handling approximately 68,000 active cases. The question is how to get through these cases more efficiently. Some bankruptcy judges are cutting down on hearings, others judges are ruling more from the bench and granting automatic stays.

Chapter 13 appears to clog the court system the most because it usually involves real estate issues and working on modified payment plans with a bank. It’s not uncommon for Chapter 13 to take three to five years to go through the court system.

So while the bankruptcy filings continue to go down in Florida, if you are contemplating bankruptcy, you should consider your options and consult with a bankruptcy attorney. An attorney can help outline your options so that you can make the best decision for your situation.

Tampa Bay Times, “Backlog of bankruptcy cases persists despite drop in filings,” Jeff Harrington, Nov. 24