If you’ve never filed for bankruptcy in Wisconsin before and you’re considering it, it is quite important to know about the entire legal process, from start to finish. Below are four things that can get you started.

1. Bankruptcy can take time.

This isn’t something that you’re going to do in an afternoon. Most cases take months, with the average coming in right around four months. There are many steps that have to be taken, so this is different from, say, small claims court.

2. Your financial issues may become public knowledge.

Now, if you’re not a celebrity, this isn’t likely to be a big deal, but you do need to know that certain records and pieces of information are going to be released if you go to bankruptcy court. You may not be able to keep all of your financial realities a secret.

3. You cannot hide anything.

Bankruptcy has to be done by the book, and it requires a lot of transparency. You can’t try to hide your money, or the government may come down with harsh penalties. For instance, you can’t swing some funds into an offshore account, making it look like you have nothing, only to get them back after you declare bankruptcy.

4. Others may not be protected.

Don’t assume that a bankruptcy filing is going to protect everyone who may be involved with you, as it is directed at you alone. For instance, if you and a business partner took out a loan and you are declaring personal bankruptcy, the lender may still be able to ask your partner for payments.

Source: About Bankruptcy, “Top 6 Things to Know About Bankruptcy,” David Haynes, accessed June 19, 2015