If You Can’t Afford A Bankruptcy Attorney
While having a bankruptcy lawyer on your side will almost always be better than filing yourself, not all debtors can afford legal counsel. If it isn’t a possibility, you might consider:
- getting help from a local free clinic or legal aid society
- finding a pro bono attorney to accept your case at a free or reduced rate, or
- paying most of the attorneys’ fees through a Chapter 13 repayment plan.
What Happens After You File Bankruptcy
Filing bankruptcy is a way to provide debt relief to those struggling financially. This can be accomplished by liquidating your assets to pay your debts, or by devising a repayment plan.
Both represent a new beginning, but often without some of the property, and assets that may very well have exacerbated, or caused the financial problem in the first place. Filing bankruptcy influences your credit score. It stays on your credit report for up to 10 years, depending on the kind of bankruptcy you have filed.
In this period, a bankruptcy discharge may make it difficult to obtain new lines of credit, and it may even lead to problems when applying for jobs. If you have loans that were taken with a family member, or a friend, they may be liable to repay at least a portion of the debt.
The truth is that if you are contemplating insolvency, your credit score is most likely already poor, and following this path allows you to improve your credit score over time if you consistently pay off your debt.
Even so, due to the long-term consequences of bankruptcy, some experts believe that at least $15,000 in debt is required for it to be beneficial.
Debts That Can And Cant Be Discharged In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 should dismiss most of the debts you owe, but there are some hard-and-fast debts that cant be discharged in Chapter 7.
The list of non-dischargeable debts includes:
- Child support
- Student loans must prove undue hardship
- HOA fees if you surrender your home or condo
- Any other form of unsecured debt.
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Ignoring Bankruptcy Exemptions That Protect Your Property
The Bankruptcy Code isnt designed to make you get rid of everything. State and federal bankruptcy exemptions protect certain types of property . In Texas, you can choose whether to apply the Texas bankruptcy exemptions or the federal exemptions.
Unfortunately, many petitioners who file for bankruptcy without a lawyer miss key exemptions that could protect their most valuable assets. This can result in their property being sold when it could have been protected under the law.
Unfortunately, many petitioners who file for bankruptcy without a lawyer miss key exemptions that could protect their most valuable assets. This can result in their property being sold when it could have been protected under the law. A bankruptcy lawyer can help you decide which one is best for you based on what you own and what you need going forward.
You Will Not Lose Everything: Exempt Assets Are Protected From Creditors
Exempt assets are protected from your creditors which, in turn, means you get to keep them. In contrast, nonexempt assets can be sold by your bankruptcy trustee to pay your creditors.
The type of exemptions you qualify for are determined by state law. There are some unusual and very specific rules to determine which state law you must use to determine exemptions. However, I am not going to bore you with such a minuscule and technical area of the law today.
Bottom line: If you have moved from one state to another in the last two years, you need to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney where you live. They will help you identify which states law you need to look at when determining your exemptions.
Since chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions vary from state to state, some states have very generous exemptions. Others are stricter about which of your assets are protected from creditors.
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Choices For Filing For Bankruptcy In Texas: Filing Separately
So filing separately for bankruptcy when married might be a good idea if the couple does not have much community property and only one spouse has acquired most of the debt. This way, the spouse who did not accrue the debt can avoid filing for bankruptcy in Texas and can keep his or her separate property safe from the process.
Further, even if a couple wishes to file jointly, only one spouse may be eligible to do so if the other spouse had filed for bankruptcy recently .
A Plano Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help Evaluate Bankruptcy Choices When Married
While the emotional aspects of financial stress are very real and need to be dealt with, the legal side of debt crisis also needs to addressed. A couple that is living with frequent debt collection calls, letters, garnishment of wages and other stressful situations can take steps to remedy the credit issues and move on with their lives by filing for bankruptcy in Texas.
Bankruptcy can be a confusing and difficult time for a married couple and its not the best choice for everybody with financial problems. But with the proper legal guidance and support from Plano bankruptcy lawyers, one can evaluate choices and come through the process successfully, whether you file jointly or separately for bankruptcy when married.
Can I File Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer
Yes, you can legally file for bankruptcy without a lawyer. But should you?
Every year, thousands of Americans find themselves too broke to pay off their debts, yet unable to afford bankruptcy. It probably comes as no surprise that attorneys’ fees make up the lion’s share of bankruptcy expenses. So you might be wondering, “Do I really need a lawyer to file for bankruptcy?”
It largely depends on how complex your case is. If you own little property and don’t make a lot of money, it might be possible to file bankruptcy pro se . But while filing for bankruptcy on your own can save you money, it’s a serious undertaking. You’ll have to pull together all of your financial documentation, file a lot of paperwork on time, and communicate with your bankruptcy trustee. You’ll also need to take the time to understand the state and federal laws that apply.
In this section, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a few tips to help make the process as simple and painless as possible.
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Understand The Differences Between Chapter 7 And Chapter 13
Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are the most common consumer bankruptcy filed in the United States. You need to know the difference because one chapter is more expensive and also often takes much longer.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Texas
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is referred to as liquidation bankruptcy. In many cases, bankruptcy filers do not lose their home or vehicle by using bankruptcy exemptions. We will cover how your belongings may be at risk below.
Heres what you need to know about filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Texas.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Texas
Heres what you need to know about filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Texas.
Bankruptcy And Noncustodial Parents
If youre a noncustodial parent who owes child support, bankruptcy does not waive your child support responsibilities. Learn if and how your case will change.
I filed for bankruptcy. Now what?
If you have filed for bankruptcy, it is important that you notify the Child Support Division immediately. The relationship between child support and bankruptcy is complex. Contacting our office can help you determine the next step regarding your child support case.
Do I still have to pay for child support?
Yes, you are required to continue paying child support despite being in bankruptcy. Your current payment obligations remain in effect. Any arrears or unpaid child support cannot be cleared because of bankruptcy.
Your bankruptcy may be affected if you stop paying your child support. The Office of the Attorney General is required to comply with federal bankruptcy laws and can use several methods to enforce child support responsibilities.
- Learn more in our Child Support Enforcement section.
Can I modify my child support?
You may be eligible to have your support lowered by the court.
To request a modification, you will need to show that you cannot meet your current obligation due to unemployment, reduced income, or a different change in circumstance.
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Determine Whether To Hire An Attorney To File Bankruptcy
Once you understand the cost, you can now determine whether to hire an attorney to file bankruptcy. Most attorneys will send you a retainer agreement that will outline the terms of the engagement. You will most likely need to submit information like pay stubs and tax returns for them to file the bankruptcy petition.
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What About Joint Debt
Debt is a little more complicated when filing for bankruptcy separately. If one spouse files independently, their individual accounts, as well as their joint accounts, are dischargeable. The filing spouses separate property and jointly-owned property and accounts are off limits to collectors once the debt is discharged. However, the non-filing spouses separate property is not dischargeable, and could be seized.
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Why Hire A Bankruptcy Lawyer
At the Malaise Law Firm, we understand the questions and concerns you will have if you are considering filing for bankruptcy. We know that it appears complex and the ideas of Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 may appear foreign and overwhelming. There, are, however many things that you can do to help you. By closely working with your case, and giving you the undivided personal attention that you deserve, you can breathe easier knowing that you are dealing with someone devoted to getting you to the optimum outcome. No matter if you are concerned with credit card debt or life after bankruptcy, we will be here to help you.
If you are currently considering filing for bankruptcy, today.
What Does The Simplest Chapter 13 Case Look Like
When youre filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Texas, you and your attorney propose a payment plan based on your ability to pay. Through this plan you usually pay back only part of your debts, and sometimes only a little to some of your creditors.
Your plan states how much you pay each month almost always much less than you were paying before. You pay that amount for a period usually covering three to five years, and at the end of that time you no longer owe any debts, except long-term ones like your home mortgage, if you so choose, and student loans. The rest of the unpaid debts are discharged, or legally written off, and you are debt-free.
Your proposed plan is built around a detailed set of laws about how you must treat each kind of debt. If you have certain kinds of special debts called priority debts such as newer income taxes or any child support arrearage those would have to be paid in full over the life of your plan.
Secured debts, like your mortgage, vehicle and furniture loans, are treated in a special way, whether these are paid in full or in part depending on many factors. Debts that are neither priority nor secured are called general unsecured debts, and are generally paid only to the extent that there is money left over to pay them most people do not have to pay any of these amounts back. Especially with priority and secured debts, Chapter 13 usually gives you significant advantages over how these creditors are handled compared to Chapter 7.
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Filing For Bankruptcy With The Court
To begin filing for bankruptcy with the court, you or your personal bankruptcy attorney must submit a two-page petition along with other forms to your California district bankruptcy court which varies depending on your location in the state. These forms, which are referred to as schedules, require you to describe your current financial situation in-depth and present all recent financial transactions. Failing to disclose any necessary information, whether intentional or not, can jeopardize the outcome of your case.
Something important to note, filing for bankruptcy is not free. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy has a fee of $306 in California, while it may not be waived you may be able to make the payment in installments. Chapter 13 bankruptcy in California has a filing fee of $281 which may not be waived.
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Filing For Bankruptcy Yourself
You dont have an attorney to file for bankruptcy. But it isnt always a good idea to go it your own, either. Whether it would be in your best interest to hire a lawyer typically depends on:
- whether you can afford an attorney, and
- how comfortable you are with researching the necessary legal information and representing yourself.
In many cases, if you have little or no income or property, you might be able to file a successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy on your own. The instructions on the official bankruptcy forms are straightforward, which makes them relatively simple to complete. However, the forms dont explain what will happen in your case.
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Should You Use A Free Online Bankruptcy Tool
There are free online bankruptcy tools available for debtors considering filing. However, most of these do little more than fill out the paperwork for you. It will still be up to you to decide which form of bankruptcy is best, file everything with the Court, and then follow through with the process.
Other online credit assistance programs can actually cost debtors more money in the long run, making it harder for you to get out of debt. If you do decide to file bankruptcy without an attorney, be sure you fully investigate any program or organization who offers to help you get out of debt for free.
How Long Does Bankruptcy Stay On Your Credit Report
A large component of how to come back from bankruptcy has to do with how long your credit is negatively impacted by bankruptcy, and this depends mainly on the type of bankruptcy you file. Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for ten years, while Chapter 13, which involves a structured repayment plan, stays on your credit report for a shorter period of seven years.
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Texas Legal Aid Organizations
If you canât afford to hire a bankruptcy lawyer, you can find low-cost legal service providers on the Texas State Bar website. This organization governs lawyers and while it doesnât provide legal services itself, it does provide a comprehensive referral directory for low-income Texans. Additionally, if you want to learn more about your bankruptcy options, you can find a listing of Texas legal aid in your area by city online.
I Was Ordered To Pay For My Wifes Lawyer Fees Can I Wipe Them Out If I File For Bankruptcy
Divorce can be a war of attrition. The family court often requires the husband to pay the wifes counsel fees, which could be $10,000 or higher. This can definitely take a toll on someones morale and pocket.
Its common to hear about ex-husbands filing for bankruptcy after a divorce is over, and often the husband will list the wifes lawyer fees as a debt on his bankruptcy schedules. Consequently, lawyers fees as a dischargeable debt in bankruptcy become a big issue. The key question is whether the counsel fee debt is declared as a support obligation or property settlement claim.
The California Bankruptcy Court recently declared obligations to pay spousal support and attorney fees as non-dischargeable pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 523. Van Aken v. Van Aken, 2005 Fed. App. 0001 .
If an ex-husband attempts to discharge a counsel fee award, it is imperative that the wife files an adversary proceeding with the Bankruptcy Court. This request calls for a Court hearing over the dispute, and the Court decides whether the counsel fee award is support and non-dischargeable. Likewise, the Bankruptcy Court could determine the counsel fee award was a form of equitable distribution that can be discharged. The Court could also order the payment terms be restructured. It is important to note that if a non-debtor spouse ignores a spouses bankruptcy filing, disastrous results could ensure. No objection typically means the debtor spouse will successfully discharge a counsel fee obligation.
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