What are the benefits and challenges of bankruptcy?

The benefits of bankruptcy can change your life for the better. Some of the benefits include:

  • Relieving stress.
  • Being able to support your family.
  • Financial independence.
  • Eliminating credit card debt.
  • Eliminating medical debt.
  • Discharging payday loans so you don’t have to pay them.
  • Stopping collections and harassing phone calls.
  • Halting the foreclosure process.
  • Preventing repossession of vehicles.
  • Stopping garnishments of your wages.
  • A new beginning to your financial future.

The most difficult part of filing a bankruptcy is preparing for it. It takes everyone involved – the attorney, staff, and the client working together as a team – to achieve the best result. In order to receive bankruptcy protections, a person must provide a complete picture of their financial situation. With your agreement, we work with you to securely and confidentially collect your financial documents and information to understand your particular situation and how best we can help.

This process might be overwhelming if you did it on your own. You are not alone when you work with us. We provide text reminders, multiple ways to send us financial documents, and friendly and informative responses to your questions.

Other attorneys offer free consultations, why don’t you?

Our consultation provides you with more than just a sales pitch for bankruptcy services. We don’t want to sell someone on a bankruptcy they don’t need. Instead, we give legal advice on your individualized debt relief options. We provide:

  • A 45-minute Debt Review consultation with an attorney, and at least one staff member where we will review your debt situation by video or phone call to discuss your options.
  • A written summary of the Debt Review Consultation that states your possible debt management solutions and options.

We provide you real legal advice during the meeting, not just reasons you should declare bankruptcy. If, after we discuss your options, bankruptcy is right for you, and we decide to work together, the $100 initial meeting fee will be applied toward the fees for filing your bankruptcy. If you decide that bankruptcy is not right for you, you will leave knowing what other options are available to you and a written proposed summary of what we discussed.

Why should I pick you instead of other attorneys?

We offer sliding scale fees based on financial need. We keep our bankruptcy fees competitive because unlike many other bankruptcy attorneys, we do not rely solely on bankruptcy cases to keep our office running. Having two areas of law that we practice allows us to keep the number of bankruptcy cases that we handle low. In addition to representing those who file bankruptcy, we also represent persons with disabilities under the Americans with Disability Act; those who are discriminated against because of their disability by businesses and the government.

Before you hire an attorney, ask them, what is the total number of cases the law firm handles per year? Regardless of how much an experience any attorney has, if they can’t focus on your case, then they can’t do their best work. You won’t benefit from their experience. How much can your attorney know about your case if they are handling too many cases? We maintain and monitor our caseload to ensure that we can be generous with the amount of time we devote to your case.

How can you offer competitive rates and sliding scale discounts while maintaining a low number of cases?

Unlike other bankruptcy attorneys, we are able to subsidize our bankruptcy fees with the resources we get from our success in our Americans with Disabilities Act cases. Unlike bankruptcy cases, where the client pays the attorney directly, the ADA laws require that businesses that violate the ADA pay our legal fees when we win. As a service to the community, particularly given the economic effects of COVID-19, we want to share our success as ADA lawyers by offering competitive fees and a sliding scale for our bankruptcy clients as a public service. We therefore use some of the money we win in ADA cases from businesses breaking the ADA laws to help people in need of bankruptcy services file for bankruptcy.

We are dedicated to standing up for civil rights, and protecting those who are vulnerable, from powerful interests in society.

Do I lose all my personal property in Bankruptcy?

No. Immediately upon filing bankruptcy, the Court issues an order protecting you from collections. This is called an “Automatic Stay” Order. One of the benefits of bankruptcy is that it can stop the harassment by creditors on the phone, by text, or email. We will represent you by handling these calls and ensuring they do not harass you anymore.

Can lenders and creditors still contact me after I file bankruptcy?

No. Immediately upon filing bankruptcy, the Court issues an order protecting you from collections. This is called an “Automatic Stay” Order. One of the benefits of bankruptcy is that it can stop the harassment by creditors on the phone, by text, or email. We will represent you by handling these calls and ensuring they do not harass you anymore.

I owe back taxes. Can bankruptcy help me?

In some situations it can, depending on the circumstances and how long you have owed the taxes. You may sometimes be relieved of older tax debts in bankruptcy. Contact our office to learn more.

Are there any debts that cannot be relieved in bankruptcy?

Spousal and child support, criminal fines or penalties, and many types of student loans and certain other debts, cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. Even if you have these debts, however, you may still benefit from bankruptcy protections. You may be able to discharge other debts that will allow you to catch up on these other bills.

Is it necessary for my spouse to file for bankruptcy with me?

No. Whether you file individually or together is a choice for you to decide. There can be advantages and disadvantages to either course of action. Please contact us to learn more.

What will happen to my credit score?

Bankruptcy is reported to credit scoring agencies. It remains on your credit report between seven and ten years. While the scores will likely decrease at first, there is often a much better chance of improving them faster with bankruptcy than if you didn’t file. This is because bankruptcy wipes away all unsecured debt (such as credit cards and medical bills), giving you a fresh start. It reduces the overall amount of debt you owe compared to your income (called a “debt to income ratio” or DTI), which is one of the main factors credit scoring agencies use to determine your credit score. Bankruptcy, by eliminating most or all of your debt therefore improves one of the main factors holding your credit scores down.

We have partnered with a mortgage broker willing to provide free advice and develop a credit repair strategy after your bankruptcy is resolved. Regardless of whether home ownership is your goal or not, our partner can give you strategies for repairing your credit in general.

Can my medical bills, credit card balances, or personal loans be discharged so that I don’t have to pay them?

Yes. Unsecured debts (debts that are not secured by collateral such as loans taken to purchase a house, car, or boat), can all be discharged in bankruptcy. You should get legal advice, however, on how best to accomplish this. Only a lawyer can advise you about the pros and cons of bankruptcy.

Can my student loans be discharged?

Generally, student loans cannot be discharged, with very limited exceptions. In 2005 the federal government created restrictions on the discharge of student loan debt. However, how bankruptcy can help you depends on your individual circumstances. If you have an undue hardship, for example, based on disability that affects your ability to work, certain bankruptcy laws may be able to assist you. Even if your student loans cannot be discharged, bankruptcy laws may still be able to help you. Please contact our office to give you more information.

You can also find out who your Congress person is here to contact them to let them know what you think of this issue.

Will I ever be eligible for a home loan after filing a bankruptcy petition?

Bankruptcy alone will not prevent you from getting a home loan. Because bankruptcy can improve your credit scores much faster than repayment, the chances of becoming approved for a home loan can increase. However, depending on the type of bankruptcy filed, there may be specific waiting periods that apply, in as little as one or two years from the end of your case.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home loan regulations allow someone who filed for bankruptcy under “Chapter 7” of the Bankruptcy Code to obtain a home loan two years after the Court discharges their debts. Alternatively, it is possible for a debtor who filed for “Chapter 13” Bankruptcy to be eligible for an FHA home loan in as little as one year after the Chapter 13 plan is certified. Only an attorney can give you advice about which bankruptcy Chapter is best for your individual circumstances.

Will I be able to keep my home?

Bankruptcy is a powerful tool in mortgage modification and catching up on back mortgage payments (arrears). It can also stop foreclosure proceedings and may be the best chance to save your home from being sold. Contact us to set up a consultation and learn more.

Will I keep my car?

In many cases all or part of the value of your car may be exempted, allowing you to keep your vehicle. Bankruptcy proceedings may stop repossession efforts while this determination is made. Only an attorney can give you legal advice about this question.

Can I file for bankruptcy more than once?

Yes. However, there are time limits for how long you must wait to file between bankruptcies. Contact us to set up a consultation and get more information about your options.

Can bankruptcy help me with past unpaid rent that I owe?

Yes. Back rent can be discharged in bankruptcy, however, that discharge does not mean that you cannot be evicted. You may be able to be relieved of your past debt to your landlord, but your landlord can still evict you for non-payment of back rent. Contact us for more information about your specific circumstances.