Should You File for Bankruptcy On Your Own?
Filing for bankruptcy relief can have long term consequences on your family, property and possessions. A qualified lawyer can explain alternatives to bankruptcy that you should consider and, if you decide to file, what you can expect during the bankruptcy process. An experienced lawyer can help protect your legal rights. Yet, a number of financially-strapped people file bankruptcy on their own — or pro se — for several of reasons. For example, some people say they cannot afford to pay the court filing fees along with the attorney's fees. Other people believe that their bankruptcy case is simple and therefore, do not need attorney representation. While the Bankruptcy Court makes provisions and even provides guidelines for people to file pro se, both the court and financial advisors strongly advise against it. Here's why:
Attorneys can analyze which type of bankruptcy is best for your situation
The majority of people who file for individual bankruptcy choose between Chapter 7 total liquidation and Chapter 13 reorganization. Each chapter has advantages and pitfalls. Filers also must meet the unique filing requirements of each chapter. For example, in order to qualify for Chapter 7, you must pass a means test which determines your ability to repay your debts. In comparison, Chapter 13 requires that you have sufficient income to pay your creditors over time. Additionally, each chapter treats your debt and assets differently. A qualified lawyer can help you get a discharge of qualified debts while preserving your valued possessions.
Attorneys know the bankruptcy filing requirements
Bankruptcy cases involve an enormous amount of paperwork. The court sets specific deadlines to file each form and petition. While pro se litigants can solicit help from a petition preparer, these paraprofessionals may not give you needed legal advice.
Attorneys advocate and defend in adversarial proceedings
Litigation is not an uncommon occurrence in bankruptcy cases. A creditor can file suit to lift the automatic stay which protects your property from creditor collection while you are in bankruptcy. Creditors may file an objection to the court discharging your debts. An experienced attorney knows how to answer and protect you from such suits.
If your financial world is in turmoil, consult with a qualified Orange County bankruptcy attorney to help you find affordable and manageable debt solutions. The Fishback Law Corp represents clients throughout Southern California.