Can I File for Bankruptcy: Deciding the Best Strategy for You to File On Your Own or with a Bankruptcy Lawyer in Wisconsin
Can I File for Bankruptcy: What is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding that offers individuals who are unable to meet their financial obligations a fresh start. This process, governed by federal law, takes place in federal courts. When you file for bankruptcy, it immediately puts a halt to creditor attempts to collect debts from you until your debts are legally resolved.
Can I File for Bankruptcy: What Can Bankruptcy Do for Me?
Bankruptcy can provide several benefits, including:
1. Debt Discharge
- Eliminate the legal obligation to pay most or all of your debts, providing a fresh financial start.
2. Stop Foreclosure
- Halt foreclosure proceedings on your house or mobile home, giving you an opportunity to catch up on missed payments.
3. Prevent Repossession
- Stop the repossession of a car or other property, or force the return of property even after it has been repossessed.
4. Halt Wage Garnishment
- Put an end to wage garnishment, debt collection harassment, and similar actions by creditors to collect a debt.
5. Protect Utilities
- Restore or prevent the termination of utility services.
6. Challenge Creditor Claims
- Challenge the claims of creditors who have committed fraud or are attempting to collect more than you actually owe.
How can I get a copy of a bankruptcy filing?
You can access federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy court documents through Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), an electronic public access service.
Can I File for Bankruptcy: What Doesn’t Bankruptcy Do?
While bankruptcy offers significant relief, it doesn’t address all financial problems, and it’s not suitable for everyone. Some limitations include:
1. Secured Debts
- It cannot eliminate certain rights of “secured” creditors, such as car loans and home mortgages. You can force secured creditors to accept payments over time, but you generally cannot keep the collateral unless you continue to pay the debt.
2. Non-Dischargeable Debts
- Bankruptcy cannot discharge specific types of debts like child support, alimony, some taxes, and court restitution orders.
3. Cosigner Obligations
- It doesn’t protect cosigners on your debts. Cosigners may still be responsible for repaying the loan.
4. Post-Bankruptcy Debts
- Bankruptcy doesn’t discharge debts incurred after the bankruptcy filing.
Can I File for Bankruptcy: How often can I file bankruptcy?
The frequency of bankruptcy filings depends on previous cases and the type of bankruptcy:
- Chapter 7: You cannot receive a discharge in a Chapter 7 case if you received one under a Chapter 7 case filed in the last eight years or a Chapter 13 filed in the last six years.
- Chapter 13: You cannot receive a discharge in a Chapter 13 case if you received one under a Chapter 7 case filed in the last four years or a Chapter 13 filed in the last two years.
- If you didn’t receive a discharge in the previous bankruptcy filing, you can file and receive a discharge without time restrictions.
Can I File for Bankruptcy: Filing for Bankruptcy Alone or with a Lawyer?
Filing for bankruptcy can be a complex process, and while it’s legally possible to file without a lawyer, it’s not recommended. Here’s why you should consider hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney:
- Qualification for Chapter 7: A bankruptcy attorney can help you qualify for Chapter 7 when you thought it wasn’t possible.
- Legal Representation: Only a licensed attorney can provide legal representation in meetings with creditors.
- Proper Filing: Filing for Chapter 7 incorrectly may force you into Chapter 13, requiring you to pay a portion of your unsecured debts.
- Asset Protection: An attorney can help protect assets you might otherwise lose in the bankruptcy process.
- Documentation Assistance: Bankruptcy involves a multitude of forms and paperwork, and an attorney can ensure they are correctly completed.
- Meeting Deadlines: Missing deadlines can lead to case delays or dismissals, and an attorney can help you stay on track.
Hiring a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (BPP) is not a recommended solution. BPPs can’t provide legal advice, and their services may not save you as much as you think.
Contact Dahlberg Law Group for Expert Assistance
For expert guidance and support in your bankruptcy journey, contact the lawyers at Dahlberg Law Group. Our experienced team, including Attorney Steve Eichsteadt, can help you navigate the complexities of bankruptcy, making sure you get the fresh financial start you need.
Filing for bankruptcy is a crucial decision, and having the right legal assistance can make all the difference in securing your financial future. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation and take the first step towards regaining your financial stability.