There are rarely simple yes and no answers to any legal question. This is the reason why so many people, including lawyers, hire lawyers to help them navigate the legal system. At Berry & Associates, we strongly recommend that anyone involved in any type of legal process obtain a qualified and experience attorney to ensure their interests are protected.
With that said, below are common questions regarding bankruptcy, along with answers that apply to the majority of cases we handle. As you read the questions and answers below, it's very important to remember two things:
What is bankruptcy? Bankruptcy is a legal process which allows a person that cannot pay their debts to receive a fresh start. This process was created by Congress.
Can I file bankruptcy without a lawyer? Yes, you can. But the bankruptcy laws are now so complex that the vast majority of cases filed without a lawyer fail. A case that is dismissed, even for purely technical reasons, can reduce your options to eliminate your debt. Further, the attorney fees in re-filed cases are generally higher. In short, it's cheaper and less stressful to have a lawyer do it right the first time.
How much does it cost to file bankruptcy? Chapter 7 court filing fees in Georgia are $274. Chapter 13 court filing fees in Georgia are $189. This does not include attorneys' fees paid to our office, which are determined after an assessment of each client's circumstances. Our fees are very competitive across North Georgia. As for attorney fees, they vary based upon the nature of the case. They are explained up front, and there are no hidden charges. In a Chapter 7, you can refer your creditors to us while you make payments. In a Chapter 13, your fees are part of your re-organization plan.
How do I know if it's the right time to file bankruptcy? Rarely is there an exact point in time when it becomes clear that bankruptcy protection is the right choice. For many, the fact that they're researching the issue on the web is a good indicator that now is the time. A free consultation with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help provide clarity as to the options and timing of taking legal action. The lawyers at Berry & Associates are available to discuss your unique situation, and make a sound recommendation, based on many years of experience.
Who will find out if I file for bankruptcy? Usually only the people you choose to tell. While bankruptcy filings are a matter of public record, most of our clients' friends and family are not searching for it. If you're concerned about people knowing about your financial difficulties, don't tell anyone, and they'll be unlikely to find out. After all, it's none of their business.
What if I filed for bankruptcy in the past? You may still have numerous options. An experienced attorney at Berry & Associates can review the details of your previous filing to see how it may impact the opportunity to file in the future. They will look at when your previous filing occurred, whether there was a discharge or dismissal, and whether the dismissal was with or without prejudice. All of these factors will affect what choices you have moving forward.