Bankruptcy

Our bankruptcy attorneys are here to help. We know how unexpected life changes can leave you struggling to pay your bills and manage your debts. Have you lost your job or are you making less money? Have you had a medical crisis that leaves you drowning in medical debt? Is the high interest rate on your credit card making it impossible to get ahead? We know what life is like when the phone is ringing day and night with creditors demanding payment. What can you do when you’ve tried everything? Call us today so we can help you get a fresh start. We are here to help you.

Not a failure, but a fresh start.

We are here to guide you whether you need a Chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 (reorganization) bankruptcy. We have helped more than 8,000 families and businesses in Northwest Arkansas since 1989. Whether your only debts are from credit cards, or you have property and assets in many different states and complicated debt problems, no case is too simple or too complex. You may even have an unusual case that will help redefine the rights of debtors, like In re: Richard S. and Norma L. Brinkley , which we won for our debtor against the Trustee. Our bankruptcy lawyers know what to do to help you through your financial crisis and on to better days ahead.

Experience Matters

Our experienced attorneys have filed more cases than any other firm in northwest Arkansas. We are meticulously thorough in our work to make sure that your case goes smoothly with no surprises. Every bankruptcy petition goes through an exhaustive review process, and your attorney will compare your situation with the current case law. The bankruptcy code is very complex and Court’s interpretations and applications of the law can change. Look for experience when you need an attorney to protect your home, your car, your retirement and your property when you file for bankruptcy.

We never help creditors, only debtors.

All of our bankruptcy practice is focused on helping debtors. We are one of the few firms that do not ever accept work representing creditors. When you speak with a bankruptcy attorney at our firm, we will review your individual situation and talk about whether a Chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy or Chapter 13 (reorganization) bankruptcy will help you the most.

We will clearly explain the bankruptcy exemption laws and how we will use our experience and knowledge of those laws to make sure you retain as many of your assets as possible. We’ll talk about the difference between a secured creditor, like a mortgage lender, and an unsecured creditor, like credit card debts.

No matter how simple or complex your financial situation, we have dedicated our bankruptcy practice to helping people just like you get a fresh start.

We can stop creditor calls, repossessions, wage garnishments, and foreclosures.

Bankruptcy is a powerful tool. Congress designed bankruptcy to give you protection from your creditors. When you turn to us for help, we will use the bankruptcy laws to stop creditors from calling you, to stop creditors from garnishing your pay check, to stop creditors from repossessing your car or foreclosing on your home. In many cases, your attorney may even be able to recover your car if it has been repossessed before you come to us for help. Talk to us about getting peace of mind and a clean start.


National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys

 

If you have more questions about bankruptcy, contact our experienced bankruptcy attorneys or read more on our bankruptcy resources section.

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What about credit counseling?

You will be required to take a consumer credit counseling course before you can file bankruptcy. We can help you with this requirement, which usually means a 30-45 minute course taken on the internet to evaluate other options open to you. If you do not have access to the internet, the course can also be taken over the telephone.

What is the “means test”?

The "means test" is a formula required by the bankruptcy code which measures your income to the average income in your county. If you make more than the average or median income, you may not qualify to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Instead you are required to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy that will last for 5 years.

Do I have to use a lawyer to file bankruptcy?

No. You do not need to use a lawyer to file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. However, we advise that you use the services of an experienced bankruptcy attorney as bankruptcy is complex. A bankruptcy lawyer is worth the cost. You can save the cost of legal fees many times over through the peace of mind, release of stress and actual money saved by following the advice of your bankruptcy attorney.

Can my boss fire me for filing bankruptcy?

No. Federal law prohibits any employer from discriminating against you because you filed bankruptcy.

Even though I am married, can I file by myself?

Yes. If most of the debt is individual and in your name alone, your spouse does not have to file bankruptcy with you. If that is the case, you may be able to preserve your spouse's credit rating. However, the trustee uses household income and expenses when evaluating a budget so, even if your spouse is not filing, you will have to include all of the income and all of the expenses for everyone who lives in your home. Our attorneys can help with this analysis.

How long will my bankruptcy show on my credit record?

Generally we tell clients to expect a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to be reported to the credit bureaus for 10 years and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to be reported to the credit bureau for 7 years, although you can begin to rebuild your credit as soon as your bankruptcy is discharged. Once your bankruptcy is discharged your credit score will increase because your debt to income ratio improves. Many banks now offer "secured" credit cards where you deposit a certain amount of money that will guarantee the credit card. By starting small and paying for your charges each month, you will begin rebuilding your credit history. Many debtors are able to rebuild their credit and qualify for a home loan in as little as 2 years, and some in possibly even 1 year. Call our office to schedule your free first visit so we can help you get a clean start.

Do I have to pay all of my creditors back in full if I file a Chapter 13?

No. In most cases, your payment to the Trustee each month will pay for your secured debt on property you want to keep (like your car or your furniture), the back taxes or child support you may owe, your attorney fee and your trustee fee. Your unsecured debts (like credit cards, medical bills or debts on property you do not want to keep) are dischargeable and payment of the debts is not required. These are complex issues which require analysis for each individual. Call our office for a free first visit where we can tell you how your case would be handled.

What documents will I need?

The bankruptcy laws are very complex. It is helpful if you bring the following to your free first visit at our office: copies of your bank statements for the last 6 months; copies of all your paycheck stubs for the last 6 months; copies of all your bills, lawsuits, etc; copies of your last 4 years tax returns; your divorce decree if you are divorced; the settlement statement for any real estate sold or refinanced within the past two years; and copies of your home and auto insurance declaration pages. In addition, there may be other documents that we need that are unique to your case. If you do not have all of these documents, though, do not let it stop you from calling our office. We can help you get many documents that you are having trouble locating.

How long will it take before you can file my bankruptcy after I decide that bankruptcy is right for me?

We work very quickly. If you are able to pay the court and other fees and provide us with all the required paperwork, we can file within 24-48 hours after you first hire us to help you.

I heard the bankruptcy laws changed in October, 2005. How will that affect me?

The biggest change is the requirement to take the "means test", which means your income is compared to the median income in Arkansas. If you make more than the median, you do not qualify to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and are required to file a Chapter 13 with a 5 year plan. You will be required to take a consumer credit counseling course before you can file. We can help you with this requirement, which usually means a 30 minute phone call to evaluate other options open to you. If you have filed bankruptcy in the past 8 years, the law may affect parts of your bankruptcy now. There are many other complex changes in the law. Please call our office for a free first visit so we can tell you if there are any other ways the laws affect you.

Which type of bankruptcy is best for me?

Generally speaking, there are restrictions on who can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, while most people are eligible to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you have a home or a car, and are behind on your payments, or if you owe taxes or child support, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will allow you to catch up on those payments during the term of the bankruptcy and allow some other benefits not available under Chapter 7. However, if your debt is all unsecured debt (credit cards and medical bills, for example), if your income and living expenses each month leave you with less than $100, if your income is below the median income for Arkansas, and if you can pay all of the fees up front, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may work for you. Call our office for a free first visit to determine which Chapter is best for you. We will also evaluate your case and recommend whether you need to file bankruptcy at all, or whether there are other options to help you.

What types of bankruptcy are available to me?

Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 are the two options for most consumer, or non-business debtors. Both chapters usually allow you to discharge your unsecured debts, like credit cards and medical bills. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is very quick, usually about 4 months, and is typically used by someone who does not have much property or possessions. However, the full attorney fee must be paid before you can file a Chapter 7 and not everyone qualifies under the law for this chapter. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires less cash up front, usually as little as $400, and does not have as many requirements that prevent some from using this Chapter. It also allows you to protect a home and other property when you might be behind in payments. Call our offices to find out which chapter is right for you.

How much debt do I have to have to file bankruptcy?

There is not a minimum amount. If you cannot afford to pay your debt, bankruptcy may be right for you. However, each case is different and we can advise you of other options besides bankruptcy.

What do I do if I have a lawsuit filed against me?

Contact us immediately. Do not ever ignore a summons for a lawsuit; if you do your rights will not be protected and your paycheck could be garnished very soon.

Will bankruptcy stop garnishment, foreclosure, creditor calls, repossessions, or lawsuits?

Hiring an attorney can stop creditor calls immediately, even before your bankruptcy has been filed. By federal law, they are not allowed to contact you in any way after they are properly notified that you are represented by an attorney. Once your bankruptcy is filed, garnishments, foreclosures and repossessions also stop. We may even be able to get back money that was garnished before bankruptcy or your car that was repossessed before bankruptcy. But time is crucial in cases like this--do not wait, but call our office today if you need this kind of relief.

If I file for bankruptcy will I lose my house, vehicle or any of my property?

You are usually able to keep property that you want to keep, including your house, vehicles, and furniture, as long as you agree to pay for it and then actually do pay for it. Protecting your property is one of the most important parts of our job.

What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which you declare you can't pay your debts. Congress designed the laws to give people a fresh start.

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