Your Guide to a Successful Bankruptcy Experience
Bankruptcy is a very nuanced and detail-oriented area of law. Many, many practitioners get into bankruptcy because they think it is easy, and many get out when they see the vast complexity of the practice area. Below are a series of recommendations designed to make the bankruptcy process as smooth as possible for filers in chapter 7 or chapter 13 consumer bankruptcy cases.
We’ll protect your rights.
The harassment by creditors and debt collectors for money is a driving force of bankruptcy cases. The calls are relentless, and the stress and pressure to pay – even when you may have no money to pay with – are crushing.
Half of what my office does is get you out of debt. I call this the shield as I shield you from the debts and give you an opportunity and forum to move forward with your life. The other half of what I do is to enforce your rights after you file bankruptcy and, in some cases, even before filing bankruptcy. I call this the sword. I use this sword to defend you against unscrupulous creditors who routinely fail to follow the bankruptcy rules. The sword is the ability to file lawsuits against your creditors and demand them to cease and desist their awful conduct and to demand your money for their ongoing harassment. It seems counterintuitive that your bankruptcy attorney may end up paying you settlements from your creditors during a bankruptcy, but it happens in many of my cases.
Your creditors are required to stop contacting you after filing.
When you file bankruptcy, you are granted an immediate temporary court order (that typically lasts for the duration of your bankruptcy) called the ‘stay’ – think of this as a stay-away order. Stop calling, stop collecting, stop garnishing, stop repossessing. Violations of this order are considered contempt of court (you’ve seen this before– just like in court TV show Law and Order) and are called stay violations. To contact you directly, a creditor must ask the bankruptcy court for permission. This rarely happens. If a creditor calls you after filing bankruptcy without the court’s permission, this is a violation of the bankruptcy court’s prohibition of contact. In some cases, we may be able to recover damages as a result of their unlawful violation of the stay. Keep an eye out for the following after you have filed your bankruptcy petition:
- A creditor is suing you.
- You’re still getting wages garnished.
- Calling you and/or sending you collection letters.
- Filing false proofs of claims or mortgage-related documents in your bankruptcy.
- Creditor harassment or collections activity against you after your bankruptcy case discharges.
Not every violation of stay is actionable, but many are. Be sure to get the full benefit of your bankruptcy fresh start by reporting these violations to your attorney.
After the bankruptcy case discharges, the ‘stay’ order is converted into a permanent ‘stay away’ order called a discharge injunction. This is the court order that eliminates the debts forever. Just like during bankruptcy, creditors are prohibited from contacting you after the bankruptcy case is discharged to demand money on the debts covered by the bankruptcy.
If a creditor is still harassing you after discharge, you should let your attorney know. In many cases, these are valuable claims. After all, you had to follow the rules of bankruptcy to get out of debt; the creditors should be compelled to follow the rules as well. Be sure to get the full benefit of your bankruptcy fresh start by reporting these violations to my office.
Let us help you out of the debt maze. Contact us at 503-278-5400 or toll-free at 888-560-8146. You may also complete our online contact form. Our law office is located in Beaverton, just outside of Portland, Oregon, and we serve the Greater Portland metropolitan area.