Anyone can attest to the personal difficulty of navigating a legal proceeding without proper representation in court. This is especially true for a bankruptcy case, which tend to be some of the most complicated and drawn out legal proceedings in court. Not to mention the long-term consequences it can bear on someone’s financial wellbeing.
Here at Labiak Law Group, Stephen Labiak and team have a wealth of experience battling in bankruptcy and personal injury cases in the state of California. They are the premier attorneys for civil cases in the Visalia and Fresno area. Compassion and empathy are the cornerstones of success for the Labiak Law Group.
How to Get Started
No one wants to find themselves in a financial predicament where bankruptcy is the only way out. However, confronting the issue early on can help improve the chances of a favorable result in court.
In order to begin the official process to file for bankruptcy, it is essential to answer the following questions outlined by The Judiciary Branch of California Courts as follows:
- Are there any other possible alternatives aside from bankruptcy?
- Which type of bankruptcy applies in this case?
- What debts will be discharged and which will remain following the bankruptcy case?
In the first question, it is worth evaluating whether bankruptcy is truly necessary. By simply cutting unnecessary expenses, increasing income, negotiating lower interest rates, or by selling property along with some other valuable belongings; can go a long way to help ease one’s financial burdens.
Next, it is important to know which chapter of bankruptcy applies in a particular case.
Chapter 7 is the most common case of bankruptcy for individuals. It involves the liquidation of all nonexempt assets. Most individuals have all of their assets exempted.
Chapter 11 is for corporations and businesses. It involves the restructuring of debt without asset liquidation.
Chapter 12 applies to family farmers looking to reorganize their outstanding debts.
Chapter 13 is a debt repayment plan where the debtors pay back a certain portion of their debt depending on various factors. They are allowed to restructure debt typically during a 3-5-year span while preventing asset liquidation. This is the second most common bankruptcy chapter filed.
Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that not all debts can be easily discharged by declaring bankruptcy. Some debts which may be excluded from being discharged in bankruptcy cases are as follows:
- Child or spouse support
- Student debt
- Tax debts
Remember to seek professional legal counsel in order to determine the best course of action to resolve one’s particular legal or financial predicament. Although bankruptcy is governed at the federal level, state and local laws may vary on the particular details concerning exempt and nonexempt assets.
Bankruptcy Trial Without Representation
A reputable law firm will do everything in their power to assure and assist their clients every step of the way through bankruptcy court. It is not advised for someone to base their choice of attorney solely on value, which could leave them with sub-par legal representation in court.
Although it is not recommended, one can proceed into bankruptcy trial without any legal representation. A pro se litigant, or an individual without any legal counsel, is still expected to be familiar with and follow the rules and procedures of the United States Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.
Here’s a few issues a pro se litigant needs to familiarize themselves with prior to their bankruptcy petition filing:
- Which bankruptcy chapter to file?
- Which debts will be discharged or not?
- Which assets are considered exempt or non-exempt?
- The tax consequences following trial
- Whether to continue paying creditors
The knowledge of which chapter of bankruptcy to file under is essential as a pro se litigant. Not all debts are created equal such as not all assets are created equal either. If a pro se litigant proceeds into trial without the adequate knowledge of debts and assets, it could result in an unfavorable outcome.
Other important considerations include the consequences that the bankruptcy filing will have on one’s tax obligations and how to address the outstanding debts to creditors preceding the bankruptcy ruling.
It is possible to receive assistance from a non-attorney petition preparer who can assist individuals in filling out all of the required paperwork for a bankruptcy petition. However, it is forbidden for them to offer any kind of advice or to answer any legal questions.
Contact Us for Help Today
Proper legal counsel is essential in order to secure a beneficial outcome in a bankruptcy case. No one should just trust any law firm to handle the fate of their financial wellbeing. The experienced attorneys at Labiak Law Group have years of expertise in handling bankruptcy and personal injury civil cases in California in the Visalia and Fresno area.
Stephen Labiak and team are fully committed to delivering successful results for all their clients. Whether it’s a five-minute phone call or representation in court, the care and respect with which they treat every single client sets them apart from other law firms.