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Bankruptcy Law/Can you file Bankruptcy before the 7yrs are up?


QUESTION: Live In Michigan. My Wife and I had to File for Bankruptcy due to Job Loss back in 2008. we didn't put our house in due to thinking we would be able to find work. then went through Custody battle which ate up all or retirement plus we owe Thousands in Lawyers fees still from that case. I found out in late 2011 I was in stage 4 throat Cancer. we fell behind in all our Bills. Lost our Home and cant pay any of the Lawyer fees. I get disability as well as our Adopted Daughter does collect off me. being sued in court right now by one of the Law offices. can they touch my Disability? and when is the earliest we could file for Bankruptcy? we were released in July of 2008 in Court on our Bankruptcy. with this case were being sued on now Went to court and the Judge wants Us to work out a settlement with this Law Office. I wont commit to any amount in fear that gives them the right to go after my disability. I don't have the money to get another Lawyer. But do have a Letter from the Lawyer we worked with when my Wife emailed her to tell her of my Cancer and we didn't have the money to pay payments. She replied to my Wife that Our outstanding balance should be the last thing for her to worry about and to take care of Our Family. will that help in court? And can the Judge order us to pay when Our only income is my Disability ? Thank you for your time and hope you can help with the ?'s I have.

ANSWER: Short version:  yes you can, but you don't get a discharge so I wouldn't file until about 1 week after the 7th anniversary of your original filing date;  it's filing date to filing date they look at.  

And I'm not all that sure you need to file anyway -- it sounds like you're judgment proof as your only income is disability.  In most states (and this is a purely local issue) disability is exempt from the grasp of judgment creditors -- sometimes there's an exception for child support judgments, but money creditors are generally left out in the street.

I also would not recommend defending these lawsuits;  as long as you have no non-exempt assets for them to sieze, let them line their judgments up in a row.

I would suggest you look at the Michigan judgment exemptions for property not subject to attachment by creditors.

Good luck!


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QUESTION: Thank you for getting back with Us. they cant put warrant out for not showing in this type case is that correct? because their making it sound as if they can. My wife has already said she's not going. that their using scare tactics. I want to make sure that because this is just an issue of owing money to a Lawyer there isn't anyway they can swear a warrant out for not showing to court date. Thank You again for your Help

These nasty folks that collect debts will threaten you with jail, arrest, firing squad, electric chair;  you name it, but that's all totally bogus.  You need to tell them that you've made a notation of this threat (keep a notebook by your phone;  note the date, time (hour and minute) they called and get the collector's name & the co. they're calling for;

then tell them, when they threaten you with arrest and jail,  that you're going to hire a lawyer to sue them in federal court for violation of the fair debt collection practices act; you get $1000 in automatic damages and your lawyer gets unlimited attorneys fees.  Perhaps you can find a law firm that does fair debt collection practices act type cases -- I know of an elderly lady that's made about $12,000 (1,000 at a time) having an attorney sue these abusers and the attorney, so far, has made about $40,000.  This lady is also judgment proof (lives off social security only) and came in to see this chap for bankruptcy.  No bankruptcy was filed as not needed;  but this turned into a part time income for her!

That announcement from you should stop them;  but scout around for such an attorney.   CAN they throw you in jail for not showing up to a civil court hearing?  Nope.  All that will happen is they'll get a default judgment -- but remember --- people like this threaten court action all the time;  unless and until you have been personally served with an official court document, a "summons" and a "complaint" together, there is no court action pending;  small claims actions sometimes just have one form but you must be served, it must have the court name & address, and a court case number.

Threatening to sue doesn't get it;  "notice of intent to bring legal action" doesn't get it;  and a snotty attorney letter doesn't get it --- none of these are lawsuits.

So at this stage you can ignore whatever they throw at you.

AFTER JUDGMENT IS ENTERED, and this is after you've been served with official court docs, been given notice of their intent to ask for a default judgment and get a notice that a default JUDGMENT has been entered -- and NOT BEFORE THEN  (there are no shortcuts to this process) -- there may be something called an order for examination of a judgment debtor;

if you get served with something like this, then you are required to appear at the court at the specific time & date and be prepared to be examined on your income & assets.  Now if you don't show up for that, you could be held in contempt;  but in the civil case suits, there is no possibility of jail, none;  we outlawed debtors' prisons about 400 years ago -- so don't let them bully you.

Find a local attorney that does fair debt collection practices cases and smack 'em a good one.

I seriously doubt these clowns are going to spend one dime on attorneys and court filing fees to chase you around the tree -- this is just bullying.  But in case they do spend the money and do sue you, there's no need to worry.  It's just a civil action, not a criminal action, and folks don't go to jail because they have a civil judgment against them -- anywhere!


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Consumer bankruptcy questions invited. I've been filing Chapter 7, 11 and 13 cases since 1985 in Calif and Arizona. I do NOT do homework questions. Let me know what state you're located in when you write. My bankruptcy practice is limited to California and Arizona but inquiries from other states are welcome. Your local jurisdiction determines exemptions. Find more background information at our website, Individual Chapter 11 and small business chapter 11 questions invited. We can also advise on the creditor's side if for example you have a fraud case, money judgment etc against someone who has filed (or is threatening) bankruptcy. We have filed and defended numerous adversary complaints in bankruptcy court and opposed trustees' demands for turnover of assets from time to time.


My partners and I have filed over 5000 consumer and small business cases to date in California and Arizona.

I've been a member of the California bar since 1984 and Arizona since 2004; also a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, Bankruptcy section of the Arizona State Bar, Tucson Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, Arizona Consumer Bankruptcy Counsel and American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA).

I've written a booklet on land trusts for real estate owners, players and dealers, and co-authored a special edition of "Stop Sitting on Your Assets". I was a writer of a monthly law review article relating to California real estate issues and pending and recently enacted legislation.

Attorney at law, experienced in trial procedures, adversary complaints filed and defended and numerous claims objection proceedings as well as filing cases for consumer and small business debtors.

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