can I file Bankruptcy myself, without an attorney.

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can I file Bankruptcy myself, without an attorney.

I don’t have attorney fees to file bankruptcy can i file this myself, and if so where do I get the forms

Asked on May 9, 2009 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

LAR, Member CA State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You can certainly file a bankruptcy case without an attorney.  You can get the forms and some guidance from the Federal Bankruptcy Court (which is part of the United States District Court system) that is closest to where you permanently live.  Keep in mind that bankruptcy is primarily Federal Law, with certain State exemptions applicable.

It is strongly recommended that you think carefully before going it on your own.  You will need to determine which type of Bankruptcy case you can file - Chapter 7 and 13 are the most frequent individual filing cases.  The Bankruptcy laws changed in 2005 and you can only file a Chapter 7 if you pass a "means test" that determines how capable you are in terms of income to repay your creditors.  You also have to take a financial management course and certify to the court that you have had financial counseling from an approved provider.

As you can see, this is a lengthy response and this is only the very basics.  Depending on the types of debt you have, your creditors may object and file motions to enable them to continue to pursue you even though most creditors are prohibited from collecting or suing you during a bankruptcy case.  This is what is known as the "automatic stay".  The automatic stay has special rules - for instance, it does not apply to a co-signed in a Chapter 7, but does apply to the co-signer on a loan in Chapter 13.  Certain debts are not dischargeable, i.e., student loans, without filing an adversary proceeding to determine whether repayment of the nondischargeable debt would impose an undue hardship on you and your dependents.

It is strongly recommended that you think carefully and do some legwork before going it alone.  While an attorney may cost money, you may save more in the long run by having a professional with experience negotiatie the process for you.  You might qualify for Legal Services in your area - this organcization can assist you and you pay them in accordance with a sliding scale based upon your income.

Good luck.


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