The dangers of do-it-yourself bankruptcy: There is no substitute for professional experience

It seems to be human nature for people to ask questions of their friends and neighbors first, before seeking the advice of professionals. Nowadays, people also read news articles, blogs and materials on websites to do their research before making a decision on a significant life event. This is particularly true in legal matters affecting the public. This is particularly evident in bankruptcy law.

Do you or someone you know have experience with a bankruptcy case? How long ago was it? What were the facts and circumstances? The responses to the last two questions could lead into an exhausting set of examples where what was true for one person at one time, may be quite different from the next. Take into consideration that your friend or neighbor, telling you about their success in bankruptcy, might leave out some significant details.

A “routine” new client meeting comes with a bit of a surprise to the “well researched” new client.

Consider the following scenario: A man makes an appointment with the bankruptcy attorney because he is out of work, has injuries, and is temporarily unable to work. The man reports that he lives in the city, he rents an apartment and does not own a car or any significant assets other than personal items and a small amount in a bank account. He reports he was injured and lost his job, received workers compensation benefits that ran out and he is receiving harassing calls from credit card companies and collection agents, generally. The man suggests his is a simple bankruptcy that should be open and closed so he can move forward and get a fresh start. Sometimes, however, it is not that easy.

As the attorney asks the man to list all the creditors calling him to collect, things seem pretty normal until he mentions that the local State’s Attorney is after him for child support arrears and he may be facing jail time for failure to comply with the court’s orders to seek employment, keep a job diary, etc. Unfortunately, the attorney reports, you cannot get a bankruptcy discharge of child support payments, maintenance, and support orders entered by a family court.

It is easy to make wrong assumptions in good faith if you do not know the law.

In this case, the man seeking to avoid child support payments might have legitimately assumed that child support debts are like any other debts and he would be able to discharged. He may have honestly believed they would be included in the bankruptcy and he could start out with a clean slate, no longer being in hot water with the State’s Attorney seeking to collect for monies already paid by the State Disbursement Unit to the child support recipient parent. This could have turned out poorly for this man had he attempted to navigate the bankruptcy courts on his own without an attorney.

Ignorance of the law is not justification for breaking the law. If the individual in our hypothetical had filed a petition for bankruptcy on his own and withheld information about his child support obligation, he could have been in trouble for committing a fraud on the bankruptcy court. Otherwise, if he had included the child support amounts in his petition, he would have likely been promptly notified by the bankruptcy court that this was not an option.

Don’t get caught in a surprise moment. Take the time to get proper legal advice.

In over 40 years of bankruptcy practice, Joseph Wrobel has heard it all, or close to it. If you do not qualify for bankruptcy, or the only reason you want to file bankruptcy is to accomplish something you cannot, like discharging child support, Joseph Wrobel will tell you in a free initial consultation to help you determine if Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy options are available and likely to solve your financial troubles.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can Like the firm’sFacebook page and Follow Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. onTwitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.