The Difficulty of Self-Representation
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Though in some regards, it may seem appealing to forgo an attorney in the process of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the reality is that self-representation can be quite difficult and the incidence of successful self-represented cases is low. Not only is failure a considerable risk but so would be your ability to file again in the near future in the event of an unfavorable ruling. When compared to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is much more complex, and its complexity is only increasing with time. The following are a few things that are required of one who is filing without an attorney:
- filing of all forms completely and on time
- filing of a plan within the time allowed
- provision of notice to creditors
- awareness of all local procedures and compliance with the same
- correction of any errors within the time allowed
- making of plan payments
As can be seen, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can quickly become overwhelming which is why Chapter 13 plans are confirmed less than 1% of the time when filed without an attorney.
Consequences of Failure
As with many things involving a court of law, failure can cause even greater problems than the ones presently encountered. Given that most self-represented cases end in failure, attorney representation is highly encouraged. One consequence of failure could be the loss of the automatic stay which typically goes into effect when the debtor files the initial bankruptcy paperwork. This stay stops creditors from engaging in most collection activities until an outcome is determined in the case. In a successful case, this can mean debt forgiveness. In an unsuccessful case, no such forgiveness is granted and the automatic stay is lost.
Another consequence of failure is the waiting time required before you are able to file again. Courts often dismiss cases with prejudice for a period of time which has to be realized before a subsequent filing.
The Benefits of Legal Representation
In addition to the knowledge that accompanies an experienced attorney, there are many other benefits of legal representation. You can be assured that all matters will be handled in compliance with procedural rules and local requirements. You will also be represented in court which can make a very big difference in how the case is presented and ruled. An attorney will file all the necessary forms, provide all the proper notice, correct any errors, and make sure all is done within the allotted timeframe. At Bankruptcy Utah, we want to take the struggle out of your hands and give you the best possible chance for success. That is our number one goal.