This website page is designed to provide information for individuals seeking consultation and possible representation in filing for Bankruptcy Relief. I am a paralegal, not an attorney and legally cannot and will not provide legal advice or answer legal questions, under any circumstances - please don't ask.
I am currently contracted with:
One attorney filing both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases in the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division and in the Eastern District of Oklahoma;
One attorney filing both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases in the Western District of Arkansas, Fayetteville and Fort Smith Divisions;
Two attorneys filing only Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases in the Western District of Arkansas, Fort Smith Division.
Currently, in the negotiation stage with a law firm that provides bankruptcy services in the Eastern District of Arkansas, Northern and Central Divisions.
OKLAHOMA - Eastern District - Counties include: Neighboring counties are Le Flore, Sequoyah, Adair, and McCurtain, with another 21 counties westward.
ARKANSAS - Western District - Fayetteville Division - Counties include: Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Washington, Madison, Mason, Newton and Searcy
ARKANSAS - Western District - Fort Smith Division - Counties include: Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Polk, Sebastian and Scott
ARKANSAS - Eastern District - Northern Division - Counties include: Coming Soon
A Non-Attorney Petition Preparer is any person or business, other than a lawyer or someone who works for a lawyer, that charges a fee to prepare bankruptcy documents under "your" direction and control that are then filed by "you" with the Court. I absolutely refuse to be a Non-Attorney Petition Preparer - please don't ask. There is no educational, age, or experience requirements; nor are Non-Attorney Petition Preparers required to take a test or pass a background check. They cannot tell/advise you regarding anything about the law or the bankruptcy process, so why use one?
Thinking of Representing Yourself?
I encourage you to reconsider. During my 17+ years the bankruptcy laws have continue to evolve, such as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 that made several significant changes to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Initially Bankruptcy Cases were filed in paper-form directly with the Court, now Electronic Filing utilizing computer software allows cases to be filed 24/7/365. Additionally, Court Staff cannot provide legal advice should the petition and schedules that you filed with the Court be deficient or require correction.
Most recently the COVID-19 Pandemic has forced the use of telephonic conferencing for Bankruptcy Proceedings. We are swiftly becoming a Virtual Society and I have taken steps in that direction utilizing a Video/Audio Service Provider to enhance my ability to assist you and the Attorneys that have contracted my services for bankruptcy preparation, filing, and active case monitoring from date filed until the case is closed.
I assisted one attorney for 16+ years and discovered that being in a stand-alone office, not being micro-managed was a personality-job fit for me. A stand-alone office provides me with a better chance at achieving workplace productivity and job satisfaction. But most importantly, my employer's exemplifying virtues as a mentor providing me with daily guidance by the sharing of valuable experiences, skills and knowledge regarding every aspect of the law and the local judicial system. He encouraged me to learn and strive to rise to my fullest potential. I can truthfully tell you that I have not yet reached my fullest potential and that I have made mistakes. I stand committed to my profession and strive, by attention-to-detail, to produce quality over quantity.
Are there other options that might allow me to get back on my feet again and not require me to file for bankruptcy?
Other options may be available and that is just another reason why I strongly urge you to meet with an attorney to discuss your current situation. There are other options, but, I must add that there are certain financial circumstances that will require you to file for bankruptcy relief to protect your assets; i.e. home, automobiles, present and future income, etc.
So, to address my answer, "Yes". I personally entered a Debt Management Plan (DMP) with Credit Counseling of Arkansas, Inc. (CCOA) back in April 2000. Now let me first say this. This was before the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. I will elaborate more on that after I explain what I did in April 2000 to rid myself of credit card debt.
I met with a CCOA Credit Counselor at the local Fort Smith office. She explained the (DMP) program. In a nut shell; I turned over all of my credit card information to her. She prepared a plan of action. CCOA contacted all of my credit card companies and informed them that I wanted to stop using the credit card and pay off that debt. In every case, but one, SEARS, the credit card company lowered the ongoing interest rate and accepted the plan proposed by CCOA as to the amount they would receive monthly toward that debt. With the DMP they can also lower monthly payments and stop late fees and over-the-limit fees. Secondly, I then paid a monthly amount to CCOA plus the fee they charged, which was very little. Then CCOA made the scheduled monthly payments. As the lower accounts were paid off they applied that allotted amount to other accounts until in September 2005, I completed my repayment plan. It took me four years and nine months to complete the program. So, YES, it can be done and YES such a program may be an alternative for you instead of filing for bankruptcy.
Now, as I previously stated this was before the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. That is significant for a number of reasons. Foremost it is significant because the Act of 2005 REQUIRED pre-filing bankruptcy credit counseling to see if this option was viable for a debtor considering filing for bankruptcy relief. CCOA had a viable plan of action years before legislation was enacted requiring consumers to see if there was another option available to them. CCOA was one of the first in our area to be approved by the U.S. Trustee Program that oversees the guidelines that must be met to qualify as an approved Credit Counseling Agency (the pre-filing bankruptcy credit counseling) and as an approved Debtor Education Provider (the post-filing instructional course concerning personal financial management). Additionally, CCOA had a GRAD (Getting Rid of All Debt) program for those who completed their plan of action and paid off all of their credit card debt.
Bottom line, YES! And, I'm happy to say that CCOA still has both of these programs and much more. This year CCOA is celebrating their 25th Anniversary. Since 1995, thousands of people have achieved financial freedom with their Debt Management Program. At some point in 2006 or 2007, Executive Director, Mike Robards (retired) contacted me and asked if I would become a member of the CCOA Fort Smith Advisory Board, which would be made up of local area businesses. The group would meet and discuss ways to get the word out to consumers about the many Dollar$ and $en$e programs provided by CCOA. Over the years, CCOA has continued to develop new counseling techniques and services to help people deal with their financial pressures and the personal impact of those pressures in their daily family lives. Mortgage delinquency counseling, home buyer education, and student loan counseling are only a few of the many services they provide. And, they will discuss their fee waiver program with you, as well.
Lastly, in January of this year they launched the Reach to Enrich program. As the program developed they began reaching out to a number of local area professionals asking them to volunteer as a Master Money Mentor. The COVID-19 has put a damper on the person-to-person and group meeting logistics of volunteers and their mentors, but I recently attended an online video/telephonic Reach to Enrich Fort Smith Money Mentor Training session. The information provided during the session was outstanding. After the session was over I contacted Mark Foster, Education Director to further explain my responsibilities as a Mentor. It is my hope that I will be able to become a member of this sure to be outstanding volunteer group.