The costs of living in San Diego and Southern California are higher than in most other parts of the US, and therefore, when financial hardships strike those living in our region, the effects can be felt that much more acutely.
If you lose your job, suffer a pay cut or demotion, suffer an accidental injury, are going through a divorce, or have simply been hit with unexpected expenses that are overwhelming you financially, bankruptcy may be a way to get a fresh start.
No one wants to declare bankruptcy, but when other measures fail and your financial situation becomes chronically impossible to manage - when you are buried in debt you could never reasonably hope to pay off; then, it's time to consider bankruptcy as an option.
At San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney, we can help you better understand California bankruptcy law and how it would apply in your specific situation. Bankruptcy may be able to eliminate your dischargeable debts, prevent wage garnishment or bank levies, save your home and/or car, and stop creditors' from bombarding you with collection phone calls.
We can help you weigh your options and make an informed decision on your best path forward financially.
Why Choose San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney?
It really does matter who you go to when you need help in filing bankruptcy or in making bankruptcy related decisions. There are many firms out there that fail to serve their clients well - that hit you with heavy, surprise fees, demand payment in full upfront, don't give your case the personal attention it deserves, and that don't really have the in depth legal knowledge and experience it takes to serve your best interests.
We at San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney take a different approach. We treat you with respect and dignity. We let you know our fees upfront, but we also understand that those going through bankruptcy may need time to pay - and so we offer you reasonable payment plans.
We have deep experience across the full swathe of California bankruptcy law practice areas. And we have local knowledge of how the bankruptcy process works in San Diego and Southern California. We can handle Chapter 7 bankruptcies, Chapter 13 bankruptcies, emergency bankruptcies, debt settlement agreements, bankruptcies in the midst of a divorce, and more, from start to finish.
We guide you every step of the way, explaining to you your options and the likely outcome of your available choices. We put you in a position to make an informed decision that will better your financial future - and then we walk you through the paperwork and legal process to make it happen.
Our Strong Reputation as a Bankruptcy Firm
First, we have developed a strong reputation for ourselves in the San Diego area. We are known for our hard work ethic and for our straightforward approach to dealing with our clients. We have received positive reviews from the majority of our clientele, largely due to our focus on customer service and our desire to treat every client as our most important client. To verify this fact, just go to the testimonials section of our website, where our past clients have written about their positive experiences with San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney.
Our Pricing Model
Second, we offer our clients a pricing model that really makes us stand out from the local competition. Many bankruptcy companies will attempt to charge you with hidden fees that you were not informed of at the beginning of the process. At San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney, we tell you what our services will cost right from the beginning, we have no intent of deceiving our clients in any way. Also, we offer a number of payment plans to our clients that make our services available to almost everyone, as we understand people going through bankruptcy may have difficulty paying a large initial fee.
Our Understanding of Bankruptcy Law
Third, the legal team at San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney understands how to handle all the different types of bankruptcy cases that are possible in California. Many bankruptcy firms only specialize in one area of bankruptcy, and don’t understand how to effectively represent their clients when it comes to the more obscure forms our bankruptcy. At San Diego Bankruptcy attorney, we understand how to handle all the different kinds of bankruptcies; there isn’t a single area of bankruptcy law that we don’t have experience handling.
Our Legal Support
Fourth, San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney does not employ a one size fits all approach to providing legal support for its clients. Many bankruptcy firms employ a limited number of pre-set strategies when dealing with bankruptcy cases, as this makes the process must less time-consuming for the bankruptcy agency. At San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney, we talk with each client individually and then create a customized legal strategy that is drawn up specifically for the client at hand. These customized legal strategies end up working much better than the cookie cutter strategies used by other firms, as our legal strategies are designed specifically for your individual case.
Our Transparency with Clients
Fifth, unlike most other bankruptcy law firms, we never try to force our clients into declaring bankruptcy, or into declaring a specific form of bankruptcy. While our competitors will say and do almost anything in order to convince you to declare bankruptcy with their firm, as doing so benefits them financially, we only want to help you make the right decision. Instead of coercing clients into declaring bankruptcy, we simply strive to provide them with the appropriate information, so that our clients can make the best decision themselves. We provide consultation and advice, but you remain in control of the final decision.
Bankruptcy Basics in San Diego
What is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal process through which a person who is struggling to make payments on his/her debts and/or bills, is able to gain financial relief. The legal right to file for bankruptcy is a right provided by federal legislation, thus all bankruptcy cases in California are dealt with by the federal court system. Filing for bankruptcy not only provides you with long term relief, it also helps you gain breathing room in the short term, as filing for bankruptcy automatically stops creditors from attempting to collect any money you might owe, until your debt situation has been handled in court.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Declaring Bankruptcy
There are many advantages to declaring bankruptcy in California. Bankruptcy may allow you to eliminate most or even all of your debts, depending on your unique financial situation. Declaring bankruptcy may help you prevent the repossession of vital property in your life, such as your car or other motor vehicle. It may also help you stop foreclosure on your home, and stop debt collection services from harassing you and/or garnishing your wages. Also, as mentioned in the paragraph above, declaring bankruptcy will relieve you from any immediate debts, as the court system will issue you an automatic stay. Lastly, bankruptcy laws make it illegal for employers to discriminate against you for declaring bankruptcy, so doing so shouldn’t have a negative effect on your employment future.
However, nothing in life is without consequences, and there are certain drawbacks associated with declaring bankruptcy that one should be aware of before entering the process. Declaring bankruptcy will not eliminate all of your debts, such as your recent back taxes or fines currently owed to any government agencies. Also, filing for bankruptcy will have a negative effect on your future credit score. This may make it more difficult to secure a loan for a car or for a home in upcoming years. Additionally, your bankruptcy filing will have to made public record by law, meaning anyone can request a copy of your filings and examine the details of your bankruptcy. Lastly, shady credit lenders have been known to target people who have recently declared bankruptcy, so you may be targeted if you do end up filing for bankruptcy.
Types of Bankruptcy
In California, there are two basic kinds of bankruptcy available to people looking for financial relief: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. Each of these two forms of bankruptcy is associated with certain benefits and drawbacks, depending on your unique financial situation.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also referred to as liquidation bankruptcy, gives a person the ability to discharge their debts and gain a fresh start, if they meet the qualifications for Chapter 7. After filing your bankruptcy petition, you will be given a hearing date, usually within 1 to 2 months. At this hearing, a trustee will first make a decision on whether or not you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. While the process a trustee employs to make that decision is too complex to explain in full detail here, generally the decision is based on your active income. If you currently earn lower than the median income of Californians with households of a similar size, then you will be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you currently earn higher than the median income of Californians with households of a similar size, then the trustee will use a means test to determine your eligibility.
If you fully qualify for Chapter 7, then the trustee is granted the power to seize all of your assets and sell them to recuperate the losses incurred by your debts, except assets which are exempt under California law. Since California maintains relatively generous exemption laws, most people won’t have to give up important pieces of property, such as a house or a car. The money netted by the liquidation of your assets is then redistributed to your creditors in order to pay back as much of your debts as possible. Also, the trustee takes a small commission for handling the sale and distribution. Note that certain kinds of debt can’t be discharged through Chapter 7, such as child support, alimony, student loans, or a few other kinds of debt. Usually, a person filing through Chapter 7 is someone with substantial credit card debt, and not a lot of assets. For these type of people, Chapter 7 is a highly effective way of eliminating debt, in fact most people in this situation are able to have all of their debt eliminated within 3-4 months.
It costs a total of $306 to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 in the state of California.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
If you find that you aren’t eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, then you can try and file via the Chapter 13 route. While Chapter 7 is a quick debt-relief option that allows you to discharge most or all of your debts within a period of a few months, Chapter 13 allows you to reorganize your debt over a much longer period of time, usually somewhere from 3-5 years.
Through Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you and the trustee assigned to you will conjointly create a plan to pay off most or all of your debt over 3-5 years, with the length of the plan depending on the amount of debt you have accrued. To qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must maintain a source of regular income that can be used to repay your debts. This plan will obligate you to make monthly payments to the trustee, who will distribute this money to your creditors. If you follow the agreement and make all of your payments on-time, then the rest of your debt will be discharged at the end of the plan. The advantage of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that it can allow you to hold onto secured assets that might otherwise be liquidated through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
It costs $281 to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 in the state of California.
Note: There are two other forms of bankruptcy available: Chapter 11 and Chapter 12. However Chapter 11 is used almost exclusively by businesses, and is only used by individuals with very large debts and assets. Chapter 12 bankruptcy is reserved only for family farmers, and cannot be utilized by individual debtors.
How to File for Bankruptcy in California
The first step to filing bankruptcy in San Diego is to collect the required legal documentation. This includes your recently filed tax returns, a list of all your bank accounts, valid identification, proof of ownership of valuable assets, and evidence of your income stream. Next, before entering the bankruptcy legal process, you are required by California law to participate in a credit counseling service that has been approved by the California court system. This service will assist you in reviewing your financial predicament and help you decide if you want to pursue bankruptcy. This step is not optional, a failure to participate in credit counseling will result in your case being dismissed. The last step is to consult a bankruptcy attorney, who can guide you through the bankruptcy process. While some people do file for bankruptcy without legal help, the success rate for such cases is less than 1%.
Contact Us Today for Immediate Assistance!
At San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney, we stand ready to take your call for help. We have assisted many others in San Diego, Southern California, and beyond in getting out from under impossible debt and getting on their feet again financially. We can do the same for you.
Call us today at 619-488-6168 for a free, no-obligation bankruptcy consultation and immediate attention to your case.
Or, feel free to visit us for an in person consultation at our office located at 750 B Street, Suite #2510, right here in San Diego.