Declaring bankruptcy is a course of action that should not be taken lightly. While it can be a troubled debtor’s best path to a healthier financial future, there may less extreme forms of debt relief that should first be pursued, such as renegotiating and restructuring. In recognition of the importance of considering such alternatives, federal law requires completion of a credit counseling course from a government-approved organization before filing for any type of bankruptcy.
Dozens of U.S. Trustee-approved organizations provide credit counseling in Georgia. A list of approved agencies can be accessed through the U.S. Department of Justice website. . Each counseling session will come with a cost, generally in the area of $35 for the first session and up to $25 for the second.
The completion of the credit counseling course must occur within the 180 days before you file your bankruptcy petition and will typically last between 60 to 90 minutes. You will work with a counselor to evaluate your finances and learn about your options — not only whether bankruptcy is advisable but also whether a Chapter 7 liquidation or a Chapter 13 wage earner’s plan is the right route. After the course — which can be taken online or by phone — you will receive a certificate of completion. You will need to include this certificate along with the other documentation you submit when filing for bankruptcy.
After you file for bankruptcy, you will be required to go through another credit counseling course, known as predischarge debtor education. It will cost about $25, span about two hours and cover such topics as money management, budgeting and rebuilding your credit rating. The purpose of the course is to put you on a road that helps you avoid another bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7, the course must be completed within 60 days of the first official meeting with creditors. In a Chapter 13, the deadline is the closing date of the repayment plan.
At Jeff Field & Associates, our experienced and caring lawyers provide guidance throughout the bankruptcy process, including helping you select a qualified credit counseling agency that will serve your needs. If you need help with a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy matter in Georgia, call 404-381-1278 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. We have offices in Scottdale, Marietta, Athens, Lawrenceville, Douglasville and Gainesville.
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