Difficult economic times have pushed many individuals and families to their financial limits. Filing for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Arkansas has become an option for many to escape overwhelming debt and get back on their feet. With over 3,000 bankruptcy cases filed we have the knowledge and experience to assist you with this decision. We will help you determine if Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy protection are right for you. Our Fort Smith debt elimination lawyers are here to help. We understand your struggles and want to help you get back on the path to financial security.
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Carl Warner Hopkins is currently a general practice attorney, focusing on criminal litigation and bankruptcy litigation.
Carl is a graduate of Pine Bluff High School, and after graduating from the University of Arkansas School of Law, moved to Fort Smith to be closer to his family. Carl is dedicated to Fort Smith, the Arkansas River Valley and Northwest Arkansas, and is involved in various civic organization and leadership groups. In 2006, Carl received the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award from the Arkansas Volunteer Lawyers for the Elderly Association, and has received numerous other accolades from that organization over the years.
Carl enjoys spending time with his four children, as well as volunteering in the community and watching the Razorbacks.
Bankruptcy is a remedy provided for in the US Code. Bankruptcy has two main components. First, it provides protection for you from collection actions. This protection is called the automatic stay. This provides protection from collection by any entity including state and federal collectors. The second component is the discharge which gets rid of most debts. In most cases, all debts that the Debtor wants discharged are discharged. Exceptions to discharge include debts for child support, alimony, student loans and some taxes.
With few exceptions, any person or business owing money to a creditor can file a bankruptcy petition.
Consumers typically file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, where repayment may be made to creditors, or Chapter 7 where the debts are dismissed. Each chapter of bankruptcy spells out: What bills can be eliminated, How long payments can be stretched out, What possessions you can keep and Additional relevant information. The type of bankruptcy you file depends on your circumstances and if you have assets available to repay all or part of your debts. Bankruptcy laws can be tricky and involved, so determining if, when and which type of bankruptcy you need should be made with careful thought or the input of your attorney.
Generally, you can convert a case one time to any other chapter you're eligible for. The request to convert can be a simple one-sentence document. Watch out for pitfalls, though. For instance, if you move from Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7, some of your possessions may be part of the Chapter 7 estate (and can be taken and sold to pay your debts), even though they were safe from creditors under Chapter 13.
In most chapter 7 bankruptcy cases the debtors can keep their homes and vehicles. You will have to decide whether a reaffirmation is desired or not. Generally, we advise against reaffirmations. If you are behind on payments on houses and cars, a Chapter 13 can help you keep them.
The Bankruptcy Court sends a notice to all of your creditors once the petition is filed.
During the time the debtor is working out a plan or the trustee is gathering and preparing the assets to sell, creditors are required by law to stop all collection efforts against you. As soon as the bankruptcy petition is stamped "Relief Ordered" upon filing, you're immediately protected from your creditors. This is called an automatic stay. After that time, if a creditor attempts to collect a debt, immediately notify the creditor in writing that you have filed bankruptcy, and provide them with either the case name, number, and filing date or a copy of the petition that shows it was filed. If the creditor still continues to collect, you may be entitled to take legal action against it.