Florida Bankruptcy Guide Part 4 - Why You Should Never File Bankruptcy Yourself

There is an old saying that if you want a job done well, you ought to do it yourself. Avoid this line of thinking when it comes to filing for bankruptcy.

When you file for bankruptcy without an attorney, you are ultimately going it alone. In legal terms, filing for bankruptcy on your own is called filing “pro se“, meaning you represent yourself.

This is dangerous for a number of reasons, which will be addressed in turn.

Dangers of Chapter 7 Pro Se Filing

Some Chapter 7 cases are quite complex compared to the simpler cases. Even so, the simplest bankruptcy cases are not so simple for someone without legal training. Effective pro se filing requires you to accurately complete complicated bankruptcy forms while also requiring research into the nuances of federal and Florida law. Further, you will be required to attend hearings, and you will need to understand what is taking place during those hearings. In short, the simplest bankruptcy case is in fact not quite so simple.

This is especially true if your Chapter 7 filing involves business ownership or your income is above the median Florida income. Other complications of a Chapter 7 filing include filing for bankruptcy with substantial assets and/or being at risk of creditors making fraud-based claims against you.

In the complex cases, an attorney is a practical necessity to ensure:

  • You will not be subjected to avoidable lawsuits
  • Your case is not dismissed
  • Your assets are not needlessly taken

When filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is highly advisable that you seek out an experienced Florida bankruptcy and do not go it alone.

Risks of Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Without a Lawyer

While it is highly advisable to seek the help of an attorney for a Chapter 7 filing, it is practically a rule for Chapter 13 filings. While you are still permitted to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy without a lawyer, there is a reason that Florida’s bankruptcy courts strongly advise against doing so.

Chapter 13 cases are far more complex than a Chapter 7 filing, and they often involve local filing forms in addition to the official bankruptcy forms. Making matters more complex, you would need to design your own repayment plan to propose to the court. Ordinarily, even bankruptcy attorneys need to use expensive software to accurately handle the complexity of a repayment plan, which is one of the primary reasons filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy alone is a poor decision.

Other complications include the need to strip a mortgage or cram down certain loans since such procedures will require further paperwork and motions. Given these complexities, some lawyers only handle Chapter 7 cases. If some trained Florida attorneys lack the comfort to handle Chapter 13 cases, it is a safe bet the average citizen will be in over their head.

Protect Yourself & Your Financial Future

Safeguard yourself from the complexities of bankruptcy filing by working with a trusted Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Florida bankruptcy attorney. John F. Greene is a Destin bankruptcy attorney with over 30 years of experienced and is equipped to handle your Chapter 7 and 13 cases from his Destin office. John represents clients throughout Northwest Florida and along the Emerald Coast, including Okaloosa, Walton, Santa Rosa and Bay Counties. Additionally, he represents the Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Santa Rosa Beach and Panama City communities.

Contact John F. Greene or call 850-424-6833 to work with a Florida bankruptcy lawyer who will help you through each stage of the Chapter 7 and/or 13 filing process.

To learn more about bankruptcy, review all four parts to this guide:


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