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In life, circumstances arise that we cannot avoid - struggling with a mounting debt, stopping a foreclosure or garnishment, problems with your marriage or battle over child custody, support or visitation. These situations can have a profound effect on our lives. During these difficult times, you need someone by your side who can care effectively for your legal needs as well as providing you with personal service to best provide support for you during these incredibly personal and private crises.

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Ridgeland Bankruptcy Law Blog

Student debtors: Don't get burned by false promises of help

If you're a Mississippi resident working on paying back student loans you have incurred over the years, you know you're not alone.

In fact, taking on debt to pay for schooling is altogether commonplace across the country. Indeed, and for most people, the only way to pursue a college degree or participate in a professional training program is to borrow the money to do so.

Unfortunately, the flip side of that for high numbers of persons across the country is the great difficulty that attaches to making regular payments on that debt following graduation.

Here's a flatly jaw-dropping number: Reportedly, Americans owe about $1.2 trillion on outstanding educational loans, with many consumers having exactions that total scores of thousands of dollars.

Bankruptcy basics: A look at history, parameters

Many people in Mississippi and elsewhere who are interested in or contemplating filing for bankruptcy understandably lack detailed knowledge of the subject area.

That is for good reason. As noted in a comprehensive federal courts website, "The bankruptcy process is complex."

It is also replete with eligibility tests, arcane terminology and court-supervised requirements that stem from a voluminous federal Bankruptcy Code established in 1978 that has been amended multiple times.

Considering Chapter 13? Here are a few more details

Recently we discussed the two most common kinds of consumer bankruptcy -- Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. This week we wanted to add a few more points that might be helpful in case you're considering either form of debt relief.

Qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection means that you would have to pass a "means test" showing that you don't make enough money to bump you into Chapter 13. As we said before, if you have heavy debt despite your regular income, then Chapter 13 is probably for you.

Chapter 13 offers some advantages that Chapter 7 doesn't necessarily provide. For example, Chapter 13 can be particularly effective in preventing or stopping foreclosure or the repossession of a vehicle.

Your IRA: Is it shielded from creditors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Few people who are involved in litigation expect that their legal matter will wind its way through various court levels. Fewer still ever anticipate that it will ultimately end up before the United States Supreme Court, with the decision of that tribunal broadly extending its implications to similar matters across the country.

That is precisely what happened in the case of a Wisconsin resident, who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy several years ago. A central issue in that bankruptcy subsequently resulted in the woman’s case weaving its way through multiple appeals and inconsistent court rulings.

The matter was finally resolved earlier this month with a Supreme Court ruling commanding broad relevance across the country, including in Mississippi.

Restoration of credit following bankruptcy

A concern of individuals forced to file bankruptcy due to debt is that they will never be able to rebuild their credit. Rebuilding credit is a difficult though not impossible task. It will likely mean you will have to pay more in interest to borrow money.

Surprisingly, however, individuals who do declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy could appear to be a better credit risk. This is because the individual that filed bankruptcy all at once saw a great part of the debt that was weighing their credit scores down disappear. Also, lenders will be aware that you cannot file Chapter 7 again for a number of years.

Filing for bankruptcy: more than one option

Perhaps you’re a Mississippi resident that, through no fault of your own, is simply underwater in debt and generally facing financial challenges that seem insurmountable to you.

Such a description is far from singular. In fact, millions of Americans are in similar straits, owing to a number of financial hits they have taken in recent years. We all know about the housing debacle, for example, pursuant to which shady and otherwise predatory lending practices exposed many people to great personal risks. Many home values were artificially hyped, which the so-called Great Recession of recent years exposed, resulting in high levels of foreclosures.

Job loss, too, has been endemic. Medical debt has staggered individuals and families across the country, with credit card outlays -- in many instances, for basic life necessities -- having a similar effect.

Costs of sudden illness extend beyond medical bills

Credit scores, like it or not, dictate many aspects of a person's financial life. Good or bad credit can have a significant bearing on the favorability of interest rates attached to a loan -- and whether or not a loan is offered at all.

Unfortunately, when people fall behind on bills and debt collection efforts commence, credit scores generally take a hit. This means that a period of financial misfortune can have a lasting impact in terms of a person's ability to borrow money for homes, vehicles, education or important investments.

Although accumulating medical bills is often the result of an uncontrollable circumstance, those who fall behind on payments may still suffer damage to their credit. This is something that has come to concern officials with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Rising debt levels: Glass half full or half empty?

There’s an almost déjà vu-like quality to much of the recent commentary chronicling the nation’s long slog back toward perceived normalcy in the wake of the so-called Great Recession of recent years.

It’s certainly hard to forget that momentous national shake up, and grandchildren of our readers in Mississippi and elsewhere will likely be reading about the country’s economic fall from grace and hard-fought battle to restore millions of Americans’ fortunes in next-generation history books.

Harassing collection behavior is illegal: Put a stop to it

Few realities seem to be more firmly based than this unpleasant fact confronting legions of consumers across the country, including in Mississippi: Unquestionably, the debt collection industry has more than its fair share of bad actors.

That is of course not to deny there are a great many debt collectors operating across the nation who go about their jobs in an ethical and conscientious fashion, actually seeking to work in good faith with debtors to resolve payments that are owed.

Unfortunately, though, those people tend to get overshadowed by collectors who are, well, a bit less graceful and decent in their contacts with consumers.

Challenged homeowners: working with mortgage lenders

A recent critic of bank lenders who play rough with distressed consumers grasping for solutions to avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes makes reference to a so-called “kill switch” that can stop hard-barking bankers and other mortgage holders in their tracks.

Namely, that is bankruptcy, which results in a legal automatic stay that has material consequences in the relationship between a challenged homeowner and a creditor who is demoing payments and, quite often, threatening to foreclose on a property.

Jorge Newbery is the chief executive officer of a nonprofit company that buys pools of underperforming mortgages from banks. Newbery’s organization then works with besieged homeowners to find solutions that will help them stay rooted and avoid having to turn their lives upside down with unwanted relocations.

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