Yes, you can file Bankruptcy without an attorney (known as a pro se filing) but it is not recommended.
Bankruptcy is a very complicated, specialized area of the law and you can find yourself in some trouble if a Bankruptcy case is not handled correctly.
Filing Bankruptcy takes very careful, thorough preparation and a good understanding of the law (and federal and local rules) to be done correctly. A Bankruptcy attorney helps advise you on whether you need to file Bankruptcy; what chapter to file; what debts can be discharged/ forgiven; what assets you can keep; which creditors you should continue to pay; and the financial documents and information that need to be filed/ sent to the court/ trustee, among many other benefits and duties. Your attorney will also explain the process and procedures to you, complete and file the necessary pleadings, and prepare you for any hearings, among many other aspects of your case or situation.
If your Bankruptcy case is not filed correctly, it can affect your ability to get a discharge (forgiveness of debt) and put your assets at risk, among many other serious potential problems. Bankruptcy Court personnel, judges and trustees treat pro se debtors the same as those who are represented by an attorney. As such, pro se filers are held to the same high standards as if the case had been filed by an attorney. Bankruptcy Court personnel are also not allowed to provide legal advice. In other words, if you do not have an attorney to make sure your case is done right, mistakes in the process due to non-attorney misunderstandings of the law will not be an allowable excuse. Further, if you file a pro se case and run into problems, the judge or trustee will usually recommend you hire an attorney. This might end up costing you more money than had you just hired an attorney from the beginning (especially if the attorney is required to file emergency/ extra pleadings etc.). Therefore, it makes sense to hire an attorney to begin with to avoid problems and extra costs.
If you do not think you have enough money to hire an attorney, give us a call. We offer a free consultation. We think you will likely find our fees very reasonable and affordable and we offer payment plans. We might even be able to work out a trade or exchange of services (for example, painting or landscaping). We would have to discuss this in detail and disclose it to the court but, in short, we’ll do our very best to help any way we can.
Finally, you do not get as much out of a Bankruptcy if you file pro se. As for our firm, we work with our clients to stay out of financial trouble for the long-term by learning to live on a no-surprise budget; and giving them tools to reestablish credit for a successful financial future. This is another benefit you might not get if you file without an attorney.
Again, consultations are free. Contact our office to discuss your situation.