If your wages are currently being garnished, or if you are in danger of having them garnished, the attorneys at wh Law | We Help can stop the process.  We have attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy, who will use the bankruptcy code to prevent your wages from being taken from you, once and for all.

A little known feature of the bankruptcy code, known as the “automatic stay,” can prevent your creditors from collecting any debt you owe, in addition to stopping your wages from being garnished.  The automatic stay goes into effect as soon as you file for bankruptcy.  It is a court order which stops all collection efforts against you.  Wage garnishment is a collection on a previous judgment against you, and so your creditors must stop the garnishment.  Creditors can ask the court to get rid of the stay, but it is incredibly rare for bankruptcy courts to do this.

Wage garnishment typically happens when a creditor has sued you and gotten a judgment against you for a debt you owed.  Next, the creditor has to get a second court order allowing for a wage garnishment.  Finally, the sheriff usually has to serve the garnishment order on your employer, who then withholds part of your check for your creditor.

There are a few exceptions to the automatic stay, in which case the garnishment would continue.  The most notable, and most common, is garnishments for child support.  Because of the government’s interest in making sure children are supported, wage garnishments for child support continue, even when the automatic stay is in place.

As soon as you file for bankruptcy, you must provide a list of your creditors to the court.  The court will then send notice of your bankruptcy petition to your creditors, who must then stop all their collection efforts against you.  You can speed up this process by delivering a copy of your bankruptcy filing directly to your creditors.

Most of the time, when your bankruptcy case ends, the court will discharge your debts.  This means you’re no longer responsible for the discharged debts.  What this means, is that your creditors won’t be able to go back to garnishing your wages.

There is something you can do.  If you’re having trouble paying your bills or making ends meet because of a wage garnishment, we can help.  The first step to getting your creditors off your back, and stopping your wages from getting garnished, is giving us a call.  If you need help you can text or call.

wh Law, is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Automobile dealers and lenders like to try and scare people into scrambling to make up behind payments by threatening to repossess a vehicle.  Don’t let yourself be fooled.

When you are behind on payments and don’t know how to make them up, filing bankruptcy can give you more time to figure out how to get caught up on your payments.  When you file for bankruptcy, the court will issue an order called the “automatic stay.”  This is a fancy way of telling your creditors that they have to stop trying to collect money you owe them while the court hears your bankruptcy petition.  If creditors continue harassing you after the automatic stay has been issued, they can be sanctioned and fined with hefty penalties.  While some creditors don’t know about the automatic stay, we’d be more than happy to write a strongly worded letter to educate them about how they’re no longer allowed to pester you.

Filing bankruptcy won’t necessarily stop all attempts at repossessing your vehicle, though.  In some cases, a lender can ask the bankruptcy court for permission to take the vehicle back.  However, most lenders don’t understand the process for doing this, and we can help you fight the process.

While bankruptcy can wipe out your responsibility to pay back your loan on a car, it doesn’t always get rid of the lender’s lien on the car (see our main bankruptcy page for more information on getting your debts discharged).  What this means is that even though you no longer have the responsibility to pay the lender, they can still take back possession of the car.  The upside is that filing for bankruptcy can buy you some time before repossession, and give you some leverage to renegotiate the terms of your loan.  Most lenders would rather get some of the money you originally owed them than go through the trouble of repossession and reselling the vehicle.  Note that to get a better deal on your original loan you have to “re-affirm” the debt, which wipes out any discharge the bankruptcy court may have issued, which means you are now personally responsible for the loan again.

Additionally, redeeming the car might be a good option for some debtors.  Oftentimes, the market value of a car is less than what people still owe on the vehicle.  If that is the case, you can “redeem” the vehicle.  That means that you can pay the market value of the car in one lump sum and wipe out your existing loan responsibility.  For example, if you still owe $20,000 on a car, but the market value of the car is currently only $10,000, if you can somehow come up with the $10,000, you can wipe out your responsibility to pay the $20,000.  Obviously, this isn’t an option for a lot of people who are in bankruptcy, but it can be an attractive option for some.

Don’t let creditors boss you around.  If you’re getting calls from creditors or threats of repossession, give us a call.  We can help. If you need help you can text or call.

wh Law, is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

The attorneys here are WH Law all have families and small children, so we understand the importance a stable home has for a family.

Don’t let your concerns about bankruptcy prevent you from keeping your home.

Many attorneys don’t understand the ins and outs of the bankruptcy code, but we do. If you are behind on payments on your mortgage, or even if you are already in the foreclosure process, filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can help you get caught up on your behind payments, or even stop the foreclosure process altogether. When you file a bankruptcy petition, all of your debtors must stop efforts at collecting on your debts. If they continue to harass you after filing, they can be sanctioned and fined. Don’t let frequent calls from the bank and other creditors ruin your peace of mind. There’s something you can do about it: give us a call.

In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will determine what your monthly payment obligations are for necessary living expenses, and use leftover income for monthly payments to the bank on your past due mortgage payments, as well as your other creditors. So, in that way, bankruptcy can help you get caught up on your mortgage, in addition to any other creditor payments you’re behind on. Since the single monthly payment you’ll have under your bankruptcy is based on your disposable income, the payments are usually fairly small, and spread out over three to five years. Once you reach the end of the payment period, most people are caught up on their past due payments, and can resume paying their monthly payments as they were before the bankruptcy filing.

Have questions? The attorneys here are WH Law all have families and small children, so we understand the importance a stable home has for a family.

Don’t let your concerns about bankruptcy prevent you from keeping your home.

Many attorneys don’t understand the ins and outs of the bankruptcy code, but we do. If you are behind on payments on your mortgage, or even if you are already in the foreclosure process, filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can help you get caught up on your behind payments, or even stop the foreclosure process altogether. When you file a bankruptcy petition, all of your debtors must stop efforts at collecting on your debts. If they continue to harass you after filing, they can be sanctioned and fined. Don’t let frequent calls from the bank and other creditors ruin your peace of mind. There’s something you can do about it: give us a call.

In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will determine what your monthly payment obligations are for necessary living expenses, and use leftover income for monthly payments to the bank on your past due mortgage payments, as well as your other creditors. So, in that way, bankruptcy can help you get caught up on your mortgage, in addition to any other creditor payments you’re behind on. Since the single monthly payment you’ll have under your bankruptcy is based on your disposable income, the payments are usually fairly small, and spread out over three to five years. Once you reach the end of the payment period, most people are caught up on their past due payments, and can resume paying their monthly payments as they were before the bankruptcy filing.

Have questions? If you need help you can text or call.

wh Law, is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Creditor harassment is a major reason people seek bankruptcy assistance. Phone calls at home, work, threatening letters, lawsuits, garnishments, and bank seizures can make your life more difficult than it already is. When the creditor harassment is too much, call an experienced bankruptcy attorney and get some relief! Once you file your bankruptcy petition, all creditor harassment must stop immediately.

The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that protects consumers from creditor harassment. Part of this law prohibits third party collectors from directly contacting you after you have retained an attorney to deal with your debt, which includes a bankruptcy attorney. An original creditor, the one you aculatty borrowed money from, is not a “third party collector” and does not fall under the FDCPA. This includes: Capital One, Bank of America, Chase, Synchrony Bank, as well as your local banks and many more. A collection agency or an attorney hired by the bank your borrowed money from is a third party collector, and cannot continue to call or write you. Third party collectors must call your attorney, although any legal action can continue until you file your bankruptcy case.

Creditor harassment could continue even after you hire a bankruptcy attorney. The likely reason for this is that the creditor has not received any information that changes your status. Letting the creditor know that you have hired an attorney is generally good enough to stop the harassment. Tell the creditor, “I’m filing bankruptcy, call my attorney!” and give the caller your bankruptcy attorney’s name and telephone number. (Our number is 501.891.6000) Original creditors usually stop telephone contact after this for fear of violating the bankruptcy automatic stay. Third party collectors know that by law they can no longer call you.

Once your bankruptcy petition is filed, the clerk of the bankruptcy court will send notices to all of your creditors informing them of the bankruptcy automatic stay. Contact your attorney immediately if you are contacted by a creditor after your bankruptcy case is filed.

Hiring a bankruptcy attorney can provide temporary relief from creditor harassment. Filing bankruptcy and obtaining a discharge of your debts guarantees that you are no longer legally liable for the discharged debts. Any further contact from a discharged creditor violates the federal court order and subjects the creditor to sanctions for contempt of court. If you need this powerful legal protection from creditor harassment, contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney today! If you need help you can text or call.

wh Law, is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

In most cases, if you have already decided to file for bankruptcy, continuing to make credit card payments is a waste of money. So,if you are going to file bankruptcy, then you should probably stop paying your credit cards. But if you are still undecided about bankruptcy or may not file your case for a long time, stopping your credit card payments can subject you to collection calls and lawsuits or cause unnecessary damage to your credit.

When you file for bankruptcy, all of your unsecured debts are eliminated, meaning you do not legally owe these bills any longer. Credit card companies who choose to pursue you for old, discharged debts will do so in violation of the law and will be subject to sanctions by the bankruptcy court. Furthermore, unlike debts that are forgiven through private negotiation with a lender, there is no tax liability for debts that are discharged in bankruptcy.

While the general rule is that credit card debt is easily eliminated by filing for bankruptcy, fraudulent activity can jeopardize your entire bankruptcy discharge. Using credit cards for luxury purchases prior to bankruptcy creates a presumption of fraud which can be difficult to overcome. Don’t use credit cards after meeting with a bankruptcy attorney unless you’ve decided not to file. The bottom line is any use of credit cards with the intention of not paying the debt back is fraudulent. The bankruptcy code protects debtors who behave in good faith and punish debtors who to try to game the system. For more information see: Using Credit Cards Before Bankruptcy is a Big No No! If you need help you can text or call.

wh Law, is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

There’s no such thing as a “medical bankruptcy”. Even though you’re filing a bankruptcy case to get rid of overwhelming medical debt, you won’t be able to limit the case to just outstanding medical bills. The bankruptcy laws are designed to be as fair as possible to the debtor (the person who files the bankruptcy case) and to the creditors. Medical debt is considered the same as credit card debt, old utility bills, personal loans, and money you’ve borrowed from friends and family. These are all similar enough that the bankruptcy code treats them the same way.

Many people owe money directly to doctors, laboratories, hospitals, out-patient surgery centers, dentists, and other medical providers. Other people use credit cards to pay their medical care providers, and in that way rack up huge amounts of credit card debt.  

Debts owed to medical providers and credit card debt are classified as unsecured debt. This means that the debtor has not pledged a piece of property (such as a house or car) as collateral for payment of the debt.

If you need help you can text or call.

wh Law, is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

If you’re thinking of filing bankruptcy because of heavy tax debts, there are some things you need to know before doing so.  The Bankruptcy Code makes it pretty difficult for you to get your tax debts discharged, because the government’s trying to get paid.  However, it is possible to get some of your tax debts wiped out.  You just have to have an attorney that knows which types can get discharged, and how to make sure that happens when you file.

Only certain types of tax debts are dischargeable (which means they get wiped out by your bankruptcy filing so you don’t have to pay them anymore.)  That means you could file bankruptcy and go through the whole process, and still owe some tax debts.

Tax debts can get discharged in bankruptcy if all the following things are true:

The debt is from a year where you actually filed a return (fun side note: obviously, you don’t actually have to have paid the taxes, you just need to have filed the return. However, if you didn’t file a return, you can get the taxes discharged if you file the return, don’t pay the taxes, and wait three years.  We know that’s not an option for most folks who need to get their debts sorted out in the short term.);
You didn’t file a fraudulent return (meaning you told the truth and filled out your taxes honestly) and you didn’t try to evade taxes in any way;
The tax debt is more than three years old;
The IRS has to have assessed the tax debt at least 240 days ago; and
The debt has to be for income taxes (can’t be social security, medicare, certain property taxes, etc.).
It’s also important to know that your tax debts will be affected by which type of bankruptcy you file.  See our other blog posts for the exact differences between chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy.

If you file for chapter 7, your “non-priority” tax debts will get discharged, if they meet all the requirements outlined above.  That means they’re gone. 

In chapter 13, they don’t automatically get discharged, but they are lumped in with your “non-secured” debts, like credit card bills and other debts that aren’t backed by some collateral you gave to a bank or other institution in exchange for the loan, credit, etc.  Getting lumped in with those debts just means that you’ll likely only pay a tiny portion of those debts, and then whatever’s left on them will get discharged at the end of your plan (three or five years).

Having said that, there are certain types of tax debts (“priority tax debts”) which are not dischargeable, meaning they can’t get wiped out by bankruptcy.  Here they are:

Tax liens. If the IRS or the state you live in got a lien put on your property because you didn’t pay taxes, bankruptcy can’t wipe those out.  What will happen is that you’ll be personally off the hook for the taxes, but if you go to sell the property, the IRS gets what they’re owed from the sale price before you get any money.  For all practical purposes, this means you’re still on the hook for the debt.
Property taxes that are less than a year old. These can’t get discharged in any kind of bankruptcy, and what usually happens is that when you wait more than a year, the state gets a tax lien on the property for the taxes you haven’t paid.  In that case, the section above would apply.
Most taxes that get taken out of your paycheck, or other taxes that get collected or withheld by a third party. This means that any tax debt you owe because of medicare or social security, or other similar taxes like excise taxes (withholdings that get used for some public purose), can’t get discharged.  This doesn’t matter for most people.
“Non-punitive” tax penalties. These are just the penalties that go along with not paying the taxes you can’t otherwise get out of, as outlined above.  However, you can get these discharged if they’re associated with dischargeable taxes or if the event that created the penalty happened more than three years before you file.
So, you can probably tell that things can get complicated when you deal with the IRS, and they make it very difficult for you get out of paying them.  That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. 

Give us a call and we’ll take a look at your debt and advise you on what your options are.  We know dealing with the federal government can be scary, but we’ve done it before, and we know how to get you out of paying, where it’s possible.  Come sit down at the office for a consultation, and we’ll show you what we can do.

wh Law, is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Congratulations to all those who passed the July 2018 Arkansas Bar Exam!

Here are the results: 2018JulyBarExamResults

Enjoy scrambling around to find a judge to swear you in on Tuesday.  Let the fun begin!

But seriously—we are pleased to have you all as colleagues. Do well.

Looking for some extra reading? After You Get Your Bar Exam Scores

 

The Quick, Easy, and Cheap Arkansas Court Case

I talk to a lot of people who need legal help. Everyone wants cases to be quick and easy, and most want them to be cheap. To that end, many of these people don’t have much money and want advice about whether they can complete their case without an attorney to save on costs.  You can try to complete it without an attorney, but you might hit some bumps in the road. Here is pricing for the uncontested matters:

Full Representation for Uncontested Matters (Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Paternity, and Guardianship)
  1. $985 - Uncontested Matter for Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Paternity (the full package)  all the documents and the hearing (up to 4 hours of time). If the matter becomes contested the price may go up.
  2. $1,500 - Uncontested Guardianship or Adoption (full package) all the documents and the hearing.

What is an uncontested matter?

Many lawyers use the terms differently—to distinguish tough cases from easy cases. So, a case where the parties agree on everything will be an uncontested matter in Arkansas. In many instances, anything else is a contested matter. (And once something is contested, the case cost automatically goes way up, of course.)

Limited-Scope Representation - buying one piece at a time.
  1. $250 - Drafting documents to file for divorce.
  2. $200 - Drafting documents to respond to a divorce filed against you.
  3. $100 - Drafting a waiver of service.
  4. $250 - Drafting a divorce decree.
  5. $200 - Drafting or responding to a motion.
  6. $400 - Drafting discovery.
  7. $200 - Represent you at an uncontested hearing.

How Much Does a Contested matter Cost in Arkansas?

Court cases are expensive. The biggest cost is obviously the emotional toll. The financial cost of an Arkansas court case can also be significant, but it doesn’t have to be. However, we are trying to make it easier for the Average Arkansan to afford a lawyer.

The Flat Fee
  1. $3,000 - Flat fee for a contested matter that ends in up to a half-day hearing.
  2. $5,000 - Flat fee for a contested matter that ends in up to a full-day hearing.
  3. $2,000 - Flat fee each additional day of hearings.

Full Representation consists of Drafting and filing of a Summons, Complaint, Decree and other motions the attorney deems necessary, as well as performing discovery in contested matters. Depositions are not included in the full representation. However, if the client decides a deposition is necessary, the client will approve and pay for the costs of the court reporter, the transcript, and an additional $750 flat fee for the attorney to perform or defend the deposition. Not every matter will fit into categories, but 95% will.  These figures don’t factor in things like experts or private investigator fees, which might make it significantly more expensive. (Many experts are more expensive than lawyers.)

The most important thing you need to know about Arkansas court case costs is that a) they are manageable, and b) your lawyer should be completely up front with you about costs. If you think that he or she is not being completely upfront with you, you need to hire someone else.

Other interesting Blawgs:

Arkansas Divorce Law: Three Options

The Quick, Easy, and Cheap Arkansas Divorce

How Can I Reduce My Divorce Cost?

The Temporary Hearing in Child Custody Cases

Child Support Laws: Equitable and Fair for Both Parents?

How Far Back Does Arkansas Child Support Go?

 

I sure hate to do this to you, but I’ve got to: “It all depends.”

Most of the time, you have to wait until the end of a case to appeal a judge’s decision. This includes rulings that may have occurred along the way, even if they were decided long before the final decision. And it applies even if one of these decisions along the way was important and might have changed the outcome of the whole thing.

This is what’s called “finality.” It’s one of the most important things to consider when you bring an appeal in Arkansas because it is fatal—it will kill the entire appeal and you may have to start all over. Finality simply means that an appellate court does not want to hear an appeal in pieces. For the sake of saving the courts’ time, they have rules that require all the issues to be rolled into one appeal, where they can decide everything.

Okay, so that’s the rule. Here is the exception: In certain circumstances, a party can have the trial court “certify” a question to be considered before the final decision has been made. The guidelines for getting a question certified are found in Rule 54(b) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 3 of the Arkansas Rules of Appellate Procedure. This certificate is often known as a “54(b) certificate.”

A lot of lawyers regularly mess this up because they don’t follow the rules carefully.

The first way in which a lot of lawyers mess this up is by not carefully following the language of the rules. This is not the time to get creative; when a lawyer drafts the Rule 54(b) Order for the trial judge to sign, he or she needs to track the rule word-for-word. Every part of it is important and needs to be in the order. That is a relatively easy trap to avoid.

The second common error is failing to get the trial judge to explain exactly why the question is being certified before the final decision. The order has to give specific, factual reasons for why the judge made his or her decision.

Basically, this means that the judge needs to actually list reasons why the appellate court should break its own rule. It’s not enough to make generalized statements. He or she must explain why the particular question needs to be answered by the appeals court before the trial court goes on to hear the rest of the case.

There are good reasons for submitting a particular issue for appeal before the case is finished, but they are rare. Both because of the landmines of a 54(b) certificate and the added cost of multiple appeals, it’s normally more appropriate to wait for the case to end.

This is complicated stuff.  Don’t try and wade through this process all on your own.

If you feel like there’s a good reason for a decision in your case to get appealed, call us today to schedule your free consultation, and we’ll sort it out for you.

Request A Consultation