Theodore N. Stapleton

Bankruptcy Lawyer Atlanta GA

Call (770) 436-3334

Bankruptcy and Debt Settlement

Bankruptcy Could Be The Solution

Bankruptcy can end all of harassment by creditors.

Bankruptcy can stop all pending lawsuits, garnishments, repossessions and

Bankruptcy can discharge you from your credit card, medical and other debt. Get the
fresh start you deserve today!

We can assist you with structuring affordable payment so that you can avoid a
bankruptcy filing.

What Benefits Will I Get by Filing Bankruptcy?

Are you experiencing any of the following:

Pending lawsuits or wage garnishments;

Pending Foreclosure;

Harassment from creditors?

If so, contact Theodore Stapleton P.C. today so we can help you put a stop to these legal proceedings and other collection efforts by creditors before they take further action against you. You can receive protections from your creditors the moment your bankruptcy case is filed. Creditors are required to stop calling and writing to you; any pending lawsuit or wage garnishment is stopped; and, repossessions and foreclosures are stayed. However, you may want to know, will I keep my car, my house and other possessions? We will educate you on all you need to know and answer all your questions in a free bankruptcy consultation (We now offer video consultations through Skype, Zoom and Facetime):

Will you be able to keep your home and car?

How long does bankruptcy stay on my credit?

What is the process for getting relief through the bankruptcy court and what procedures must be followed?

How do I rebuild my credit after my case is over?

In your free consultation, we will answer all of these questions for you and more. The reason people file bankruptcy is to get a discharge of their debts. A discharge is a court order that bars creditors from seeking to collect their debts against you that are legally dischargeable. Your protections come into effect the minute your case is filed. You learn all you need to know about these protections and the education you need about filing for bankruptcy. Call us today for help so you are not alone in this process.

What Happens Once I File Bankruptcy?

Once a bankruptcy is filed, a chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee will be assigned to your case. The trustee's job is to make sure that your creditors are treated as fairly as possible through bankruptcy process. The trustee will review your bankruptcy petition and the other disclosure documents you file with the court and the testimony at your meeting of creditors. You are required to attend the meeting of creditors where the trustee will question you under oath. The trustee will also review any transactions you made over the four years prior to the filing of your bankruptcy petition to determine if any of those transactions may have been done to hinder or delay payment to your creditors. If the trustee finds any money or assets that have been improperly transferred, the trustee can compel turnover those assets to the bankruptcy estate for the benefit of your creditors. Non-exempt assets will be sold or otherwise liquidated and turned into cash. The cash collected by the trustee will be distributed amongst your creditors according to the priorities set forth in the bankruptcy code.

When do I get my Discharge?

After the trustee has determined if any non-exempt assets exist which may be required to be liquidated or turned over, you may be eligible for discharge approximately 60 days after your meeting of creditors. Your discharge can eliminate most of your debt. However, there are certain debts that are not eligible for discharge. Those debts include some taxes, student loans, domestic support obligations like child support or spousal maintenance, government fines and any judgment where you were found to be liable for fraud or misrepresentation. Other debts such as credit card debt, medical, personal loans, and most judgments are eligible for discharge and likely will be wiped away giving you the fresh start you desire. You will benefit from talking to a chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer if you have a debt in question about whether it is dischargeable.

What Happens to My Home & Car?

Many people own a home or car and are concerned about whether they will be able to keep their property. The general premise in chapter 7 bankruptcy is that you are coming to court to claim that you have not enough income to pay all your debt and therefore, need a discharge. Having assets in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case may become tricky. A home or car is generally considered a secured asset, which means the property (home or car) is secured as collateral by the lender. Lenders understand that people fall on hard times and file chapter 7 bankruptcy. When this happens, most lenders ask that you reaffirm the debt. Reaffirmation means you are agreeing to continue making your monthly payments towards the debt even though you filed chapter 7 bankruptcy and are asking the court to eliminate all your debt. For most people, the home and car are debts they want to keep rather than give back. If you want to keep the asset, it is important to understand that you must continue to pay for the asset. A lender will ask the court to remove your chapter 7 bankruptcy protection so they can foreclose or repossess the secured collateral (your car or home). However, if you have the means to stay current on the monthly payments or very quickly become current shortly after your case is filed, then the lender will likely not want the collateral back. Most of the time, lenders want you to make the payments as you agreed to do. There are advantages to reaffirming debt, that can be explained to you by your chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer.

What are the ramifications of filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

After your case is over, a chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge will remain on your credit report for ten years. You may be able to begin re-establishing credit as soon as you get your discharge. The discharge does not mean your case is over, but it is usually the main reason people file a chapter 7 bankruptcy. The court will close out your case once the trustee files a final report indicating that all distributions have been made or that there are no non-exempt assets from which to make a distribution. Most chapter 7 bankruptcy filers begin receiving credit card offers and solicitations for new car loans soon after their case is filed. Once you get your discharge, you may begin taking advantage of some of those offers to re-establish credit. Our firm also offers a post chapter 7 bankruptcy credit rehabilitation program and can refer you to a professional credit rating improvement specialist. Typically, your credit score can be rejuvenated after about eighteen months to two years, if you have taken the proper steps to grow your credit score and you have not missed any payments. For most people, chapter 7 bankruptcy will not harm their employment or social standing. Even though chapter 7 bankruptcy is part of your public record, most people will not know you filed unless you tell them, or you are required to disclose this information.

There are many reasons why a chapter 7 bankruptcy may be in your best interests. Chapter 7 bankruptcy will protect you and your non-exempt assets from being taken by creditors or the trustee. However, you need a knowledgeable and competent chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney to guide you through the pitfalls of the chapter 7 bankruptcy process and procedures. If you are having any thoughts about filing bankruptcy, call us today to schedule a free consultation and speak with one of our attorneys. We can advise you as to whether you qualify for chapter 7, 10, 11 or 13 bankruptcy protection and what we can do for you to protect you and your assets from your creditors, the trustee, and any other obstacles you may be facing by filing.

Debt settlement, also known as debt arbitration or debt negotiation, is an approach to debt reduction in which the debtor and creditor agree on a reduced balance that may be regarded as payment in full or paid by agreement. As long as consumers continue to make minimum monthly payments, creditors generally will not negotiate a reduced balance. However, when payments stop, balances continue to grow because of late fees and ongoing interest. Consumers can arrange their own settlements by using advice found on web sites, hire a lawyer to act for them, or use debt settlement companies. Some settlement companies may charge a large fee up front; or take a monthly fee from customer bank accounts for their service, possibly reducing the incentive to settle with creditors quickly.


As a concept, lenders have been practicing debt settlement thousands of years. However, the business of debt settlement became prominent in America during the late 1980s and early 1990s when bank deregulation, which loosened consumer lending practices, followed by an economic recession placed consumers in financial hardships. With charge-offs (debts written-off by banks) increasing, banks established debt settlement departments staffed with personnel who were authorized to negotiate with defaulted cardholders to reduce the outstanding balances in hopes to recover funds that would otherwise be lost if the cardholder filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Typical settlements ranged between 25% and 65% of the outstanding balance.

Alongside the unprecedented spike in personal debt loads, there has been another rather significant (even if criminally under reported) change – the 2005 passage of legislation that dramatically worsened the chances for average Americans to claim Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. As things stand, should anyone filing for bankruptcy fail to meet the Internal Revenue Service regulated ‘means test’, they would instead be shelved into the Chapter 13 debt restructuring plan. Essentially, Chapter 13 bankruptcies simply tell borrowers that they must pay back some or all of their debts to all unsecured lenders. Repayments under Chapter 13 can range from 1% to 100% of the amounts owed to unsecured creditors, based on the ability of the debtor to pay. Repayment periods are 3 years (for those who earn below the median income) or 5 years (for those above), under court mandated budgets that follow IRS guidelines, and the penalties for failure are more severe.

How it works:

Essentially, the debt settlement company negotiates on the borrowers’ behalf with creditors to reduce the overall debts in exchange for an agreement upon regular payments to be made. Only credit card debts can be handled, not student loans, auto financing or mortgages. For the debtor, this makes obvious sense – they avoid the stigma and intrusive court-mandated controls of bankruptcy while still lowering, sometimes by more than 50%, their debt balances. Whereas, for the creditor, they regain trust that the borrower intends to pay back what he can of the loans and not file bankruptcy (in which case, the creditor risks losing all monies owed). There are obvious drawbacks – credit reports will show evidence of debt settlements and the associated FICO scores will be lowered as a result. There’s always the possibility of lawsuits whenever debts lay unpaid. Since few creditors wish to push borrowers toward bankruptcy – and the potential of governmental protection against the collection of potentially all debts. In addition, the specific debts of the borrowers themselves affect the success of negotiations. Tax liens or domestic judgments, for reasons that should be clear, remain unaffected by attempts at settlement. Student loans, even those not federally subsidized, have been granted special powers by recent legislation to attach bank accounts without possibility of Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Also, some individual creditors, including Discover Card and American Express, for example, tend to have an aggressive resistance against negotiations.

Creditor’s incentives

The creditor’s primary incentive is to recover funds that would otherwise be lost if the debtor filed for bankruptcy. The other key incentive is that the creditor can often recover more funds than through other collection methods. Collection agencies and collection attorneys charge commissions as high as 40% on recovered funds. Bad debt purchasers buy portfolios of delinquent debts from creditors who give up on internal collection efforts and these bad debt purchasers pay between 1 and 12 cents on the dollar, depending on the age of the debt, with the oldest debts being the cheapest. Collection calls and lawsuits often push debtors into bankruptcy, in which case the creditor often recovers no funds.

Common objections to settlement

There are four main objections to consumer debt settlement: damages credit, increased collection calls, possibility of lawsuits, tax consequences and the need to settle with all creditors.

Settlement damages credit

Debt settlement may damage scores in a credit report. A credit report is used by creditors to judge past credit performance to see if applicants meet their criteria for lending. Insurance companies uses a person’s credit report to determine premiums and prospective employers review the credit report to establish the character of a job candidate.