Filing Bankruptcy and Credit Counseling Courses

03 Sep 2010

I remember sitting on my couch at home watching C-Span during the passage of the “new” bankruptcy law back in 2004 and 2005.  Yep, as an Orlando bankruptcy lawyer, I know how to party!  When the debate, if you could call it that, turned toward the idea that a person would not be eligible to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy unless they completed a credit counseling course before filing bankruptcy, I cringed.

Questions about filing bankruptcy

So many questions about credit counseling ran through my mind 5 years ago.  It just so happens, I am now answering those same questions from clients who have hired me as their Orlando bankruptcy lawyer to guide them through all the eligibility requirements when filing bankruptcy, including the credit counseling requirement.  Here a re a few questions I get asked on a daily basis about credit counseling and filing bankruptcy bankruptcy:

How many credit counseling courses do I have to take when filing bankruptcy?

Two.  Debtors must complete one course before filing bankruptcy and one course after filing bankruptcy.  The first course focusses on the opportunities for credit counseling and requires that you perform a budget analysis.  The second course focusses on personal financial management and must be completed before your case can be closed.

How long are these credit counseling courses?

Each course is about 2 hours long.

Do I have to physically go to a classroom for the course?

No.  Fortunately, both required credit counseling courses can be taken online.  Once you have completed the course, you call a representative from the course and talk for a bout 15 minutes.

How much do these courses cost?

The new bankruptcy law did several things to make filing bankruptcy more expensive for the person needing a fresh start financially, and requiring the completion of credit counseling course is one of those things.  The cost will vary from place to place, which is why, as an Orlando bankruptcy lawyer, I decided from the very beginning to include the cost of the courses in my overall fee that I charge for my representation. This way, it is very clear to my clients where they need to go online to complete the course, they do not have to worry about paying for the course with a credit card, and I make sure that I am directly emailed their Certificate of Completion.  Easy.  Simple.  Nice.

Skeptics will say the credit counseling requirement is just another attempt by lawmakers to make the process of filing bankruptcy that much more unappealing to the average debtor.  Others will say the courses provide valuable information to people and are a necessary component of any financial fresh start.  I guess I’m somewhere in the middle.  Regardless, it’s something that you have to do when filing bankruptcy, so why not make the process as simple as possible.  That’s the approach I take and I know my clients appreciate it.

Photo Courtesy: istockphoto.com

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K. Hunter Goff

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