When you file for protection from your creditors with Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy, one very important responsibility you have is to keep your attorney updated on your current contact information. I cannot tell you how many times this has become a problem for us in our practice. The maximum you can be in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is five years. A lot can happen in five years!! You can lose a job, get married or relocate to another state. Meanwhile, your Chapter 13 is still active. If something happens to cause you not be able to pay a house payment or the trustee, a motion to dismiss or a motion for relief from the automatic stay can be filed by the trustee and/or a creditor. The first thing my office will do is call you. If you changed your phone number, that option becomes a dead end. Our next way of contacting you is to mail you a letter to let you know what has happened. Again, if we can’t get in touch with you, we cannot offer a defense on your behalf. I have even resorted to sending messages via Facebook in order to get in touch with a client about important matters in their cases.
At the end of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the Chapter 13 trustee will file a notice of completion with the court. In order for a Chapter 13 debtor to receive a discharge, they must be current with any child support obligation, have completed the personal financial management instructional course and sign a motion to discharge their case. Again, the importance of being able to get in touch with the client to sign and certify these requirements is most important!
Remember, if you are struggling with your finances, please call one of our Bond & Botes offices to speak with one of our attorneys so we help you find a fresh start.
Gail Hughes Donaldson is a Managing Partner of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Montgomery and Opelika, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. She’s been helping families work through the bankruptcy process since she started with Bond & Botes back in 1993 as a paralegal. Read her full bio here.