Tag Archives: Multnomah county court

Is Bankruptcy the Best Option for Me (or My Family)?

At the risk of sounding too much like a lawyer, the answer is … it depends. There is no doubt that filing for bankruptcy can be a lifeboat in a stormy sea – it wipes the slate clean, stops the collection calls and letters, and provides a fresh start. Almost all consumer debts, such as credit card debts and medical bills, are dischargeable via bankruptcy. Also, the vast majority of people get to keep all of their property, including their house and car. However, whether to file for bankruptcy, when to file, and how to file are all extremely important considerations. The particular financial circumstances, future expectations, and personal preferences of each individual need to be carefully assessed. Also, it depends on what type of debts you have. If most of your debt is non-dischargeable (most tax debts, student loans, child or spousal support, etc.), then Chapter 7 bankruptcy at least, may not be the best option. But Chapter 13 bankruptcy could be a good solution. Ultimately, of course, the decision whether to file for bankruptcy must be made by the individual or couple, not by friends, family, or a lawyer.

With that said, it is highly recommended that those contemplating bankruptcy consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney prior to making this crucial decision. The bankruptcy laws themselves can be quite complex, are poorly drafted, and have been interpreted differently depending on the jurisdiction. The required forms (petition, schedules, etc.) are numerous and require accurate, detailed, and current information.  A good (and ethically responsible) lawyer will never try to “push” his or her potential client to file for bankruptcy. Instead, the attorney should thoroughly evaluate the overall financial circumstances of the client and explain the bankruptcy process, including the pros and the cons. Only in this way can people considering bankruptcy make the best decision for themselves and their family. Of course, there are scenarios in which, even if you have fallen behind on your bills and accumulated significant debt, bankruptcy may not be the best option. However, if you can answer yes to some or many of the following questions then bankruptcy may indeed be a good option for you.

Are you significantly behind on your credit card payments or other payments? Has your credit card company or another creditor/debt collector sent you a default notice, or threatened to sue you? Has a creditor assigned your debt for collection? Are you being sued by a debt collector or its attorney? Do you have judgments against you for unpaid debts? Are your wages being garnished or threatened with garnishment? Have you recently lost a job, suffered an illness or a disability, and had debts pile up? Are you stressed out about your debts and concerned about your ability to pay them? Have you incurred significant medical bills that you are afraid you will not be able to pay? Has the stress of your debts caused arguments or turmoil in your personal life? Are debt collectors calling you, sending you letters, or harassing you? Do you need to free up money that you are paying to your creditors so you can afford your basic living expenses like mortgage/rent, food, and support for your family?

Even if some of the above scenarios apply to you, it does not mean that bankruptcy is the only choice, but it is probably a good idea to at least consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to help you assess your situation further. Click here for more info about Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or here for more information about Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Or, better yet, If you live in Portland, Gresham, Multnomah County, or the Portland Metro area, and you think that bankruptcy may be a good option for you, contact me at (503) 847-4329 for a FREE phone consultation.

What Are My Options if I am Being Sued for Credit Card Debt, Medical Debt, or Other Debts?

Just because you allegedly owe a debt does not mean that you have no options or no rights. But you need to know your rights and exercise them.  As both a consumer rights lawyer and a bankruptcy lawyer, I may be able to help.

As both a bankruptcy attorney and a consumer rights attorney in Portland, Oregon, I often represent people who are being sued by creditors or debt collectors in Multnomah County or the surrounding counties. If you have outstanding debts that you can’t afford to pay, then filing a bankruptcy to wipe out the debts may be your best option. (For more detailed information about bankruptcy, go to my Chapter 7 bankruptcy page.) However, there are other options that can be, and should be, explored, as filing bankruptcy is not the best solution for every debt problem.

There are often valid defenses to these debt lawsuits.

One defense may be that the statute of limitations has run since the last time you used or paid on the account. This means that the creditor or debt collector has not filed the lawsuit against you within the applicable period of time allowed by law. The question of what statute of limitations law applies to the debt often depends on the particular law specified in the contract that gave rise to the debt. Often it is 6 years (Oregon’s contract period as well), but in some circumstances can be as short as three years from the date of default. Filing the lawsuit passed the statute of limitations would be a complete defense to the lawsuit. Another defense may be the amount demanded may not be accurate. This would be at least a partial defense. Sometimes, the creditor or debt collector even sues the wrong person! As shocking as this is, I’ve represented consumers in such cases more than once. Such lawsuits can and should be defended. Sometimes the debt collector/creditor may also be sued/counter-sued for violations of the the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the Oregon Unlawful Debt Collection Practices Act, or other consumer protection statutes (click here for more information on this subject)

In the end, it is important to remember that as the plaintiff (the one suing you) it is the debt collector’s burden to PROVE that your debt is valid and enforceable, that the amount claimed is the amount owed, and that (if the plaintiff is a debt buyer) there was a valid assignment of your debt by the original creditor. However, if you do not act in time (30 days from the date you were served with the “summons” and “complaint” in an Oregon non-small claims court) the debt collector will then apply for a default judgment and you will lose your chance to assert a defense. Once the debt collector gets a judgment against you, in Oregon the judgment will automatically attach as a lien to your home (if located in the same county) and is valid and enforceable for 10 years (and can be renewed quite easily). With a valid judgment, the debt collector can also get a writ issued to garnish your wages and/or bank accounts.

If you are being sued by your credit card company, a debt collector, and/or a hospital/medical services provider in Multnomah County, or a surrounding county in the Portland metro area, please contact me at (503) 847-4329 for a FREE phone consultation to discuss your options.