Can one file bankruptcy after the judge has ruled for one to make monetary payments? I am facing a financial lawsuit that is rather hard for me to prove my innocence and I really dont have a lot of money to hire an attorney for representation. I am considering bankruptcy to try make it go away. If I go to court and the judge rules against me can I still file bankruptcy afterwards or should I just try to file prior to the hearing?
In addition to the good advice the other lawyers gave, I would mention that there are two reasons it is often better to file bankruptcy for a dischargeable debt before rather than after it goes to court: First, if it goes to court first and judgment is entered against you, a lien can later be filed against any property you own, as well as garnishing of your wages and/or bank accounts. Second, the debt going to collection is normally a strike against your credit; then when judgment is entered against you if you lose, your credit score drops again. It also drops further with each post-judgment recorded collection activity, such as garnishment, liens, etc. It is true that filing bankruptcy in itself will bring your credit score way down; but the fewer strikes against your credit, the faster your credit score can be built up again, so it is at least marginally better to avoid as many court judgments, garnishments, liens, etc. as possible going into bankruptcy, as each separate strike depresses your score more; but the day you file, all collection efforts must stop.
If you found my answer useful, please check it as "helpful" here on Avvo. Answers to questions on Avvo are for general informational purposes only. Proper preparation of a bankruptcy case involves many factors and variables, and may lead to a different answer than that given here when all the facts are taken into consideration. The fact that a general question was answered on Avvo does not establish an attorney-client relationship; that only happens when both you and our firm sign a formal contract and a retainer is paid and collected.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
You haven't said what the monentary payments are.
Some judgments are not dischargeable in bankruptcy (such as damages from a DUI, child support, fraud, alimony, many taxes and student loans). Others are.
As a general rule, it is far better to file before than after a judgment. Once there is a judgment, the prevailing party could promptly do granishments, etc against you, and also that judgment becomes a lien on your property, which increases the cost (in some cases) of bankruptcy.
Since you are in a lawsuit you already have an emergency. You need to see a lawyer ASAP to weigh your options (and timing) as well as eligibility for bankruptcy. Feel free to call me with details at 404-768-3509.
If you find this answer helpful, please mark it here on AVVO as helpful. In answering you, I am attempting to communicate general legal information and am not representing you. Do feel free to call me at 404-768-3509 if you wish to discuss actual representation (the phone call also does not retain counsel; that requires an office visit and appropriate paperwork). In that a forum such as this provides me with limited details and doesn't allow me to review details and documents, it is possible that answers here, while meant to be helpful, may in some cases not be complete or accurate, and I highly recommend that you retain legal counsel rather than rely on the answers here. (You can also email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org . An email also does not retain my office, but can help you get an appointment set if you prefer not to call). Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the information contained in this communication and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in my answer should be considered as tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. I am also required to advise you, if your question concerns bankruptcy, that the U.S. Congress has designated Ashman Law Office as a debt relief agency that can help people file bankruptcy.
Provided you qualify to file, yes, you can always file, but depending on the nature of the suit, the debt may not be eligible to be discharged. The few examples that spring to mind include child support, alimony, and suits related to criminal & quasi-criminal offenses, such as drunk driving accidents or fraud.
So I would urge you to take your court paperwork to an experienced local bankruptcy attorney to review.
Hope this perspective helps!
Generally, judgments are dischargeable in bankruptcy, if the underlying debt is dischargeable. For example, debts incurred due to fraud are not dischargeable. So, a judgment for a debt incurred due to fraud is not discharageable. There are other examples, but this area of the law can be complicated. Go see an experienced attorney to help you decide if filing for protection under the bankruptcy code is right for you.
I hope this helps.
Steven A. Leahy
Please note that the above is not intended as legal advice, it is for educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is created or is intended to be created hereby. You should contact a local attorney to discuss and to obtain legal advice.