You can file before a judgment (and for many reasons it tends to be smarter to file before a judgment). The bankruptcy, assuming you are eligible, will likely eliminate the claim (and end the case). I can tell you that for sure if I look at it.
My office handles bankruptcies in your area. We're located less than 30 minutes from your area and ten minutes from the court. Feel free to call me at 404-768-3509 for a consultation to review your options (you may want to complete our worksheet at www.glenashman.com before coming in, so we can review all your numbers).
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You would benefit from conferring with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, to review your financial situation, because if you qualify, a chapter can likely discharge the debt.
If you file chapter before your trial, you benefit as described by my colleague, because the trial is unnecessary and a potential adverse judgment can be prevented, along with hard feelings and possible complications that this usually causes with the creditor.
General legal advice is offered for educational purposes only. A consultation with a qualified attorney is required to determine specific legal advice as to your situation and applicable law. We are a debt relief agency and we help people file for relief under the bankruptcy laws.
If you qualify to file bankruptcy, your small claims case will go away. Mr. Ashman gave you good advice; he would be a good, knowledgeable attorney to go see.
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You may have valid defenses to the small claims suit . I will be glad to meet with you to discuss the lawsuit and review your overall situation to determine if bankruptcy is a good option for you. Factors to consider include the amount of the other debt; your current income and expenses; and the amount of your assets.