One additional point that should help you with timing. Since you are in Atlanta, most of the metro Magistrate Courts, and those in both Fulton and Dekalb, will allow you a continuance if the case has not been previously on a calendar. You may be able to get this by going to the court prior to the hearing and making the request. If not, you likely can annonce at the calendar call your intention and request that the court continue it until the next available calendar. This will likely buy you 60-90 additional days to save to hire your BK attorney. The courts don't want to wast time dealing with a case that may actually go away with a bankruptcy Discharge. Good luck.
Your small claims action will stop once you file bankruptcy and notify the small claims court by filing a Suggestion of Bankruptcy in that case.
You will list the plaintiff as a creditor in your bankruptcy schedules.
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Small claims cases do not typically involve attorneys. If you have filed bankruptcy, file a copy of your B9A notice and list of creditors (Schedule F) with a cover sheet called "suggestion of bankruptcy."
Hope this perspective helps!
Once you file your Bankruptcy case, you will need to file a “Stay of Bankruptcy” in the court which the civil action has been filed. The Stay of Bankruptcy will reference the Civil action and the date your Bankruptcy case was filed and the Bankruptcy Case Number and that the creditor was listed on the petition. The Stay of Bankruptcy puts the Small Claims Court Judge on notice that you have filed a bankruptcy case and puts the civil action on hold pending the outcome of your bankruptcy case, Once you get a discharge, the creditor should dismiss the action. Be sure to serve a copy of the Stay of Bankruptcy on the Attorney for the creditor, as well as the creditor and the Chapter 7 Trustee. If you have an attorney, he/she will usually do this for you.
Your bankruptcy lawyer will schedule the creditor and likely the court clerk for notices and will Fe a suggestion of bankruptcy once you file. Until you file planning to file doesn't matter.
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First of all, if you did not file a written response to the case, there will be no hearing, and a judgment will issue to allow the creditor to garnish your wages. If you did file a written response, you should try and come to an agreement with the creditor to enter a consent judgement for monthly payments to the creditor. You can then pay them the monthly payments until you are able to file your bankruptcy case. The reason for this is that, if you lose in court, a judgment will be entered for the full amount, and the creditor will start garnishing your wages or attaching your bank account, making it harder to come up with the money to file your bankruptcy. If you do the consent judgment for an amount you can afford, your payments to them will be minimal, and you can get out of the agreement once the case is filed. Once the case is filed, a motion to avoid the lien of the creditor will need to be filed, along with a notice of stay.
These are things your bankruptcy attorney should be handling for you and advising you about already. If not, you may want to find someone more helpful.
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