This is a hard question to answer without sitting down and looking at the rest of your financial picture. The correct response has to include knowledge of what assets you might be putting at risk and the ease with which your creditors can come for you.
If the real question is: "I'm broke and can't afford a couple thousand bucks to file for bankruptcy, so what's the real risk by not doing anything?" AND you don't have any assets that your creditors can grab, then you may be okay because you are essentially judgment-proof. But you are taking a risk if you read what I put here and then count on it, because I don't know your specific situation near as well as I need to before I'd say to just relax and hope for the best.
I'm not your attorney; my answer to your question includes assumptions. If you want me to be your attorney, I'm easy to find.
As a general rule, I recommend filing before a judgment is entered for a variety of reasons. A judgment may be worded in a way that gives the creditor a basis for objecting to the discharge that doesn't exist if there is no judgment. Further, untangling some of the consequences of a judgment, such as a lien or attachment, can be costly in many instances.
Nothing will substitute for a personal consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. You will never regret retaining the best attorney in your community to help resolve your legal problems.
Hope this perspective helps!
Regarding the civil judgment, it will depend on what the judgment is for. If you are civily liable due to things like fraud, drunk driving, is intentional torts, then those judgments will not be able to be discharged anyway.
However, if the civil suit is for some other reason, then the judgment may be discharged and you should thus wait until after the judgment is entered to see if you can discharge the debt. (this may be expensive if they challenge)
The credit card debt can be discharged anytime. The only danger in the short term is if they garnish your paycheck. I would really find a local BK attorney, a GOOD one, and talk about it. Timing could end up costing or saving you a LOT of money
Matthew Johnson (Johnson Legal Group, PLLC 206.747.0313) is licensed in the State of Washington and performs bankruptcy, short sale negotiations, and estate planning in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. The response does not constitute specific legal advice, which would require a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter; rather, it is intended to be general legal information based on the limited information provided by the inquirer; it This response also does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established after a conflict of interest evaluation is completed, your case is accepted, and a fee agreement is signed