If you have assessed your financial situation and determined that the only option for managing your debt is to pursue bankruptcy, there are two primary ways to file. The first is to hire a qualified attorney that can guide you through the process. The second is to file your own bankruptcy, a process called “filing pro se.”
While filing bankruptcy on your own is technically an option, the website USCorts.gov strongly recommends bankruptcy filers utilize a qualified attorney with expertise in bankruptcy proceedings.
What are the risks of filing pro se?
Bankruptcies are managed through federal court. There are very specific forms, formulas, and deadlines involved in the process, and failing to follow every requirement can get your bankruptcy dismissed from court. This can result in a significant loss of time and fees paid to the court.
Losing money in fees paid can be particularly painful at a time when an individual or business is struggling with overwhelming debt. Less obvious, yet also a big risk, is the loss of time. In bankruptcy proceedings, the debtor often receives “protection” from creditors, meaning that creditors cannot attempt to collect a debt covered in the bankruptcy. The collection calls and letters stop. If your bankruptcy is delayed, creditors have more time to assertively pursue payment, repossess property, place liens, and more.
It is important to note that there are six different types of bankruptcy. Each type of bankruptcy has its own set of rules for filing and offers different protections.