Divorce Frequently Asked Questions Virtual and Online Law Office Consumer Related Frequently Asked Questions Mortgage Related Issues Frequently Asked Questions Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is an Online Law Office? A virtual online law office is designed with your convenience in mind without any compromise to the quality of legal representation that you are entitled to receive. Once you register, you will have your own secure, private client portal from which you can interact with Ms. Garrett to obtain the legal services you need. In addition, you can confidentially check the status of your case, receive your legal documents, provide us with a document to review and even pay your invoice from the comfort of your home or office. The beauty of the online law office is that it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

Q. Is an Online Law Office secure? Absolutely! The online law office provides clients the same protection used by online banking. Communications through the online law office are done over Secure HTTP, which provides you with the highest industry standard protection available on the web.

Q. What is a “Virtual Law Office? A virtual office is an office that is geared towards the online user. It’s designed with convenience in mind—for the consumer. The Law Office of Linda C. Garrett is not a brick-and-mortar law office. Less overhead translates into lower legal rates. Unlike attorneys who have high overhead and the pressure of (and temptation) of generating high legal fees, Ms. Garrett does not have this pressure. As a result, she can afford to charge reasonable fees—based solely on the needs of her clients. If a bank can be an online bank (such as Ally or ING Direct), why can’t a law office?

Q. What if I want to meet Ms. Garrett in person? Great! If you are local, you can meet Ms. Garrett at local winery-and talk privately while eating cheese and crackers. If you are not local, then Ms. Garrett is equipped to Skype with you—the second best thing to meeting in person.

Q. Nothing personal, but how can I get assurances that Ms. Garrett is trustworthy? First, check Ms. Garrett’s status with the State Bar of California to determine if any disciplinary action has been taken against her; second, check Ms. Garrett's Better Business Bureau Rating to determine her rating with the BBB; third, Google Ms. Garrett’s name to determine if any negative statements have been made by others. In fact, it’s important that a consumer do a background check on anybody or company before they do business with them.

Limited Scope versus Full Scope Representation

Q. What is full-scope legal representation? This is the traditional type of legal representation that an attorney provides a client. Specifically, the attorney represents you throughout the entire legal process and it is his or her name on all legal documents. For example, a full-scope attorney prepares all legal documents and, represents you in court. In a divorce case, for example, the attorney represents you in connection with all issues related to your divorce, such as dissolving the marriage, dividing all assets and debt and retirement accounts, resolving custody issues, visitation issues and child and spousal support issues.

Q. What are unbundled (limited-scope) legal services? Unbundles legal services are also known as “limited scope” legal services. In this scenario, the legal services are “unbundled.” That is to say that the attorney provides less than the “full” legal services as outlined in the “full-scope legal representation”. Document preparation and/or legal coaching are examples of limited-scope/unbundled legal services. In another example of unbundled legal services, the client may represent himself regarding the simple, uncontested matters, such as dividing assets and debts, and hire an attorney to represent him in complex matters, such as custody and support matters. Whenever possible, it is recommended that you hire an attorney to provide full-scope legal services; however, if you can’t afford to do so, this is an excellent alternative. Unbundled services are not only good for the consumer, but also good for the overly-burdened court system. As it currently stands, approximately 70% of individuals are not represented by legal counsel. As a result, these unrepresented “pro se” individuals make numerous legal and procedural mistakes—causing undue delays and continuances for the pro se party and the overly-burdened judicial system.

Q. What can legal coaching do for me? In a word, lots! Let’s say, for example, your spouse refuses to voluntary pay child support, resulting in the need for you to file a motion for child support. As a coach, Ms. Garrett is able to explain the procedural process in connection with filing your Motion or Order to Show Cause Regarding Child Support. The procedural process includes, but is not limited to, when to file, how to file, documents you need to attach to your motion, and so on. Ms. Garrett could also coach you to prepare for your hearing—explaining, step-by-step, what you can expect on the day you go to court; and, explaining how and when to make legal arguments. Legal coaching is like having a legal angel over your shoulder so that you are not going to court totally confused and in the dark. Legal coaching is an excellent alternative when you cannot afford full legal representation. Legal coaching works great in all areas of practice listed on this website.

Q. How much does it usually cost to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

$1,500.00 attorney's fees (single or joint filing)
$306.00 filing fee (increased from $299)
$50.00 credit report
Pre-bankruptcy counseling – from $25-45 (in some instances, fee can be waived)
Post-bankruptcy counseling—from $20-$45 (in some instances, fee can be waived.

Q. What exactly is a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is considered a "liquidation of debts" bankruptcy. The Debtor (that's you) receives a discharge of almost all their debts-- a court order stating that you no longer have to pay your creditors. The process usually takes approximately four months. The goal of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a financial “fresh start.”

Q. Is it difficult for me to file a Chapter 7 under the new bankruptcy laws?

For the vast majority of debtors, Chapter 7 is still available . The main difference between the two is that there is more paperwork under the new laws. Linda Garrett will take care of all of the paperwork and court appearances for you!

Q. Will my creditors stop harassing me if I file bankruptcy?

Yes, of course! By law, all actions taken against a debtor must stop immediately after the documents are filed with the court. This means that creditors cannot start or continue any creditor lawsuits, wage garnishments, bank levies or even telephone calls demanding payment.

Q. Will my spouse be affected if I file bankruptcy?

Not directly. However, California is a community property state, so it is generally recommended that both parties file jointly, as both husband and wife may be liable for the other spouse’s debts. Ask Ms. Garrett more direct questions on this topic when you talk with her.

Q. Who will know that I filed for bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy filings are considered public records. However, under normal circumstances, no one, except you, will know that you filed bankruptcy. Someone would need to specifically search court files to discover your bankruptcy filing.

Q. How often can I file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

You may file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case once every 8 years. If you have received a discharge in another chapter of bankruptcy within the last several years, this might also affect your eligibility to receive a discharge in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Q. Isn't consolidation of debts better for my credit than Bankruptcy?

It depends. In many cases, consolidation is not better for your credit. Chapter 7 will cost you less money and you will rebuild your credit rating faster than if you had tried to consolidate. Before considering hiring a non-profit creditor counseling group, do your homework—research the company on the internet to determine, amongst other things, their BBB Rating.

Q. Can I keep my credit cards after I file bankruptcy?

Whether a debtor keeps credit cards after filing for Bankruptcy depends on the credit card company. But in most cases, even if you have a zero balance, the credit card company can require you to cancel or close your account.

Q. Can I get more credit after filing for Bankruptcy?

Yes! To qualify for the purchase of a home, it usually takes two years after filing bankruptcy to qualify. You should also be able to obtain credit cards shortly after having filed for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Only you can decide if obtaining further credit cards is in your best interest.

Q. Can my employer fire me for filing bankruptcy?

No, they cannot. United States Code Section 525 prohibits any employer for discriminating against you because filed for bankruptcy. However, keep in mind that filing bankruptcy can affect some types of employment, e.g. individuals having high-security clearance in government jobs.

Q. Will I lose personal or real property by filing a Chapter 7?

In almost all cases the answer is "No!" If you qualify for Chapter 7, almost all the property you have will be considered EXEMPT (protected from collections by the court and/or creditors). Secured property (homes, cars, etc.) with loans against them will be exempt and can be kept SO LONG AS YOU STAY CURRENT AND KEEP CURRENT ON YOUR MONTHLY PAYMENTS.

Q. Do I have to go to Court?

Yes. You are required to appear once at a court hearing, which will be held 20 to 40 days after the date of filing your petition. You will not be in a courtroom and you will not see a judge. Ms. Garrett will be present with you while a court trustee asks you a few simple questions. You will not be alone!

Q. What role does my attorney play in filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Legal Advisor
Handles all creditor calls
Prepares all necessary bankruptcy paperwork
Appears at court hearing with you
Works with you to protect your assets

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