There are two different court systems in bankruptcy: the federal court system and the state court system. The federal court system deals with Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. Meanwhile, the state courts often try to help the creditors collect money as opposed to helping the debtors pay back what they owe.

If there's a creditor out there not willing to work with you as a debtor, here's what's likely to happen:

  • The creditor will turn over the case to a collections agency, where
    • Agency employees will call you and try to coerce you into making a payment. If that doesn't work,
      • The creditor will enlist the help of an attorney.

Once an attorney gets involved in these cases, they'll generally just go ahead and file a lawsuit. In legal terms, this is known as filing a "complaint" against you. Basically, a complaint is just a formal document submitted to a court system, which says to the judge, "Hey, someone owes money to this creditor, and that money hasn't been paid."

As the defendant in this situation, the court system would then want you to answer that complaint. Now, some people want to give an explanation as to why they've gotten behind or why they can't pay this money they owe, but really all the judge wants to know is whether you owe it or you don't. There are three ways you can answer:

  • You could admit you owe that money in a formal written document.
  • You could dispute the complaint altogether if you feel that a mistake has been made, meaning this isn't money that you owe.
  • You could admit that you owe money but dispute the amount owed if you don't agree with the number the creditor has claimed.

If you live in northern Alabama and are facing a collections dispute (or simply want more information about putting a stop to creditor harassment), a good place to start is by contacting an experienced Huntsville bankruptcy lawyer. My law firm, Jeffrey B. Irby, P.C. is located in Huntsville but offers debt solution services to clients throughout northern Alabama.