We are the top bankruptcy law firm in the state and the numerous testimonials of our clients are the best proof of it.  Not only do we file more cases in the state of Oklahoma than any other firm but we care for our clients and we work hard to give you the results you need to start a new life without the stress and worry of unbearable debt.

Clif GoodingAs an Oklahoma Bankruptcy Attorney helping everyday people climb out of crushing debt, I have seen many different financial predicaments walk through my door. The constant through all of these is the hard-working Oklahomans' desire to do the right thing.

Many clients humbly admit to putting off filing bankruptcy because of shame and embarrassment. That they almost didn’t make that trip to my office, but instead almost returned back home. That is why I feel it my duty as a bankruptcy attorney here in Oklahoma to address the issue of bankruptcy as a moral failing.

Filing bankruptcy is not something people try “to get away with.” Filing Bankruptcy is not a sign of moral degeneracy, instead, it is a LEGAL AND LAWFUL proceeding to help everyday people within our society handle the curveballs life has thrown that they just can’t hit. Secondly, filing Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy is not a way to “cheat” your creditors. The reason lending institutions exist in the first place is to provide funds that are inherently at risk of not being paid back. If there was no risk to lending money there would be no need for the institutions in the first place.

Call us today to find out how filing Bankruptcy can help you get a fresh start.

What People Are Saying

I just wanted to thank you and the people from Gooding Law firm for helping me through this ruff time in my life. I would not have been able to go through it without you folks. Believe me when I say that if anyone I know asks about a law firm for help you will be the first word out of my mouth. Again thank you very much.
J. F.

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Helpful Tips

  • The Do's of Bankruptcy

    The Do's of Bankruptcy

    Your conduct and behavior before and during bankruptcy can damage or even be fatal to your case. On the other hand, understanding your rights and responsibilities can minimize your risks. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to help you navigate the pitfalls commonly encountered by those seeking bankruptcy protection.

    • DO take bankruptcy seriously. It is a privilege and courts take a very dim view of abuse of that right.
    • DO be honest. It is against the law to lie in bankruptcy proceedings. You are sacrificing a small portion of your privacy to get a discharge of your debts. If you lie on your petition, or if you conceal assets, you could get in very serious trouble.
    • DO be honest and forthcoming with your attorney. Even if it is embarrassing, even if it makes you look like an idiot or a crook, it is better if your attorney knows. Giving your attorney insufficient information is like hiring a chauffeur and not telling him or her that your brakes don’t work.
    • DO give your attorney EVERYTHING in your relevant financial files, again even if it is embarrassing or incriminating. If you have the document, the odds are someone else does too.
    • DO inform your bankruptcy attorney EVERYONE you owe money to. This includes family members and friends.
    • DO continue making payments on vehicles which you intend to keep. Creditors secured by a car or truck can usually repossess the vehicle without notice to you anytime you are in default in your payments.
    • DO adjust the amount withheld from your pay for taxes to get to as close as possible to getting no refund or owing. You want to be as close to zero as possible. A tax refund is an asset in Chapter 7, and your tax withholding can affect plan payments in Chapter 13. Caution: Don’t reduce the withholding for tax so much that you will have a big tax bill to pay!
    • DO close or keep a minimal amount in your checking and saving accounts at any banks where you also have a credit card or line of credit. If you stop paying on your credit card or line of credit, the bank may go into your checking and savings account and pay your credit card/line of credit.
  • The Don'ts of Bankruptcy

    The Don'ts of Bankruptcy

    Your conduct and behavior before and during bankruptcy can damage or even be fatal to your case. On the other hand, understanding your rights and responsibilities can minimize your risks. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to help you navigate the pitfalls commonly encountered by those seeking bankruptcy protection.

    • DON'T repay loans to friends, relatives or business associates who have lent you money. Payment to an “insider” (which includes relatives, friends and business associates) within one year before you file bankruptcy is a “preference.” The trustee may recover preferences from the person that was paid and divide the money between all of your creditors. You can pay back anyone you like after the bankruptcy. If you have already repaid such a person, we’ll discuss how to handle the situation.
    • DON'T talk to your creditors or bankruptcy trustee directly after you have filed for bankruptcy. Tell them to talk directly to your bankruptcy lawyer. If you receive mail from them, forward it to your attorney immediately.
    • DON'T keep a creditor off your petition for any reason. If you intend to pay them back, you can after the bankruptcy, but you must list them.
    • DON'T run up a lot of bills immediately before you file. If you max out your credit cards or take out a loan before you file, the court could find your petition was filed in bad faith and dismiss it, or except those debts from discharge.
    • DON'T withdraw or borrow from your 401k, IRA and retirement plan to pay bills. Early withdrawal of these funds makes you liable for penalties and taxes which may not be discharged in bankruptcy, and you may be able to exempt and keep all funds maintained in these accounts.
    • DON'T borrow money on your home to pay unsecured (i.e. credit card, utility or medical) bills. If you take out a second mortgage on your home, you may be converting debt which would have been discharged in bankruptcy into debt which you will still have to pay in order to keep your home. These additional payments could be high enough to cause you to lose your home.
    • DON'T put property you own into someone else’s name to avoid it being taken by creditors or the trustee. That kind of transfer is a fraud on creditors and can result in your discharge being denied. In addition, the trustee can take the property from the person to whom it was transferred.
    • DON'T attempt to sell your property for less than what it’s worth. This will not reduce the amount you eventually have to repay — and you or whoever you sold it to may end up stuck with the difference.
    • DON'T run up your credit card debt prior to filing bankruptcy. The court may view this as an attempt to exploit the bankruptcy system, and the judge may treat it accordingly.
    • DON'T buy any luxury items prior to filing for bankruptcy. Contact us today for a free consultation.
  • Bankruptcy Myths Debunked

    Bankruptcy Myths Debunked

    If you think you know all you need to know about the new bankruptcy law, you might want to think again. There's a lot of misinformation out there, and much of what you think you know might not be true.

    A consumer survey conducted by the American Bankers Association showed that more than half of those surveyed were aware that Congress had recently passed a new law, but that doesn't mean those consumers knew what was actually in the legislation.

    And bankruptcy folklore continues to emerge. So much so that Experian, a credit reporting agency, has joined with bankruptcy attorneys to correct the top 10 myths that Experian uncovered.

    Myth No. 1: Consumers can file for bankruptcy as many times as they like.
    Some strict limitations have been set by the new law. Debtors will not be able to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy if they've been through a Chapter 7 within eight years of the new filing. If they want to file for Chapter 13, they will not receive a discharge within two years of a previous Chapter 13 discharge and within four years if they were discharged from a Chapter 7, 11 or 12 bankruptcy.

    Myth No. 2: Filing for bankruptcy will give a consumer a new start with credit.
    Not necessarily. "Bankruptcy is a negative mark on the credit report that will impact a credit score on a consumer's credit profile," says Samah Haggag, manager of analytics for Experian.

    This mark can lead to higher interest rates, the inability to rent an apartment and difficulty getting a job. Haggag advises consumers to consider all options like debt consolidation and credit counseling before attempting to file for bankruptcy.

    Myth No. 3: The car, house and boat can be kept without having to pay off the loans when included in the bankruptcy file.
    You can't keep them without paying the loan," says Jay Westbrook, bankruptcy scholar and professor of the University of Texas Law School at Austin, "assuming that when you bought the car, for instance, you gave the lien on the car for the purchase price."

    He adds that if the vehicle is repossessed and you file before the car or boat is sold you can get it back.

    "In order to do that you have to make sure there's insurance, and you have to agree to pay off the loan in order to keep it."

    Myth No. 4: All debts can be discharged in a bankruptcy filing.
    Bankruptcy experts say certain debts such as child support, student loans and most taxes are not discharged.

    Myth No. 5: When one spouse files bankruptcy it will not affect the other's credit. It will if they have one or more joint accounts.

    "There are laws against causing the bad credit of one spouse to be automatically attributed to the other," says Westbrook. "But, as a practical matter, filing could have a negative effect on the other spouse. It shows up as a bankrupt account."

    He explains that marriage overall is handled differently from other joint accounts. "For example, say a sister files for bankruptcy, provided the brother continues to pay off the account, the brother will not be affected by the bankruptcy."

    Myth No. 6: Filing bankruptcy could cost you your job.
    Technically, this is not true.

    Bankruptcy experts say a current employer can check an employee's or potential employee's credit report provided they have the employee's written permission.

    Employment lawyer Linda Correia of Webster, Fredrickson & Brackshaw in Washington, D.C., says that a statute under the bankruptcy code prohibits discrimination against an individual who is or has been a debtor.

    "However, it prohibits an employment action 'solely' because the individual is or has been a debtor. Courts have interpreted this language very strictly, however, so if the employer proves that one or more other reasons for the action also were at play, and not solely the bankruptcy, the employer prevails," says Correia.

    Myth No. 7: Purchasing a home and obtaining new credit after a bankruptcy is out of the question.
    According to Haggag, creditors and lenders will look at a consumer's most recent credit history more than the past.

    "Each lender varies in their business practices. However, the length of time since the bankruptcy was filed is often taken into consideration by lenders," says Haggag. "Also, most lenders will factor in other items, such as length of time in current employment, income, etc., along with the credit history, in order to make a decision."

    Myth No. 8: A consumer can choose whether to include all their debt in a bankruptcy filing.
    Bankruptcy experts stress that all debts must be listed. Misinformation or neglecting to include certain debts can lead to additional cost and the possible dismissal of the bankruptcy case.

    Myth No. 9: Late payments on a credit report are just as bad as filing for bankruptcy.
    While late payments are frowned upon, they are not viewed as negatively as a bankruptcy filing. "The late payment will be deleted from the credit report after seven years has passed," says Haggag.

    Myth No. 10: A spouse can proceed with filing for joint bankruptcy without getting the other's permission.
    Bankruptcy experts say both spouses must give permission for the filing of a joint bankruptcy.

  • Don't Be Embarrassed to Talk About Bankruptcy

    Don't Be Embarrassed to Talk About Bankruptcy

    by Susanne Robicsek, North Carolina Bankruptcy Attorney

    There are some things that we just don’t talk about, and financial problems are one of those things. Talking about your financial problems is embarrassing. That embarrassment keeps a lot of people from seeking professional help. After all, it is really hard to tell someone that you can’t quite get a handle on your bills.

    Often it is easier to talk to a complete stranger, than someone you know. That is what makes online or phone based credit counseling services so popular. People never have to face the person that is “helping” them.   Beware of these online or over the phone credit counseling agencies.  They normally look at how to try to repay some of your bills, can’t help with all of them, and there is no guarantee that your creditors will work with them.  Many people spend thousands of dollars trying to settle their debts, only to face bankruptcy anyway when the debt management program fails to pay off the debts.   Sometimes people get further into debt, are sued by creditors who don’t want to participate, or they use their money to pay the program only to fall behind on their mortgage, car or utilities.

    If you are having trouble paying your bills, you are not alone. Experts say most Americans are just a paycheck or two away from foreclosure and/or bankruptcy. No one plans their life with a goal of going bankrupt and no one who filed will say that they wanted to do it. Good people file bankruptcy. Hard working people file for bankruptcy. Most people who file for bankruptcy say they tried everything they could to avoid the bankruptcy and would never have taken that final step if they had any other place to turn.

    Don’t be embarrassed to talk to someone about bankruptcy, but make sure that the person you are speaking to is experienced and has your best interest at heart. Attorneys are professionals and have seen situations like yours before. So many people say that once they learn what bankruptcy is and how it really works, that it isn’t at all like they thought it would be. That doesn’t mean it is something anyone should do without serious thought and consideration, but people are surprised at how much it can help, and also that it can help people pay back their debts if they get help soon enough. Many people say that they feel better once they speak to an attorney and see that there is help, and that other people are having the same problems.

    Call us today for a FREE no-obligation initial consultation to see how we can help you get through this without embarrassment or shame.

  • Stop Creditor Harassment

    Stop Creditor Harassment

    Enduring the often relentless harassment of creditor and debt collection agencies can add tremendous stress to already difficult financial problems. Creditors will say anything to get you to agree to their demands, including telling you that you will go to jail for not paying the debt you owe. Yes, they will outright lie to you! The bankruptcy attorneys at The Gooding Law Firm, P.C. are here to help.

    You don't have to put up with threats or intimidation by creditors. Once your bankruptcy petition is filed the law requires creditors to cease all of their collection efforts. Contact our offices today to put a legal end to their actions.

    How We Can Help Stop Credit Harassment

    Our law firm handles bankruptcy exclusively. By focusing our efforts on helping you make a fresh start when you file for personal bankruptcy under  or Chapter 13, we can help stop credit harassment by: 

    • Personally representing you during any bankruptcy action
    • Fielding telephone calls and other inquiries from creditors as soon as you hire us
    • Preventing them from harassing you at work or calling your boss
    • Stopping them from visiting your home or threatening your family
    • Helping you learn what legal actions you can and cannot take against them 

    Burying your head in the sand or pretending they don't exist, WON'T STOP aggressive bill collection agencies and other creditors from making your life miserable. WE CAN MAKE THEM. With our help you can focus on resolving your debt problems and rest assured knowing you have an advocate with extensive experience handling your bankruptcy, including helping you stop credit harassment immediately. Waiting to call until lawsuits, garnishments, and blank attachments hit you is a HUGE mistake.

    Stop Abusive Debt Collectors Today and Avoid Garnishment

    The Gooding Law Firm is one of the leading consumer bankruptcy law firms in Oklahoma. To stop credit harassment, protect your rights and make a fresh start, contact us to speak with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer ready to make a difference in your successful financial recovery. DON'T wait until creditors are suing you left and right, and you are being garnished before you call!

  • 7 Reasons to File Bankruptcy

    7 Reasons to File Bankruptcy

    Written by Jessica Alba

    With rising unemployment and the increased cost of living, many people are having a really tough time making ends meet. The majority of the population is only one paycheck away from financial disaster. Who can save money, when it is already taking two incomes simply to pay for the monthly expenses? Even though it is usually the choice of last resort, there are actually 7 reasons it may be necessary to file bankruptcy.

    The 7 reasons to file bankruptcy all have to do with what the creditors can do to collect their debt. It will be better to take charge of your negative financial situation than wait for the people to whom you owe money to start making your life totally miserable. For example, what about:

    Your Car

    If you get behind on your car payments, and simply wait for the creditor to take action, you can wake up in the morning and find your automobile missing from the driveway. Maybe you are at the grocery store and reach your parking space with a cart full of frozen goods only to find your car gone.

    Instead, it would be better to try and sell your car. You will probably get more for the vehicle than the creditor will if they have to sell it after repossession. You can use the money to satisfy some the debt, and maybe buy yourself a little more time. It would be a lot better than having the surprise of finding your vehicle gone at an inopportune moment.

    Your House

    If you file bankruptcy, you cannot simply be booted out of your home, especially if you have kept up with those payments at least. You have some options. But, if you do not file bankruptcy, foreclosure procedures will be initiated. It takes time. But, you could find yourself without a place to live in 3 months or so.

    However, if you file for bankruptcy protection, you may be able to save your residence from creditors. You will need to discuss the issue with a lawyer, and find out the laws and the different types of bankruptcy. For example, you may want to file chapter 13 and have a repayment plan to pay off at least part of your debt to the people you owe.

    You can file chapter seven, and most of your debts will be wiped out. But, in return, you may have to give up some of your possessions. Either way, creditors will not be able to take away the really important items that are essential to the basic necessities of life.

    Student Loans

    The one financial obligation that will not go away, even if you file for any type of bankruptcy, is student loans. If you do not come to some sort of agreement for their repayment, your wages will be garnished up to 10%, and you will never see that money in your check until the amount of the loan has been satisfied. So, make sure you make the necessary arrangements, no matter how bad your finances have become in the last few years.

    Child Support

    Unfortunately, even if you are going through major financial difficulties, you will still owe child support. After all, your kids still need the basic necessities of life. However, bankruptcy can help get your ex-spouse from harassing your for payment. Whether you have back support due, your support payments can be restructured to get the payments caught up. Plus, most states allow you to go back to court and lower the support if your income has also decreased due to a job change or a layoff.

    Fines

    If you have been ordered by the court to pay fines, do not disregard the payments due. Otherwise, you may quickly find yourself behind bars. But, if you file bankruptcy, and have a slew of parking tickets, for example, they will probably be dischargeable fines. You will owe them no longer.

    However, if you are ordered to pay fines or restitution due to some sort of criminal action, no bankruptcy will fix the problem. You are stuck with what you owe, and you had better go without a meal or two, before you fail to pay, unless you prefer the 3 squares supplied at your local jail.

    Taxes

    Almost everyone in America has heard the saying, “The only 2 sure things in life are death and taxes”. Unfortunately, it is basically true. If you are behind in your taxes, you are obligated to pay, no matter what. In fact, any future tax returns can be confiscated, until your debt to the government is paid in full.

    So, check with the bankruptcy laws, and see if the repayment schedule can be restructured to help you out some. At least bankruptcy can free up some of the money going to other debts, so you can use it for taxes.

    However, you cannot file bankruptcy at all, if you have failed to file your taxes in the past. Even if the government has not caught up with that fact yet, proof of your income and filing go hand-in-hand.

    Lawsuits

    If you do not file bankruptcy, you are a prime target for lawsuits. Then, if you do not contest it in court, an automatic judgment can be placed against you. Even if you fight it, losing will usually result in also paying court costs for you and the plaintiff. Then, your financial woes will only be compounded.

    In short, filing for bankruptcy does not negate all of your financial obligations. But, it will free you from some or most of your debts, so you have more money to pay the others. Plus, some of those financial obligations may be restructured to make them more manageable.

    Call us today to see what financial options are best for your particular situation.

Bankruptcy 101

  • Chapter 7

    Chapter 7

    The purpose of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to give you a fresh start by wiping out most or all of your unsecured debt, such as credit card payments and medical bills. Contrary to common misunderstanding, you may be allowed to keep all of your possessions. At Gooding Law Firm, can explain your options and guide you in filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

    Chapter 7 bankruptcy is liquidation. That means that a bankruptcy trustee will sell ("liquidate") certain property that you own at the time you file the bankruptcy case. The trustee uses the proceeds of the sale to pay creditors. In most cases, you will not have any assets that the trustee can sell because of state and federal laws that may allow you to keep necessities. These laws are called "Exemption Laws" and the property that the trustee may sell is known as "non-exempt" property. If all of your property is Exempt, the trustee will not sell any of your property.

    About 90 days after you file Chapter 7, most of your debts will be discharged, if yours is the typical case. This means you are no longer liable to pay the debt. Some debts are not discharged, however, and you still must pay them. Examples include past-due child support payments, some taxes, and student loans. Debts for which you have pledged Collateral (such as cars, homes and household goods) also do not go away entirely in a bankruptcy.

    Filing for bankruptcy allows you to discharge only the debts you list at the time of the bankruptcy case (your "pre-petition" debts). You must pay debts you incur after the filing the bankruptcy case as usual. You may keep the money that you earn after filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, as well as most other property that you obtain after the filing.

    Who Can Declare Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

    Chapter 7 can be a fast, simple and effective way to deal with unmanageable debt-but it isn't a solution for everyone. Gooding Law Firm can help you decide if Chapter 7 is right for you, although in general, you're a good candidate if:

    • You have no other recent bankruptcy.
      If your debts have been discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the past eight years or in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy within the past six years, you cannot file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
    • You meet low-income standards.
      In this case, "low income" means that your current monthly income is less than or equal to the median income for a Florida family of your size. If your income is greater than the median, you must meet a bankruptcy means test to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The means test helps to determine if your disposable income is sufficient to repay at least some of your unsecured debt.
    • You have received credit-counseling services.
      To qualify for relief under Chapter 7, you must have participated in a credit-counseling program with an approved agency within 180 days prior to filing. If you've had a previous bankruptcy case dismissed within the past 180 days, you cannot file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In addition, if bankruptcy court rules that you've concealed property or assets, lied about your income on a credit application, or engaged in other dishonest activities, your case may be dismissed. Truthfulness is absolutely essential when filing bankruptcy.

    What Does Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Involve?

    Gooding Law Firm can assist you in completing the paperwork necessary to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and answer any questions you may have regarding Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules.

    • First, you must prepare a voluntary bankruptcy petition and in-depth schedules of your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. You must also furnish proof of income, copies of your most recent tax returns, and confirmation that you've participated in credit counseling prior to filing, as required by law.
    • When your bankruptcy petition has been filed electronically with the help of your bankruptcy lawyer, an automatic stay will go into effect. This temporary order protects you from further collection attempts and the threat of repossession or foreclosure on your home or other property.
    • Between 20 and 40 days, after you file your petition, the case trustee will call a meeting of creditors, which you'll attend with your bankruptcy lawyer. You'll answer questions to demonstrate that you understand the potential consequences of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You may also be asked for additional information about your financial situation.
    • If there are no objections to your petition or schedules, you should receive your discharge from debt within 90 days following the meeting of creditors. A Chapter 7 discharge is a release from any personal liability for most of your debts, and it prevents the creditors associated with these debts from taking any further collection action against you.

    How Much Property Do I Keep?

    Only Exempt property, which usually means necessities. A Trustee appointed by the court will sell the rest of your property to pay people you owe (your Creditors).

    How Much Time Does it Take?

    Two to three months.

    What Happens to My Credit Report?

    Stays on your credit report for 10 years.

    What Happens to my Retirement Account or Pension if I File Bankruptcy?

    You will be allowed to keep it.

  • Chapter 13

    Chapter 13

    When you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you agree on a plan to catch up on delinquent payments and repay your creditors over time. Chapter 13 provides a way to prevent foreclosure on your home or repossession of your car or other collateral. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine if filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the right choice for you.

    Why Chapter 13 May Be Right for You

    Many people choose not to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy because it requires repayment of at least some debt. A local bankruptcy lawyer can explain the advantages and drawbacks of Chapter 13. Filing Chapter 13 may be a good choice for you if:

    • You have substantial unsecured debt.
      In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you'll pay off tax obligations, student loans, and other debts that can't be discharged when filing Chapter 7.
    • You have non-exempt property that you wish to keep.
      Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to keep your personal property-even your non-exempt possessions.
    • Your home is in danger of foreclosure.
      Under Chapter 13, you can stop foreclosure or repossession proceedings as you catch up with late payments over time.
    • You wish to protect a friend or relative who is your co-debtor. 
      As long as you follow the Chapter 13 payment plan established by the court, your creditors will not seek payment from the co-signer on your credit card or loan.

    Who Can File Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

    Chapter 13 bankruptcy is available to individuals only. If you are a business owner who wishes to file Chapter 13, you must file as an individual, but you may include any business-related debts for which you are personally responsible. A local bankruptcy lawyer can determine your eligibility to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but in general:

    • You must be current on filing your tax returns.
      In order to declare Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must be able to prove that you've filed your federal and state income tax returns for the past four years.
    • Your debts can't exceed certain limits. You cannot file Chapter 13 bankruptcy if your unsecured debts are greater than $360,475 or if your secured debts are more than $1,081,400.
    • You must have sufficient disposable income. To file Chapter 13, you must provide proof of enough steady income (after certain allowed expenses) to repay your creditors. Wages, commissions, unemployment benefits and payments from a pension plan are just some of the sources you can use to fund your repayment plan. If you're married, your working spouse's income also qualifies as a source of income.

    Like Chapter 7, Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires proof that you've received credit counseling from an approved agency within 180 days prior to filing bankruptcy. Additionally, you cannot file under Chapter 13 if you've had a bankruptcy case dismissed or failed to comply with bankruptcy court orders within the past 180 days.

    What's Involved With Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

    Below is an overview of the process of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

    • Your bankruptcy lawyer will begin by helping you prepare a voluntary bankruptcy petition and detailed schedules of your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. You'll be required to provide proof of income, copies of your tax returns for the last four years, and confirmation that you've participated in the mandatory credit counseling. In addition, you must develop a reasonable payment plan that outlines how you will pay off your debts. This plan must be filed with the court and is subject to court approval.
    • After your bankruptcy lawyer assists you in electronically filing your bankruptcy petition, an automatic stay will take effect. This temporary order will protect you from harassment by creditors and your home and other property from foreclosure or repossession.
    • Within 30 days of filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13, you must begin to make monthly payments to the court-appointed trustee based on the terms of your proposed payment plan-even if the plan has not yet been confirmed by the court.
    • After the meeting of creditors, your proposed repayment plan will be reviewed at a confirmation hearing. When your plan is approved, you'll begin to make the scheduled payments to the trustee; these payment amounts may or may not be the same as those you originally proposed. The trustee will, in turn, pay your creditors, some of whom will receive 100% of what you owe, while others receive a greatly reduced amount. High-priority debts-such as child support and tax obligations-are usually paid in full.

    What Property Do I Keep?

    All of your property. You pay your debts out of future income.

    How Much Time Does it Take?

    Three to five years. During this time, you will be paying people you owe a portion of what you owe them.

    What Happens to my Credit Report?

    Stays on your credit report for 7 years.

    What Happens to my Retirement Account or Pension if I File for Bankruptcy?

    You will be allowed to keep it.

  • Chapter 11

    Chapter 11

    A Chapter 11 filing is usually done by a business looking for debt relief. Below you’ll find information regarding how a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case gets started, how it progresses through the hearings and documentation-heavy phases, how a disposition is reached and ultimately how you should proceed if your business needs to find a way out from under mounting financial pressure.

    Businesses and Companies filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Oklahoma

    There are two points that need to be made in regards to filings under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code:

    • A Chapter 11 case can either be voluntarily filed by the debtor or involuntary by creditors under certain conditions.
    • Although it’s rare, individuals can file for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.

    If an entity files a Chapter 11 reorganization case, the petitioner will need to provide the Bankruptcy Court with the following documents:

    • Schedules of assets and liabilities
    • A schedule of current income and expenditures
    • A schedule of executory contracts and unexpired leases
    • A statement of financial affairs

    If the petitioner is an individual, he or she must also file:

    • A certificate of credit counseling and a copy of any debt repayment plan developed through credit counseling
    • Evidence of payment from employers, if any, received 60 days before filing
    • A statement of monthly net income and any anticipated increase in income or expenses after filing
    • A record of any interest the debtor has in federal or state qualified education or tuition accounts

    In addition to the documentation required above, the company filing bankruptcy must pay a $1,000.00 filing fee along with a $39 miscellaneous fee. However, individual debtors can pay the fee in up to four installments.

    Progression of the OK Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case

    When the petitioner files the appropriate documentation, the case progresses to the next phase. This phase can include several complicated steps. The most critical step that’s taken at this point is the filing of the Plan of Reorganization.

    The Plan of Reorganization is basically a proposal for how the business filing bankruptcy protection will operate for the foreseeable future based on its income, its assets and its liabilities. Since the majority of filings under this chapter are done by businesses and it’s difficult to predict the specific amount of revenue that will be generated, the petitioner basically becomes what’s known as the Debtor in Possession of the estate. When a valid petition and plan are filed, the court will generally issue an Automatic Stay, which prevents creditors from continuing their collection efforts.

    The Debtor in Possession is charged with making day-day decisions regarding how to proceed given the current circumstances, but that party does not have unfettered discretion in terms of those decisions. The court also generally names members to a Creditor’s Committee, and that committee helps to oversee the bankruptcy estate with the Debtor in Possession.

    After a plan is presented, it is offered to creditors to either approve it or to make motions against it. These motions usually concern parties who seek relief from the Automatic Stay, the desire to obtain credit for the operation or questions regarding how to deal with cash or even loan collateral.

    If a creditor wants a say in how the bankruptcy estate will be managed, that creditor must also file a claim with the court. This claim states in general that the debt tied to that creditor is in dispute in some way. In essence, the filing of a claim preserves the right to file an adversarial proceeding at some point during the case whether the creditor is listed on the schedule of creditors or not.

    Disposition of the Chapter 11 Case in Oklahoma

    Ultimately, after the bankruptcy plan has been presented but before it’s voted on for approval, the debtor must file a written disclosure statement with the court that basically provides all parties with enough information about the affairs of the debtor to allow the creditors to make an informed judgment about the plan at issue. If the disclosure statement is approved, the debtor must file the following documents with the court, according to the United States Code:

    • The plan, or a court approved summary of the plan
    • The disclosure statement approved by the court
    • Notice of the time within which acceptances and rejections of the plan may be filed
    • Other information as the court may direct, including any opinion of the court approving the disclosure statement or a court-approved summary of the opinion

    If no problems arise during the last few steps of the process, the plan is accepted, the debts are discharged and the entity follows the tenets of the plan. If all payments are made and no additional issues arise during the plan’s existence, then the court will issue a final decree when the plan is complete.

    Filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy with an Oklahoma City Attorney

    If you need a reorganization of your assets, debts, and liabilities and need the time and peace of mind to do so without creditors hounding you, contact The Gooding Law Firm today to schedule an initial consultation.

  • Foreclosure

    Foreclosure

    Foreclosure is the legal process by which a lender forces the sale of real property in order to be repaid the money it has loaned the buyer of the real property.

    The process of foreclosure is regulated by state law and therefore the procedural aspects of foreclosure will vary from state-to-state. Some states require “judicial foreclosure” while other states allow “non-judicial foreclosure” and there are even states that allow both methods of foreclosure.

    Here in Oklahoma, both judicial and non-judicial foreclosures are allowed.

    Non-Judicial Foreclosure

    If a mortgage or deed of trust contains a “power-of-sale clause,” the lender may foreclose without having to file a lawsuit. A power-of-sale clause is a clause in a deed of trust or mortgage, in which the borrower pre-authorizes the sale of the property to pay off the balance on a loan in the event of their default.

    In deeds of trust or mortgages where a power-of-sale exists, the power given to the lender to sell the property may be executed by the lender or their representative, typically referred to as the trustee. Regulations for this type of foreclosure process are outlined below in the “Power-of-Sale Foreclosure Guidelines”.

    Judicial Foreclosure

    The judicial process of foreclosure, which involves filing a lawsuit to obtain a court order to foreclose, is used when no “power-of-sale” clause is present in the mortgage or deed of trust. Generally, after the court declares a foreclosure, your home will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

    However, unless the borrower waives the right to an appraisal in the mortgage, the property must be appraised before it can be sold at foreclosure. At the foreclosure sale, the property may not be sold for less than two-thirds of the appraised value.

    A lender may sue to obtain a deficiency judgment, but the action must be taken within ninety (90) days after the date of sale. There can be no redemption once the court confirms the foreclosure sale.

    Power-of-Sale Foreclosure Guidelines

    If the deed of trust or mortgage contains a power of sale clause and specifies the time, place and terms of sale, then the specified procedure must be followed. Otherwise, the non-judicial power of sale foreclosure is carried out as follows:

    A written notice of intention to foreclose by power of sale must be sent by certified mail to the borrower at the borrower’s last known address. The notice must describe the defaults of the borrower under the loan, and give the borrower thirty-five (35) days from the date the notice is sent to cure the problem. If the borrower cures the default within the thirty-five (35) days, then the foreclosure can be stopped. However, if there have been three (3) defaults, then the lender need not send another notice of intent to foreclose, and if the borrower has been in default four (4) times in the past twenty-four (24) months, and has been notified as above, then no further notice will be required.

    1. The notice must be recorded in the county where the property is located within ten (10) days after the borrower has gone through the thirty-five (35) day notice period.

    The notice must appear in a newspaper in the county where the property is located once a week for four (4) consecutive weeks, with the first publishing being not less than thirty (30) days before the sale.

    Said notice must state the names of the borrower and lender, describe the property (including the street address) and state the time and place of sale.

    The property must be sold at public auction to the highest bidder at the time and on the date specified in the notice. If the highest bidder at the sale is anyone other than the borrower, they must post cash or certified funds equal to ten (10) percent of the bid amount. If the highest bidder is unable to do so, then the lender may proceed with the sale and accept the next highest bid.

    If you’re facing home foreclosure in Oklahoma and would like to know more, contact The Gooding Law Firm. We will respond immediately and will show you why we are the best in the business. Call us today!

  • Taxes

    Taxes

    You may hear commercials offering the hope of eliminating income tax debts in bankruptcy. But it’s not as simple as it sounds.

    For example, if the income taxes you owe are for one of the last three tax years, then they can’t be wiped out (discharged) in bankruptcy — you’ll continue to owe them at the end of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, or you’ll have to repay them in full in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan.

    If you need to discharge tax debts, Chapter 7 bankruptcy will probably be the better option — but only if your debts qualify for discharge (see below) and you are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

    You can discharge (wipe out) debts for federal and state income taxes in Chapter 7 bankruptcy only if all of the following conditions are true:

    • You did not commit fraud or willful evasion. If you filed a fraudulent tax return or otherwise willfully attempted to evade paying taxes, such as using a false Social Security number on your tax return, bankruptcy can’t help.
    • The debt is at least three years old. To eliminate a tax debt, the tax return must have been originally due at least three years before you filed for bankruptcy.
    • You filed a tax return. You must have filed a tax return for the debt you wish to discharge at least two years before filing for bankruptcy.
    • You pass the “240-day rule.” The income tax debt must have been assessed by the IRS at least 240 days before you file your bankruptcy petition, or must not have been assessed yet. (This time limit may be extended if the IRS suspended collection activity because of an offer in compromise or a previous bankruptcy filing.)

    If your taxes qualify for discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, your victory may be bittersweet. This is because bankruptcy will not wipe out prior recorded tax liens. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will wipe out your personal obligation to pay the debt and prevent the IRS from going after your bank account or wages, but if the IRS recorded a tax lien on your property before you file for bankruptcy, the lien will remain on the property. In effect, this means you’ll have to pay off the tax lien in order to sell the property.

    If you would like to speak with a knowledgeable attorney regarding the discharge of taxes in bankruptcy, contact us today to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

  • Medical Bills

    Medical Bills

    In 2005, the federal government enacted new bankruptcy laws making it more difficult for individuals to qualify for a Chapter 7 liquidation proceeding. The petitioner must be able to pass the Chapter 7 “means test” before they can be eligible. Their income over the past six months must be below the average median income for their family size in the state where they file. If they are approved for Chapter 7, all of their unsecured debts can be discharged, including medical bills, credit card debt and personal bank loans.

    If the individual or couple is unable to qualify for Chapter 7, they can file for Chapter 13. This requires them to submit a repayment plan to the court outlining how they intend to pay back their creditors over a 3 to 5-year period. Once the bankruptcy court approves the plan, a Trustee will be appointed to collect a monthly payment from the debtor. The Trustee will use these monies to pay each creditor a portion of what is currently owed on the debt. Once the repayment plan is concluded, any remaining unsecured debt will be discharged.

    The bankruptcy laws in Oklahoma are some of the most generous in the nation when it comes to protecting their home, cars, pension plan, tools of their trade and even provides a $3,000 exemption for wedding and anniversary rings. When you are facing bankruptcy due to mounting debts that are unsecured by collateral, it may be beneficial to discharge your debts and start with a clean slate.

    Contact us today for a FREE initial consultation to find out how we can help get you back on your feet.

  • Repossession

    Repossession

    Are you threatened with repossession?

    When you buy or lease an item on credit, you are obligated to make consistent payments for that item. If you fail to meet these payments, a creditor can seek legal action to repossess the item. Repossessions often happen with cars and other motor vehicles, but any item can be repossessed if payments are not made. Repossessions often come with little warning and seizure can take place at almost any time. If are under the threat of repossession, or had an item repossessed, you need to discuss your options with an Oklahoma repossession attorney.

    Options for Repossessions

    The most common form of repossession relief is the filing of bankruptcy. Depending on your financial situation you may file for either chapter 13 or chapter 7 bankruptcy. When an individual files for bankruptcy, the court orders all repossessions and debt collection s to halt. This is called an "order of relief". Individuals are given a specific period of time to reorganize their debt and establish a new payment plan for all of their debts. We can also pursue negotiation with your creditors or bank. A new payment plan can be negotiated for certain individuals so consistent payments can once again be made. Our law firm can help you fight any repossession. We can review your case to determine whether bankruptcy, negotiations or other options are available to you. Regardless of choice, our law firm will fight aggressively for your rights and best interests.

    We are prepared to take legal action on your behalf. Fighting repossession requires a skilled law firm with years of experience. Call us today for a FREE consultation to see how we can help you.

Member of National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Member of American Bankruptcy Institute Super Lawyers - Clif Gooding

Contact Us

Telephone: 405-948-1978
Toll-Free: 1-866-296-9179
Fax: 405-948-0864
info@goodingfirm.com

Main Office Location

In the City Place Building at:
204 N. Robinson Avenue
Suite 650
Oklahoma City, OK 73102