The most dramatic change to affect the bankruptcy laws in years went into effect this morning. Those who file for bankruptcy now face stricter requirements and added steps in the process.
But this won't be a problem for most in the Wiregrass. Most in the Wiregrass who file for bankruptcy earn below the required income, and are still eligible for a fresh start. The only change they will notice is more paperwork. For most attorneys in the Wiregrass, the number of people who filed for bankruptcy in the past two weeks multiplied ten-fold.
But the idea that bankruptcy is no longer an option is not true. Under the new law, many will have to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy and help pay off their own debt, but in the Wiregrass most who file will qualify for Chapter 7 because of the low income requirement.
Everyone who files as of Monday has to provide more paperwork, ranging from showing proof of income to participating in mandatory credit and financial management counseling. The counseling services offered are available online. Most lawyers offer bankruptcy consultation free of charge.
Bankruptcy filings across the nation have been up more than 1,000 percent. This time last year, 30,000 people were filing. So far this year, more than 100,000 have already filed.