We firmly believe in the principles of integrity and responsibility as we strive to provide high quality legal services. We bring in new perspectives to solve the problems of our clients. We believe in providing innovative solutions to your legal needs. We have the experience to work on a wide range of simple as well as challenging cases.  Whenever you are in a critical situation, you can always count on us.  We are here to answer your questions and concerns.

consumer bankruptcy cases

Take a look at the practice areas of the Law Offices of William R. Sotter, PC:

  • Consumer and Small Business Bankruptcy
  • Chapter 7 and Chapter 13
  • A Debt Relief Agency Helping People File Bankruptcy Under The Bankruptcy Code

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One of the primary purposes of any bankruptcy is to discharge certain debts to give a debtor a "fresh start."  A debtor generally has no liability for discharged debts after the case is completed except some particular debts excluded by law from discharge including, but not limited to, the following: taxes, student loans, child support and criminal fines and penalties. 

Debtors who have primarily consumer debts may be eligible for two different types of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.  The first determination is whether or not bankruptcy is appropriate for the debtor and, if it is appropriate, to then determine which type of bankruptcy best fits the debtor’s situation.  Debtors can retain property (house, cars, etc.) in either type of bankruptcy and protect the property from creditors.  Spouses can file either type of bankruptcy together or one spouse can file without the other spouse filing.

Chapter 7

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is usually used by debtors that have substantial debts that are not secured by collateral such as credit card or medical debts, and the debtor can no longer afford to make some or all of their payments to these creditors.  This is often accompanied by a debtor’s loss or change of employment or a change in employability such as becoming disabled.

The primary purpose of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to obtain a discharge of your existing debts. A case lasts approximately four months from the time it is filed and generally requires the client to make one appearance at a meeting of creditors about a month after the case is filed.  Debtors must attend the meeting and answer questions regarding the debtor's financial affairs and property. If a husband and wife have filed a joint petition, they both must attend the creditors' meeting.

A bankruptcy begins with the debtor filing a petition with the bankruptcy court covering the county where the debtor lives or where the business debtor is organized or has its principal place of business or principal assets.

Filing a petition "automatically stays" (stops) most collection actions against the debtor or the debtor's property (also includes co-debtors in Chapter 13 cases).  But filing the petition does not stay certain specific types of actions and the stay may be effective only for a short time in some situations.  As long as the stay is in effect, creditors may not start or continue legal actions such as foreclosures, lawsuits and garnishments and creditors must stop sending collection letters and making phone calls demanding payments. The court gives notice of the bankruptcy case to all creditors who are listed by the debtor, so it is important to get all creditors listed in the petition.

Chapter 13

The primary purpose of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to reorganize debts by developing a plan that is filed with the bankruptcy court.  A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is for debtors that have regular income and can afford to pay some or all of their creditors but need to extend the time for making such payments.  While it can be used for many purposes, it is most often used by debtors to help pay for a house and/or car or to protect equity in assets owned by the debtor.  Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debtor develops a plan to handle the debts over a period of at least 3 years and no more than 5 years and submits the plan to the bankruptcy court for approval.  

Debtor’s payments to the Chapter 13 trustee under the plan must start within 30 days after the case is filed and are usually made through a payroll deduction (or directly if retired or unemployed).   If the court approves the plan, the Chapter 13 trustee will disburse the money received from the debtor according to the plan.  The plan may need to be modified to get court approval (it can be changed during the case if necessary).

If a debtor wants to keep the collateral secured by a particular debt, the plan must provide that the holder of the debt receive at least the value of the collateral.  If the debt was used to buy collateral (e.g., a car loan) and the debt was incurred within certain time frames before the bankruptcy filing, the plan must provide for full payment of the debt, not just the value of the collateral.   Payments to certain secured creditors such as home mortgage lenders may be made over the original loan repayment schedule (may be longer than the plan) so long as any arrearage is made up during the plan.  Creditors must file claims with the court to participate in distributions made by the trustee.

After completing the payments under the plan, most of the debts are discharged.  Some particular debts may not be discharged under the law including, but not limited to, the following: income and property taxes, student loans, child support and alimony as well as most fines, penalties, forfeitures and criminal restitution obligations.

If filing a bankruptcy is appropriate for you, it can be done fairly quickly once all of the information is provided, because all of the filings are done electronically.  To get started, a free initial consultation appointment is arranged at which the debtor should try to provide as much of the following information as possible: recent pay stubs, recent tax return, recent bank statements, a list of all assets owned [for example, real estate (houses and land), cars/trucks and other vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts] and a list of all creditors any money is owed to. If you have not reviewed your credit report for awhile, it may be beneficial to obtain a copy and review it.  Free credit reports may be obtained online at


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Contact Information

Law Offices of William R. Sotter, PC

230 College Ave.
Athens, GA 30601

Phone: 706-548-7994

Business Hours:
Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Other appointments available.