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Frequently Ask Questions

The law in Louisiana is unlike any other state laws in the United States. Louisiana is unique in that they have not adopted the traditional legal systems of the other 49 states. Louisiana law is based on French and Spanish codes, dating back to Roman law, as opposed to the traditional English common law used in all other states. Because of this, you must find an experienced Louisiana lawyer to represent you in the state, as they will have the special knowledge needed to properly try your case or give you legal advice.

Any lawyer representing you must graduate from an accredited law school and pass the bar exam in Louisiana. Although these are the basic requirements, you should make sure that you only hire a lawyer with significant experience in the area of law you need help with. Familiarity with Louisiana is also very important, as Louisiana has a unique legal system in the United States. Besides a level of expertise in Louisiana law, find a lawyer who practices specifically in the area of law with which you need help.

Do not rely strictly on advertisements when choosing your lawyer. They may not accurately inform you of the level of experience the lawyer has.

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which an individual who cannot pay his or her bills can get a fresh financial start. The right to file for bankruptcy is provided by federal law, and all bankruptcy cases are handled in federal court.

Filing bankruptcy immediately stops all of your creditors from seeking to collect debts from you, at least until your debts are sorted out according to the law.

Bankruptcy cannot, however, cure every financial problem. Nor is it the right step for every individual. In bankruptcy, it is usually not possible to eliminate certain rights of “secured” creditors. A “secured” creditor has taken a mortgage or other lien on property as collateral for the loan. Common examples are car loans and home mortgages. Throughout the bankruptcy process, you can force secured creditors to take payments over time and bankruptcy can eliminate your obligation to pay any additional money if your property is taken. Nevertheless, you generally cannot keep the collateral unless you continue to pay the debt.

You cannot receive a discharge in a Chapter 7 case if you received a discharge under a Chapter 7 case filed in the last eight years or a Chapter 13 filed in the last six years. You cannot receive a discharge in a Chapter 13 case if you received a discharge under a Chapter 7 case filed in the last four years or a Chapter 13 filed in the last two years. If you didn’t receive a discharge in the previous bankruptcy filing, depending on why this is the case, you can file and receive a discharge without any time restrictions.

There are four types of bankruptcy cases provided under the law. Chapter 7 is known as “straight” bankruptcy or “liquidation.” It requires a debtor to give up property which exceeds certain limits called “exemptions”, so the property can be sold to pay creditors. Chapter 11, known as “reorganization”, is used by businesses and a few individual debtors whose debts are very large. Chapter 12 is reserved for family farmers. Chapter 13 is called “debt adjustment”. It requires a debtor to file a plan to pay debts (or parts of debts) from current income.

In a chapter 13 case you file a “plan” showing how you will pay off some of your past-due and current debts over three to five years. The most important thing about a chapter 13 case is that it will allow you to keep valuable property–especially your home and car–which might otherwise be lost, if you can make the payments which the bankruptcy law requires to be made to your creditors. In most cases, these payments will be at least as much as your regular monthly payments on your mortgage or car loan, with some extra payment to get caught up on the amount you have fallen behind.