If you’re facing a difficult financial situation, there’s a good chance that bankruptcy has at least crossed your mind at some point. Regardless of whether you’re considering filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the state of Georgia, there are some strict requirements you’ll need to follow. Specifically, Georgia law requires that you attend both credit counseling and debtor education programs, which are courses designed to help you better understand the process of filing for bankruptcy and equip you with the knowledge you need to enjoy a more financially stable future.
Still, many people tend to confuse credit counseling and debtor education, or assume they’re the same thing. In reality, while they both serve a similar purpose, they have some significant differences that you should be aware of.
Understanding Credit Counseling
The first course you’ll need to complete is an approved credit counseling course, which is essentially designed to help you determine whether or not bankruptcy is truly the best option for you. During this 60- to 90-minute course, you’ll meet directly with a counselor, assess your finances and explore alternatives to bankruptcy. Your counselor will likely present you with a potential payment plan that, if followed, will get you out of debt without requiring you to file for bankruptcy. Of course, you are under no obligation to follow this plan; it’s just a matter of exploring all your options. By Georgia law, you must complete this counseling session in person, over the phone or online within 180 days of filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Understanding Debtor Education
If you do, in fact, decide to file for bankruptcy, then you will also need to complete an approved debtor education course. Like the credit counseling course, this one can be completed in person, over the phone or online. It tends to take about two hours to complete. During this course, you’ll receive assistance when it comes to creating a budget to live by after bankruptcy, rebuilding your credit and making wise financial decisions down the road. Keep in mind that you must complete this course before your bankruptcy case is reviewed. Otherwise, it will likely be closed and your bankruptcy will not be finalized. You may need to start the entire process over again if you still want to file.
As you can see, both credit counseling and debtor education play an important role in the bankruptcy filing process in Georgia. Even with a counselor’s help, it’s still wise to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to ensure that your best interests are kept at the forefront every step of the way.