One of the many changes implemented to the bankruptcy code in 2005 was the requirement that every individual debtor takes a consumer credit counseling class and get a certificate of completion as a prerequisite to filing bankruptcy. Once obtained, it is good for 180 days and must be attached to a bankruptcy petition or it will get bounced.
Although the purpose of this requirement was to have an objective third party review the case for the debtor to see if bankruptcy is appropriate, in the past six years I have never had a client change his or her mind based on that and decide not to file. If I think someone shouldn’t file, I will tell them. In fact, I have done that twice so far this month!
This exercise in futility and waste of time costs my clients anywhere from $30 to $50 (sometimes less) and takes up one to two hours of their lives that they will never get back. However, some modicum of good news was discussed recently on the Bankruptcy Law Network: an outfit in California, ConsumerBankruptcyCounseling.info, only charges $5 for this service, and they are certified to render it to New Jersey residents!
The lower price does come with a few minor downsides: They do not provide same day service, there are no operators “standing by” on a toll free line to handle technical problems, and it is only available over the Internet. Thus if you don’t have a computer with net access, you are out of luck. However, it is still good news for those struggling to get the money together to file.