Often, creditors will hire a collection agency or even a law firm to collect on a past due debt. This may result in you being served with a summons to appear in court. The summons will list the date and time for the first appearance. You are not required to appear at a first appearance, however, if you fail to show up a default judgment may be entered against you. Once the creditor obtains a judgment, the creditor can begin the wage garnishment procedure. If you decide to appear at the first appearance, you can ask the Judge to continue the hearing so you can discuss your options with an attorney. Often, the Judge will give you around a month or two to discuss your options with an attorney.
Bankruptcy can stop the creditor from collecting against you, regardless of the stage that the lawsuit may be in. For example, if a judgment has been entered, filing bankruptcy would prevent the creditor from enforcing the judgment. Bankruptcy does not need to be filed before the lawsuit, or before the judgment, or before the garnishment. It will stop the creditor at whatever stage it the creditor is at.
With that being said. We do recommend that you appear at your first appearance and ask the Judge to continue the case out so you can meet with an attorney. Often, if we file before a judgment is entered, we can help reduce the negative impact a judgment would have on your credit report. As in most circumstances, if you have specific questions, feel free to contact us for advice.