When Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Reform Law in October 2005, everyone expected that it would be more difficult to file bankruptcy. The credit card companies rejoiced - they wanted to collect more money from consumers and they had paid enough money to Congress to get the law passed. Consumers would be hounded by debt collectors and discouraged from filing bankruptcy.

The reality has been far different.

Although some of the changes under the new law will not take effect until October 2006 (such as the debtor audits, one of every 250 cases checked by the U.S. Trustee for fraud and abuse), most of the changes in the system do not create serious roadblocks to debtors who need to file bankruptcy. The principal changes are "credit counseling" (a 1 to 1 1/2 hour telephone call) at the beginning of each case, and "personal financial management course" (a 2 hour telephone call) before the end of each case. In each instance, the credit counselor can charge the consumer $50. The other change of significance is that debtors will need to provide their attorneys with many more documents to enable the attorney to correctly list assets, debts, income, and expenses.

Attorneys who have continued to practice bankruptcy law have developed systems in their offices to keep bankruptcy accessible to consumers. In many instances, the cost for filing bankruptcy have remained similar to the cost prior to the new law, with the exception of the increased court fees and counseling fees. My office has filed approximately 70 bankruptcy cases since the new law took effect and is dedicated to providing reasonaby priced services to individuals requiring bankruptcy assistance.

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