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The research team at Super Lawyers selects no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state to obtain this honor every year. The Texas Rising Stars list for 2021 included Arlington Based Law Firm Acker Warren P.C.

Super Lawyers is a Thomson Reuters business that recognizes distinguished lawyers from more than 70 fields of practice that have attained a high rate of peer recognition and professional success. The picks for the Rising Stars list are made by a patented multistage process that includes a statewide lawyer survey, an unbiased polling assessment of candidates, and peer reviews by practice field. As a result, a trustworthy, extensive, and varied list of outstanding attorneys develops.

About 2.5 percent of lawyers in each state are named to the Rising Stars list. To be considered for Rising Stars, an applicant must be under 40 years old and have practiced for a decade or less. Licensed and practicing attorneys are eligible to be nominated by their peers.


Getting sued by a debt collector can be overwhelming. Financial hardship takes a toll on our minds and can affect our mental health. However, it is essential to know that you’re not alone and have options if you’re facing debt-related problems. To understand what to do when you have been served, you’ll need to learn more about what happens to unpaid debts and how these lawsuits typically proceed.

What Happens When You Don’t Pay Your Debt

When you miss a monthly payment on a loan for the first time, the creditor will most likely contact you or send you a letter via email or postal mail to recover the overdue amount. After several months of missed payments, the initial creditor is likely to cut losses and sell the loan to a collection agency. The debt collector who bought your debt will then start collecting from you. If all collection efforts fail and you proceed to fall behind on your payments, creditors can file a lawsuit against you.

You Got Served. What Does that Mean?

The creditor will inform you of the lawsuit by “serving” you with a copy of the allegation and a court summons. The summons includes details about when and how to respond, as well as the date of the court hearing. The first thing you need to know is that you can not just ignore a lawsuit notification. Ignoring a lawsuit may result in the court issuing a default judgment. A default judgment means the creditor can garnish your wages, freeze a part or all of your bank account, or put a lien against your property.


On some occasions, debtors must act quickly to stop a creditor’s collection action such as garnishment, foreclosure, or repossession. In that case, quickly declaring bankruptcy may be beneficial. When a Debtor files a case, the court issues an automatic stay, which prevents most creditors from pursuing recovery efforts against you. However, completing all the bankruptcy forms takes time. If time is of the essence, you can file an emergency bankruptcy to obtain an automatic stay and file the remaining documents afterward.

An emergency bankruptcy filing is filed without any of the requisite paperwork to avoid a collection proceeding that is about to happen, such as a foreclosure, repossession, or wage garnishment. With an emergency bankruptcy filing, the automated stay is activated, halting all collection actions. The filer gets some time to complete the remainder of their bankruptcy forms. If the filer does not meet the deadline, the bankruptcy is dismissed, lifting the automatic stay.

What Will You Need?

When completed, the average bankruptcy petition will likely exceed fifty pages. However, if you are undergoing a foreclosure auction, repossession, wage garnishment, collection lawsuit, or a similar time-sensitive issue, completing all of the paperwork before the action can be impossible.


Some people find themselves in a situation where they are unable to repay all their accumulated debts. Whether it is due to medical emergencies or a job loss, these dire situations put some people in a position where they have no choice but to max their cards and deplete their savings. Unfortunately, making the minimum monthly payments on credit cards and loans remains challenging even with unemployment checks or a temporary job.

Filing for bankruptcy can be a viable approach if you have financial issues. All collection actions are halted, including phone calls, wage garnishments, and certain lawsuits. It also eliminates various debts, such as credit card accounts, medical bills, and personal loans. However, it does not eliminate all responsibilities. For example, you still need to pay your student loans (most filers will NOT qualify for student loan discharge) as well as arrearages for child support, alimony, and most tax debts.

Life after bankruptcy means a new beginning. Your credit score will likely improve immediately upon discharge of your case. This is due to a large portion of one’s credit score stemming from the Debt-to-Income Ratio. The bankruptcy filing will stay on your credit report for ten years. However, it will only affect you for about two years. Most filers find that they can purchase a vehicle the instant a case is discharged. Additionally, debtors can expect a reasonable interest rate on a vehicle approximately a year after discharge. Most filers find that they are able to receive a credit card as soon as the Bankruptcy has been discharged. The reason for the rapid recovery of one’s credit is because you are viewed as a lower risk post discharge. You have legally written off at least some of your previous debts thus lowering your debt-to-income ratio. The largest affect stemming from a bankruptcy filing is a filers ability to qualify for a mortgage. Most filers find that they can qualify for a mortgage 2 years after a Chapter 7 discharge.


Filing for Divorce and Bankruptcy

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Financial struggles are a common source of marital difficulties that lead to divorce. Going through a tough divorce during the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult enough. Still, the struggles will be exacerbated if you lose your job or have to pay for extensive medical attention. Even if you don’t get sick or lose your job, divorce hurts most peoples’ finances and is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States.

Divorce and bankruptcy are two of the most stressful and mentally draining experiences a person can go through. Nonetheless, planning ahead will make both your bankruptcy and divorce less complicated and less expensive. The amount of property and debt you have, as well as the form of bankruptcy you intend to claim, determine if you can file for bankruptcy before or after a divorce.

In addition, applying for divorce and bankruptcy at the same time is not a smart option. Filing for bankruptcy when divorcing will confuse property separation, make each spouse’s living arrangement less predictable, and cause both the bankruptcy and the divorce to be prolonged.


Coronavirus and Bankruptcy

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Bankruptcies track the financial climate as companies and consumers pursue relief from macro-economic disruptions. During the COVID-19 crisis, though, this relationship has flipped around. Despite media reports and many experts’ expectations on how the coronavirus and bankruptcy would interact, consumer and small business filing have sharply declined since mid-March 2020.

Despite accounting for a limited proportion of all bankruptcies, the number of Chapter 11 filings by major companies has risen since 2019. Consumers, small companies, and multinational firms have had different financial experiences during the COVID-19 crisis. Large companies have pursued and obtained bankruptcy protection as they would in a typical recession. Comparatively, affluent households have benefited on average from the fiscal stimulus and housing moratoria mandated by the CARES Act and other initiatives. Non-homeowners and small companies, on the other hand, may face financial, physical, and technical obstacles to filing for bankruptcy, especially in areas where unemployment is high.

Bankruptcy Overview

Chapter 7. Small businesses and consumers file for Chapter 7 to discharge debts.


How Bankruptcy Affects Credit Score

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Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding where debtors have the opportunity to reorganize or eradicate their debt. Filing for bankruptcy can be a very financially rewarding situation for those overwhelmed with debt. A bankruptcy lawyer should be consulted as filing for bankruptcy is not an easy decision.

While the main purpose of bankruptcy can help to ease your debt burdens, it provides the added benefit of typically boosting credit score. Although the bankruptcy could appear on the credit report for up to 10 years, it does not have the detrimental effect some people might think it does.

Obtaining credit after a bankruptcy case is typically very easy. Credit cards, which are important for emergencies, typically can be obtained right after discharge (albeit with low limits in the range of $250 -$500). Your credit will usually improve if you follow some simple steps to boosting it after bankruptcy.


No-Asset Bankruptcy Cases in Chapter 7

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The majority of Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers do not lose any assets through the bankruptcy process. These cases are often referred to as no-asset bankruptcy cases. In such a case, the Trustee informs creditors not to expect payment out of the bankruptcy proceeds.

In a no-asset Chapter 7 scenario, you do not have any assets that the bankruptcy trustee is allowed to take and sell for the benefit of creditors. Of course, most debtors have personal property and a home, but the debtor still normally retains all of their property because it is protected under federal or state law exemptions.

Understanding What No Asset Means

“No Asset” is a term used to describe debtors who declare bankruptcy without owning property that the Trustee or Creditors can take. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean the debtor is homeless or living in poverty. It implies that the debtor’s assets are all secured or shielded by exemptions or that the debtor’s assets that are not exempt are not valuable enough to warrant being sold.


Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriation Act (CAA) on December 27, 2020. The almost 5,600-page bill is claimed to be the longest bill ever enacted by Congress. Besides financing the federal government in 2021 and providing relief for individuals and businesses affected by COVID, the current bill modifies the Bankruptcy Code in at least nine respects. Most of the amendments will end after one or two years. One of the amendments would only become applicable once the Small Business Administration signs it.

Below, you’ll find a brief description of some of the amendments that directly affect the bankruptcy code.

PPP loans available to some debtors (and trustees)

The CARES Act developed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the now-familiar program of forgivable loans operated by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Almost right after the CARES Act’s passing, the debtors started to apply for PPP loans, causing a debate about the supply of such loans to bankrupt businesses. The SBA repeatedly opposed PPP loans to debtors, and the case law was varied throughout the country.


Bankruptcy and Child Support

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Noncustodial parents with a child support obligation who are thinking about filing for Bankruptcy must understand the relationship between Bankruptcy and Child Support. Parents ordered to pay child support have a legal responsibility to consistently take care of their children financially, even if they are struggling with debt. Each Chapter of Bankruptcy has different requirements for Debtors who owe Child Support.

Child Support Obligor (Owes Support) & Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Noncustodial parents who owe Child Support and file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy still need to fulfill their responsibilities under the support order. The monthly obligation must remain current throughout the life of the case otherwise the Debtor will face dismissal of the case and or denial of discharge. If the support order is in arrears at the time a Chapter 13 is filed, those arrears would be repaid through the Chapter 13 Plan. Upon completion of the 3-5 year plan the child support would be current due to repayment of the arrears through the plan and the required maintenance of the monthly payments over the life of the plan.


Automatic Stay: The instant that a Bankruptcy Case is filed an injunction called the Automatic Stay is put into place, with certain exceptions, to prevent creditors from continuing collection actions of any kind. This includes continuation of lawsuits, phone calls, emails, letters, etc. that seek to collect a pre-petition debt.

The Automatic Stay is the first benefit of filing for Bankruptcy. The Automatic Stay prohibits the continuation or filing of lawsuits, stops foreclosures, car repossessions, etc.

What does automatic stay prevent?



Texas Bankruptcy and Foreclosure

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Failing to make mortgage payments in Texas can mean getting your home foreclosed. Lenders notify debtors about the foreclosure by mail to provide a 20 day time frame to pay the loan; if the debt isn’t paid off, lenders notify the loan is due and a sale of the property has been scheduled to cover it. There are interactions between Texas bankruptcy and foreclosure. Bankruptcies are filed to eliminate or establish repayment plans for debts and to keep property.

The law recognizes that the debtor and mortgagee have legitimate interests to protect in the property. So you might be wondering how exactly will bankruptcy and foreclosure interact in this process. There is the possibility of halting foreclosure and keeping your home if you file for bankruptcy. This is mostly achieved by filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy which enacts an automatic stay, meaning that you get to keep your home. For this, you’ll need steady income to keep paying monthly mortgage payments along with the repayment plan.

How Chapter 13 Could Help You Keep Your Home

It’s recommended you file Chapter 13 if you have a regular and stable income, since it gives you the opportunity to come up with a repayment plan for your debts, including your mortgage. This chapter provides a more permanent solution to help you keep your home. Through the repayment plan, you’ll be able to pay your mortgage over 3 to 5 years. Keep in mind you’ll still have to cover the monthly mortgage payments.


Non-Dischargeable Debts

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Non-Dischargeable Debts

When you file for bankruptcy, most of your debts will be discharged, which means the debts are wiped out. Debts that can’t be wiped out through a bankruptcy proceeding are called non-dischargeable debts. These include student loans, most federal, state and local taxes, money borrowed on a credit card to pay those taxes. child support, and alimony.

Debts that are otherwise dischargeable can become non-dischargeable if a creditor files an adversary proceeding against a debtor based on the debt being acquired by fraudulent acts,embezzlement, larceny or breach of fiduciary responsibility.

Texas Bankruptcy Non-Dischargeable Debts

The following debts can’t be discharged in either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Texas bankruptcies, meaning that the court always considers these debts to be non-dischargeable.


Bankruptcy Exemptions in Texas

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Bankruptcy Exemptions

When you file for bankruptcy, the state the debtor files in gives debtors the opportunity to keep certain assets using what are called “exemptions”. Exemption laws are designed to allow a debtor to keep property that debtors will need in order to maintain a job and household. Exemptions vary by state, and some states allow you to use state exemptions or federal exemptions.. In Texas, you get to choose between state or federal bankruptcy exemptions. However, since Texas bankruptcy property exemptions are one of the most generous in the United States, in most cases, it’s more beneficial to use Texas State exemptions over federal exemptions.

There is also property you cannot keep called nonexempt property. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, non exempt property will be sold to pay creditors and in a Chapter 13, you can choose to keep non-exempt property, but pay the value of said property, nondischargeable debt, and disposable income through the repayment plan for creditor benefit. It is rare for a Texas bankruptcy filer to have non exempt property.

Texas Bankruptcy Exemptions

Homestead: Texas offers unlimited homestead exemption except by the amount of acres and based on the location of the property. If your residence is on 10 acres or less in a city, town or village you’ll get unlimited homestead exemption. This is also the case if your residence is on 100 acres of less in the country or 200 acres if you have a family. If you sell your house, the proceeds are exempt for six months after the sale.


How to Keep Tax Refund in Chapter 13

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Also known as the wage earner’s plan, Chapter 13 enables those with regular income to develop a repayment plan. Debtors propose a plan to make installment payments over three to five years, though under the CARES Act it can be extended up to seven years. Most of the time, debtors must turn over any tax refund received for more than $2,000.00 to the Chapter 13 trustee but there’s a way they might be able to keep it.

What happens when a debtor is anticipating a tax refund? Under Chapter 13, debtors are pledging all their disposable income into the repayment plan and usually don’t have a cushion for unexpected expenses. Tax income is considered disposable income that could be used to pay creditors so you might be wondering how to keep tax refund in Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code.

Why is tax refund generally considered disposable income?

Under Chapter 13 debtors must use all their disposable income to make payments to their creditors under the plan. Any income that is not used for transportation, food, shelter, or necessities under IRS standards is usually considered disposable. When tax refunds aren’t included in the calculations used to support the repayment plan trustees might consider it disposable income. However, it’s possible to keep the tax refund.


While owning a car can certainly be a luxury, in most cases it is a necessity. When you lease a car or borrow money to buy it, you must make monthly payments. With so many financial obligations, many people struggle to stay on top of car payments. This is especially true if you also have mortgage and student loan debt. If you do not make a loan payment on time, your loan is then considered to be delinquent.

Delinquent car loans could ruin your credit and end in car repossession. For this reason, it is important to understand how the repossession process works and what you can do about it.

What’s repossession and when it is allowed

When a borrower is behind on payments, they risk getting their car repossessed. This means that the bank or leasing company retrieves the vehicle from the borrower; once statutorily required notices have been given the vehicle will be taken without warning. Cars can be taken away on tow trucks, or lenders might send someone to collect the car.


The coronavirus outbreak has created an unprecedented situation that has placed the majority of people in financial hardships. Unfortunately, a lot of people have been laid off due to the pandemic which means less money to pay for their bills. And while you may be doing your part by saving as much as you can, it’s almost impossible to stop debt from accumulating.

Local, state, and federal governments are providing safety nets along with many creditors during the COVID-19 crisis. For several people increased unemployment benefits, mandated holds placed on evictions, cash payments, and utility shut-offs will help to make this situation more manageable. However, this crisis might last longer than expected so these measures won’t guarantee financial stability in the long run. The best thing to do is to be prepared and have a plan that will ensure you’ll get back on your feet during these tough times.

Qualify for Bankruptcy During COVID-19 Times

Bankruptcy may be the best route for people who can’t find a clear path through the coronavirus financially. In this case, the sooner you file for bankruptcy the faster you’ll be able to rebuild your credit. What does it mean to file for bankruptcy in COVID-19 times? Bankruptcy has the ability to discharge medical bills, credit card debts, and rent. These debts will rise during the pandemic.


Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been some temporary changes to certain bankruptcy rules under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act aims to provide emergency assistance and health care for individuals, families, and businesses that are being affected by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act also modified certain provisions of the Bankruptcy Code which will last for one year, expiring on March 27th, 2021.

CARES Act changes to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13

Under the CARES Act, the government has been providing stimulus checks and other payments that are meant to provide some financial assistance during the crisis. These payments will not count as monthly income for debtors that are considering filing under Chapter 7. They also will not count as disposable income for those seeking to file under Chapter 13. In other words, stimulus checks will not affect your eligibility to file under either chapter or any required payments to unsecured creditors in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

This Act also allows Chapter 13 debtors the chance to extend the length of the Bankruptcy Plan from five to seven years. In many cases, this would result in a longer plan term but lesser overall monthly payments. If you have a Chapter 13 plan that has already been confirmed, you can modify the plan to increase the term of the plan and lower the monthly payment. If you have not yet filed a case and you do so before March 27, 2021, a plan can be proposed with a maximum plan term of 7 years rather than the normal maximum plan term of 5 years. All changes under the CARES Act are applicable until March 27, 2021.


Mortgage Payment Deferral

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The Federal Cares Act allows you to delay mortgage payments for up to 6 months if you’re suffering financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pausing mortgage payments can provide some relief for people who have lost work during these times. However, there’s a lot of confusion about how you’re supposed to make those payments.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are making available a new payment deferral option. This allows borrowers who are in forbearance the ability to repay their missed payments at the time the home is sold, refinanced, or at maturity.

What is Forbearance?

Forbearance is a special agreement between the lender and the borrower to delay mortgage payments. When mortgage borrowers cannot meet their repayment terms, lenders can opt to foreclose on the property. A forbearance allows the borrower to miss scheduled mortgage payments for a specific period (usually between 4-12 months). This allows a borrower to avoid a potential foreclosure for missing mortgage payments and repay those missed payments at the conclusion of the forbearance period. In compliance with the CARES Act, government-sponsored mortgage loans qualify for forbearance plans.


While the thought of filing for bankruptcy can be scary and intimidating for most people, it’s a way to get a fresh start for businesses and individuals facing overwhelming debt. If you are getting harassed by bill collectors, using credit cards to pay for your necessities, and you are unsure of how much debt you actually owe, you probably need to rethink your financial situation.

Filing for bankruptcy basically means that you have found yourself in a position that will take many years to repay in full the debts that you owe. Bankruptcy laws were created to provide people with a chance to start over. Whether you have made bad financial decisions or have had bad luck, you deserve a second chance.

What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a court proceeding where a judge and trustee review the assets and liabilities of businesses and individuals who are unable to pay their bills and then deny or approve the discharge of those debts so the debtor is no longer legally obliged to pay them. However, the bankruptcy process has been streamlined so that very few bankruptcy filers ever actually go to court.

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