It is common that clients search for information about their case online. They don’t want to “bother” their attorneys, they don’t trust their attorneys, or, sometimes, they do not have a bankruptcy attorney. As a result, they search for “bankruptcy law” and whatever specific topic they are curious about: losing a house, rebuilding credit, keeping a car, ruining lives, etc. Even if they enter a specific zip code or location, they still may find results from all over the United States, not just North Carolina or, more specifically, the Statesville or Charlotte division of the Western District of North Carolina. They then read everything they can without realizing that bankruptcy is different from place to place.
Collum & Perry is located in Mooresville, North Carolina, just north of Charlotte. For that reason, most of our cases are filed in the Western District of North Carolina, although we can also file cases in the Middle District of North Carolina, but North Carolina has four districts total. Even within the Western District, we file cases in the Statesville Division, the Shelby Division and the Charlotte Division. Each division has slightly different ways of doing things, each District has significantly different ways of doing things, and the differences from state to state are even more substantial.
For example, in North Carolina, there is a Bankruptcy Administrator (or BA). The Western District’s BA is Linda Simpson. The BA oversees all of the Trustees in an effort to maintain the integrity of their work. She also reviews and approves pre-filing credit counseling course and financial management courses. In every other state, except Alabama, there is a US Trustee, who is part of the Justice Department.
Within North Carolina, there are differences between districts. In the Western District of North Carolina, there is no confirmation hearing. Clients are often comforted to hear that they will not have to attend Court or be in front of a judge. However, in the other districts of North Carolina, there are confirmation hearings. While neither system is necessarily better, they are different.
Further, within the Western District of North Carolina, there are a number of divisions. The Statesville Division of the Western District of North Carolina includes certain counties (Iredell, Wilkes, Alexandra, Catawba, Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, and Allegany), the Charlotte Division has certain counties (Gaston, Mecklenburg, Union and Aneon), the Asheville Division has others (Transylvania, Henderson, Buncombe, Yancy, Mitchell, Avery, Madison and Haywood), and the Bryson City division captures the remaining (Swain, Graham, Cherokee, Clay, Macon and Jackson). You can see a map here. So, if a couple lives in zip code 28115, they will file in the Statesville division. If they file a Chapter 13, Mr. Steven Tate will be their Chapter 13 Trustee. If they filed a Chapter 7, they would have one of a number of different Trustees. However, if a couple’s zip code were 28078, they would file in the Charlotte Division. They would have Mr. Warren Tadlock as their Chapter 13 Trustee. Someone in the Statesville Division would NEVER have the same Chapter 13 Trustee as someone in the Charlotte Division. However,if someone files a Chapter 7 Trustee in the Statesville Division, Wayne Sigmon may be the Trustee and he is also the Trustee in Charlotte division cases.
A map of the districts in North Carolina. We are located in the Western District but also have attorneys who practice in the Middle District.
What’s the point? Essentially, every Trustee has different approaches and requirements. Every district has different local rules and regulation. Each state has different laws that apply. So, even though Bankruptcy law is Federal, the wide variety of differences make it very important to hire an attorney and ask your attorney to help you with any aspect of your bankruptcy case. Online searching is great, but cannot replace a knowledgeable, experienced attorney who advocates for you and knows the local rules! Here at Collum & Perry, our office strives to assist all of our clients in achieving the best possible result from what is otherwise an untenable situation.