Joy Lee Barnhart has been engaged in the practice of law since 1982. Her practice includes both consumer and small business bankruptcy, as well as estate planning, wills, trusts, probate and guardianships.

About Bankruptcy

The filing of a bankruptcy will stop collection efforts including harassing phone calls, letters, and even garnishments. It will also halt foreclosures, at least temporarily, and in many cases allow you to work out a repayment plan to keep your home.

I provide a free, confidential, initial consultation. At this consultation I will review with you your financial situation and explain to you how the bankruptcy process works and what it will and will not accomplish in helping you to a fresh start financially. Just call (425) 255-5535 and let us answer your initial questions and set up an appointment for a consultation.

Is there life after bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy protection is not a step to be taken lightly. It will have a serious impact upon your life. Credit bureaus will report the fact of the filing for up to ten years after the date of the discharge. There can be repercussions in employment and housing.

Having said that, as a practical matter, an individual who has steady employment and does not have any collections reported against him post-discharge can usually begin to reestablish credit three years after emerging from a bankruptcy. This time frame can vary depending on individual circumstances and the lending market.

There are lenders who will lend to people almost immediately after the bankruptcy is discharged. Bear in mind that these lenders are dealing with what is regarded as a 'high risk' market. They charge interest rates commensurate with the perceived risk.

Oddly enough home mortgage lenders tend to be the most likely to be willing to lend to someone who has a bankruptcy in their history. There is a very large market of home mortgage lenders who if you would otherwise meet their qualifications, will lend money for the purchase or refinancing of a residence three years or less after the bankruptcy is discharged. In fact I once attended a seminar in which the representative of the mortgage industry bluntly stated that his underwriters would rather lend to someone who had been through bankruptcy, than someone who had a history of late pays or collections.

Foreclosures and Lien Stripping

At the present time it is not possible to force the alteration of the terms of a first mortgage on your residence. However, a bankruptcy filing can halt a foreclosure action and, in a Chapter 13 proceeding, give you an opportunity to bring current a delinquent mortgage through monthly payments to your mortgage company.

Second mortgages and home equity loans other than your first mortgage are subject to modification and even elimination in a Chapter 13 proceeding, if--and this is the critical point--the value of your home is equal to or less than the amount of your first mortgage.

Non-voluntary liens, such as those resulting from a civil judgment, may be removable in either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 if the debt that creates the lien is dischargeable.

Contact Information

The Law Office of Joy Lee Barnhart is located at 15 South Grady Way, Suite 535, Renton, Washington 98057. Our telephone number is (425) 255-5535. The Fax number is (425) 255-5609. Email us at

In order to help our clients who are trying to minimize travel and contacts during the COVID-19 outbreak, we are temporarily offering initial consultations by telephone as well as in-person. Because the telephone consultation can run up to an hour or more, you will still need to make an appointment in advance. Please contact us for details.

We also ask that all of our clients reschedule any in-person appointments if you have any symptoms or believe you may have been exposed to the coronavirus.


I am a debt relief agency under the terms of the Bankruptcy Code. I help people file for bankruptcy relief under that Code.

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