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1.2 The Focus of This Treatise—Bankruptcy Practice for Consumer Debtors and Family Farmers

This treatise provides the basic information needed to best utilize the tools that bankruptcy provides to consumer debtors. Of necessity, most of what follows is also applicable to debtors who have had small businesses; many consumer clients are, after all, simply businesspeople who have fallen upon hard times and no longer operate their businesses. However, while this treatise may be of some use in cases in which debtors seek to continue operating their businesses, advocates will have to look elsewhere for assistance in handling the more complex problems which can arise in such an undertaking.

Chapter 17, infra, deals extensively with the issues and problems arising in the representation of family farmers and family fishermen under chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code. Although most of the concepts and strategies involved in such representation are similar to those applicable to chapter 13, there are a number of provisions and subjects which are either more akin to chapter 11 principles or unique to chapter 12.

Although this treatise is primarily oriented toward representing debtors, Chapter 18, infra, provides a basic outline for representing consumers as creditors: for example, when a merchant, landlord, lender, or other entity with whom an individual consumer is involved files bankruptcy. The treatment of this topic provided in Chapter 18, infra, is far from exhaustive, and anyone seeking to aggressively represent a creditor in the bankruptcy process is encouraged to utilize other resources.

Although this treatise contains a thorough discussion of those substantive issues which are most common and important, it is neither exhaustive nor comprehensive on all of bankruptcy law. In general, for the issues discussed, only a few leading cases, along with the applicable statutes and rules, are cited. Because it is now possible to find at least one bankruptcy court opinion taking almost any position on a given issue, lower court decisions contrary to the text of this treatise are not always noted. Appellate decisions normally are cited, however, whether or not they agree with the author. Again, for further research, the sources at the end of this Chapter and in the Bibliography should be consulted.